People have different reasons for getting involved in public service. For some, it’s an ephemeral pull that manifested as early as a race for fourth grade class president. For others, it’s to serve the poor and the voiceless. Some come at it on behalf of tax cuts or a small government mindset, some with a patriotic bent, determined to defend the country’s national security.
Still others hope to one day have the opportunity to deport a whole bunch of young people who were brought into the country as little kids.
For 10 Republican attorneys general across the country, that dream is finally coming true.
In June, the 10 of them, joined by one Republican governor, threatened to sue President Donald Trump’s administration unless it ended DACA by Tuesday, September 5. And so, on Tuesday, Trump announced he would wind down the program. (He might not really do it, but that’s a different story.)
So just who are the elected officials who decided to take on the “Dreamers”?
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era program that gave 800,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children temporary relief from deportation. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General Jeff Sessions partially rescinded the June 2012 Obama memorandum that created the program, announcing that applications would not be accepted going forward. Existing DACA participants whose eligibility expires between now and March 5 have until October 5 to apply for renewal, and DHS will adjudicate on a case-by-case basis applications that were received as of Tuesday.
The group of Republican attorneys general was specific about its demands. “If, by September 5, 2017, the Executive Branch agrees to the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and not to renew or issue any new DACA or expanded DACA permits in the future, then the plaintiffs that successfully challenged DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans] and Expanded DACA will voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit pending in the Southern District of Texas,” the group of 11 Republicans wrote, referring to Texas’s legal challenge to Obama’s 2014 attempt to expand DACA and create a similar program for parents of American citizens or legal permanent residents. “Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining expanded DACA permits.”
Trump cited the threat in explaining his move. “Officials from 10 states are suing over the program, requiring my Administration to make a decision as to its legality,” Trump wrote in a statement Tuesday, calling DACA unconstitutional. “Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
An estimated 1.1 million immigrants without proper legal documents qualified for DACA, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, and about 800,000 people have benefited from the program. Texas, which spearheaded legal action against the program, is home to 14 percent of the DACA-eligible population, second only to California, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Another 98,000 DACA-eligible people live in eight of the other states that challenged DACA: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Tennessee, according to MPI, whose estimates included individuals immediately eligible for the program and others who were potentially eligible. MPI’s study, which covered 41 states, did not include West Virginia, the 10th state part of the effort to end DACA.
Here, then, are the public servants taking on DACA recipients.Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – Currently Under Indictment
Ken Paxton is the leader of the Republican pack determined to end DACA. When he took office in early 2015, he inherited Texas’s federal lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration, arguing that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority. The lawsuit was one of Paxton’s early wins; in February 2015, a Texas federal judge enjoined the Obama administration from implementing the program, and a deadlocked Supreme Court in June 2016 kept the lower court’s decision in place. Despite threatening to sue Trump, Paxton has been an advocate of the president’s tough-on-immigration approach. The attorney general was one of 14 state attorneys general who filed friend-of-the-court briefs defending the White House’s travel ban executive orders.
During the 2016 Republican primaries, Paxton endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz, a fellow Texan and anti-immigration hard-liner. But Paxton is by no means a single-issue guy. He filed 22 lawsuits against the Obama administration over a period of two years, including a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to address climate change, and a Department of Labor rule that makes millions more workers eligible for overtime pay.
Paxton is also dealing with legal issues of his own. A Texas grand jury indicted Paxton for felony securities fraud in July 2015, charges he has described as politically motivated; he pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set for December. In April 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Paxton of violating securities laws, but a federal judge twice dismissed those charges. Paxton was elected attorney general in 2014 with 58 percent of the vote following two years as a state senator and 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives.Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry – Concocted His Own Police Force
Jeff Landry was elected Louisiana’s attorney general in 2015, unseating fellow Republican Buddy Caldwell in a runoff election with 56 percent of the vote. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013, and a GovTrack analysis of his voting record described him as a “rank-and-file Republican.” As attorney general, Landry created a controversial task force to fight crime in New Orleans. In June, Landry, a former police officer, quietly disbanded the task force, citing opposition from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who contested the authority of the attorney general’s agents to act as police officers in his city without permission. After the task force was disbanded, a federal judge agreed that Landry’s agents had no authority to make arrests in New Orleans. Landry is currently battling Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in court over whether Edwards can ban discrimination against LGBTQ people who work for the state government. Despite his relatively short tenure, Landry has gained influence among state attorneys general; in June, he was named president-elect of the National Association of Attorneys General.Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall – Sued Over a Plastic Bag
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley named Steve Marshall state attorney general in February to fill the vacancy created by former attorney general Luther Strange’s appointment to the U.S. Senate. Marshall, who served as Marshall County’s district attorney for 16 years, will be attorney general until January 2019, when Strange’s original term expires. In addition to joining the ranks of anti-immigration hard-liners, Marshall has sued Birmingham Mayor William Bell for covering a Confederate monument with plastic, citing a state law that prohibits the “relocation, removal, alteration, or other disturbance of any monument on public property that has been in place for 40 years or more.”Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson – Weed Warrior
Doug Peterson was elected Nebraska’s attorney general in 2014, defeating Democrat Janet Stewart with 66 percent of the vote. He was an assistant attorney general from 1988 to 1990 and then spent nearly 15 years in private practice before running for attorney general. He has taken a strong position against the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. He has complained about marijuana from Colorado crossing the state line into Nebraska, and he has challenged Colorado’s approval of recreational marijuana use on the grounds that it violates the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Peterson last week rejected a request from 17 state senators to investigate the State Patrol following an investigation which revealed that former State Patrol Superintendent Brad Rice had interfered with internal affairs investigations and violated the agency’s workplace harassment and equal opportunity policy. The attorney general last week announced his intention to run for re-election in 2018.Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge – Thinks Anti-LGBT Discrimination is Not a Thing
Leslie Rutledge was the first Republican and woman to be elected Arkansas’ attorney general. She won the 2015 election with 52 percent of the vote to Democrat Nate Steel’s 43 percent. Since then, she has reliably taken up the national Republican agenda. A Washington County, Arkansas, judge in 2016 upheld a law that prohibits business owners and landlords from firing or evicting someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity. (Churches, religious schools, day care facilities, and religious organizations are exempt from the law.) Rutledge appealed the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which took her side and reversed the lower court’s decision. The state Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance violated a state law that bans cities from enacting protections not already covered by state law, since the Arkansas Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the provision, despite Rutledge’s request that they do so.
Rutledge was one of 23 state attorneys general who filed a brief in support of New Mexico leaders who are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a ruling requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments display from the lawn outside City Hall.South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson – Ethics Issues
Alan Wilson is serving his second term as South Carolina’s attorney general, a seat he won with 54 percent of the vote in 2010 and 60 percent of the vote in 2014. In 2013, it was revealed that Wilson failed to comply with state ethics disclosure laws by not reporting dozens of contributions, but because the errors were self-reported and he re-filed the reports, he did not face any penalties. The lifelong Republican in 2014 asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to intervene to stop the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses following ruling from a federal appellate court striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden – Future Governor
Lawrence Wasden has served as Idaho’s attorney general since 2003, and he is a rumored 2018 gubernatorial candidate. Wasden was one of 14 state attorneys general who sued the Obama administration for its healthcare overhaul on the day Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act.Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter – Opposes Refugees, Too
Butch Otter was the sole governor to join the group of attorneys general pushing for an end to DACA. Otter has been active in Idaho’s Republican party since 1972, serving in the state House of Representatives, as lieutenant governor, and in the U.S. Congress. His anti-immigration stance is not limited to stripping Dreamers of protection; following the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, he opposed the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Idaho. “It makes no sense under the best of circumstances for the United States to allow people into our country who have avowed the desire to harm our communities, our institutions, and our people,” he said at the time.Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III – Dropped Out of the Gang
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery last week pulled his support from the effort to end DACA, urging Tennessee Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to use legislation to support unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as Children. “It is my sincere hope that the important issues raised by the States will be resolved by the people’s representatives in the halls of Congress, not in a courtroom,” Slatery wrote. He was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2014 for an eight-year term that expires in 2022. In April 2016, Slatery argued that Tennessee’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill” could cost the state millions of dollars in federal funding, but in May 2016, he said Tennessee would cover the legal costs if schools chose not to follow Obama-era anti-discrimination policies toward transgender students. He also joined 10 other states in suing Obama’s Department of Education over the policy.West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey – Wants Joe Manchin’s Seat
When Patrick Morrisey assumed office in 2013, he was the first Republican attorney general in West Virginia since 1933. He was re-elected in 2016 with 52 percent of the vote to Democrat Doug Reynolds’ 42 percent, and he is a 2018 candidate for the U.S. Senate. During his first campaign for attorney general, Morrisey supported the multi-state effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and he opposed the Obama administration’s rulings against West Virginia’s coal industry. As attorney general, he has filed more than a dozen lawsuits and amicus briefs challenging the EPA, with little success. He has also filed several amicus briefs in cases centered on the Second Amendment. During the Obama years, Morrissey made “fighting federal overreach” central to his job as state attorney general.Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt – Proud Birther
Derek Schmidt has been Kansas’ attorney general since 2011, following a decade in the Kansas Senate, including six years as majority leader. One of Schmidt’s first acts as attorney general was to join dozens of states in a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Schmidt joined the “birther” movement in 2012, supporting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s demands that Obama provide additional evidence he was born in Hawaii in order to appear on the 2012 presidential ballot. He joined a number of other states challenging Obama-era regulatory actions, including protections proposed by the EPA. He was elected this year as president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
The post Here Are the 10 State Attorneys General Who Went After 800,000 Dreamers appeared first on The Intercept.
Com mandado de prisão expedido nesta terça (5) pela Justiça Federal, em decorrência das investigações da Operação Unfair Play, que aponta para a compra de votos para que o Rio de Janeiro fosse a sede dos Jogos Olímpicos do ano passado, o empresário Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares, conhecido como “Rei Arthur”, tem entre seus mimos um jatinho avaliado em pelo menos R$ 6 milhões.
Durante as apurações do caso, o Ministério Público Federal (MPF) chegou a uma aeronave modelo Phenom 100, da Embraer, ano 2009, que está registrada em nome da empresa KB Participações LTDA. Na Receita Federal, a firma tem como sócia Eliane Pereira Cavalcante, que também teve a prisão decretada nesta terça e foi apontada como uma espécie de testa de ferro de Arthur Soares.
Em consulta ao site da Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (Anac), The Intercept Brasil confirmou que o avião, com número de série 50000096, prefixo PR-MJD, está em nome da KB Participações. De acordo com o site da Anac, a aeronave tem ordem judicial de sequestro.Rede de offshores
Na minuta que embasou o pedido de prisão de Arthur e Eliane, o MPF detalha uma grande rede de firmas montadas pelo empresário tanto no Brasil, quanto offshores no exterior, que movimentaram vultuosas quantias em dinheiro.
Segundo os procuradores, um dos votos foi comprado de Lamine Diack, então presidente da Federação Internacional de Atletismo e então membro do Comitê Olímpico Internacional, por meio de seu filho, Papa Massata Diack. O pagamento de 2 milhões de dólares de propina teria partido da empresa Matlock Capital Group, ligada ao “Rei Arthur”.
Também fez parte da operação desta terça a condução do presidente do Comitê Olímpico Brasileiro (COB), Carlos Arhtur Nuzman, para oitiva junto à Polícia Federal.
Segundo os procuradores, “Nuzman foi o agente responsável por unir pontas interessadas, fazer os contatos e azeitar as relações para organizar o mecanismo do repasse de propinas do ex-governador do Rio Sérgio Cabral diretamente a membros africanos do COI, o que foi efetivamente feito por meio de Arthur Soares”.
As firmas ligadas ao empresário faturaram pelo menos R$ 3 bilhões em contratos com o governo estadual desde o início da primeira gestão de Cabral.
The post Rei Arthur, acusado de compra de votos para Rio sediar olimpíada, tem Jatinho de R$ 6 milhões appeared first on The Intercept.
North Korea Says It Might Negotiate on Nuclear Weapons. But the Washington Post Isn’t Reporting That.
No normal human being should ever have to read the Washington Post’s op-eds and unsigned editorials. But the Post’s words have a huge impact on the hive-mind of America’s foreign policy apparatus — and hence where we’re going to war next — so it’s important that someone normal pay attention and report back.
So as a quasi-normal person, I recommend you pay close attention to this, from a recent column by the Post’s deputy editorial page editor, Jackson Diehl, about North Korea:
[North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un] has shown no interest in talks — he won’t even set foot in China, his biggest patron. Even if negotiations took place, the current regime has made clear that “it will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table,” as one envoy recently put it. [emphasis added]
Here’s why that matters:
1. While the Post’s link is dead, it’s meant to take you to this Associated Press story.
This is what the envoy, North Korea’s Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong, actually said, according to a transcript from North Korea’s UN Mission quoted in the AP article:
“As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat continue [emphasis added], the DPRK, no matter who may say what, will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiation table or flinch an inch from the road chosen by itself, the road of bolstering up the state nuclear force.”
There’s of course a significant difference between North Korea saying it will never negotiate to halt or eliminate its nuclear weapons program, and that it will never negotiate as long as the U.S. continues to threaten it.
Moreover, many North Korean officials, including Kim himself, have used precisely this formulation over and over again since July 4, when North Korea launched what appeared to be its first genuine intercontinental ballistic missile.
And Diehl’s column is by no means the only example of this misrepresentation. As long as North Korean officials have been saying this, the U.S. media has frequently been cutting the qualifier.
It’s also worth noting that Diehl likely knew he was making this important elision. North Korea’s qualifier appears both in the article’s headline and its first paragraph:
Finally, Diehl clearly read North Korea’s statement, since he cut and pasted its language. It’s hard to imagine he didn’t consciously or unconsciously decide to leave that crucial part out.
So does North Korea’s current rhetoric mean it would ever agree to halt, roll back, or even eliminate its nuclear weapons program? If they did agree to it, would they follow through? North Korea observers disagree on the likelihood of this.
But it does in fact matter that debates among foreign policy elites in the pages of the Post and elsewhere be based in reality. The reality is that North Korea is saying that, under certain conditions, it will put its nuclear weapons on the table.
2. Jackson Diehl’s title obscures his importance at the Post’s editorial page.
It’s long been reported that Diehl is a primary force behind the Post editorial page’s drift to constant belligerence on foreign policy – which can be seen in its unsigned editorials, the writers chosen to be regular columnists, and its guest op-eds. When Colbert King, one of the few African Americans on the Post’s editorial board, decided to step down, he wrote a memo criticizing Diehl’s influence.
Unsurprisingly, Diehl was a supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (although he urged the Bush administration to make its case more on human rights than unconventional weapons). And just as with North Korea today, Diehl made basic factual errors, such as referring to “the 1998 expulsion of the inspectors” from Iraq. In reality, the UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq by the UN itself ahead of the U.S. Desert Fox bombing campaign. Iraq then refused to allow the inspectors to return, citing the fact that the inspectors had been used to spy on the Iraqi regime and that Desert Fox was a clear violation of the UN charter.
According to Fred Hiatt, the overall editor of the Post’s editorial page, Diehl is “rigorously honest, and I have never seen him reluctant to engage in an argument to defend his position.” Diehl didn’t respond to an email asking him why he failed to portray North Korea’s rhetoric accurately.
The post North Korea Says It Might Negotiate on Nuclear Weapons. But the Washington Post Isn’t Reporting That. appeared first on The Intercept.
As gravações de conversas entre os executivos da JBS contém indícios de que o ex-procurador Marcello Miller atuava em favor da empresa antes mesmo de pedir exoneração. Frente a esta nova informação, na manhã desta terça, 5, o Ministério Público do Distrito Federal direcionou para o Núcleo de Combate à Corrupção, em caráter de urgência, uma investigação já existente sobre Miller.
A investigação original foi aberta no dia 26 de maio, mas até então tratava-se de um procedimento preparatório, um ato que precede a abertura de inquérito. Nesta terça, após as novas gravações serem noticiadas, o procurador substituto Felipe Fritz Braga entendeu haver indícios de crime e despachou o caso para o Núcleo de Combate à Corrupção. Ainda não foi feito o procedimento interno que indica para qual dos seis ofícios do núcleo o inquérito será encaminhado.
— Helena Borges (@HelenaTIB) September 5, 2017
O procurador estabeleceu como objetivo apurar sobre “utilização pelo advogado, quando membro do MPF, de acesso privilegiado a informações internas da instituição com obtenção de resultado que discrepa das outras colaborações firmadas com o MPF”.
Braga também pediu para que se verifique se Miller desrespeitou o art. 95, V, da Constituição, segundo o qual é vedado a membros do Ministério Público, entre outras coisas:
“I – exercer, ainda que em disponibilidade, outro cargo ou função, salvo uma de magistério;
II – receber, a qualquer título ou pretexto, custas ou participação em processo;”
O Procurador Geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, afirmou que as gravações “contêm indícios, segundo esses dois colaboradores [Joesley Batista e Ricardo Saud], de conduta em tese criminosa atribuída ao ex-procurador Marcello Miller”. Janot conta em despacho emitido na segunda-feira, 4, que Saud foi gravado afirmando estar “afinado” com Miller. No despacho, Janot deu prazo até sexta, 8, para o ex-procurador prestar esclarecimentos.
Marcello Miller deixou o MPF em abril passado para atuar no escritório Trench, Rossi & Watanabe, que negociou o acordo de leniência da JBS. Ele se desvinculou da firma em julho. A advogada Esther Flesch, responsável pela contratação de Miller, também abandonou a empresa na semana passada.
