Just over one year ago, Brazil’s elected President, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached – ostensibly due to budgetary lawbreaking – and replaced with her centrist Vice President, Michel Temer. Since then, virtually every aspect of the nation’s political and economic crisis – especially corruption – has worsened.
Temer’s approval ratings have collapsed to single digits. His closest political allies – the same officials who engineered Dilma’s impeachment and installed him in the presidency – recently became the official targets of a sprawling criminal investigation. The President himself has been implicated by new revelations, saved only by the legal immunity he enjoys. It’s almost impossible to imagine a presidency imploding more completely and rapidly than the unelected one imposed by elites on the Brazilian population in the wake of Dilma’s impeachment.
The disgust validly generated by all of these failures finally exploded this week. A nationwide strike, and tumultuous protests in numerous cities, today has paralyzed much of the country, shutting roads, airports and schools. It is the largest strike to hit Brazil in at least two decades. The protests were largely peaceful, but some random violence emerged.
The proximate cause of the anger is a set of “reforms” that the Temer government is ushering in that will limit the rights of workers, raise their retirement age by several years, and cut various pension and social security benefits. These austerity measures are being imposed at a time of great suffering, with the unemployment rate rising dramatically and social improvements of the last decade, which raised millions of people out of poverty, unravelling. As the New York Times put it today: “The strike revealed deep fissures in Brazilian society over Mr. Temer’s government and its policies.”
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 28, 2017
But the actual cause is broader, and it is one familiar far beyond Brazil. During the past three years, Brazilians have been subjected to one revelation after the next of extreme corruption pervading the country’s political and economic class.
Scores of corporate executives and long-time party leaders are imprisoned. They include the head of the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, the House Speaker who presided over Dilma’s impeachment, and the former governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The current House Speaker, and Senate President, and nine of Temer’s ministers are now targets of criminal investigations for bribery and money laundering, as are numerous governors.
In sum, the vast bulk of the top-shelf political and economic elite have proven to be radically corrupt. Billions upon billions of dollars have been stolen from the Brazilian public. Recently released recordings from the judicial confessions of Marcelo Odebrecht, scion of one of Brazil’s richest families, depict a country ruled almost entirely through bribes and criminality, regardless of the ideology or party of political leaders.
And yet, even in the wake of this oozing and incomparable elite corruption, the price that is being paid falls overwhelmingly on the victims – ordinary Brazilians – while the culprits prosper. The same Brazilian politicians implicated in this criminal enterprise continue to reign in Brasília, as they enjoy virtual immunity from the law. Worse, they continue to exempt themselves from the austerity they impose on everyone else.
Imagine being a Brazilian laborer, working in poverty, spending years listening to stories about how corporate executives bribed political officials with millions of dollars in order to corruptly win state contracts – bribes that these elected officials used for yachts and luxury cars and European shopping sprees – only to then be told that there is no money for your retirement or pension and that you must work years longer, with fewer benefits, to save the country. That’s the tale which Brazilian citizens are being fed. The only mystifying aspect is that these types of protests have taken this long to erupt.
But this moral perversion – in which ordinary victims uniquely bear the burden for elite crimes – is familiar to citizens far away from Brazil. Indeed, one of the prime authors of Brazil’s economic suffering – the 2008 economic crisis caused by Wall Street – pioneered this odious formula.
The reckless tycoons and sociopathic financial wizards responsible for that 2008 economic collapse paid virtually no price for the harm they spawned. To this day, none of them has been prosecuted for the financial chicanery that spawned it. Worse, the U.S. Government quickly acted to protect the interests of the culprits – bailing them out with public funds, protecting them from nationalization or break-up, preserving their ability to plunder with little risk to themselves.
At the same time, the victims of this recklessness – ordinary Americans – were forced to bear the full brunt of the fallout. Millions faced foreclosure, unemployment, and general economic suffering with little to no help from the U.S. government, which was busy protecting those responsible. Above all else, it was this inequity that spawned protest movements from Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, and arguably laid the groundwork of resentment and a collapse of trust that gave rise to the Trump presidency.
This week’s controversy over Barack Obama’s $400,000 payday from a Wall Street firm for a single speech resonated not because it suggested he had acted illegally or even unethically. Rather, it symbolized, in a particularly glaring manner, the oligarchical character of U.S. political culture: the same president who repeatedly acted to protect the financial industry after it wrecked the global economy, and who shielded its leaders from criminal prosecution, was being lavished with the rewards.
Across Europe, the same dynamic prevails. Angry voters in the U.K. ratified Brexit, while once-liberal populations in western Europe are alarmingly open to über-nationalist and xenophobic parties. Much of this, too, is driven by the often-valid belief that elite institutions are completely indifferent to their deprivation and suffering, and repeatedly act only to advance the interests of a small group of economically and politically powerful actors at the expense of everyone else. Of course that belief is going to trigger instability, and resentment, and collective rage.
The austerity and deprivation now being imposed on ordinary Brazilians is not ancillary or unanticipated. To the contrary, it was the primary objective, the central aim, of the impeachment last year of the country’s president. The left-wing party that ruled Brazil since 2002 (the Workers’ Party: PT) became increasingly neoliberal and accommodating to the country’s oligarchical class, often at the expense of its own base of union members and the working poor. Even the party’s two leaders – Lula and Dilma – began advocating the necessity of austerity measures. That, at least in part, explains why the party’s own base began abandoning it, leading to a drop in Dilma’s support sufficient to permit impeachment.
But Dilma was willing to go only so far with austerity, but not as far as Brazilian elites wanted. In a moment of rare and uncharacteristic candor, her replacement, Michel Temer, admitted to a group of hedge fund mangers and foreign policy elites in New York last September that Dilma’s refusal to accept more severe austerity was one of the real reasons for her impeachment (the other real reason was revealed in a tape recording of Temer’s closest political ally, Senator Romero Jucá: to stop the ongoing corruption investigation before it consumed impeachment advocates).
In other words, Brazilian elites – having plundered the country to the point where it was close to collapse – decided that the only viable solution was to force the country’s already-suffering population of workers and the unemployed poor to suffer further, by taking from them the meager protections and safety net they enjoyed. They engineered the cataclysmic impeachment of the country’s president to achieve this.
Dilma’s replacement – the classic, pliable mediocrity that he is – was given one overarching task: to impose harsh austerity even if it meant becoming the target of widespread public hatred. The 75-year-old career politician – literally banned from running for office for 8 years due to his violation of election laws – had no intention or prospect to run again, so he happily agreed to perform his assigned duties in exchange for being given the mantle of power that he could never have earned on his own.
So that’s the tawdry spectacle of elite corruption, elite impunity and mass suffering driving today’s nationwide protest. Just as it did in the U.S. and Europe, this flagrant inequity is threatening to fuel a far-right, revanchist-nationalist movement in Brazil: one that actually makes its American and European counterparts pale in comparison when it comes to menacing extremism. The collapse of trust in the entire political class has created a genuinely frightening opening in the 2018 presidential contest for the far-right Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who longs for the restoration of a military dictatorship, praises torturers as patriotic heroes, and routinely channels fascist rhetoric on a wide range of issues.
What’s most baffling about all of this is that no matter how many times global elites see the rotted fruit of their piggish behavior – instability, extremism and collective rejection of their own authority – they continue to pursue it, seemingly inured to the consequences. Brazil is just the latest example, but it should be a familiar one to people across the planet.
The post Brazil Paralyzed by Nationwide Strike, Driven by a Familiar Global Dynamic of Elite Corruption appeared first on The Intercept.
The leader of a far-left movement who won nearly 20 percent of the vote in the first round of France’s presidential election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, told his seven million voters in a YouTube address on Friday that he would not tell them how to vote in the final-round run-off next weekend.
As for himself, Mélenchon said that he would cast a ballot, and that it would not be for Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the far-right National Front, who courted his voters in a video of her own on Friday. But Mélenchon also refused to say, like the leaders of other parties across the political spectrum — and celebrities including the French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane — that he would vote for Le Pen’s centrist rival, the former banker Emmanuel Macron, to stop the far-right from gaining power.
— Geraldine Amiel (@GeraldineAmiel) April 28, 2017
Christian Estrosi, heavyweight conservative, said every party member who doesn't call to vote for Macron should be expelled from the party.
— Martin Michelot (@martinmichelot) April 25, 2017
— Maxime ? Vaudano (@mvaudano) April 28, 2017
Instead, Mélenchon predicted that forcing France to choose between a candidate of “the extreme right” and one of “extreme finance” would led to a political crisis, and left open the possibility that he would submit a blank ballot, a form of protest vote permitted under French electoral law. (Mélenchon’s platform included provisions for voting to be made mandatory, and for blank ballots to be recognized under law.)
The appeal for unity, to construct a barrage, or dam, against the rising tide of the far-right, Mélenchon said, was, in fact, a disguised attempt to force voters like him, who profoundly disagree with Macron’s economic policies, to endorse his project.
Amid fears that widespread abstention and protest votes for neither candidate could lower the threshold for Le Pen to win with 50 percent of the valid votes cast, Mélenchon’s refusal to join the sort of united front against Le Pen that led to her father’s defeat in 2002 caused anxiety to spike.
Only 40% of Mélenchon voters now say they will back Macron, -15 points since Monday; 45% prefer to abstain. Same for 28% of Fillon voters… https://t.co/LBtVOHPEBV
— Sophie Pedder (@PedderSophie) April 28, 2017
Those fears were reflected on the front page of Saturday’s Libération, the Paris daily, which tried to shock left-wing voters into casting votes for Macron by imagining a Le Pen victory with depressed turnout and a high number of blank protest votes.
Tomorrow's headline in Libération: Marine Le Pen wins French presidency thanks to a record abstention rate of 33%. We can prevent this. pic.twitter.com/REYysduiFQ
— MacronInEnglish (@MacronInEnglish) April 28, 2017
They also inspired the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne Rey, who uses the pen name Coco, to predict that voters who refused to vote for Macron for any reason would be sorry if they lowered the bar for a victorious Le Pen.
— Corinne (@cocoboer) April 28, 2017
“Macron is not my candidate,” the cartoonist explained on Twitter, but added a hashtag calling for a united front against the National Front.
Mélenchon’s YouTube address was released hours after Le Pen posted an appeal to his voters on social networks, in which she tried to turn the concept of a united front against her extreme nationalist party on its head, calling on voters of the far-left to unite with her to block Macron, a former economy minister who is liberal on social issues but neoliberal on economics.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 28, 2017
Raquel Garrido, a spokeswoman for Mélenchon, called Le Pen’s appeal to his supporters “an insult to their intelligence.”
Another Mélenchon spokesman, Alexis Corbiere, icily noted Le Pen’s “despicable video” had garnered only a few thousand views all afternoon, in contrast to the message from his party leader, which surpassed 110,000 views in an hour.
At several points in the 32-minute message to his supporters, Mélenchon expressed indignation at the idea that he, or any large number of his voters, could ever support Le Pen. “Is there a single person who doubts that I will not vote National Front?” he asked rhetorically. “My opinion is displayed on all my clothes for five years,” he said, pointing to a small red triangle pin on his jacket — a symbol of communists deported to Nazi concentration camps during the French Vichy regime Le Pen and her party apologizes for.
“And besides, of the 7 million people who voted for me,” Mélenchon added, “I am almost certain that only a small fraction part will vote National Front.”
“I am not a guru, I am not a guide,” he said, standing by his refusal to endorse Macron. “I am a political leader who tries to shed light on the path,” he added, perhaps hinting that he wants to keep his new party intact ahead of the legislative elections that directly follow the presidential vote.
The post Mélenchon, Hero to France’s Far-Left, Will Not Vote for Le Pen, But Won’t Endorse Macron appeared first on The Intercept.
The hardest part of reversing the warming of the planet may be convincing climate change skeptics of the need to do so. Although scientists who study the issue overwhelming agree that the earth is undergoing rapid and profound climate changes due to the burning of fossil fuels, a minority of the public remains stubbornly resistant to that fact. With temperatures rising and ice caps melting — and that small minority in control of both Congress and the White House — there seems no project more urgent than persuading climate deniers to reconsider their views. So we reached out to Jerry Taylor, whose job as director of the Niskanen Center involves turning climate skeptics into climate activists.
It might seem like an impossible transition, except that Taylor, who used to be staff director for the energy and environment task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and vice president of the Cato Institute, made it himself.
Sharon Lerner: What did you think when you first encountered the concept of climate change back in the 1990s?
Jerry Taylor: From 1991 through 2000, I was a pretty good warrior on that front. I was absolutely convinced of the case for skepticism with regard to climate science and of the excessive costs of doing much about it even if it were a problem. I used to write skeptic talking points for a living.
SL: What was your turning point?
