The Intercept

U.S. Shipping Lobby: Letting Foreign Ships Bring Goods to Puerto Rico Could Endanger National Security

28 September 2017 - 7:08am

Allowing foreign ships to bring goods to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico would be a grave threat to national security, warned a handful of American shipping companies who currently have the trade routes locked down thanks to a century-old law.

They’d like to see that law left in place, thank you very much.

Puerto Rico, suffering from the combined forces of an economic collapse, debt-driven austerity and Hurricane Maria’s devastation, continues to face restrictions on imports from foreign registered ships under the Jones Act, a law supported by a small but powerful group of American companies that dominate the U.S.-Puerto Rico shipping routes.

The Jones Act, created over a hundred years ago to shore up the domestic ship-building industry, imposes stiff fines on foreign built and registered ships that move cargo between U.S. ports. (Foreign ships are allowed into port if they originated from a foreign country, but not if they docked in another U.S. port first.)

Many have recently argued that the law has dragged down the Puerto Rican economy by artificially increasing costs for island residents and businesses. And there is outrage that the Trump administration denied a temporary waiver to Puerto Rico from the Jones Act in response to the hurricane — despite the fact a similar waiver was granted for the hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida.

The refusal of the waiver comes as millions of Americans are without clean drinking water, facing a life-threatening situation that has already turned deadly for some.

Despite a push by lawmakers to repeal or significantly change the Jones Act in order to revitalize Puerto Rico, the shipbuilding industry is pushing back.

Fair Kim, the counsel of the American Maritime Congress, a nonprofit lobbying group representing the U.S. shipping industry, disputed calls for a repeal of the law, arguing that such a move could create profound national security consequences.

Kim argued that the Jones Act is fairly similar to similar rules that govern the trucking industry and airline industry and that those who argue that it are protectionist in nature fail to appreciate the danger of welcoming more foreign ships into U.S. ports.

“You don’t have Air Yemen flying Chicago-to-Cleveland routes on an Iraqi-flagged aircraft with standards from Yemen and pilots that are Russian,” Kim told The Intercept.

The original Jones Act, titled the Merchant Marine Act, but known by the name of its congressional sponsor, was passed in 1920 after World War I in reaction to the destruction of U.S. merchant vessels by the German navy. The national security concerns that ushered in the law, deemed by media at the time as an “American First” shipping law, are still relevant, according to the shipping industry.

“You don’t want a foreign country to control the acquisition, design and construction of a war ship,” Kim argued. Military cargo is currently shipped all over the world, from supplying South Korea to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, through U.S.-flagged merchant marine vessels. If the Jones Act is repealed over Puerto Rico concerns, Kim said that there would be a depletion of not only U.S.-flagged vessels, but a brain drain of the merchant marine workforce.

“You go hot with a war in Korea, you’re going to have the lowest bidder, lowest international bidder, again, a Malaysian-owned vessel that’s chartered in the Marshal Islands, that’s flagged to Belize, with a Croatian and Pakistani crew on board, with a cargo of U.S. munitions,” Kim said. He added that his theoretical example was “hyperbole” but “that’s where we’re headed” without the Jones Act.

The Jones Act, however, only covers vessels traveling between two U.S. ports. About 8,000 foreign vessels already make over 50,000 visits to U.S. ports under current law.

Kim noted that the industry would not dispute a temporary Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico, but does not believe such a policy is necessary at this time. “If a waiver is granted, of course we’re not going to stand in the way of that,” Kim said. “Right now our position is that there is no need for a waiver. There is no need for it because there is already excess capacity for U.S. vessels into Puerto Rico.”

Shipments from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico are currently controlled largely by a small group of Jones Act-enabled companies, including Crowley Maritime Corp., Trailer Bridge Inc, Sea Star Line LLC, and National Shipping of America.

Industry lobbyists have raised similar claims over the last year as they have fought to maintain Jones Act rules for Puerto Rico.

“A few have taken this legislative activity as an opportunity to urge that a Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico be included in the package,” said Michael Roberts, vice president of Crowley Maritime, during a hearing last year on reform issues for the island. “They have offered no credible proof that such a change would help Puerto Rico, and we are confident it would do more harm than good both for Puerto Rico and for the country generally.”

“Such a change would put at risk the reliable, efficient service the island currently receives, as well as hundreds of private sector jobs on the island, with no offsetting gains. It would also send a chilling message that would bring further investment in vessels built in U.S. shipyards to a standstill,” Roberts added.

Companies including Sea Star Line and Crowley have lobbied on the Jones Act using an array of third party trade associations, including the Transportation Institute, the American Maritime Congress, and the American Maritime Partnership.

The Transportation Institute, for instance, retains former Democratic Sen. John Breaux and Republican Sen. Trent Lott as lobbyists to maintain the Jones Act and influence discussions on Puerto Rico reform issues.

Asked for comment by The Intercept, Tyler Edgar, a spokesperson for Tote Inc, a shipping conglomerate that owns Sea Sear Line, pointed us to a statement by the American Maritime Partnership that sharply criticizes the effort to rollback the Jones Act over the crisis in Puerto Rico. The statement claims that granting a Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico could “overwhelm the system, creating unnecessary backlogs and causing confusion on the distribution of critical supplies throughout the island.”

Shipping industry voices contend that the main issue with Puerto Rico’s lack of resources currently stems from internal distribution issues and logistical problems relating to how supplies are moved from the port to where they are needed.

But critics not only point to increased costs for Puerto Rico residents from the Jones Act, but also question the virtues of the U.S. shipping industry.

A Department of Justice antitrust investigation found that between 2002 and 2008, Jones Act shipping firms Sea Star, Crowley and Horizon conspired to fix prices on commercial cargo shipped to Puerto Rico. The investigation led to the conviction of the former president of Sea Star Line who was was sentenced in 2013 to serve five years in prison for engaging in the conspiracy, one of the longest prison terms for an antitrust violation. In a separate case, both Sea Star Line and Horizon paid $3.4 million to settle claims arising from a whistleblower who claimed that the firms engaged in a price fixing scheme on government cargo between Puerto Rico and the U.S mainland.

President Donald Trump responded to questions about a Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico on Wednesday, telling reporters that he’s considering the idea. But, he noted, he is hesitant to make such a decision because of “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

The post U.S. Shipping Lobby: Letting Foreign Ships Bring Goods to Puerto Rico Could Endanger National Security appeared first on The Intercept.

Oposição recebeu menos de 2% de doações da Odebrecht para eleições nacionais nos anos 1990

27 September 2017 - 5:55pm

A estratégia da Odebrecht, de fortalecer tanto oposição quanto governo, não se aplicou nas eleições nacionais dos anos 1990, de acordo com levantamento inédito do financiamento legal de campanha, feito para The Intercept Brasil. Na época, os principais partidos que formaram a base de sustentação do governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB, PMDB e o PFL, atual DEM) arrecadaram 89% das doações oficiais da empresa para cargos federais. O resto foi dividido entre outras dez legendas.

Nas eleições de 1994 e 1998, quando Fernando Henrique Cardoso foi eleito e reeleito, o PSDB foi a sigla mais beneficiada pelo grupo Odebrecht nas corridas para a presidência, a Câmara dos Deputados e o Senado. Em valores atualizados, os tucanos receberam R$ 7,7 milhões. O PMDB (R$ 7,5 milhões) e o DEM (R$ 5,5 milhões) ficam logo atrás.

O restante dos repasses foi pulverizado em valores menores para PL, PTB, PPR, PDT, PPS, PRN, PPB, PT, PSB e PP. Juntos, receberam apenas R$ 2,4 milhões dos R$ 23 milhões doados pela empresa. Entre eles, há partidos que também fizeram parte do governo FHC, como o PP e o PPB.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso em Florianópolis, durante a campanha de 1994, quando o PSDB recebeu R$ 7,7 milhões em doações.

PT, PSB e PDT ficaram com apenas R$ 371 mil – ou 1,5% do total. Como lembra Fernando Guarnieri, professor do Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos, os três partidos foram os que fizeram a oposição mais sistemática ao governo no período entre 1994 e 2002. “O PPS chegou a ensaiar uma oposição, mas apoiava o Real e outras políticas do governo FHC”, analisa.

Nas eleições entre 2004 e 2014, com o PT no governo, os oposicionistas PSDB e DEM se mantiveram como destinatários de 36% dos recursos das doações da Odebrecht diretamente para candidatos a cargos federais, sem passar pela direção partidária. Juntos, eles receberam R$ 7 milhões, contra R$ 12 milhões dedicados aos petistas. O PMDB ficou com R$ 1 milhão.

Levantamento inédito mostra a evolução da distribuição das doações declaradas da Odebrecht entre os principais partidos desde 1994:

Nem em 1994 nem em 1998 foram encontradas doações oficiais da Odebrecht para a campanha de Lula. Nesse período, a única doação registrada em nome do grupo para o PT em cargos nacionais foi o apoio de R$ 105 mil, em valores atualizados, para a campanha de Pedro Wilson Guimarães para deputado federal por Goiás em 1994.

O Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE) só disponibiliza dados de financiamento de campanha das eleições a partir de 2002. Antes disso, o único registro digitalizado é a transcrição das doações para cargos federais (presidente, deputado federal, senador) e para candidatos a governadores, feita nos anos 1990 por David Samuels, professor da Universidade de Minnesota. Os dados foram tratados e divulgados por Bruno Carazza, economista que se debruçou sobre o histórico do financiamento de campanha para sua tese de doutorado em Direito.

Em depoimento à força-tarefa da Operação Lava Jato, Emílio confirmou que também fez transferências não declaradas para a campanha do tucano.

Todo o passo a passo do levantamento para identificar as doações registradas da Odebrecht está disponível para consulta. Os valores citados estão corrigidos pela média anual da inflação do período.

Nas campanhas de 1994 e de 1998, foram identificadas transferências da Construtora Norberto Odebrecht e de outras empresas do grupo, como a CBPO e a Odebrecht Serviços, além de um repasse em nome do patriarca Emílio Odebrecht para a campanha do ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso em 1994. Em depoimento à força-tarefa da Operação Lava Jato, Emílio confirmou que também fez transferências não declaradas para a campanha do tucano.

Ainda que Lula tenha sido o único candidato à presidência agraciado com recursos da Odebrecht em 2002, quando se aproximou do empresariado e assumiu a faceta “Lulinha paz e amor”, foi só na eleição seguinte, quando ele foi reeleito, que o PT ultrapassou os demais partidos. Se levarmos em consideração as doações registradas no TSE para todos os cargos, o PT foi o partido mais beneficiado pela empresa entre 2004 e 2014.

Lula em carreata em São Paulo em 2002, quando foi o único candidato à presidência a receber doações da Odebrecht.

“A partir de 2002, o PT começa a se comportar como os outros dois grandes partidos (PSDB e PMDB), que são associados ao empresariado, setor financeiro, grandes indústrias, etc. Antes, as empresas eram responsáveis por uma parcela bem menor dos recursos do PT. Era 30% em 1998. Isso vai subindo à medida que o partido se torna viável no plano nacional e se torna tão dependente do dinheiro das empresas quanto os demais”, analisa Bruno Carazza.

“A partir de 2002, o PT começa a se comportar como os outros dois grandes partidos (PSDB e PMDB), que são associados ao empresariado, setor financeiro, grandes indústrias, etc.”

Enquanto esteve no comando da holding Odebrecht S.A., entre 2009 e 2015, Marcelo Odebrecht cuidava pessoalmente da distribuição dos recursos para presidenciáveis e para os principais partidos beneficiados pela empresa. Em seu depoimento, ele conta também que controlava o valor global que seria doado por meios legais, pois a empresa não queria ser vista como uma das grandes doadoras. Para o grupo, isso iria “impactar a imagem da organização”. Mas o ex-todo poderoso da empresa reconhece que “nem definia, nem procurava saber o valor total de caixa 2″.

Esta reportagem foi realizada por Adriano Belisário, com a colaboração dos analistas de dados Rafael Polo e Álvaro Justen, como parte do programa de bolsas de produção da Plataforma de Jornalismo Connectas.

Foto em destaque: O então presidente Lula e o empresário Emilio Odebrecht em inauguração de uma unidade da Braskem em Paulínia (SP) em 2008. (Foto: Eduardo Knapp/Folhapress)

The post Oposição recebeu menos de 2% de doações da Odebrecht para eleições nacionais nos anos 1990 appeared first on The Intercept.

The “Family Farmer” Trump Touted in His Estate Tax Push Is Already Super-Rich and Got Millions in Subsidies

27 September 2017 - 5:18pm

President Donald Trump unveiled a tax cut plan Wednesday that would cut corporate and individual taxes, as well as completely eliminate the estate tax — a tax that falls only on the richest Americans (something like two out of every 1,000 estates are impacted).

At a rally in Indiana, Trump touted Kip Tom, a Leesburg resident, as a potential victim of this estate tax. “With us today is Kip Tom, a family farmer,” the president said. He explained that Tom’s family has been in farming for 187 years. “That could come to an end because of the death tax or the estate tax,” he warned.

But Tom isn’t just some small-time family farmer. He is a former congressional candidate who narrowly lost his primary in 2016; he was recruited as a “Young Gun” by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The financial disclosure he filed in 2015 reveals that his income was well into the millions. In addition to owning Tom Farms, he is the president of grain storage and drying firm CereServ Inc., which he reports gave him over $5 million in income during the reporting period.

The Institute for Policy Studies’s Chuck Collins, using a database of agribusiness farm subsidies, notes that Tom Farms, which claims to have 17,000 acres in production around the world, is Indiana’s ninth largest recipient of farm subsidies. Between 2004 and 2014, Tom and his various companies received around $3.3 million in farm subsidies.

Kip Tom’s family will probably be okay.

Top photo: Kip Tom, a past agriculture advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, is seen upon his arrival in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, USA, 5 January 2017.

The post The “Family Farmer” Trump Touted in His Estate Tax Push Is Already Super-Rich and Got Millions in Subsidies appeared first on The Intercept.

Lindsey Graham on Obamacare Repeal: I Had No Idea What I Was Doing

27 September 2017 - 4:59pm

Senate Democrats and their progressive allies spent the last week-and-a-half in a full-blown mobilization against an existential threat to the Affordable Care Act.

Now that it has fizzled out, the lead author of the measure, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, has an admission to make: He had no clue what he was doing.

“It’s been the most amazing journey of my life. I’ve taken the eye off the ball on terrorism, I’m just amazed the whole planet hasn’t crumbled because I wasn’t on it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said of the weeks he’s spent leading the health care repeal effort.

Toward the end of the senator’s bid to rewrite the health care system, as the mirage of the bill’s momentum began to be exposed, the typically charming and witty Graham began to turn acidic in the halls of the Senate, denouncing colleagues in both parties who were objecting to his legislation. “I’m speaking English, right?” he snapped at one reporter.

But now that it’s over, the old Graham is back and more than willing to laugh at how improbable it was that a national-security expert briefly held the national limelight as a supposed health-policy wonk.

Graham, though, said he was not alone in his lack of understanding of health care. “Nobody in our conference believes Obamacare works. It must be replaced. But until now we didn’t know how to do it,” Graham told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.

A reporter pointed out that such ignorance at this late stage is itself hard to understand. “You’ve been working to overhaul this for seven years. Why is this so hard?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve been doing it for about a month. I thought everybody else knew what the hell they were talking about, but apparently not,” Graham clarified, adding he had assumed “these really smart people will figure it out.”

The crash-course in health policy has been a romp, Graham said. “I’ve enjoyed this more than anything. I’ve learned so much about health care in other states — Pennsylvania, Alaska, Ohio,” he said, adding that he even learned about his own state. “South Carolina, we have 11 predominantly African-American counties that have unique healthcare needs and one size doesn’t fit all, even within your state. I looked at the history of welfare reform, and I think we can replicate that here.”

That Graham thinks reforming health care is analogous to welfare suggests he may still have a way to go on his journey.

Republican leaders conceded Tuesday that they did not have the 50 votes they needed to move forward with Graham-Cassidy. Of the 52 Republicans in the Senate, John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Susan Collins of Maine publicly opposed the legislation, making the math easy. 

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski  issued a statement after Graham-Cassidy was pulled from the floor, strongly implying she had opposed the bill. But while she was deliberating, Graham had the chance to learn a thing or two about the northernmost state. “In terms of Alaska, I’ve learned a lot about Alaska health care,” Graham said. “Our friends in Alaska, there are 750,000 people in the state of Alaska, twice the size of Texas. We have learned about their needs. I found out a lot of things about other states I never dreamed of.”

Indeed, Murkowski, in her statement, applauded Graham and his cosponsor Sen. Bill Cassidy as having been “tireless in their efforts” to educate members of the Senate on the bill and to “educate themselves.”

It was an A for effort. “Senator Graham and Senator Cassidy now have a much deeper understanding of Alaska’s unique challenges, needs, and opportunities than they did prior to this effort,” Murkowski head-patted.

The bill’s cosponsors, though, were not alone in their ignorance, Murkowski allowed. “I feel Senator [Dan] Sullivan and I have made good headway in educating our colleagues and the administration,” she said.

When Graham realized the people he thought understood health care were actually clueless, he figured he and a former senator who is perhaps best known for his name becoming a word to describe the byproduct of a sex act might as well take a crack at it.

“So, this idea came about from a conversation at a barber shop,” Graham said. “Rick Santorum — I was getting my hair cut and he says, you know, you’ve got an opt-out bill — opt out of Obamacare if you don’t like it, take the money and do state-controlled systems. Why don’t you do what we did with welfare reform in ‘96, which is basically take the same amount of money and block grant it?”