The post Núcleo de Combate à Corrupção do Ministério Público vai investigar ex-procurador Marcello Miller appeared first on The Intercept.
De todas as notícias sobre o infame retorno de Joesley Batista, a mais desanimadora veio da China: Michel Temer estaria encarando o assunto com “serenidade”. Para entender melhor o que isso significa, é necessário um resumo do busílis áudio-conspiratório, mas vamos tentar fazer isso de maneira rápida e indolor.
Joesley, dono do maior frigorífico do país, conquistou a posição de escroque máximo da nação depois de gravar uma conversa com o presidente Michel Temer, na calada da noite, sem registro oficial. Nos áudios, o Brasil constatou a estranha naturalidade com que o presidente da República escutou o empresário confessar, entre outros crimes, que pagava pelo silêncio do ex-presidente da Câmara Eduardo Cunha.
A conversa embasou a delação premiada que não só livrou Joesley da cadeia, como permitiu que ele negociasse dólares e ações da própria empresa na bolsa, mantendo-se estupidamente rico. E também foi usada pelo procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, para denunciar Temer por corrupção passiva. Mas o Conde, apesar de nunca ter sido eleito, conta com todas as prerrogativas do cargo e não pode ser investigado sem que dois terços dos deputados federais autorizem.Delação em xeque
Diante dessa possibilidade, o que fez nosso impopular mandatário? Usou de sua arma nada secreta: a cara-de-pau. Liberou bilhões em emendas parlamentares, distribuiu aos amigos ruralistas agrados que provavelmente vão acelerar a extinção da humanidade e prometeu punições aos infiéis.
A estratégia funcionou, e o presidente mais impopular da história não foi sequer investigado. Os benefícios da delação que deixou Joesley Batista livre, contudo, continuaram valendo. Pelo menos até segunda (4) quando Janot chamou a imprensa e divulgou um despacho sobre uma nova gravação que aumenta ainda mais a confusão geral da nação.Afinal, não parece a melhor das ideias colocar R$ 8 bilhões a juros subsidiados nas mãos de um sujeito incapaz de entender que apertando uma vez grava, apertando outra vez, para de gravar.
Há várias surpresas nos novos áudios. A primeira delas vem logo no começo, quando nota-se que os dois homens que se propuseram a ser “a tampa do caixão” da política nacional não sabiam como usar um gravador. O que, indiretamente, leva a suspeitas quanto à facilidade na concessão de empréstimos do BNDES. Afinal, não parece a melhor das ideias colocar mais de R$ 8 bilhões a juros subsidiados nas mãos de um sujeito incapaz de entender que apertando uma vez grava, apertando outra vez, para de gravar.
Pois é. Nas revelações recentes ficou claro que Joesley e seu comparsa, Ricardo Saud, não só penaram para usar o aparelho, como, aparentemente, se gravaram sem querer. A patetada dos gênios conspiradores gerou, ao todo, quatro horas de um diálogo cheio de interrupções e passagens incompreensíveis, mas, de tudo o que se falou, o mais sério, até segunda ordem, tem a ver com um sujeito com nome de cerveja: Marcello Miller.
Miller foi procurador e trabalhou na Lava Jato, com Janot, até o dia 5 de abril, quando debandou para o outro lado. Acabou contratado pelo escritório de advocacia que fez o acordo de leniência da J&F, de Joesley. Achou suspeito, caro leitor ressabiado? Pois calma que piora.
Na conversa que agora veio à tona, Saud diz que está ajeitando a situação com Miller. Mas o detalhe que torna a coisa toda explosiva é que a gravação foi feita no dia 17 de março, vinte dias antes de o procurador se desligar da procuradoria de fato (ele já tinha anunciado que sairia na data da conversa).
Diante da suspeita de que tinha, à época, uma espião na equipe, Janot parou as máquinas e veio a público se explicar. Disse que tinha pedido uma investigação sobre o assunto e que, em último caso, se ficasse comprovada a omissão de fatos, poderia suspender os benefícios da delação que deixou Joesley livre para pilotar seus brinquedos sexuais em Nova Iorque (aparentemente, as inépcias tecnológicas do sujeito não se estendem a vibradores sem fio).
No pronunciamento, Janot ressaltou que as provas não seriam anuladas e que “não há ninguém, ninguém, que republicanamente esteja a salvo da aplicação da lei”. Esse seria o momento em que o Conde Temer poderia levantar a mão, dizendo “eu, eu”, caso não estivesse do outro lado do mundo, esforçando-se para não virar um meme chinês. Porque sim, Temer tem se mostrado a salvo da aplicação da lei – ainda que não republicanamente. Além da denúncia de corrupção, ele safou-se do julgamento no TSE, para o qual indicou dois dos sete juízes.
Voltamos, portanto, à afirmação do começo do texto. Temer está sereno porque pouca coisa mudou para ele. Janot já disse que vai encaminhar a segunda denúncia à Câmara, e esse é o único fato que realmente conta. Porque como ficou dolorosamente claro da última vez, a maior parte de nossos nobres deputados está pouco se lixando para o conteúdo da acusação. O que vale é o toma-lá-dá-cá que ela possibilita.
Não custa lembrar que os políticos que já absolveram Temer uma vez são os mesmos que evocaram Deus, a família e o aniversário da neta para sacar do poder uma presidente eleita, com a desculpa de uma manobra fiscal usada pelo próprio Conde mais de uma vez. A serenidade de Temer, portanto, corresponde à indiferença do velocista que entra dopado no ginásio, ou do jogador que senta à mesa sabendo que as cartas estão marcadas.
The post Serenidade de Temer diante dos novos áudios de Joesley tem outro nome: indiferença appeared first on The Intercept.
Antes de deixar o Ministério Público Federal (MPF), em março deste ano, para integrar a equipe do escritório de advocacia Trench, Rossi & Watanabe, responsável pelas negociações dos termos do acordo de leniência da JBS, o então procurador Marcello Miller atuou, em 2016, para a retirada de alunos que ocupavam o Colégio Pedro II, no Rio de Janeiro. Os estudantes pediam melhorias na educação e protestavam contra a reforma do ensino médio e a PEC do Teto dos Gastos Públicos.
O ex-procurador, que ingressou no MPF em 2004, está novamente no centro das atenções após a divulgação de que entre as quatro horas de áudios gravadas pelos executivos da JBS Joesley Batista e Ricardo Saud haveria trechos que comprometeriam Miller. Nesta segunda (4), o procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, convocou entrevista coletiva para anunciar que vai investigar a omissão de informações no processo de negociação para o acordo de delação do caso. Os áudios agora estão nas mãos do ministro Edson Fachin, do STF.“Minoria arbitrária e violenta”
A ação envolvendo a ocupação dos estudantes foi movida por Marcello Miller e pelo procurador Fabio Aragão contra a União e o Colégio Pedro II no ano passado, mas foi encerrado apenas em junho deste ano – já com Miller fora do MPF -, com um acordo entre as partes. A atuação do MPF foi marcada por duras considerações em relação ao movimento ao longo do processo.
Os procuradores pediram inicialmente a desocupação de todos os campi do Pedro II alegando que “o ato de ocupação das escolas, além de vilipendiar o uso de bens públicos, causa dano aos milhares de estudantes que desejam estudar, mas têm seus direitos negados pela conduta de uma minoria arbitrária e violenta”.
Também de acordo com o MPF, “a União e o Colégio Pedro II não adotaram as providências cabíveis para pôr fim à ocupação, tais como o uso de força policial, independente de ordem judicial, para a retomada dos bens públicos invadidos, como lhes caberia”.
No processo, que tramitou na 17ª Vara Federal do Rio, os procuradores chegaram a pedir por duas vezes a tutela antecipada, ou seja, a retirada imediata dos estudantes, o que foi negado pela Justiça. O MPF também não conseguiu que os autos permanecessem sob sigilo judicial.“Azul é a cor mais quente”
O Ministério Público fez outro pedido inusitado. Como motivo para a desocupação imediata dos campi, alegou-se que estava prevista a apresentação nas escolas ocupadas do filme “Azul é a cor mais quente”, de “conteúdo pornográfico”.
A ocupação do Pedro II durou 68 dias e foi encerrada em janeiro deste ano. Com a participação da reitoria da escola e de representantes de pais de alunos, o processo na 17ª Vara Federal, porém, só foi encerrado em 23 de junho, após acordo entre as partes, que incluiu o comprometimento da reitoria do colégio em apurar eventuais danos que possam ter sido causados durante o protesto.
Marcello Miller deixou o MPF em março passado para atuar no Trench, Rossi & Watanabe, mas sua incursão na advocacia privada não durou muito tempo. Após as notícias envolvendo a atuação do escritório no acordo de leniência da JBS, ele saiu da firma, da qual já tinha até se tornado sócio.
The post Ex-procurador Marcello Miller atuou por fim de ocupação de alunos do Colégio Pedro II, no Rio appeared first on The Intercept.
Decades Ago, Paul Manafort Played a Leading Role in a Pioneering Operation to Secretly Funnel Foreign Money into U.S. Politics
Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was a major player in a transnational operation that was both pioneering and innovative during its time, according to court documents and interviews with key figures. This decades-old scheme may fit the same pattern investigators are probing in regard to Russian government’s influence on the 2016 campaign.
When Manafort joined Trump’s campaign, a flurry of stories was written about the shady clients the lobbyist had represented over his long career. But by shifting the focus from who he represented to how, a more interesting picture begins to emerge.
Trump accepted Manafort’s resignation in August 2016 — just three months after he joined the campaign — after reports of Manafort’s ties to a pro-Russian Ukrainian became too much to stomach. He is known to have worked for a series of controversial clients, including an international arms dealer. A closer look into one of Manafort’s former clients, as well as details from a past top official of that organization, provide insight into a scheme to funnel foreign government money into the United States through a nonprofit partner, evading the notice of authorities.
In the early 1990s, Manafort’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, worked for the Kashmiri American Council, a group that tried to influence U.S. policy toward the disputed territory of Kashmir. Later, the group, led by Kashmiri native Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, was proven to be a front for Pakistan’s intelligence agency in Washington. The KAC hired Manafort in October 1990, just months after its founding.
Two decades later, the Department of Justice charged and convicted Fai of conspiring to secretly act as an agent of the Pakistani government in the U.S., the result of a long-running investigation. The reason: Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, had been secretly funding and directing the KAC’s work in violation of federal law since its inception.
Over the course of five years, Manafort’s lobbying firm took in $700,000 from the KAC to set up the operation. It was just a fraction of the $3.5 million Fai admitted the KAC received from the Pakistani government between 1990 and 2011, but it came at a crucial time for the organization.
The FBI launched an investigation into Fai in 2005, following years of allegations from the Indian press that the KAC, which advocated for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, was a front for the Pakistani government. The investigation started with a tip from a confidential informant that Fai and an associate in Pakistan, Zaheer Ahmad, were ISI agents, according to an FBI affidavit. In July 2011, the Justice Department charged Fai and Ahmad with conspiracy to act as agents of the Pakistani government in the U.S. without disclosing their affiliation as required by U.S. law. In December of that year, Fai pleaded guilty to conspiracy and related tax violations. (Ahmad was not arrested when the charges were brought because he was in Pakistan, where he died in October 2011.)
The investigation unveiled an elaborate scheme on the part of the Pakistani government to influence Washington policymakers while hiding behind a seemingly innocuous nonprofit organization. Under U.S. law, an organization doing the bidding of a foreign government must register as a foreign agent. But, as the KAC learned, it was possible to circumvent the rules by hiding behind donors seemingly sympathetic to the organization’s mission. The money could be used to make campaign contributions to lawmakers who, in return, would make public statements about Pakistan’s rightful claim to Kashmir. And who better to help the KAC make inroads with members of Congress than Manafort, a longtime lobbyist and darling of the Republican Party. (Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican who represented Indiana’s 5th District from 1983 to 2013, was the KAC’s chief supporter in Congress and received at least $10,000 in contributions from Fai, according to Politico.)
As KAC director, Fai submitted annual budget requests to the government of Pakistan, which partially funded Fai’s work through money delivered to Ahmad, who arranged for the funds to be delivered to Fai through a network of straw donors in the U.S., according to court documents. The KAC provided the straw donors with letters documenting that the transfers were tax deductible. At no point did Fai register his group as a foreign agent of Pakistan, as required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, nor did he disclose to the IRS that the money the KAC received from the donors actually came from Pakistani officials.
The reporting on Manafort’s work on Kashmir has focused on the identity of the client. But setting that aside and foregrounding the operation itself reveals something simpler: The use of a nonprofit to funnel foreign money into Washington.
In 1994, Manafort and his coworker, K. Riva Levinson traveled to Kashmir, arriving in India on tourist visas with no indication that they worked for the KAC. The Indian government accused them of posing as CNN journalists while gathering footage in the Himalayan region and notified CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. Manafort and Levinson denied the accusations, and a colleague said their footage was never used, according to the Associated Press. Levinson, who declined to be interviewed for this story, described Manafort as “arrogant, narcissistic, egotistical, brilliant” in her 2016 memoir, “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President.”
“But it is Paul’s mercenary attitude that puts us at odds,” she wrote in her book.
Gordon D. Kromberg, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Fai’s case, told Yahoo News last year that Manafort’s knowledge, if any, of the source of Fai’s money was not part of the Justice Department’s investigation. (The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment.) In December 1995, the ISI officer responsible for handling Kashmiri affairs in the mid-1990s, Javeed Aziz Khan, criticized Fai for renewing a contract with a public relations firm without prior authorization from the ISI; at Fai’s sentencing hearing, Kromberg identified the firm as “Black, Manafort, and Stone,” according to court records.
Peter Kelly, a partner at the lobbying firm, confirmed to The Intercept that Manafort brought the KAC in as a client, but he said he does not know much about Manafort’s role with the group. “Frankly I never worked with Paul on it at all,” Kelly said. “We never communicated on it. I don’t think there was anything, frankly, unique about it.” He said he was unaware of the KAC’s connection to the ISI until The Intercept brought it to his attention.
But a former KAC employee said he does not think Fai could have come up with the operation to covertly use Pakistani funds to sway U.S. foreign policy without the firm’s help. “Manafort set it up,” speculated David Wolfe, who was the KAC’s chief government relations liaison from 2005 to 2009. “He found those loopholes, because people don’t look at nonprofits.”
Wolfe joined the KAC a decade after Manafort stopped providing services to the organization. He met Manafort a few times during his work at the KAC, he said, but was not aware at the time of what exactly Manafort’s role with the group had been. But when reports emerged in 2016 that Trump’s campaign manager was linked to a group that was acting on behalf of the ISI and that Manafort had also lobbied on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, Wolfe said he started to connect the dots. “When you start putting the two together about what was going on with the Saudis with Pakistan and Afghanistan at the time of the ’80s, and what the KAC was taken down doing … it really all started to make a lot of sense,” Wolfe told The Intercept. Fai also has ties to Saudi Arabia dating back to the 1980s, and it was the Saudis who bankrolled his emigration to and education in the U.S., according to a 2011 ProPublica report.
During his tenure at the KAC, Wolfe was suspicious of large payments the group received without doing public fundraising in the U.S., and he said he could tell the scheme had been in place for some time, likely with some outside help. “He’s not that clever, which is I think probably why he got caught,” Wolfe said of Fai. He had questions but was not concerned enough to leave his job. “An organization that had that type of money that was coming in without doing any type of proactive fundraising is also a red flag — which I personally knew was a red flag — but I was in it to try to solve the Kashmir crisis,” Wolfe said. Eventually, the FBI contacted Wolfe and asked him to spy on his boss, which he did for about two years. (Both Fai and the FBI declined to comment for this story.)
FBI Special Agent Sarah Linden, who led the investigation into Fai, wrote in her affidavit in support of his arrest that “the KAC does receive some legitimate donations,” but the majority of its funds came from a small group of individuals closely associated with Ahmad, Fai’s accused co-conspirator. Court documents show that Fai eventually admitted to receiving money in sums ranging from $4,000 to $595,193 from the ISI between 1993 and 2011 through Ahmad and a series of middlemen.
Trump brought on Manafort, a longtime political consultant, at no cost in March 2016 to recruit delegates for the upcoming Republican National Convention. Two months later, the then-candidate named Manafort his campaign adviser, again without an official salary. Manafort never asked for one. He did not last long, though, at least not officially; Trump removed Manafort in August amid internal campaign discord and following reports of Manafort’s business dealings with Russian-aligned individuals in Ukraine, including Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On June 9, 2016, 11 days before he was named campaign chair, Manafort, along with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller III has focused on Manafort. When Mueller was appointed to lead the Trump-Russia probe in May, he began to draw from ongoing investigations into Manafort’s business dealings, including one by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and a review of Manafort’s late filings to comply with FARA. The FBI raided the political consultant’s Virginia home in July to secure documents related to the Russia probe and in August, Mueller subpoenaed Manafort’s bank records.
Some 800,000 people brought to the United States as children without proper authorization had their lives thrown into limbo on Tuesday when the Trump administration said that it would eventually be ending a 4-year-old program that affords them legal protections.
“The program known as DACA, that was effectuated under the Obama administration, is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters, ending the program but implementing a six-month-delay before protections are taken away.
The run-up to the announcement played out with the “will-he-or-won’t-he” formulaic drama of a reality TV show, only with real lives at stake. Trump used the suspense of whether the he would kick the “Dreamers” off the island to drive ratings. The move, which came in a Tuesday announcement, was the both a fulfillment of a campaign pledge and a broken promise Trump made to the “Dreamers,” because of the variety of public statements Trump has made on the issue.
