The Intercept

Você não deve culpar o Islã pelo terrorismo. A religião não é um fator crucial em ataques

29 March 2017 - 11:16am

No que você pensa quando ouve a palavra “terrorista”? Barbas enormes e peles escuras? Migrantes muçulmanos do Oriente Médio com turbantes? Refugiados, talvez?

De acordo com um relatório da New America Foundation, “desde o 11 de Setembro, todos os jihadistas que perpetraram ataques letais dentro dos Estados Unidos eram cidadãos ou residentes legais”. Um recente estudo realizado na Grã-Bretanha, que acaba de sofrer o pior atentado terrorista desde 2005, revelou que mais de dois em cada três atentados “de inspiração islâmica” foram cometidos por indivíduos “que eram nascidos ou criados no Reino Unido”.

O estereótipo comum do terrorista nascido muçulmano no Oriente Médio não é só preguiçoso e impreciso, é também um terreno fértil para a extrema-direta anti-imigração e anti-Islã. Veja só a rápida reação de Sebastian Gorka, da Casa Branca, ao horrível ataque da semana passada em Londres: “A guerra é real,” disse ele à Fox News, enquanto os corpos das vítimas ainda estavam quentes, “e é por isso que ordens do Executivo, como a proibição de viagens imposta pelo presidente Trump, são tão importantes”.

Desculpe, como é que é? Khalid Masood, o autor dos ataques de Londres, de 52 anos, nasceu e cresceu na Grã-Bretanha. Não teria sido afetado nem de longe por uma restrição à entrada de muçulmanos do Oriente Médio. Ele não era nem refugiado nem imigrante. Não era originário do Oriente Médio e passou a maior parte da vida sem ser muçulmano. Nasceu como Adrian Elms, de mãe branca e pai negro, e foi criado como Adrian Ajao. Acredita-se que se converteu ao Islã na prisão em 2003. Tinha uma extensa ficha corrida antes de sair atropelando pedestres inocentes na Ponte de Westminster e de esfaquear um policial perto das Casas do Parlamento na tarde da última quarta-feira.

Equipe de emergência socorre uma pessoa perto da Ponte de Westminster e das Casas do Parlamento em Londres (22/03/2017).

Foto: Carl Court/Getty Images

Parece que estou tentando isentar o Islã e os muçulmanos de culpa pelo crime hediondo de Ajao? Pode apostar que sim. E por que não deveria?

Afinal de contas, a fé islâmica teve alguma coisa a ver com a primeira condenção de Ajao por crime de dano em 1983, quando tinha 18 anos? Foi o Profeta Maomé que o orientou a traficar drogas na adolescência? Foi o Corão que, em 2000, inspirou um Ajao bêbado a furar o rosto de um homem que depois precisou tomar 20 pontos? Ajao fazia parte da luta jihadista quando esfaqueou o nariz de outro homem que depois precisou passar por uma cirurgia plástica?

Não, não, não e não. Anos depois, já como Khalid Masood, ele pode ter se radicalizado junto a islamistas violentos numa prisão inglesa ou com jihadistas salafistas numa visita à Arábia Saudita – não sabemos e talvez nunca saberemos. Mas o que é certo é que suas inclinações violentas e seu comportamento antissocial antecediam sua conversão ao Islã, tenha ela sido “radical” ou não. Até o britânico Adrian Hilton, um acadêmico conservador e blogueiro cristão, reconheceu: “Adrian Elms já era um cristão violento antes de se tornar o terrorista muçulmano Khalid Masood… Não foi o Islã que o transformou num degenerado miserável; ele já era um sujeito imprestável”.

Assim como outros muçulmanos convertidos que aderiram ao terror – como o canadense Aaron Drive e o texano John Georgelas, além dos irmãos Kouachi de Paris e os Tsarnaev de Boston –, Masood pode ter se valido de uma interpretação distorcida, simplista e politizada do Islã para justificar a ação violenta, mas duvido muito que ela tenha servido para motivá-lo. Políticos e especialistas estão obcecados pelo peso da ideologia política (o islamismo) e da fé religiosa (o Islã). Convenientemente, quando não irresponsavelmente, desviam o olhar de outros fatores que podem ser ainda mais determinantes: o papel das redes sociais e dos laços familiares; as questões de identidade e pertencimento; o sentimento de perseguição; doenças mentais; dificuldades socio-econômicas; a indignação em relação a conflitos e torturas; o anseio por glória, por um propósito na vida, por ação e aventura. Esses elementos vêm se revelando muito mais eficazes para prever tendências terroristas do que a religião e, mais especificamente, a religiosidade.

Quartel-general do MI6, o serviço de inteligência britânico (Londres, 2007).

Foto: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Não precisa confiar só na minha palavra (de muçulmano). Em 2008, vazou um relatório feito por pesquisadores do MI5, o serviço de inteligência para segurança interna da Grã-Bretanha. Alan Travis, do Guardian, obteve o documento secreto, baseado em “centenas de estudos de caso” realizados pela agência. O relatório aponta que “bem longe de serem fanáticos religiosos, muitos dos envolvidos em atos de terrorismo não praticam a fé regularmente”.

“A maior parte era de cidadãos britânicos, não de imigrantes ilegais; e eram novatos na religião, não fundamentalistas islâmicos”, escreveu Travis sobre o relatório. “Pouquíssimos foram criados em ambientes familiares religiosos, e a proporção de convertidos está bem acima da média. Alguns estão envolvidos com uso de drogas, outros bebem e frequentam prostitutas.”

Soa familiar?

A reportagem do Guardian ainda traz outra revelação: “De acordo com o MI5, há provas de que identidades religiosas bem estabelecidas, na verdade, previnem contra a radicalização violenta”.

Desde o vazamento da pesquisa do MI5, na década passada, estudos e mais estudos vêm desafiando a percepção convencional e preguiçosa do peso da religião nos processos de radicalização. Ao longo dos últimos anos, conversei com várias autoridades no assunto – o antropólogo Scott Atran, o psiquiatra Marc Sageman, a historiadora Lydia Wilson – que entrevistaram terroristas “jihadistas” tanto nos campos de batalha no Iraque quanto nas celas nos Estados Unidos. Todos concordam que a fé, seja ela islâmica ou não, não é o fator determinante dessa onda recente de terror global.

“Mais do que qualquer outra coisa, terrorismo é violência política”, me disse Sageman no ano passado. Quando entrevistei Atran no meu programa na Al Jazeera inglesa, ele afirmou que, “se você dialoga com essas pessoas e observa como aderiram à ‘jihad’, (…) percebe que se fala muito pouco em religião”.

Mesmo assim, cada atentado terrorista no Ocidente é seguido de um “debate sobre religião” bem público. Quão islâmico é o ISIS? O Islã precisa de uma reforma? Os muçulmanos são uma ameaça aos valores liberais? Os países ocidentais deveriam barrar imigrantes de países de maioria muçulmana?

Ruas vazias nos arredores do Big Ben, no dia seguinte ao ataque terrorista (23/03/17).

Foto: Rex Features/AP

Ultimamente, o pessoal que quer culpar o Islã nem tenta mais esconder a evidente satisfação que sente quando acontece um ataque terrorista. Só o nome muçulmano do autor basta para justificar o preconceito que têm. A tese deles de que “o Islã é o problema” agora já é senso comum. Eles têm um aliado na Casa Branca, se é que já não têm outra em Downing Street. A ausência de provas claras e empíricas para essa teoria espúria não os incomoda nem um pouco. Ignoram ou minimizam o fato de que a maioria dos terroristas é de “novatos religiosos”, “um conjunto diversificado de indivíduos que não se encaixam em um único perfil demográfico tampouco seguem uma mesma trajetória até chegar ao extremismo violento” – e aqui, mais uma vez, estou citando o MI5.

Como era mesmo aquela piada do Einstein? “Se os fatos não se encaixam na teoria, modifique os fatos”. Ou implante fatos “alternativos”, talvez. Essa abordagem faz sentido se seu objetivo é demonizar o Islã e os muçulmanos, não importa o custo. Mas se você quer evitar o próximo ataque, esse foco excessivo na fé, na crença e na ideologia – que desafia as evidências e os especialistas – é uma distração perigosa. Os terroristas podem querer tentar e legitimar a sua violência apelando cinicamente para a doutrina islâmica, mas não há nenhuma razão para o resto de nós ajudá-los nisso.

Foto no topo: Policial armado perto da ponte de Westminster e das Casas do Parlamento, logo depois dos ataques (22/03/2017).

Tradução: Carla Camargo Fanha

The post Você não deve culpar o Islã pelo terrorismo. A religião não é um fator crucial em ataques appeared first on The Intercept.

To Serve AT&T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to Destroy Online Privacy

29 March 2017 - 10:53am

Clarifying events in politics are often healthy even when they produce awful outcomes. Such is the case with yesterday’s vote by House Republicans to free internet service providers (ISPs) – primarily AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – from the Obama-era FCC regulations barring them from storing and selling their users’ browsing histories without their consent. The vote followed an identical one last week in the Senate exclusively along party lines.

It’s hard to overstate what a blow to individual privacy this is. Unlike Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google – which can track and sell only those activities of yours which you engage in while using their specific service – ISPs can track everything you do online. “These companies carry all of your Internet traffic and can examine each packet in detail to build up a profile on you,” explained two experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Worse, it is not particularly difficult to avoid using specific services (such as Facebook) that are known to undermine privacy, but consumers often have very few choices for ISPs; it’s a virtual monopoly.

It’s hardly rare for the U.S. Congress to enact measures gutting online privacy: indeed, the last two decades have ushered in a legislative scheme that implements a virtually ubiquitous Surveillance State composed of both public intelligence and military agencies along with their private-sector “partners.” Members of Congress voting for these pro-surveillance measures invariably offer the pretext that they are acting for the benefit of American citizens – whose privacy they are gutting – by Keeping Them Safe™.

But what distinguishes this latest vote is that this pretext is unavailable. Nobody can claim with a straight face that allowing AT&T and Comcast to sell their users’ browser histories has any relationship to national security. Indeed, there’s no minimally persuasive rationale that can be concocted for this vote. It manifestly has only one purpose: maximizing the commercial interests of these telecom giants at the expense of ordinary citizens. It’s so blatant here that it cannot even be disguised.

That’s why, despite its devastating harm for individual privacy, there is a beneficial aspect to this episode. It illustrates – for those who haven’t yet realized it – who actually dominates Congress and owns its members: the corporate donor class.

There is literally no constituency in favor of this bill other than these telecom giants. It’d be surprising if even a single voter who cast their ballot for Trump or a GOP Congress even thought about, let alone favored, rescission of privacy-protecting rules for ISPs. So blatant is the corporate-donor servitude here that there’s no pretext even available for pretending this benefits ordinary citizens. It’s a bill written exclusively by and for a small number of corporate giants exclusively for their commercial benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Right-wing outlets like Breitbart tried hard to sell the bill to their readers. But the only rationale they could provide was that it’s intended to “undo duplicitous regulation around consumer privacy,” which, they suggested, was unfair to telecoms that faced harsher regulations than social media companies. To justify this, Breitbart quoted a GOP Congresswoman, Martha Blackburn, as claiming that the regulation is “unnecessary and just another example of big government overreach.” When the Senate GOP voted last week to undo the restriction, Texas Sen. John Cornyn invoked the right-wing cliché that it “hurt job creators and stifle economic growth.”

But the inane idea that individuals should lose all online privacy protections in the name of regulatory consistency or maximizing corporate profits is something that is almost impossible to sell even to the most loyal ideologues. As Matt Stoller noted, there was “lots of anger in the comments section of Breitbart against the GOP for revoking the Obama privacy regs for ISPs.”

Lots of "This is one of very few Obama-era regulations that should have stayed…." Everyone hates Comcast. pic.twitter.com/IODmQAkrnk

— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) March 29, 2017

Stoller added that the resentment among even Breitbart readers over the vote was based on a relatively sophisticated understanding that the GOP Congress was subordinating the privacy rights of individuals to the corporate profits of Comcast, along with reinforcing monopoly power for what are really public utilities; as Stoller put it: “it’s fascinating, when the political debates are about the use of concentrated business power, the debates are no longer as partisan.”

 

This recognition – of who owns and controls Congress – is absolutely fundamental to understanding any U.S. political issue. And it does – or at least should – transcend both partisan and ideological allegiance because it prevails in both parties.

I still recall very vividly when I attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. It was just months after the Democratic Congress (with ample help from the Bush White House and GOP members) spearheaded a truly corrupt bill to vest the telecom industry with retroactive immunity for having broken the law in allowing the NSA to access their American customers’ calls and records without the warrants required by law (that was the 2008 bill which Obama, when seeking the Democratic nomination, vowed to filibuster, only to then flagrantly violate his promise by voting against a filibuster and for the bill itself once he had the nomination secured).

The sole beneficiaries of that bill were AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and the other telecom giants who faced serious civil and even criminal liability for this lawbreaking. The main forces ensuring its passage were the Bush White House and the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, whose campaign coffers enjoyed a massive surge of telecom donations immediately before he championed their cause.

The first thing one noticed upon arriving on the DNC grounds was the AT&T logo everywhere: they were a major sponsor of the convention, with everything from huge signs to tote bags for the delegates carrying their logo.

The apex of this flagrant corruption was when AT&T threw a lavish party for the party centrists who helped pass the bill – entitled “AT&T thanks the Blue Dogs” – which both Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and I attended in the totally futile attempt to interview the hordes of Democratic lobbyists, delegates and corporate donors who toasted one another:

Like most people, I had known on a rational level for quite some time that corporate donors dictate what happens in Congress – that they literally write the laws – regardless of the outcome of elections. But watching that stream of corporate and political power slink in to that venue and congregate together in such blatant corruption, and the secrecy surrounding it, really underscored the reality of this all on a visceral level. That’s the permanent power faction of Washington and they try hard, with great success, to make themselves impenetrable to outside influences – such as democracy, transparency, and ordinary citizens.

Perhaps this latest episode of pure corporate servitude – this time delivered by the Congressional GOP, at the expense of individual privacy, with virtually unanimous Democratic opposition – will have a similar effect on others, including those who worked to elect this Republican Congress.

This, of course, is the “swamp” that Trump vowed to “drain,” the oozing corruption of both parties that he endlessly denounced (just as Obama did before him in 2008). If Trump signs this bill, as expected, perhaps it will open more eyes about how Washington really works, who really controls it, for whose benefit it functions, and the serious difficulty of changing it even when you elect politicians who swear over and over that they oppose it all.