As a senator, Santorum focused on foreign policy, as Graham does. Graham-Cassidy was unveiled on September 13, dying its final death, for now, on September 25.

But Graham thinks the duo have made real progress.

“We now have an idea that I think Republicans understand, and the average person can understand,” Graham said.

TOP PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., waits to testify as protesters disrupt a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Dirksen on the proposal by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Sept. 25, 2017.

The post Lindsey Graham on Obamacare Repeal: I Had No Idea What I Was Doing appeared first on The Intercept.

A desinformação como tática: falta de transparência marca atuação dos órgãos de segurança do Rio

27 September 2017 - 2:47pm

Pouco tem se falado de um aspecto grave da crise de segurança pública do Rio de Janeiro: a falta de transparência das autoridades responsáveis. Procurados diariamente pelos diversos veículos que cobrem a escalada de violência no Rio, a secretaria e demais órgãos de segurança pública municipais e estaduais ora ficam mudos, ora se fingem de desentendidos – isso quando não atrapalham ou desafiam profissionais de imprensa que buscam vias alternativas para conseguir informações.

“Quando um órgão como a Secretaria de Segurança Pública e as polícias se recusam a ser transparentes e prestar informação com presteza para a imprensa, o cidadão sai prejudicado numa área fundamental da atuação estatal, que é a segurança e a preservação da própria vida”, explica o diretor da Transparência Brasil, Manoel Galdino. Para ele, os órgãos de segurança pública, tradicionalmente, têm uma cultura do sigilo que dificulta a transparência e o acesso à informação.

Muitos jornalistas que buscaram informações com a Secretaria de Segurança (SESEG), Polícias Militar e Civil e o Comando das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora sobre os dias de caos na cidade do Rio só têm obtido respostas evasivas e repetitivas ou completamente descoordenadas independentemente dos questionamentos feitos.

The Intercept Brasil conversou com jornalistas brasileiros e estrangeiros que cobrem segurança pública no Rio. Os testemunhos são unânimes: os órgãos falam o que querem, se querem, para quem querem e quando querem. Não importa o que você pergunte, se tem entrevista marcada e confirmada, se veio de longe. Vale a lógica do “manda quem pode, obedece quem tem juízo”. E quem não quer ser limado das próximas entrevistas, por mais teatrais que sejam, obedece. Nenhum dos jornalistas que falaram com o The Intercept Brasil serão identificados para evitar retaliação dos órgãos citados.

Veja abaixo dificuldades enfrentadas para obter informações que deveriam ser públicas:

Respostas não solicitadas, perguntas ignoradas

Um repórter americano que escreve sobre segurança pública no Rio há seis anos conta que, muitas vezes, as assessorias indicam que estão cientes do contato, mas ignoram as perguntas. Ele explica ainda que as polícias até costumam dar mais atenção a dúvidas sobre mortes decorrentes de intervenção policial – mas, mesmo em relação a esse tema delicado para a instituição, as informações são frequentemente vagas. “E se eu me virar para buscar a informação por mim mesmo, ainda sou questionado. Já recebi reclamações do assessor de imprensa da SESEG, que me perguntou: ‘Por que você não procurou informações da secretaria?’ Eu procuro, mas não vou me desgastar para receber uma informação inútil se eu tenho informações suficientes e apuradas”, afirma ele.

Entrevistas negadas ou desmarcadas

“As entrevistas exclusivas são negadas sempre”, conta um repórter de um dos maiores sites de notícias do país. “Quando consegui uma com o secretário [de Segurança Pública] Roberto Sá, ela foi desmarcada no mesmo dia, em cima da hora. E isso não aconteceu só comigo”, explica ele, que diz ter a sorte de ter fontes que lhe permitem pegar atalhos e evitar o caminho oficial para obter informações por trabalhar na área há muitos anos.

“Todas as demandas precisam ser encaminhadas por e-mail. E mesmo que a gente envie perguntas sobre as ocorrências, recebe uma nota padrão com informações incompletas. […]  Honestamente, a gente já se contentou com pedir “notinha” quando é sobre operação, porque sabe que é o que eles enviam”, explica um repórter de um jornal estatal, que cobre segurança há 4 anos.


“Na Polícia Civil, quando você os questiona, eles mandam inúmeras notas que não dizem nada. Há um tempo, havia uma política de passar os telefones de delegados e tal. Isso acabou sei lá por quê. E atrapalha — muito”, diz um repórter de um grande site de notícias.

Copia e Cola

“A impressão geral é que eles dão um ‘copiar e colar’ nas respostas, porque são todas muito parecidas, sempre no gerúndio: ‘Estamos apurando’, ’estamos investigando’”, explica um jornalista de um veículo internacional.

O que ele diz é confirmado por outro colega: “As notas da Polícia Civil em geral são padrões, informando algo como ‘A Delegacia de Homicídios está realizando diligências para elucidar o crime. Testemunhas estão sendo ouvidas e uma perícia será feita no local.’ As notas da Polícia Militar são um pouco melhores, mas ainda trazem poucos detalhes sobre as ocorrências. Em geral, quando fazemos alguma pergunta que não está na nota, eles ou ignoram ou nos respondem com a mesma nota.”

Respostas incansavelmente repetidas

Reprodução Internet


“A Secretaria de Segurança é muito sensível com perguntas. São várias pessoas que trabalham lá, e você nunca sabe quando uma delas vai estourar, tipo: ‘Você fez a pergunta tal para pessoa tal! Você sabe que essa pergunta tem que vir pra mim!’. Já ouvi isso. Por que você tem mais de uma pessoa que responde pela assessoria se eu não posso mandar perguntas para qualquer um deles?”, questiona uma repórter internacional.

Uns valem mais que outros

Já um repórter de um jornal local de pequena circulação conta que raramente consegue obter informações. Nas vezes em que não é ignorado, as respostas sobre número de feridos em um confronto armado, por exemplo, costumam “fugir à realidade”.

“Para responder eles são ruins, mas adoram enviar release de ações da Secretaria de Segurança Pública. Quero ser inserido no mailing comum. Mas só me mandam coisas do tipo ‘Policiais da UPP levam crianças a museu’. Se a comunicação com a imprensa é ruim, imaginem com a comunicação comunitária”, reclama.

Pesquisadores também relatam dificuldades de acesso à informação

Dados sobre segurança ou são inacessíveis ou exigem um real esforço para tabular, somar, dividir. O modo como estão disponibilizados no site do Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP) não é para simplificar a vida do cidadão que quer acessar informações públicas. Tem que ser especialista.

“Devido à organização em que trabalho, eu tenho acesso direto ao ISP. Então, eu não tinha exatamente perguntas negadas. O maior problema é que nem todas as informações que são importantes para fazer um diagnóstico da segurança pública são disponibilizadas. O ISP é hoje um dos órgãos de governo que fornece informações de crimes cometidos mais rapidamente. Mas a limitação é que elas, em sua grande maioria, não são georreferenciadas, nem constam informações sobre as vítimas ou criminosos. Além disso, dados sobre contingentes policiais por batalhão, número de viaturas, de armas, são inacessíveis, e utiliza-se a justificativa de que são sigilosos por questões de segurança. O problema é: como a sociedade avalia o trabalho da polícia sem saber como ele é organizado? Isso sem falar de orçamento. Como avaliar o sistema de metas e as UPPs, por exemplo, sem acesso ao que foi gasto?”, questiona uma pesquisadora da área.

“Para ser sincero eu nunca faço perguntas pelos canais oficiais. Porque é uma perda de tempo.”

“Para ser sincero eu nunca faço perguntas pelos canais oficiais. Porque é uma perda de tempo. Como eu já trabalhei dentro dessa estrutura [do ISP], eu sei que ela não funciona desse jeito. Então uso meus contatos pessoais para acessar informações que deveriam ser públicas e não são. Não há acesso público a perfis de vítimas, autores, motivações dos eventos. No DATASUS  – o Departamento de Informática do SUS, que coleta e processa dados sobre saúde – , você consegue informações melhores. Os dados do 190, por exemplo, que a princípio são públicos, são impossíveis de acessar. Te dão mil desculpas. Vão até desqualificar os dados, falar que não dizem nada. O que não é verdade! O que a sociedade está demandando da polícia? Ninguém sabe! A polícia segura a informação por hábito, na maior parte das vezes nem sabe como utilizar a informação que produz. Então ela segura, não usa, mas acha que é uma informação ‘sensível’”, afirma outro pesquisador.

“Total transparência”

Encaminhamos seis perguntas para as assessorias de imprensa dos órgãos de segurança pública do Rio. Questionamos quais os critérios para definir que uma informação é sigilosa; se certos veículos de imprensa são priorizados em detrimento de outros; se recebem orientação da SESEG sobre respostas; se evitam/ignoram certas perguntas; se há alguma regra ou orientação para sempre responder por nota, evitando o contato direto ou por telefone.

A Polícia Civil respondeu com uma única frase: “A Polícia Civil trabalha com transparência total nas ações que pratica. Preserva apenas as informações dos órgãos de inteligência para não prejudicar as investigações em andamento”.

A Coordenadoria de Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora foi na mesma linha: “A assessoria de imprensa da Coordenadoria de Polícia Pacificadora (CPP) esclarece que trabalha com total transparência na divulgação de suas informações. Apenas dados de Inteligência são reservados ao comando por estratégia de segurança.”

Pedidos de informação são respondidos de forma incompleta. Quando são.

Montagem The Intercept Brasil

A Secretaria de Segurança encaminhou a seguinte nota:

“A Assessoria de Comunicação da Secretaria de Estado de Segurança esclarece que durante todo o fim de semana, as equipes de plantão das assessorias (SESEG/ Polícia Militar / UPP/ Polícia Civil) estiveram disponíveis e em atendimento à imprensa. Todas as vezes que consultadas, se posicionaram. Devido ao caráter operacional, a Coordenadoria de Polícia Pacificadora e o Comando da UPP da comunidade — alinhados com os demais órgãos — divulgaram nota relativa ao caso no domingo (17). Neste mesmo dia, autoridades se reuniram no Centro Integrado de Comando e Controle (CICC), para estabelecer uma estratégia que não colocasse em risco a vida de inocentes. Uma operação conjunta das polícias Militar e Civil foi desencadeada na madrugada de segunda (18) e equipes permanecem não só no local, como em outros pontos considerados estratégicos. Autoridades da área de segurança não se negaram a atender a imprensa, mas mantiveram o princípio de priorizar ações em defesa da população da região afetada. Cabe ressaltar que, no último ano, a Secretaria de Estado de Segurança do Rio de Janeiro (SESEG) ficou em primeiro lugar no ranking nacional de transparência na divulgação de informações sobre Segurança Pública, de acordo com levantamento desenvolvido pelo Instituto Tolerância”.

A Polícia Militar sequer enviou resposta.

The post A desinformação como tática: falta de transparência marca atuação dos órgãos de segurança do Rio appeared first on The Intercept.

A Facebook Flamewar May Have Just Led to a Major Breakthrough on Confederate Monuments in Georgia

27 September 2017 - 11:50am

Last month, a white Georgia Republican state representative — in the heat of a Facebook argument with a black former colleague — warned her that she may face a violent backlash if she continues her crusade to remove monuments to the Confederacy.

“Continue your quixotic journey into South Georgia and it will not be pleasant. The truth. Not a warning,” GOP state Rep. Jason Spencer told LaDawn Jones, a former state representative who chaired Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in the state. He then warned that advocates for removing the Confederate statues may “go missing in the Okefenokee,” a reference to a large swamp and wildlife refuge near the border with Florida.

On Wednesday, Spencer and Jones announced that they are now working together on legislation that would empower cities to remove Confederate monuments and also convert the largest Confederate memorial in the country — Georgia’s Stone Mountain — into a Civil War memorial instead. Spencer also offered a lengthy apology to his former colleague.

“I do regret using the words in the response to a provocative comment by Ms. Jones. I do regret using those words,” Spencer said in a Facebook Live video recorded alongside his former colleague.

Spencer’s legislation would also overturn state law that prevents municipalities from removing their own Confederate monuments, under the condition that they sell the monuments to individuals who will preserve them for historical value.

“Give them local control to …. decide if they want to remove a monument which they found offensive,” Spencer said, describing his legislation. He then went on to claim that the Civil War itself was fought over local control — thus municipalities, not the state, should be the ones to decide the fate of the monuments. (Jones strongly disagreed with this view, needless to say.)

To Jones, forgiving Spencer was a matter of her personal values. She and Spencer sat next to each other for years in the state legislature — and they consider each other friends.

When she saw the torrent of social media attacks against Spencer following the reporting of the Facebook exchange, she felt like people were attacking him as a person and missing the underlying issue.

“I am American.  In this period of divisiveness, I want to be a part of solutions not separations. I want to make a stand that is about the POLICY and not the PEOPLE,” she wrote in an email to reporters. “I was embarrassed by the national coverage of my social media encounter with Rep. Jason Spencer. Now, more than ever, we do not need more to separate us, we need to find common ground.”

Explaining her decision to sit down with Spencer and work on the legislation, she said that this is what Georgians want — people to work together on solutions, not just get into arguments.

“I would say we did exactly what we were sent there to do, which is to have real conversation to get to the type of solutions we need. The fear of talking, the fear of being offended by things is the thing that’s gotten us in the situation that we are in right now,” she said. “Make us an example around the country, not just in Georgia, this is how we need to solve these issues. Let’s stop talking about people kneeling and (Colin) Kaepernick, and talk about the policy issues.”

Top photo: Craig Stevens, of Atlanta, plays on a rock in front of the carvings on Stone Mountain in Georgia on June 23, 2015.

The post A Facebook Flamewar May Have Just Led to a Major Breakthrough on Confederate Monuments in Georgia appeared first on The Intercept.

A Los Angeles School Board Scandal Could Upend Plans By Charter Backers to Take Over Public Schools

27 September 2017 - 10:07am

The district attorney of Los Angeles County filed criminal charges this month against Ref Rodriguez, the school board president of the nation’s second-largest public school district. Accused of laundering money into his 2015 political campaign with the help of his cousin, Rodriguez faces three felony charges and 25 misdemeanors.

It’s not your typical money-laundering case. In fact, it’s one that veteran campaign consultants and money-in-politics watchdogs have been calling the most bizarre they’ve ever seen. And it was part of a successful multimillion dollar, multi-cycle campaign by pro-charter school advocates to seize control of the board.

Run-of-the-mill campaign money laundering involves donors funneling cash in through business associates, family, or friends. In this instance, Rodriguez allegedly funneled more than $24,000 of his own money into his campaign, despite facing no contribution limits himself. According to the 14-page complaint filed on September 13, Rodriguez reimbursed 25 friends and relatives, who each contributed between $750 and $1,100 – and signed a form under penalty of perjury that they had all been legitimate campaign donors.

Following his 2015 victory, Rodriguez became the first charter school operator to join the Los Angeles school board. He was backed by the well-heeled charter school movement, which spent more than $2 million to help elect him. This past spring, education reform advocates won three more seats, giving the board a slim pro-charter majority for the first time ever. Rodriguez was then elected board president in July.

In response to the felony charges, Rodriguez announced that he would step down as president, but remain on the seven-person school board, thus preserving the charter faction’s grip on power. United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s teachers union, is now calling on Rodriguez to resign entirely, while some Rodriguez allies say the whole thing is being blown way out of proportion.

The struggle over the school board, and consequently for public education in Los Angeles, reflects larger proxy battles playing out in school systems across the United States. These fights typically pit so-called education reform advocates against backers of traditional public schools and teachers unions. Messy money-in-politics scandals have come to be defining features of these fights, as corporate money and funds from stratospherically wealthy activists flood in to what was once the sleepy politics of public education. How this all plays out in California will almost surely affect education politics elsewhere.

Ref Rodriguez’s announcement to step down as board president posted on Twitter.

There were red flags back in 2015 that something was amiss with political contributions to Rodriguez’s campaign. KPCC, the Southern California public radio station, reported early that year that Rodriguez had collected $21,000 in donations from employees of his charter school network, Partnerships to Uplift Communities. “Most striking, a handful of his workers – a janitor, maintenance worker, tutor — are donating at or near the contribution limit, $1,100,” KPCC wrote.

When asked in February 2015 about the generous donations he had received from his former employees, Rodriguez stressed that the contributions had not been coerced and would not be reimbursed. “I know for many of them, this is a tremendous sacrifice,” he said at the time. “It’s just been sort of an outpouring of folks’ belief in me and what we are trying to do for the city.”

There are only two real explanations floating around for why Rodriguez would launder his own money. One is that he somehow missed the memo that candidates can donate as much as they want to their own campaign — which is unlikely. (Rodriguez has not explicitly denied the district attorney’s allegations.)

The more credible rationale is that early into his weeks-long campaign, he wanted to project an image of having more popular grassroots support than he actually had. And, by misrepresenting his donors, he could cast himself as more financially competitive than he actually was.

Harvey Englander, a longtime Los Angeles political consultant, says there’s a lot of pressure on candidates, especially first-time candidates, to show they’ve raised a lot of money by the time the first campaign finance reports are released. These reports are often treated as rough proxies for candidate viability, and when a candidate puts their own money into the race, it’s hard to know if that money will ever be spent, or if it’s just being used to create the illusion of a well-financed bid. But if there are dozens of people writing four-figure checks, well, that looks like a serious campaign.