On Sunday night, a news item in Politico sparked early public pushback to the yet-to-be-made announcement canceling the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which indefinitely put off deportation for young immigrants in the country without authorization. “Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children,” Politico reported.
The story, however, added: “In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official.”
It wasn’t just a nod to lawmakers, though — it was a nod to Trump himself, who has since the election repeatedly assured DACA recipients that they would be safe under his administration. And, despite Trump’s threats to the contrary, they may still be.
Trump’s base, riled up by two years of campaign rhetoric and presidential statements against immigrants, is thirsty for more enforcement actions. But people close to Trump say he genuinely did not want to end the program. They said Trump is loath to punish someone who was brought to the U.S. as a young child with no say in the matter. That doesn’t mean, however, that Trump’s personal feelings will save the program.
For Dreamers and millions of their friends and family linked to their fates, it means that their fight is starting again, and much of the politics play to their advantage.
One major hint that Trump may not follow through comes in the form the announcement’s delivery vehicle. On Monday, the administration said Sessions will make the announcement at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. When have you ever known Trump to shy away from the cameras?
For signs of whether Trump actually intends to deport nearly a million Dreamers, observers should pay far more attention to the six-month delay than the report that he has “decided to end” the program. During those six months, he’ll ask Congress to deal with the issue. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has made the politics easy for Trump, having already come out against ending the program.
Either Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., fail to act — giving Trump an opening to quietly extend the program again while blaming a do-nothing Congress — or Congress will pass something, and the program gets a blessing from the legislature. In both cases, the Dreamers could retain their protections.
Indeed, Congress falling on its face and Trump extending the program is the scenario people who know Trump best envision.
This is not how Politico story is being read, but reality is this is a signal the president does not actually want to end DACA and 1/
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 4, 2017
The suggestion that Trump will not, in the end, do what he says he is going to do was oddly met with disbelief in some corners of the internet commentariat after journalists tweeted about it Sunday night. To understand how Trump got here, it’s necessary to understand the legal journey the program has taken.
The Obama administration launched DACA in August 2012, giving certain unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children — a group sometimes called “Dreamers” — relief from deportation for two years, along with eligibility for work permits. Enrollment to the program can be renewed after two years, allowing DACA recipients to stay put for longer periods.
The executive action came only after the Democratic-controlled Congress failed to pass the original legislation. The Pew Research Center estimated in 2014 that 1.1 million immigrants without proper legal documents qualified for the program. According to the most recent data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are about 790,000 DACA beneficiaries.
To qualify for the program, applicants must have been younger than 16 when they came to the U.S., younger than 31 as of June 2012, and at least 15 years old at the time of their applications, with a few exceptions. The program, which aimed to allow young immigrants to study and work in the U.S., required applicants to be enrolled in school or have a high school degree or equivalent. (Immigrants with felony convictions and other select major crimes were not eligible for relief under the program.)
The deportation amnesty program has faced a series of legal challenges, most notably after the Obama administration’s November 2014 attempt to expand DACA and create a similar program for parents of citizens called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. Texas and 25 other states with Republican governors filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to enjoin the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA, arguing that the president had abused his powers by circumventing Congress.
A federal judge in the Southern District of Texas granted the injunction in early 2015, and a divided Supreme Court left the injunction in place in June 2016 without setting any precedent.
In June of this year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, nine other state attorneys general, and the governor of Idaho threatened to sue the Trump administration to stop DACA unless the government voluntarily phased out the amnesty program. They promised to drop the pending Texas lawsuit against DAPA and the expanded DACA program if Trump agreed to end DACA by Tuesday, September 5. Otherwise, they threatened to expand the lawsuit to include the entire DACA program.
There is reason to believe that the lawsuit would prevail, and that reason is named Neil Gorsuch, the newest Supreme Court justice. The court deadlocked 4-4 on the previous case, during a period before the late Justice Antonin Scalia had been replaced. There’s little doubt Gorsuch would join the four justices who sided against the administration, and the only hope for DACA recipients would be to flip Justice Anthony Kennedy or another of the original four anti-amnesty votes.
So the Trump administration’s Tuesday announcement accomplished several things at once. It satisfied the states’ attorneys general, who will now pull back on their lawsuit threat. And it satisfied the element of Trump’s base eager for an ultra-hard line on immigration. The protests against the program’s cancellation that have already begun will deepen the feeling among that portion of Trump’s base that he is truly fighting for them.
Given the protests, and the headlines following any likely failed congressional action, a significant portion of Trump’s base will believe that the program was actually ended.
For those who know that it wasn’t, there will be little political pain. Even Trump’s diehard supporters are not clamoring for the end of the program. A Morning Consult poll in June, for instance, found more than seven in 10 Republicans support letting Dreamers stay in the country legally — with two-thirds of those supporting outright citizenship for them. Only 22 percent of Republicans said they wanted DACA recipients deported. Among all voters, just 14 percent supported deportation. That’s not the sort of number that is likely to overwhelm and overcome Trump’s personal opposition to ending the program.
Aside from Morning Consult, Rasmussen has been the pollster that has been most favorable to Trump; he frequently cites Rasmussen in public. So let’s use their numbers: As of this week, just over a quarter of Americans “strongly approve” of Trump’s performance; that can be understood as Trump’s base. Among them, at most half want DACA to end and for Dreamers to be deported, assuming there is perfect overlap between strong Trump supporters and opponents of the program (which there isn’t).
The likelihood of Trump reversing himself and extending the program should not to suggest that DACA recipients don’t face real risks. The limbo itself is a cruel blow, and the uncertainty adds another layer of challenge to all aspects of life, from the personal to the professional. Many of those Dreamers are already facing crises, as undocumented parents and other family members who were not eligible for the program have become targets of Trump’s ramped-up interior deportations.
But the fight is not over, no matter what the reality TV host or his Alabama sidekick announces on Tuesday.
Top photo: A woman hangs a banner at the wall between Mexico and U.S. during a protest against the possibility of deportation of dreamers included in DACA program in Playas de Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on September 4, 2017.
The post Watch What Trump Does, Not What He Says. He May Not Actually End DACA. appeared first on The Intercept.
Você já sentiu nojo, indignação e impotência ao ter seu corpo violado enquanto só desejava chegar em casa após um dia de trabalho ou estudo? Eu já. Infelizmente, é difícil encontrar uma mulher que não tenha compartilhado desses sentimentos ao sofrer assédio no transporte público. Não é nada novo ou incomum. O reflexo de como a coisa vem funcionando está nas manchetes da última semana:
- Homem é preso suspeito de estupro dentro de ônibus na Paulista, em SP
- Outra Mulher é vítima de assédio sexual em ônibus na avenida Paulista
- Homem é preso em flagrante por ejacular em passageira no BRT, no RJ
- Justiça libera suspeito de estupro em ônibus na avenida Paulista, em SP
- Homem solto após ejacular em mulher em ônibus é preso de novo após atacar outra passageira
Pesquisa Datafolha publicada em julho deste ano revela que 35% das mulheres que sofreram assédio estavam no trem, metrô ou ônibus. As denúncias cresceram 850% em quatro anos em São Paulo. Além das muitas subnotificações.
Os recentes casos reacenderam o debate nada novo sobre assédio. No mesmo dia em que o acusado de ejacular em um mulher no ônibus voltou para as ruas, o Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo lançou uma campanha incentivando as vítimas a denunciarem os casos de assédio no transporte público. Os homens em flagrante de situação de assédio passarão por um curso de conscientização sobre os efeitos do machismo. Além disso, em uma ação educativa, cartazes serão espalhados em uma tentativa de ensinar aos homens que o corpo da mulher não está incluso no valor da passagem.
Em uma tentativa de amenizar os efeitos da cultura do estupro em que vivemos – e assumindo que ela existe –, carros femininos no trem e no metrô foram adotados no Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasília e Recife. A priori, a separação de homens e mulheres pode ser uma solução imediata para os casos de assédio. No entanto, além de não contribuir no debate sobre gênero para que o assédio deixe de existir em outros ambientes, mais parece um atestado de que os homens podem a qualquer momento atacar mulheres.
Porém, mesmo essa medida imediatista e extrema – que segrega homens e mulheres para evitar ejaculadas surpresas – não funciona. No Recife, o carro opera desde o início do ano sem sucesso. Não existe fiscalização e homens transitam livremente no espaço que deveria ser reservado às mulheres.
No Rio de Janeiro, dados da Agetransp de abril deste ano revelam que a presença masculina nos vagões especiais dos trens fiscalizados chega próxima a 90%. A aposta da Assembleia Legislativa do Rio para que a medida tenha o resultado esperado é aplicar multas para homens que forem pegos nos horários pré-estabelecidos. Os valores variam de entre R$ 184,70 e R$ 1.152,70, levando em consideração casos de reincidência.
Mudança na lei
A multa também é a pena de 35% dos casos de assédio denunciados no transporte público, quando o assediador chega a ser levado à cadeia, de acordo com levantamento feito pelo jornal “O Globo”. Os juízes classificam os casos como importunação ofensiva ao pudor, que não chega a ser considerado crime, pois não existe uma pena intermediária entre esses casos e o estupro, hediondo.
“É preciso refletir sobre os tipos penalmente relevantes”.
Em 2009, quando houve a mudança na legislação, todo tipo de violência sexual passou a ser considerada estupro e, de acordo com o código penal, para que o ato seja considerado estupro a vítima precisa ser constrangida ao ato carnal ou ato libidinoso. Como, em termos jurídicos, constranger é obrigar e não envergonhar, os casos de assédio têm penas mais brandas de acordo com a interpretação da lei.
A repercussão do caso do ejaculador de São Paulo, que com 17 ocorrências semelhantes continuava sem uma pena mais rígida, levantou o debate sobre mudanças na lei e divide os juristas. Em nota, o presidente do Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo, Paulo Dimas de Bellis Mascaretti, afirmou que “é preciso refletir sobre os tipos penalmente relevantes, sinalizando as condutas de maior reprovabilidade social, que devam ser apenadas de forma mais severa e apontando para as alterações legislativas que se façam necessárias”.
Enquanto as mudanças na lei e gênero estão começando a ser debatidos, mulheres seguem tentando se locomover sem ejaculações surpresas no transporte público.
The post Assédio no transporte público: um problema antigo que ninguém resolve appeared first on The Intercept.
Faltou um tiquinho para o pós-prefeito de São Paulo, João Doria, lançar-se pré-candidato ao Planalto. Em mais uma viagem, dessa vez à França, o (ainda) tucano se derramou em elogios ao presidente Emmanuel Macron. “Ele fez uma revolução nas eleições presidenciais da França”, afirmou Doria. “Rompeu com as tradições e onde haviam (sic) apenas dois partidos, um de esquerda e um de direita, ele veio pelo meio, acelerou e ganhou as eleições”.
Doria, como Macron, quer encarnar o novo, o apolítico. Suas novidades, contudo, não vão muito além das fantasias de gari. Qual um político tradicional em sua pior versão, tem mostrado desapego com a verdade. Anunciou, por exemplo, que teria um almoço com o primeiro-ministro francês, mas a equipe de Édouard Philippe disse que o encontro nunca foi marcado. Para a assessoria do tucano, foi apenas um desencontro.Destino cabe a Deus
Também a exemplo dos engravatados de Brasília, Doria se mostra disposto a traições para chegar aonde quer. Perguntado sobre uma possível saída do PSDB, disse que pretende ficar até que alguma “circunstância” o impeça. “Cabe a Deus indicar, iluminar e definir qual é o destino”, disse.
Certo. Enquanto isso, São Paulo também segue à mercê da graça divina. Segundo levantamento do UOL, até o início de agosto o tucano era o prefeito com menos projetos enviados à Câmara em 32 anos. O segundo pior nessa avaliação, José Serra, também tinha a cabeça em outro cargo à época. Na metade do mandato, deixaria a Prefeitura para se eleger ao Estado.
The post Com almoço desmentido e cobiça pelo Planalto, Doria se revela cada vez mais político puro-sangue appeared first on The Intercept.
“Nunca quis ser igual ao Moro, não sou”. A frase do juiz da 7ª Vara Federal Criminal do Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Bretas, responsável pelos processos da Operação Lava Jato no estado, deu título à reportagem publicada no último fim de semana sobre o magistrado no “Estadão”. A matéria, feita com base em quatro entrevistas realizadas ao longo de dez dias, revela detalhes de sua rotina: das idas regulares à igreja evangélica às séries de exercícios três vezes por semana, com corrida e musculação. Mais do que isso, o texto deixa uma pergunta no ar: estaria surgindo um novo candidato a super-herói no Judiciário?
Se, até agora, adotava uma linha bem mais discreta do que Sérgio Moro, que se transformou numa espécie de popstar para boa parte de uma nação desacreditada na classe política, Bretas vem aos poucos incorporando o ar de ídolo do colega de Curitiba de quem quer se diferenciar. A bagagem para se tornar um herói é considerável: é do juiz federal do Rio a caneta que colocou na cadeia o ex-governador Sérgio Cabral, que, com diversos aliados, castigou as finanças fluminenses com seus incontáveis esquemas de corrupção.Embate com Gilmar Mendes
O passo definitivo para a glória foi dado no fim do mês passado. Para tentar manter presos Jacob Barata Filho, conhecido como “Rei dos Ônibus”, e outros empresários do setor acusados de corrupção, Bretas peitou ninguém menos do que Gilmar Mendes, ministro do Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) que vem se esforçando para ser mais impopular do que o presidente Michel Temer.
Ao menos até agora, o magistrado do Rio perdeu a queda de braço contra Mendes. Os empresários saíram da cadeia e o ministro do STF, ao que tudo indica, não será impedido de atuar no processo mesmo tendo sido padrinho de casamento de Barata Filho. Bretas ainda teve que ouvir desaforo do colega de Brasília: “Em geral, o rabo não abana o cachorro”.
Peitar uma figura tão impopular, porém, aumentou a comoção em torno de Bretas. No dia 24 de agosto, colegas juízes e celebridades como Thiago Lacerda, Marcelo Serrado e Christiane Torloni fizeram uma manifestação de apoio ao magistrado. “Bretas, o Rio, está com você”, dizia o principal cartaz do ato, com uma vírgula separando o sujeito do predicado, de autoria desconhecida.Medalha na Câmara de Vereadores
Além do apoio da classe artística, o juiz já havia recebido uma homenagem pública em junho deste ano, na Câmara de Vereadores do Rio. Graças a uma proposta do vereador evangélico Otoni de Paula (PSC), Bretas foi condecorado com a Medalha Pedro Ernesto, maior honraria da Casa. Figura polêmica, Otoni foi notícia em diversos sites na semana passada ao chamar a cantora Anitta de garota de programa.
No fim do mês passado, Bretas também brilhou nas páginas de jornais e sites de notícias ao aparecer ao lado de Sérgio Moro na pré-estreia do filme “Polícia Federal: a Lei é para Todos”, em Curitiba. Na entrevista ao “Estadão”, disse que “não fica incomodado” com as especulações de que o galã Thiago Lacerda possa interpretá-lo numa eventual sequência do longa.Veto a entrevistas com Cabral
Enquanto caminha para ser cada vez mais presente na mídia, Bretas limita o acesso da imprensa ao réu dos processos que o notabilizaram. No dia 16 de agosto, ele proibiu entrevistas de dois dos melhores repórteres investigativos do Rio – Chico Otávio, de “O Globo”, e Ítalo Nogueira, da “Folha” – com o ex-governador Sérgio Cabral. Alega que não haveria “interesse público” nas reportagens e que “as informações pertinentes são acessíveis à imprensa”. A decisão foi ratificada em segunda instância.
Daqui para frente, resta saber se vai valer a máxima do futebol de que juiz bom é aquele que passa despercebido nas partidas.
Ou se o país terá mais um super-herói de toga para chamar de seu.
The post Juiz da Lava Jato no Rio, Marcelo Bretas caminha para o posto de novo super-herói da Justiça appeared first on The Intercept.
The most alarming aspect of North Korea’s latest nuclear test, and the larger standoff with the U.S., is how little is known about how North Korea truly functions. For 65 years it’s been sealed off from the rest of the world to a degree hard to comprehend, especially at a time when people in Buenos Aires need just one click to share cat videos shot in Kuala Lumpur. Few outsiders have had intimate contact with North Korean society, and even fewer are in a position to talk about it.
One of the extremely rare exceptions is the novelist and journalist Suki Kim. Kim, who was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. at age thirteen, spent much of 2011 teaching English to children of North Korea’s elite at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim had visited North Korea several times before and written about it for Harper’s Magazine and the New York Review of Books. Incredibly, however, neither Kim’s North Korean minders nor the Christian missionaries who founded and run PUST realized that she was there undercover to engage in some of the history’s riskiest investigative journalism.
Although all of PUST’s staff was kept under constant surveillance, Kim kept notes and documents on hidden USB sticks and her camera’s SIM card. If they had been discovered, she almost certainly would have been accused of espionage and faced imprisonment in the country’s terrifying labor camps. In fact, of the three Americans currently detained in North Korea, two were teachers at PUST. Moreover, the Pentagon has in fact used a Christian NGO as a front for genuine spying on North Korea.
But Kim was never caught, and returned to the U.S. to write her extraordinary 2014 book, “Without You, There Is No Us.” The title comes from the lyrics of an old North Korean song; the “you” is Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father.