Top photo: An AT&T store on 5th Avenue in New York on Oct. 23, 2016.

The post To Serve AT&T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to Destroy Online Privacy appeared first on The Intercept.

Comcast-Funded Civil Rights Groups Claim Low-Income People Prefer Ads Over Privacy

29 March 2017 - 10:27am

The House of Representatives joined the Senate Tuesday in voting to repeal new Federal Communications Commission rules that would have stopped internet service providers (ISPs) from using and selling consumers’ web browsing data without their consent.

Supporters of the repeal have argued that regulators failed to, in the words of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., address the “strenuous objections from throughout the Internet community” raised during the rulemaking process.

But a look at the comments submitted to the FCC reveal that many of the opponents of the privacy regulation came not from any “community” but from groups with extensive financial ties to phone and cable companies — with some of their claims hinging on the absurd.

For instance, the League of United Latin American Citizens and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, two self-described civil rights organizations, told the FCC that “many consumers, especially households with limited incomes, appreciate receiving relevant advertising that is keyed to their interests and provides them with discounts on the products and services they use.”

Both LULAC and OCA receive funding from Comcast and other ISPs.

The regulations, adopted in October 2016 and set to go into effect later this year, actually would have allowed ISPs to sell customer browsing data and hence deliver “relevant advertising” — but only if users explicitly give them permission. The rules also would have required ISPs to notify customers about how their browsing data was being used.

The letter, which echoed the concerns of the ISP lobby, came as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon stepped up a lobbying effort through their respective trade associations to stop the privacy rules.

The argument advanced by LULAC and OCA was roundly mocked when brought to the attention of digital and civil rights activists.

“The data that big corporations collect from Black and Brown families leads to predatory marketing that starts from a young age and lasts for a lifetime — everything from payday loans to junk food advertising,” said Brandi Collins, campaign director for Color of Change.

“Even the most innocuous information can be used for online price gouging, data discrimination and digital redlining,” Collins noted. “Attempting to reframe the concept of privacy for our children and vulnerable communities as a luxury and not a basic right is at best misleading and at worst a true disservice to any community these organizations purportedly represent.”

Malkia Cyril, the executive director of the Center for Media Justice, scoffed at “the idea that people living in poverty would prefer ads over 4th amendment constitutional protections in a digital age,” calling the argument “preposterous, and actually insulting.”

“No, I am quite certain people want to live safe from government or corporate overreach, to know their speech and activities are protected, more than they want to be sold products at a discount,” Cyril added. “Regardless of desire, that is what democracy demands — and anyone claiming concern for civil rights who asserts otherwise should take a very thoughtful look at why.”

OCA has long relied on telecom industry cash. Verizon and Comcast are listed as business advisory council members to OCA, and provide funding along with “corporate guidance to the organization.” Last year, both companies sponsored the OCA annual gala.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Verizon serve as part of the LULAC “corporate alliance,” providing “advice and assistance” to the group. Comcast gave $240,000 to LULAC between 2004 and 2012.

Neither OCA nor LULAC immediately responded when asked if ISP industry money influenced their decision to engage on the privacy rule. Neither group discloses individualized donation amounts for recent years.

Their letter, sent last year during the rulemaking process, was organized by the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council, a group that is well-known for pushing civil rights groups to back telecom lobbying campaigns. Earlier this year, MMTC and OCA mobilized to support the Trump administration push to rollback net neutrality rules passed by the Obama FCC. MMTC is also funded by Comcast and major ISP firms.

As we’ve reported, a number of legacy civil rights organizations have engaged in lobbying debates seemingly unrelated to their core missions, but in favor of their corporate donors. OCA, in addition to backing the telecom industry push against net neutrality, lobbied regulators on behalf of Southwest Airlines after receiving financial support from the airline.

Other letters sent to the FCC in opposition to the privacy rule were also sent by ISP-funded advocacy groups.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform wrote that the agency is using “the term ‘privacy’ as a shield for the continued expansion” of government power.

The Norquist letter attached a previous comment from allied right-leaning groups, including the Center for Individual Freedom, Americans for Prosperity, and American Commitment, claiming that the definition of private data is too highly subjective to be set by the FCC. “Some might find value in an application using data about their geolocation in a particular way,” the letter notes.

Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Individual Freedom, Americans for Prosperity, and American Commitment all receive funding from the ISP industry, disclosures show. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the trade group that represents Comcast and other internet providers, has provided financial support to the organizations on the letter. NCTA also filed a letter with the FCC this month forcefully calling for a repeal of the privacy rules.

For privacy and other civil rights advocates, the campaign to repeal the privacy rule could create new dangers for online activists. Watchdog groups note that ISPs can use consumer browsing data to compile detailed profiles of users’ health, finances, political beliefs, even their sexual orientation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned that without privacy protections, ISPs will take broad measures to vacuum up a wide array of consumer data to sell to data brokers and advertising agencies. In 2014, for instance, Verizon began a program of tracking all mobile consumers’ traffic using a system that was nearly impossible to out of. Other ISPs have experimented with programs that record every URL their customers visit.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., took to the Senate floor last week to blast the repeal resolution, claiming that the bill “would allow Comcast, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, and other broadband providers to take control away from consumers and relentlessly collect and sell their sensitive information without the consent of that family.”

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the repeal bill.

Top photo: A view of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, headquarters of Comcast Cable, on Aug. 18, 2015.

The post Comcast-Funded Civil Rights Groups Claim Low-Income People Prefer Ads Over Privacy appeared first on The Intercept.

You Shouldn’t Blame Islam for Terrorism. Religion Isn’t a Crucial Factor in Attacks.

29 March 2017 - 8:52am

What do you think of when you hear the word “terrorist”? Big beards and brown skins? Turban-wearing Muslim migrants from the Middle East? Refugees maybe?

Yet according to a report from the New America Foundation, “every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.” A recent study in Britain, which last week endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 2005, revealed that more than two out of three “Islamism-inspired” terrorist offenses were carried out by individuals “who were either born or raised in the UK.”

The common stereotype of the Middle Eastern, Muslim-born terrorist is not just lazy and inaccurate, but easy fodder for the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam far right. Consider the swift reaction of White House official Sebastian Gorka to the horrific terror attack in London last week. “The war is real,” he told Fox News while the bodies of the victims were still warm, “and that’s why executive orders like President Trump’s travel moratorium are so important.”

Sorry, what? The 52-year-old perpetrator of the London attack, Khalid Masood, was born and brought up in the UK and would not have been affected in the slightest by a travel ban on Muslims from the Middle East. He was neither a refugee nor an immigrant. He was not of Middle Eastern origin either, and he was not even a Muslim for the vast majority of his life. Born to a white mother and black father as Adrian Elms, and raised as Adrian Ajao, he is believed to have converted to Islam in prison in 2003 and had a well-documented history of criminality prior to mowing down innocent pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, and stabbing a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament, last Thursday afternoon.

A member of the public is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017 in London.

Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Does it sound like I am trying to excuse or exculpate Islam and Muslims from responsibility for his heinous crime? You bet I am. And why shouldn’t I?

After all, was the Islamic faith at fault for Ajao’s first conviction, for criminal damage, in 1983 when he was aged 18? Was it the Prophet Muhammad who instructed him to deal drugs in his teens? Was it the Quran that inspired the drunken Ajao to slash a man across the face in 2000, leaving him needing more than 20 stitches? Was Ajao engaged in jihad when he stabbed a man in the nose in 2003, leaving him in need of cosmetic surgery?

No, no, no and no. Later, as Khalid Masood, he may have been radicalized by violent Islamists in a UK prison or by Salafi jihadists while visiting Saudi Arabia — we simply do not know and may never know — but what we can be sure of is that his violent tendencies and anti-social behavior long predated his conversion to Islam, “radical” or otherwise. As even the conservative British academic, and Christian blogger, Adrian Hilton conceded, “Adrian Elms was a violent Christian before he became Muslim terrorist Khalid Masood… Islam didn’t make him an evil bastard; he was already a nasty piece of work.”

As with other Muslim converts who have turned to terror, such as Canadian Aaron Driver and Texan John Georgelas, as well as the born-again types, such as the Kouachi brothers in Paris and the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, a distorted, simplistic and politicized form of Islam may have provided Masood with a ready-made justification for his violence, but I doubt it was the main motivation. While politicians and pundits obsess over the role played by political ideology — Islamism — or religious faith — Islam — they conveniently if irresponsibly avert their gaze from other, perhaps more crucial factors. There is the role of social networks and family ties; issues of identity and belonging; a sense of persecution; mental illness; socio-economic grievances; moral outrage over conflict and torture; a craving for glory and purpose, action and adventure. These have proved to be much better predictors of terrorist tendencies than religion and, specifically, religiosity.

The headquarters of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency in London in 2007.

Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Don’t take my (Muslim) word for it. In 2008, a leaked report by researchers for MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, found that “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly,” according to the Guardian’s Alan Travis, who obtained, revealed and reported on the classified document, which is based on “hundreds of case studies” by the security service.

“They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices,” wrote Travis, after reading the report, adding: “Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes.”

Sound familiar?

And the report had this as a kicker: “MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.”

Over the past decade since the MI5 research was first leaked, more and more studies have challenged the conventional and lazy wisdom on the role of religion in the radicalization process. In recent years, I have spoken with a range of leading experts — anthropologist Scott Atran, psychiatrist Marc Sageman, historian Lydia Wilson — all of whom have interviewed “jihadi” terrorists, from the battlefields of Iraq to the prison cells of the United States, and all of whom agree that faith, Islamic or otherwise, is not the key driver of this latest wave of global terror.

“Terrorism is really political violence, first and foremost,” Sageman told me last year. Atran, when I interviewed him for my Al Jazeera English show in 2015, said, “If you dialogue with these people, if you look at how they actually move into ‘jihad’ … there is very little discussion of religion.”

Yet every major terrorist attack in the West is followed by a very public “discussion of religion.” How Islamic is ISIS? Does Islam require a reformation? Do Muslims pose a threat to liberal values? Should Western countries ban immigration from Muslim-majority countries?

The streets are empty near Big Ben on the day following a terror attack outside parliament in London in 2017.

Photo: Rex Features/AP

In fact, these days, members of the ‘Blame Islam’ crowd don’t even try and hide their evident glee when a terrorist attack occurs. They assume that the attacker’s Muslim name in and of itself is a vindication of their anti-Muslim bigotry. Their claim that “Islam is the problem” has now gone mainstream: it has a committed supporter in the White House, if not in Downing Street. The absence of clear and empirical evidence for their spurious theory of radicalization does not seem to bother them in the slightest. That most terrorists are “religious novices” and a “diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism,” to quote MI5, is ignored or downplayed.

What was it Einstein once joked? “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Or deploy “alternative” ones, maybe. Such an approach makes sense if your aim is to demonize Islam and Muslims, no matter the cost. But if your aim is to prevent the next attack, this excessive focus on faith, on belief, on ideology — in defiance of the evidence and the experts — is a dangerous distraction. The terrorists may want to try and legitimize their violence by cynically appealing to Islamic motifs or doctrines, but there is no reason the rest of us should help them do it.

Top photo: An armed police officer stands guard near Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017 in London after an attack.

The post You Shouldn’t Blame Islam for Terrorism. Religion Isn’t a Crucial Factor in Attacks. appeared first on The Intercept.

Intercepted Podcast: Trump Declares War on The Planet in Real-Life Remake of The Purge

29 March 2017 - 6:01am

Subscribe to the Intercepted podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher,and other platforms. New to Podcasting? Click Here.

 

Donald Trump is treating the health of the planet as a short sell. The deadly game? Make as much money for big oil as possible before the planet goes up in flames. This week on Intercepted, Naomi Klein confronts the White House’s declaration of war on the planet, dissects the bizarre institution of “concierge” disaster response for the ultra-wealthy, and explores whether Trump’s administration is producing the fourth Purge movie where we all are unwitting cast members. The president does not enjoy the new song from Snoop Dogg. Boots Riley of The Coup discusses Trump and hip-hop and performs. Murtaza Hussain talks about the U.S. bombings in Iraq and Syria that have killed 1,000 civilians in one month. And we talk to Josh Begley, the developer of an app that tracks U.S. drone strikes that Apple has censored 13 times.

 

Transcript coming soon.

The post Intercepted Podcast: Trump Declares War on The Planet in Real-Life Remake of The Purge appeared first on The Intercept.

Advogado diz que Temer “ocupa ilegalmente a Presidência da República” e é xingado por deputados

28 March 2017 - 5:41pm

A audiência pública da comissão da Reforma Trabalhista na Câmara dos Deputados foi marcada por um bate-boca, nesta terça-feira (28), após o advogado sindical e consultor em processo legislativo Maximiliano Garcez, representante da Associação Latino-Americana de Advogados Laboralistas (Alal/Brasil), afirmar que a proposta de reforma do governo Temer tinha “um vício de origem” porque é assinada por “alguém que ocupa ilegalmente a Presidência da República, fruto de um golpe parlamentar, midiático empresarial”. A fala foi interrompida aos gritos de parlamentares. Garcez foi chamado de “animal”, “imbecil” e “advogado de porta de fábrica”.

A confusão dá o tom das discussões sobre a reforma no Congresso e fora dele. O debate acontece em um momento de tensão entre empregadores e empregados em torno das mudanças, consideradas como um retrocesso nos direitos dos trabalhadores – e que já levou o presidente da Câmara, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), a dizer que a Justiça Trabalhista, não deveria sequer existir.

“A busca pelo lucro de curto prazo vai transformar o país numa loja de R$ 1,99.”

Minutos após a interrupção, o advogado ensaiou listar nomes de algumas empresas violadoras das leis trabalhistas do Brasil, mas foi interrompido por Vitor Lippi (PSDB/SP), que presidia a sessão.

De acordo com Garcez, “temos uma das classes empresariais mais belicosas do mundo em um país que foi o último das Américas a acabar com a escravatura. Essa belicosidade é fruto da nossa elite empresarial.”

Segundo ele, a Reforma Trabalhista amesquinha a economia, será “péssima” para os trabalhadores e, em longo prazo, também para a classe empresarial. “A busca pelo lucro de curto prazo vai transformar o país numa loja de R$1,99 com ampla destruição do sindicalismo, diminuindo produtividade, a capacidade de consumo e o mercado interno”, disse.

O advogado afirmou ainda que o apoio ao projeto de reforma é típico de “sindicatos pelegos” capazes de chamar o ex-presidente da Câmara Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ) de “pessoa correta”, em uma referência ao deputado Paulo Pereira da Silva (SD-SP), o Paulinho da Força Sindical.