“The only reason I could think of is that whoever advised Ref suggested he go find family members and others to contribute to his campaign because it would look very real, it would show a lot of community support, and you’d assume that money could be spent,” Englander tells The Intercept. “I understand the reason for doing it, but it’s just so unusual. It’s really out of the ordinary.”

Even with that pressure, it still doesn’t make sense why he would have felt compelled to exaggerate his early-stage fundraising. It was well-known before his first campaign finance disclosure deadline that he was likely to receive significant backing from the charter school movement. Rodriguez had served as a board member for the California Charter Schools Association from 2005-2009.

The Intercept reached out to the California Charter Schools Association for comment on the theory that Rodriguez may have embellished his grassroots backing to secure more funding from their organization. Steven Baratte, the Southern California managing communications director, wrote back that his group will only comment to say that Rodriguez made the right choice to step down as president, so that the school board can focus on students while allowing Rodriguez time to address the charges. “We recognize the seriousness of these charges and await all of the necessary facts coming to light,” he said. “We appreciate that Ref has spent his career working to improve educational opportunity for thousands of Los Angeles students. We fully expect proceedings related to this matter to be thorough, efficient and fair.”

A Los Angeles Unified School District bus arrives at a school in Los Angeles on Dec. 16, 2015.

Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP/Getty Images

L.A. is the last of the big-city school districts to hold local school board elections, and over the last five years, Los Angeles school board races have been flooded by unprecedented sums of money. This past year, L.A. held the most expensive school board election in American history, by more than 50 percent. Though charter supporters have been significantly outspending union-backed groups, both sides have been kicking in millions of dollars for contests that just a few years ago were modest political battles.

The CCSA has recently emerged as a particularly powerful player in both Los Angeles politics and across the state. Nationally, charter advocates often justify their reliance on the deep pockets of billionaire supporters as necessary to compete with the formidable spending of local teachers unions. But as EdSource, a California education news site, reported in May, “In past years, the teachers union far outspent the [charter] association on campaign contributions. Not anymore.”

Rodriguez unseated one-term incumbent Bennett Kayser, the union-backed candidate. Kayser, a retired public school teacher, told The Intercept that he encountered far more negative campaigning during his 2015 election than his 2011 one. According to campaign finance data from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, an independent expenditure committee sponsored by the CCSA spent $1,558,913.71 in support of Rodriguez, and $600,723.46 attacking Kayser. One example of a negative flyer they released in 2015 read, “BENNETT KAYSER TRIED TO STOP LATINO CHILDREN FROM ATTENDING SCHOOLS IN WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS.”

Kayser describes the attacks unleashed against him as “frustratingly untrue and exaggerated,” but “he had no funds available to put out a response.” Los Angeles is such a big school district that in terms of printing and postage, Kayser says it can cost $7,000 to $10,000 to put out just one mailing.

Just like the other school board members and the general public, Kayser had no idea that Rodriguez was under investigation all this time. He first learned about the felony charges when a local reporter called him earlier this month asking for comment. Though his campaign had flagged suspicious campaign finance disclosures at the time, they couldn’t prove it, and they lacked the time and resources to launch a real investigation. “It took the district attorney and the ethics commission two years to get to this point,” he says. “I’m just glad things are progressing as they are.”

Last week, seven days after the charges were filed, UTLA officers issued a statement calling for Rodriguez’s immediate resignation from the school board, not just the presidency. The union, which represents 35,000 teachers and educators across the Los Angeles Unified School District, said they lacked confidence in Rodriguez’s ability to lead, and that his behavior sets a bad example for students.

“While we believe in due process rights, choosing to stay on as a board member means he will continue to make long-lasting policy decisions, including who becomes the next board president,” the UTLA said. “We question his willingness to be held accountable. The charges he faces are more than, in his words, ‘a distraction’ from the work that needs to be done.”

Kayser echoed the UTLA’s call for Rodriguez’s immediate resignation. “If the DA had not announced that there was going to be an arraignment, we still wouldn’t know. He’s basically been lying for two years,” he says. “It’s just wrong to set that example to the kids of Los Angeles, who are being taught to be honest and ethical, and learning about voting and democracy.”

A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said that if he were convicted, Rodriguez would not automatically be disqualified from holding office.

Still, Bob Stern, co-author of California’s landmark Political Reform Act and the first general counsel of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, thinks a felony conviction would create “tremendous pressure” for Rodriguez to step down. The maximum sentence he faces if he were convicted on the felony counts would be four years and four months in jail.

Stern tells The Intercept that he thinks money laundering is the worst kind of disclosure violation, since an individual is knowingly reporting that money came from one place when it came from another. He says that throughout the many decades he’s worked on campaign finance issues, he’s never seen a candidate launder his own money.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines, left, and Board of Education president Mónica García, right, agree with board members who decided to delay a vote on layoffs at their headquarters in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 31, 2009. García will likely be appointed board president again.

Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP

Some Rodriguez supporters are downplaying the charges as a victimless crime, especially given that $25,000 is such a small sum of money when compared to the millions of dollars spent overall during the election.

Peter Cunningham, executive director of Education Post, an education reform communications firm, penned an Los Angeles Times op-ed last week in defense of Rodriguez, saying he can’t understand how “these minor violations” of campaign finance law triggered criminal charges. Cunningham finds Rodriguez “humble, sincere, and polite” and says and that if the allegations are true, Rodriguez simply made a “rookie mistake” and should pay his fines. “If [Rodriguez] is forced to step down from the board, his prosecution could seriously undermine the reform agenda demanded by the voters of Los Angeles,” Cunningham argues. “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he got the book thrown at him simply because he was elected board president.”

The Intercept followed up with Cunningham to ask what he meant by this claim. “Because others have done the same thing and paid fines,” he responded. “In fact, I don’t know if there are any cases of someone going to jail for what he’s accused of. That doesn’t make it right, but let’s keep it in proportion.”

A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office declined to comment on Cunningham’s op-ed.

Rodriguez’s chief of staff, Aixle Aman, told The Intercept that Rodriguez would not be taking any interviews. Daniel Nixon, Rodriguez’s lawyer, did not return a request for comment. “This is a harsh and draconian response to a minor alleged transgression,” the attorney representing Rodriguez’s cousin told the L.A. Times. The cousin who allegedly aided Rodriguez, Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, faces a felony count and 25 misdemeanor charges.

It is unusual for a district attorney to bring criminal charges in campaign finance cases, and Stern says the fact that the DA is pursuing these charges “suggests there may be much more to [the story].”

For now, the Los Angeles school board retains its pro-charter majority. The board plans to appoint a new president this week, and it’s likely to be board member Mónica García, who has previously served as president. If Rodriguez does ultimately step down or is forced out, the board can either call a special election or appoint his replacement.

Rodriguez and his cousin are scheduled to be arraigned on October 24.

Top photo: Ref Rodriguez, member of the Los Angeles Board of Education during a Los Angeles Unified School District meeting in the LAUSD board room, in Los Angeles, Calif, Jan. 12, 2015.

The post A Los Angeles School Board Scandal Could Upend Plans By Charter Backers to Take Over Public Schools appeared first on The Intercept.

Puerto Rican Debt Holders Respond to Catastrophic Hurricane by Offering Puerto Rico More Debt

27 September 2017 - 9:00am

Puerto Rico, facing absolute devastation after Hurricane Maria barrelled through last week, desperately needs immediate funding to restore critical infrastructure, particularly its hobbled electric grid. The entire island — home to over 3.5 million American citizens, roughly equivalent to the state of Connecticut — lost power, and satellite imagery shows how little has come back online. This affects not only electricity and telecommunications service but access to clean water, as many pumping stations run on the same grid.

A group of bondholders, who own a portion of Puerto Rico’s massive $72 billion debt, has proposed what they are calling relief — but in the form of a loan. So they’re offering a territory mired in debt the chance to take on more debt.

The announcement came after The Intercept spent two days reaching out to fifty-one of Puerto Rico’s known creditors, asking them if they would support a moratorium or cancellation of debt payments for the island, given the humanitarian crisis. Prior to this announcement, only three of the fifty-one creditors had so much as donated relief funds to charity or offered sympathy for island residents, all of them banks who actually have to face consumers, and so are a bit more adept at handling public relations. No creditor had supported debt relief.

Of the 51 creditors contacted by The Intercept, only Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and Scotiabank have pledged no-strings-attached money for Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, in the form of donations to relief organizations totaling $1.25 million. Citi has also waived certain fees for citizens within disaster zones.

Puerto Rico’s other creditors contacted by The Intercept would not say whether donations were made by their firms or their top executives, which include some of the richest people on Earth. Holders of Puerto Rican debt include John Paulson, who got rich betting against the housing market during the bubble; Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital, who in 2015 called Puerto Rican debt his “best idea” for investors; and Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team.

The creditor lists were assembled by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism in 2015, and supplemented by additional media reports. In addition, the federal bankruptcy-like process in Puerto Rico forced holders of one type of debt, so-called “COFINA” bonds backed by sales tax revenue, to reveal themselves. A full list of known Puerto Rican bondholders and their response to The Intercept’s inquiries appear below this article.

Experts see even the offer that was made by the bondholders less as a gift and more as a back-door way for the creditors associated with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to take advantage of disaster by enriching themselves. Offering a desperate population the ability to drown themselves in even more debt is hardly generous.

The PREPA Bondholder Group has offered the island’s utility a $1 billion debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan, and a separate swap of $1 billion in existing bonds for another $850 million DIP note. This money would be immediately available for restoring electric power. In all, the deal includes $150 million in debt cancellation on roughly $9 billion in outstanding PREPA bonds.

But for a better gauge of just how altruistic the offer is, it’s an even worse bid than the creditors made before the storm hit. The overall debt relief is slim, in fact far less than the 15 percent haircut PREPA bondholders proposed in April. And when you factor in accrued interest and higher-value bonds, PREPA bondholders would likely come out ahead.

The offer from the bondholders comes after President Trump offered one of the most historically grotesque responses to a natural disaster, highlighting Puerto Rico’s debt difficulties:

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

…It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

…owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

Puerto Rico would not have to make interest or principal payments on the $1.85 billion in loans for the next two years, with a rate of Libor plus 4.50 percent after that. (Puerto Rico’s last note sale in 2014 was for Libor plus around 8 percent, so the terms are an improvement.) In addition, PREPA bondholders say the capital will allow Puerto Rico to provide federal matching funds to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which could qualify the island for up to $9 billion more in grants.

Those grants are certainly important. But to be sure, PREPA bondholders “are not giving away $1.85 billion,” said Adam Levitin, bankruptcy expert and law professor at Georgetown University. “They’re giving a loan [Puerto Rico] will have to pay back. This is not a donation to the Red Cross.”

DIP financing, typically done for bankrupt entities, is considered low-risk because it puts the creditor in a senior position to get paid back in full. By swapping PREPA bonds, which are junior to other forms of Puerto Rican debt, with DIP loans, the bondholders would put themselves in a better position for repayment. They are more valuable bonds to hold. “They cut to the front of the line,” Levitin said.

Plus, opening up additional FEMA grants would boost PREPA as an asset, increasing the value of the remaining bonds.

Of course, any funding, strings or no strings, that makes Puerto Rico more likely to survive two powerful hurricanes would inevitably reward bondholders, by increasing the likelihood of repayment. And the island can certainly use any dollars it can find, though Puerto Rico could likely find plenty of lenders willing to offer such a low-risk DIP financing deal, especially with matching FEMA funds on the horizon, as well as congressional disaster relief a likelihood.

Although leaders across the political spectrum have stressed the need for aid for Puerto Rico, Congress is likely to delay a package until mid-October. The fiscal control board that governs Puerto Rico’s finances, created by 2016 legislation called PROMESA, has so far allowed only $1 billion to be “reprogrammed” from other parts of the budget. Austerity measures, like planned furloughs and pension cuts, have still not been formally lifted. And since tax revenues are unlikely to be collected for at least a month, cash flow is nearly impossible to come by.

Meanwhile, streets continue to look like rivers. A dam with a large crack caused hurried evacuations. Food and medications are hard to find. Eighty percent of the crops are ruined. Neighborhoods have been deemed unsafe as people struggle to survive. “If anyone can hear us, help,” said one of the island’s mayors. Officials have said full restoration of power could take four to six months, and full recovery will likely take years, with damages ranging as high as $30 billion.

In August, one creditor, Aurelius Capital Management, sued to stop Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy-style case, arguing it violates the Constitution. Aurelius, owned by Paul Singer protégé Mark Brodsky, has not dropped the lawsuit since the hurricanes hit.

The PREPA Bondholder Group includes mutual fund investors Franklin Templeton and Oppenheimer Funds; insurers Assured Guaranty, National Public Finance Guarantee Corp, and Syncora; and hedge funds Angelo, Gordon & Co., BlueMountain Capital Management, Knighthead Capital Management, and Marathon Asset Management.

In a statement, Stephen Spencer of Houlihan Lokey, the PREPA Bondholder Group’s financial advisor, said: “Our thoughts are with the people of Puerto Rico and its residents during this difficult time and we hope that this capital commitment will provide bridge financing and matching funds as required by FEMA legislation while supporting the Commonwealth’s recovery.”

The list of creditors:

Angelo, Gordon & Co. – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Appaloosa Management – no response

Archview Investment Group – no response

Ambac – no response

Aristeia Capital – no response

Arrowgrass Capital Partners – no response

Assured Guaranty – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Aurelius Capital Management – no response

Avenue Capital Group – no response

BlueMountain Capital Management – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Brigage Capital Management – no response

Candlewood Investment Group – no response

Canyon Capital Partners – no response

Carmel Asset Management – no response

Centerbridge Partners – no response

Cyrus Capital Partners – no response

Citibank – Donated $250,000 to the Red Cross.

D.E. Shaw – no response

DoubleLine Capital – no response

Farallon Capital Management – no response

FGIC – no response
Fir Tree Partners – no response

Fortress Investment Group – no response

Franklin Templeton Investment Co. – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Fundamental Advisors – no response

Golden Tree Asset Management – no response

Goldman Sachs – Gave $500,000 to “organizations assisting in immediate search, clean-up and recovery efforts” in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma.

Highbridge Capital Management – no response

Knighthead Capital Management – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Mackay Shields – declined to comment

Maglan Capital – no response

Marathon Asset Management – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

MatlinPatterson Global Advisors – no response

MBIA – no response

Meehan Combs – fund shut down

Merced Capital – no response

Monarch Alternative Capital – no response

Och-Ziff Management – no response

Oppenheimer Funds Co. – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Paulson & Co. – no response

Perry Capital Management – fund shut down

Principal Global – no response

Redwood Capital Management – no response

Scotiabank – gave $500,000 for Hurricane Irma relief in the Caribbean.

Sound Point Capital Management – no response

Stone Lion Capital Partners – no response

Syncora – Member of PREPA Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief

Taconic Capital Partners – no response

Tilden Park Capital Management – no response

Vårde Partners – no response

Whitebox Advisors – “We have a policy of not discussing Puerto Rico or any securities in which we are involved.”

TOP PHOTO: Telesforo Menendez surveys the damage in his neighborhood Sept. 24, 2017 in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico.

The post Puerto Rican Debt Holders Respond to Catastrophic Hurricane by Offering Puerto Rico More Debt appeared first on The Intercept.

Intercepted Podcast: For Whom the Trump Trolls

27 September 2017 - 6:01am

Subscribe to the Intercepted podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other platforms. New to podcasting? Click here.

As Puerto Rico was destroyed by a hurricane, Donald Trump obsessively tweeted attacks on Black athletes protesting racism and police shootings and brought the world closer to the prospect of war against North Korea. This week on Intercepted, physicist David Wright from the Union of Concerned Scientists discusses Donald Trump and the nuclear football and explains how easy it would be for Trump to launch a nuclear strike. We look back at the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, nearly 3,000 Americans — many of them immigrants, workers, dissidents — who tried to stop fascism in the 1930s before it spread in Europe. Professor James Fernandez of NYU explains why these volunteers didn’t just write their Congressmen or campaign for politicians. We speak with the directors of Death in the Terminal, a haunting new film about a terror attack in an Israeli bus station that leads to the brutal mob killing of an innocent Eritrean immigrant wrongly identified as a terrorist. And Donald Trump gets a visit from the two Bobs in his Office Space.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Intercepted Podcast: For Whom the Trump Trolls appeared first on The Intercept.

Bernie Sanders Leans Into Planned Parenthood at the CNN Health Care Debate

26 September 2017 - 6:07pm

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy faced off against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar at a CNN town hall Monday night, just hours after their last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed.

Earlier that evening, Sen. Susan Collins had become the third Republican to publicly reject the Graham-Cassidy repeal effort but at Monday night’s debate, Graham vowed to “press on.”

Graham and Cassidy pitched their plan, while Sanders, a Vermont Independent, used the debate to articulate his single-payer proposal, while Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, joined him in defending the gains of Obamacare and picking apart Graham-Cassidy.

During the 2016 Democratic contest for the party’s presidential nomination, Sanders battled politically with Planned Parenthood, labeling them the “establishment” after they endorsed his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The organization had never before given an endorsement in a Democratic primary.

Yet on Monday night, Sanders leaned in hard toward his support of Planned Parenthood specifically and abortion rights in general. “They want to tell 2.5 million women in the United States of America who today choose Planned Parenthood to get their health care they can’t do that, because they want to defund Planned Parenthood,” Sanders noted in his opening remarks.

Sanders’s Medicare for All bill pushes for women’s autonomy by repealing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions. That would make it the most far-reaching Democratic health care legislation when it comes to reproductive freedom.