JT: It started in the early 2000s. I was one of the climate skeptics who do battle on TV and I was doing a show with Joe Romm. On air, I said that, back in 1988, when climate scientist James Hansen testified in front of the Senate, he predicted we’d see a tremendous amount of warming. I argued it’d been more than a decade and we could now see by looking at the temperature record that he wasn’t accurate. After we got done with the program and were back in green room, getting the makeup taken off, Joe said to me, “Did you even read that testimony you’ve just talked about?” And when I told him it had been a while, he said “I’m daring you to go back and double check this.” He told me that some of Hansen’s projections were spot on. So I went back to my office and I re-read Hanson’s testimony. And Joe was correct. So I then I talked to the climate skeptics who had made this argument to me, and it turns out they had done so with full knowledge they were being misleading.
SL: So that was it? You changed your mind?
JT: It was more gradual. After that, I began to do more of that due diligence, and the more I did, the more I found that variations on this story kept arising again and again. Either the explanations for findings were dodgy, sketchy or misleading or the underlying science didn’t hold up. Eventually, I tried to get out of the science narratives that I had been trafficking in and just fell back on the economics. Because you can very well accept that climate change exists and still find arguments against climate action because the costs of doing something are so great.
SL: And the economic case eventually crumbled, too?
JT: The first blow in that argument was offered by my friend Jonathan Adler, who was at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Jon wrote a very interesting paper in which he argued that even if the skeptic narratives are correct, the old narratives I was telling wasn’t an argument against climate action. Just because the costs and the benefits are more or less going to be a wash, he said, that doesn’t mean that the losers in climate change are just going to have to suck it up so Exxon and Koch Industries can make a good chunk of money.
The final blow against my position, which caused me to crumble, was from a fellow named Bob Litterman, who had been the head of risk management at Goldman Sachs. Bob said, “The climate risks aren’t any different from financial risks I had to deal with at Goldman. We don’t know what’s going to happen in any given year in the market. There’s a distribution of possible outcomes. You have to consider the entire distribution of possible outcomes when you make decisions like this.” After he left my office, I said “there’s nothing but rubble here.”
SL: How do you feel about the work you did in those years?
JT: I regret a lot of it. I wish I had taken more care and done more due diligence on the arguments I had been forwarding. I also introduced one of my brothers, James Taylor, to the folks at the Heartland Institute. Heartland’s rise to dominate market share in climate denialism largely occurred under my brother. Boy do I regret that.
SL: And he still is still a climate denier. So what is that like? Do you talk about climate change at Thanksgiving?
JT: We agree to disagree and don’t discuss it. And we don’t spend a lot of Thanksgivings together.
SL: Having been so central to Republican thought and leadership on energy, what can you say about what doesn’t work to convince conservative climate skeptics that climate change is real and important?
JT: If you talk about the need to transform civilization and to engage in the functional equivalent of World War III, you may as well just forget it. To most conservatives, that’s just nails on a chalkboard. Or if you say, you’re corrupted and a shill and ignorant. That’s no way to convince anybody of anything. What are the chances they’re going to say, Gee, you’re right? All that does is entrench someone in their own position.
SL: So what does work?
JT: In our business, talking to Republican and conservative elites, talking about the science in a dispassionate, reasonable, non-screedy, calm, careful way is powerful, because a lot of these people have no idea that a lot of the things they’re trafficking in are either the sheerest nonsense or utterly disingenuous.
I also make the conservative case for climate change. We don’t call people conservative when they put all their chips on one number of a roulette wheel. That’s not conservative. It’s pretty frigging crazy. It’s dangerous, risky. Conservatives think this way about foreign policy. We know that if North Korea has a nuclear weapon, they’re probably not going to use it. But we don’t act as if that’s a certainty. We hedge our bets. Climate change is like that. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Given that fact, shouldn’t we hedge?
SL: I frequently hear about Republican lawmakers who don’t believe their own climate denials. Do you know many people who are in that camp?
JT: I have talked to many of them in confidence. There are between 40 and 50 in the House and maybe 10 to 12 in the Senate. They’re all looking for a way out of the denialist penitentiary they’ve been put into by the Tea Party. But they’re not sure what the Republican response ought to look like exactly and when the political window is going to open.
SL: When do you think these Republicans will come out about their concern about climate change?
JT: The wall of denial in the GOP looks awful frightening from afar but it is crumbling. And it can change quickly. People forget that it was only a decade ago that the party had a climate platform that could have been written by Sheldon Whitehouse. And during the last election cycle, Carlos Curbelo, Ryan Costello, and Rob Portman all ran as climate moderates and paid no political price.
SL: And then there’s the president, who claimed climate change is a Chinese hoax. What about changing his mind?
JT: Donald Trump clearly has lightly held views about climate, which means they can be easily moved. He has no ideology whatsoever, so the last person in the room who talks to him is the guy who wins the policy debate.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The post How a Professional Climate Change Denier Discovered the Lies and Decided to Fight for Science appeared first on The Intercept.
U.S. officials this week requested the geographic coordinates of aid groups working in Somalia, according to a document obtained by The Intercept — a move that could indicate an escalation of military action against the Shabab. The notice to NGOs comes a month after President Trump declared portions of the country an “area of active hostilities,” giving the military wider scope to launch strikes that could potentially kill more civilians.
“Due to the need for increased operational security in Somalia, and based on best practices in other complex emergencies, humanitarian and development organizations may want to provide information about their fixed locations in Somalia for deconfliction,” states the letter, written by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and intended for “all international and local humanitarian and development organizations with operations in Somalia.” Aid groups have an extensive presence in Somalia, where the government declared a state of disaster in February due to crippling drought and food shortages.
The document, dated April 24, provides instructions for how groups should share coordinates of offices, hospitals, refugee camps, and other facilities. “Please be aware that all information submitted … will be used to inform U.S. military planners about the location of humanitarian and development personnel,” it says. It also includes a bold-type warning that providing the information does not “guarantee the safety of personnel, vehicles, facilities, or sites. Entities operating in this environment continue to do so at their own risk.”
Such deconfliction efforts are not uncommon in the context of intense or prolonged U.S. military operations, such as Afghanistan. This week’s letter is similar in wording to one received by NGOs in 2014, at the outset of the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria. In Yemen, the United States briefly shepherded NGO coordinates from nonprofits to the Saudi-led coalition at the start of its military campaign there in early 2015. The Obama administration also requested coordinates in Libya last year, when it similarly declared parts of the country areas of active hostilities.
But for Somalia, such an encompassing request is novel. Taken with Trump’s declaration of active hostilities, the note suggests that it’s a question not of if, but when, more airstrikes will take place.
Since 2001, the U.S. has carried out at least 41 attacks in Somalia — more than half of them in 2015 and 2016 — according to figures maintained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Both the Pentagon and the CIA are involved. Trump’s new classification, made at the request of the Pentagon, allows military planners to ignore 2013 rules issued by the Obama administration, known as the Presidential Policy Guidance, which put limits on counterterrorism strikes away from the battlefield. The PPG requires “near-certainty” that civilians will not be injured or killed; multiple agencies must vet a proposed strike, and a case made that the target threatens the United States. After Trump lifted the PPG for areas of Yemen, U.S. attacks there increased drastically, with an unprecedented 80 airstrikes aimed at alleged Al Qaeda targets in March and April.
Pentagon officials told The Intercept that no strikes had been carried out thus far in 2017 in Somalia, though the Bureau of Investigation Journalism reports one.
“These operations will be limited to a defined area in Somalia which has been designated as an area of active hostilities such that the PPG does not apply there,” said Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Audricia Harris. Asked about the letter issued this week, Harris only said, “We discuss with NGOs when we are coordinating these military operations.”
“It is not unusual that when there is a ramp up in U.S. military engagement and a bombing campaign somewhere — as is now signaled by the White House with the Somalia announcement — that USAID would reach out to humanitarian partners to get deconfliction information to ensure that the military campaign doesn’t inadvertently target humanitarians,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance during Obama’s second term.
The Pentagon may be particularly sensitive after U.S. airstrikes pulverized a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in late 2015, killing at least 42 patients and staff. Doctors Without Borders, which administered the hospital, had repeatedly supplied the U.S. military with its coordinates prior to the attack — just as the group did in Yemen, where several of its facilities were hit by Saudi coalition bombs.
There is already evidence that before the lifting of the PPG, airstrikes in Somalia were being carried out on weak intelligence. In September, a so-called self-defense strike killed at least 10 members of a local militia that American forces mistook for the Shabab in the Galmudug region. A review conducted by AFRICOM did not find that the Shabab was involved in fighting.
“Access to independent information is extremely challenging, and often dangerous, in Somalia,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. The incident in Galmudug, she said, “highlights the very real risk that an expansion of operations in Somalia may be seen as an opportunity for various actors to sow misinformation.”
Several NGO officials that spoke with The Intercept said the guidance they received, if well intentioned, was a clear indication that the U.S. planned to intensify strikes in Somalia. “It’s the responsible way to go about an irresponsible expansion of the scope of hostilities,” said one official, who requested anonymity because their group works with the U.S. government.
Somalia is already in the throes of a dire humanitarian crisis; 6.2 million people are in need of assistance and the United Nations says it risks famine in 2017. The country is only five years removed from a famine that left more than a quarter million people dead, half of them children under the age of 5.
“Lessons learnt from recent years show that escalation of violence in Somalia may lead to further displacements and human suffering and may negatively impact the humanitarian operating environment,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “We continue to advocate for minimizing impact on civilians of any military action in Somalia.”
The post U.S. Signals Possible Airstrikes in Somalia by Asking Aid Groups for Their Locations appeared first on The Intercept.
Com apenas 4% de aprovação, Michel Temer enfrenta nesta sexta-feira, dia 28, a insatisfação popular contra o seu governo e suas reformas que representam o maior retrocesso de direitos em gerações. A greve geral convocada por nove centrais sindicais e as frentes Brasil Popular e Povo Sem Medo atinge o transporte público, os aeroportos, bancos, escolas e comércio. Manifestações acontecem nas principais cidades do país.
Em São Paulo, trens, metrô e ônibus pararam, assim como escolas e bancos. A circulação de transporte público também foi suspensa em Salvador. O bloqueio de estradas também acontece em todo o país. No Rio de Janeiro, vias como a Linha Vermelha e a Ponte Rio-Niterói foram bloqueadas por manifestantes.
Em Brasília, protestos também marcaram a manhã. Na quinta, 27, homens da Força Nacional estocaram bombas e outros artefatos de contenção de multidões no pátio do Ministério da Justiça.
Além de se preparar para o confronto, Michel Temer prometeu cortar o ponto dos funcionários públicos que faltarem o trabalho para participar das manifestações. O governo se baseia na decisão do Supremo Tribunal Federal de outubro de 2016, a qual estabeleceu que o poder público deve cortar os salários de servidores em paralisação. No entanto, durante a semana, o Ministério Público do Trabalho, divulgou uma nota assinada pelo procurador geral do trabalho, Roberto Fleury, legitimando a greve geral e lembrando que se trata de um direito do trabalhador.
Quem também ameaçou cortar o ponto funcionários públicos foi o prefeito de São Paulo. João Doria chegou a fazer campanha para que os servidores não aderissem ao movimento e ofereceu serviço de uber e táxi para todos, o que acabou fracassando com o vazamento da planilha da prefeitura. Em 2013, o político apoiou a greve contra Dilma Rousseff, mas em seu discurso atual, diz que o movimento grevista não é justo.
O mesmo movimento se observa no Jornal Nacional, que antecipadamente destacava os protestos contra o governo Dilma, ignorou a greve na transmissão de ontem e foi criticado nas redes. E o maior telejornal do país não está sozinho. Um levantamento feito pelo Repórter Brasil mostra que cobertura da Reforma da Previdência feito pela mídia tradicional é esmagadoramente a favor da proposta. O espaço para cobertura positiva sobre o plano do governo é amplo chegando a 91% na TV Globo, 90% no jornal O Globo, 87% no Estado de São Paulo, 83% na Folha de São Paulo e 62% no Jornal da Record. Ainda assim, milhares de manifestantes estão nas ruas nesta sexta-feira.
The post Brasil em greve: manifestações ocupam as ruas contra as reformas Trabalhista e da Previdência appeared first on The Intercept.
Aprovada pela Câmara dos Deputados na madrugada da última quarta, 26, a Reforma Trabalhista é uma das derrotas que estão levando a classe trabalhadora à greve geral desta sexta-feira, 28. Para entender melhor os efeitos práticos da perda de direitos do trabalhador, convidamos o juiz Luiz Antonio Colussi, Diretor de Assuntos Legislativos da Associação Nacional dos Magistrados da Justiça do Trabalho (Anamatra) para explicar algumas das consequências dessas mudanças.1_ Terceirização da atividade fim
Essa mudança, explica o magistrado, permitirá que a empresa demita os funcionários e re-contrate os mesmos, via terceirização, recebendo salários menores. No Brasil, um trabalhador terceirizado costuma trabalhar mais e ganhar menos do que o contratado por regime de carteira assinada.