“Só um governo que não foi eleito pelas urnas poderia fazer isso”

“Esse governo ilegal que ocupa a Presidência quer colocar o Brasil numa posição subalterna do capital internacional.”

Garcez chamou as propostas de reforma de “tiro no pé” do empresariado – “Não tem como ter empresa de ponta organizando mão de obra dessa maneira: 3 meses aqui, 3 meses lá” – e disse não entender como deputado evangélico que se diz a favor da família pode defender uma “situação que não dá para sustentar a família”.

“Mesmo deputados de direita que representam o grande capital deveriam ser contra a proposta. Porque, a longo prazo, a medida é ruim. O próprio governo golpista teme que a previdência vai ser prejudicada com a terceirização. É o barato que sai caro.”

Ainda de acordo com o advogado, o projeto de lei aprovado na semana passada que permite a terceirização até da atividade fim de uma empresa não é uma proposta de terceirização, mas de “aluguel de pessoas”.“Só um governo que não foi eleito pelas urnas poderia fazer isso”, completou.

Aos parlamentares que apoiam a proposta, ele vaticinou: “Que vocês que votam pela reforma trabalhista nunca mais tenham votos”.

“O ranço e o preconceito são fortes, mas vamos lá”, disse Lippi, constrangido, após a fala do convidado.

The post Advogado diz que Temer “ocupa ilegalmente a Presidência da República” e é xingado por deputados appeared first on The Intercept.

Former Democratic Senators Advised Group Funding Anti-Muslim Extremist Frank Gaffney

28 March 2017 - 4:54pm

America’s powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, enlisted the help of one of the nation’s most prominent and extreme anti-Muslim activists, Frank Gaffney, during its 2015 push to sink the Iran nuclear deal. And it did so through an organization staffed by some of the country’s most prominent Democratic consultants and advised by a group of four ex-Senate Democrats.

AIPAC’s funding of Gaffney was uncovered earlier this month by LobeLog’s Eli Clifton. He noticed that a 501(c)(4) dark money organization called Citizens For a Nuclear Free Iran, or CNFI, which AIPAC created to oppose the Iran deal, gave $60,000 to “Secure Freedom,” a group whose tax ID number identifies it as belonging to Gaffney’s think tank, the Center for Security Policy, or CSP. AIPAC later confirmed to Haaretz that it offered the funding to Gaffney to run ads opposed to the Iran deal.

Gaffney and the CSP are notorious in Washington for circulating some of America’s most wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, such as that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a covert operative of the Muslim Brotherhood — an accusation so bizarre that even then-Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner condemned it in 2012. Gaffney has also claimed that Barack Obama should be “considered America’s first Muslim president” and that Obama made “commitments … to promote Islam in America.”

So you might assume, given that CNFI were willing to partner with such a far-right fringe organization, that it would be staffed by hardcore conservative Republicans.

But you would be wrong.

In fact, during its failed campaign to sink diplomacy with Iran, CFNI enlisted a gamut of top Democrats. Its advisory board included four Democratic senators-turned-lobbyists: Mark Begich of Alaska, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu. Former Nevada Democratic congresswoman Shelley Berkley also advised the group.

People in the crowd stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 9, 2015.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

None of the former lawmakers who advised CNFI replied to requests for comment about the group’s financial support for Gaffney.

In addition to Gaffney’s accusations about Abedin, he has claimed that officials in the U.S. government are waging a “civilizational jihad” to undermine the country from within. Gaffney was even briefly banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference after he accused anti-tax activist Grover Norquist of being part of a purported plot to bring Islamic law to America. His sham polling was also used by then-candidate Donald Trump to justify his call for a total ban on Muslim migration to the United States.

In addition to the former members of Congress, and political firms like Trilogy Interactive and Winning Connections, CNFI deployed a number of top Democratic consultants and pollsters to run its campaign.

Mark Putnam cut his teeth working for a long list of Democratic candidates, but his most prominent work was producing television advertising for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

His firm Putnam Partners was hired by CFNI to produce television ads designed to frighten Americans about the consequences of the Iran nuclear deal. Shortly after his hiring by CNFI, Putnam spoke to the Washington Post to explain his convictions in opposing diplomacy by the president he had worked for. “I am more grateful to President Obama than I can ever express for being able to help him in two presidential campaigns,” he told the Post. “I have strongly supported every other initiative he has undertaken. On this issue, however, I, like other Democrats, have a heartfelt position against the agreement.”

Newly released disclosures show that Putnam’s firm was paid $162,070 for his heartfelt work in 2015. He did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.

Frank Gaffney testifies during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC, on July 24, 2013.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Patrick Dorton served as a spokesperson for CFNI during its anti-Iran deal campaign. Today he is a partner at the firm Rational 360, but in the past he worked for a number of top Democrats, including former president Bill Clinton, former Senator Tom Harkin, and current Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio.

Dorton also did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.

Mark S. Mellman of the Mellman Group was hired to commission polling for CFNI. Mellman is a veteran Democratic pollster; on his biography webpage he boasts of working for the campaigns of 29 U.S. Senators, ten governors, and many more officials. One of his top clients was former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid.

Mellman told The Intercept that he has no affinity for Gaffney’s ideology, but declined to condemn AIPAC or CNFI for financially supporting him — claiming ignorance of the relationship.

“I’m someone who got money, not someone who gave money,” he told me, laughing (Mellman’s firm was paid $241,439 by CNFI). “It’s not my organization. I was paid by that organization to do work for them, which I did. I don’t know who else was paid by that organization.”

“Do you have any personal regrets about being associated with an organization that would also be supporting Frank Gaffney?” I followed up.

Mellman paused for a moment, then responded with a joke: “How often do you beat your wife?”

After being asked again if it were appropriate for AIPAC to support Gaffney, Mellman started to raise doubts about the story altogether. “I don’t know anything about it other than what you’re telling me, based on documents that you’ve seen that I haven’t,” he said of CFNI’s grant to Gaffney’s group.

I offered to send him the disclosure forms so he could review them himself, but he declined.

“I really don’t feel like paying an accountant to review the documents,” he said.

(The disclosure forms are right here, and you don’t have to be an accountant to read them. The grant to Gaffney is on page 13.)

Top photo: Frank Gaffney speaks during a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 9, 2015.

 

 

 

The post Former Democratic Senators Advised Group Funding Anti-Muslim Extremist Frank Gaffney appeared first on The Intercept.

After London Attack, Government Scapegoats WhatsApp

28 March 2017 - 4:46pm

The attack outside the United Kingdom’s parliament in London last Wednesday was over in just 82 seconds, but the backlash from the incident is continuing to develop. On Sunday, a firestorm was triggered when a leading British government minister, in a television interview, appeared to apportion some blame for the incident on WhatsApp, which allows smartphone users to send and receive encrypted text messages that are difficult for police and spy agencies to monitor.

At about 14:40 on London’s Westminster Bridge, 52-year-old Khalid Masood drove his rented Hyundai Tucson at high-speed into a crowd of people, killing three and injuring upwards of 40. He continued towards the nearby parliament, where he got out of his car and, wielding two knives, stabbed and killed a policeman. Seconds later, an armed officer on the scene shot Masood two or three times, and he fell to the ground, later dying from his injuries.

In the aftermath of the incident, it was reported that Masood – a British citizen born with the name Adrian Elms – had used WhatsApp minutes prior to launching his rampage. On Sunday, the British government’s home secretary Amber Rudd called WhatsApp’s encryption “completely unacceptable,” when asked about Masood alleged use of the app.

“There should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said. “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.”

Rudd’s anti-encryption rhetoric was in line with a position the British government has taken for years – that no communication service should be impossible for the authorities to tap. Former prime minister David Cameron pushed this policy in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings in 2015. And one of the core principles behind a sweeping new surveillance law in the U.K. is that “there must be no guaranteed safe spaces online” for terrorists, criminals, and pedophiles to “communicate beyond the reach of the law.”

There are problems with using the Masood case as an example to drive this agenda, however. First, it has not been established whether Masood actually sent or received any encrypted messages on WhatsApp prior to launching his attack. There is evidence that he may have accessed WhatsApp shortly before he drove down Westminster Bridge, because journalists who obtained his phone number verified that his account was active on the service at that time. But this may have been to send a message to – or read a message from – his wife or a friend. There is no evidence yet to support any suggestion that Masood was operating under the direction of a group such as the Islamic State or al Qaeda.

In fact, police investigators have said so far that they have no indication that he was anything other than a “lone wolf,” who was radicalized after watching jihadist propaganda online.

Moreover, even if all of Masood’s WhatsApp chats were unencrypted – meaning they could have been easily intercepted by spy agencies and police – it is unlikely that would have prevented his murderous spree. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has acknowledged that he was not under investigation at the time of the attack, so his communications would not have been the focus of any eavesdropping.

If it does turn out that Masood was sending encrypted chats to terrorist handlers, these messages are not necessarily beyond the reach of the police. After he was shot dead, police will have thoroughly searched Masood’s vehicle and his home, seizing his belongings. If police have obtained his smartphone, they should be able to access it and recover the WhatsApp texts stored on the device, much like how the FBI eventually broke into the San Bernardino attackers’ iPhones. (London’s Metropolitan Police did not respond to an inquiry Tuesday on whether it had obtained Masood’s phone.)

A spokesperson for the British government’s Home Office told The Intercept that it could not answer questions about Rudd’s WhatsApp comments. “The government supports encryption in cyber security,” it said in a statement. “But it is irresponsible to give terrorists a way to plot online which cannot be intercepted by the police and intelligence agencies who are trying to protect the public from further attacks.”

It is difficult to assert support for “encryption in cyber security,” however, while also advocating for encryption to be weakened for the purposes of surveillance. As security experts have pointed out, a surveillance “backdoor” cannot be built into WhatsApp or any other service for the sole purpose of allowing the British government to spy on terrorists and other serious criminals. The backdoor would create a gaping security hole, which could potentially be exploited by hostile foreign intelligence agencies, hackers, criminal fraudsters, and a variety of other undesirables. And that should give the British government pause for concern, especially given that officials at its highest levels also use WhatsApp to discuss sensitive issues.

Jim Killock, executive director of the London-based Open Rights Group, says he believes the government is “grandstanding” with its WhatsApp comments. “They are trying to make a political point rather than making serious demands,” he says.

Killock points out that under the U.K.’s new surveillance law – the Investigatory Powers Act – the government can try to compel companies to weaken the encryption on their services. By issuing what is called a “technical capability notice,” the authorities can force companies to “provide any assistance” in the context of surveillance, which can include “obligations relating to the removal by a relevant operator of electronic protection applied by or on behalf of that operator to any communications or data.”

In practice, it would be difficult for the U.K. government to force companies domiciled outside of British territory to comply with such an order. But WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which has a significant presence in the U.K and is planning to open a large new office in London’s West End later this year. Killock says if the government were serious about cracking down on the company’s encryption, it could perhaps try to strong-arm Facebook by threatening sanctions on its British assets. “If the government had serious demands it would have issued [technical capability] notices and would be trying to get WhatsApp to change the technology in secret,” he says.

For Facebook, that furor over WhatsApp will not feel entirely new; it bears striking resemblance to another case in recent history. In 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby was savagely murdered on a London street in broad daylight by two Islamist extremists. In the aftermath of the killing, some British politicians attacked Facebook for not reporting messages one of the attackers had reportedly sent on the platform indicating his intention to murder a soldier. But a parliamentary investigation revealed a more complex picture. One of the killers had been closely monitored under five separate police and security service operations – and police had received a tip that the other extremist was affiliated with al-Qaeda. Yet both men still slipped under the radar.

“The government has a pattern of doing this,” says Killock. “It’s never a social issue, or a government failing – it’s easier to just blame the technology companies.”

Top photo: Armed police officers secure the area near the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017 the day after a terror attack.

The post After London Attack, Government Scapegoats WhatsApp appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump Rewards Fossil Fuel Industry By Signing Climate Denial Executive Order

28 March 2017 - 3:53pm

Trump’s executive order issued Tuesday doesn’t just knock over the centerpiece of Obama administration’s efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change, the Clean Power Plan. It also includes a list of disastrous concessions that the fossil fuel industry and its front groups have worked for years to win.

It orders the Interior Department to end a moratorium on new coal mine leasing on federal land; directs agencies to reconsider rules limiting emissions from hydraulic fracturing; kills guidance requiring climate change be considered in environmental reviews for infrastructure projects; and calls for a re-calculating of the social cost of carbon, which puts a dollar value on what greenhouse gas emissions cost society. Trump’s order also demands federal agencies rethink any policy that stands in the way of energy development and cancels other Obama-era climate efforts such as his Climate Action Plan.

Fully dismantling the Clean Power Plan and writing a new rule will take years, and be rife with legal and regulatory roadblocks. Still, the order is the biggest Trump giveaway yet to an industry eager to postpone a day of reckoning on climate change.

It follows the State Department’s approval last week of a key permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which had been denied by the Obama administration over concerns about climate change. The week before that, Trump asked Congress to cut the EPA by nearly a third and also ordered a rollback of Obama’s fuel efficiency rules for vehicles. Thanks to another reversal from Trump, the Dakota Access Pipeline is now filled with oil and ready to run, according to court papers filed yesterday.

Trump has consistently hired climate deniers, energy company employees, and advocates of environmental deregulation for key positions. Next, he is expected to appoint three friends of the industry to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the panel that approves natural gas pipelines.

As White House budget director Mick Mulvaney put it, “Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward – we’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”

Trump’s policies do ensure, however, that money will be spent on climate-change-inducing energy infrastructure. With each order Trump signs, the physical landscape of his presidency comes into sharper focus.

A strip mine in Utah, two oil pipelines in the Dakotas, coal plants across the U.S., and a liquid natural gas export facility in Oregon: these are some of the fossil fuel projects that Trump’s actions will help build, revive, or preserve.

Meanwhile, scientists look warily toward melting glaciers in Alaska, waters lapping further ashore of the Gulf Coast, and worsening drought and famine in Somalia and Yemen where the U.S. has deployed drones and troops.

Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot in late 2014 outside Gascoyne, North Dakota.

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Trump doesn’t deserve sole credit for the era he’s ushering in. Tuesday’s order is a culmination of a generation’s worth of work by the fossil fuel industry to keep the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

It was in 1998 that Environmental Protection Agency lawyers first asserted that the agency could put limits on greenhouse gas emissions, as long as it established that they harmed human health and the environment. It would be another nine years before the Supreme Court backed up the EPA lawyers. And it wasn’t until 2009 that the agency finally announced that climate-warming gases did indeed cause harm.