Klobuchar, who also opposed Graham-Cassidy, noted one in five women gets their health care from Planned Parenthood.

“The bill changes what are called essential benefits, and that was one of the positive changes that was made with Obamacare,” Klobuchar said. “And what that said is maternity care has to be offered, and contraceptives have to be offered, contraceptives have to be offered. This changes that. And 50 million women aren’t going to be very happy about that, right?”

A preliminary Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Graham-Cassidy plan estimated that the deficit would be reduced by $133 billion between 2017 and 2026, but “millions” would lose comprehensive health insurance.

Even if Sanders hadn’t begun with Planned Parenthood, CNN made sure it would come up. A woman at the town hall told a story about how Planned Parenthood discovered cysts and benign tumors in her ovaries, adding that without the organization’s care, it was probable she would not have been able to have children.  

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards speaks during a rally outside of the Capitol Building on July 27, 2017 in Washington.

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

“Why would you advocate for a bill that would block women like me from the essential care that helped me to become a mother, provides affordable cancer screenings for thousands and thousands of people, especially for those who live in the many parts of this country that are not served by community health centers?” she asked the senators.  

Cassidy claimed most Planned Parenthood settings are in urban areas that have “lots of OB/GYNs.”

“Now, as it turns out, the folks who don’t have access to those cancer screenings live in rural areas,” Cassidy said. “So the idea is that we want someone to have to drive — a lower income person drive three hours to a Planned Parenthood facility there to get her screening, or would we rather take that money and put it back in the rural area to allow her to get her health care there?”

In fact, there are medically underserved areas outside of rural America, but either way, Planned Parenthood shot back at Cassidy during the debate.

Fact check on @BillCassidy: more than 50% of Planned Parenthood health centers are in medically underserved areas. #HealthcareDebate

— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) September 26, 2017

In addition to abortion services, patients also rely on Planned Parenthood for pregnancy services, men’s health services, HIV testing, and STD treatment, among other routine health matters.

Graham responded to the woman’s question about stripping essential care from women by invoking thoroughly debunked videos from 2015, which anti-abortion activists claimed depicted Planned Parenthood illegally trying to sell fetal body parts.    

“So all I can say about this debate about Planned Parenthood, a lot of Americans that were pretty upset when they saw the videos of selling body parts of aborted children,” Graham said.

The videos sparked a wave of state investigations that found no evidence of Planned Parenthood selling or profiting off fetal tissue. Instead, a Texas grand jury even turned around and instead indicted the conservative provocateurs.

Sanders pointed out that his Republican colleagues are “really into choice” but continue their crusade to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Well, 2.5 million women have made a choice, and the choice they have made, as you have made, is that they want to go to Planned Parenthood to get their health care,” Sanders said. “And generally speaking, most people think that Planned Parenthood does an excellent job.”

For Klobuchar, one problem came from the dearth of women in the Senate — and on the stage.

“I love these guys,” she said, “but maybe if we added a few more women senators …”

The post Bernie Sanders Leans Into Planned Parenthood at the CNN Health Care Debate appeared first on The Intercept.

When White Men Keep Lists of “No-Good Niggers”

26 September 2017 - 5:42pm

Do you have a “list of no-good niggers” that you keep around the house? Maybe you use the notes app on your phone, or even a Google Doc?

Paul Smith has a “list of no-good niggers.” He’s the chief of the Cecil Township Fire Department, about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, he felt so comfortable announcing to the world who had just been added to his “list of no-good niggers” that he posted it as a status on his Facebook page.

We’re not quite clear on how exhaustive a list Smith has built over the years, but this much we do know, thanks to the Facebook post: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has now found himself on Smith’s list. What’s strange is that Smith didn’t put Tomlin on his “list of no-good niggers” — instead, Tomlin put himself on that list.

“Tomlin just added himself to the list of no-good niggers,” Smith wrote. To be clear that he wasn’t fooling around about Tomlin being on his list, Smith finished off his post with, “Yes I said it.”

The Intercept reached out to Tomlin to see when and how he added himself to Smith’s “list of no-good niggers,” but we have not heard back yet.

A local fire chief has apologized after a Facbeook post in which he called #Steelers coach Mike Tomlin an “n-word.”

— TribWestmoreland (@TribWestmoreCo) September 26, 2017

Later, after the post, Smith offered something of an apology and said he simply couldn’t help himself, offering something of an explanation along the way. “I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem,” Smith texted a local reporter — and when Smith gets angry and frustrated, black men add themselves to his “list of no-good niggers.”

We also learned something from Smith’s apology: Tomlin added himself to Smith’s “list of no-good niggers” during the unprecedented NFL protests over the weekend, when more than a dozen teams and about 200 players participated in some form of demonstration in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, began kneeling during the national anthem last season to voice his objections to police brutality against black people in America. When Kaepernick came under particular fire in recent weeks and especially over the weekend, it unleashed a wave of support from his former colleagues in the NFL.

Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers did not emerge from the locker room on Sunday during the national anthem. That seems to be how he landed himself on Smith’s “list of no-good niggers.”

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stands on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 24, 2017 in Chicago. Tomlin was the subject of a Facebook post by chief of the Cecil Township Fire Department Paul Smith.

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Yet Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll or Tennessee Titans Coach Mike Mularkey did not add themselves to Smith’s list. Or, if they did add themselves, Smith simply forgot to write a Facebook status about it. Those two coaches, both white, also chose to keep their entire teams off the field during the national anthem on Sunday, as did Tomlin, but doing so seemed to only earn Tomlin a spot on the “list of no-good niggers.” (Tomlin suggested he kept his team off the field to avoid having them kneel during the anthem, “to remove ourselves from the circumstance.”)

On Friday evening, another white man, this time in Alabama, was overcome with anger at the thought of a few football players failing to stand for the national anthem. Except this white man was the president of the United States. The effect, though, was roughly the same.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” President Donald Trump had said to the raucous crowd.

In contrast to his comments on the NFL players’ demonstrations, Trump had been measured and calm with his language — never once using a single inappropriate word — when he described white supremacists who demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia. Those demonstrations, and the chaos that ensued, left a woman dead and a man beaten senseless. For what it’s worth — and I leave that up to you — David Duke, who spoke in the streets of Charlottesville, said the white supremacist demonstrators were there to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

Why did Trump not rail on those horrible people in his 90-minute speech in Alabama on Friday? Why did he call these peaceful players who’ve taken a knee, who also happen to be some of the best and brightest men of the NFL, sons of bitches?

For the same reason Fire Chief Paul Smith has a “list of no-good niggers.” Colin Kaepernick has been on Trump’s list for a very long time. Barack Obama was on the list longer. The Central Park Five longer than that. And black tenants and applicants to Trump properties even longer.

Don’t fool yourself. Paul Smith isn’t the only one with a list.

Top photo: The Pittsburgh Steelers bench is empty during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Sept. 25, 2017.

The post When White Men Keep Lists of “No-Good Niggers” appeared first on The Intercept.

Jeff Sessions Picked a Curious Time to Advocate for Free Speech

26 September 2017 - 5:10pm

As debates about free speech on college campuses rage, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said that America’s universities are “transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.”

Speaking at Georgetown University Law School, America’s top law enforcement official took aim at so-called free speech zones, speech codes, and other forms of restrictions on campus speech. He vowed to “protect students’ free expression,” regardless of political persuasion, but did little to ease concerns about President Donald Trump’s recent criticisms of First Amendment-protected activity.

“Speech and civility codes violate what the late Justice Antonin Scalia rightly called ‘the first axiom of the First Amendment, which is that, ‘as a general rule, the state has no power to ban speech on the basis of its content,’” Sessions said, quoting the late former U.S. Supreme Court justice who graduated from Georgetown Law 60 years ago. “In this great land, the government does not get to tell you what to think or what to say.”

But Sessions works for a U.S. administration that has indeed told people what to think. Trump yesterday told the NFL what it “must respect,” just days after calling on the league to fire players who took a knee during the national anthem.

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

Students and faculty at the Washington, D.C.-based university were quick to point out the discrepancy between the topic of Sessions’s speech and the policies of the administration he represents. Dozens of students stood outside the auditorium where he spoke, some holding signs with messages such as, “Hate speech is not free speech.” Thirty academics on Monday night wrote a formal letter of protest labeling the attorney general a hypocrite — pointing to, among other things, Trump’s many missives condemning Americans’ right to free speech.

The speech and resulting protests demonstrate a divergence in views on campus free speech: Sessions (and most libertarians) argues that colleges and universities should protect offensive speech, which is covered by the First Amendment, but many educational institutions restrict such speech on the grounds that it is inherently harmful to their students and staff.

As evidence of growing threats to campus free speech, Sessions cited a number of examples of colleges cancelling speeches in response to student protests. He also pointed to a 2017 survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that found that 40 percent of colleges and universities surveyed had policies that “substantially infringe on constitutionally protected speech.”

Speaking to The Intercept before Sessions’s speech, FIRE’s Legislation and Policy Director Joe Cohn said he would like to see the attorney general use his bully pulpit to address numerous threats to campus free speech, including strict restrictions on where students can protest and increasing violence around campus speakers.

“It’s really a positive development to see the Department of Justice addressing the issue of free speech on campus because literally every civil right that we have has had its source in free speech and the ability to criticize the government or organize and to express themselves,” Cohn said.

Sessions on Tuesday referenced the issue of “free-speech zones” on college campuses, which Cohn described as more akin to “quarantine zones.” Some colleges limit protests and political activity to specifically designated zones; outside these areas, students can be punished for taking part in demonstrations.

These speech zones are so common that seven states have passed legislation to restrict college and university use. FIRE estimates one in 10 American colleges have some sort of free speech zone policy. Last November, Kevin Shaw, a student at Los Angeles Pierce College, made national headlines after he was barred from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution because he was doing so outside his school’s free speech zone.

Randy Barnett, director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, moderated Sessions’s speech and gave students the chance to submit questions to the attorney general. Most queries, Barnett said, were related to Trump’s controversial remarks on the NFL protests.

Sessions was quick to defend his boss. “Well the president has free speech rights, too,” he said. “He sends soldiers out every day to defend this country under the flag of the United States, under the national anthem, and the unity that those symbols call on us to adhere to. So I agree that it is a big mistake to protest in that fashion, because it weakens the commitment we have to this nation that has provided us this freedom. I would note, of course, that the players aren’t subject to any prosecution, but if they take a provocative act, they can expect to be condemned.”

Georgetown students protest campus free speech lecture by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sept. 26, 2017 in Washington.

Photo: Zaid Jilani

Although the attorney general zoomed in on policies that violate the free speech of all students, he emphasized abuses against conservatives. For instance, Sessions spoke of University of California, Berkeley spending $600,000 on security for right-wing speaker Ben Shapiro’s address, but he conspicuously failed to address the issue of student advocacy for Palestinian rights, which has been a hot-button issue on college campuses in recent years. Many colleges have penalized or suppressed activism on the subject. In fact, dozens of members of Students for Justice in Palestine, an advocacy group with chapters across the country, have been punished by administrators for their activism, according to a report by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

At Fordham University, administrators have essentially told students how to think about foreign affairs, a clear degradation of the culture of free speech and inquiry that Sessions said he believes in. The Bronx-based school effectively banned its SJP chapter. Keith Eldredge, the dean of students at Fordham, explained the decision in an email: “While students are encouraged to promote diverse political points of view, and we encourage conversation and debate on all topics, I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the university.”

It’s not just private universities that have suppressed speech on Palestine. In 2015, the University of Illinois paid out a $600,000 settlement after rescinding a job offer to Palestinian-American academic Steven Salaita — whose appointment had come under fire from pro-Israel activists.

Toward the end of his remarks, Sessions vowed that the DoJ would defend speech rights regardless of whose rights are being violated. “Starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come,” he said.

Time will tell whether his department lives up to his promise, but the Justice Department did take a step on Tuesday to challenge a legitimate abuse of student speech rights: It filed a statement of interest in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, a lawsuit brought by students at Georgia Gwinnett College to challenge a “free-speech zone” that covers only 0.0015 percent of their campus.

Top photo: Attorney General Jeff Sessions walks on stage to speak about free speech at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.

The post Jeff Sessions Picked a Curious Time to Advocate for Free Speech appeared first on The Intercept.

Mapeamento inédito mostra que doações legais da Odebrecht beneficiaram 1.087 candidatos desde 2002

26 September 2017 - 5:09pm

Enquanto as denúncias de repasses não contabilizados são investigadas, as doações oficiais da Odebrecht mostram que o grupo injetou mais de R$ 265 milhões nas eleições desde 2002, segundo levantamento inédito feito para The Intercept Brasil. Ao todo, 1.087 candidatos foram favorecidos. Em depoimento à força-tarefa da Operação Lava Jato, Marcelo Odebrecht confirmou que repasses legais também serviam para ocultar propina.

Os números foram obtidos a partir de um cruzamento de dados, feito ao longo de quatro meses. O levantamento permitiu identificar a evolução do financiamento de campanha legal por parte de empresas e executivos da Odebrecht. Em busca de recursos do grupo, vasculhamos todas as 10 milhões de doações registradas no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE) para todos os cargos do Brasil desde 2002.

A partir do projeto Tribuna, que transformou 21 gigabytes de tabelas disponibilizadas pelo TSE em um banco de dados unificado, foi desenvolvido um programa para cruzar essas informações com uma lista com centenas de empresas e pessoas do grupo Odebrecht, elaborada a partir de informações da Receita Federal e relatórios financeiros do grupo. Assim, identificamos cada centavo dos repasses feitos por 16 sócios de firmas da Odebrecht e 44 empresas doadoras, além de quatro firmas utilizadas como “laranjas”. Todos os valores mencionados estão corrigidos pela inflação.

Navegue pelos dados das doações

Os recursos declarados legalmente pela Odebrecht irrigaram o caixa de 28 dos 35 partidos registrados hoje no Brasil. Ficaram de fora apenas algumas siglas associadas à esquerda (PCB, PCO, PSOL, PSTU) e fundadas mais recentemente (NOVO, REDE, PMB).

Os recursos declarados legalmente pela Odebrecht irrigaram o caixa de 28 dos 35 partidos registrados hoje no Brasil.

Apesar de a REDE não ter recebido doações diretamente, em 2014, Marina Silva, sua principal liderança e candidata a presidente na época, arrecadou em seu nome ao todo R$ 973 mil em prestação de serviços de empresas do grupo Odebrecht, através de repasses do PSB, que acolheu sua candidatura após a morte de Eduardo Campos. As atividades incluíram “serviços especializados em apoio na sistematização do programa de governo” e “organização de eventos”.

A demanda por financiamento de campanha era tanta que a Odebrecht “terceirizou” algumas doações legais. Em depoimento, funcionários da empresa detalharam a utilização de firmas ligadas à cervejaria Itaipava e à DAG Construtora para ocultar doações do grupo. Desde 2008, quando o esquema teve início, segundo as delações, o TSE registra R$ 171 milhões em doações dessas empresas utilizadas como “laranjas” (confira os dados deste cruzamento). No entanto, os valores não foram levados em conta neste levantamento por não ser possível precisar exatamente quais repasses foram feitos a mando da Odebrecht.

Em seu depoimento, Marcelo Odebrecht estimou que até 300 pessoas do grupo Odebrecht chegaram a atuar simultaneamente em todo o Brasil se relacionando com candidatos para tratar de financiamento de campanha. Ainda que declarados à Justiça, os recursos movimentados por esse pelotão nem sempre tinham finalidades lícitas.

CURITIBA, PR, 01.09.2015: CPI-PETROBRAS – O presidente da construtora Odebrecht, suspeito de envolvimento no esquema de corrupção investigado pela Operação Lava Jato, Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, durante audiência da CPI da Petrobras no prédio da Justiça Federal em Curitiba. (Foto: Rodrigo Félix Leal/Futura Press/Folhapress)

Em entrevista,  Deltan Dallagnol, coordenador da força-tarefa da Operação Lava Jato, diz que o pagamento de propina por meio de doação eleitoral é uma conhecida técnica de lavagem de dinheiro, que busca dar uma aparência legítima para um dinheiro sujo. “Até agora, isso [propina via doação de campanha] foi alvo de acusações pontuais. Foram poucas desse tipo. Em relação à Odebrecht, a maior parte está sob investigação. A Lava Jato está colhendo provas em relação a várias situações de doações eleitorais legais que podem caracterizar pagamento de propinas”, explica.

Em sua delação premiada, Marcelo Odebrecht confirmou que doações legais foram usadas para disfarçar suborno: “Podia ter caixa 1 decorrente de propina e caixa 2 que não era decorrente de propina”.

2014 concentra quase metade das doações 

O maior volume de financiamento concentrou-se na última eleição presidencial. Apenas em 2014, o grupo tirou R$ 125 milhões de seus cofres para investir em doações legais. O valor equivale a 2,6% dos recursos financeiros recebidos por campanhas naquele ano.

Doutor em Direito com mestrado em Economia, Bruno Carazza estudou o financiamento de campanha a fundo. Ele considera que, em 2014, “o funcionamento do sistema [de financiamento empresarial] chegou no seu limite supremo”.

“Ao longo dos anos, a cada eleição, os candidatos foram percebendo que quanto mais arrecadavam, maior a chance de vencerem a eleição. Por outro lado, as empresas notaram que o financiamento era uma boa forma de comprar acesso privilegiado junto aos governantes”, afirma Carazza.