O texto chega a defender que exista um prazo de 18 meses entre a demissão e a recontratação. No entanto, Colussi explica que “existe uma imperfeição”:
“A interpretação de que o funcionário pode ser re-contratado pode ser dar por uma brecha. Na prática, o contratado na terceirização é reconhecido pelo número do CNPJ, enquanto no regime de CLT é pessoa física, identificada pelo CPF. Então, se o funcionário for demitido e contratado por uma terceirizada, isso pode ser interpretado como se não fosse uma re-contratação.”2_ Parcelamento das férias em até três períodos
Parágrafo que foi cortado da CLT:
O magistrado rebate um argumento utilizado por quem defende a reforma: “Tem um argumento falacioso de que essa divisão já existe na prática. Não é assim e não deveria ser assim.”
Colussi explica que o fracionamento das férias pode prejudicar a saúde do trabalhador. As férias anuais são descansos criados como forma de proteção à integridade física do trabalhador e já foram confirmadas cientificamente como importantes até mesmo para a produtividade. Um fracionamento em três períodos faria com que algumas férias se resumam a uma semana, tempo considerado insuficiente para a recomposição total.3_ Prevalência do acordo entre patrão e empregados sobre a legislação trabalhista
Isso possibilita que a empresa contrate empregados com menos direitos do que prevê a convenção coletiva da categoria, ou até mesmo a lei. Colussi conta que tentativas de colocar essa medida em prática datam da década de 90: “a Anamatra tem uma posição contrária ao negociado sobre o legislado. E não é de hoje, é desde os idos de 90. No governo Hernando Henrique [Cardoso], nos insurgimos contra”.“Quem é o empregado que, estando com o trabalho em curso, vai querer renegociar as condições?”
Ele explica que já existe uma saída para ajustes salariais em momentos de crise:
“A Constituição permite uma possibilidade de redução de salário e de jornada em uma situação de crise. Acredito que seria o suficiente, mas a proposta do governo e do relator leva isso ao extremo. Não há condições de ampliar essa negociação. Quem é o empregado que, estando com o trabalho em curso, vai querer renegociar as condições?”4_ Mudança no conceito de grupo econômico
O conceito de grupo econômico liga diferentes empresas que trabalham juntas. No caso de apenas uma empresa de um grupo falir, por exemplo, hoje em dia é a empresa mais rica do grupo que arca com as indenizações aos empregados demitidos. Com a reforma, as demais empresas envolvidas ficam isentas de responsabilidade pelas ilegalidades de uma das suas associadas.“Com a reforma, o trabalhador não vai ter a quem recorrer.”
O mesmo se aplica a uma empresa grande que terceirize um setor para uma empresa de médio porte que venha a falir. Atualmente, a empresa contratante precisa responder pelos funcionários da terceirizada que façam serviços relativos ao contrato firmado com ela, em caso de falência, explica Colussi:
“Sabemos que a empresa tomadora contrata as demais empresas e não as observa devidamente. São empresas menores, sem patrimônio, sem garantia… e quando o trabalhador é mandado embora, muitas vezes, a empresa menor não tem condições de pagar os direitos trabalhistas. Com a reforma, o trabalhador não vai ter a quem recorrer.”5_ Regulamenta o teletrabalho (fora do escritório) por tarefa e não por jornada
Muito conhecido como “home-office”, o tele-trabalho é uma realidade para 12 milhões de brasileiros. Sua regulamentação pode parecer boa, afinal, também aquelas horas trabalhadas até tarde depois de sair do escritório passariam a contar para o banco de horas-extras. No entanto há uma “pegadinha”: o formato da regulamentação por tarefa não limita o tempo que o trabalhador deve ficar disponível, ou online.O trabalhador não pode ficar 24h por dia à disposição do empregador.
“Com a tecnologia que temos hoje, é muito fácil medir isso. O computador consegue se conectar a um sistema e você consegue, sim, controlar o tempo em que o trabalhador fica online”, argumenta o magistrado. Os sistemas de educação à distância, por exemplo, conseguem contabilizar o tempo de estudo dos alunos.
“O chefe precisa de um controle que permita o empregado a se desligar em determinado momento. O trabalhador não pode ficar 24h por dia à disposição do empregador. E é isso que vai acontecer se não for controlado por jornada. Aliás, já acontece bastante. Hoje, até o whatsapp tem furado essa situação. O trabalhador tem o direito de ficar offline, de se auto-desligar a partir de certo horário.”6_ Acaba com o princípio de equiparação salarial para mesmas funções
Colussi explica que o princípio de equiparação salarial surgiu como uma forma da legislação trabalhista colocar em prática um ideal constitucional: o combate às desigualdades.
“No Brasil, temos ainda essa disparidade salarial enorme entre homens e mulheres e também existe a presença o racismo: o trabalhador branco ganha mais. Quando o relator propõe tirar essas garantias da CLT, de certa forma, ele acaba indo contra a Constituição.”
Segundo dados do IBGE de 2015, um trabalhador negro ganha em média 59% do que os brancos recebem. Mulheres recebem o equivalente a 75% do que os homens.7_ Impede a Justiça do trabalho de anular acordos que firam a CLT
Colussi explica que o juiz do trabalho tem como função julgar “os conflitos entre o Capital e o trabalhador” e, para isso, ganha o poder de “examinar se a norma é inconstitucional ou não”. Para ele, a proposta de reforma vem tirar essa autoridade.
“Daqui a pouco a gente, também, fica sem trabalho. Daqui a pouco vão querer que o juiz do trabalho só faça homologar os acordos”, criticou o magistrado.
O magistrado explica que atualmente existe o princípio da gratuidade total de custas: “o empregado que recebe o benefício da assistência judicial gratuita, quando perde, tem o direito de não precisar pagar custas”.
Com a reforma, o trabalhador não apenas terá que pagar as custas do advogado, mas também por qualquer trabalho de perícia. Ou seja, se precisar de um exame médico para provar uma lesão por trabalho exaustivo, terá que pagar pelo laudo. “São amarras para impedir e dificultar o acesso do trabalhador à justiça do trabalho”, critica Colussi.
Atualmente, os laudos periciais pagos pela Justiça do Trabalho custam até R$ 870. Laudos particulares custam, em média, R$2 mil.
Alguns benefícios pagos aos trabalhadores — como adicionais de periculosidade e diárias de viagens —, têm natureza indenizatória. Isso quer dizer que não são cobrados impostos sobre eles e eles não contam como parte do salário no cálculo final do valor de aposentadoria que o trabalhador receberá. Outros benefícios, no entanto, têm natureza nitidamente salarial, como o auxílio doença nos 15 primeiros dias de afastamento. Entre os benefícios que passam a ser considerados como se não tivessem natureza salarial está o vale alimentação.
“O que eles querem? Declarar tudo como indenizatório para diminuir os impostos. E, quando o trabalhador se aposenta, conta apenas como contribuição apenas o salário base, então sua aposentadoria vai ser menor. Veja que o próprio governo perde com isso, porque diminui a arrecadação. É um tiro no pé, uma reforma feita para os empresários.”10_ Empregado devem apresentar valor exato pretendido em reclamações trabalhistas na Justiça
O juiz pontua que atualmente existem dois procedimentos legais na justiça trabalhista: um para causas de até 40 salários mínimos e outro para causas que custarão acima disso. Nas causas abaixo de 40 salários já é obrigatório determinar o valor pretendido. O pulo do gato está no fato de que, para fazer este cálculo, é necessário o serviço de um contador, o que recai na mesma questão da perícia. “É mais uma dificuldade imposta”, critica o jurista, que conclui em defesa dos direitos trabalhistas:
“Toda a CLT é voltada para proteção do trabalhador, mas essa reforma a inverte totalmente, colocando a defesa para o lado do Capital. O Capital não precisa de defesa.”
The post Reforma trabalhista fortalece o patrão, e “o trabalhador não vai ter a quem recorrer” appeared first on The Intercept.
Jeff Sessions’s first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border as attorney general kicked off with a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter. It began just after sunrise at the Davis-Monthan airbase outside Tucson, Arizona, and ended in Nogales, where he delivered a blistering address in which he vowed to take the “fight” to the criminal elements that have turned border communities into “war zones.” The performance was repeated a week later in El Paso, Texas. This time around, Sessions was accompanied by John Kelly, the retired Marine general turned Department of Homeland Security secretary overseeing the nation’s top immigration enforcement agencies. “This is ground zero,” Sessions said. “This is the front lines and this is where we’re making our stand.”
The display was typical of the Trump camp. From the moment he launched his campaign, Trump put a radically reimagined vision of immigration enforcement at the center of his agenda — one that emphasized a wall across the southern border and, at times, the removal of every undocumented immigrant in the country. The justification always had something to do with the tremendous, unprecedented threat emanating from the border and from immigrants. Now that Trump’s 100th day in office is nearly here, the nation has had a glimpse of the president’s response.
Like the Sessions-Kelly border tour, the Trump administration’s approach to immigration enforcement has leaned heavily on a combination of bellicose language and hard-line directives effective at driving intense fear into immigrant communities. Beyond that, advocates and former U.S. immigration officials say, the White House agenda is basically a rehashing of some of the most counterproductive policies of the Obama administration, married to a series of mind-boggling and at times hypocritical proposals that threaten to plunge the already broken immigration system into further disarray, all while undermining public safety in the very areas it seeks to improve.
“What we’ve seen from the Trump administration thus far is certainly a continuation of President Obama’s hard-edged policies regarding immigration law enforcement, accompanied by a particularly vicious form of rhetoric,” César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, a law professor at the University of Denver, told The Intercept. “The bottom line is that there are many similarities with the Obama administration but, to be sure, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have ratcheted up the severity of immigration law violations and are trying to further entangle the criminal justice system with the immigration law enforcement system.”Deporter in Chief
At the core of the Trump administration’s immigration platform are a series of executive orders the president signed off on during his first week in office. One of those orders resulted in the chaotic implementation of a ban on travelers coming to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. Two others, focused on domestic immigration enforcement, included sweeping implications for the nation’s 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.
In 2014, after years of bitter fighting in Washington over comprehensive immigration reform, Barack Obama announced that his administration would provide protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the country, shifting its enforcement focus to “felons, not families.” The White House, by that time, had overseen the deportation of nearly 2 million people — according to an analysis by the New York Times, two-thirds of those cases involved individuals “who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.” Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, operationalized the policy shift in a memo calling on his personnel to exercise prosecutorial discretion in order to prioritize enforcement of immigration laws against individuals who posed a threat to national security, border security, or public safety.
The memo did not stop the Obama administration from deporting people who lacked criminal records or whose only offense was an immigration violation — a December 2016 analysis by the Marshal Project found roughly 60 percent of the 300,000 people deported after the president’s speech fit that description — and advocates would often argue that splitting the immigrant population into two groups created its own set of problems. Still, defenders of the administration’s efforts say, it was something. At the very least, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was supposed to be targeting its efforts with an eye toward more dangerous individuals, even if the reality on the ground was much different.
Under Obama, the U.S. government focused the bulk of its immigration enforcement efforts on the southern border. Unlike its predecessors, the administration adopted a practice of putting unauthorized border crossers through formal removal proceedings, helping to fuel a rise in deportation numbers that led to Obama’s “deporter in chief” nickname. While enforcement on the border surged, however, in the interior of the country, immigrants with longstanding roots — people who had been in the U.S. several years, for example, or had citizen children — could generally expect that they would not be targeted for deportation.
Trump’s executive orders have undone all that. Including not just convicted criminals, but anyone suspected of having “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” immigrants with prior orders for removal, and several other categories, the administration’s view of who constitutes a priority for deportation is so broad that it makes nearly every undocumented immigrant in the country a target. Trump’s orders called for a potential expansion of expedited removal, a process that allows individuals to be swiftly deported without seeing a judge, and the creation of new immigrant detention centers along the border. The orders also mandated an enormous surge in the hiring of immigration officers and agents, and used the threat of cuts to federal funding as a means to push local law enforcement agencies into deputizing officers as de facto immigration agents.
In February, Kelly signed off on two implementation memos, drafted by a pair of former Sessions aides with no input from career DHS officials, directing his personnel on how to implement the president’s directives. In a budget proposal released the following month, the administration requested $4.5 billion for immigration-related initiatives, including an initial $2.6 billion to begin Trump’s border wall expansion and $314 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new ICE staffers — intended as a first step in the push to 15,000 new hires for the agencies total. The funds are contingent on congressional approval and Democrats have vowed to resist the administration’s immigration agenda.
The White House also requested $1.5 billion to support the expansion of the nation’s immigrant detention system. An internal DHS report on the implementation of Trump’s executive orders, obtained by the Washington Post, revealed that ICE has so far identified 27 facilities that could house more than 21,000 additional immigrant detainees. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that the administration is considering rolling back standards intended to ensure the well-being of detained immigrants in order to quickly fill those beds.
Among the many U.S. immigration enforcement officials who attended this year’s 11th annual border security expo in San Antonio, Texas, the most closely watched component of Trump’s directives appeared to be his call for the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 new ICE agents. During a panel, Benjamin Hoffman, the Border Patrol’s chief of strategic planning and analysis, said the proposed hiring surge presented unique challenges for his agency. Border Patrol currently employs roughly 19,500 agents, Hoffman explained, but is mandated to employ more than 21,000.