The fossil fuel industry was alert the whole time, fortifying a massive anti-science infrastructure of front groups, fringe scientists, and sympathetic politicians put in place to protect fossil fuel profits from collapsing. Even as it seemed that public sentiment was shifting against climate deniers, and Republican politicians and companies started to hedge their statements — admitting that climate change is happening, but misleadingly claiming that we don’t know how much of it is the fault of humans — they kept up their assault on regulation.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan was a lightning rod. The 2014 proposal would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030, from 2005 levels. It would achieve this by setting carbon emission reduction goals for every state in the contiguous United States, which would force some plants to switch from coal to natural gas or renewable sources. Last year, the Supreme Court halted implementation of the plan while states argued against it in federal court. Litigation to kill the plan was led by attorneys general with close ties to the fossil fuel industry, like new EPA head Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma.

The coal industry, already suffering as cheap gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing forced coal plants to close, expected to take the biggest hit. As the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, Bruce Nilles, put it, “For coal mining companies the likes of Peabody, and [Murray Energy CEO] Bob Murray, who have been losing their shirts, this is a fight to the death.”

Trump’s order grants floundering coal giants a gasping wish — and it’s a boon to the entire fossil fuel industry, removing obstacles for a series of energy projects across the country.

 

A dump truck moves coal in this aerial photograph taken above the Peabody Energy Corp. Francisco mine in Francisco, Ind. on April 5, 2016.

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News/Getty Images

North Dakota provides a useful vantage point from which to observe what will happen if all goes according to Trump’s plans. The state was assigned one of the highest emissions reduction goals in the country — 45 percent. It gets about three quarters of its energy from the state’s large reserves of lignite, or “brown,” coal, considered the most polluting variety. Over time, Trump policies would leave North Dakota’s landscape with more coal plants and coal mines and fewer wind turbines, not to mention the Dakota Access Pipeline. Oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing from the state’s Bakken fields has now entered the Dakota Access line, crossing the Missouri River. The river’s waters were the focus of a massive resistance encampment against the pipeline, led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and forcibly shut down at the end of February.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota’s neighboring states, Montana and South Dakota, the revived Keystone XL pipeline would send carbon-intensive bitumen from Canada’s tar sands across the border to southern refineries. That project also faces massive pushback from tribes, property owners, and environmental groups.

In Utah, Alton Coal Development’s Coal Hollow mine will move forward now that the moratorium on coal leasing on federal land is being lifted. The proposed strip mine expansion, located a few miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, would produce 2 million tons of coal annually, worth an estimated 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide if sold and burned. Alton has claimed that the portion of the mine already operating on private land would have to shut down if it is not allowed to expand onto public land, and two counties in Utah sued the Interior Department for stalling the mine. Area residents and wildlife conservationists have objected to the project for years, arguing that it threatens natural and cultural resources in the area, including the park.

Though framed as a jobs program, lifting the moratorium is another giveaway to the industry. It was put in place because reports have indicated the current leasing program allows coal-mining companies to pay less than market prices to access and sell a public resource. The Obama Administration began a review of the leasing program to figure out where it was failing taxpayers, and the Department of Interior demanded that new leases wait until the results came in. The moratorium was most threatening to coal companies not because it prevented mining from moving forward — in fact the current market for coal supports hardly any new leases — but because it threatened to force companies to pay more money in royalties to the U.S. government.

The Obama administration’s review also promised to examine the environmental costs of coal mining, potentially incorporating the social cost of carbon into those royalty calculations. The new executive order eliminates that concern.

On Oregon’s Pacific coast, a plan for a liquid natural gas export facility known as Jordan Cove could rise from the dead, as Trump prepares to appoint three new members to the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approves natural gas projects. According to reports, the appointees will likely include Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and a pusher of policies friendly to fracking companies; Kevin McIntyre, head of the energy practice at Jones Day, a big law firm that represents energy companies, and Neil Chatterjee, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s advisor and his right-hand man in fighting the Clean Power Plan.

The commission, called FERC, was already notorious for approving nearly every natural gas project submitted for consideration. Jordan Cove was a rare exception: FERC rejected the proposal a year ago, stating that the company behind it, Veresen, had failed to line up buyers in Asia and that the proposed pipeline that would supply the facility, the Pacific Connector, was not in the public interest. If approved, the project would export gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing and would require the construction of a power plant that would become one of the state’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Ninety percent of the property owners along the pipeline route had refused offers from Veresen and its partner in pipeline building, Williams.

Trump issued an executive order in January that would expedite approvals for “high priority” infrastructure projects. And earlier this month Veresen CEO Don Althoff told Bloomberg, “the White House is going to work with us on getting through the permitting process quickly and efficiently. The message to us was hurry up – get going.”

Jody McCaffree has been fighting the Jordan Cove project for years, and her words could be echoed by any number of environmental activists grappling with Trump’s orders.

“Here we are twelve years later still having to volunteer incredible amounts of our time and energy saying the same things over and over again in these various permitting processes.  This is time we will never get back,” she told The Intercept. However, she added, “We must fight on.”

Bryce Canyon National Park on Jan. 28, 2017 in Bryce Canyon City, Utah.

Photo: Ric Tapia/AP

Alongside Trump’s map of dirty energy, something else has emerged as well: a new geography of resistance. Legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts aims to get the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, and California’s Senate leader Kevin de León introduced a similar bill last month. “California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future,” he said in a statement after Trump’s election. The state has also pledged to maintain its strict vehicle emissions standards in opposition to Trump’s rollback of the federal standards.

Meanwhile, climate and environmental advocates are preparing to stand in the way of Trump via lawsuits and demonstrations. Organizers involved in resisting the Dakota Access pipeline have moved their fight to new spaces, starting a camp in Iowa branded as a “progressive think tank and resistance to the Trump administration.” Camps built to protest the Diamond Pipeline were recently established in Oklahoma. And the renewed fight against the Keystone XL will be infused with energy from Dakota Access veterans.

Ponca Nation member Mekasi Camp Horinek has fought all three pipelines. “I want to say thank you to the president for all the bad decisions that he’s making — for the bad cabinet appointments that he’s made and for awakening a sleeping giant. People that have never stood up for themselves, people that have never had their voices heard, that have never put their bodies on the line are now outraged,” he told The Intercept shortly after Trump signed his order reviving Keystone XL.

“I would like to say thank you to President Trump for his bigotry, for his sexism, for bringing all of us in this nation together to stand up and unite.”

Top photo: An aerial photograph shows the Peabody Energy Corp. Wild Boar coal mine in Lynnville, Ind. on April 5, 2016.

The post Donald Trump Rewards Fossil Fuel Industry By Signing Climate Denial Executive Order appeared first on The Intercept.

Ataques aos direitos dos trabalhadores são “desastre total”, diz subprocurador-geral do Trabalho

28 March 2017 - 3:11pm

O “presidente reformista” quer fechar o ano com seis reformas: entre elas, a da Previdência e a Trabalhista. Acompanhando de perto os movimentos palacianos — e muitas vezes demonstrando resistência a eles — o ex-procurador-geral do Trabalho e atual subprocurador-geral do Trabalho Luís Antônio Camargo de Melo participa de audiências no Congresso sobre a Reforma Trabalhista.

O subprocurador-geral do Trabalho Luís Antônio Camargo de Melo.

Foto: Lúcio Bernardo Junior/Câmara dos Deputados

Testemunha do desmonte dos direitos dos trabalhadores, ele relata por telefone ao The Intercept Brasil o que tem presenciado e qual a sua perspectiva para o futuro, caso as reformas sejam aprovadas: “É um desastre para além do trabalhador, é um desastre total para a sociedade brasileira”.

Melo não se posiciona contra a terceirização, mas contra a precarização das condições de trabalho. Para o jurista, que também é professor de Direito do Trabalho no Centro Universitário IESB, a chegada de tais pautas é a conta das eleições: “elegemos representantes que defendem pontos de vista muito mais próximos daquilo que os empresários querem do que daquilo que os trabalhadores necessitam”.

“O direito do trabalho surgiu como uma necessidade”

The Intercept Brasil: Entre os ataques aos direitos do trabalhador, qual é o mais perigoso, na sua concepção?

Camargo de Melo: Essa proposta de terceirização sem limites. Quebra toda a construção de proteção, toda a construção do direito do trabalho.

Greve Geral contra a reforma da previdência e a reforma trabalhista, em Belo Horizonte (MG), no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

O direito do trabalho não existe para fazer revolução. Surgiu como uma necessidade, como uma conquista de toda a sociedade para trazer um equilíbrio jurídico entre trabalhador e empregador, e evitar a exploração, ou diminuí-la.

A sociedade evoluiu buscando esse sistema de proteção. Isso não foi dado de graça. Foi conquistado com muito sangue, muito suor, muitas vidas dedicadas. E ainda estamos construindo esse sistema e todo o processo de valorização do trabalho, de proteção e de garantia da dignidade humana da pessoa trabalhando. É só olhar o artigo primeiro da Constituição da República. Está expressa a valorização do trabalho, a dignidade da pessoa humana de uma forma geral. É esse fundamento da República que está sendo desrespeitado. E isso é de ordem gravíssima.

TIB: Mas senhor diz que não é contra a terceirização, mas contra a precarização. Pode explicar isso melhor?

No dia 21 de março de 2017, movimentos de trabalhadores organizam greve geral.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

CM: A terceirização é um instituto em que se aplica uma gestão de mão de obra: há uma organização de serviços, uma estruturação das empresas. No mundo inteiro se utiliza esse processo de gestão de pessoal, de administração, de produção. Então é inexorável, não é uma situação que seja minimamente razoável você ficar contra a terceirização porque ela é uma realidade.

E tem benefícios. Para aqueles que prestam serviços – desde que eles estejam regulares–, para as empresas, que adquirem um serviço de quem sabe produzir do jeito que a empresa quer. Vai ter um reflexo também para o consumidor: um produto de boa qualidade com um valor de mercado acessível. Então, esse processo é uma realidade e é bom para todo mundo, eu repito.

Agora, um outro processo é o que eu chamo de precarização. É quando você não compra o serviço, mas sim compra a mão de obra, buscando baratear o custo do processo produtivo. Aí se adquire mão de obra que não é qualificada, que não recebeu treinamento, que recebe um salário menor, uma mão de obra que trabalha mais. Ou seja, vem uma mão de obra que é precarizada.

Porque, se for para investir, você vai investir no seu pessoal. E não é razoável investir em pessoal se você quer reduzir o custo.

Ocupação Ministério da Fazenda, no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

TIB: O que seria um exemplo da precarização?

CM: São inúmeros casos que se tem, hoje, na Justiça porque o setor de energia elétrica contrata pessoal e não o serviço. Pessoas que sobem nos postes para fazer manutenção e reparos, que não têm treinamento. Aí o sujeito toma um choque, perde o braço, perde a perna, perde a vida. Porque aquelas pessoas deveriam ser empregadas da empresa de energia, porque aquela ali é a finalidade da empresa, aquilo que ela entrega ao consumidor: um bom serviço de energia elétrica. Então, ela precisa ter pessoal dela, dos seus quadros, treinados, capacitados para desenvolver aquelas atividades.

Quando ela compra essa mão de obra, acaba estabelecendo uma linha de precarização. Tem inúmeros exemplos de trabalhadores que estão aí com as vidas destruídas porque prestaram serviços sem ter capacidade, sem ter qualificação, sem ter treinamento.

“Aí você tem um campo aberto para a fraude: a pejotização de forma geral.”

TIB: O projeto que foi votado libera a terceirização da atividade fim da empresa. É disso que o senhor está falando com esse exemplo?

CM: Eu não gosto dessa expressão. Sempre fui um crítico dessas expressões: atividade fim e atividade meio. Reconheço que a jurisprudência do TST cumpre uma finalidade, sem ela talvez nós tivéssemos a situação ainda mais prejudicial aos trabalhadores. Mas, essas expressões, atividade fim e atividade meio, não resolvem o nosso problema.

Em mobilização contra a Reforma da Previdência, trabalhadores do campo e da cidade ocupam a sede do Ministério da Fazenda, em Brasília, na madrugada do dia 15 de março de 2016.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Vamos ver as atividades de limpeza. Todo mundo entende atividade de limpeza como atividade meio. A própria legislação prevê, na súmula 331 do TST. Ou seja, há jurisprudência, tem uma situação entendida como absolutamente tranquila e legal: uma empresa contrata outra empresa e essa segunda põe o trabalhador, que é o terceirizado, para fazer a limpeza. Não tem problema. Agora, qualquer empresa funciona sem limpeza? Não. Se você tiver um local sujo, as pessoas não vão conseguir trabalhar, vão ficar doentes. Percebe? Não tem como se identificar uma atividade laboral como não importante. Todas são importantes. Então, esse paradigma, esse prisma não é o melhor. Essa divisão de atividade fim e atividade meio não resolve o problema, mas nós ainda não encontramos nada melhor.

Você precisa perceber aquilo que é fundamental no processo produtivo da empresa para enxergar e entender aquilo que a empresa entrega com o seu produto, com o produto que o consumidor enxerga dela.

TIB: A lei não viria apenas para regulamentar uma prática que se tornou comum, a pejotização?

CM: Aí você tem um campo aberto para a fraude: a pejotização de forma geral. Em algumas atividades, isso vai ser possível. Agora, isso eu posso comprar um serviço com dignidade, entendendo que aquela pessoa é importante dentro do processo produtivo. Mas, o viés que se apresenta não é esse.

Dia Nacional de Luta contra a reforma da Previdência, 15 de março de 2017, em Brasília (DF).

Foto: Mídia Ninja

O viés apresentado é o de estabelecer condições para contratar pessoas que não são consideradas importantes, vistas como facilmente substituíveis, que não são colocadas naquele patamar de dignidade, porque elas talvez representem condições, atividades compreendidas como de menos importância. Esse é o viés que está sendo trabalhado.

A proposta que está sendo entregue à sociedade hoje pelos empresários, que estão comandando desse processo via Congresso Nacional. Estamos percebendo que, para eles, é importante mudar a legislação para que as pessoas possam ser precarizadas, para que os empresários possam contratar pessoas e considerar que elas não são importantes.

“Elegemos representantes que defendem pontos de vista muito mais próximos daquilo que os empresários querem do que daquilo que os trabalhadores necessitam”

TIB: É interessante quando o senhor fala dos empresários agindo via Congresso desta forma, numa época em que o empresário é visto como o bom político, o bom gestor. Não é paradoxal?