Além disso, Carazza considera que o fato de a última eleição ter sido bastante polarizada “puxou” os valores do financiamento de campanha para cima.

Já em 2016, com a proibição do financiamento empresarial, as doações legais despencaram. Mas não sumiram. Membros da família Odebrecht e pelo menos um executivo do grupo doaram para campanhas naquele ano, como mostraremos na terceira reportagem desta série.

Seguindo o padrão dos outros grandes doadores, a maior parte das doações da Odebrecht desde 2002 foi feita aos comitês de campanha e aos partidos  (R$ 194 milhões), que, por sua vez, podiam repassar parte dos valores para os candidatos.

Desde 2014, o TSE caracteriza esses repasses de empresas aos candidatos por meio de partidos como “doação indireta”, obrigando o registro do doador original dos recursos enviados aos políticos. Além disso, todo recurso assim caracterizado deve ser também declarado antes como uma doação direta da empresa para o partido.

Considerando todas doações, desde 2002, transferência eletrônica foi a forma de pagamento preferida para as “doações” da Odebrecht. Ao todo, R$ 218 milhões foram repassados assim. O segundo principal modo de pagamento foi o cheque (R$ 21 milhões). Já as doações estimadas – que envolvem prestação de serviço, não recursos financeiros – respondem por apenas R$ 21 mil.

Dois presos entre os cinco políticos que mais receberam

Quanto aos candidatos beneficiados por doações da Odebrecht, diretas ou indiretas, os cinco que mais receberam estão na mira da Lava Jato. Dois estão presos.

Candidatos às últimas eleições presidenciais, Dilma Rousseff (PT) e Aécio Neves (PSDB) lideram. Ela com R$ 18 milhões doados diretamente para sua candidatura, ele com R$ 12 milhões em 2014. Isso sem contar os repasses feitos diretamente aos partidos de ambos naquele ano: no total, foram R$ 37 milhões para o PSDB e R$ 27 milhões para o PT.

Aécio Neves em campanha no Rio de Janeiro em 2014. O candidato recebeu R$12 milhões do grupo.

A ex-presidente Dilma é acusada de participar de uma organização criminosa para desviar recursos da Petrobras. Aécio chegou a perder o mandato e ter seu pedido de prisão solicitado pela Procuradoria Geral da República. Em junho, porém, o Supremo manteve sua liberdade e lhe devolveu o cargo.

Reeleita em 2014,  Dilma Rousseff recebeu R$ 18 milhões doados à candidatura.

Atrás dos presidenciáveis, está Henrique Alves (PMDB) que, em 2014, recebeu R$ 6 milhões para sua campanha ao governo do Rio Grande do Norte. Aliado do presidente Michel Temer e ex-ministro de Dilma, ele foi preso em junho deste ano pela Polícia Federal, acusado de receber propina por meio de doações eleitorais de outra empreiteira, a OAS.

Ex-governador da Bahia, Paulo Souto (DEM) aparece em quarto lugar, com R$ 3,8 milhões em valores atualizados. Nas investigações da Lava Jato, ele é citado como beneficiário de caixa 2 em 2002 e 2006. Hoje, Souto é secretário de Fazenda na gestão de ACM Neto (DEM) na prefeitura de Salvador.

Em quinto lugar, outro candidato a governador preso na Operação Lava Jato. Em sua campanha no Mato Grosso do Sul, Delcídio Amaral recebeu quase R$ 3,6 milhões da Odebrecht em 2014. Depois de preso, o ex-líder do governo Dilma no Senado, se tornou testemunha de acusação contra Lula em um caso no qual o Ministério Público Federal acusa o ex-presidente de receber propina da Odebrecht.

Já o presidente Michel Temer recebeu apenas R$ 20 mil em financiamento de campanha da Odebrecht por meio de doações declaradas diretamente para sua candidatura. Foi em 2006, quando se candidatou ao cargo de deputado federal por São Paulo. Na época, Temer não conseguiu votos suficientes para renovar seu mandato, mas entrou na Câmara graças ao quociente eleitoral.

Quem ganha mais financia

A Odebrecht compreende 12 grandes setores de negócios, que vão do agronegócio à indústria naval, mas quase toda doação eleitoral ocorreu por meio de apenas duas empresas. A Construtora Norberto Odebrecht e a Braskem, que atua no ramo petroquímico, foram origem de 75% das doações do grupo.

62% da receita bruta vêm da Braskem, enquanto Engenharia e Construção injetam 21%

Também são essas duas empresas que concentram a maior parte dos ganhos da Organização Odebrecht. Segundo os últimos dados do grupo, 62% da receita bruta vêm da Braskem, enquanto Engenharia e Construção injetam 21%.

Entre 2002 e 2016, a Construtora destinou R$ 126 milhões para partidos e candidatos, enquanto a Braskem repassou R$ 72 milhões por meio de doações oficiais. Depois, entre as principais empresas doadoras, temos a Companhia Brasileira de Projetos e Obras (CBPO, com R$ 16 milhões), a Odebrecht Óleo e Gás (R$ 13 milhões) e a Agro Energia Santa Luzia (R$ 5 milhões).

De acordo com o levantamento, a pessoa que mais doou em seu nome foi Luiz Schneider, sócio da Fundação Odebrecht. Ele transferiu R$ 96 mil para candidaturas de prefeitos em Goiás em 2004 e 2008. Ruy Lemos consta como o segundo executivo no ranking de maiores doadores do grupo Odebrecht, com um total de R$ 73 mil.

Financiamento é a ponta do iceberg

Os valores declarados ao TSE são pequenos perto das cifras movimentadas pela Odebrecht. Apenas no ano passado, quando os negócios não iam tão bem quanto nos anos anteriores, a empresa teve uma média diária de receita bruta que ultrapassou R$ 245 milhões, segundo seu relatório financeiro.

Entretanto, além dos repasses “terceirizados”, há que se levar em conta também o dinheiro não declarado: o famoso caixa 2.

O ex-diretor Benedicto Junior estimou que, em 2014, cerca de 40% das doações da Odebrecht foram feitas por empresas “parceiras” ou diretamente por repasses não contabilizados da própria Odebrecht.

Para Sérgio Lazzarini, que pesquisa as relações entre os setores público e privado no Brasil, o financiamento declarado “deixa pistas sobre as empresas que mais se conectam politicamente para obter benefícios”, mas é apenas “a ponta do iceberg”. Entre as razões para as empresas recorrerem ao caixa 2, ele cita o limite (2% do faturamento) que existia para doações por pessoa jurídica, além de casos onde se buscava “ocultar apoio aos políticos, especialmente em casos de suborno puro”.

Benedicto Junior entregou ao Ministério Público uma planilha em que constam repasses não declarados da Odebrecht a políticos. De acordo com o documento, entre 2008 e 2014, foram repassados R$ 246 milhões via caixa 2 para candidatos. No mesmo período, o Tribunal Superior Eleitoral registra R$ 25 milhões em doações para políticos, em valores originais, além de R$ 136 milhões repassados aos partidos.

Os repasses ilegais nem sempre eram feitos em períodos eleitorais ou eram aplicados nas campanhas. “A propina pode ter uma finalidade eleitoral ou não, como enriquecimento próprio e ilícito de um político. Muitas vezes, quem vai decidir a finalidade é quem recebe. Quem doa não tem qualquer controle sobre isso”, explica Deltan Dallagnol.

Segundo o procurador, boa parte do dinheiro da propina identificada na Operação foi para financiamento de caras campanhas eleitorais. “Mas para que uma doação eleitoral possa ter sua legitimidade descaracterizada e seja reconhecida como pagamento de propina, é preciso que existam provas consistentes neste sentido”, ressalva.

Esta reportagem foi realizada por Adriano Belisário, com a colaboração dos analistas de dados Rafael Polo e Álvaro Justen, como parte do programa de bolsas de produção da Plataforma de Jornalismo Connectas.

The post Mapeamento inédito mostra que doações legais da Odebrecht beneficiaram 1.087 candidatos desde 2002 appeared first on The Intercept.

The Trump Administration Is Playing With the Lives of 59,000 Haitians

26 September 2017 - 12:57pm

President Donald Trump courted Haitian voters in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood two months before the 2016 presidential election, saying he wanted to be their “greatest champion.” He had come to “listen and learn,” he told members of the largest Haitian community in the United States. Haitians, he said, deserved better than Hillary Clinton, whose Clinton Foundation has been accused of profiting from relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake. The day before the election, then-Breitbart reporter and now-special assistant to Trump Julia Hahn wrote that Haitian-Americans were in a unique position to “exact revenge” on the Clintons by delivering Florida to Trump.

But if the Department of Homeland Security upends a program currently in place to protect Haitian immigrants, the community will be one more in a long line of folks who went broke betting on Trump.

The DHS is poised to send 59,000 Haitians who benefit from a program called “temporary protected status” back to an island that has yet to recover from a series of  devastating natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew last year, and a deadly cholera outbreak. Trump has until November to change his mind.

Haiti is one of 10 countries the DHS has designated for TPS based on conditions that “temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” For Haiti, the TPS designation stemmed from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, countries ravaged by violence or torn apart by natural disasters, also have active TPS designations. TPS, as its name indicates, is a temporary solution with no pathway to citizenship, but it allows nationals of those countries to live and work in the United States for as long as DHS deems their home countries unsafe to return to.

The program, which can be issued for periods between six and 18 months, is “the statutory embodiment of safe haven for those migrants who may not meet the legal definition of refugee but are nonetheless fleeing – or reluctant to return to – potentially dangerous situations,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.

There is bipartisan consensus in Florida that Haiti is, in fact, not a safe haven for its people to return to. As Haiti’s July expiration date for TPS approached, Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott joined Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and members of South Florida’s congressional delegation in calling on the DHS to extend protection for Haitians. Then-DHS Secretary John Kelly heard their call — kind of. He extended the program for six months and told Haitians to be ready to return home come January.

The DHS is expected to announce whether the program for Haiti will be terminated or extended in November, but despite recent unrest in the country and pressure from lawmakers and immigration groups, the agency seems unlikely to budge.

“DHS’s guidance remains unchanged for Haitians with TPS,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson Sharon Scheidhauer told The Intercept in a statement. “Beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again, including requesting updated travel documents from the government of Haiti,” adding that Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke will make a final determination, as required by law, at least 60 days before the program’s January 22, 2018 expiration date. (The DHS is expected to make decisions on Honduras and Nicaragua, whose designations also expire in January, in November as well. There are 86,000 Honduran TPS holders and 5,000 Nicaraguans, according to USCIS.)

Rony Ponthieux, 41, is one of an estimated 32,500 Haitian TPS holders in Florida. He’s lived in the Miami area for 18 years and says he’s not ready to take his family back to the country he fled in pursuit of asylum.

“Haiti is not ready to receive 58,000 people, and it’s not only 58,000 people, it’s multiplied by two or three, because each family has more people,” said Ponthieux, adding that it will be challenging to find quality education for his 17- and 10-year-old children on the island.

Women walk past a mural in the Little Haiti neighborhood on May 17, 2017 in Miami.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While Haitians are hoping the program will be extended, many are concerned about the $495 renewal fee for TPS and a work permit, said Patrice Lawrence, a national advocacy and policy coordinator at UndocuBlack Network, an advocacy and support group for black undocumented people. In the past, the program was extended for 18 months at a time, but because the DHS set a six-month expiration date on its last renewal, a re-designation would mean applicants would have to cough up that sum for the second time in one year. “Our hope is of course that [the DHS] will extend, so the only conversation we’ll be needing to have with folks is, do you have enough money to extend,” Lawrence told The Intercept.

Just last week, the DHS announced an 18-month extension of TPS for South Sudanese nationals but a termination of the program for Sudan, sending mixed signals about the future of the program as a whole. As of December 2016, there were 49 TPS beneficiaries from South Sudan and 1,039 from Sudan, according to USCIS. By law, the DHS is required to review a TPS designation at least 60 days before it expires and publish a decision on a “timely basis.” The decision on Sudan came two weeks after its September 3 due date, which created chaos and caused anxiety among immigrant groups, Lawrence told The Intercept.

“The decision to terminate TPS for Sudan based on a determination that conditions in Sudan no longer support its TPS designation is reprehensible and disconnected from the reality on the ground,” said Opal Tometi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, in a statement. “While TPS is far from a permanent solution to the vast challenges facing Black immigrants from Sudan, it offers an important refuge from the ongoing conflict, drought, famine, and food insecurity in the nation.”

Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC, an immigration organization involved in training and advocacy, described the decision as “cruel and inhumane,” adding that dangerous conditions in Sudan warrant an extension. “There is absolutely no need to send people who are living peacefully, raising their children, and contributing to the American economy and society back to a country where their lives could immediately be put at risk,” Atkinson said in a statement.

The extension for South Sudan could mean one of two things for Haiti, said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, a group that offers community services to South Florida’s large Haitian population and has been leading the drive to renew TPS for Haitians and Central Americans. Either the Trump administration realized the “absurdity” of its July decision to renew the program for Haitians for only six months, or the DHS is continuing “the historic discrimination” against Haitians, she told The Intercept. (In the early 1990s, the United States had a policy of returning Haitian refugees to the island nation, and in the 1970s, thousands of Haitian asylum-seekers had their work permits illegally revoked.)

“It’s going to be quasi-impossible to ask people to deport themselves after living in the country for so long and having given the contributions they’ve made,” Bastien said. “I prefer to believe that maybe [the administration] realized their mistake and that they are fixing it.”

Ponthieux, a registered nurse who works at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, is hoping to obtain an employment-based visa that will allow his family to stay in the United States. He said TPS recipients are “in the same boat” as immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors who were shielded from deportation under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which the Trump administration is now winding down.

“If we have the help of congressmen, we can change the law and work to get permanent status for TPS recipients and Dreamers —that would be the best thing to do,” Ponthieux said, adding that the Trump administration is “not easy.”

Like DACA participants, many TPS recipients may soon be left with an impossible choice: return to an unstable country – which, in many cases, has not been home for decades – or stay put and live in the shadows. Some Haitians, fearing deportation, have journeyed to Canada to seek asylum.

“When you’re faced with a crisis of such magnitude, you try to grab any lifeline,” Bastien said. “If you’re in a river and you’re drowning, any branch you will grasp.”

Top photo: Parishioners pray together during a service at the Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church as they celebrate Haitian Flag Day in the Little Haiti neighborhood on May 18, 2017 in Miami. The prayer service also touched on the church’s concern about the outcome of the decision on extending temporary protected status for Haitians living in the U.S. because it would possibly mean friends and families would be sent back to Haiti.

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Executivos e donos de times da NFL que protestaram contra Trump são hipócritas

26 September 2017 - 12:09pm

Enquanto 3,5 milhões de americanos sofriam com a falta de energia em Porto Rico nesse fim de semana, o presidente dos Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, voltou sua atenção para os jogadores da NFL, a liga de futebol americano, que decidiram ajoelhar durante o hino nacional para protestar contra a injustiça, a intolerância e a brutalidade da polícia no país.

“Vocês não adorariam ouvir esses donos da NFL dizerem, quando alguém desrespeita nossa bandeira, ‘tire esse filho da mãe do campo agora. Fora! Ele está demitido! Ele está demitido!’”, gritou o presidente em um comício no estado do Alabama. Os donos que demitissem os jogadores, disse Trump, estariam rapidamente entre os homens mais populares do país.

Não foi a neonazistas ascendentes ou a políticos de oposição que Trump dirigiu algumas das palavras mais hostis de seu mandato, mas para estrelas pacíficas da NFL, muitas delas negras, que ajoelharam para chamar atenção para uma causa com a qual se preocupam profundamente.

O que torna o fato tão único é que não foi um dos típicos momentos em que o ex-vice-presidente Joe Biden esqueceu o microfone aberto: foi um ataque intencional à liberdade de imprensa.

O ultraje foi instantâneo. Atletas e artistas expressaram sua repulsa. Os comentários logo se tornaram uma discussão nacional e até internacional.

E aí veio domingo. Foi o maior protesto em um único dia na história da NFL. Quem ajoelhou não foi apenas Colin Kaepernick, mas 19 times, com cerca de 200 jogadores, que participaram de alguma forma de protesto; muitos ajoelharam ou sentaram durante o hino nacional. Três times decidiram nem aparecer em campo para o hino.

E eles não foram os únicos: alguns donos de franquias da NFL se juntaram aos jogadores em protesto, descendo até o campo e dando os braços aos atletas para demonstrar solidariedade. Em declarações oficiais à imprensa e infográficos no Twitter, diretores de vários times atacaram as palavras de Trump no comício no Alabama— todos dizendo de alguma forma o quanto discordavam do tom ou da retórica hostil do presidente.

E é aqui que devemos fazer uma pausa.

O clamor público para que os executivos e donos de franquias da NFL se manifestem contra Trump soa estranho. O americano médio desconhece a maioria dessas pessoas. Mas a questão é a seguinte: o que Trump disse sobre os jogadores que ajoelharam durante o hino nacional não foi muito diferente do que os donos dos times disseram e, mais do que isso, fizeram com Kaepernick.
Os executivos dos times têm expressado publicamente seus sentimentos, embora apenas quando escondidos pelo manto do anonimato. Mike Freeman, do site de esportes Bleacher Report, vem publicando reportagens sobre o intenso ódio por parte dos funcionários da diretoria dos times da NFL.