Kim’s book is particularly important for anyone who wants to understand what happens next with North Korea. Her experience made her extremely pessimistic about every aspect of the country, including the regime’s willingness to ever renounce its nuclear weapons program. North Korea functions, she believes, as a true cult, with all of the country’s pre-cult existence now passed out of human memory.
Most ominously, her students, all young men in their late teens or early twenties, were firmly embedded in the cult. With the Kim family autocracy now on its third generation, you’d expect the people who actually run North Korea to have abandoned whatever ideology they started with, and have degenerated into standard human corruption. But PUST’s enrollees, their children, did not go skiing in Gstaad on school breaks; they didn’t even appear to be able to travel anywhere in North Korea. Instead they studied the North Korea ideology of “Juche,” or worked on collective farms.
Unsurprisingly, then, Kim’s students were shockingly ignorant of the outside world. They didn’t recognize pictures of the Taj Mahal or Egyptian pyramids. One had heard that everyone on earth spoke Korean because it was recognized as the world’s most superior language. Another believed that the Korean dish naengmyeon was seen as the best food on earth. And all Kim’s pupils were soaked in a culture of lying, telling her preposterous falsehoods so often that she writes, “I could not help but think that they – my beloved students – were insane.” Nonetheless, they were still recognizably human and charmingly innocent, and for their part came to adore their teachers.
Overall, “Without You, There Is No Us” is simply excruciating sad. All of Korea has been the plaything of Japan, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China, and like most Korean families, Kim’s has close relatives who ended up in North Korea when the country was separated and have never been seen again. Korea is now, Kim says, irrevocably ruptured:
It occurred to me that it was all futile, the fantasy of Korean unity, the five thousand years of Korean identity, because the unified nation was broken, irreparably, in 1945 when a group of politicians drew a random line across the map, separating families who would die without ever meeting again, with all their sorrow and anger and regret unrequited, their bodies turning to earth, becoming part of this land … behind the children of the elite who were now my children for a brief time, these lovely, lying children, I saw very clearly that there was no redemption here.
The Intercept spoke recently to Kim about her time in North Korea and the perceptive it gives her on the current crisis.
JON SCHWARZ: I found your book just overwhelmingly sorrowful. As an American, I can’t imagine being somewhere that’s been brutalized by not just one powerful country, but two or three or four. Then the government of North Korea, and to a lesser degree the government of South Korea, used that suffering to consolidate their own power. And then maybe saddest of all was to see these young men, your students, who were clearly still people, but inside a terrible system and on a path to doing terrible things to everybody else in North Korea.
SUKI KIM: Right, because there’s no other way of being in that country. We don’t have any other country like that. People so easily compare North Korea to Cuba or East Germany or even China. But none of them have been like North Korea – this amount of isolation, this amount of control. It encompasses every aspect of dictatorship-slash-cult.
What I was thinking about when I was living there is it’s almost too late to undo this. The young men I was living with had never known any other way.
The whole thing begins with the division of Korea in 1945. People think it began with the Korean War, but the Korean War only happened because of the 1945 division [of Korea by the U.S. and Soviet Union at the end of World War II]. What we’re seeing is Korea stuck in between.
JS: Essentially no Americans know what happened between 1945 and the start of the Korean War. And few Americans know what happened during the war. [Syngman Rhee, the U.S.-installed ultra-right wing South Korean dictator, massacred tens of thousands of South Koreans before North Korea invaded in 1950. Rhee’s government executed another 100,000 South Koreans in the war’s early months. Then the barbaric U.S. air war against North Korea killed perhaps one-fifth of its population.]
SK: This “mystery of North Korea” that people talk about all the time – people should be asking why Korea is divided and why there are American soldiers in South Korea. These questions are not being asked at all. Once you look at how this whole thing began it makes some sense why North Korea uses this hatred of the United States as a tool to justify and uphold the Great Leader myth. Great Leader has always been the savior and the rescuer who was protecting them from the imperialist American attack. That story is why North Korea has built their whole foundation not only on the Juche philosophy but hatred of the United States.
JS: Based on your experience, how do you perceive the nuclear issue with North Korea?
SK: Nothing will change because it’s an unworkable problem. It’s very dishonest to think this can be solved. North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons. Never.
The only way North Korea can be dealt with is if this regime is not the way it is. No agreements are ever honored because North Korea just doesn’t do that. It’s a land of lies. So why keep making agreements with someone who’s never going to honor those agreements?
And ultimately what all the countries surrounding North Korea want is a regime change. What they’re doing is pretending to have an agreement saying they do not want a regime change, but pursuing regime change anyway.
Despite it all you have to constantly do engagement efforts, throwing information in there. That’s the only option. There’s no other way North Korea will change. Nothing will ever change without the outside pouring some resources in there.
JS: What is the motivation of the people who actually call the shots in North Korea to hold onto the nuclear weapons?
SK: They don’t have anything else. There’s literally nothing else they can rely on. The fact they’re a nuclear power is the only reason anyone would be negotiating with them at this point. It’s their survival.
Regime change is what they fear. That’s what the whole country is built on.
JS: Even with a different kind of regime, it’s hard to argue that it would be rational for them to give up their nuclear weapons, after seeing what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
SK: This is a very simple equation. There is no reason for them to give up nuclear weapons. Nothing will make them give them up.
JS: I’ve always believed that North Korea would never engage in a nuclear first strike just out of self-preservation. But your description of your students did honestly give me pause. It made me think the risk of miscalculation on their part is higher than I realized.
SK: It was paradoxical. They could be very smart, yet could be completely deluded about everything. I don’t see why that would be different in the people who run the country. The ones that foreigners get to meet, like diplomats, are sophisticated and can talk to you on your level. But at the same time they also have this other side where they have really been raised to think differently, their reality is skewed. North Korea is the center of the universe, the rest of the world kind of doesn’t exist. They’ve been living this way for 70 years, in a complete cult.
My students did not know what the internet was, in 2011. Computer majors, from the best schools in Pyongyang. The system really is that brutal, for everyone.
JS: Even their powerful parents seemed to have very little ability to make any decisions involving their children. They couldn’t have their children come home, they couldn’t come out and visit.
SK: You would expect that exceptions were always being made [for children of elites] but that just wasn’t true. They couldn’t call home. There was no way of communicating with their parents at all. There are literally no exceptions made. There is no power or agency.
I also found it shocking that they had not been anywhere within their own country. You would think that of all these elite kids that at least some would have seen the famous mountains [of North Korea]. None of them had.
That absoluteness is why North Korea is the way it is.
JS: What would you recommend if you could create the North Korea policy for the U.S. and other countries?
SK: It’s a problem that no one has been able to solve.
It’s not a system that they can moderate. The Great Leader can’t be moderated. You can’t be a little bit less god. The Great Leader system has to break.
But it’s impossible to imagine. I find it to be a completely bleak problem. People have been deprived of any tools that they need, education, information, sharing tools.
[Military] intervention is not going to work because it’s a nuclear power. I guess it has to happen in pouring information into North Korea in whatever capacity.
But then the population are abused victims of a cult ideology. Even if the Great Leader is gone, another form of dictatorship will take its place.
Every path is a catastrophe. This is why even defectors, when they flee, usually turn into devout fundamentalist Christians. I’d love to offer up solutions but everything leads to a dead end.
One thing that gave me a small bit of hope is the fact that Kim Jong-un is more reckless than the previous leader [his father Kim Jong-il]. To get your uncle and brother killed within a few years of riding to power, that doesn’t really bode well for a guy who’s only there because of his family name. His own bloodline is the only thing keeping him in that position. You shouldn’t be killing your own family members, that’s self-sabotage.
JS: Looking at history, it seems to me that normally what you’d expect is that eventually the royal family will get too nuts, the grandson will be too crazy, and the military and whatever economic powers there are are going to decide, well, we don’t need this guy anymore. So we’re going to get rid of this guy and then the military will run things. But that’s seems impossible in North Korea: You must have this family in charge, the military couldn’t say, oh by the way, the country’s now being run by some general.
SK: They already built the brand, Great Leader is the most powerful brand. That’s why the assassination of [Kim Jong-un’s older half-brother and the original heir to the Kim dynasty] Kim Jong-nam was really a stupid thing to do. Basically that assassination proved that this royal bloodline can be murdered. And that leaves the room open for that possibility. Because there are other bloodline figures for them to put in his place. He’s not the only one. So to kill [Jong-nam] set the precedent that this can happen.
JS: One small thing I found particularly appalling was the buddy system with your students, where everyone had a buddy and spent all their time with their buddy and seemed like the closest of friends – and then your buddy was switched and you never spent time with your old buddy again.
SK: The buddy system is just to keep up the system of surveillance. It doesn’t matter that these are 19-year-old boys making friends. That’s how much humanity is not acknowledged or respected whatsoever. There’s a North Korean song which compares each citizen to a bullet in this great weapon for the Great Leader. And that’s the way they live.
JS: I was also struck by your description of the degeneration of language in North Korea. [Kim writes that “Each time I visited the DPRK, I was shocked anew by their bastardization of the Korean language. Curses had taken root not only in their conversation and speeches but in their written language. They were everywhere – in poems, newspapers, in official Workers’ Party speeches, even in the lyrics of songs … It was like finding the words fuck and shit in a presidential speech or on the front page of the New York Times.”]
SK: Yes, I think the language does reflect the society. Of course, the whole system is built around the risk of an impending war. So that violence has changed the Korean language. Plus these guys are thugs, Kim Jong-un and all the rest of them, that’s their taste and it’s become the taste of the country.
JS: Authoritarians universally seem to have terrible taste.
SK: It’s interesting to be analyzing North Korea in this period of time in America because there are a lot of similarities. Look at Trump’s non-stop tweeting about “fake news” and how great he is. That’s very familiar, that’s what North Korea does. It’s just endless propaganda. All these buildings with all these slogans shouting at you all the time, constantly talking about how the enemies are lying all the time.
Those catchy one liners, how many words are there in a tweet? It’s very similar to those [North Korean] slogans.
This country right now, where you’re no longer able to tell what’s true or what’s a lie, starting from the top, that’s North Korea’s biggest problem. America should really look at that, there’s a lesson.
JS: Well, I felt bad after I read your book and I feel even worse now.
SK: To be honest, I wonder if tragedies have a time limit – not to fix them, but to make them less horrifying. And I feel like it’s just too late. If you wipe out humanity to this level, and have three generations of it … when you see the humanity of North Koreans is when the horror becomes that much greater. You see how humanity can be so distorted, and manipulated, and violated.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The post Undercover in North Korea: “All Paths Lead to Catastrophe” appeared first on The Intercept.
Um ano após ter tomado definitivamente o poder com a ajuda do Congresso, Michel Temer e sua turma têm pouco a comemorar. São fracassos, recuos e vexames sucessivos em todas as áreas do governo. O balanço é desastroso. Trata-se de uma retumbante tragédia sob qualquer ponto de vista.
Até aqui, a grande marca do governo comandado por Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia é a forma camaleônica com que se relaciona com a sociedade. É austero com o povo, generoso com parlamentares e servil ao alto empresariado e ao mercado financeiro. Enquanto corta direitos das camadas da população que mais dependem do Estado, despeja rios de dinheiro sobre a Câmara e busca atender aos interesses do mercado através de reformas e vendas de estatais a preço de banana. Dessa forma, Temer tem garantido a blindagem contra às denúncias de corrupção que caem sobre sua cabeça.
Cortes no Bolsa Família e no Fies
Nada parece funcionar nesse governo. Boa parte das promessas feitas no início do mandato hoje soam como piada. Logo após a votação do impeachment na Câmara, em seu discurso de posse, Temer afirmou que “nenhuma das reformas alteraria os direitos adquiridos pelos cidadãos brasileiros”. Prometeu também, em letras garrafais para que ninguém duvidasse, que aprimoraria os programas sociais:
“reafirmo, e o faço em letras garrafais: vamos manter os programas sociais. O Bolsa Família, o Pronatec, o Fies, o Prouni, o Minha Casa Minha Vida, entre outros, são projetos que deram certo, e, portanto, terão sua gestão aprimorada”
Bem, nenhum desses programas foi aprimorado. Pelo contrário, eles foram dilacerados. O Bolsa Família sofreu o maior corte da história, justamente em um momento de crise econômica e desemprego. O Fies foi reduzido pela metade e os estudantes mais pobres agora estão sujeitos à análise de concessão de crédito de instituições financeiras privadas. No ano passado, o Minha Casa Minha Vida recebeu menos da metade do que recebeu em 2015 e, este ano, cumpriu até agora apenas 27% da meta, sendo que o atraso maior está na contratação dos imóveis de baixa renda. Esses são alguns dos muitos exemplos que refletem as prioridades deste governo.
Sem popularidade, sem legitimidade, mas com apoio maciço do Congresso e das elites, Temer decidiu colocar dos mais pobres a conta da crise econômica. Mas nem assim foi capaz de colocar a economia nos trilhos. O crescimento medíocre de 0.2%, baixíssimo para quem já não vinha crescendo nada, está entre os mais baixos do mundo no segundo trimestre deste ano. Só não é mais baixo que o aumento do PIB de Taiwan e Cingapura. Apesar de ter revertido uma sequência de 12 quedas, o tímido crescimento não mascara o desastre da política econômica, que deixará um rombo de R$159 bilhões para o próximo governo.
Nunca antes um presidente tão impopular
Temer bateu todos os recordes de rejeição e é o presidente mais mal avaliado da história do país. 93% do povo brasileiro está insatisfeito com o presidente. Não é de se estranhar. Foi eleito para ser vice-presidente de uma chapa de coalizão de centro-esquerda, mas tomou o poder com o objetivo de estancar a sangria e implantar o programa de centro-direita de Aécio Neves, derrotado nas eleições.
Temer também prometeu proteger a Lava Jato:
“A moral pública será permanentemente buscada por meio dos instrumentos de controle e apuração de desvios. Nesse contexto, tomo a liberdade de dizer que a Lava Jato tornou-se referência e como tal, deve ter proteção contra qualquer tentativa de enfraquecê-la”.
Essa talvez seja a melhor anedota de todas. Temer falou isso como se a gente não conhecesse o roteiro da trama revelado no áudio do Jucá. O presidente fez o diabo para sufocar a Lava Jato. Houve troca de ministro da Justiça para tentar retomar influência na PF, redução da equipe da força-tarefa e um grande corte de verbas para a instituição.
Apesar dos esforços, a sangria não foi completamente estancada. Uma nova denúncia de Janot contra Temer está quentinha na boca do forno. Na semana de aniversário do golpe, novos elementos surgiram na investigação contra Temer por obstrução de justiça e formação de quadrilha. O ex-doleiro e operador de Cunha, Lúcio Funaro, revelou em delação que Joesley teria comprado o seu silêncio.
Janot pretende complementar essa nova informação com a delação de Joesley, que é sustentada pelo famoso áudio em que o empresário afirma que está pagando mensalmente a Cunha e o presidente responde que “tem que manter isso aí, viu”.
Assim, Janot acredita que pode confirmar definitivamente a tese de que Temer e Joesley pagaram para que Cunha e Funaro não revelassem mais nada sobre esquemas de corrupção que envolvem a cúpula do PMDB. Mas, convenhamos, sabemos que isso não dará em nada. O Grande Acordo Nacional se mostrou firme após o arquivamento da primeira denúncia de Janot pela Câmara.
Enquanto sua antecessora já coleciona 5 absolvições, Michel Temer entrará para a história como o único presidente denunciado criminalmente. O aniversário de um ano não poderia ser comemorado de forma mais emblemática. Temos o presidente na China, Shéridan no comando da reforma política, Rodrigo Maia presidente da República e Fufuquinha presidente da Câmara.
The post Governo Temer completa 1 ano sem nada para comemorar appeared first on The Intercept.
The FBI Pressured a Lonely Young Man Into a Bomb Plot. He Tried to Back Out. Now He’s Serving Life in Prison.
Harlem Suarez was an unlikely jihadi.
When he was born in Cuba, Suarez had blue skin. His fragile brain had been deprived of oxygen, a tragedy his family points to in explaining his lifelong social and intellectual challenges. As a child, Suarez also suffered several significant head injuries, including being struck by a brick and falling off motorcycles without a helmet on. His parents brought him to Key West, Florida, in 2004, when he was 12 years old. He struggled in the public education system and dropped out of high school. He then took odd jobs in Key West — stocking store shelves, cleaning up restaurants, working in kitchens. Even after more than a decade in the United States, he spoke English without confidence.
In 2015, seeing reports about the Islamic State on cable news, Suarez became intrigued by the terrorist group, he explained to an FBI informant. He was 23 years old at the time and still living in Key West. He was slender and fit, with tattoos covering his chest, stomach, and arms. He wore his brown hair cropped close to his scalp, and a goatee covered the bottom of his chin.
Suarez began to identify as Muslim and gave himself an Arabic name: Almlak Alaswd, which translates to “dark angel.” He said he wanted to be part of ISIS, but he knew little about the group or its rival organizations. He thought Osama bin Laden had founded ISIS, and he admitted to an FBI informant that he didn’t know what Hamas was or how the group was different from ISIS.
A U.S. military officer in the inactive reserves, Skaik was born in the Middle East and moved to the U.S. at age 16. He was fluent in Arabic, his first language, and he spoke English with a flawless American accent. When the FBI recruited Skaik in late 2014, he was a research assistant at a Florida medical school, and he had ambitions to study to be a doctor. The FBI offered what was essentially a part-time gig posing online as a man sympathetic to and interested in ISIS.