CM: Temos, hoje, uma das formações mais conservadoras da nossa história no Congresso Nacional. A atual legislatura tem uma diminuição significativa de representantes dos trabalhadores e um aumento significativo de representantes patronais. Por isso está acontecendo essa enorme possibilidade de alterar a legislação. Porque as representações populares, as representações de trabalhadores, as representações mais progressistas, mais combativas, diminuíram significativamente no Congresso.

Protesto como parte da Greve Geral em Porto Alegre (RS), no dia 15 de março de 2015.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Nós elegemos representantes que defendem pontos de vista muito mais próximos daquilo que os empresários querem do que daquilo que os trabalhadores necessitam.

Vamos verificar isso no Brasil inteiro: empresários que se elegem prefeitos, governadores, deputados, senadores. E, claro, se a representação é mais favorável ao empresário, a representação dos trabalhadores não está conseguindo fazer frente à enxurrada de propostas.

Mas uma coisa a história mostra: quando passa um rolo compressor, se destrói muita coisa boa, também. Essa enxurrada de projetos, uma vez aprovados, vai trazer um prejuízo para a sociedade. Os empresários também fazem parte dessa sociedade. Eles também vão sofrer lá na frente com os malefícios dessa enxurrada de projetos de lei com proposta precarizante.

TIB: Este empresário do qual falamos não é o pequeno empresário, o médio empresário, correto?

CM: Pois é. Mas veja que o pequeno e médio empresário são os que mais empregam. Então, para essas empresas, deve ser buscada uma forma de garantir que elas funcionem, que as pessoas possam empreender. É importante o empreendedorismo.

Estamos em um sistema capitalista de produção, então as empresas têm que produzir, que gerar lucro. Se a empresa cresce e gera lucro, gera emprego. Se a empresa não cresce, não gera lucro, ela fecha. Cadê o emprego? É essa lógica que não está sendo respeitada, uma lógica do mercado, uma lógica da sociedade capitalista de produção. Mas esse mercado, essa sociedade capitalista de produção não está respeitando a sua própria lógica. Vai pagar um preço caro lá na frente, não tenho dúvida disso.

“Essa história de que a CLT está ultrapassada, que é antiga, isso não é verdadeiro.”

TIB: O que o Senhor chama de precarização, o governo chama de flexibilização…

CM: A utilização dessa expressão flexibilização não é proibida, muito ao contrário. O próprio legislador da Constituinte de 1988 flexibilizou. A Constituição da República de 1988 trouxe várias situações de flexibilização. Está lá no texto constitucional, tem que ser respeitado, tem que ser defendido, tem que ser praticado.

Trabalhadores de todos os setores paralisaram a capital paranaense contra as reformas, ato principal que reuniu cerca de 50 mil pessoas no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Temos um direito do trabalho que já foi flexibilizado. Essa história de que a CLT está ultrapassada, que é antiga, isso não é verdadeiro. E essa história de que a CLT é ultrapassada vale apenas para a parte do direito sindical, a parte da estrutura sindical. Essa sim, é uma estrutura que vem da década de 1930 e que já deveria ter sido alterada.

TIB: O senhor tem participado ativamente das audiências sobre a reforma trabalhista. Qual tem sido sua percepção nestas reuniões?

CM: Tenho percebido uma resistência muito grande por parte dos setores conservadores que estão no Congresso Nacional, eles estão dispostos a alterar a legislação. Espero que as melhores propostas prevaleçam, mas o que, infelizmente, nós estamos vendo ultimamente é uma dificuldade muito grande por conta dessas propostas conservadoras.

Trabalhadores se manifestam contra as reformas em Curitiba (PR), no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Ouvi, outra semana, em uma audiência pública na Câmara, de uma parlamentar: “nós estamos aqui tentando diminuir os processos”. Eu disse: “ao contrário, vocês vão aumentar”. Tenho absoluta certeza que vai aumentar o número de processos. Vai aumentar o número de demandas, porque hoje os empresários já não pagam. Cerca de 60% das ações tramitando na justiça do trabalho representam créditos aos quais o trabalhador tem direito, sem maiores contestações, sem maiores discussões, mas que os empresários não pagam. O que trabalhador vai fazer? Ele vai buscar a justiça.

“Teremos pessoas no mercado de trabalho que vão perder emprego, que vão perder a condição de pagar o aluguel, a condição de pagar uma escola, de pagar uma conta de supermercado. ”

TIB: Em que ponto a reforma trabalhista o preocupa mais?

CM: A mim, preocupa estabelecer uma situação de precarização em relação aos trabalhadores, de diminuir o poder aquisitivo, diminuir a condição de vida. Teremos pessoas no mercado de trabalho que vão perder emprego, que vão perder a condição de pagar o aluguel, a condição de pagar uma escola, de pagar uma conta de supermercado. Isso vai acontecer, fatalmente.

Trabalhadores de todos os setores paralisaram a capital paranaense contra as reformas em Curitiba (PR) no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

O que está sendo proposto é uma redução de custo de produção a partir da redução de benefícios e direitos dos trabalhadores. Isso vai trazer um enorme prejuízo para a sociedade.

Não sou economista, mas acredito que um raciocínio simples vai levar a uma preocupação enorme a médio prazo. Porque se esse trabalhador precarizado ganha menos. E vai consumir menos, também. Então todo o processo produtivo vai ter dificuldade lá na frente, porque não vamos ter pessoas para consumir esses produtos.

“É um desastre para além do trabalhador, é um desastre total para a sociedade brasileira.”

TIB: Existem outros projetos do governo, em relação ao direito dos trabalhadores, que o preocupam?

CM: Essa proposta de reforma da previdência. Pelo amor de Deus! É uma situação tão absurda que, se eu tivesse dormindo durante alguns anos e acordasse, de repente, e me dissessem que isso é realidade, eu diria: não acredito! Não acredito que nós caminhamos para esse retrocesso social.

Manifestação contra as reformas da previdência e trabalhista em Florianópolis (SC), no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Falar que a previdência é deficitária? Não é verdade! Vamos discutir em termos de sistema de seguridade social, que é superavitário. O legislador constituinte de 1988 criou receitas para garantir o sistema da seguridade. Tem jogos de loteria, só para dar um exemplo, que acumulam fortunas e que têm que ser usados também no sistema de seguridade social. Será que eles são usados realmente? Será que eles são destinados ao custeio do sistema de seguridade social? Tem inúmeras fraudes, empresas enormes que devem bilhões de reais para o sistema da seguridade social e não são cobradas.

Em contrapartida, você tem situações de adoecimento de trabalhadores por conta do processo produtivo. A empresa contrata o trabalhador, ele adoece no seu local de trabalho, se afasta e fica por conta da previdência. A empresa contrata outro trabalhador, não modifica o sistema produtivo, ele adoece também. Aí, você fica num círculo vicioso do qual não se escapa. E vai se jogar mais uma vez a conta no trabalhador.

Greve Geral em Florianópolis (SC), no dia 15 de março de 2017.

Foto: Mídia Ninja

Imagina, trabalhar 49 anos?! Contribuir por 49 anos para poder se aposentar? É um absurdo! Você não vai conseguir se aposentar. As pessoas que estão trabalhando hoje, que estão no mercado de trabalho, não vão se aposentar. Está arriscado elas pararem de contribuir. Aí sim, vai começar a ter confusão e vai ser o limite se as pessoas pararem de contribuir, quando perceberem que não vão se aposentar.

TIB: Mas, depois dos primeiros anúncios, o governo passou a explicar que não seria necessário contribuir por 49 anos…

CM: “Não, não é bem assim. Você não precisa contribuir por 49 anos, você pode contribuir por 25 e se aposentar proporcionalmente.” Meu Deus, a maldade que está por trás disso é tamanha! Porque a pessoa que se aposenta proporcionalmente, logo, logo, fica completamente defasada. E o dinheiro que vai receber não dá para comprar pão na padaria de manhã. E são pessoas idosas, que gastam com remédio.

É um desastre para além do trabalhador, é um desastre total para a sociedade brasileira.

The post Ataques aos direitos dos trabalhadores são “desastre total”, diz subprocurador-geral do Trabalho appeared first on The Intercept.

A verdadeira escolha livre de Lygia Pape

28 March 2017 - 2:23pm

Se para um turista desavisado visitar a primeira retrospectiva de Lygia Pape nos EUA é uma baita odisséia estética, para um brasileiro trata-se de experiência arrebatadora. Especialmente em tempos de retrocesso democrático.

Lygia desenvolveu grande parte de sua obra durante a ditadura militar e é um raro caso de artista que foi preso e torturado pelo regime – ela passou três semanas no DOI-CODI em 1973. Com liberdade e inteligência, continuou criticando as instituições – do Estado, do mercado e da arte – ainda que muitas vezes de forma “indireta, revolucionária porque inventora”.

Deixou uma obra monumental. Das experiências neoconcretas à descoberta de uma linguagem própria, extrapolando o objeto, a artista uniu política, humor e poesia como nunca antes – ou depois. Essa obra mutante entre gravura, instalação, fotografia, performance e vídeo (“Multidão de Formas” é o nome da exposição no Met Breuer) cria uma interface complexa que nos ajuda a ‘desver’ para depois reaprender a ‘ver’ o Brasil, forjando um espelho muito raro. Cada vez mais raro, não apenas na arte brasileira.

Costumo pensar que o maior motivo para o Brasil ter a impressionante produção artística que tem é porque nascemos num país infernal. Se a arte surge como resposta às contradições da sociedade, aqui elas evidentemente não faltam. E aí, ironicamente, minha absoluta ausência de orgulho pela nacionalidade – uma contingência e um acaso, normalmente constrangedor – transforma-se em desavergonhado pacheequismo. Eu me ufano, apenas, pela arte brasileira. Não é pouco.

É curioso que o ponto central da resenha publicada no New York Times seja justamente esse: “O que você faz quando o Estado quebra e o sonho de um futuro melhor morre? Como a sua arte muda quando pioram as circunstâncias sociais? (…) Novos tempos chamam por uma nova arte de intervenção pública, ação comunitária e investigação antropológica, sem medo de assumir riscos”.

A fusão entre arte e vida proposta pela artista é evidente exemplo, não só para artistas brasileiros, mas para os gringos daqui em tempos trumpianos, sugere a crítica do Times. Não apenas por isso, eu acrescentaria.

O reconhecimento das ruas por onde andamos é central na produção de Lygia, principalmente a partir dos anos 70, quando incorpora cada vez mais a cidade aos seus trabalhos. O timing da exposição é perfeito também por esse motivo: a “retomada” ou “ressignificação” do espaço urbano é tema de qualquer mesa de artistas brancos culpados em Nova Iorque, cidade vítima de um brutal processo de gentrificação que expulsa pobres e minorias de seus bairros para transformá-los em versões desidratadas de Berlim – uma Berlim que não existe mais, diga-se – para o consumo de filhinhos de papai do mundo inteiro.

Mas há algo nessa exposição que nos ultrapassa por completo, junto com qualquer contexto. As experiências de Pape ganham dimensões cosmogônicas na grande sala escura onde estão suas ‘Ttéias‘, esculturas rarefeitas de fios dourados e luz, onde nossos sentidos atropelam qualquer tentativa de racionalização. Como no “Manifesto curto” (1964) de Stanley Brouwn, aqui já não há mais ‘arte’ e nem uma sala dentro de um museu, mas sim apenas “cor, luz, espaço, tempo, som e movimento”.

Se lembrarmos que no corredor oposto a sala está o monumental “Livro do Tempo”, dá para acreditar que a síntese formal que Lygia propõe a coloca em qualquer lista de artistas fundamentais do século XX – penso grosseiramente que Mondrian e Beuys, por exemplo, parecem ingênuos aqui.

Há uma resposta célebre de Lenin a críticos mencheviques em 1922 em que ele diz: “A escolha verdadeiramente livre é aquela na qual eu não escolho apenas entre opções dentro de um conjunto prévio de coordenadas, mas aquela onde decido mudar o próprio conjunto de coordenadas”. Ao ver-se diante dessas obras, dá para acreditar que Lygia Pape fez ‘a verdadeira escolha livre’. É raro poder dizer o mesmo de outro artista.

The post A verdadeira escolha livre de Lygia Pape appeared first on The Intercept.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Doubled Down on Threats to Punish Criticism of Israel

28 March 2017 - 1:39pm

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley repeated her prior threats to punish criticism of Israel on Monday, boasting about creating a climate of fear at the U.N. in which other diplomats are frightened to speak to her about recent efforts to condemn Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank.

Haley was addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – the powerful Washington, D.C. lobby whose self-described goal is to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship.” Each year, thousands of delegates and students descend on D.C. for the forum, where the most senior politicians of both parties — from presidential candidates to Congressional leadership – often speak.

Haley received thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd, a reception rivaled only by what they gave Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he spoke to the conference by satellite.

AIPAC was outraged last December when the Obama administration declined to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. AIPAC released a statement saying it violated “longstanding policy,” despite the fact that many previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George Bush, allowed many similar resolutions to pass.

“What I can tell you is everyone at the United Nations is scared to talk to me about Resolution 2334,” Haley told AIPAC, “and I wanted them to know that, look, that happened, but it will never happen again.”

Since her confirmation Haley has moved quickly to silence any criticism of Israel at the U.N. In her first speech at U.N. headquarters in New York, Haley promised to “have the backs of our allies,” and added that “for those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names; we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”

Then last month Haley shocked diplomats when she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a senior U.N. post unrelated to Israel-Palestinian issues. Fayyad was highly unpopular with Palestinians and sometimes called a “collaborator” with Israel, while being praised by the Bush administration for fighting corruption.

Haley told the audience at AIPAC that she saw the appointment of Fayyad as a “freebie” for the Palestinian Authority, and that her move was aimed at punishing them and the U.N. system.

“We said no and we had him booted out,” she said as the audience roared. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a nice man. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t good to America. What it means is, until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the U.N. responds the way they’re supposed to, there are no freebees for the Palestinian Authority anymore.”

Earlier this month, Haley also torpedoed a U.N.-commissioned report in which independent scholars found “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians rises to the level “of the crime of Apartheid.” At Haley’s request, the U.N. secretary general withdrew the report, and the head of the U.N. agency that published the report resigned.
“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement,” Haley told the crowd. “It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time.”

Haley’s efforts at the U.N. should not come as a surprise. Despite her lack of foreign policy experience, Haley sailed through the confirmation process in part due to her commitment to reforming the U.N.’s “bias against our close ally, Israel.”