“We have not hit that yet and haven’t for a while,” Hoffman said. “There’s a real concern that a lot of the 10,000 agents that ICE is going to hire will be coming from the ranks of the U.S. Border Patrol. I don’t blame them … but that makes it difficult.”
Huge post-9/11 hiring surges within the Border Patrol have fueled corruption and soaring rates of excessive force and misconduct complaints lodged against agents. Asked to increase its ranks once again, Border Patrol leadership is now considering relaxing some of its rules surrounding polygraphs for would-be agents who come from law enforcement or military backgrounds — a proposal that has raised concerns among critics, given the agency’s recent history. Senior Border Patrol officials have maintained that they will prioritize quality over quantity as they move forward in the hiring process.
In a decision that appears to reflect the administration’s prioritization of deportations, Daniel H. Ragsdale, deputy director of ICE, told attendees at the Texas expo that the vast majority of personnel hired for his agency — “about 8,500” — would be devoted to its Enforcement and Removal Operations wing, while the remaining 1,500 would be directed to ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations program, which investigates transnational criminal organizations, money laundering, and a host of other issues in addition to immigration violations.
That breakdown should raise concerns, said John Sandweg, formerly the acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, especially if claims by Sessions and others in the administration about a desire to tackle transnational organized crime are to be taken seriously. “They’re talking about the gangs and MS-13,” Sandweg told The Intercept. “HSI guys are federal special agents who go undercover and infiltrate the gangs, get up on wires, work with U.S. attorneys offices to bring prohibited possession charges or gun charges or whatever charges they can against them and put them in prison and/or deport them.”
“ERO, on the other hand, lacks that training, lacks the skills, and lacks the legal authorities,” Sandweg went on. “They can’t do wiretaps. They can’t bring cases for prosecution. They don’t do undercover operations. That’s not what their skill set is. So to say we’re going to plus up 85 to 15 percent on the ERO side, and then you throw this rhetoric out there about MS-13, it’s just, it’s hypocritical.”
The fate of ICE’s powerful investigative wing under the Trump administration could have important implications, Sandweg added. “Are you going to see them forcing ICE-HSI to start abandoning the criminal enforcement work and the national security work?” he asked. “HSI has the second largest number of agents on the joint terrorism task forces across the country. Are you going to see them downsize their participation on JTTFs just so they can see them upsize the number of people they’re arresting for deportation?”
During the Bush years, HSI played a key role in supporting highly controversial worksite raids targeting undocumented immigrants and their employers. The practice was rolled back under Obama, though it wasn’t ended, as HSI increasingly turned its focus to national security, organized crime, and financial crime investigations (during that time, HSI also became involved in gang investigations that have drawn their own share of criticism).
HSI has participated in a number of enforcement actions under Trump, including at worksites, though the rate of the operations has not approached that of the Bush years. Whether that will continue to be the case remains to be seen. As a senator, Sessions was a vocal critic of ICE’s turn away from worksite enforcement, suggesting the attorney general might support seeing his counterparts at DHS ramp such operations back up.
Asked during a panel at the Texas conference if his agency would be diving back into the worksite enforcement business, Peter T. Edge, HSI’s associate director, said, “We don’t conduct worksite enforcement raids and as far as worksite enforcement as an investigative area, it’s one of the areas that we enforce and we fully expect to be given clear and more concise direction on what type of worksite enforcement efforts we’ll be conducting in the future.”Families, Not Felons
With Trump’s orders in place, attorneys around the country have reported a drop in undocumented immigrants reporting crimes and showing up to court appearances, a shift advocates have attributed to ICE agents increasing arrests at courthouses. Viral videos and stories of mothers and fathers who have spent years living in the U.S., in some cases attending regular check-ins with ICE officials, being arrested and deported have compounded an intense fear coursing through immigrant communities. Meanwhile, on the border, apprehensions have dropped to levels not seen in decades, a development the administration’s top officials have pointed to as a sign of their effectiveness in office.
Discussing the president’s orders at the Texas expo, Kate Christensen Mills, a former assistant director for congressional relations at ICE, now with the Monument Policy Group, said the public should expect to see more individuals with longstanding community ties arrested under the Trump administration. Because those individuals have spent years in the U.S., they will be more likely to fight their cases, Mills said, and as a result will spend more time locked up and fighting their deportation, all of which will cost taxpayers more money.
“If you’re going to have a decrease in people coming across the border, obviously ICE is going to have an increase in interior enforcement,” Mills explained. “Some of these people are going to have to be put in detention. Some of them are going to have ties to the community. So processing them through the Department of Justice and the immigration courts is going to take a little bit longer because they are going to have lived here for a long time.”
Natalie Asher, ICE’s acting assistant director for field operations at ERO, conceded that with her agency’s ramped-up operations in the interior, arrests of noncitizens who “have more at stake” become more likely, and that those arrests can lead to longer stays in detention. “We continue to prioritize, but the volume that’s coming at us is far larger than what we can really address on a regular basis,” Asher said.
In accordance with Trump’s executive orders, ICE is actively recruiting local law enforcement agencies to sign up for a program that deputizes officers to act as immigration officials in the investigation, detention, or apprehension of undocumented individuals. The program, known as 287(g), has long been criticized by advocacy organizations and law enforcement professionals, who argue that such agreements foster fear of local authorities in immigrant communities. ICE is pressing on with the collaborations nonetheless. In the DHS progress report obtained by the Washington Post, officials said they had identified more than 50 jurisdictions interested in applying for the program.
“By the end of this year, the hope is that we will have 63 online to sort of serve as force multipliers,” Asher said of the effort.
Asher insisted that ICE agents continue to “exercise prosecutorial discretion as we come upon individuals who may be amenable to removal proceedings and who may be amenable to detention.” In practice, Asher said, prosecutorial discretion is “like anything in old cop work. You have two seats in the car, two beds at the jail, you’ve got five individuals in front of you. You look to take the worst of the worst. That’s the same thing that we do as well.”
Whether ICE is taking the “worst of the worst” has been called into serious question. This month, the Washington Post reported that arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled under the Trump administration. The paper described the push as “the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.”
While the numbers provided important insights into ICE’s arrests thus far, some pertinent facts about the data were perhaps less than clear. Indeed, the “noncriminal” ICE arrests seen during the first three months of the Trump administration are more than double those reported over the same period in 2016 — in fact, the numbers from this year are more than those from 2016 and 2015 combined. However, the number of noncriminal arrests over the first three months of 2017 is lower than the number of noncriminal arrests during the same period in 2014. During that three-month period, which was before the Obama-era prioritization memo was issued, ICE arrested 7,483 noncriminals and 21,745 criminals, compared to 5,441 noncriminals and 15,921 criminals under Trump.
In other words, the Trump administration appears to be moving enforcement back to a pre-2014 prioritization memo framework, in which immigrants with clean criminal records are fair game for enforcement.
To draw deeper conclusions about of ICE’s enforcement actions so far would require more data, and experts say that has become an increasing challenge under the Trump administration. For years, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University has used Freedom of Information Act requests and court records to provide a public accounting of ICE’s enforcement activity. In a recent report, published last week, the TRAC team reported that the filing of so-called notices to appear — the paperwork that initiates proceedings in immigration court — have shown no increase under Trump, while the number of individuals held in detention as their cases are processed has shot up significantly.
When asked if the fact that notices to appear have not gone up means that the White House is not overseeing an immigration crackdown, Susan Long, director of the TRAC program, told The Intercept that the picture is more complex. “It’s only a piece,” Long said. “The major reason it’s only a piece is because of ICE’s intransigence and lack of transparency.”
Under the Trump administration, Long explained, ICE has stopped turning over enforcement data that it released under previous administrations, including case-by-case information regarding arrests. As a result, number crunchers at her office can only provide a partial picture of immigration enforcement nationwide. Critically, Long said, ICE no longer provides information on the individuals targeted with so-called detainers, a tool ICE uses to request the arrest or detention of immigrants from local law enforcement. “That’s a key thing that they’ve started withholding,” Long explained. “We used to get the entire criminal history of each person they targeted with a detainer — so the most serious criminal convictions, when they were charged, when they were convicted, their sentence that was meted out, and any other charges in their whole history and the status of those charges.”
According to Long, ICE’s justifications for withholding the data have been “all over the map,” including claiming that past disclosures were merely voluntary and that the data in question does not exist. As a result of ICE’s position, Long argued, the public is lacking critical information needed to accurately assess Trump’s immigration enforcement practices. “They’re really central issues as to what they’re doing to enforce the law,” she said.
Sandweg, the former acting director at ICE, said that based on the information that has emerged, it appears ICE has set its sights on individuals with prior orders for removal from the country — a population that as of February included 12,370 people currently in government custody and 960,483 individuals who were not. That segment of the noncitizen population is made up “primarily of people who have very sympathetic cases, people that ICE never felt compelled to go out and find because they generally were not criminals, they had family members,” Sandweg said.
The Obama administration’s 2014 decision not to prioritize removal of these individuals, imperfect as it may have been in practice, went beyond humanitarian concerns, Sandweg explained — there are actual resource constraints on ICE that require enforcement to be targeted. “During my time at ICE, the priorities, just focusing on public safety nexus, border, convicted criminals, or people arrested for serious offenses … that population alone is more than the current ICE can handle,” Sandweg said. “It’s more than the system can handle. It’s way more than the immigration courts can handle. So it’s not like you’re being soft on enforcement or dialing back on enforcement, it’s just that you’re targeting the enforcement.”
“With the same resources and the same backlog in the immigration courts and the same number of officers, they’ve now started going after this other population, which is this noncriminal, final order population, these very sympathetic cases you read about,” he added. “When they spend their time on those cases though, it means some criminal is getting out of jail free.”
Given what he’s seen so far, Sandweg believes the Trump administration is playing a dangerous numbers game. “The way it’s being operationalized, it seems very clear to me, is that they’re trying to drive up their numbers, the numbers of total people being deported, as high as possible,” he said. “Despite the rhetoric about saying ‘we’re going to focus on criminals,’ the actions they’re taking really say they’re really focused on driving up numbers because they’re focused on this population with final orders.”
Margo Schlanger, a University of Michigan law professor who served as chief of civil rights and civil liberties at DHS from 2010 to 2011, said it will take time before the impact of the Trump administration’s enforcement practices to show up in deportation numbers. As she pointed out, the administration has yet to expand its use of expedited removal nationwide, as the president’s executive orders indicated it might. Still, she argued, a number of the administration’s efforts so far could make the nation’s already struggling immigration system even worse.
During his appearance in Arizona earlier this month, Sessions called on prosecutors across the country to increase enforcement of several crimes directly relevant to immigrant communities, including statutes surrounding the harboring of undocumented individuals and the falsification of documents. It’s an effort that has been tried before, and one that contributed directly to a build-up in immigrant detention and the massive backlog of cases in the immigration courts today — for several years now, immigration crimes have been the most frequently prosecuted offense on the federal docket.
As a fix, Sessions has vowed to streamline the hiring process for immigration judges, with an aim of filling 125 positions in the next two years. That’s easier said than done, Schlanger said.
“You can’t just on-board immigration judges,” she pointed out. And even if the administration does add more judges, she added, the quality of the cases those judges hear matters, because just as ICE’s resources are limited, so too are the DOJ’s.
“DOJ has a choice about where it’s going to spend its prosecutorial resources, and it could spend it on chump change immigration violations or it can spend it on things that actually achieve something worthwhile,” Schlanger said. If the administration falls into a habit of making “easy” arrests in order to drive up numbers — targeting people who voluntary check in at ICE offices or show up at courts, rather than tracking down dangerous individuals — it could end up doing more damage than good, she argued.
“If you’re trying to deport the most people, you actually trade numbers against public safety,” Schlanger explained. “The more people you deport, the less public safety you buy, because you’ve got a certain amount of resources and it’s super easy to arrest law-abiding homebodies.” In other words, she said, “By doing more you accomplish less.”
“I wouldn’t say we’re there yet,” she added. “But the ship looks like it’s turning.”
The post Trump Targets Undocumented Families, Not Felons, in First 100 Days appeared first on The Intercept.
Por 296 votos a favor e 177 contra, a Câmara dos Deputados aprovou, na quarta-feira, 26, o texto-base da chamada reforma trabalhista. A votação aconteceu dois dias antes da greve geral programada para acontecer em todo o país justamente contra as reformas trabalhistas e previdenciárias do governo Temer. As duas pautas são consideradas prioritárias pela gestão peemedebista, e os debates (e embates) acontecem quase concomitantemente.
Na véspera da votação, por exemplo, quem quisesse acompanhar as discussões dos temas em suas respectivas comissões especiais na Câmara, longe do espalhafato observado no Plenário no dia seguinte (entre outras questões, um deputado usou o microfone para pedir a CPI da segurança pública), teria de escolher entre uma e outra. Ambas eram transmitidas ao mesmo tempo pelo canal no YouTube da TV Câmara.