Following FBI instructions, Skaik sent Suarez a Facebook friend request. “Hey, brother, can you add me, please?” Skaik wrote. “I have something extremely important to communicate to you.”
Suarez accepted the friend request. On his profile, Suarez said he lived in Miami. Skaik was just north in West Palm Beach, so not knowing that Suarez was actually in Key West, the informant assumed he and Suarez were practically neighbors.
“It’s good to see someone around here that lives nearby me,” Skaik wrote on Facebook. “A word of advice: I’ve been down your alley and got my accounts taken down numerous times. I would be very careful not to post things onto my account relating to my location. Just an advice from a brother to another. I hope to get to know you.”
Suarez replied by sending Skaik his cellphone number, and they began to exchange text messages. Suarez explained that he wasn’t in Miami but was instead “more down,” referring to the Florida Keys to the south.
“I have a car,” Skaik texted. “We can go to the mosque and train together.”
“I was trying to make timers bomb,” Suarez told him.
The message startled Skaik, he later told a jury. He didn’t anticipate that Suarez would so readily disclose his attempts to a build a bomb. Skaik sent a message to his FBI handler, and Suarez quickly became a priority. Within days, Skaik was making the four-hour drive to Key West. He and Suarez first met in the parking lot of Japanese steakhouse chain Benihana. Suarez drove up on a black and white Yamaha moped. He was wearing black sunglasses and a black, long-sleeve, button-down shirt. “How you doing?” Suarez said, greeting Skaik. Still seated on his moped, Suarez gave the informant a hug. “You really are driving a moped,” Skaik said with surprise.
He and Skaik walked to a wooded area near the Key West airport. Once they were in a secluded spot, Suarez opened his bag and showed off his equipment. He had two body armor vests. He had a handgun. “I show you one of these, brother,” he told Skaik, who secretly videotaped the encounter. “I’ve been getting ready, boy. This shit cost a lot of money.” He then pulled out an AR-15 assault rifle.
Suarez’s small arsenal seemed to confirm the FBI’s initial concerns. But there were also early indications that Suarez might have been more of an aimless big talker than a violent jihadi. He was not familiar with Dabiq, the ISIS magazine that had become essential reading for wannabe ISIS members, and he wasn’t watching ISIS propaganda videos on the dark web but instead on CNN. When the informant asked him how he communicated with people overseas, suggesting that encrypted methods would be most appropriate, Suarez was stumped and seemed to know nothing about encryption.
“Do you use, like, WhatsApp?” the FBI informant asked.
“Well, I use Facebook,” Suarez replied. “I was trying to use, um, how you call this thing — Tweeter?”
“Twitter,” Skaik corrected.
Suarez admitted that he didn’t have a plan of attack, and he also was under the impression that ISIS members had been flowing into the United States through the U.S.-Mexico border by the hundreds with the help of drug cartels. “We ain’t alone, you know?” he told Skaik with authority. “But it’s, it’s hard to find another of us, like — I don’t know why.”
Suarez’s research skills left a lot to be desired. He told the informant there wasn’t a mosque in Key West. (There was one, about 5 miles from his apartment.) And he seemed to know little about Islam. (“I heard that you cannot, you cannot, um, eat pork, right?” he asked Skaik.)
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI’s top priority has been to stop attacks in the U.S. before they occur. The bureau’s primary tool has been a policy of preemption, with undercover agents and informants looking for would-be terrorists before they have the opportunity to strike. Sting operations, in which agents or informants lead targets right up to the brink of a supposed attack and then arrest them, are the hallmarks of the FBI’s preemption policy. Since September 2001, nearly 300 people have been arrested and indicted following terrorism stings in which the FBI provided the means and opportunity necessary for the terrorist plot. A 2014 Human Rights Watch report found that many of these cases resulted in prosecutions against “individuals who perhaps would never have participated in a terrorist act on their own initiative.”
Following that report, as ISIS gained territory in the Middle East and began to distribute its propaganda widely over the internet and with a greater level of sophistication than Al Qaeda had exhibited, the FBI in 2015 refocused much of its counterterrorism resources inside the U.S. on ISIS — on so-called lone wolves who, inspired by ISIS propaganda, move forward with attacks on their own. FBI officials point to Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in June 2016, as an example of a successful ISIS lone wolf. To date, 66 ISIS sympathizers have been arrested following FBI stings, some for plotting attacks like Mateen’s and others for conspiring to travel to Syria to join the ranks of ISIS proper.
Suarez presented a conundrum for the FBI. He said he wanted to join ISIS, even though his understanding of the group and its religion was rudimentary. He was actively looking for likeminded people, even though he admitted he wasn’t finding any. He had body armor vests, even though he didn’t have the armored plates that slip inside. He had weapons, including an assault rifle, even though he admitted he didn’t have much ammunition.
“What would you do in a situation like that?” said Peter Ahearn, a retired FBI special agent who headed the field office in Buffalo, New York. “Would you want to be the agent who let this guy go, and then you find out later that he killed people in some attack?”
It’s a valid question. But as the FBI aggressively investigated Suarez, the government’s case turned on its head, with Suarez quickly transforming from the potential hunter into the very real hunted.
Skaik introduced the young man to two undercover agents who played the parts of hardened ISIS members. One claimed to be military-trained; the other said he was a professional bomb maker. Suarez, who realized too late that he was playing with fire in exploring his naive curiosity about ISIS, tried to back out in passive ways, the FBI’s evidence showed. He didn’t return calls and was consistently hard to reach. When the FBI agents asked for money to build a bomb, Suarez claimed to be broke, though he would later say he had $4,000 in the bank. Instead of participating in a bomb plot on the Fourth of July holiday, as he’d discussed with undercover agents, Suarez dodged their calls and instead went out drinking in Key West.
But Suarez was worried about consequences. Skaik knew where Suarez and his parents lived, and Suarez had no reason to doubt these men were from the murderous group he’d been hearing about on cable news. He didn’t know how to get out of the situation he’d created. “I was worried about my parents’ life,” Suarez later told a jury. Suarez said he had concocted a plan to protect himself and his family. If these ISIS guys wanted him to plant a bomb, he’d take that bomb to an isolated beach and detonate it. No one would die; no one would get hurt. He’d fulfill his obligation and protect his family. But it didn’t work out that way.
Over a period of about two weeks, Suarez and Skaik spoke by phone a half-dozen times after meeting in person in Key West. Their rough plan was to film a video for ISIS, post it online, and then launch some sort of bomb attack on the Fourth of July. Skaik said he had an ISIS contact who could provide the bomb.
But while Suarez never outright rebuffed Skaik’s prodding to make a video and move forward with an attack, he was much more concerned about grinding out his day-to-day existence. “I’m kind of like getting stressed out because no job, and bills, bills, they’re still coming and coming,” Suarez told Skaik. Suarez was so hard up that he’d fenced his assault rifle, which he owned legally, to a pawnshop. Suarez was apologetic, because he and Skaik had discussed how he’d hold the AR assault rifle in the ISIS video they were to make. But the hiccup didn’t concern the FBI informant.
“Well, that’s OK,” Skaik said. “Then you can, I mean, you can … hold my rifle then. It’s not a big deal.”
In FBI stings, informants often develop close relationships with their targets, either as father figures or close friends. Suarez’s conversations with Skaik suggested the Key West man was lonely, heartbroken, and had few friends. He confided in Skaik that he and his girlfriend had recently broken up after he’d suggested that they have a threesome with her female friend. “She told me that she’s not like that kinda type of (sic) girl,” Suarez told him. He later heard that his ex-girlfriend was in another relationship. “I should not care, ’cause, you know, we wasn’t together, but like, you know, I really, like, love her, you know what I’m saying?”
Skaik responded by lavishing Suarez with praise. He told Suarez that he wanted to join ISIS and always figured he’d have to travel to Syria to do it. Until he’d met Suarez, he said, he’d never imagined he could be an ISIS member here in the United States.
“When I met you, I knew there was something about you,” Skaik told Suarez by phone. “You know, like, I knew that I don’t have to go overseas; I knew you were the real deal, you know, like, I was like, ‘This guy, he’s a leader, he’s a fantastic leader.’ I think you are, man.”
Suarez was similarly effusive about their bromance. “It’s not just me; it’s me and you, you know. We are the brain, and we’re gonna be the bosses, you know; it’s me and you together, you know. You know what I’m saying, like, I cannot do this without you either, you know?”On May 23, 2015, Suarez and Skaik met at a Knights Inn hotel in Homestead, just south of Miami. Skaik brought the video camera. As they were setting up, Skaik asked Suarez what his latest thoughts were about their Fourth of July bombing plans. As usual, Suarez’s ideas were half-baked.
“So are we gonna do anything in Key West? Like on the Fourth of July? Is there a lot stuff that goes on over there?” Skaik asked.
“We cannot do — we must do it, like, around here. Homestead.”
“Homestead?” Skaik asked, surprised.
“Yeah, close in the, you know, middle, middle,” Suarez answered.
“Gotcha. What’s in Homestead?”
“I don’t know,” Suarez admitted.
For the video, Suarez dressed in all black and wore a ski mask that covered everything but his eyes. He also wore one of his body armor vests (he still didn’t have the armored plates) and a black and yellow scarf around his neck. Sitting on the floor of the hotel room, a white wall behind him, Suarez read from a rough script that he and Skaik had come up with over lunch at Burger King. Skaik aimed the video camera.
“All right, let’s, let’s try to do one without the paper,” Suarez said, referring to the script.
“OK,” Skaik said.
“Let’s see how, how it goes.”
Suarez then cleared his throat and Skaik began the countdown: “Three, two, one —”
“I call to all my brothers worldwide to come to USA soil,” Suarez said, beginning his monologue. “Brought your weapons, AK, grenades, bring all your tanks. Shit, hold on. Fuck.”
“OK, you wanna redo it?” Skaik asked.
“Yeah,” Suarez said.
Skaik started the countdown again: “Three, two, one —”
“I call to all my brothers in the worldwide,” Suarez said. “Stand up for our right, our Muslims’ right. Brought your AK and shoot everyone against us. This is the time to fight for the caliphate and create the entire worldwide caliphate.” Suarez paused. “Well?” he asked.
“Good. All right, we recorded this one,” Skaik said. “That’s perfect.”
The FBI had their jihadi video. Now agents needed a bomb plot.
On June 3, 2015, Skaik traveled again to Key West, this time with his supposed ISIS associate, an FBI agent who went by the name Sharif. A decorated soldier who had received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service in Iraq, Sharif had been working undercover for the FBI for about three years. His real name has not been disclosed.
Skaik and Sharif picked up Suarez, and together they went to Denny’s for lunch. Suarez seemed perplexed by Sharif. A black man with an American accent who was not only Muslim, but a member of ISIS? It didn’t make sense to him.
“But wait, wait, wait, you’re American?” Suarez asked him.
“Yeah,” Sharif answered.
“Oh, for real?”
Sharif provided his cover story: He was born in the United States, but his father taught him Arabic. He then moved overseas with his family and spent nearly two years in the Middle East before joining the U.S. Army, where he specialized in supplies and logistics.
Suarez and Sharif exchanged small talk. Suarez admitted that he didn’t speak “the Muslim language,” but that he understood what ISIS was standing for and he wanted to be part of the movement.
“I like you, brother,” Sharif told Suarez.
“Thank you,” Suarez replied.
“I told you he’s, uh, very, very smart guy, and, you know, and a great leader too,” Skaik said.
“Very smart, very smart,” Sharif followed.
Suarez insisted to Skaik and Sharif that he wanted to learn how to make bombs; he needed someone to teach him. But the FBI consistently steered him toward a plan in which they’d provide the bomb. “It’s like someone cooking, you know?” Skaik told him over lunch. “Like, I can tell you how to make that pasta, but when you make it, it tastes like shit!”
Even as they were directing Suarez, Skaik and Sharif spoke to him as if he were the leader. “Sheikh, I’m not trying to question your leadership,” Sharif said. Sharif told him that he had a contact who could build a bomb; Suarez just needed to kick in a little bit of money for the materials. “I mean realistically, how much money do you think you have to put toward this, to get them started on this?” Sharif asked him.
“Right now, I don’t have enough,” Suarez said.
“You don’t have, uh — I’m sorry, what’d you say?”
“I don’t have, like — I’m kinda short.”
Suarez explained that not only did he not have money, but he also didn’t have any of his guns. He’d pawned them for cash. Nevertheless, he seemed to be living in a wandering fantasy, constantly talking of different targets, from bombing a police cruiser to taking the bomb to a pool, despite having no clear means to launch any such attack. It appeared to frustrate the undercover FBI agent.
“Bro, brother, you, you said, like, cop car, you said open places, you said —” Sharif said, his voice terse.
“No, I know, I know, but uh —” Suarez replied, stumbling over his words.
“When I leave here, you tell me exactly what you want, what you want to do, when you want to do it, how many, how big, how little. I go talk to the brothers.”
Two days later, Skaik called Suarez. He said he saw Sharif at the mosque and his ISIS contact had agreed to make a bomb for Suarez. He also agreed to teach Suarez how to make a bomb after he’d planted the first one, Skaik explained, but he didn’t have many details. “I’m just a middleman,” Skaik said.
“What do you mean?” Suarez asked him. “You’re my partner.”
Skaik laughed uncomfortably.
“You’re my right hand,” Suarez added.
The FBI sting was moving along. But then, out of nowhere, Suarez dropped out of contact for 21 days. He didn’t return calls or respond to text messages.
On June 30, 2015, Suarez finally called Skaik. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you, man,” Skaik told him. “Like, have you been getting my text messages at all?”
Suarez’s explanation for losing contact was convoluted. His phone’s screen had cracked. He was working a lot. But Skaik moved quickly to endear himself to the target again. “I just miss you,” the informant told Suarez. He explained that he’d stalled Sharif; everything was still fine to move forward. But if Suarez indeed wanted to move forward with the attack, he was showing little initiative. The Fourth of July holiday, when he had talked of planting a bomb, had come and gone. A week later, on July 11, 2015, Suarez called Skaik again and gave him a new phone number on which he could be reached. Sharif called him a couple of days after that and scolded him for being unresponsive.
“I went back to the brothers, and I spoke on your behalf, and then I don’t hear from you guys for over a month,” Sharif said. “Listen to me, brother, these guys that I speak to for you are serious guys.”
Suarez was in his bedroom, where a large, wooden four-poster bed was at the center. A Sony flat-screen television was on one wall, next to the door. Behind the door, visible when it was closed, hung an American flag. A toy helicopter rested on a tall dresser. Suarez’s collection of hats, their bills unbent, was on one of the walls. When Sharif called, Suarez’s mother was in the other room. He didn’t want her to hear, so he turned up the volume on the television, which also made it difficult for the undercover FBI agent to hear.
“Hey, turn the TV down some; it’s too loud,” Sharif told him.
“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” Suarez said, complying. “Go ahead.”
“These guys I spoke to for you are serious guys, all right?” Sharif explained. “If you and Mohammed, if you guys are not serious Islamic State brothers, then I don’t know why you guys are bothering me and playing games with me.”
Sharif gave Suarez an assignment. If he wanted to move forward, he needed to purchase a prepaid phone and be reachable at all times on that phone. Suarez did as he was told, but he only paid for a few minutes — barely enough time to hold conversations with Sharif and Skaik. But no matter. The FBI sent Skaik down to Key West again on July 19, 2015, and he delivered a new phone with more than enough minutes to remedy the FBI’s communication problems. In return, Suarez gave Skaik a backpack, nails, his old prepaid phone, and $100 — the items he was instructed to provide for the bomb.
“The video’s almost ready,” Skaik told Suarez. “Like, I put the music, I put the subtitles. It’s pretty fucking cool.”
Suarez would not see Skaik again for more than a year, when the informant arrived in U.S. District Court in Key West to testify against him. Skaik was paid $90,000 for his work with the FBI during this period.
Suarez received a phone call from his supposed bomb maker on July 24, 2015, but only after he’d failed to answer a number of calls from him. The bomb maker said his name was Omar, and he wasn’t happy about having to call so many times. “When I call you from this point on, I expect you to … pick up my phone call,” he said.
Unbeknownst to Suarez, Omar was an inspector with the U.S. Department of Justice. He was born in India, but he spoke perfect American English. His real name has not been revealed. Omar kept the conversation brief and maintained his authority throughout, at times barking orders at Suarez.
“I will be in Key West with your package ready to go for you in Key West on Monday between 10:30 and 11:00. I will call you when I’m —”
“But I’m, uh —” Suarez said, starting to interrupt but seeming to have no argument to make.
“Do not be late,” Omar said. “I’m gonna tell you again: do not be late. When I call you, make sure you are there on time. Do you understand?”
“Yes, yes,” Suarez replied.
Three days later, Omar drove to Key West. A hefty man who wore a blue and black patterned button-down shirt, Omar parked in the lot of an Italian restaurant next to Benihana, where Suarez had first met the FBI’s informant. Suarez hopped in the passenger seat of Omar’s car. Suarez was dressed in a gray hoodie and gray and purple hat. He had a red beach towel wrapped around his neck.
Omar handed Suarez the fake bomb. It was in the backpack Suarez had provided. The nails he’d given Skaik were attached to the side of the bomb. The cellphone he’d provided was wired to the bomb as the trigger mechanism. Omar showed him how to power on the bomb and then how to trigger it by calling the number.
“That’s it, brother,” Omar told him. “And then you just wanna turn it off right over here. Turn off that switch. There you go. Pretty simple, right? And power it all the way down. There you go. Do you have any questions?”