Throughout the hearings, Haley claimed her willingness to silence criticism of Israel as a chief qualification. She reminded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that as governor of South Carolina, she was the first governor to sign a law punishing businesses who participate in boycotts of Israel – a law that inspired dozens of similar bills in other states. She was eventually confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 96-4.

Speaking on Monday, Haley said she would bring that same approach to the U.N.

“With the BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement that we were able to stop in South Carolina, we’re going to continue to take that to the U.N. and make sure that they understand that is not what we need to be focused on,” Haley said.

Top photo: Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley waves to the crowd before she speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held at the Verizon Center in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017.

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Após 12 rejeições, Apple aceita aplicativo que rastreia ataques de drones dos EUA

28 March 2017 - 10:06am

Cinco anos atrás, eu fiz um aplicativo simples para iPhone. Ele enviaria uma notificação cada vez que um ataque de drones dos EUA fosse noticiado.

A Apple rejeitou o aplicativo três vezes, chamando de “conteudo excessivamente censurável ou grosseiro”.

Ao longo dos anos, eu tentei algumas vezes enviar o aplicativo novamente, mudando o nome de Drones+ para Metadata+ (metadados). Eu estava curioso para ver se a Apple mudaria de ideia. O aplicativo não incluía imagens ou videos de qualquer tipo – ele simplesmente agregava notícias sobre guerras secretas.

No centro de tudo havia uma questão: queremos estar tão conectados à nossa política externa quanto estamos aos nossos smartphones? Minha hipótese era que “não”. Norte-americanos não se importam com a guerra de drones, porque, na maioria das vezes, ela é escondida.

Em 2014, após cinco rejeições, a Apple aceitou o aplicativo. Ele ficou na App Store por quase um ano. De acordo com os dados internos da Apple, o Metadata+ foi baixado por mais de 50.000 pessoas.

Mas, no mês de setembro, a Apple decidiu deletar completamente o aplicativo. Eles alegaram que o conteudo, mais uma vez, era “excessivamente censurável ou grosseiro”.

Bom, a posição da Apple evoluiu. Hoje, após 12 tentativas, o Metadata está de volta à App Store.

Destroços de um veículo em que Mullah Mansour estaria viajando, após ser atingido por um drone dos EUA em 22 de maio de 2016, em Balochistan, Paquistão.

Foto: Barkat Tareen/Getty Images

Como um artista que trabalha com dados, penso que a história desse aplicativo seja sobre algo mais do que um conflito mesquinho com a Apple. É sobre o que pode ser visto – ou escondido – sobre a geografia de nossas guerras secretas.

Nos últimos 15 anos, jornalistas em atividade no Iêmen, no Paquistão e na Somália têm trabalhado duro para revelar os contornos dos ataques de drones dos EUA – em alguns casos, em situação de perigo para eles mesmos. Cineastas, acadêmicos e advogados fizeram um trabalho importante documentando os resultados horríveis desses ataques. Sites como The Intercept publicaram denúncias de testemunhas sobre como o programa secreto de drones funciona.

Mas, enterrada entre os detalhes, há uma verdade difícil: ninguém realmente sabe quem a maioria desses mísseis está matando.

Como os detalhes sobre a guerra de drones são escassos, nós só temos “metadados” sobre a maioria desses ataques – talvez uma data, o nome de uma província, talvez uma contagem de corpos. Na ausência de evidências documentais ou de testemunhas oculares, não há muita narrativa para se contar.

O nome “Metadata” tem um duplo significado: o aplicativo contém metadados sobre notícias em língua inglesa e, ao mesmo tempo, o nome se refere à base em que a maioria dos ataques é feita. (Como o General Michael Hayden disse, “matamos pessoas baseados em metadados”.)

Os smartphones nos conectaram mais intimamente a todos os tipos de dados. Como Amitava Kumar colocou recentemente, “a Internet entrega fragmentos feios de notícias e rumores ao longo do dia, e, com eles, um senso de intimidade quase constante com a violência”. Ainda assim, informações sobre ataques de drones – no universo da Apple – haviam, de alguma forma, sido relegados para além do horror.

O que significaria estar mais conectado a nossas guerras? Poderiam nossos celulares nos permitir ligar os pontos?

Com um presidente que planeja suspender ainda mais os constrangimentos da era Obama a ataques de drones, declarando partes do Iêmen e da Somália como “áreas de hostilidade ativas”, eu fico feliz de que a Apple tenha decidido parar de bloquear um aplicativo de notícias.

Se alguma coisa sobre o aplicativo é “excessivamente censurável ou grosseira”, talvez sejam os próprios ataques aéreos.

Tradução: Beatriz Felix

The post Após 12 rejeições, Apple aceita aplicativo que rastreia ataques de drones dos EUA appeared first on The Intercept.

After 12 Rejections, Apple Accepts App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes

28 March 2017 - 9:00am

Five years ago, I made a simple iPhone app. It would send you a push notification every time a U.S. drone strike was reported in the news.

Apple rejected the app three times, calling it “excessively objectionable or crude content.”

Over the years, I would occasionally resubmit the app, changing its name from Drones+ to Metadata+. I was curious to see if Apple might change its mind. The app didn’t include graphic images or video of any kind—it simply aggregated news about covert war.

At its core was a question: do we want to be as connected to our foreign policy as we are to our smartphones? My hypothesis was no. Americans don’t care about the drone war because it is largely hidden from view.

In 2014, after five rejections, Apple accepted the app. It remained in the App Store for about a year. According to Apple’s internal statistics, Metadata+ was downloaded by more than 50,000 people.

But the following September, Apple decided to delete the app entirely. They claimed that the content, once again, was “excessively objectionable or crude.”

Well, Apple’s position has evolved. Today, after 12 attempts, the Metadata app is back in the App Store.

Wreckage of a vehicle in which Mullah Mansour was allegedly traveling after it was hit by U.S. drone on May 22, 2016 in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Photo: Barkat Tareen/Getty Images

As an artist who works with data, I think the story of this app is about more than a petty conflict with Apple. It is about what can be seen—or obscured—about the geography of our covert wars.

For the past 15 years, journalists on the ground in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia have worked hard to uncover the contours of U.S. drone attacks—in some cases at their own peril. Filmmakers, academics, and attorneys have done important work documenting their ghastly aftermath. Websites like The Intercept have published whistleblower exposés about how the covert drone program clicks together.

But buried in the details is a difficult truth: no one really knows who most of these missiles are killing.

Because the particulars of the drone wars are scant, we only have ‘metadata’ about most of these strikes—perhaps a date, the name of a province, maybe a body count. Absent documentary evidence or first-person testimony, there isn’t much narrative to speak of.

The name ‘Metadata’ has a double meaning: the app both contains metadata about English-language news reports, and it refers to the basis on which most drone strikes are carried out. (As General Michael Hayden famously said, “we kill people based on metadata.”)

Smartphones have connected us more intimately to all sorts of data. As Amitava Kumar put it recently, “The Internet delivers ugly fragments of report and rumor throughout the day, and with them a sense of nearly constant intimacy with violence.” Yet information about drone strikes—in Apple’s universe—had somehow been deemed beyond the pale.

What would it mean to be more connected to our wars? Might our phones allow us to think more constellationally?

With a president who plans to lift the Obama-era constraints on drone strikes even further, declaring parts of Yemen and Somalia as “areas of active hostilities,” I’m glad that Apple has decided to stop blocking a news app.

If anything about the app is “excessively objectionable or crude,” perhaps it’s the airstrikes themselves.

The post After 12 Rejections, Apple Accepts App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes appeared first on The Intercept.

Lawsuit Seeks Transparency as Searches of Cellphones and Laptops Skyrocket at Borders

27 March 2017 - 2:40pm

A lawsuit filed today by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a public interest legal organization based at Columbia University, seeks to shed light on invasive searches of laptops and cellphones by Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S. border crossings.

Documents filed in the case note that these searches have risen precipitously over the past two years, from a total of 5,000 searches in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, and rising to 5,000 in the month of February 2017 alone. Among other questions, the lawsuit seeks to compel the federal government to provide more information about these searches, including how many of those searched have been U.S. citizens, the number of searches by port of entry, and the number of searches by the country of origin of the travelers.

Civil rights groups have long claimed that warrantless searches of cellphones and laptops by government agents constitute a serious invasion of privacy, due to the wealth of personal data often held on such devices. It is common for private conversations, photographs, and location information to be held on cellphones and laptops, making a search of these items significantly more intrusive than searching a simple piece of luggage.

A number of recent cases in the media have revealed instances of U.S. citizens and others being compelled by CBP agents to unlock their devices for search. In some instances, people have claimed to have been physically coerced into complying, including one American citizen who said that CBP agents grabbed him by the neck in order to take his cellphone out of his possession.

The legality of warrantless device searches at the border remains a contested issue, with the government asserting, over the objections of civil liberties groups, that Fourth Amendment protections do not apply at ports of entry. Some particularly controversial cases of searches at the border have involved journalists whose electronic data contains sensitive information about the identity of sources. Last year, a Canadian journalist was detained for six hours before being denied entry to the United States after refusing to unlock devices containing sensitive information. It has also been alleged that border agents are disproportionately targeting Muslim Americans and people with ties to Muslim-majority countries for both interrogation and device searches.

This February, Sen. Ron Wyden sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security head John Kelly stating that he was “alarmed by recent media reports of Americans being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and pressured to give CBP access … to locked mobile devices.” Wyden’s letter also indicated plans for legislation that would require agents to obtain a warrant before conducting these searches.

The rapidly growing number of searches has prompted a legal effort to demand constraints and controls on the practice. In a press release issued today announcing the lawsuit, the Knight First Amendment Institute indicated more plans to scrutinize these searches in the future.

“These searches are extremely intrusive, and government agents shouldn’t be conducting them without cause,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director. “Putting this kind of unfettered power in the hands of border agents invites abuse and discrimination and will inevitably have a chilling effect on the freedoms of speech and association.”

Top photo: A Syrian passenger traveling to the United States through Amman types on his laptop before entering Beirut international airport’s departure lounge on March 22, 2017.

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Fotos: Rebeldes colombianas passam por um delicado processo de transição da clandestinidade para a vida civil

27 March 2017 - 11:26am

Fotografias de Newsha Tavakolian — Magnum Photos

Quando Newsha Tavakolian chegou à selva colombiana para registrar as guerrilheiras das Forças Armadas Revolucionárias da Colômbia, as Farc, ela sabia que iria testemunhar um momento histórico. A guerra tinha terminado recentemente, e a vida dessas mulheres estava prestes a mudar. Após 50 anos de guerra clandestina, o acordo de paz com o governo colombiano inclui a construção de casas para os ex-guerrilheiros, que viveram anos como fugitivos na selva, e aulas semanais com professores, que vão “ensiná-los a ser cidadãos normais”, conta Tavakolian. “Coisas básicas, como não entrar na casa das pessoas sem autorização.” Quando os guerrilheiros passaram a poder ter animais de estimação, Tavakolian fotografou gatos dormindo aconchegados nos rifles das mulheres.

Gato de uma guerrilheira dorme ao lado de sua arma. Antes do acordo de paz, os combatentes não eram autorizados a ter animais de estimação.

Desde fevereiro, quando o governo Trump anunciou planos de cortar em pelo menos 37% a ajuda diplomática ao país, muitos se perguntam o que vai acontecer com a Colômbia. Os Estados Unidos gastaram 10 bilhões de dólares com o Plano Colômbia desde 2000. O objetivo do programa era parar o fluxo de drogas para o norte, concentrando esforços e recursos no treinamento e na equipagem da polícia e do exército nacionais. O Plano Colômbia reforçou a guerra do governo contra as Farc, apesar dos constantes protestos de organizações de direitos humanos em relação a abusos cometidos pelas forças do governo apoiadas pelos Estados Unidos.

As Farc contam com cerca de 7 mil guerrilheiros. Em breve, eles vão deixar a selva e se reintegrar à vida civil. A dimensão desse desafio – especialmente para as mulheres, que representam cerca de 30% dos combatentes – foi o que levou Tavakolian à Colômbia.

Tavakolian chegou à América do Sul depois de fotografar combatentes curdas na Síria. A motivação da fotógrafa é entender o que leva mulheres a aderir a movimentos rebeldes. Com as curdas e as colombianas, Tavakolian aprendeu que, “quando o ser humano se encontra na situação de ter que lutar pela sobrevivência e proteger aqueles que ama, é capaz de qualquer coisa”. Na Colômbia, a fotógrafa registrou guerrilheiras que tinham entre 20 e 45 anos de idade.

Guerrilheira colombiana trança os cabelos de uma companheira (janeiro/2017).

“Em toda minha vida, eu nunca tinha visto uma chuva tão forte quanto naquela selva”, conta Tavakolian. “E é a primeira vez que [essas mulheres] têm tetos para protegê-las. Quando ouvem um helicóptero, ainda ficam muito ansiosas. Elas viveram muito tempo na selva, debaixo de chuva, fugindo permanentemente.”

As mulheres das Farc afirmaram a Tavakolian que o processo de paz era bem-vindo, mas “todas disseram o mesmo: estão com medo do futuro, porque acham que os paramilitares vão matá-las” assim que depuserem as armas. Paramilitares de extrema-direita estão por trás de incontáveis casos de tortura e assassinato de ativistas sociais no país. Durante a guerra, eles agiam muitas vezes como emissários do governo; por isso, uma das exigências das Farc nas negociações de paz era justamente “o fim do paramilitarismo como uma política de Estado”. Uma recente onda de assassinatos de ativistas sociais e de membros das Farc reavivou esse medo.

Marina Ortis, acima, se juntou às Farc há 18 anos. Eu sou de Meta, uma região muito perigosa. Sempre tive muito medo dos paramilitares e também das Farc. Uma noite, fugi de casa para ir dançar com meus amigos. Quando chegamos, a boate estava cheia de gente armada. Estavam conversando com os civis, e ouvi uma mulher com um revólver contar para outra como se sentia segura sendo guerrilheira. Eu tinha 13 anos e só queria me sentir tão segura quanto aquela mulher. No dia seguinte, uma das minhas irmãs estava espancando meu irmão mais novo, eu revidei e bati nela para defender meu irmão. Por conta dos gritos, as Farc invadiram nossa casa e impediram que nos matássemos uns aos outros. Foi nesse dia que fui embora com eles. Éramos seis crianças numa casa sem pai e com uma mãe ausente. Quando cheguei ao acampamento no meio da selva, as primeiras pessoas que vi foram dois meninos que tinham desaparecido do nosso vilarejo havia muitos anos. Eu me senti acolhida e segura. Quando estava combatendo e atirando, vivia sentimentos contraditórios: felicidade por estar viva e tristeza pela pessoa que estava matando, porque aqui somos todos soldados lutando uns contra os outros, somos todos pobres e sem futuro. É por isso que lutamos uns contra os outros. Dezoito anos depois, quando reencontrei minha mãe e meus irmãos, eu só fiquei olhando para eles, nem chorei. Uma combatente nunca chora.