Na comissão da reforma trabalhista, presidida pelo jovem deputado tucano de Goiás, Daniel Vilela, a diferença de posições entre governistas e oposição, manifestada durante as sessões, mostra o tamanho do impasse sobre as regras que hoje regulam as relações trabalhistas do país, cujo marco data de 1943, quando Getúlio Vargas aprovou a Consolidação das Leis Trabalhistas (CLT). Entre as normas estabelecidas desde então, está a proteção aos empregados em caso de demissão sem justa causa.
Como se trata de uma lei estabelecida nos anos 1940, e obviamente muita coisa mudou de lá para cá, os defensores das mudanças na CLT chamam as reformas em análise de “modernização”. Argumentam que as leis atuais criam amarradas ao empregador, impedem a geração de empregos e empurram parte da mão de obra para a informalidade.
Embora tentem emplacar a ideia de que patrão não é inimigo dos funcionários e vice-versa, a defesa ou a oposição das propostas parte de dois pontos inevitáveis de observação: uma é a do empregado; outra, do empregador.“Não deveria nem existir”
“É melhor reduzir a jornada de trabalho em 10% do que demitir 10% dos funcionários em uma situação de crise”, disse o CEO da Votorantim S/A, João Miranda, em entrevista à Folha de S.Paulo.
“Quando o trabalhador está protegido, com carteira assinada e garantia de emprego, ele consome, compra uma casa. Mas, se ele tiver um contrato precário, de jornada de três horas, que segurança vai ter? Quanto mais você precariza o trabalhador, menos ele consome, menos a indústria produz e menos o país cresce”, contesta, Sérgio Nobre, secretário-geral da Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), também em entrevista para a Folha.
A disputa por posição tem eco entre os deputados. Na sessão de terça-feira, por exemplo, o deputado Vitor Lippi (SPDB-SP), argumentou que as mudanças não trarão riscos aos direitos do trabalhador, mas o esclarecimento de algumas “jurisprudências inadequadas, incompatíveis, prejudiciais” à geração de empregos no país. “Temos de valorizar o trabalhador, mas não podemos criar uma situação de insustentabilidade das empresas brasileiras.”“Quem paga a conta é quem dá emprego.”
Um dos argumentos, além dos quase 13 milhões de desempregados, é que cerca de 60% das empresas morrem com menos de cinco anos de idade no Brasil.
Parte da culpa, segundo ele, cabe ao número de ações trabalhistas na Justiça e à proliferação dos sindicatos. “Quem paga a conta é quem dá emprego.”
O discurso está em sintonia com o que disse recentemente o presidente da Câmara, deputado Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), vulgo Botafogo nas planilhas da Odebrecht: a Justiça do Trabalho, onde empregados podem recorrer caso se sinta injustiçado em casos de demissão ou eventuais abusos, “não deveria nem existir”.Com essas mesmas leis, o Brasil atingiu o pleno emprego há poucos anos.
Sindicatos, Justiça Trabalhista e a própria lei que protege o trabalhador são assim, direta ou indiretamente, alçados a inimigos do empreendedorismo e da geração de empregos, mas nem todos pensam assim.
Na sessão, o deputado Alessandro Molon (Rede-RJ) lembrou: com essas mesmas leis, o Brasil atingiu o pleno emprego há poucos anos.
Segundo ele, o acordo negociado hoje entre trabalhador e empregador, ponto-chave da reforma, já prevalece sobre o legislado, desde que beneficie o trabalhador. “O que não existe é que o negociado seja pior do que o legislado para o trabalhador.”
A proposta de reforma, avalia, vai inverter essa posição e dificultar o acesso do trabalhador à Justiça. Segundo ele, é como dificultar o registro do crime em vez de combater a criminalidade. “Esse substituto (do projeto de lei) tem lado, e está do lado de quem tem muito. É injusto e é covarde”, disse no plenário.
Diante desta polarização, é no contexto em que se dá a discussão (e a forma como tem sido colocada) que está o principal fio desencapado da conversa. Enquanto centrais sindicais, que podem perder um montante generoso do financiamento das próprias atividades, mobilizam manifestações, e grupos apoiadores do governo lançam memes classificando os atos como coisa de vagabundo, a pergunta que vale um ministério no governo Temer é se, de fato, a remoção de alguns dispositivos da CLT será suficiente para alavancar a geração de empregos no país após anos seguidos de recessão.Quando a crise ainda era marola
Para responder, é preciso voltar algumas casas. De fato, as mesmas leis hoje sob discussão estavam em vigência quando a crise era ainda chamada de marola – foi ontem, e não nos anos 1940.
No livro “As contradições do lulismo”, o cientista político André Singer analisa como o avanço da intervenção estatal provocou expansão dos postos de trabalho formais entre 2011 e 2014, quando as taxas de desocupação estavam próximas a 4,5%, e como isso se converteu em um problema, dali em diante, para o governo Dilma.
A tese de Singer é que, para revogar o arcabouço estatal que sustentava o pleno emprego, a burguesia usaria uma espécie de “greve de investimentos” como estratégia. “Talvez não seja casual que as inversões tenham estagnado de 2011 a 2013, vindo a cair em 2014”, escreve ele. O pleno emprego deu musculatura aos sindicatos, o que resultou na contínua elevação do número de greves. “As paralisações, que já vinham subindo desde 2008, atingiram quase 87 mil horas em 2012, o maior índice desde 1997. Depois, continuaram a crescer, batendo 111 mil horas paradas em 2014. Em número de greves, houve 873 em 2012 com um salto para 2.050 em 2013.”A chamada bancada empresarial é formada por 208 deputados e está entre as mais atuais da Câmara.
Na mesma direção, escreve Singer, o salário médio real teve aumento de 13% entre 2011 e 2013 e, considerando-se a pressão de custos, decorrente da inflação e da desvalorização cambial, somada ao desaquecimento da economia, segmentos empresariais começaram a se queixar da elevada parcela do faturamento destinado a remunerar o trabalho.
Para ele, o encarecimento da mão de obra, que não poderia ser repassado aos preços devido ao desaquecimento econômico, explicaria, ao menos em parte, a redução da lucratividade. “Entende-se, no contexto, que a perspectiva neoliberal de diminuir salários e direitos tenha se tornado atraente.”
Essa queixa por parte dos empresários pode ser observada nos últimos dias na fala dos deputados. Não por acaso, segundo a Agência Pública, a chamada bancada empresarial é formada por 208 deputados e está entre as mais atuais da Câmara, juntamente com a das empreiteiras e construtoras (226), a evangélica (197) e a dos “parentes” (238).
É dessa base aliada de um governo sem voto, impactado pela Lava Jato e aprovado por menos de 5% da população, que parte a iniciativa de “modernizar” as relações de trabalho em uma sociedade cada vez mais complexa, conectada, informada e impactada com o surgimento de novas tecnologias.
Os protestos do dia 28 podem servir de termômetro para consolidar o fosso entre as ruas e quem de fato representa seus representantes. Como diz Trebor Scholz no livro “Cooperativismo de Plataforma” (outra leitura recomendada para orientar as discussões atuais), “daqui a 20 ou 30 anos, quando provavelmente enfrentaremos o fim das profissões e mais empregos serão ‘uberizados’, podemos muito bem acordar e imaginar por que não protestamos contra essas mudanças com mais força”.
The post A CLT, prestes a ser modificada, é mesmo responsável pelo desemprego? appeared first on The Intercept.
Wall Street Firm Paying Obama $400,000 Faced Internal Controversy After Pocketing Huge 9/11 Settlement
Barack Obama will deliver a speech this September at a swanky healthcare conference for investors run by Cantor Fitzgerald. As Fox Business News first reported on Monday, the firm is paying him $400,000.
The ensuing criticism of Obama for cashing in on his presidency has been thunderous – but has overlooked exactly whose money he is taking.
Cantor Fitzgerald, a major Wall Street brokerage house, lost 658 of its 960 employees when the World Trade Center was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. But when it settled a long-running lawsuit against American Airlines for $135 million in 2013, the proceeds didn’t go to the families of the dead.
At the time of the settlement, Cantor’s CEO Howard Lutnick issued a statement: “For the insurance companies, this was just another case, just another settlement, but not for us. We could never, and will never, consider it ordinary. For us, there is no way to describe this compromise with inapt words like ordinary, fair or reasonable.”
But Lutnick and his fellow Cantor partners reportedly kept some of the money for the firm and distributed the rest to themselves, in proportion to their ownership stake. Lutnick, the firm’s biggest partner, may have received as much as $25 million.
And according to Liz O’Brien and Marilyn Rocha-Carmo, widows of two of the Cantor employees killed on 9/11, the firm never informed them of the settlement — nor even that the company had filed the lawsuit in the first place.
Rocha-Carmo, whose husband Antonio was a Cantor bond trader, sounded noticeably taken aback when told of the firm’s actions. “It is a little shocking,” she said, because Lutnick “always made it sound like he was always going to take care of us, and was doing everything in our best interest, and now learning about this doesn’t feel like that anymore.” Rocha-Carmo added that she is in touch with other Cantor victim families via social media, and they do not appear to be aware of the American Airlines settlement.
Cantor declined to comment about the lawsuit’s outcome. Because Cantor is a partnership, little about its finances is publicly available.
Obama’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Obama senior adviser Eric Schultz wrote, “As we announced months ago, President Obama will deliver speeches from time to time. Some of those speeches will be paid, some will be unpaid, and regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision and his record.” Schultz also said Obama accepted the invitation “because, as a president who successfully passed health insurance reform, it’s an issue of great importance to him.”
Cantor Fitzgerald, a powerful force in the trading of Treasury securities, suffered extraordinary devastation on 9/11, more than any other business or organization in New York.
The firm’s New York offices were located on floors 101-105 of One World Trade Center. When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the tower between floors 93 and 99 at 8:48 a.m., everyone in the building above that point was trapped with no means of escape. None of the Cantor employees then in its offices survived. According to USA Today, many of those who jumped to their deaths on 9/11 came from the Cantor Fitzgerald floors.
Lutnick himself was not yet at work because he was taking his son to the first day of kindergarten. However, Lutnick’s brother Gary, who also worked at Cantor, was already at his desk and was killed.
Lutnick was initially excoriated when he cut off the paychecks of the 658 missing Cantor employees within days of September 11, even before they were confirmed to be dead.
But he and the firm soon pledged to donate one-quarter of the firm’s profits over the next five years to the families of Cantor’s lost employees and pay for the families’ health insurance for 10 years. Cantor made good on this promise, distributing over $180 million, an average of about $275,000 per Cantor victim.
For years after 9/11, Lutnick received glowing praise from the media for this generosity. When the New York Post asked him on the 10th anniversary of the attacks whether he considered himself a hero, Lutnick said “I’ve never been asked that before” but that he’d prefer to be called “a friend of the families.”
Appearing on CNBC, Lutnick said that “We rebuilt the company in order to help the families. That was the most important thing to me. If you’d asked me a couple years after 9/11, ‘What matters to you?’ I’d say ‘the number.’ ‘What do you mean, the number?’ ‘How much money we’re going to give the families.’”
In late 2014, almost a year after the American Airlines settlement, Fox Business News published an article reporting that Cantor Fitzgerald was keeping the $135 million – about three-fourths of the money it donated to the firm’s 9/11 families.
According to the story’s author, Charlie Gasparino – who also first reported that Obama would be giving the Cantor Fitzgerald speech – some executives at Cantor were “steaming mad” at Lutnick for the decision.
“Speculation in the firm,” Gasparino wrote, “suggests Lutnick took anywhere from $15 million to $25 million from the settlement.”
Cantor had accused American of negligence and sought damages of about a billion dollars for business interruption largely due to the deaths of its “exceptionally talented and liberally compensated” workers, plus harm to its brand identity and destruction of its property and technological infrastructure. The judge overseeing the case eventually ruled that Cantor could only seek business interruption damages caused by the actual physical destruction of its offices rather than the offices’ inhabitants.
A Cantor spokesperson told Fox that “All of the money for the business interruption recovery relating to the American Airlines case went either to strengthen and support the overall business, or to the over 600 Cantor Partners, precisely proportionate with the exact stake in the company, Mr. Lutnick included.” As of 2001, Lutnick reportedly owned one-third of Cantor.
In addition to donations from the firm itself, almost all of the Cantor 9/11 families received payments from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which was funded by Congress. The median award was $1.7 million. To receive money from the fund, families were required to agree not to sue the airlines involved on 9/11.
But according to Kenneth Feinberg, who administered the fund, that would not have prevented Cantor Fitzgerald from distributing proceeds of its lawsuit to its employee families. Cantor “could do whatever they want with that money,” said Feinberg.
Feinberg notes in his book “What Is Life Worth?” that Lutnick vociferously criticized him for keeping payments from the fund in a narrow range – and therefore not providing more money to the families of high-earning Cantor workers.
As for Barack Obama, he insightfully wrote in 2006 in “The Audacity of Hope” that when he entered the world of high-level politics, “I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population.”