“No,” Suarez answered.
“How do you feel?” Omar asked.
“I’m feelin’ good.”
“Kinda exciting,” Suarez added.
As Suarez exited Omar’s car with the fake bomb wrapped inside his red beach towel, FBI agents arrested him. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami charged Suarez with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. “There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” FBI Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro said in a prepared statement announcing Suarez’s arrest.
A neuropsychologist who examined Suarez after his arrest found him to be naive, with a tendency to acquiesce to others. In Della Fera’s view, Suarez’s acquiescence made him easy prey for the forceful undercover FBI agents. But it also factored into his decision to plead out. In May 2016, Suarez’s mother called him in jail. He told his mother he believed it was impossible to win the case, but she steamrolled over his instinct to plead guilty, telling him not to think that way and instead to have faith in God. “Although he is in his mid-20s, defendant’s mother treats him like a child,” Della Fera wrote in a court filing.
At his trial, Suarez attempted to explain away his interactions with the FBI by describing how he wanted to learn more about ISIS, which he discovered by watching CNN, but did not know what to do when he found himself in too deep with Sharif and Omar. “I wanted to have a conversation so that I could learn how these people are, what these people think, and how these people act,” Suarez said.
He testified that, after not returning Skaik’s calls, he felt threatened by Sharif’s demands that he get a phone and be responsive. “In a very strong manner, and to me it was a very threatening manner because in my mind they were people from the — they were people from the Islamic group,” Suarez said.
“Could you describe for us why you agreed to meet with Omar on July 27?” Della Fera asked Suarez, referring to do the day he collected the fake bomb.
“I saw that I had no other choice but to keep on doing what they were telling me to do, since I had been trying for many times to get out of that circle, giving them excuses, but they would make me go back, and I had no other choice but to go to that place.”
The jury didn’t accept Suarez’s excuses and convicted him on February 1. U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez, a former prosecutor who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, gave Suarez the maximum punishment: life in prison.
Suarez’s sentence is indicative of the increasingly harsh punishment ISIS defendants caught up in FBI stings are now facing in federal courts. While federal judges rarely gave life sentences to sting targets allegedly affiliated with Al Qaeda and other groups — the Fort Dix Five being a notable exception — Suarez is one of two ISIS defendants to receive a life sentence in the last year.
In each of these ISIS cases, the other being Justin Nojan Sullivan, the FBI provided the weapons in the supposed plots. Since Suarez was arrested after taking custody of the fake bomb, there’s no way of knowing with certainty what he would have done with it.
During Suarez’s testimony, Della Fera asked him what he planned to do with the bomb the FBI provided.
“The only thing that I thought was to take it to a place where there were no people and detonate it there,” Suarez answered.
“Did you have a place in mind where you might be able to accomplish that?”
“Big Coppitt,” Suarez said, referring to an island next to Key West.
“And is that a crowded area, or is that an isolated area?” Della Fera asked.
Correction: September 3, 2017
A previous version of this article stated that a third ISIS defendant, Munir Abdulkader, had been sentenced to life in prison. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison plus life supervision.
As the Texas coast looks toward recovery amid the death and destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey, several lawmakers from the state were at a popular tourist spot in the Czech Republic this weekend.
Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, a senior Appropriations Committee member, was spotted taking a tour of Prague Castle on Saturday. Carter was seen strolling through the castle complex along with Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. The group snapped photos and were told the history of St. Vitus Cathedral.
Carter told The Intercept that he was thinking about Houston while on a foreign operations congressional delegation.
“That’s my hometown, I was born and raised in Houston. I’m concerned about Houston,” Carter said, when asked about the crisis in his home state. “We increased FEMA funding, and we continue to increase funding,” he added.
GOP lawmakers have come under fire in recent days for pushing to cut nearly $1 billion from Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief account in order to pay for President
Donald Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Carter, who serves on the committee responsible for spending matters, emphasized that FEMA would be fully funded.
The congressional delegation spotted in Prague today met this week with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss supplying arms to Ukraine.
But, in the Czech Republic, the immediate goals of the delegation were unclear. The group of lawmakers walked quickly to two waiting black Mercedes-Benz vans after their tour of the Prague Castle complex.
Before ending our brief interview, Carter said, “I’ll be going home in two days.”
The post As Hurricane Harvey Winds Down, Texas Members of Congress Tour European Castle appeared first on The Intercept.
Berlin Boyd, chairperson of the Memphis City Council, was seated at the head of a conference table at Memphis City Hall when he held up a pair of local newspaper ads published in the 1850s. “N.B. Forrest, Dealer in Slaves, has just received from North Carolina twenty-five likely young negroes, to which he desires to call the attention of purchasers,” the Memphis Daily Appeal announced. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s “Negro Depot,” located at 87 Adams St., promised customers “A.1 field hands, sound and perfect in body and mind.” Another ad boasted “fresh supplies” on the daily, inviting buyers “to examine their stock before purchasing elsewhere.”
Around Boyd, who is black, the room was packed. The hallway outside had been crowded with constituents hoping to attend the City Council meeting, to hear members discuss, yet again, what could be done about the city’s Confederate statues. In the wake of the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, a long simmering national controversy over such monuments had just boiled over. As President Donald Trump gave his tacit support to white supremacists on TV, Memphians returned to a place they had been protesting for years: the large bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Earlier that morning on August 22, Tami Sawyer, founder of the initiative #TakeEmDown901, delivered a stack of petitions signed by more than 4,500 people calling for the immediate removal of the Forrest statue, along with one downtown of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Sawyer had been collecting signatures for months. But after the bloodshed in Virginia, she turned up the heat, leading a solidarity protest targeting Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. Weekend rallies at the Forrest monument led to arrests and anger at police for protecting statues over people. Council members announced they would discuss the memorials at their next meeting. Now, Sawyer sat a few feet from Boyd, listening carefully to what he and his colleagues had to say.
Yet Forrest was beloved by some in Tennessee. Just one month earlier, Boyd said, he was walking downtown when a woman handed him a flyer with an image of Forrest, telling him, “This is why you have civil rights.” The claim was grossly ahistorical — and as a black man, Boyd found it deeply insulting. “I ran to that lady, and I said, ‘How dare you?’” Boyd recalled. He told her he was chair of the City Council, “and I’m going to do everything in my power to see that statue and that monument removed.”
The problem was figuring out what, exactly, this power amounted to. Council members had already voted in 2015 to remove the Forrest statue from Health Sciences Park, previously called Forrest Park, located just east of downtown. But they were hamstrung by the Heritage Protection Act, passed in 2013 by Tennessee’s majority white, Republican-led legislature. The bill had been introduced as Memphis, a majority black city, was preparing to rename three Confederate parks — and was explicitly designed to block any further meddling with Confederate monuments in Tennessee. “I think some would question whose heritage is being protected,” city attorney Allan Wade said wryly.
Sawyer knew the answer all too well. For years, she has heard people insist that the statue represents their proud Southern heritage. The message is sometimes delivered in threats, both in person and online. But, she says, “I’m Southern. My family was raised in the South. My father’s family were slaves and sharecroppers in Alabama. My mother’s family were slaves and sharecroppers and then landowners in Fayette County, Tennessee.” When people claim such monuments represent “our heritage,” they are not including black families like hers.
Among mainstream conservatives, most know better than to defend a figure like Forrest. Exalted as a brilliant cavalryman during the Civil War — whose unlikely rise through the ranks became the stuff of legend — he was also responsible for one of its most notorious atrocities: the mass slaughter of black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow in West Tennessee. Lauded as a “self-made man,” Forrest made his fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader, later helping launch the first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has repeatedly said he supports removing a bronze bust of Forrest displayed in the rotunda at the Tennessee state Capitol. In the wake of the Charlottesville violence, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander finally changed his position on the matter, saying he no longer thought it should remain in place.
Yet there is an enduring cult of personality around Forrest, a devotion that dates back well before his death in 1877. Those who defend Forrest insist he spent his last years advocating on behalf of black people, offering work to the formerly enslaved. Forrest famously had a religious awakening late in life, delivering a much-lauded speech calling for racial unity in 1875. Among the religious right, Forrest has become the ultimate redemption tale, his salvation eclipsing a record of racist violence. Today, the claim that he was a champion for equal rights is not just the crazy rhetoric of random flyer peddlers. In a 2015 op-ed defending monuments to Forrest, Tennessee Republican Andy Holt called him “one of the South’s first civil rights leaders.” If the statues to Confederate leaders represent a kind of revisionist history in the United States, few figures have become so wrapped in distortion and myth as Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Monuments to Forrest abound in Tennessee, from statues to street signs to an entire state park. State law still requires yearly proclamation of his birthday, July 13, as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day. Born to a poor, rural family in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, Forrest’s birth site is maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group is not known for harmonious racial rhetoric. The official caretaker of Forrest’s childhood home attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, telling The Tennessean, “I think people have had enough. Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn, and if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it.”
Across the South, inscriptions on memorials to Forrest are similarly strident. Many stress his lack of formal education, a particular point of pride. In Rome, Georgia, a statue of Forrest stands on a pedestal in a Confederate cemetery, carved with quotes lauding his “rare tact, unlearnable from books.” In Selma, Alabama — where black residents lived in a housing project named for Forrest until the 1990s — a bust of Forrest praises him as an “Untutored Genius.”
Other states have named entire localities after Forrest. There is Forrest County, Mississippi, and Forrest City, Arkansas, both home to schools named for Forrest. And there are countless streets named after Forrest, from Valdosta, Georgia, to Moss Point, Mississippi, to Hollywood, Florida.
Among his many biographers, several have sought to make sense of Forrest’s outsized image. He was, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor player in the Civil War and was censured for war crimes. Yet he would swiftly become celebrated as one of the greatest generals of all time. In a deeply researched article for the Journal of Southern History in 2001, historian Court Carney describes how Forrest came to embody the pinnacle of Southern manhood; although less famous than Stonewall Jackson or Robert E. Lee, “Forrest exemplified the outlaw rebel spirit more than the taciturn but exalted figures of Lee or Jackson ever could.”
There is little dispute about Forrest’s motivation for joining the Confederate army. “If we ain’t fightin’ to keep slavery,” he reportedly asked, “then what the hell are we fightin’ for?” Nor do Forrest’s defenders generally deny that he was the Klan’s first grand wizard. But they take umbrage at the widespread claim that he founded the KKK, emphasizing that Forrest was asked to lead the group after its formation in 1865. More importantly, they stress that he later disbanded the Klan, although there is much debate as to why.
Some argue that the dominant focus on Forrest as a Klansman obscures his more verifiable lifelong record of racial oppression. “We should think more broadly about what we are rejecting when we take Forrest from his pedestal,” writes historian Elaine Frantz Parsons, offering a monstrous array of little-known details about Forrest as a slave trader. As for his own eventual rejection of racism, such a legacy might be more credible if any of the monuments were built to celebrate his supposed conversion. Instead, like most Confederate memorials, they mark moments of backlash against racial advancement — and have remained touchstones for white nationalists. Yet defenders of Forrest tend to want it both ways: glorifying his militant image while insisting he disavowed it all in the end.
The Nashville Scene’s Cari Wade Gervin recently explored the history of the bronze Forrest bust that sits in the Tennessee state Capitol. First proposed in the wake of the civil rights movement, it was not installed until 1978. Even as protesters called the bust “an insult to all blacks,” she writes, The Tennessean marked the occasion with a “laudatory and sympathetic accounting of Forrest’s years as a general” that entirely erased any history of racist violence. In 1980, the bust “became the site for literal Klan members, in full regalia, to give a press conference saying that they were training SWAT teams in preparation for race wars.”
Even more notorious than the memorial in the Capitol is a bizarre equestrian statue that towers on private land just south of Nashville, along I-65. A weirdly stout, wild-eyed Forrest charges forth on a golden horse, a sword in one hand and pistol in the other, surrounded by Confederate flags. The garish 25-foot sculpture, designed by a lawyer once hired to defend Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin, James Earl Ray, sparked anger when it went up in 1998. Some were offended by the aggressive Confederate imagery, others by the statue’s unforgivable hideousness. Especially controversial was the move by the Department of Transportation to clear trees and brush from the road to make the statue visible to passing motorists. In recent years the same DOT has declined to take steps to conceal the display, while the property owner still deflects charges of racism. As he dubiously told The Tennessean in 2015, the statue attracts tourists and Civil War scholars, to the benefit of local hotels and restaurants — “and how many blacks work in those industries?”
For all the ways Forrest inspires alternative facts, nowhere is the gap between myth and reality more jarring than in Memphis. In a city whose original town squares — Exchange, Market, Court, and Auction — carry the stain of slavery, Downtown Memphis is brimming with historical markers; many buildings boast plaques noting their inclusion in the Register of Historic Places. Yet Forrest’s years as a slave trader are conspicuously absent. There is no sign to hint where Forrest’s “Negro Depot” once stood. The address of the famed slave mart at 87 Adams no longer exists.
Just down the street, however, one of the Tennessee Historical Commission’s signature signs marks Forrest’s Early Home. “Following marriage in 1845, he came to Memphis, where his business enterprises made him wealthy,” it reads, with no further specifics. A few blocks from there, in what used to be Confederate Park, a bronze shield is engraved with highlights from Forrest’s “grand strategic raid” on Memphis in 1864. But there is no mention of the massacre at Fort Pillow that same year.
There is no question that Union troops had already surrendered when Confederate soldiers attacked them at Fort Pillow. One man described how “after we had given up the fort entirely, the guns thrown away and the firing on our part stopped, they still kept up their murderous fire, more especially on the colored troops.” There were descriptions of torture and sadism. “They nailed some black sergeants to the logs and set the logs on fire,” one witness testified. “Did they kill them before they burned them?” he was asked. “ No, sir, they nailed them to the logs; drove the nails right through their hands.”
The hundreds of soldiers killed at Fort Pillow were predominantly former slaves fighting for the Union. One recalled Forrest at the scene, telling “some negro men there that he knew them; that they had been in his nigger yard in Memphis.” Forrest spent the rest of his life denying fault for massacre. In an indignant letter to the New York Times in 1867, he lambasted the “outrageous assaults upon my character” by one published account. But Southern newspapers would protect his reputation. While some nicknamed him “Forrest the butcher,” his image as a military hero remained entrenched.
In his article, Carney offers an explanation for Forrest’s hagiographic treatment in the local press. Chagrined by their city’s early capitulation during the Civil War, white Memphians “desperately needed a hero and therefore crafted a distorted depiction of Forrest’s role in the war,” he writes. Later, as the Lost Cause narrative spread through the South — and as lynchings and Jim Crow laws kept white supremacy firmly in place — Forrest evolved into what another historian called a “spiritual comforter.”
The need for such a hero became fully expressed in the enormous equestrian statue of Forrest, installed in 1905, almost 30 years after his death. Unlike the cheap, mass-produced Confederate monuments that proliferated in the early 1900s, the Memphis memorial was carefully commissioned, painstakingly designed by a New York sculptor, and cast in bronze in Paris. Costing nearly $33,000 to create, the almost 950-pound statue’s journey to Memphis became an absurd undertaking. It was so large it did not fit under bridges; at one point a railroad bridge between Birmingham and Atlanta had to be reconstructed to accommodate it.
Plans for the statue began in the late 1800s, with local elites raising money under the banner of the Forrest Monument Association. Newspapers closely tracked the developments; when a ceremony marked the laying of a cornerstone in 1901, the Commercial Appeal ran the speech of a former cavalry commander who praised everything from Forrest’s “well-stocked plantations” to his “broad shoulders, full chest, and symmetrical muscular limits.” In advance of the official unveiling in 1905, train tickets to Memphis were sold at a discount; the local News-Scimitar hailed the tribute to “one of the greatest men Tennessee has ever produced,” while dismissing his censure for the Fort Pillow massacre as “poison-tipped darts … blunt and pointless.”
The unveiling of the statue in Memphis came with a parade, poetry, and music. A slew of featured speakers spoke of unity, anchored in white supremacy. “It will be the verdict of history for all time that the soldiers of the South and the soldiers of the North both fought for what they believed was right,” a former Union soldier said, reflecting on the 40 years since the war. “They were kindred blood and they fought with the same Anglo-Saxon valor; there was bravery and sacrifice beyond comparison on both sides.”warned, “then one doesn’t get an accurate view of our history.”
McDaniel was too late to stop the renaming of the parks in Memphis. But the law stalled further action in its tracks. The Heritage Protection Act, which has since been amended multiple times, holds that “no statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit, and is located on public property, may be renamed or rededicated.”
On April 1, 2013, Gov. Haslam signed the bill into law. Soon afterward, a press release from the N. B. Forrest Camp 215 of Memphis began to make the rounds on Confederate-themed email lists. It hailed the Heritage Protection Act as a model for other states, while boasting that its “basic text” had been written by the group’s own Lee Millar, a leading Sons of Confederate Veterans member based in Memphis.
Millar, a former Shelby County sheriff’s deputy, is among Forrest’s most active defenders. He was the reunion chairperson for an SCV gathering in Memphis this past July, where a commemorative poster featured the Forrest statue in its original bronze glory. In 2015, after nationwide calls to remove Confederate icons following Dylann Roof’s massacre of black parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, Millar held a rally at the statue to honor Forrest’s birthday. More than 500 attendees “carried rebel flags and wore T-shirts bearing slogans like Confederate Lives Matter,” according to the New York Times.