Heidi, acima à esquerda, se juntou às Farc há cinco anos. Quando eu começar a minha nova vida, vou ter que começar tudo do zero. Quero mudar a cor dos meus cabelos e das minhas unhas todos os dias. Quando você é uma guerrilheira e vive na selva, não tem tempo para esse tipo de coisa, apesar de tomarmos banho todos os dias e estarmos sempre limpas. Quando você é uma mulher com uma arma, nada muda em relação a ser mulher, você continua querendo estar bonita. Mas, muitas vezes, a situação não permite. Eu tenho medo do futuro porque muita coisa ainda é incerta para mim.

Angelica Valentino, posando com uma arma, aderiu às Farc quando tinha 12 anos. Quando minha mãe se casou pela segunda vez, eu não me dava muito bem com o marido dela e decidi fugir e me juntar às Farc. Sou uma cirurgiã. Não tenho nenhuma formação, mas fiz tantas operações que me tornei uma cirurgiã autodidata. Aprendi a não ter medo, porque o medo pode pôr você e os outros em perigo. Por exemplo, na primeira vez em que tive que cortar a perna de um guerrilheiro gravemente ferido, se eu tivesse sentido medo ou hesitado, a minha demora poderia tê-lo matado. Nesse tipo de situação, medo não significa nada. Já faz 12 anos que sou cirurgiã aqui. Foi aqui que me tornei mulher e aprendi a não confiar em ninguém além de mim mesma. Quando eu tinha 7 anos, minha mãe me mandou para a casa da minha tia porque não tinha condições de me alimentar. O marido da minha tia me estuprou por muitos anos. Dos 7 aos 12, fui constantemente estuprada. Aqui, eu encontrei minha família.

Andrea Cepeda, acima, aderiu à guerrilha quando tinha 16 anos de idade. Meu pai também era um guerrilheiro das Farc. Ele foi morto quando eu tinha 11 anos. Depois disso, minha mãe levou todos os filhos para Cali e começamos a trabalhar como fazendeiros. Os guerrilheiros estavam sempre por ali, e eu me perguntava se minha irmã e eu deveríamos nos juntar a eles. Um dia, tomei a decisão e saí de casa. Como eu era pequena, quando íamos para a batalha, meu comandante não me queria na linha de frente. Minha tarefa era tomar conta dos comandantes que ficavam na retaguarda. Todos os pertencentes que juntei nos últimos 8 anos cabem numa mochila pequena porque tínhamos que fugir o tempo todo, sem tempo para arrumar nada, tínhamos que estar sempre prontos. Eu perdi minha melhor amiga num ataque, queria que ela estivesse aqui comigo. Tenho medo do futuro, os paramilitares querem nos matar.

Tradução: Carla Camargo Fanha

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Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

26 March 2017 - 11:00am

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump’s “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy – that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found – and in doing so has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa Province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded the week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALS in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria – already quite high under Obama – has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: the number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama, but has now skyrocketed in March under Trump:

What’s particularly notable is that the number of airstrikes actually decreased in March (with a week left), even as civilian deaths rose – strongly suggesting that the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than they were under Obama:

This escalation of bombing and civilian deaths, combined with the deployment by Trump of 500 ground troops into Syria beyond the troops Obama already deployed there, has received remarkably little media attention. This is in part due to the standard indifference in U.S. discourse to U.S. killing of civilians compared to the language used when its enemies kill people (compare the very muted and euphemistic tones used to report on Trump’s escalations in Iraq and Syria to the frequent invocation of genocide and war crimes to denounce Russian killing of Syrian civilians). And part of this lack of media attention is due to the Democrats’ ongoing hunt for Russian infiltration of Washington, which leaves little room for other matters.

But what is becoming clear is that Trump is attempting to liberate the U.S. military from the minimal constraints it observed in order to avoid massive civilian casualties. And this should surprise nobody: Trump explicitly and repeatedly vowed to do exactly this during the campaign.

He constantly criticized Obama – who bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries – for being “weak” in battling ISIS and Al Qaeda. Trump regularly boasted that he would free the U.S. military from rules of engagement that he regarded as unduly hobbling them. He vowed to bring back torture and even to murder the family members of suspected terrorists – prompting patriotic commentators to naïvely insist that the U.S. military would refuse to follow his orders. Trump’s war frenzy reached its rhetorical peak of derangement in December, 2015, when he roared at a campaign rally that he would “bomb the shit out of ISIS” and then let its oil fields be taken by Exxon, whose CEO is now his Secretary of State.

Trump can be criticized for many things, but lack of clarity about his intended War on Terror approach is not one of them. All along, Trump’s “solution” to terrorism was as clear as it was simple; as I described it in September, 2016:

Trump's anti-terror platform is explicitly 1) more bombing; 2) Israel-style police profiling; 3) say "radical Islam" https://t.co/NyivdkUanp

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 19, 2016

 

The clarity of Trump’s intentions regarding the War on Terror was often obfuscated by anti-Trump pundits due to a combination of confusion about and distortions of foreign policy doctrine. Trump explicitly ran as a “non-interventionist” – denouncing, for instance, U.S. regime change wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria (even though he at some points expressed support for the first two). Many commentators confused “non-interventionism” with “pacifism,” leading many of them – to this very day – to ignorantly claim that Trump’s escalated War on Terror bombing is in conflict with his advocacy of non-interventionism. It is not.

To the extent that Trump is guided by any sort of coherent ideological framework, he is rooted in the traditions of Charles Lindbergh (whose “America First” motto he took) and the free-trade-hating, anti-immigration, über-nationalist Pat Buchanan. Both Lindbergh and Buchanan were “non-interventionists”: Lindbergh was one of the earliest and loudest opponents of U.S. involvement in World War II, while Buchanan was scathing throughout all of 2002 about the neocon plan to invade Iraq.

Despite being vehement “non-interventionists,” neither Lindbergh nor Buchanan were pacifists. Quite the contrary: both believed that when the U.S. was genuinely threatened with attack or attacked, it should use full and unrestrained force against it enemies. What they opposed was not military force in general but rather interventions geared toward a goal other than self-defense, such as changing other countries’ governments, protecting foreigners from tyranny or violence, or “humanitarian” wars.

What the Lindbergh/Buchanan “non-interventionism” opposes is not war per se, but a specific type of wars: namely, those fought for reasons other than self-defense or direct U.S. interests (as was true of regime change efforts in Iraq, Libya and Syria). Lindbergh opposed U.S. involvement in World War II on the ground that it was designed to help only the British and the Jews, while Buchanan, on the even of the Iraq invasion, attacked neocons who “seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests” and who “have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.”

The anti-semitism and white nationalistic tradition of Lindbergh, the ideological precursor to Buchanan and then Trump, does not oppose war. It opposes military interventions in the affairs of other countries for reasons other than self-defense — i.e., the risking of American lives and resources for the benefits of “others.”

Each time Trump drops another bomb, various pundits and other assorted Trump opponents smugly posit that his doing so is inconsistent with his touted “non-interventionism.” This is just ignorance of what these terms mean. By escalating violence against civilians, Trump is, in fact, doing exactly what he promised to do, and exactly what those who described his foreign policy as “non-interventionist” predicted he would do: namely, limitlessly unleashing the U.S. military when the claimed objective was the destruction of “terrorists,” while refusing to use the military for other ends such as regime change and humanitarianism. If one were to reduce this mentality to a motto, it could be: fight fewer wars and for narrower reasons, but be more barbaric and criminal in prosecuting the ones that are fought.

Trump’s campaign pledges regarding Syria, and now his actions there, illustrate this point very clearly. Trump never advocated a cessation of military force in Syria. As the above video demonstrates, he advocated the opposite: an escalation of military force in Syria and Iraq in the name of fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda. Indeed, Trump’s desire to cooperate with Russia in Syria was based on a desire to maximize the potency of bombing there (just as was true of Obama’s attempt to forge a bombing partnership with Putin in Syria).

What Trump opposed was the CIA’s years-long policy of spending billions of dollars to arm anti-Assad rebels (a policy Hillary Clinton and her key advisors wanted to escalate), on the ground that the U.S. has no interest in removing Assad. That is the fundamental difference between non-interventionism and pacifism which many pundits are either unaware of or are deliberately conflating in order to prove their own vindication about Trump’s foreign policy. Nothing Trump has thus far done is remotely inconsistent with the non-interventionism he embraced during the campaign, unless one confuses “non-interventionism” with “opposition to the use of military force.”

Trump’s reckless killing of civilians in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is many things: barbaric, amoral, and criminal. It is also, ironically, likely to strengthen support for the very groups – ISIS and Al Qaeda – that he claims he wants to defeat, given that nothing drives support for those groups like U.S. slaughter of civilians (perhaps the only competitor in helping these groups is another Trump speciality: driving a wedge between Muslims and the west).

But what Trump’s actions are not is a departure from what he said he would do, nor are they inconsistent with the predictions of those who described his foreign policy approach as “non-interventionist.” To the contrary, the dark savagery guiding U.S. military conduct in that region is precisely what Trump expressly promised his supporters he would usher in.

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Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to Sell the Iraq War

26 March 2017 - 10:11am

As we pass the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its chief progenitor is suddenly beloved by the mainstream media again.

Every time former President George W. Bush pops up somewhere these days, media pundits gush about how good he looks now, compared to Donald Trump. Recently, for instance, he described himself – and was dutifully portrayed as — a great supporter of the free press.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer in early March.  “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

The same week, he similarly assured a gushing daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that “I’m a big believer in free press.”

The headlines were rapturous.

But in reality, Bush was anything but a friend of the press during his presidency. Maybe he didn’t demonize it as much as Trump does — but he actively manipulated it and bullied  it far worse and far more effectively than Trump has, much of it in the service of selling his marquee policy: the war in Iraq.

That illegal war destabilized Iraq and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers — many more in both countries continue to live with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, among other war wounds. Over the course of the conflict, the United States has spent over $2 trillion.

And although Trump is trying hard to delegitimize the press, which is highly dangerous and not to be underestimated, there’s little evidence his behavior is getting the press to back away from its accountability mission – like Bush did.

George W. Bush speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as he promotes his upcoming book “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors” in Simi Valley, Calif. on March 1.

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Run-Up to War

By far the biggest and most tragic example of Bush making of mockery of the free press was the cascade of lies he and Dick Cheney told – and got away with – in the run-up to war in Iraq.

Almost all of the American mainstream media was cowed by the nationalistic fervor expressed by Bush in his November 2001 invocation that the nations of the world are “either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” The White House attacked those who raised too many questions as unpatriotic; newsroom leaders and their corporate masters were afraid of appearing out of step with the country.

There were plenty of what Trump counselor Kellyane Conway calls “alternative facts” in the pattern of manipulation and deceit Bush used to build his case for the war in Iraq.

Among major print outlets, only Knight Ridder Newspapers, which today is part of McClatchy, aggressively challenged the case for war. “There wasn’t any reporting in the rest of the press corps, there was stenography,” John Walcott, who worked with Knight Ridder at the time, would later say. “The administration would make an assertion, people would make an assertion, people would write it down as if it were true, and put it in the newspaper or on television.”

Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan would himself later write that the war was sold with a “political propaganda campaign.” McClellan said the push to war was “all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president’s advantage,” which is something the administration used the news media to do. “Through it all, the media would serve as complicit enablers,” he wrote of the press’s role in the debacle. “Their primary focus would be on covering the campaign to sell the war, rather than aggressively questioning the rationale for war or pursuing the truth behind it.”

“Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge,” the New York Times’ editors wrote in May 2004.

Egyptian journalists hold a banner supporting Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese national who was arrested by the US military while working for Al Jazeera during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as they call for his freedom during a protest in front of their syndicate in Cairo, in 2007.

Photo: Amr Nabil/AP

Demonizing Al Jazeera

President Trump has referred to mainstream television networks like CNN as the “enemy of the American people.”

But those are just words. By contrast, the Bush administration actively suppressed the one television network that was a thorn in its side during the initial phase of the war in Iraq.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera’s critical coverage of the invasions of Afghanistan and particularly of Iraq — featured in the documentary Control Room — set off a viperous reaction from the Bush administration. Trump complains of “fake news,” but Bush’s Pentagon falsely accused Al Jazeera of purposely staging scenes of civilian casualties in Iraq.

When the network obtained exclusive footage of videotaped addresses by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice asked five major U.S. television networks to limit their coverage of the tapes. The New York Times called it “the first time in memory that the networks had agreed to a joint arrangement to limit their prospective news coverage.”

The administration also imprisoned an Al Jazeera journalist in Guantanamo Bay for several years, one of many innocent people who ended up at the camp.

Alongside this campaign of demonization and attempted suppression, the Bush administration bombed the network’s offices twice – ostensibly by accident. First, they struck the network’s bureau in Kabul in 2001, which destroyed the office but left the staff unharmed. In April 2003, a U.S. missile struck the Baghdad office, killing Al Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayoub.

Author Ron Suskind, in his book The One Percent Doctrine, suggests the Bush administration was not too upset following the bombing in Kabul. “Inside the CIA and White House,” he writes, “there was satisfaction that a message had been sent to Al Jazeera.”

In 2005, the Daily Mirror published the minutes of a 2004 meeting between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, describing how the American president suggested bombing Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar.

The memo suggests that Blair talked Bush out of it. But the Bush White House never directly denied  the story.

Cowing the Press About Torture

When the American people learned that the U.S. government had set up a global network of secret prisons where it tortured detainees, the Bush administration set out to manage the media fallout by insisting that the brutal techniques that it had authorized — including waterboarding — were not torture.

“I’ve said to the people that we don’t torture, and we don’t,” Bush told interviewer Katie Couric in 2006. Vice President Dick Cheney referred to the torture techniques as an “alternative” form of interrogation, and Attorney General John Ashcroft also insisted that waterboarding isn’t torture.

The media went along with it. Mainstream outlets instead used the government’s euphemism, “enhanced interrogation,” or other more polite phrases rather than using the word torture.