Um gerente-geral contou a Freeman que estima que a maior parte dos diretores da NFL “odeia Kaepernick genuinamente e não suporta o que ele fez” — ajoelhar durante o hino nacional. “Não querem ter relação nenhuma com ele. Não vão superar.” O mesmo gerente disse ainda que muitos dos executivos de outros times ficaram com medo de pôr Kaepernick em seu elenco porque “Trump iria twittar sobre o time”.

E esse gerente-geral não é o único. Um integrante da diretoria chamou Kaepernick de “traidor”. Outro afirmou: “ele não respeita nosso país. Dane-se esse cara”. Um executivo disse que pensaria em renunciar a seu cargo se o dono de um time pedisse que ele contratasse Kaepernick. Outro gerente resumiu o sentimento que paira entre os executivos: “Nunca vi em toda a minha carreira um cara tão odiado pelas diretorias como Kaepernick”.

Os sete executivos entrevistados por Freeman para uma matéria disseram acreditar que entre 90% e 95% dos diretores da NFL concordavam com as opiniões duras sobre Kaepernick. Um deles inclusive disse que o atleta era o jogador mais odiado desde Rae Carruth, que ainda está na cadeia por planejar o assassinato da namorada grávida.

A maioria dos comentários foi feita um ano atrás (alguns, nesta primavera). O que os executivos das equipes previam tornou-se realidade: nenhum time contratou Kaepernick, nem mesmo pelo piso da liga, para a posição de backup ou de terceiro reserva. Kaepernick não teve nem mesmo a chance de mostrar suas habilidades em treino. Até os times que precisavam desesperadamente de um starter ou de um backup experiente, nas palavras de Jim Souhan, jornalista esportivo do Minneapolis Star Tribune, “decidiram que preferem derrotas confortáveis a vitórias desconfortáveis”.

Kaepernick foi efetivamente banido da NFL pelos donos dos times e gerentes, que o odeiam da mesma forma que odeiam traidores e assassinos.

É por isso que o que aconteceu ontem foi desconcertante. Alguns donos de equipes que demonstraram solidariedade com seus jogadores haviam feito doações milionárias ao comitê responsável pela posse de Trump, conhecendo muito bem seus posicionamentos. E muitos dos mesmos executivos que deram declarações e enlaçaram braços em apoio aos jogadores mostraram seu próprio desdém por Kaepernick – alguns, presume-se, eram os mesmos que o detonaram para o Bleacher Report, outros simplesmente não manifestaram nenhuma solidariedade ao se recusar a dar a ele uma chance de jogar de novo.

Foi com eles que Trump aprendeu a sentir desdém pelos jogadores que protestaram. Muito antes de o presidente chamá-los de “filhos da mãe”, os executivos dos times já vinham dizendo “dane-se o Colin Kaepernick”.

Não importa que Aaron Rodgers e Tom Brady, atualmente os dois melhores quarterbacks da liga, digam que Kaepernick devia estar jogando. Não importa que alguns times ainda não tenham conseguido vencer com quarterbacks que se arrastam ao longo dos quatro quartos do jogo. Antes de Trump dizer uma única palavra no Alabama, esses times já haviam fechado as portas para Kaepernick.

O que os jogadores da NFL fizeram ontem foi genuíno — solidariedade real para com um dos seus. Mas o que a maioria dos donos e gerentes-gerais fizeram foi marketing.  Nas palavras de Howard Bryant, da ESPN, foi “performance artística”. Parecia real, mas era falso como uma nota de três reais. Esses donos e gerentes fizeram bonito ontem, mas enquanto Kaepernick, no melhor momento de sua carreira física, estiver desempregado, fica claro que eles não têm coragem de agir de acordo com o que acreditam. Kaepernick deveria ter estado em campo ontem.

Em março, um gerente geral disse a Freeman, do Bleacher Report: “Acho que alguns times querem usar Kaepernick como alerta para que os jogadores não repitam no futuro o que ele fez”. Apesar do que os donos e gerentes fizeram, não conseguiram. Ficou muito claro: a coragem silenciosa de Colin Kaepernick desencadeou um movimento que se recusa a morrer.

Foto do título: Daniel Snyder, dono do time Redskins, de Washington, com os cornerbacks Josh Norman e Bashaud Breeland durante o hino nacional americano antes da partida contra o Oakland Raiders, em 24 de setembro de 2017, em Landover, no estado de Maryland.

Tradução: Maria Paula Autran

The post Executivos e donos de times da NFL que protestaram contra Trump são hipócritas appeared first on The Intercept.

O fim do império americano em perspectiva

26 September 2017 - 11:21am

Em seu discurso na Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas, na semana passada, o presidente dos Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, declarou sua intenção de desmantelar a ordem mundial construída a duras penas pelo país no último século. Trump enalteceu o nacionalismo perante os membros do organismo multinacional que os EUA ajudaram a criar. “Os EUA sempre serão a minha prioridade; assim como vocês, líderes de seus países, também devem colocar o seu próprio país em primeiro lugar”, disparou. E acrescentou: “Nada pode substituir nações independentes, fortes e soberanas.”

O discurso de Trump vai de encontro a décadas de uma política voltada para a criação de um mundo pós-nacionalista sob a liderança americana. Após a Segunda Guerra Mundial, os EUA se tornaram, pela primeira vez na História, uma verdadeira superpotência, um país capaz de agir além das próprias fronteiras e remodelar a política global. A maioria da população atual da Terra nasceu em um mundo cujas instituições, sistemas econômicos, leis e fronteiras foram de alguma forma influenciadas pelo gigante norte-americano. Embora o país nunca tenha de fato assumido sua própria identidade – preferindo se referir a si mesmo com eufemismos como “a nação indispensável” –, qualquer descrição séria da influência americana no mundo deve obrigatoriamente fazer uso da palavra “império”.

Com uma rede de quase 800 bases militares em 70 países ao redor do mundo – além de um vasto leque de acordos comerciais e alianças –, os Estados Unidos consolidaram sua influência durante décadas, tanto na Europa quanto na Ásia. Os líderes americanos ajudaram a impor um conjunto de regras e normas para promover o livre comércio, a democracia – pelo menos em teoria – e proibir a alteração de fronteiras pela força militar, fazendo uso de uma mistura de força e persuasão para preservar a sua hegemonia no sistema. Ao mesmo tempo, embora o país sempre tenha evitado exercer um colonialismo direto, a promoção do livre comércio global ajudou “a abrir as portas das áreas subdesenvolvidas do mundo para o poderio econômico dos EUA”, como escreveu o historiador revisionista William Appleman Williams no clássico “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy” (“A Tragédia da Diplomacia Americana”, em tradução livre), há mais de meio século.

A estratégia de “expansão imperial não colonial”, nas palavras de Williams, se tornou a base da política externa dos EUA no século passado. As elites norte-americanas tiraram grande proveito de tal política, embora muitas vezes os benefícios do imperialismo não tenham chegado ao resto da sociedade. Graças ao status de única superpotência mundial, o país hoje desfruta do “privilégio exorbitante” de ter a única moeda sem lastro do mundo, e os líderes americanos dominam a agenda política e comercial das instituições internacionais. Com o colapso da União Soviética, em 1990, e a criação de uma bem-sucedida aliança militar contra a invasão do Kuwait por Saddam Hussein, no mesmo ano, a confiança imperial dos EUA chegou ao seu auge – o presidente George H. W. Bush chegou a declarar o início de uma “nova ordem mundial” sob a liderança norte-americana.

Algumas décadas depois dessa declaração, a previsão de uma ordem mundial estável e liderada pelos EUA parece nada mais do que uma utopia. O mundo atual passa por uma série de crises relacionadas à migração, desigualdade, guerras e mudanças climáticas – todas elas interconectadas. Porém as estruturas e líderes necessários para enfrentá-las parecem terrivelmente inadequados. Em vez de assumir o papel de líder mundial e preencher o vácuo deixado pela queda da União Soviética, os EUA se deixam consumir por crises domésticas e reagem com uma mistura de inépcia e paranoia às crises internacionais.

Enquanto isso, o sistema global de livre comércio e mobilização militar construído nos últimos 75 anos – o alicerce da hegemonia dos EUA – passou a ser visto por muitos americanos como um fardo em vez de uma vantagem. Mesmo antes da vitória eleitoral de Trump – baseada na promessa de derrubar os pilares da ordem mundial pós-Segunda Guerra –, a incontestável primazia americana já parecia fadada à decadência, independentemente da competência de seus governantes. E, agora que Trump está no poder, fazendo de tudo para afundar a imagem internacional dos Estados Unidos, que nova ordem mundial estará se desenhando no horizonte?


O presidente americano, Donald Trump, após fazer um discurso durante a 72ª sessão da Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas, na sede da ONU, em Nova York, em 19 de setembro de 2017.

Foto: Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Embora profecias alardeando o declínio do poderio americano não sejam nenhuma novidade, a eleição de um presidente hostil à ordem mundial criada pelo seu próprio país marca o início de uma era de fato sem precedentes. O mundo já se prepara para um futuro sem a liderança dos EUA. Dois livros publicados recentemente descrevem uma possível nova ordem mundial: “All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power” (“Vale Tudo Menos a Guerra: a Disputa Pelo Século XXI e o Futuro do Poderio Americano”, em tradução livre), de Thomas J. Wright, membro do Projeto sobre Ordem Internacional e Estratégia, do centro de estudos Brookings, e “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power” (“Nas sombras do Século Americano: Ascensão e Queda do Poder Global dos EUA”, em tradução livre), de Alfred McCoy, lendário jornalista investigativo e professor de História da Universidade de Wisconsin-Madison.

Ambos os livros tratam do declínio do império americano, mas com abordagens e abrangências diferentes. Enquanto McCoy discute explicitamente a ascensão e queda dos Estados Unidos como “império” – uma palavra usada não como mero epíteto, e sim para descrever ao pé da letra o legado americano –, Wright fala de um possível colapso da “ordem mundial liberal” liderada pelos EUA – um sistema de regras, normas e instituições que regem as questões globais favoravelmente aos Estados Unidos desde o fim da Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Para Wright, o sistema está ameaçado tanto pelo surgimento de novas potências quanto pelos erros dos EUA. Já McCoy vê na decadência do império americano um paralelo com o declínio dos impérios britânico e francês. O primeiro estágio é a perda do apoio das elites locais nos territórios sob influência imperial, um processo que, segundo McCoy, já está acontecendo com os EUA em regiões estratégicas mundo afora. Nos últimos anos, a relação dos EUA com parceiros militares como Turquia, Filipinas, Paquistão e Arábia Saudita tem se desgastado, e aliados como Alemanha e Coreia do Sul passaram a questionar a capacidade dos americanos de continuar liderando o sistema imperial que eles próprios criaram.

Mas foram os protestos da Primavera Árabe – em sua maioria contrários a ditadores aliados dos EUA – que marcaram o início do lento processo de esfacelamento da hegemonia americana. Embora considere-se que as revoltas tenham falhado na tentativa de implantar democracias liberais, elas conseguiram derrubar velhos aliados americanos na Tunísia e no Egito e desgastar os laços dos EUA com os países do Golfo e até mesmo com o Iraque. McCoy escreve que “os impérios modernos sempre dependeram de representantes confiáveis para traduzir o poder global em controle local”, e acrescenta: “Na maioria dos casos, foi quando as elites locais passaram a questionar a autoridade imperial e lutar por seus próprios objetivos que o colapso desses impérios começou a se desenhar.” Como se sabe, o Império Britânico se tornou um “problema que se resolveu sozinho” quando as elites das colônias começaram a querer governar a si mesmas. Da mesma forma, o vasto império colonial francês começou a se desfazer quando se viu obrigado a entrar em uma sangrenta guerra para manter o controle da Argélia. A Primavera Árabe – e as forças por ela desencadeadas – reduziu a influência dos EUA e limitou seus meios de lidar com o terrorismo e a imigração, e, com o tempo, pode “contribuir para o ocaso do poderio global norte-americano”, escreve McCoy.

Outro fator que representa uma ameaça à hegemonia americana é a ascensão da China, um país que tem todos os motivos para querer criar uma nova ordem mundial mais compatível com seu tamanho e influência – e que acredita estar recuperando uma preponderância natural que lhe havia sido negada no século passado. A superioridade militar dos EUA dificilmente desaparecerá de um dia para o outro, mas a China já está começando a desafiar a supremacia americana em questões bélicas. E a potência oriental tem investido em avanços nas áreas de guerra cibernética e espacial, que têm tudo para ser as mais importantes nos conflitos do século XXI. Além disso, o desempenho educacional chinês em Ciência, Tecnologia, Engenharia e Matemática tem superado o americano em diversas disciplinas estratégicas, o que pode deixar os EUA em uma posição desfavorável. Ademais, enquanto os Estados Unidos tentam lidar com o caos causado pelas últimas eleições, a China está levando a cabo seu projeto de conectar todo o continente eurasiano por meio de uma rede chinesa de infraestrutura e transportes – uma ambiciosa empreitada chamada “Um Cinturão, Uma Rota”, uma espécie de Rota da Seda moderna. Trata-se de uma estratégia política e econômica para reorientar uma grande parte do mundo em desenvolvimento para a esfera de influência chinesa.

McCoy reconhece que é difícil prever o que vai acontecer em matéria de geopolítica no mundo, mas tem argumentos convincentes para afirmar que o poderio dos EUA está em declínio. Em 2030, se as tendências atuais continuarem, o “Século Americano” – proclamado com tanta convicção há não muito tempo – pode chegar ao fim. E “só nos restará apontar culpados”, escreve.

O secretário de Estado dos EUA, Rex Tillerson, fala durante uma reunião do Conselho de Segurança da ONU sobre a não proliferação de armas de destruição em massa, em 21 de setembro de 2017, na sede da ONU, em Nova York.

Foto: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

A tese do livro de Wright é menos dramática, embora, na prática, suas conclusões não sejam muito diferentes. Depois de 15 anos de guerras malsucedidas, crises financeiras e disfunções políticas, os Estados Unidos parecem ter perdido a vontade e a capacidade de resistir às ameaças ao sistema internacional que criaram. Além disso, o povo americano não acredita mais na competência de seus políticos para comandar os assuntos internacionais e cumprir as promessas que serviram de justificativa para tantas guerras e intervenções.

Como consequência de tantos fracassos autoinfligidos, China, Rússia e Irã começaram a desafiar a hegemonia americana nos últimos anos, contestando o ordenamento defendido pelos EUA no Mar da China Meridional, Leste Europeu e Oriente Médio, respectivamente. A Rússia anexou novos territórios e consolidou sua influência em países de sua zona periférica, como a Ucrânia; a China tem avançado em seus planos de controlar o Mar da China Meridional, uma área economicamente estratégica. Em vez de um mundo onde os Estados Unidos exercem sua hegemonia, fazendo cumprir suas regras políticas e econômicas nessas regiões, é possível que, no futuro, o planeta se divida em “esferas de influência”, onde cada potência regional terá liberdade para perseguir seus próprios objetivos.

Por esse motivo, mesmo os críticos da velha política externa americana deveriam se preocupar. É verdade que o imperialismo americano das últimas décadas cometeu crimes e disparates, mas um mundo fatiado em pequenos domínios não será necessariamente mais pacífico ou estável. Sem a presença hegemônica dos Estados Unidos, devem surgir diversas potências subimperiais, cada uma tentando impor sua própria ordem política em sua região, sem precisar se preocupar com intervenções externas. Pior ainda, nenhuma das potências que hoje desafiam a supremacia americana se identifica com princípios liberais – como os direitos humanos – ,o que significa que essas ideias progressistas devem murchar junto com a influência dos EUA. Os abusos e a politização do discurso humanitário ocorrida nos últimos anos ajudaram a esvaziar esses valores tão caros aos próprios americanos. Assim como aconteceu com os impérios britânico e francês, o uso da tortura manchou a reputação dos EUA e prejudicou sua capacidade de conquistar o apoio popular por meio da cultura em vez da força. Sem os americanos, contudo, o imperialismo regional russo, chinês ou iraniano dificilmente defenderá os valores humanistas que os Estados Unidos agiram para promover, ainda que esporadicamente.

Segundo Wright, a força da autoridade global norte-americana sempre residiu na popularidade dos ideais que ela representava, mesmo que nem sempre fossem aplicados na prática. Princípios como livre comércio e direitos humanos sempre tiveram a simpatia da população mundial, reforçada pelo compromisso dos EUA em proteger pequenas nações do comportamento predatório de seus vizinhos maiores. Porém, mesmo reduzidos a um status de ex-potência hegemônica, os Estados Unidos ainda poderão exercer uma liderança regional. Se a tendência nativista atual não se radicalizar ainda mais, o país continuará sendo a grande referência política e econômica do Hemisfério Ocidental, em especial para a América Latina e o Caribe.

O império global americano está entrando em um longo e convulsivo declínio – um processo iniciado com a calamitosa invasão do Iraque em 2003 e que agora se manifesta na presidência de Donald Trump –, e a consequência disso para os próprios EUA pode ser ainda mais preocupante. Em 2010, o falecido intelectual Tony Judt escreveu suas reflexões sobre a instabilidade e as incertezas acarretadas pelas guerras e crises financeiras do início do século XXI. Menos de uma década depois, suas palavras parecem proféticas ao prever o declínio dos Estados Unidos e a ascensão de novos demagogos.

O ser humano se sente mais à vontade descrevendo e combatendo ameaças que pensa compreender: terroristas, imigrantes, desemprego, criminalidade. Mas muitas pessoas têm dificuldades para discernir as verdadeiras fontes de insegurança das próximas décadas: mudanças climáticas e suas consequências sociais e ambientais; o declínio do império, acompanhado de “pequenas guerras”; impotência política diante de instabilidades internacionais com impactos locais. Todas essas ameaças conduzem facilmente à raiva e à humilhação, uma mistura perfeita para demagogos nacionalistas.