Over email, Millar confirmed that he was “one of the authors” of the Heritage Protection Act. But he said the idea had been in the works for years. “I had been refining this for several months when I and others felt it was time to introduce to the Tenn Legislature,” he wrote. “The timing had nothing to do with the carnival actions of the city council of Memphis.” McDaniel demurred. “I had input from a lot of people,” he said over the phone. “Lee has offered suggestions from time to time on things he thought might improve it,” but “he didn’t write the bill. … I don’t know if I used any of his stuff or not.”
Nevertheless, the law is certainly obstructionist by design. The only way to get around its provisions is to seek a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission, whose 29 members are primarily gubernatorial appointments. The Memphis City Council petitioned for a waiver to remove the Forrest statue in March 2016, but was rejected. At the August 22 meeting in Memphis, city attorney Wade was blunt. “It is probably easier to have someone executed by lethal injection in Tennessee than to get a waiver,” he said. (Executions have been stalled in the state since 2010.)
Wade laid out the byzantine process. First, a party seeking a waiver must “identify by name and address” any groups or individuals who might wish to be notified about the petition. “In such a controversial item as this one, that would virtually encompass all of Memphis,” Wade said. A public notice of the petition must then be published in a newspaper with general circulation in Shelby County, as well as one in Davidson County. After a 60-day waiting period, commission members will meet to decide whether additional notices must be made. Assuming the list of interested parties is approved — but no earlier than 180 days after the petition is filed — the commission then will meet to determine whether there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a monument should be removed. “Then, assuming that you’ve made that showing,” the decision must be approved by a two-thirds vote. “There are several members of the commission that are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” Wade pointed out, saying they are unlikely to recuse themselves.
Finally, if a petition manages to survive this process, the removal would still have to wait 120 calendar days from when its announcement was made on the commission’s website. Altogether, if the City Council wants to get a waiver, “it’s gonna take at least a year,” Wade said.
McDaniel denies that the rules were deliberately crafted to be onerous. “I think it’s a very good process,” he said, stressing the openness and opportunity for the public to be involved. “I saw in one state where they just went in the dark of the night and removed [monuments],” he said. “There was no public input, no process. They just took ’em down.”
The need for public participation certainly sounds reasonable in theory. But in reality, the fight over Forrest has inspired the opposite of transparency in Nashville. This past spring the Associated Press published a report — embarrassingly titled “Tennessee lawmakers unwittingly vote to honor Klan leader” — revealing that assembly members had been duped into voting for a resolution praising Forrest, just days after they had rejected a similar one. The sponsor of the resolution, House Republican Mike Sparks, “pulled a fast one,” one black colleague fumed, tucking the previously rejected language into a new item honoring a Louisiana preacher named Shane Kastler, author of a 2010 book titled “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption.” The resolution, passed alongside other ostensibly noncontroversial measures, went undiscussed on the House floor before the 94-0 vote. While it acknowledged that Forrest was “reviled” by some, it invoked the popular mythology around the Confederate icon. “A wizard of the saddle, he purportedly had twenty-nine horses shot out from underneath him during the Civil War,” it read.
In response to anger from the Black Caucus, Kastler explained that the resolution was meant to honor a man who had renounced his racism and found God. While he sympathized with those who felt “tricked,” Kastler said it was “even more disturbing” that lawmakers had been misled into thinking the resolution honored white supremacy. He did not bother to explain why, if Sparks’s intentions were so noble, the move had been carried out in such an underhanded way.
For his own part, Sparks was unrepentant. “I have something on my side that they don’t have on their side,” he told the AP. “I’ve got truth.”
As the Memphis City Council meeting came to a close on August 22, members voted to formally draft the options before them, to discuss at their next meeting. The following week, Gov. Haslam sent a letter to the Tennessee Historical Commission, urging it to make a decision on the pending waiver application. A refusal to act would “only prolong the issue and result in criticism of both the established process and the Commission itself,” he wrote, adding that the process should work just fine, as long as everyone acted in a timely manner.
On September 1, the Commission rejected a separate waiver request, seeking to relocate the bust of Forrest from the Capitol to the state museum. One member found the evidence provided about Forrest was “a little contradictory. There’s information that redeems him as an outstanding member of society, post-war, where he worked in support of the black community,” she said.
On the evening after the meeting in Memphis, a city police vehicle stood guard at the Forrest statue. Flowers had been placed at its base, where Forrest and his wife are buried. A handful of passersby took pictures. In person, the statue is impressive but diminished by context. Today, Forrest defiantly faces an Office Depot across the street.
Downtown, another police car sat parked by the statue of Jefferson Davis in what was once Confederate Park, overlooking the Mississippi River. Just south of the city lies President’s Island, home to Forrest’s final moneymaking scheme, in 1875. The venture has long been overshadowed by Forrest’s famed speech for racial unity, delivered at a Fourth of July picnic that same year. Invited by a black civic organization, his remarks were brief and self-serving. He told the black audience that he had “been misunderstood by your race,” disputed the “many things” wrongly said about him, and bemoaned that Southerners had been so “slandered and maligned.” He promised to “elevate you to take positions in law officers, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.”
The Memphis Daily Appeal ran the speech in full. But more revealing was an item it ran just three days later, announcing a new business deal between Forrest and local officials. With the South still reeling from war, the former slave dealer had found an emerging industry to continue profiting from black labor: convict leasing.
Forrest had recently submitted a bid to take custody of Shelby County jail’s population for a term of five years, which he would take to his farm on President’s Island. “For all able-bodied men and women that are suitable for agricultural purposes, I agree to pay at the rate of ten cents per day for each day said convict may work,” he wrote. Forrest offered to feed, clothe, and house them and to “furnish suitable guards.” The whole operation would be under his “exclusive control.”
The local press praised the idea. “The city is full of vagrants, vagabonds and sneak thieves, principally negros of both sexes,” one article read. The “work-house” would “rid the city of this class of people. … The depraved and wicked population will either have to leave the city or be forced to work on President’s Island.”
Forrest died in 1877, before the end of the contract, but not before reports of abuse would emerge. In May 1876, members of a grand jury visited President’s Island, where Forrest raised corn, cotton, and other crops through the labor of 60 black men, 48 black women, 35 white men, and four white women. The Public Ledger described Forrest as the quintessential Southern planter, retaining “a magnetism in his superb presence” that “impels obedience and makes everything move like clockwork.” Although they found one convict in shackles, that man had “made an attempt to escape one night by sawing at a window bar.” The visitors were impressed with the convict lease system, which turned misdemeanors into a source of revenue. In its report, the grand jury noted approvingly that the grounds were well-policed.
“General Forrest gives his personal attention to all the details,” they wrote, “and has perfected an organization that is a credit to the county and a public benefit.”
Convict leasing would eventually be abolished in Tennessee. But prison labor would live on. Today, Forrest’s legacy survives in ways seen and unseen. When the state removed the brush along Nashville’s I-65 to clear the view for Forrest’s grotesque equestrian statue in 1997, it was done by the hands of prisoners.
The post Memphis Wants to Remove a Statue Honoring First Grand Wizard of the KKK appeared first on The Intercept.
Recentemente, a humanidade criou um novo termo universal: a pós-verdade. Uma pós-verdade é algo falso ou imaginário, tratado como realidade. O México vai pagar por um muro na fronteira com os EUA, por exemplo. Agora, diante do ambiente político nacional, seria o caso de cunharmos um termo de sentido oposto: a pós-mentira. A pós-mentira se constituiria em algo real, mas tratado como falso ou imaginário.
Há vários exemplos do tipo na História recente do país, mas a prática de simplesmente negar os fatos provavelmente nunca esteve tão em voga quanto neste primeiro ano de governo Temer. E não seria exagero dizer que ela foi institucionalizada após as gravações do Conde com Joesley Batista. Não só por tudo o que o fatídico encontro escancarou, mas principalmente pela reação do nosso mandatário e dos brasileiros no geral.
No dia seguinte à reportagem que revelou o busílis, quando o presidente não-eleito apareceu em rede nacional de televisão, o país deu de barato que ele renunciaria. Até o coleguinha Ricardo Noblat, famoso por ter tido coragem de elogiar o físico de Temer, garantiu que seu ídolo não escaparia daquela vez. Mas, com um brilho acetinado de óleo de peroba a cobrir-lhe as faces, o Conde surpreendeu e disse que continuaria ali mesmo, como se nada de estranho tivesse acontecido.“Sei da correção dos meus atos”
“Não temo nenhuma delação”, disse o homem que, tempos depois, teria de arquitetar um dos maiores toma-lá-dá-cás da história para livrar a própria pele na Câmara. “Sei o que fiz. Sei da correção dos meus atos. Exijo investigação plena e muito rápida para esclarecimento ao povo brasileiro”, disse.
Frente ao absurdo presidencial, as ruas, que no passado haviam se incendiado por causa das tenebrosas pedaladas de Dilma, continuaram livres para o trânsito do brasileiro trabalhador. Menos de um mês depois, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, assessor próximo do Conde, foi gravado em vídeo numa burlesca corridinha com uma mala recheada de R$ 500 mil, dinheiro de provável propina para o presidente. Comoção nacional, paneleiros em polvorosa, coxinhas e mortadelas juntos nas passeatas? Não, nada disso. Temer sapecou mais uma pós-mentira, garantindo que Rocha Loures não tinha nada de corrupto e o país continuou na sua anormalidade usual.
Um dos combustíveis das pós-verdades está no fato de elas serem especialmente saborosas: “o filho de Lula tem uma Ferrari de ouro“, por exemplo. As pós-verdades despertam aquele voyeurismo sádico que todo ser humano esconde. Já as pós-mentiras têm a dura tarefa de justamente refutar verdades mais atraentes. Por isso, para que funcionem bem, o melhor é que tenham algo a mais, um atrativo que as coloque em evidência, acima do fato em si.
Tomemos o exemplo do prefeito de Cuiabá, o peemedebista Emanuel Pinheiro. Diante de acusações de propinas, tornadas públicas na semana passada, ele disse apenas que irá provar não ter feito nada de ilícito. Uma resposta fraca, que não dá conta de sobrepujar a acusação. Claro que o fato de ele aparecer em vídeo enchendo os bolsos com gordos maços de dinheiro também prejudica um tanto a defesa.O fetiche do bigode
Mas vejamos o exemplo contrário, do também peemedebista, senador Romero Jucá. Alvo de três denúncias de corrupção em uma única semana, ele fez o quê? Disse que é inocente? Sim, mas adicionou a isso todo um brilho de desfaçatez. Afirmou que seu acusador, o procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, deve ter algum fetiche com seu bigode.
“Eu diria que pelo menos é uma fixação. Ele até deu declaração sobre o meu bigode. Não sei se é um fetiche ou alguma coisa. Não entendo esse comportamento dele”, afirmou o astuto senador. Pronto. Os brasileiros passaram a imaginar Janot mergulhado em freudianas fantasias e as acusações contra Jucá foram pro segundo plano do noticiário.
Para além dos fetiches, outra forma comum de vitaminar pós-mentiras é aparentar indignação diante dos fatos. Um bom exemplo disso está na reação do casal Gilmar e Guiomar Mendes, à constatação de suas íntimas relações com Jacob Barata Filho, apelidado de “Rei dos Ônibus”.
O casal foi padrinho de casamento da filha do sujeito, que casou com um sobrinho de Guiomar. O escritório de advocacia onde ela trabalha cuida de casos relacionados ao empresário, que mantém negócios com o cunhado do ministro e teria mandado um valioso arranjo de flores ao casal.“É uma grande associação de fatos ridículos que não provam nada”
Aí, o sujeito foi flagrado num belo esquema de corrupção e posto em cana. E o que fez o ministro? Tratou de colocá-lo em liberdade. Não uma, mas duas vezes! E quando a imprensa, Janot e todos os indignados do twitter resolveram reclamar, a senhora Mendes não ofereceu uma resposta protocolar qualquer. Ela se indignou. “É uma grande associação de fatos ridículos que não provam nada”, disse. “Não há nada! É espuma”, concluiu enfática.
Para além das espumas e dos bigodes, as pós-mentiras se multiplicam rapidamente. Hoje, permeiam as mais diversas cores ideológicas e ramos de atuação pública. O pós-prefeito de São Paulo, João Doria, por exemplo, garante que não tem intenção de ser candidato à presidência ano que vem, enquanto percorre o país em pré-campanha, deixando a maior cidade dos país à sorte do vice, Bruno Covas.
O ex-presidente Lula ignorou o fato de o senador Renan Calheiros constituir-se em uma das forças mais nocivas da política nacional, e elogiou o colega de palanque, um homem de coragem, segundo o líder petista.
Por fim, vale dizer que nem o juiz Sérgio Moro, bastião da nova moralidade nacional, está livre da prática. Quando teve de lidar com a acusação de que um amigo negociava vantagens na Lava Jato, disse que não se pode confiar na palavra de um acusado. A mesma palavra de acusados, claro, tem sido a espinha dorsal do trabalho de Moro na Lava Jato.
Mas, no mundo de pós-verdades e pós-mentiras, a coerência, assim como os fatos, já não tem mais tanta importância.
The post Nível da cara de pau no Brasil se supera a cada dia e merece um novo termo: a pós-mentira appeared first on The Intercept.
Falem bem, falem mal, mas falem de mim. Esse parece ser, cada vez mais, o lema do jornal carioca “Extra”, publicação gerida pela Infoglobo, que também tem sob sua gestão “O Globo”. Não é de hoje que o periódico tem apostado em capas ousadas, muitas delas tidas como brilhantes pelo senso comum das redes sociais.
O atual alcaide da cidade também não escapou da ironia do jornal:
Com bem mais liberdade do que seu irmão mais velho “O Globo” para explorar o mundo das primeiras páginas sensacionais, o “Extra”, porém, tem flertado com uma linha tênue. Será que o sensacional está virando sensacionalista?
Um momento crítico nessa postura ocorreu no mês passado com esta capa abaixo, que decretou um Rio em guerra. Até uma editoria específica foi anunciada e um selo foi criado para acompanhar as reportagens. Ou seja, criou-se uma bandeira do jornal.
Neste caso, a repercussão foi imediata. Até hoje, o conceito de guerra vem sendo debatido: há os que defendem com unhas e dentes a postura do jornal e os que a rechaçam de forma incisiva. Se era para gerar polêmica, botar o “Extra” na boca do povo, deu certo.
Nesta sexta (1), mais uma ousadia do jornal voltou a colocá-lo entre os temas mais comentados nas redes sociais. Envolvendo um dos assuntos mais passionais e o clube mais popular do país, o “Extra” decretou, “em nome da precisão jornalística”, em sua capa, que o goleiro do Flamengo não será mais chamado de Alex Muralha.
Para o jornal, o arqueiro desmoralizou o apelido, ao levar um “frango” no último jogo do clube. Fechando a piada, também “em nome da precisão jornalística”, o “Extra” diz que pode rever sua decisão caso o goleiro “volte a fazer por merecer”.
Numa realidade onde os jornais têm perdido sucessivamente leitores nas suas versões em papel, o caminho da polêmica pode devolver às capas parte da importância perdida. Mas há que ao menos se refletir sobre até que ponto isso pode ir.
Em nome da precisão jornalística.
The post Com piada sobre goleiro Alex Muralha, jornal “Extra” patina entre o sensacional e o sensacionalista appeared first on The Intercept.
Uma das imagens mais chocantes da marcha “Unir a Direita” – realizada no dia 11 de agosto em Charlottesville, no estado americano da Virgínia – foram as centenas de jovens de tochas na mão, manifestando-se a favor do nacionalismo branco.
Após a morte da ativista Heather Heyer, assassinada pelo militante de extrema-direita James Alex Fields Jr., de 20 anos, que jogou seu carro contra a multidão de manifestantes antirracismo, uma intensa cobertura midiática tem tentado explicar por que o movimento supremacista branco vem se organizando cada vez mais. A desumanização de grupos marginalizados – imigrantes, minorias raciais e muçulmanos – tem tido cada vez mais protagonismo na grande mídia conservadora e no discurso do Partido Republicano, culminando na intolerância descarada da campanha eleitoral de Donald Trump. Muitos especialistas veem o fenômeno do crescimento das organizações de direita radical e racistas como uma reação à alteração do perfil demográfico americano, aos direitos recém-conquistados por gays e lésbicas e ao aumento do poder econômico das mulheres.
Por mais que esses fatores sejam reais, essa radicalização também tem origem em comunidades virtuais onde muitos jovens americanos construíram uma identidade de grupo – para só então passar à ação violenta no mundo real a que estamos assistindo. O The Intercept investigou o fenômeno, explorando as dinâmicas de raça, violência e cultura virtual em um curto documentário que pode ser acessado acima.
Nos últimos anos, muitos grupos neonazistas – que antes dependiam de programas de rádio alternativos e editoras de fudo de quintal para difundir suas ideias – passaram a se aglutinar em torno de fóruns de videogames; sites de sarcásticos trolls da “alt-right” – termo que designa uma nova “direita alternativa”, defensora de ideias de extrema-direita fundadas sobre a supremacia branca; e do chamado “Movimento pelos Direitos dos Homens” para recrutar novos membros, aproveitando-se do descontentamento de muitos jovens para incutir-lhes ideias extremistas. O humor negro que se propaga nesses fóruns de discussão de limites e temáticas mal demarcadas normaliza as ideias de guerra racial e genocídio, gerando verdadeiras batalhas entre identidades raciais. Esse caldeirão virtual tem alimentado o crescimento da “alt-right” e de organizações racistas.