New York Times Washington editor Doug Jehl in 2009 explained that because Bush didn’t call it torture, that made it a “matter of debate.” In 2011, executive editor Bill Keller said that referring to the CIA techniques as torture would be “polemical.” In 2014, the Times finally decided to finally call it torture — eight years after it let Bush tell the nation it wasn’t.

Punishing Skeptics and Leakers

The administration also took harsh steps to punish those who challenged its official narratives.

Recall the 2003 outing of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame after her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed contradicting a false claim the Bush administration made about Iraq’s acquisition of uranium from Niger. The administration’s leak of her name to columnist Robert Novak was largely seen as payback for Wilson’s defiance.

There’s also the example of the groundbreaking New York Times story about Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. It was published in late 2005, even though it was ready for publication in the fall of 2004.

“We had the White House, at the highest levels, insisting that this program would harm national security were we to write about it,” the Times reporter who broke the story, Eric Lichtblau, later explained. “The concern from the editors was would we be …  outing an operational program that was on a firm legal foundation, and they made the decision that we could not do that at that point.”

This successful intimidation removed a key scandal from the playing field right before an election that Bush only narrowly won.

The administration also pursued numerous Espionage Act cases against leakers. Although the prosecution was not completed until the Obama Administration, it was the Bush administration that began the investigation into NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, a military veteran whose career prospects were ruined even though the espionage charges against him were eventually dropped.

Donald Trump talks with journalists during a rally on Sept. 9, 2015 in Washington.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A Healthier Media Under Trump?

So far, Trump’s approach to the media has been to endlessly insult them — calling them everything from “fake news” to the enemies of the American people.

And White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer  held one press gaggle where he dis-invited CNN and a few other outlets that have reported critically on the administration.

But the name-calling and other petty tactics have hardly cowed the American press. Unlike during the Bush years, the media has not been intimidated by the president’s outbursts. Instead — with a few exceptions, such as when the administration deploys anonymous sources to make terrorism-related claims — it has been emboldened. By being so adversarial to the press, Trump has made them more adversarial.

For example, when President Trump talks about possibly waterboarding detainees, the news media now has no problem referring to it as torture.

And while the news media compliantly repeated the Bush administration’s lies used to take the country to war in Iraq, Trump’s lies are more aggressively challenged, as the media has started to make fact-checking the president a major part of its operations.

The difference between how the two administrations dealt with the media is also illustrated in how they approached the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, a long-time D.C. tradition where the president, other political elite and the press corps and celebrity guests revel in each others’ company.

In late February, President Trump announced that he will not be attending.

Many interpreted the move as an attempt by Trump to further antagonize the media outlets who attend the event — which is very different than Bush’s approach, which was to cozy up to journalists.

But consider how in 2004, Bush narrated  a series of pictures of him at the White House looking for the Weapons of Mass Destruction he falsely claimed Iraq had — as the crowd of journalists and politicos laughed with him:

It’s much healthier for American journalism when the president is insulting journalists and refusing to play nice than making them laugh with him about a war based on lies.

Top photo: George W. Bush speaks with reporters during his presidential campaign. Bush won the 2000 Presidential Election against Vice President Al Gore after a controversial vote recount in Florida.

The post Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to Sell the Iraq War appeared first on The Intercept.

Serraglio não tem condição moral para continuar ministro da Justiça

26 March 2017 - 7:57am

O esquartejamento dos direitos trabalhistas e o atentado à liberdade de imprensa promovido pelo juiz Sérgio Moro foram os grandes assuntos da semana.

Sorrateiramente, Rodrigo Maia (DEM) e o governo não eleito encaminharam a aprovação de um antiquado projeto de terceirização de FHC que estava engavetado há 19 anos. Em pouquíssimo tempo, anos de conquistas trabalhistas foram golpeados sem dó e sem debate com a população. Agora, todo trabalhador poderá ser sua própria empresa, mas sem os lucros do negócio e sem os direitos de trabalhador. Não tem como dar errado.

O blogueiro Eduardo Guimarães teve violado o seu direito ao sigilo da fonte e telefônico. O juiz que se julga super-herói, escorado numa opinião pública favorável, segue à vontade para descumprir a lei em nome de uma missão divina. Não é a primeira vez que ele comete irregularidades sem se preocupar com punições, afinal de contas, quem irá punir Deus? Moro ficou irritado por um blogueiro ter publicado um vazamento da Lava Jato, mas silenciou quando o ex-ministro da Justiça vazou igualmente em pleno comício do PSDB. Ele também não vê problema quando jornalistas da grande imprensa publicam vazamentos da operação de forma recorrente. Parece mesmo que o problema é o fato de Guimarães ser de esquerda. Não há como classificar o caso senão como um grave ataque à liberdade de imprensa.

Esse é o país em que Osmar Serraglio (PMDB) comanda o importante Ministério da Justiça. É sobre ele que falaremos na coluna de hoje.

Serraglio mal tomou posse e já está enrolado em um escandaloso caso de corrupção. Não podemos nos dizer surpresos, já que ele quis anistiar os crimes de seu parceiro Eduardo Cunha (PMDB). Quando esteve à frente da CCJ, fez o diabo para adiar o processo de cassação do seu correligionário criminoso. Agora, na Operação Carne Fraca, foi flagrado conversando com o ex-superintendente do Ministério da Agricultura no Paraná – apontado pela PF como chefe de organização criminosa – a quem chama carinhosamente de “grande chefe”. Uma funcionária do Ministério da Agricultura, outro braço governista da quadrilha, chama Serraglio de “velhinho que está conosco” em conversa com outros comparsas de crime.

Na quarta-feira, um ex-assessor do senador Sérgio Souza (PMDB) – que havia sido conduzido coercitivamente na sexta (17) pela Carne Fraca – procurou o delegado espontaneamente e decidiu confirmar que sete parlamentares do PMDB, entre eles Serraglio, pressionaram pela indicação do fiscal Daniel Gonçalves Filho para o Ministério da Agricultura. Com o apoio do atual ministro da Justiça, Daniel se tornaria o “líder da organização criminosa”, como classificou a Polícia Federal.

No cargo, Daniel cometeu diversos desvios de conduta. Kátia Abreu (PMDB), então ministra da Agricultura, decidiu afastá-lo do cargo quando veio à tona que ele absolveu, sem ter poderes para isso, um funcionário que seria punido pela corregedoria por roubo de combustível. Segundo Kátia, foi “aí que o mundo veio abaixo”. A dupla Serraglio e Souza, colega de partido da então ministra, fez grande pressão para manter o chefe da quadrilha no governo:

“Esse cidadão que foi nomeado tinha processos administrativos no ministério e eu nunca vi, em todo o tempo que lá estive, e nunca tive notícias de uma pressão tão forte para não tirar esse bandido de lá. Dois deputados do meu partido insistiram que a lei não fosse cumprida ao ponto de eu ter que ligar para a presidente Dilma e comunicar da minha decisão de demitir e avisar que eu iria arcar com as consequências políticas. E ela disse: demita já!”

O peemedebista que brigou para manter o chefe de quadrilha no governo acabou sendo premiado posteriormente por Temer com o Ministério da Justiça. Parece que a “solução mais fácil era botar Michel” mesmo, como dizia um outro velhinho peemedebista antes do impeachment de Dilma.

Michel Temer empossa o aliado de Cunha como ministro da Justiça

- Agência Brasil

Essas histórias não são ilações ou suposições, mas fatos apurados pela Polícia Federal, órgão subordinado ao Ministério da Justiça. Osmar Serraglio (PMDB) mal assumiu a pasta e já não tem mais a mínima condição moral de continuar no comando. Mas isso nunca foi problema para Michel Temer. Ele já demonstrou por diversas vezes que, entre agradar a opinião pública ou proteger companheiros, não hesita em ficar com a segunda opção. O ministro da Justiça anterior também não era nenhuma reserva moral, mas permaneceu lá até ser agraciado com uma toga no STF.

Serraglio é nome de Cunha no governo. E Cunha, como Renan Calheiros (PMDB) já alertou, “manda no governo de dentro da prisão”. O criminoso vem conseguindo cada vez mais espaço na configuração do poder mesmo estando na cadeia.

Para piorar o quadro, na última quinta, Sérgio Souza foi eleito presidente da Comissão de Agricultura, Pecuária, Abastecimento e Desenvolvimento Rural da Câmara por unanimidade. Já Serraglio, como ministro da Justiça, estará no comando de processos de demarcação de terras indígenas e será o responsável administrativo pela Funai – órgão que já tentou enfraquecer através de uma PEC. São dois integrantes da tropa de elite da bancada ruralista em lugares que não deveriam estar. Ou seja, teremos duas raposas com posições-chave dentro do galinheiro. É esse o rumo que o Brasil está tomando em todos os setores do governo e, ao que parece, nada será capaz de mudar.

The post Serraglio não tem condição moral para continuar ministro da Justiça appeared first on The Intercept.

Photo Essay: Out of Hiding, Women Rebels in Colombia Face Uneasy Transition to Civilian Life

25 March 2017 - 10:00am

Photos by Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum Photos

When Newsha Tavakolian arrived in the Colombian jungle to document the women guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), she knew she would witness history. War had recently ended and the women’s lives would change. After fifty years of clandestine warfare, peace meant the Colombian government would build houses for former guerrillas who lived on the run in the wilderness, and send teachers to meet with them weekly, to “teach them how to be a normal citizen,” Tavakolian says. “The most basic things, like you cannot enter people’s homes without permission.” When the guerrillas were allowed to begin keeping pets, Tavakolian photographed sleeping kittens curled into the nooks of the women’s rifles.

A guerilla’s kitten sleeps beside her gun. Prior to the peace agreement, it was forbidden for fighters to keep pets.

In February, when the Trump administration announced plans to cut diplomatic aid by at least 37%, one question it provoked is what will happen with Colombia. Since 2000, the U.S. has spent $10 billion funding Plan Colombia, a program aimed at stopping the northward flow of drugs by focusing almost entirely on the country’s police and military, spending the billions to train and equip their forces. Plan Colombia buttressed the government’s war against the FARC, despite constant outcry from human rights groups about abuses committed by the U.S.-supported government forces.

There are about 7,000 FARC guerrillas, and soon they will leave the jungle and become civilians again. The enormity of the task ahead – especially for the estimated 30% of the guerrillas who are women — brought Tavakolian to Colombia.

Tavakolian, who arrived in South America after photographing Kurdish women fighters in Syria, is motivated by the question of what leads women to join rebel movements. Among Kurdish and Colombian women fighters, Tavakolian found that “when as a human being you’re in a condition where you have to survive or to protect the ones you love, you do whatever it takes.” In Colombia, she photographed FARC women between the ages of 20 and 45.

A Colombian guerrilla braids her comrade’s hair in January.

“I never saw any rain in my life as heavy as in that jungle,” Tavakolian says. “And this is the first time (these women) have roofs above their heads. When they hear a helicopter they still get anxiety. They have lived in the jungle in the rain, running constantly.”

The women of the FARC told Tavakolian they welcome peace, but “they had one thing in common: They are scared of the future because they think they’ll be killed by the paramilitary” when they hand over their guns to the government. Right-wing paramilitary forces are behind countless tortures and murders of social activists in the country. They sometimes worked as proxies of the government during the war; thus, one of the FARC’s demands in the peace negotiations was “that paramilitarism ends as a state policy.” A recent spate of killings of social activists and FARC members stokes those fears.

Marina Ortis, above, joined FARC 18 years ago: “I’m from Meta which is a very dangerous area. I would always be scared of paramilitary and also the FARC. One night I ran away from home to just go and dance with my friends. When we arrived, the club was full of people with guns in their hands. They were talking to civilians, and a woman with a gun was telling another woman about how she feels safe as a woman in the FARC. I was 13 years old that night, the next day I wanted to feel safe like that woman from last night. The next day one of my sisters was hitting my youngest brother very violently and I hit back at my sister to defend my brother and because of all the yelling and screaming from our house, the FARC broke in to stop us from killing each other. The same day I left with them. We were six kids in one house with no father, and our mother was never home. When I went to their base in jungle, the first thing I saw were two boys who had been missing from our village for many years. That gave me a warm feeling and I felt safe. When I was fighting and shooting I always had double feelings: happiness for being alive and sadness for the person I was killing, because all of us here are just soldiers fighting each other, because all of us are poor and have no future. And that’s the reason we are fighting with each other. After 18 years, when I saw my mother and siblings, I just looked at them, I didn’t cry, a fighter never cries.”

Heidi, above left, joined FARC five years ago: “When I start my new life, I will have to start from scratch. Now I want to change the color of my hair and my nails everyday, because when you are a woman fighter and living in the jungle you don’t have time for these kinds of things, but we were washing ourselves everyday to make sure we were clean. When you are a woman with a gun, nothing inside you changes as a woman, you still wanna look good. But sometimes the situation does not allow you to do it. I have fear for my future because there are so many things are uncertain for me.

Angelica Valentino, posing with gun, joined FARC when she was 12: “When my mother remarried I didn’t get along well with her husband and I decided to run away and join FARC. I’m a surgeon, I have no education but by doing a lot of surgery I became a self-taught surgeon. I learned not to be afraid because fear can put you and others in danger. For example the first time that I had to cut the leg of the one of the guerrillas because he was badly wounded, if I had felt fear and doubted for one second, I might have killed him because of the delay. Fear in these kinds of situations means nothing. Now it has been 12 years that I’m a surgeon here. Here I became a woman and I’ve learned how to not count on anybody but only myself. When I was seven my mother sent me to my aunt because she could not pay for my food. My aunt’s husband raped me for many years. From 7 years old till 12 years old I was raped constantly. Here I found my family”

Andrea Cepeda, above, joined FARC when she was 16: “My father was also a FARC guerrilla, when I was 11 he was killed, after that my mother took all her children to Cali and we started working on a land as farmers. While we were working the FARC guerrillas were there most of the time and I was wondering all the time that I should join them along with my sister. So one day I made my decision and left the house. Since I was a small girl, when we would go to battle my commander did not want me to be in the front line and my task was to take care of the other commanders in the back. All my belongings from these past 8 years can be packed into just one small backpack because we had to run away all the time and we didn’t have time to pack and we always had to be ready. I lost my best friend in an attack, I wish she was here with me. I’m scared of my future, because of the paramilitaries who want to kill us.”

The post Photo Essay: Out of Hiding, Women Rebels in Colombia Face Uneasy Transition to Civilian Life appeared first on The Intercept.

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