A influência global americana deixará atrás de si um complexo legado. Apesar dos conhecidos crimes cometidos nas guerras do Vietnã e do Iraque e em outras regiões periféricas do império, o mundo também conheceu uma grande prosperidade econômica e grandes avanços no plano dos direitos humanos durante o período de hegemonia americana pós-Segunda Guerra. O império britânico também havia deixado uma herança matizada: ao mesmo tempo em que produziu massacres e partilhas geográficas desastrosas, também resultou em democracias parlamentares em muitas de suas ex-colônias. Da mesma forma, o saldo final do império norte-americano pode ser mais complicado do que certos radicalismos ideológicos gostariam de admitir. Agora que os EUA começam a perder o status de superpotência, nós que nascemos em um mundo moldado por eles só podemos desejar um colapso não muito traumático – e que os líderes americanos aceitem que seu país seja apenas uma potência entre muitas.

Foto do título: As imagens do chefe de gabinete da Casa Branca, John Kelly, à esquerda, e o presidente dos EUA, Donald Trump, refletidas em um espelho enquanto ouvem os discursos de abertura de um almoço oficial da 72ª Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidos, em 20 de setembro de 2017, no Palace Hotel, em Nova York.

Tradução: Bernardo Tonasse

The post O fim do império americano em perspectiva appeared first on The Intercept.

Brazil’s Latest Outbreak of Drug Gang Violence Highlights the Real Culprit: the War on Drugs

26 September 2017 - 10:20am

On July 1, 2001, Portugal enacted a law to decriminalize all drugs. Under that law, nobody who is found possessing or using narcotics is arrested in Portugal, nor are they turned into a criminal. Indeed, neither drug use nor drug possession are considered crimes at all. Instead, those found doing it are sent to speak with a panel of drug counsellors and therapists, where they are offered treatment options.

Seven years after the law was enacted, in 2008, we traveled to Lisbon to study the effects of that law for one of the first comprehensive reports on this policy, and published the findings in a report for the Cato Institute. The results were clear and stunning: this radical change in drug laws was a fundamental and undeniable success.

While Portugal throughout the 1990s was (like most western countries) drowning in drug overdoses along with drug-related violence and diseases, the country rose to the top of the charts in virtually all categories after it stopped prosecuting drug users and treating them like criminals. This stood in stark contrast to the countries that continued to follow a harsh criminalization approach: the more they arrested addicts and waged a “War on Drugs,” the more their drug problems worsened.

With all the money that had been wasted in Portugal to prosecute and imprison drug users now freed up for treatment programs, and with the government viewed with trust rather than fear, previously hopeless addicts transformed into success stories of stability and health, and the government’s anti-drug messages were heeded. The predicted rise in drug usage rates never happened; in some key demographic categories, usage actually declined. As the 2009 study concluded: “the data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success.”

“The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success.”

Over the weekend, the New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof, writing from Lisbon, re-visited this data, now even more ample and conclusive than it was back in 2009. HIs conclusions were even more stark than the Cato report of eight years ago: namely, Portugal has definitively won the argument about how ineffective, irrational and counter-productive is drug prohibition.

The basis for this conclusion: Portugal’s clear success with decriminalization, compared to the tragic failures of countries such as the U.S. (and Brazil) which continue to treat addiction as a criminal and moral problem rather than a health problem. Kristof writes:

After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.

In contrast, Portugal may be winning the war on drugs — by ending it. Today, the Health Ministry estimates that only about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the policy began.

The number of Portuguese dying from overdoses plunged more than 85 percent before rising a bit in the aftermath of the European economic crisis of recent years. Even so, Portugal’s drug mortality rate is the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark — and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S.

Kristof succinctly identified one key reason for this success: “it’s incomparably cheaper to treat people than to jail them.” But there are other vital reasons, including the key fact that when it comes to efforts to persuade addicts to obtain counseling, “decriminalization makes all this easier, because people no longer fear arrest.”

Perhaps the most compelling evidence highlighting Portugal’s success is not the empirical data but the political reality: whereas the law was quite controversial when first enacted sixteen years ago, there are now no significant political factions agitating for its repeal and for a return to drug prohibition.

This evidence is of vital importance to the citizens of any country that continues to treat drug users and addicts as criminals. It is simply unconscionable to break up families, force children to remain apart from imprisoned parents, and turn drug addicts into unemployable felons, particularly if the data demonstrates that those policies achieve the opposite results as their claimed intent.

But moral questions aside, the drug-related violence that is now sweeping Brazil, particularly the horrific war that is engulfing the Rio de Janeiro favela of Rocinha – just a few years after it was declared “pacified” – makes these questions of particular urgency for Brazilians and citizens of any count.  Brazil has witnessed repeated outbreaks of horrific violence in the favelas of its largest cities, many of which have long been ruled not by the government but by well-armed drug gangs. But this past week’s war – and that’s what it is – in Rocinha, located in the middle of Rio de Janeiro’s fashionable Zona Sul, has been particularly shocking.

Photo: Pedro Prado/The Intercept Brasil

Competing drug gangs have “invaded” the favela and are in open warfare for control of the drug trade, in the process forcing schools to close, residents to cower in their homes, and stores to remain shuttered. As Misha Glenny reported on Monday in The Intercept, “the immediate cause of violence is the ongoing struggle between and now within factions,” but the violence portends the high likelihood of a wider war for control of the drug trade. 

In the face of drug-related violence, there is a temptation to embrace the seemingly simplest solution: an even-greater war on drugs, more drug dealers and addicts in prison, more police, more prohibition.

Those who peddle this approach want people to believe a simple-minded string of reasoning: the cause of drug-related problems, such as violence from drug gangs, is drugs. Therefore, we must eliminate drugs. Therefore, the more problems we have from drugs, the more aggressively we rid society of drugs and those who sell and use them.

But this mentality is based on an obvious, tragic fallacy: namely, that the War on Drugs, and drug criminalization, will eliminate drugs, or at least reduce its availability. Decades of failure proves this will not happen; rather, the opposite will occur. Like the U.S., Brazil has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of citizens for drug-related crimes – mostly poor and non-white – and the problem has only worsened. Any person with minimal rationality would be forced to admit this string of logic is false.

Supporting a failed policy by hoping that, one day, it will magically succeed, is the definition of irrationality. In the case of drug laws – which spawn misery and suffering – it is not only irrational but cruel.

A 2011 report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy – featuring multiple world leaders including former UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso – examined all relevant evidence and put it simply: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

The primary fact in this conclusion is vitally important. The key cause of all drug-related pathologies – particularly gang violence of the type now suffocating Rocinha – is not drugs themselves, but rather the policy of criminalizing drugs and the war waged in its name.

Photo: Erick Dau/The Intercept Brasil

The nature of drugs – their small size, the ease of smuggling, the natural demand humans have for them – means they can never be eliminated or meaningfully reduced by force. Only changes in human behavior, which can happen only with sustained and professional treatment, can foster those improvements. The only effect of drug criminalization, beyond the massive human and financial waste of imprisoning addicts, is to empower and enrich drug gangs by ensuring that the profits from selling an illegal product remain irresistibly high.

For that reason, the most devoted opponents of drug legalization or decriminalization are drug gangs themselves. Nothing would erase the power of drug gangs – such as the ones violently battling for control of Rocinha – more quickly or severely than the elimination of drug prohibition. As adept businesspeople, drug traffickers know that very well.

“The most devoted opponents of drug legalization or decriminalization are drug gangs themselves.”

In 2016, the journalist Johann Hari, author of one of the most influential books on drug addiction, wrote an article in the Huffington Post entitled: “The Only Thing Drug Gangs and Cartels Fear Is Legalization.” As he put it:

When you criminalize a drug for which there is a large market, it doesn’t disappear. The trade is simply transferred from off-licenses, pharmacists and doctors to armed criminal gangs. In order to protect their patch and their supply routes, these gangs tool up — and kill anyone who gets in their way. You can see this any day on the streets of a poor part of London or Los Angeles, where teenage gangs stab or shoot each other for control of the 3000 percent profit margins on offer.

We have a perfect historical analogy that proves this point: alcohol prohibition in the U.S. in the 1920s. When alcohol was made illegal, it did not disappear. Control of its sale and distribution simply shifted: from the corner grocery story to violent drug gangs of the type that Al Capone became famous for ruling.

In other words, making alcohol illegal did not stop people from consuming it. What it did do, though, was empower vicious gangs of organized crime for whom the massive profits of selling illegal alcohol made them willing to do anything, or kill anyone, to protect it.

What finally eliminated those violent prohibition gangs was not the police or the imprisonment of illegal dealers or alcoholics: during prohibition, when the gangs were’t bribing the police, they were killing them. What eliminated those gangs was the re-legalization of alcohol: by regulating the sale of alcohol, the end of prohibition made the gangs irrelevant, and they thus disappeared.

Violent drug gangs do not fear the War on Drugs; to the contrary, as Hari notes, they crave it. It is the criminalization of drugs that makes their trade so profitable. Hari quotes a long-time drug enforcement official in the U.S. as relating: “On one undercover tape-recorded conversation, a top cartel chief, Jorge Roman, expressed his gratitude for the drug war, calling it ‘a sham put on the American tax-payer’ that was ‘actually good for business’.”

In 2015, Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “How the war on drugs creates violence.” In it, she explained that one key reason to “decriminalize drugs flows from how the war on drugs drives violent crime, which in turn pushes up incarceration and generates other negative social outcomes.” As she explained: “You just can’t move $100 billion worth of illegal product without a lot of assault and homicide. This should not be a hard point to see or make.”

Why is Rocinha filled with guns and ruled by drug gangs that are capable of such violence? Why can an influential Brazilian politician, linked to some of the most powerful figures in the country, employ a pilot who was caught transporting millions of dollars in cocaine in a helicopter owned by the politician, with no consequences for anyone?

The answer is clear: because laws which outlaw drugs ensure that the drug trade is extremely profitable, which in turn ensures that gangs of organized criminals will arm themselves, and will kill, in order to control it. Situated in the middle of Zona Sul with easy exits, Rocinha will inevitably be a drug haven for rich tourists, middle-class professionals, and impoverished addicts. The vast sums of profits created by the War on Drugs ensure that police forces will not only be out-armed but also so corrupted that their efforts will inevitably fail.

It is now undeniably clear that it is the War on Drugs itself which is what causes – not stops – drug-related violence.

If you’re horrified by the violence in Rocinha or places around the world like it, the last thing you should do is support more policies that fuel the violence: namely, criminalization and the “War on Drugs.” To do so is like protesting lung cancer by encouraging people to smoke. The data is now sufficient to state confidently: those who support ongoing drug criminalization are the ones abetting this drug violence and the related problems of addiction and overdose.

It may be slightly paradoxical at first glance, but the data leaves no doubt: the only way to avoid Rocinha-style violence is through full drug decriminalization. We no longer need to speculate about this. Thanks to Portugal, the results are in, and they could not be clearer.

David Miranda is the husband of Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald and a City Councilman for Rio de Janeiro (PSOL).

The post Brazil’s Latest Outbreak of Drug Gang Violence Highlights the Real Culprit: the War on Drugs appeared first on The Intercept.

A única solução para a violência como na Rocinha é a descriminalização

26 September 2017 - 10:20am

Em 1º de julho de 2001, foi promulgada em Portugal uma lei que descriminalizou todas as drogas. Sob essa lei, ninguém que seja encontrado portando ou usando narcóticos é preso em Portugal, ou considerado criminoso. Nem o uso, nem a posse de drogas são considerados crimes em qualquer hipótese. Em vez disso, as pessoas encontradas nessas situações são encaminhadas para conversar com um painel de conselheiros e terapeutas especializados em drogas, onde lhes são oferecidas opções de tratamento.

Sete anos depois da promulgação da lei, em 2008, viajamos a Lisboa para estudar seus efeitos, em um dos primeiros relatórios abrangentes sobre essa política, e publicamos nossos resultados em um relatório para o Instituto Cato, um centro de estudos em Washington. Os resultados foram claros e impressionantes: a mudança radical na legislação sobre drogas era um sucesso fundamental e inegável.

Portugal passou os anos 1990 (como a maior parte dos países ocidentais) afundado em overdoses e outras formas de violência e doenças ligadas às drogas. Mas uma vez que o país deixou de processar os usuários de drogas e tratá-los como criminosos, ascendeu vertiginosamente em praticamente todos os índices. Esse resultado representou um forte contraste em relação aos países que continuaram a seguir uma abordagem rígida de criminalização: quanto mais eles prendiam viciados e praticavam “guerra às drogas”, mais os problemas com drogas pioravam.

Com todo o dinheiro que antes se desperdiçava em Portugal para processar e prender usuários de drogas agora liberado para os programas de tratamento, e com o governo sendo percebido com confiança em lugar de medo, viciados considerados irrecuperáveis se transformaram em histórias de sucesso de estabilidade e saúde, a as mensagens antidrogas do governo passaram a ser ouvidas.

O aumento esperado nas taxas de uso de drogas não aconteceu; em algumas categorias relevantes, o uso, ao contrário, diminuiu. O estudo de 2009 assim concluiu: “os dados mostram que, com base em praticamente todas as métricas, o formato da descriminalização em Portugal foi um sucesso retumbante”.

“Os dados mostram que, com base em praticamente todas as métricas, o formato da descriminalização em Portugal foi um sucesso retumbante”.

Esse fim de semana, o colunista do New York Times Nicholas Kristof, em Lisboa, voltou a esses dados, agora de forma ainda mais ampla e conclusiva do que em 2009. Suas conclusões – em um artigo entitulado “como vencer a guerra às drogas” – foram ainda mais fortes que as do relatório Cato de oito anos atrás: Portugal definitivamente venceu a discussão sobre como a proibição das drogas é ineficaz, irracional e contraproducente.

O fundamento para essa conclusão: o evidente sucesso de Portugal com a descriminalização, comparado aos terríveis fracassos de países como os EUA (e o Brasil), que continuam a tratar o vício em drogas como um problema criminal e moral, e não de saúde. Kristof escreveu:

Depois de mais de quinze anos, fica evidente qual das abordagens teve melhores resultados. A política de drogas dos Estados Unidos fracassou espetacularmente. O número de norte-americanos mortos no ano passado por overdose – aproximadamente 64 mil – equivale à soma do total de mortos nas guerras do Vietnã, do Afeganistão e do Iraque.

Em contraste, Portugal pode ter conseguido vencer a guerra às drogas – colocando um ponto final nela. Atualmente, o Ministério da Saúde estima que apenas cerca de 25 mil  portugueses usam heroína, comparados aos aproximadamente 100 mil antes do início dessa política.

O número de portugueses mortos por overdose despencou mais de 85% antes de voltar a subir um pouco, na esteira da crise econômica europeia dos últimos anos. Ainda assim, a taxa de mortalidade por drogas em Portugal é a mais baixa na Europa Ocidental – um décimo da taxa da Grã-Bretanha e da Dinamarca – e cerca de 1/50 dos últimos números dos EUA.

Kristof resumidamente identificou uma das principais razões para esse sucesso: “é incomparavelmente mais barato tratar as pessoas do que mantê-las presas”. Há, porém, outros motivos relevantes, incluindo o importante fato de que, no que se refere aos esforços para persuadir os viciados a buscar tratamento, “a descriminalização torna isso bem mais fácil, porque as pessoas deixam de ter medo de ser presas”.

Talvez a evidência mais convincente para destacar o sucesso de Portugal não sejam os dados empíricos, mas a realidade política: embora a lei tenha sido bastante controversa quando surgiu, dezesseis anos atrás, atualmente não há facções políticas se mobilizando por sua revogação e um retorno à proibição.

Isso é de vital importância para os cidadãos de qualquer país que continue a tratar usuários de drogas e viciados como criminosos. É inconcebível destruir famílias, separar à força as crianças de seus pais encarcerados e transformar viciados em drogas em ex-presidiários não empregáveis, especialmente se os dados mostram que essas políticas atingem os resultados opostos aos que alegam buscar. Como o repórter da Folha Plínio Fraga escreveu ontem, se o país quer resolver seus problemas de drogas, “O Brasil precisa descobrir Portugal”.

À parte as questões morais, a violência relacionada ao tráfico de drogas que hoje varre o Brasil, em especial a terrível guerra que atinge a favela da Rocinha, no Rio de Janeiro – que há poucos anos foi declarada “pacificada” – torna essas questões de especial urgência para os brasileiros.

Photo: Pedro Prado/The Intercept Brasil

O Brasil tem presenciado repetidas ondas de violência nas favelas de suas maiores cidades, muitas das quais são controladas, não pelo governo, mas por facções do tráfico armadas até os dentes. A guerra dessa semana, no entanto – e é de guerra que se trata – que atinge a Rocinha, localizada no meio da elegante Zona Sul do Rio de Janeiro, é especialmente chocante. Facções rivais “invadiram” a favela e estão em plena guerra pelo controle do tráfico de drogas, forçando, nesse processo, escolas  e lojas a fecharem, e moradores a se esconderem em suas casas.

Diante da violência relacionada às drogas, é tentador aderir à solução que parece mais óbvia: uma guerra ainda maior contra as drogas, mais traficantes e usuários na prisão, mais polícia, mais proibição.