Sem uma compreensão do papel desempenhado pelas comunidades virtuais, será muito difícil deter o avanço do nacionalismo branco.
James Fields, por exemplo, foi fotografado usando um escudo da Vanguard America, um dos grupos da “alt-right” criados recentemente para recrutar mais e mais jovens para o movimento supremacista branco, principalmente nas faculdades americanas. O perfil de Fields no Facebook estaria cheio de imagens humorísticas sobre o poder do “ativismo nerd” e memes como Pepe, o Sapo, um inocente personagem apropriado por trolls e transformado em símbolo neonazista; e o Feels Guy, um desenho tosco de um homem careca e triste criado no fórum “4chan” para representar o isolamento social e a dor existencial. Os folhetos de divulgação da manifestação também continham imagens jocosas de memes famosos.
O 4chan, um site que adora ofender as sensibilidades modernas com provocações sobre raça, violência e sexualidade, tornou-se um centro de recrutamento para o movimento nacionalista branco. Mas essa ideologia nem sempre teve tanto espaço no 4chan. Durante muito tempo, a página foi apenas uma plataforma de socialização para várias subculturas interessadas em mangás, animes e humor negro, além de ser um espaço de “trollagem”, a prática de atacar ou perseguir pessoas por pura diversão. Dale Beran, escritor e estudioso do 4chan, conta que seus usuários costumavam se reunir para “fazer incursões” nos servidores de Habbo Hotel, um jogo online para crianças, “apenas por ser uma maneira divertida de passar seu quase ilimitado tempo livre”.
Nos últimos anos, entretanto, as campanhas de “trollagem” do 4chan têm se aventurado no terreno do debate político sobre multiculturalismo e diversidade. A polêmica do “gamergate”, que desencadeou uma onda de assédio e ameaças a mulheres na internet – alimentada pela profunda misoginia do 4chan – forneceu munição para o ódio conspiracionista contra feministas e defensores de políticas identitárias progressistas.
Os usuários do 4chan aproveitam toda e qualquer oportunidade para “trollar” o que a escritora Angela Nagle chama de Tumblr-liberalism (“esquerdismo de rede social”, em tradução livre), um discurso de esquerda que, segundo Nagle, chegou ao “cúmulo do absurdo com uma política baseada nas minúcias e gradações de identidades em rápida proliferação”. Esse discurso nascente, analisado pela autora em seu novo livro sobre as guerras culturais na internet, Kill All Normies (“Morte aos Normies”*, em tradução livre), baseia-se em práticas vexatórias na internet, repreendendo publicamente todo tipo de comportamento percebido como ofensivo para sensibilidades identitárias em constante evolução.
Um exemplo notável desse discurso progressista radical citado por Nagle é o caso de um escritor “antirracista” que usou a tragédia de uma criança – morta por um jacaré – para criticar o comportamento de “homem branco mimado” de seus pais.
Em reação a essas tentativas de ridicularizar os brancos, uma parte da direita está se apegando a uma identidade de branco vitimizado. Para comunidades como o 4chan, que nunca conheceu limites, o apego à identidade branca foi levado ao extremo.símbolos racistas.
As constantes brincadeiras dos supremacistas acabaram obrigando LaBeouf a encerrar a transmissão, transferindo a câmera para um lugar discreto no interior do estado do Tennessee, onde ela foi fixada diante de uma bandeira com o lema do projeto. Mais uma vez, o 4chan aproveitou para ridicularizar a iniciativa. Em um esforço de investigação coletiva, os usuários do site logo identificaram o local da transmissão e roubaram a bandeira, graças à análise da rota de um avião que passou diante da câmera e a um voluntário que percorreu o estado de carro, buzinando por onde passava.
Essas “pegadinhas” espalhafatosas vinham cada vez mais misturadas com demonstrações despudoradas de nacionalismo branco. Muitos visitavam o site para postar casualmente algum meme racista; porém, para outros, os memes humorísticos se tornaram uma ponte para uma associação formal com o movimento nacionalista branco. Em outras palavras, esses usuários postaram tantas piadas sobre genocídio ou estupro que ficaram suscetíveis ao discurso de grupos de ódio – uma transformação conhecida no mundo dos fóruns virtuais como irony poisoning (“evenenamento por ironia”, em uma tradução literal).
Em uma postagem recente, um usuário do 4chan evidenciou o elo entre as brincadeiras sarcásticas na internet e o nacionalismo branco. “A ‘alt-right’ é uma tentativa de dar uma nova roupagem ao nacionalismo branco”, escreveu. “Trata-se de usar memes irônicos que não significam nada para nossos inimigos, mas que os normies acham engraçados, para que as pessoas desenvolvam uma consciência política racial.”
No arquivo de postagens do 4chan, vemos uma fluxo constante de mensagens incentivando os usuários a se alistar em diversas organizações nacionalistas brancas, como o Traditionalist Worker Party, a Vanguard America e a Identity Evropa. “Se você está procurando a organização menos autista**, venha para a Identity Evropa”, diz uma postagem no site, afirmando que o grupo estaria “tentando alcançar objetivos realistas”. Algumas pessoas, como Andrew Anglin, fundador do Daily Stormer, um site de propaganda supremacista branca inspirado no semanário da era nazista Der Stürmer, chegaram a caracterizar a transformação do 4chan em um site de ódio como um marco em sua jornada em direção à radicalização.
Ativistas conservadores começaram a perceber que havia uma guerra cultural em curso na internet e aproveitaram a oportunidade para se lançar como personalidades antissistema, dispostos a desafiar as normas politicamente corretas de gênero e raça, na esperança provocar uma reação exagerada da esquerda.
Christopher Cantwell, supremacista branco flagrado pelas câmeras nos confrontos de Charlottesville, era um importante ativista do “Movimento pelos Direitos dos Homens”, da mesma forma que Mike Cernovich, um conhecido líder da “alt-right” e adepto de primeira hora de Trump. A misoginia, um conceito muito menos estigmatizado na sociedade americana do que a supremacia branca – principalmente entre jovens com dificuldades no mundo dos relacionamentos – se tornou “uma porta de entrada para a ‘alt-right’”. O machismo atrai, o racismo fideliza.
O recém-demitido chefe de estratégia de Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, tentou forjar um laço com as entranhas do 4chan e outros sites similares. “Esses caras, esses homens brancos desarraigados, tinham um poder monstruoso”, descobriu Bannon quando trabalhava em uma startup – hoje já exinta – criada para monetizar a acumulação da moeda virtual do jogo online World of Warcraft, segundo o livro Devil’s Bargain (“Pacto com o diabo”, em tradução livre), do jornalista Joshua Green. Quando assumiu o controle do portal Breitbart News, Bannon logo se empenhou em mobilizar o exército de trolls revoltados de sites como o 4chan. “A verdade é que a audiência da Fox News era geriátrica, e ninguém estava tentando falar com o público mais jovem”, disse Bannon. A decisão de contratar um editor de tecnologia chamado Milo Yiannopoulos, cuja especialidade no Breitbart era gerar conteúdo intencionalmente ofensivo, era uma tentativa de atrair a horda de usuários do 4chan para se fortalecer politicamente.
Em um artigo para a National Review, o escritor Elliot Kaufman observa que a direita logo adotou a tática de provocar o campo progressista a fazer “alguma besteira violenta”, transformando os conservadores em vítimas dos excessos da esquerda e bastiões da liberdade de expressão. Em outras palavras, “trollar” esquerdistas se tornou uma eficiente maneira de recrutar jovens conservadores, principalmente em cidades universitárias, onde o humor vulgar tem boa penetração em todos os campos do espectro ideológico. Isso se tornou uma opção tão sedutora que diversos grupos ligados ao Partido Republicano começaram a convidar personalidades da “alt-right”, inclusive aquelas com um conhecido histórico de antissemitismo, racismo e machismo, para dar palestras em universidades de todo o país.
Enquanto isso, as redes sociais continuavam produzindo um fluxo inesgotável de conteúdo para provocar o campo progressista. Diversos canais do YouTube atraíram milhões de espectadores ao ridicularizar os excessos da política identitária da esquerda – como uma iniciativa para proibir a participação de pessoas brancas em aulas de ioga, ou os intermináveis debates sobre se os brancos estariam roubando a “propriedade intelectual” dos mexicanos ao abrir lanchonetes mexicanas.
Muitas ricas fundações de direita também logo aderiram à estratégia de “trollagem universitária” para tentar atrair as novas gerações. A Young America’s Foundation – financiada pela Fundação Koch –, a Turning Point USA e o bilionário Robert Mercer, desejosos de incentivar o novo fenômeno, financiaram palestras incendiárias em universidades americanas. Mercer, um magnata dos fundos de investimento de alto risco que, junto com sua filha, é um dos financiadores do Breitbart, do Media Research Center e de outros grupos pró-Trump, patrocinou discretamente uma turnê universitária de Yiannopoulos, cujos insultos preconceituosos e piadas de mau gosto proferidas nos auditórios dos campi tinham o claro objetivo de humilhar minorias e provocar a esquerda.
Isso acabou nos conduzindo ao maior espetáculo de violência já inspirado pelas guerras culturais da internet. Em fevereiro, Yiannopoulos teve que cancelar um comício em Berkeley quando ativistas de esquerda promoveram distúrbios dentro e fora do campus. Para muitos membros da esquerda, o tiro disparado contra um manifestante em uma visita anterior de Yiannopoulos era a prova da necessidade de impedir que esses eventos continuassem acontecendo. Um boato não confirmado também circulava entre a esquerda, segundo o qual Yiannopoulos iria de alguma forma revelar a identidade dos imigrantes ilegais que estudavam em Berkeley. Não se sabe se Yiannopoulos realmente tinha uma lista de imigrantes ilegais. De qualquer forma, evitar a realização do evento não impediria a revelação dos nomes na internet.
Os vídeos da revolta em Berkeley logo viralizaram, mostrando supostos fãs de Yiannopoulos sendo agredidos e atacados com spray de pimenta. Um homem teria sido agredido por antifascistas porque seu terno o fazia “parecer um nazista”.
As personalidades da extrema-direita, que em sua maioria já haviam conquistado uma legião de seguidores na internet durante a campanha de Donald Trump, logo aproveitaram os acontecimentos para se apresentar como vítimas de perseguição. Depois de anos de insignificantes acusações de opressão por parte da esquerda, finalmente havia um exemplo concreto para mobilizar quem se sentia incomodado com a “ditadura do politicamente correto”. Houve um chamado à resistência em Berkeley. Era preciso “defender a liberdade de expressão”.
É difícil afirmar quantos neonazistas de verdade estiveram presentes no comício de Yiannopoulos em fevereiro, mas as organizações nacionalistas brancas transformaram a cidade em um centro de mobilização, forjando uma aliança de conveniência com outras figuras conservadoras, também desejosas de explorar a oportunidade. Uma mescla de paramilitares, ultraliberais, nacionalistas brancos e caçadores de emoção acorreu nos meses seguintes a Berkeley para combater a esquerda em manifestações “pela liberdade de expressão”. Eles portavam não só armas como também câmeras, para filmar e transmitir os confrontos pela internet.
Mas a extrema-direita também explorou – e festejou – imagens de seus próprios membros agredindo os inimigos esquerdistas para ganhar notoriedade, em um terrível prenúncio da fúria assassina de Fields na Virgínia.
A violência nas ruas alimenta a rede de canais da “alt-right” no YouTube e contribui para o esforço dos grupos nacionalistas brancos em expandir sua influência nos EUA. Berkeley foi um marco para a Identity Evropa em particular, uma organização supremacista que recruta seus seguidores principalmente em fóruns de discussão e universidades.
No dia 15 de abril, em uma “manifestação pela liberdade de expressão” em Berkeley, Nathan Damigo, fundador da Identity Evropa, deu um soco no rosto de uma jovem de esquerda em frente às câmeras, o que logo virou um meme muito popular no 4chan e nos canais de YouTube conservadores.
“Começamos com cerca de 12 membros, em março de 2016, e agora temos cerca de 625 em todo o país”, diz Damigo, que atribui o repentino sucesso à viralização das imagens da agressão. “É uma questão de números”, afirma. Quanto mais vídeos de confrontos com antifascistas, mais atenção ele recebe.
Outras estrelas da “alt-right” surgiram de forma parecida.
Kyle Chapman, um ex-leão de chácara com uma longa ficha criminal, também virou uma celebridade instantânea depois de ter sido filmado batendo em ativistas de esquerda com um pedaço de pau em diversos confrontos em Berkeley.
Conhecido como “Based Stick Man” (algo como “O Maluco do Porrete” em português) e retratado em dezenas de memes e vídeos remixados celebrando suas brigas com esquerdistas, Chapman abraçou sua nova identidade e tem incentivado seus seguidores a lutar pela causa do nacionalismo branco. Ao longo do ano, Chapman e outros membros da direita radical têm comparecido a eventos em todo o país com o intuito de provocar e transmitir ao vivo mais enfrentamentos com grupos antifascistas.
As vozes tradicionais do nacionalismo branco – como o ex-líder da Ku Klux Klan David Duke – não foram as únicas responsáveis pela marcha “Unir a Direita”, em Charlottesville. Damigo, Johnny “Monoxide” Ramondetta, Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet e outras celebridades da “alt-right” que ganharam notoriedade com sua participação nas manifestações de Berkeley no início do ano também ajudaram a organizar e promover o evento. Na esperança de se promover graças à grande cobertura midiática e a possíveis enfrentamentos, muitos deles desfilaram pelas ruas de Charlottesville de câmera na mão, para transmitir tudo ao vivo.
Mas será que o assassinato de Heyer – e a tempestade midiática que se seguiu – é um ponto de inflexão nessa história? Ou será que a ironia já azedou e virou veneno puro?
“O estratagema básico dos membros politicamente mais sérios da ‘alt-right’ tem consistido em flertar com o nazismo, porém ridicularizando quem quer que leve essa aproximação ao pé da letra”, observa Nagle em um artigo publicado após a tragédia de Charlottesville na revista The Baffler. “Porém, depois do ataque presumidamente terrorista de James Alex Fields, que tirou a vida da manifestante ‘antifa’ Heather Heyer, em Charlottesville, a ‘alt-right’ não pode mais se esconder atrás de suas ironias”, afirma.
Pouco depois da morte de Heyer, o Daily Stormer, um dos principais sites de defesa do nacionalismo branco, publicou um artigo que destilava todo o veneno, ironia, perversidade, misoginia e racismo que se tornaram a marca do movimento na internet. A manchete dizia: “Heather Heyer: a mulher morta no incidente era uma piranha gorda e sem filhos de 32 anos”, o que levou a empresa de hospedagem de sites GoDaddy a finalmente retirar o portal do ar.
Mensagens de salas de bate-papo vazadas mostram nacionalistas brancos comemorando a morte de Heyer, o que indica que mais violência ainda está por vir.
O chocante assassinato de Heyer – e a reação execrável de veículos como o Daily Stormer – pode acabar afastando da “alt-right” aqueles que viam nela uma mera forma transgressão cultural. Ou não.
Tradução: Bernardo Tonasse
*Termo pejorativo derivado da palavra “normal”, usado na internet para designar uma pessoa convencional, conformista, sem originalidade. (Nota do tradutor)
**O termo “autista” se tornou um insulto genérico nos fóruns virtuais em língua inglesa, também sendo usado para designar uma pessoa com problemas para se relacionar socialmente. (Nota do tradutor)
The post Vídeo: Como a internet normalizou a supremacia branca appeared first on The Intercept.
Illinois Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss is running an uphill race for his party’s gubernatorial nomination. He faces a $21 million problem — that’s the amount Hyatt Hotel heir J.B. Pritzker, also vying for the Democratic nomination, has put into his own campaign.
But Biss is countering his capitalist opponent by picking as his running mate someone who is Pritzker’s direct opposite: a democratic socialist.
At a rally Thursday night, Biss announced that Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, would be his running mate.
In his speech, Rosa takes multiple digs at Pritzker (though without naming him) warning against replacing 1 billionaire gov w another pic.twitter.com/U7xJMLJGhH
— Tony Arnold (@tonyjarnold) September 1, 2017
“There’s something much more powerful than money and political machines, and that’s organized people,” Ramirez-Rosa said at the event, a clear reference to the hill the pair have to climb in running against Pritzker and other elements of the establishment.
“We’re at a defining moment for our party and our state,” Biss said in a statement explaining the pick. “As I thought about who to choose as a running mate, I thought about how Illinois needs a lieutenant governor who deeply believes in grassroots politics. We need someone who is a progressive in their core, who is unafraid to take on entrenched power, and unashamed to always stand with the working families of Illinois.”
In a state where the Democratic Party runs a notoriously tight machine that demands obedience to leadership, Ramirez-Rosa has been a consistent thorn in the side of the party’s establishment. At 26 years old, he won office in 2015 as the youngest member of Chicago’s city council, defeating an incumbent backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s super PAC.
Earlier this year, Ramirez-Rosa spoke at the Democratic Socialists of America biannual convention. He made no bones about his determination to take aim at both the Republicans and the establishment of his own party. “As democratic socialists, we know that just as rigorously as we resist the right wing and their mouthpiece president, so too must we resist the neoliberal Democrats,” he said.
Biss and Ramirez-Rosa will be campaigning on a platform of establishing a public financing system for Illinois elections, enacting a single-payer health care system, and moving the state toward ranked-choice voting. The primary is in March 2018.
The post Illinois Democrat Picks Democratic Socialist as Running Mate for Gubernatorial Run appeared first on The Intercept.