“The path of least resistance,” Obama continued, “starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes. The problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought.”
When breaking the story of Obama’s speech, Fox Business News reported that its sources at Cantor Fitzgerald believed that “Obama could ultimately back out of the arrangement depending on his schedule and other concerns such as adverse publicity.”
The post Wall Street Firm Paying Obama $400,000 Faced Internal Controversy After Pocketing Huge 9/11 Settlement appeared first on The Intercept.
Avaliada pelo Palácio do Planalto como um teste vital para a continuidade de outras reformas, a aprovação da reforma trabalhista nesta quarta fez crescer no governo a sensação de que a batalha pela aprovação da Reforma da Previdência será ainda mais árdua. A começar pelo alto número de traições: foram mais de 80. E o governo tem no horizonte motivos de grandes preocupações – entre elas, a proximidade da greve geral, marcada para esta sexta (28).
A sessão desta quarta, que durou mais de 10 horas, foi marcada por protestos da oposição e mais manobras da base aliada do governo. Temendo deixar a digital no resultado final, deputados governistas articulavam que a votação fosse simbólica, ao invés de nominal. Em votações simbólicas, os deputados dizem se aprovam ou não o texto, mas sem possibilidade de saber como cada deputado votou. Após a oposição ameaçar que não haveria acordo e que dificultaria mais ainda as próximas sessões, o líder do governo na Câmara, Aguinaldo Ribeiro (PP/PB), anunciou o recuo e afirmou que o governo apoiaria a votação nominal da proposta.
Quem acompanhou as discussões antes da votação percebeu que os lados estavam bem divididos em relação à proposta. Para o governo, o texto era o melhor dos mundos e a saída para tirar o Brasil da crise econômica. Na trincheira da oposição, o sentimento era de que não havia possibilidade de discutir mudanças nas leis trabalhistas.Reforma Trabalhista beneficia a quem?
A perversidade da Reforma Trabalhista está ligada umbilicalmente aos pensadores do texto. Ontem, The Intercept Brasil revelou que, após exame das 850 emendas apresentadas por 82 deputados durante a discussão do projeto na comissão especial, 292 (34,3%) foram integralmente redigidas em computadores de representantes da Confederação Nacional do Transporte (CNT), da Confederação Nacional das Instituições Financeiras (CNF), da Confederação Nacional da Indústria (CNI) e da Associação Nacional do Transporte de Cargas e Logística (NTC&Logística).
Por mais que o governo rebata as críticas à reforma, The Intercept Brasil esclareceu sobre os pontos críticos da reforma, que atingirá o coração dos direitos trabalhistas brasileiros.
Apesar da aprovação, um clima de apreensão rastejava pelos corredores do Palácio do Planalto. A votação da trabalhista era considerada importantíssima para o governo, como forma de testar a fidelidade da base aliada, e um teste para a votação mais espinhosa, da Reforma da Previdência, que precisa de no mínimo 308 votos para ser aprovada. Como demonstração de força, nos bastidores, o governo trabalhava para que a trabalhista tivesse mais de 320, o que acabou não ocorrendo.
Atenção: reforma trabalhista é aprovada na Câmara por 296 x 177. Veja como votou cada deputado: pic.twitter.com/KbjofIeeeY
— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) April 27, 2017
Outro fator de preocupação para o governo centrava na dissidência aberta pelo PSB, partido da base aliada do governo. No início da semana, o Diretório Nacional do partido orientou que sua base votasse contrária às reformas trabalhista e previdenciária. Diante do painel eletrônico, a bancada se dividiu. Dos 30 parlamentares da legenda presentes em plenário, 14 votaram com o governo e 16, contra.
Revoada na base aliada do governo. Com 35 deputados, PSB orienta votar contra reforma trabalhista e Previdência pic.twitter.com/U7WoFMoj0Z
— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) April 24, 2017“A demonstração de que o governo Temer é fraco é que ele mandou seus ministros filiados ao PSB para votar a reforma”
“A demonstração de que o governo Temer é fraco é que ele mandou seus ministros filiados ao PSB para votar a reforma”, alfinetou o deputado Julio Delgado (PSB/MG) em discurso no plenário da Câmara. Na tarde da votação, Temer exonerou o ministro Fernando Bezerra Coelho Filho (PSB/PE), do Ministério de Minas e Energia, para que ele votasse favoravelmente à proposta, contrariando orientação do direção nacional do PSB.
Em defesa da reforma trabalhista, no plenário o líder do PSDB Ricardo Tripolli (PSDB/SP) na Câmara afirmou que o discurso anti-imperialistas estaria superado e que, por isso, o projeto seria aprovado. “Sem capital não se gera emprego. Temos consciência de nossa responsabilidade”, argumentou.
Por nota, Temer pediu “o mesmo grau de engajamento” dos parlamentares para que também aprovem o projeto no Senado e que o resultado da aprovação mostra que a sociedade quer “adequar” as relações trabalhistas para o presente e para o futuro.Planalto monitora greve geral
Receoso de que o parlamento possa sofrer interferências e pressões externas com a greve geral – e que isso possa interferir no resultado final da Previdência – a orientação no Planalto é monitorar o alcance das manifestações e manter o tom máximo de normalidade no dia da greve. Num governo de surdos e mudos, a ordem-primeira é ignorar as manifestações e manter-se firme nas propostas que fortalecerão o empresariado brasileiro.
The post Governo ignora trabalhadores e segue firme com mudanças que beneficiam empresários appeared first on The Intercept.
France’s Jewish community is watching the second round of this year’s presidential election with profound unease, as Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front has unveiled plans to ban the ritual slaughter of animals for kosher and halal meat and promoted a deputy who has been accused of praising an infamous Holocaust denier.
Le Pen temporarily stepped aside this week as the leader of the extreme nationalist party founded by her Holocaust-denying father, Jean-Marie, as part of an effort to present a more moderate face in the general election.
That attempt was immediately spoiled, however, by the revelation that the former associate of her father she put in charge of the party, Jean-François Jalkh, told a scholar in 2000 that he did not accept evidence that the Nazis used the pesticide Zyklon B to murder Jews in the death camps.
Jalkh’s comments were published 12 years ago in an academic journal, but not widely known about until a reporter for the Catholic daily La Croix, Laurent de Boissieu, came across them on Tuesday.
Je tombe sur ceci au sujet du nouveau président par intérim du FN!!!
(Le Temps des Savoirs, numéro 7, La Création, Odile Jacob, mars 2005). pic.twitter.com/ofuACs1yxf
— Laurent de Boissieu (@ldeboissieu) April 25, 2017
During a three-hour interview with the researcher Magali Boumaza, for her dissertation on the National Front’s youth activists, Jalkh, who joined the movement at 17, said that he had been struck by the “seriousness and rigor” of arguments made by the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson about the gas chambers.
That reading led Jalkh to consult a chemist, he added, before saying, in a passage shared on Twitter by the reporter who unearthed it: “the use of a gas, for example, called Zyklon B, I personally consider that from a technical point of view, it is impossible, clearly impossible, to use it in […] mass exterminations. Why? Because it takes days before decontaminating a room … where one used Zyklon B.”
Although Jalkh quickly denied ever having made such comments, Boumaza, who is now a professor, told Le Monde that she still had a recording of the conversation. “The interview lasted three hours, and it was he who spontaneously broached the subject of the gas chambers,” she said. “At no time did he ask me to stop recording or not to transcribe his words.”
Le Monde also noted that its own archives reveal that in 1991 Jalkh attended a memorial for Marshal Pétain, the wartime leader of Vichy France who collaborated with the Nazis, at which prayers were said “for the restitution of the outraged honor of this great soldier.”
The Council of Jewish Institutions in France, which is known by the French acronym CRIF, noted that Jalkh’s appointment clearly undermined Le Pen’s effort to detoxify her party’s image — which included expelling her own father for Holocaust denial two years ago. Still, the council asked, why would anyone would be surprised that the new leader of the National Front is “a traditional Lepenist.”
— CRIF (@Le_CRIF) April 26, 2017
After elevating Jalkh in her place, Le Pen campaigned among butchers at a market in Paris and defended her proposal to ban the ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning, in accordance with Jewish and Muslim dietary regulations, as a matter of animal welfare.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 25, 2017
Like her earlier call for a ban on religious head coverings, including hijabs and yarmulkes, Le Pen’s proposed policy appeared to be a strike aimed at preventing devout Muslims from adhering to their faith, but she seemed entirely untroubled by the “collateral damage” the ban would cause to France’s Jews.
In response to the proposal, the Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia, told Agence France-Presse Le Pen’s idea was “stupefying.”
“Is it necessary to launch real religious wars in France by saying that it is essential to ban Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughtering?” Korsia asked.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Korsia has endorsed Le Pen’s rival, Emmanuel Macron, in the election to be held on May 7th. “It is necessary to call on all of those who believe in France to vote for Emmanuel Macron,” the rabbi wrote on Twitter, “because he now carries this hope of fraternité.”
Il faut appeler tous ceux qui croient en la France à voter pour @EmmanuelMacron car il porte, maintenant, cette espérance de fraternité
— Haïm Korsia (@HaimKorsia) April 25, 2017
Le Pen’s call for a ban on the ritual slaughter that would make it impossible for French Jews to keep kosher attracted the attention of Israeli journalists. Gilbert Collard, a member of the National Front’s political bureau, was pressed on the issue during an interview on Wednesday with the French channel of Israel’s i24 news network. Collard defended the move as essential to protecting secularism in France, and even argued that anti-Muslim measures were necessary, in part, to protect French Jews.
— Julien Bahloul (@julienbahloul) April 26, 2017
Attempting to cast the National Front as the defender of French Jews, Collard pointed to what he said was an outrageous example of anti-Semitism by leftist protesters – the slogan “Jews: Thieves, Murders!” (“Juifs: voleurs, assassins“) which he said was chanted during a recent demonstration.
In fact, Collard was repeating a willful misinterpretation of video that showed protesters chanting instead “Cops: Rapists and Murders!” (“Flics: violeurs, assassins“) while marching on April 16 against the National Front in Paris. That slogan makes reference to the violent anal rape with a police baton of a young man named Theo in a Paris suburb in February.
"Juifs, voleurs, assassins !" scandent les manifestants anti-FN dans le XIXe arrondissement de Paris : l'antiracisme pue le racisme ! pic.twitter.com/QzqguhWHLr
— Gilbert Collard (@GilbertCollard) April 16, 2017
Nonetheless, video of the chant shared by Collard on Twitter and Facebook with that inaccurate transcription has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. (Collard appears to have gotten the video, and the inaccurate transcription, from a self-described French-Israeli Zionist who posted it on Twitter earlier the same day.)
Amandine Sanchez, an independent journalist who was with the protesters on the street where the video was recorded confirmed to The Intercept on Thursday that the chant was indeed about the police, not Jews.
Video recorded at street-level during another part of the demonstration that day — scroll to the 5:20 mark of the Periscope clip embedded below — appears to confirm that the anti-fascist protesters were indeed chanting “flics: violeurs,” not “juifs: voleurs.
— Léo (@leo_adde) April 16, 2017
As supporters of the demonstrators and journalists pointed out, there is quite a lot of evidence on social networks that this slogan about police brutality has become common at left-wing protests across France since Theo was brutalized in February.
— Nikos Poulos (@Nikos_Los) April 16, 2017
— Philippe Vardon (@P_Vardon) February 18, 2017
— Dominique Natanson (@DomNatanson) April 16, 2017
— Jean-Paul Louis Ney (@jpney) April 25, 2017
Back on the campaign trail, Le Pen spent part of Thursday with Collard on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean region he represents in the French parliament. The outing gave rise to some bizarre images of the politicians attempting to fit in on the boat, including video of Le Pen demonstrating her dolphin call for the non-plussed fishermen.
"Moi, j'appelle les dauphins" Quand Marine Le Pen sort en bateau avec Gilbert Collard pic.twitter.com/Z0bLQ0on1l
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) April 27, 2017
From the Paris suburbs, where he was demonstrating his skills with a soccer ball, Macron mocked Le Pen’s outing on Twitter, suggesting that her promise to take France out of the European Union would devastate the French fishing industry.
The night before, Macron’s rhetoric against Le Pen was even sharper, telling supporters that while “she pretends to be one of the people, she is an heiress.”
Le Pen’s attempt to cast herself as the champion of the common man, despite her well-off upbringing, inspired some of her critics to share a photograph of her and her sisters with their father in evening clothes in front of the family mansion in 1988.
— JOD (@jo_delb) April 25, 2017
The post Le Pen Promotes Holocaust Denier and Plans to Ban Kosher Butchers and Yarmulkes appeared first on The Intercept.
Award-winning journalist Barrett Brown was re-arrested and taken into custody Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to be interviewed for a PBS documentary.
Brown quickly became a symbol of the attack on press freedom after he was arrested in 2012 for reporting he did on the hacked emails of intelligence-contracting firms. Brown wrote about hacked emails that showed the firm Stratfor spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Brown also helped uncover a proposal by intelligence contractors to hack and smear WikiLeaks defenders and progressive activists.