Aqueles que defendem essa abordagem querem que as pessoas sigam uma linha de raciocínio simplória: a causa dos problemas relacionados às drogas, tais como a violência do tráfico, são as drogas. Portanto, precisamos acabar com elas. Quanto mais problemas tivermos com as drogas, mais agressivamente precisamos livrar a sociedade delas e daqueles que as comercializam e usam.

Essa mentalidade, porém, está fundada numa falácia óbvia e trágica: a saber, que a guerra às drogas e a criminalização eliminarão as drogas ou reduzirão sua disponibilidade. Décadas de fracasso comprovam que isso não vai acontecer; na verdade, o que ocorre é o contrário. Como os EUA, o Brasil prendeu centenas de milhares de pessoas por crimes relacionados às drogas – em regra, pobres e não brancos – e o problema só piorou. Qualquer pessoa com um mínimo de racionalidade seria forçada a admitir que essa lógica é falsa.

Apoiar uma política fracassada na esperança de que, um dia, ela magicamente funcione, é a definição da irracionalidade. No caso das leis contra as drogas – que geram miséria e sofrimento – não é apenas irracional, mas também cruel.

Um relatório de 2011 da Comissão Global de Política sobre Drogas (Global Commission on Drug Policy) – da qual participam diversos líderes mundiais, incluindo o ex-Secretário-geral das Nações Unidas Kofi Annan e o ex-presidente do Brasil Fernando Henrique Cardoso – examinou todos os dados relevantes e resumiu: “A guerra global às drogas fracassou, com consequências devastadoras para indivíduos e sociedades ao redor do mundo”.

O fato principal dessa conclusão é de vital importância. A causa essencial de todas as patologias relacionadas às drogas – em especial a violência do tráfico que está sufocando a Rocinha – não são as drogas, mas a política de criminalizá-las e a guerra que se trava em seu nome.

Photo: Erick Dau/The Intercept Brasil

A natureza das drogas – seu tamanho pequeno, a facilidade de traficá-las, a necessidade natural que os seres humanos têm delas – significa que não poderão ser eliminadas ou significativamente reduzidas à força. Apenas mudanças no comportamento humano, que só podem acontecer com suporte de tratamento profissional continuado, podem fomentar essa melhora. O único efeito da criminalização das drogas, além do imenso desperdício de recursos humanos e financeiros para prender viciados, é fortalecer e enriquecer os traficantes de drogas, assegurando que os lucros pela venda de um produto ilegal permaneçam irresistivelmente altos.

Por essa razão, os mais dedicados opositores à legalização das drogas ou à sua descriminalização são os próprios traficantes. Nada eliminaria mais rapidamente ou de forma mais definitiva o poder das facções do tráfico – tais como as que hoje empreendem a sangrenta batalha pelo controle da Rocinha – que o fim da proibição às drogas. Os traficantes, experientes homens de negócios, sabem muito bem disso.

“Os mais dedicados opositores à legalização das drogas ou à sua descriminalização são os próprios traficantes.”

Em 2016, o jornalista Johann Hari, autor de um dos mais influentes livros sobre o vício em drogas, escreveu para o Huffington Post um artigo intitulado: “A única coisa que traficantes e cartéis temem é a legalização”. Como disse ele:

Quando se criminaliza uma droga para a qual existe um grande mercado, ela não desaparece. O comércio é simplesmente transferido de lojas licenciadas, farmacêuticos e médicos para traficantes armados. Para proteger seu nome e suas rotas de suprimento, esses traficantes se armam – e matam qualquer um que os atrapalhe. É possível ver isso com facilidade nas ruas das regiões pobres de Londres ou de Los Angeles, onde gangues de adolescentes trocam facadas e tiros pelo controle sobre as margens de lucro de 3.000% que o tráfico oferece.

Temos uma perfeita analogia histórica que prova esse argumento: a proibição do álcool nos EUA na década de 1920. Quando o álcool foi tornado ilegal, ele não desapareceu. O controle da sua venda e distribuição apenas trocou de mãos: do supermercado da esquina para gangues violentas como as que Al Capone ficou famoso por chefiar.

Em outras palavras, tornar o álcool ilegal não impediu as pessoas de consumi-lo. O que a proibição fez foi fortalecer cruéis gangues do crime organizado, dispostas a fazer qualquer coisa ou matar qualquer um para proteger os enormes lucros da venda ilegal de álcool.

O que finalmente eliminou as gangues não foi a polícia, nem a prisão de traficantes ou alcoólatras: durante a proibição, ou as gangues subornavam os policiais, ou os matavam. O que acabou com as gangues foi a re-legalização do álcool: ao regular a venda de álcool, o fim da proibição tornou essas gangues irrelevantes, e elas desapareceram.

Traficantes violentos não têm medo da guerra às drogas; pelo contrário, como lembra Hari, eles precisam dela. É a criminalização das drogas que torna seu negócio tão rentável. Hari cita o relato de um experiente oficial do combate às drogas nos EUA: “Em uma das conversas gravadas clandestinamente, um dos chefões de cartel, Jorge Roman, manifestou sua gratidão pela guerra às drogas, que chamou de “fraude sobre os pagadores de impostos norte-americanos” que era “na verdade boa para os negócios”.

Em 2015, Danielle Allen, uma cientista política da Universidade de Harvard, escreveu um artigo de opinião no Washington Post com o título “Como a guerra às drogas cria a violência”. Nesse artigo, ela explica que uma das razões fundamentais para “descriminalizar as drogas decorre de como a guerra às drogas fomenta os crimes violentos, o que por sua vez leva ao encarceramento e gera outros resultados sociais negativos”. Como ela comparou: “Não é possível mover o equivalente a cem bilhões de dólares de um produto ilegal sem um bom tanto de agressões e homicídios. Não é algo que deveria ser difícil de explicar ou entender.”

Por que a Rocinha está repleta de armas e controlada por traficantes capazes de tamanha violência? Por que um influente político brasileiro, ligado a algumas das mais importantes figuras do país, pode empregar um piloto que foi pego transportando milhões de dólares em cocaína num helicóptero de propriedade desse político, sem que ninguém sofra consequências?

A resposta é simples: porque as leis que proíbem as drogas garantem que o tráfico seja extremamente rentável, o que por sua vez garante que os grupos de criminosos organizados irão se armar e matar para controlá-lo. Situada no meio da Zona Sul e com saídas acessíveis, a Rocinha será inevitavelmente um refúgio das drogas para turistas ricos, profissionais de classe média e viciados empobrecidos. Os grandes montantes de lucro gerados pela guerra às drogas garantem que as forças policiais estarão não apenas em inferioridade de armamento, mas também tão corrompidas que seus esforços inevitavelmente fracassarão.

É inegável que é a própria guerra às drogas que causa – e não impede – a violência relacionada às drogas.

Se você está horrorizado pela violência na Rocinha ou em outros lugares semelhantes pelo mundo, a última coisa que deveria fazer é apoiar políticas que fomentam a violência: a saber, a criminalização e a “guerra às drogas”. Fazer isso seria como protestar contra o câncer de pulmão encorajando as pessoas a fumar. Os dados atuais são suficientes para afirmar com confiança que quem apoia a criminalização das drogas estimula violência relacionada a elas e os problemas associados de vício e overdose.

Pode parecer paradoxal a princípio, mas os dados não deixam dúvida: a única forma de evitar a violência como ocorre na Rocinha é promover a completa descriminalização. Não precisamos mais especular sobre isso. Graças a Portugal, os resultados estão aí, e não poderiam ser mais claros.

David Miranda é marido do co-fundador do Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, e Vereador do Rio de Janeiro (PSOL)

The post A única solução para a violência como na Rocinha é a descriminalização appeared first on The Intercept.

North Korea Is the Most Predictable Regime on Earth. The Real Threat is the Erratic U.S. Government.

26 September 2017 - 8:13am

The nuclear shouting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un often seems like a maddening version of whack-a-crazy-mole, in which an unhinged comment by one of them is hastily followed by a lunatic retort from the other. Trump calls Kim “rocket man,” Kim calls Trump a “dotard,” Trump tweets that Kim “won’t be around much longer,” and on and on it goes.

This raises a serious question: Which of these awesomely flawed men is the most volatile and dangerous? The trail to an answer begins with an article that Evan Osnos wrote for the New Yorker about his recent journey to totalitarian North Korea. His “Letter from Pyongyang” reached 14,000 words and was praised as a marvel of reporting that revealed the stark yet impenetrable contours of the world’s most famous nuclear-armed nightmare.

Osnos described how he was met at the Pyongyang airport by a polite government minder who never left his side. He stayed at a special hotel for foreigners that was isolated from the general population. He visited a school where the students made statements that were programmatic. He was taken into Pyongyang’s subway and told that its deep tunnels would be fallout shelters in the event of nuclear war with America. He was not allowed to make a spontaneous visit to anyone’s home.

I was struck by these things because I had the exact same experiences when I made a trip to North Korea — in 1989. Same type of minder, hotel, and school, same prohibition on popping into anyone’s apartment, even the same remark from my minder that the subway would double as a fallout shelter if America attacked. Osnos and I were taken to the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, and we made the same futile requests to interview the country’s supreme leader. We even reached the same conclusion that a nearly occult haze made it hard to know what was really going on in the country.

I was based in South Korea for the Washington Post in the late 1980s and got lucky when I applied for a North Korean visa. The headline for a front-page story I wrote from there 28 years ago could have worked for Osnos’s article: “North Korea Maintains Orwellian System.” I do not mean to criticize anyone’s reporting – there is little room for narrative imagination when you are fed the same gruel that everyone else has been fed for a half century.

Indeed, if you are a regular reader of Western reporting from North Korea, you notice a pattern that is so unerring it nearly screams at you. For an excruciatingly long stretch of time, the North Korean regime has been saying the same thing (sometimes crazy-sounding) and acting the same way (sometimes firing missiles or detonating nuclear devices) and generally doing a bang-up job of going to the brink but never over it. North Korea has had just three leaders in its entire existence: Kim Il-sung, then his son, Kim Jong-il, then his son, Kim Jong-un. It’s crucial to understand that rather than being a wild card, North Korea is perhaps the most predictable regime in the world; they are not the X-factor in today’s unnerving game.

Badges depicting former and current North Korean leaders, from left, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, are sold by a street vendor in the Chinese border town of Dandong, Dec. 17, 2013.

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

This point was recently acknowledged in a notable series of comments from Dennis Blair, the former director of national intelligence and admiral who once commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“The overall consistency of North Korean policy has been pretty remarkable over, I’d say, 50 years or so, and [Kim Jong-un] is basically carrying on that policy, which is to provoke, take outrageous actions below the level of triggering a major conflict with the United States and South Korea,” Blair told Politico’s Susan Glasser. A few days before Trump, speaking at the United Nations, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea – not just its leader but, apparently, the entire country – Glasser observed that the United States had become the author of, as she delicately put it, “unorthodox approaches.”

“We used to be the strong, silent type on all of this crazy rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang … and that’s not the style of this president,” Blair replied. “Now we have this rhetorical stream going back at North Korea itself. So that is different.”

Blair gives too much credit to a stoic Gary Cooper ideal of the United States. Until the end of the Cold War, the U.S. stationed its own nuclear weapons in South Korea even though North Korea, at the time, had none of its own. Almost 65 years after the Korean War ended in 1953, the U.S. continues to station tens of thousands of its soldiers in South Korea (North Korea has no foreign soldiers on its territory) and holds regular military exercises there (and just flew B1 bombers close to North Korean airspace).

But the dynamics have changed, and it’s not due to the Dennis Rodman-loving Kim Jong-un or the nuclear weapons he is fond of detonating (as was his father, who created North Korea’s nuclear program and oversaw its first detonations – the family’s consistency is as crushing as its brutality). We now have Donald Trump and cable news, playing the 24/7 jester on his West Wing wall. Hyping war has always sold newspapers, but the competition for eyeballs and profits is particularly keen these days. And while CNN and MSNBC are terrible enough, Fox News is probably the worst offender in the ratings-driven effort to summon Armageddon. Unfortunately, Fox happens to be the preferred network of the six-times-bankrupt reality television star who somehow gathered enough electoral votes to place him in charge of the U.S. arsenal.

Trump and cable news are the feedback loop from nuclear hell. In a narrow way, this is good for American journalists who wish to write about political insanity. They do not need to travel thousands of miles to visit ground zero of crazy and dangerous.

Top photo: North Korean soldiers walk in front of portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il following the opening ceremony for the Ryomyong Street housing development in Pyongyang on April 13, 2017.

The post North Korea Is the Most Predictable Regime on Earth. The Real Threat is the Erratic U.S. Government. appeared first on The Intercept.

Under Cover of Graham-Cassidy, Senate GOP Moving to Gut Major CFPB Rule

25 September 2017 - 10:35pm

In the middle of a consequential week for the future of American health care, Senate Republicans are hoping to sneak through a controversial nullification of a key rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republican leaders are whipping to secure the votes to overturn a rule CFPB finalized in July, which would protect financial companies from class-action lawsuits and deny consumers a day in court. The rule is among the most consequential actions the CFPB has taken since its founding.

An added wrinkle here: executives for both Wells Fargo and Equifax, both accused of ripping off millions of consumers, will testify in Senate committees next week. Both companies have used arbitration clauses in an attempt to deny consumers access to the courts. By getting the arbitration vote out of the way before the hearings, Republicans can avoid having to hand a gift to financial companies while Wells Fargo and Equifax sit squarely in the public spotlight. With Obamacare repeal sucking up all the oxygen, this week offers a perfect cover.

“This rush toward a vote in the Senate is a cynical attempt to roll back an important consumer protection before anyone gets straight answers from Equifax and Wells Fargo about the damage they’ve done to the financial lives of millions of Americans,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, recently told financial industry lobbyists at a dinner in Washington that he planned to bring the bill to the floor as soon as he had the votes, according to a Republican at the dinner.

The CFPB’s rule bars consumer financial contracts from including clauses that force disputes into an arbitration proceeding, instead of allowing customers to join together with others in a class-action lawsuit. Critics say this gives financial institutions a license to rip people off, confident that only a maniac would go through years of costly arbitration to recover an erroneous $30 charge. “That is exactly what the banks are counting on… they can get away with nickel and diming you forever,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a Senate floor speech Monday night.

Rumors are bouncing among Democrats in the Senate and on K Street that McConnell could bring it to the floor for a vote as early as Tuesday. But with Alabama Sen. Luther Strange out campaigning, that makes a Tuesday vote highly unlikely. Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, noted that a vote is not yet on the schedule.

Later in the week, however, could be more likely, particularly if Strange loses his primary, which would give McConnell his second major loss in two days. At that point, a win on the arbitration rule looks awfully enticing.

The bigger problem for McConnell, though, is that even with Strange back, the Kentucky Republican may not have the votes. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opposes the move, ironic given that his own health care repeal bill, Graham-Cassidy, has provided the cover for McConnell to move quietly on the arbitration rule.  

That only leaves McConnell able to lose one more GOP vote, and a significant number of Republicans are on the fence, notably Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, who was the state’s attorney general and has the strong backing of trial lawyers there. He told The Intercept Monday evening he had yet to make a decision.

Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, put the final stake through the heart of Obamacare repeal on Monday evening, and is a target of advocates hoping to save the rule. She, too, is undecided. “I have not decided,” she told The Intercept Monday night. Then, appearing to think back to her week-long refusal to say how she would vote on Graham-Cassidy, while having effectively made up her mind to oppose it, she added, “I really have not, I’ve been so busy with this.”

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, haven’t committed publicly either, making a snap vote a gamble for McConnell.

Class-action lawsuits provide incentives for banks to play fair, as the risk of a large payout to millions of customers for systemic violations looms as a penalty. Without that fear, banks and other financial players are free to screw over customers for small amounts many times over, knowing they can get away with it.

CFPB passed the “arbitration rule” preventing the class-action ban in July; it’s scheduled to take effect next March. But under a 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act, Congress can by resolution reject any federal agency regulation within 60 legislative days of it being finalized. This type of resolution only needs a majority vote in the Senate, with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster. Under President Trump, Congress has used this process 14 times to take out rules finalized in the final days of the Obama administration.

The House has already passed a resolution killing the CFPB rule; the Senate has until roughly October to follow suit. Rolling back the rule is unpopular – two-thirds of voters support it, according to one survey. But with the spotlight elsewhere, the GOP leadership may sense an opportunity.

If Republicans thought they could get away with a quick-strike vote under cover of the Graham-Cassidy brouhaha, advocacy groups and key senators signaled they wouldn’t allow it. “Republicans want to take away your legal rights to hold companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax accountable. I know it sounds nuts, but it’s true,” Warren said Monday night.

There’s no timetable to bring up the arbitration vote, but Democratic aides said Republicans were attempting to get it done this week. The health care bill repealing the Affordable Care Act must take place this week as well, in order to use majority-vote reconciliation instructions that expire on Saturday.

Public Citizen notes that corporations opposing the rule have spent over $1 billion urging Republicans to pass Congressional Review Act resolutions. The 24 Senate co-sponsors of the arbitration rule resolution have received $100 million from the financial services industry over their careers.

“This isn’t about promoting a conservative agenda, it’s about advancing a donor’s agenda, a big money agenda,” said Warren Monday, urging C-SPAN viewers to call their Senators and ask them to vote no. “Anyone who votes to reverse this rule are saying loud and clear that they side with the banks instead of their constituents.”

TOP PHOTO: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and fellow Republican senators.

The post Under Cover of Graham-Cassidy, Senate GOP Moving to Gut Major CFPB Rule appeared first on The Intercept.