Faced with the possibility of 100 years in prison, Brown pleaded guilty in 2014 to two charges related to obstruction of justice and threatening an FBI agent, and was sentenced to five years and 3 months. In 2016, Brown won a National Magazine Award for his scathing and often hilarious columns in The Intercept, which focused on his life in prison. He was released in November.
Jay Leiderman, Brown’s lawyer, told The Intercept Brown was arrested Thursday during a check-in. According to his mother, Brown had not missed a check-in or failed a drug test since he was released to a halfway house in November. Neither his mother nor lawyer has been informed where he is being held.
According to his mother, who spoke with Brown by phone after his arrest, Brown believes the reason for his re-arrest was a failure to obtain “permission” to give interviews to media organizations. Several weeks ago, Brown was told by his check-in officer that he needed to fill out permission forms before giving interviews.
Since his release, Brown has given numerous interviews, on camera and by phone. But according to his mother, Brown said that the Bureau of Prisons never informed him about a paperwork requirement. When he followed up with his check-in officer, he was given a different form: a liability form for media entering prisons.
Just last week, Brown was interviewed for two days by VICE, and his PBS interview was set for Friday.
Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”
Leiderman called the impromptu media restrictions “disgusting” and said he believed the arrest was an act of reprisal for criticizing the government. “I would call the people who did this a bunch of chicken-shit assholes that are brutalizing the Constitution,” Leiderman said.
The post Formerly Imprisoned Journalist Barrett Brown Taken Back Into Custody Before PBS Interview appeared first on The Intercept.
Tennessee’s state government has inked a sweetheart deal with a company linked to the state’s billionaire governor to privatize thousands of facilities and management jobs at colleges, prisons, and other public buildings.
It’s being touted by some officials in other states as a model for the nation.
The $330 million, five-year contract covers custodial services, groundskeeping, and repair and maintenance work. Government officials say that each public facility can choose to only partially comply, or opt out, keeping their employees on the public payroll. “If they’re happy with business as usual, there’s nothing to do,” said Michelle Martin, a spokeswoman for the office that issued the contract.
But Gov. Bill Haslam has been adamant about the need to outsource state jobs. And any facility considering outsourcing will no longer be able to seek quotes from a variety of bidders. Their only choice, according to a master contract signed last Friday, will be to hire Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the world’s largest facilities management firm. Under a process called “vested outsourcing,” JLL actually helped write the contract.
The United Campus Workers union (UCW) estimates that 10,000 workers could be affected, from janitors and electricians to middle-management accountants and clerical staff. At newly-outsourced facilities, state workers would have to re-apply for jobs and face additional screening. While Tennessee has promised that workers’ total benefits would not be reduced, the union is skeptical. “It creates a volatile and unpredictable environment,” said Thomas Walker, communications director for UCW. “It’s kind of this private sector business philosophy that they are using Tennessee to experiment on.”
“Governor Haslam’s secretive outsourcing plan has all the hallmarks of a corporate takeover of government,” said Donald Cohen of In The Public Interest, an anti-privatization group. “Government is too important to be used as a marketing tool for corporations that want control of public services.”
The outsourcing drive started several years ago. Haslam, the richest U.S. elected official not named Donald Trump, began in 2013 by privatizing facilities management in 10 percent of the state’s 7,500 buildings, including Legislative Plaza in Nashville, to JLL.
The state claims $26 million in savings from that initiative between 2014 and 2016. But Walker said that cost breakdowns have never been provided to the state comptroller. He added that service quality “instantly collapsed” at the state capitol. “People talk about the flickering light bulb in their office,” he said. JLL has received critical reviews in audits of its facilities management in Tennessee, though spokeswoman Michelle Martin cited 98 percent internal satisfaction ratings for JLL services.
The choice of JLL was notable because Haslam disclosed while running for governor that he had a major investment in the company. The governor put the JLL investment into a blind trust upon entering office.
JLL also receives significant contracts from the state for consulting. It has advised the state on decommissioning state buildings and leasing new office space (including its own facilities), earning at least $3.7 million. Another $1 million consulting contract went to studying facilities management at all state buildings — precisely the activity JLL now means to take over. One state audit cited this conflict of interest as problematic.
An August 2015 “request for information” laid out the latest outsourcing expansion, encompassing virtually every job at a state-run facility. State representatives and private companies, including JLL, developed the scope of the final contract in confidential meetings.
“It’s a significant change in how procurement operates,” said Melanie Barron of UCW. “Normally, the state would say ‘This is what we need, you come and bid on it.’ Companies are now helping tell the state what they need.”
This new “vested outsourcing” concept was championed by two adjunct professors at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s business school, one of whom, industry consultant Mike Ledyard, now works as the “director of facilities management outsourcing” for the state’s uniquely named Office of Customer Focused Government. Consultants specializing in outsourcing have been paid $612,000 a year by the state of Tennessee. Ledyard is the highest-paid employee in Tennessee government.
State officials maintain the procurement process they used dates back to the 1950s, and described vested outsourcing as merely workshops for the state to learn industry best practices.
In a survey of five campuses, JLL estimated that it could save Tennessee between 12 and 19 percent for four of them (the fifth, the Tennessee School for the Blind, would have cost the state more money). But the company provided no detailed analysis of how those numbers were derived. Democratic state legislator Lee Harris called the numbers “made up” and “arbitrary.”
Technically, the savings aren’t supposed to come at a cost to workers. The state, which claims that only 3,000 workers would be impacted as opposed to 10,000, stressed that “the welfare of current facilities management employees” was the top priority of the contract. The contract also promises no reduction to an employee’s “Total Equitable Compensation,” which includes salary, health insurance, retirement benefits, and education assistance.
However, the request for proposal says that “no current qualified and productive facilities management employees will be unemployed” as a result of outsourcing. That seemingly subjective standard gets applied through background checks, skills verifications, and drug testing, something not currently asked of state workers. Other potential loopholes distinguish between “regular” and “non-regular” employees, and allow JLL to transfer workers up to 50 miles away from their existing employment locations.
“What we anticipate is for there to be reduction in state payroll,” said Melanie Barron of UCW. In addition, Barron said, attrition since the outsourcing process began two years ago has already led to lower staffing levels, which are being used as a baseline for the new employer. “They’ll intentionally understaff,” she said.
And new workers will not be treated the same as older ones. Tom Anderson, a warehouse buyer at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a past president of UCW, explained that when food services on college campuses were outsourced to private employer Aramark several years ago, it created a “hostile two-tiered work environment,” with the holdover workers getting higher pay for the same jobs as the new ones. “The ground-level managers have a financial incentive to get people off the books,” Anderson said. “There are many tactics to get people to leave.”
UCW cites other “absurdly favorable” terms in the JLL contract. For example, the state assumes the cost of sales tax on any goods and services provided by or procured by JLL. The contract can also be expanded to cover county or municipal government, including K-12 schools, and can be rewritten at any time if expenses exceed the approved budget, according to UCW.
The state asserts that savings would arise from economies of scale, like bulk purchasing for supplies and materials and by removing the need for sub-contractors. “If more sign up you’re spreading fixed costs more, bringing costs down,” said state spokeswoman Martin.
Critics argue the state has put their thumb on the scale to encourage sign-on, particularly at college campuses, which comprise close to two-thirds of all state facilities. Under legislation passed last year, Governor Haslam created new governing boards for four-year colleges like the University of Memphis, East Tennessee State, and Middle Tennessee State. Haslam “appointed every single person on the board,” said Walker, the union spokesman.
Separately, Haslam has put pressure on colleges to justify their budgets, while cutting state support to the university system by hundreds of millions of dollars. Terry Cowles, head of the Office of Customer Focused Government, reportedly told campus officials in March that they needed to decide whether to opt in to outsourcing by May 1, though the state later denied that.
University of Tennessee facilities managers have called Haslam’s plan a “disaster.” State workers have protested with banner drops and demonstrations, using the hashtag #TNisNOTforsale. Students and faculty appear to oppose the idea as well. A public comment period generated thousands of statements of opposition. “We don’t get complaints, we get compliments,” said Tom Anderson, the facilities worker at UT-Knoxville. “We have universal support from faculty and student groups.”
Even the heavily Republican state legislature has expressed concern about the lack of oversight of the JLL contract. Forty-two state lawmakers recently asked the Office of Customer Focused Government to halt the outsourcing until the legislature could study the implications. Seventeen elected officials called for an economic impact statement on areas affected, but have yet to receive a response from the state. Two bills to increase legislative oversight have been introduced, but the governor announced his opposition to them for “philosophical reasons.”
On a campus tour last week, Cowles got an earful from students about the lack of transparency and Haslam’s ties to JLL. “We’re trying to be as transparent as we can,” Cowles told students, while admitting that the state hasn’t spoken to any campus workers in particular about the contract.
But Cowles has been speaking to other states about adopting the outsourcing concept. “Last count, there’s about 15 of them that are really interested in seeing what’s transpiring here,” he told students. The National Association of State Chief Administrators, a non-profit association of state officials, is holding a May 3 symposium in Nashville on the Tennessee outsourcing plan. The state is providing speakers for the event, according to David Roberson of the Department of General Services.
The event sponsor is JLL.
The post Tennessee’s Billionaire Governor Works With His Corporate Buddies to Privatize Government Jobs appeared first on The Intercept.
As part of its radical but still mostly undefined tax plan, the Trump administration proposed a tax holiday for corporate earnings stored overseas. Reporters have been hearing on background that the tax rate would be slashed from 35 percent to 10 percent.
But judging from the last time it was tried, most of the cash Donald Trump would allow megacorporations to bring home from overseas at a bargain-basement tax rate would end up being used by corporate executives to inflate the prices of their stocks, thereby enriching themselves and their biggest investors — and doing little to employ Americans and grow the real economy.
From 2004 to 2005, the Bush administration and Congress tried a one-time tax repatriation holiday, cutting the rate to 5.25 percent.
A Senate study in 2011 found that corporations brought $312 billion they had stashed overseas back to the United States, avoiding $3.3 billion in taxes as a result of the repatriation rate. But the top 15 companies that took advantage of the holiday actually reduced their total U.S. employment by 20,931 jobs.
Meanwhile, the report surveyed studies of all 840 corporations that took advantage of repatriation and concluded that there was “no evidence that repatriated funds increased overall U.S. employment.”
So what did the companies use the money for? The report found that two things increased dramatically after repatriation: executive compensation and stock buybacks.
The top five executives at the top 15 repatriating corporations saw their annual compensation increase by 27 percent from 2004 to 2005. Meanwhile, the top 15 repatriating corporations increased their spending on stock buybacks 16 percent from 2004 to 2005 and 38 percent from 2005 to 2006.
William Lazonick, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, has long studied the issue of stock buybacks. He noted in a Brookings paper published in 2015 that corporations have essentially established a “buyback economy“: Between 2004 and 2013, 454 companies in the S&P 500 Index did $3.4 trillion in stock buybacks, “representing 51 percent of net income. These companies expended an additional 35 percent of net income on dividends.”
“Why are you giving these companies any tax breaks when the vast majority of the profits are just being used to boost stock prices?” he asked in an interview with The Intercept.
Corporations are hardly concealing the fact that they’d like to repeat the 2004 tax repatriation experiment.
In January, The Intercept reviewed dozens of earnings calls and investor briefings and found many executives suggesting they’d use another repatriation holiday to increase stock buybacks and acquire other companies.
For instance, Cisco Systems Chief Financial Officer Kelly Kramer told a securities analyst, “We would have a blend of actions we can certainly take with our dividend as well as our share buyback, as well as leading flexibility for us to be able to do [mergers and acquisitions] and strategic investments.”
Bush himself realized that the country had been swindled — at least according to a 2015 interview with former president Bill Clinton. Clinton told Inc. Magazine about a conversation he had with Bush. According to Clinton, Bush said “I hope you can figure it out. I’d never fool with it again. They gave me all these promises about, we’d sign a one-time, 5 3/4 percent repatriation tax, they’d put the rest of it into jobs and pay raises.”
Instead it went into management pay and stock buybacks, Clinton noted. “And he said, ‘I’m done with it.’ It was really a touching conversation. He really felt personally burned by his constituents.”
The post Bush Already Tried Trump’s Proposed Corporate Tax Holiday and It Was a Total Failure appeared first on The Intercept.
Vistas isoladamente, as somas pagas em propina pela Odebrecht já impressionam. Só nos inquéritos que tramitam no Supremo Tribunal Federal, executivos e diretores da empresa relataram pagamentos de mais de R$ 220 milhões em propinas atreladas a percentuais de obras públicas. E nessa conta nem entram as mais de 200 petições encaminhadas pelo ministro Edson Fachin para outras instâncias da Justiça, por envolverem autoridades sem foro privilegiado no STF.
Foi um investimento lucrativo. Para a maior parte da população, esses valores são incompreensíveis – no Brasil, a renda mensal média de um trabalhador é de pouco mais de R$ 1 mil, de acordo com o IBGE. Mesmo assim, os montantes desviados para agradar políticos parecem mero troco diante do custo de obras e contratos contaminados pela relação corrupta entre a maior empreiteira do Brasil e os principais políticos do país.
The Intercept Brasil examinou os inquéritos e petições encaminhados pela Procuradoria-Geral da República a partir das delações da Odebrecht e criou um mapa com as principais obras comprometidas com acertos de propina para agentes públicos, acompanhado de detalhes sobre cada uma delas. O custo total chega a R$ 77 bilhões. Em todos esses casos, os envolvidos estão agora sob investigação pela suposta prática de crimes de corrupção passiva e lavagem de dinheiro.
O senador e presidente do PSDB, Aécio Neves (MG), é um deles. Quando governador de Minas Gerais, recebeu, segundo delatores, R$ 5,2 milhões em um acordo para fraudar a licitação da Cidade Administrativa, em Belo Horizonte. O alto escalão do PT também está sob investigação formal. Conforme os relatos, a Odebrecht mantinha ao menos três contas com dinheiro ilícito à disposição – uma delas, supostamente destinada ao ex-presidente Lula, com saldo de R$ 35 milhões. O PMDB, agora no comando da República, teria acordado propina de US$ 40 milhões em reunião que teve participação do presidente Michel Temer – e isso referente a apenas um contrato na Petrobras.
A Cidade Administrativa de Minas Gerais é estimada em R$ 1,2 bilhão – e não é, nem de longe, a obra mais cara entre as supostamente maculadas. Em Porto Velho, Rondônia, no Rio Madeira, foram construídas duas hidrelétricas: as usinas de Santo Antônio e de Jirau, ambas envolvidas em polêmicas ambientais. De acordo com os delatores, ao menos R$ 55 milhões foram pagos para peemedebistas de alto escalão nesses empreendimentos. O valor das obras somadas? Cerca de R$ 36 bilhões.
A Odebrecht, muitas vezes em conjunto com outras grandes empreiteiras (que ainda negociam delações premiadas), atuou também para obter vantagens ilícitas em obras que vão desde grandes investimentos para a Copa do Mundo de 2014, os Jogos Olímpicos de 2016, até concessões menores, em cidades do interior.
Essas obras menores estão citadas mesmo nos inquéritos abertos no STF. Um exemplo sintomático é Blumenau, cidade que recebeu, ainda no século 19, o patriarca dos Odebrecht, Emil. Mais de 160 anos depois de sua chegada, a cidade agora aparece envolvida na suspeita de que o prefeito Napoleão Bernardes (PSDB) recebeu R$ 500 mil da Odebrecht, via caixa 2, para que a Odebrecht Ambiental, responsável pelo sistema de esgoto do município, fosse beneficiada.
The post Relação entre Odebrecht e políticos contaminou obras da Amazônia à fronteira com o Uruguai appeared first on The Intercept.
Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Gina Grimm always wondered who her biological parents were. “You know, you go to the supermarket and think, ‘That lady kinda has my nose.’ Or, you know, ‘That man kinda has a resemblance to my face.’” Her adoptive parents never discouraged her from acting on her curiosity. “I made very clear since I was young that eventually one day I would find them,” she says. That day arrived in 2010, after Grimm filed a petition with a probate court to have her birth certificate released. It came with contact information for her biological mother. Grimm called her — and that’s when she found out that her father was Jack Jones Jr., a man on Arkansas’s death row.
His crimes were the stuff of nightmares. In 1995, in the small town of Bald Knob, Arkansas, Jones had beaten, strangled, and raped a woman named Mary Phillips inside the county tax office where she worked. Jones also viciously attacked her 11-year-old daughter, Lacy, who miraculously survived. After Jones was convicted, his DNA was found to match evidence from another murder that had gone unsolved, of a woman named Lorraine Anne Barrett, killed in Florida while on vacation in 1991. Jones was tried for that crime while on death row in Arkansas. He was sentenced to life, in addition to his existing death sentence.
Grimm had no way to process what she had learned. She was dizzy with shock, guilt, and confusion about the man who gave her life. “I had a lot to think about,” she recalls. “It truly opened a can of worms.” Grimm had grown up comfortable, even sheltered, with no real contact with the criminal justice system. While reeling from the revelation about her father, she began to feel grateful that she had been raised in a family better equipped to take care of her. Whatever led her father to such a dark and violent place, Grimm felt compelled to let him know that he had done the right thing by putting her up for adoption. She thought he should know that his daughter had turned out OK.
Grimm wrote this to Jones in a letter, which she sent to his P.O. Box address at the Varner Unit in Grady, Arkansas. He responded immediately. Before long, Grimm had boxes of letters from him, along with paintings he made for her two young children. “We just built a very intense bond,” she said. Whoever her father had been when he committed his crimes, Grimm was seeing a different side of him now. She believed he belonged in prison. But she also believed he had changed. Then, this past February, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that after almost 12 years without any executions in the state, he had signed death warrants for eight men whose appeals had run out. The state’s stash of midazolam — the first of three drugs chosen by the state to carry out executions — was set to expire at the end of April. So officials would move fast, killing them in twos, beginning on April 17 and ending on April 27. Jones was one of them, set to die on April 24.
On Monday night, Grimm stood outside the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections, which houses the state’s execution chamber. The sun was beating down, although it was after 6 p.m. Her father had been moved to a cell adjacent to the room where he was set to die. He had eaten his last meal, dutifully disclosed by prison officials as “three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, beef jerky bites, three Butterfinger bars, one chocolate milkshake with Butterfinger pieces and fruit punch.” The details stood in contrast to basic information about how the state planned to kill Jones: The source of the execution drugs was officially secret, as were the identities of the executioners. Asked whether the same prison staffers would be placing the intravenous lines and administering the lethal injections for both Jones and Marcel Williams, who was also set to die that night, public information officer Solomon Graves declined to answer, citing Arkansas law.
Security was heavy that evening. In a field outside the prison, a protest area had been designated using caution tape. Cars were searched upon entering; some people were frisked. A police helicopter sat nearby, facing the area, for reasons that were not completely clear. (That information was secret too.) A mobile command unit towered over a fleet of cop cars. Across the field, a separate area was designated for supporters of the executions. There, members of the Phillips family were gathered, with a small child in tow. One man held a sign that said “Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth.”
Grimm’s trip to Arkansas had come together quickly, thanks in large part to Abraham Bonowitz, a veteran anti-death penalty activist from Ohio and founder of Death Penalty Action. Accompanied by Randy Gardner, whose brother was executed by firing squad in Utah in 2010, Bonowitz has raised funds and helped organize the effort to push back against the execution spree in Arkansas. With his assistance — and with the help of her mother, who donated airline miles — Grimm had arrived in Little Rock in time to visit her father the day before, staying in a cheap hotel in the nearby town of Pine Bluff. It would be the first and last time she saw her father in person. The two held hands and tried to keep things lighthearted, she said. “We forgave each other for any things that we ever said that was hurtful. We talked about the day I was born.” At one point, he took off his wedding ring and gave it to Grimm, who now wore it on a chain around her neck.
Grimm is 32, with dyed red hair and a silver nose ring. A large tattoo on her arm reads “Daddy’s girl,” not a tribute to Jones, but rather to the man who raised her. (“Family is everything,” she says.) A single mom, she has chosen to be honest with her kids about their biological grandfather. “They’re very aware that he’s done terrible things. But he doesn’t deserve this. And I’m raising them to know that this isn’t right. It’s not OK.” As we spoke, seeking shade in the grass between two parked cars outside the protest area, a police officer ordered us to get behind the yellow caution tape. Grimm responded that her father was one of the men set to die that night and respectfully asked for five more minutes to cool off.
Unlike other states, Arkansas does not allow relatives to witness executions. Jones’s sister, Lynn Scott, had fought for weeks to be allowed to view the execution, pleading with officials to no avail. Grimm, too, said she would have been a witness in a heartbeat. “It might sound very dark to some people, and it is,” she said. “But the people that are gonna kill my dad are gonna have hateful eyes on him, in my opinion.” She had no desire to see her father killed, but it would have been worth it just for him to have someone there who loved him.
There was another reason to want to see the execution, although it was harder to talk about. Attorneys and advocates had warned for weeks of the dangers posed by the double execution: Not only was midazolam, a sedative never meant for executions, linked to numerous executions gone awry, but the health problems suffered by both Jones and Williams made the procedure riskier still. Both men were obese, which would likely make it hard to find a vein. Jones had diabetes and was on medication; one of his legs had been amputated years before.
As the execution hour approached, protesters huddled together. Around 7 p.m., with the execution understood to be underway, protesters took turns ringing a loud, mournful bell, as Bonowitz spoke iconic words by the poet John Donne: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind,” he said. “Don’t ask for whom the bells tolls. It tolls for thee.”
At 7:23, a TV reporter in a bright blue dress got a phone call, approaching Bonowitz. “It’s done,” he said. The state set the time of death at 7:20 p.m., with everything appearing to go smoothly. Through tears, Grimm expressed relief. She hugged the activists who brought her there and prayed with a group of Episcopal priests. They prayed for Jones, for the Phillips and Barrett families, for the prison guards, for the governor, and for the state of Arkansas.
There were 18 official witnesses at the execution of Jack Jones Jr., according to the state. Three were from the media. Four were relatives of the Phillips family. Among the rest was Chris Raff, who prosecuted Jones back in White County in 1996. Raff, who retired two years ago, was the longest serving district attorney in Arkansas history. The murder of Mary Phillips was one of just a handful of cases in which he chose to seek the death penalty over the course of his career. “I always tried to look at the likelihood that that defendant was truly dangerous, very likely to offend in a homicidal manner again,” he said over the phone last month. He also let the victim’s feelings factor in some, he added. “Some victims don’t want the death penalty. And I always valued that input too.”
The Phillips family wanted the death penalty. The jury complied. The brutality had just been unmistakable. Raff, who visited the crime scene, recalled the harrowing moment police realized that Lacy Phillips was still alive. “They were taking photographs of the crime scene,” he said, “and they noticed blood coming from the bathroom.” There, they found Lacy, tied up and badly beaten. When the crime scene photographer began to take her photo, her eyes opened. Raff still has the picture, he said.
Yet the portrait of Jones was more complex than his grisly crimes. There were aspects of his life that pointed to severe mental health problems dating back to when he was young, and which jurors never heard before they sentenced him to die. A report by the Harvard-based Fair Punishment Project sheds light on some of them. Jones had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had a history of depression. According to an amicus brief authored by the Project’s director, Rob Smith, Jones had hallucinations of “bugs, ants and spiders” attacking him. When he was older, Jones “tried to commit suicide in 1989 and again in 1991, when he jumped off a bridge. Only then did he receive psychiatric attention.” Before the murder of Mary Phillips, Jones “committed himself to the hospital, again reporting suicidal ideation. It is then that he finally received his bipolar diagnosis.” Mental illness often gets worse on death row, exacerbated by long bouts of isolation. While Jones seemed to be able to function well enough to relate to his relatives, his physical condition had significantly deteriorated. On the night of his execution, prison staff planned to wheel him into the chamber in a restraint chair.
Raff had no desire to watch Jones’s death, he said. But he felt an obligation to the Phillips family. He was aware of the arguments being made about the state’s protocol; when I asked him if he feared anything would go wrong, he said that, in the past, “I was absolutely not concerned.” But he added, “To be honest with you, I’m just not sure now.” He expressed relief that there were people scrutinizing the protocol, to make sure it would work as planned.
Afterward, Raff said everything had appeared to go smoothly. He praised the prison staff as calm and professional, which he called “kind of amazing,” given the stress they must have felt at the back-to-back executions. Nothing seemed amiss with the procedure, he said. “From what I saw — and understanding I don’t have medical training to recognize anything specific — I didn’t recognize anything out of the ordinary or see anything that indicated any problems.” Rafa did notice that Jones’s lips kept moving once the prison staff cut off the sound from his microphone, which had captured a lengthy final statement, but he could not tell what it meant. He did not know when, exactly, Jones had been given the midazolam.
Raff pointed out that the Department of Corrections captures the execution on videotape. He didn’t know if the videos are stored or not, he said, but if one really wanted to know if things went smoothly, “it would be better than witness statements.” But he acknowledged that the state was not likely to release it.
Grimm was doing okay, relatively speaking, as she stood outside the prison following her dad’s execution. As she and other protesters waited to hear if the execution of Marcel Williams would move forward, emails and tweets began to circulate suggesting that all had not gone smoothly with Jones after all. In an emergency motion filed shortly after 8 p.m., attorneys tried to block the state from proceeding with Williams’s execution, reporting that “infirmary staff tried unsuccessfully to place a central line in Mr. Jones’s neck for 45 minutes before placing one elsewhere on his body.” The same motion cited unnamed witnesses who reportedly saw Jones had “moved his lips and gulped for air,” after the midazolam should have rendered him unconscious.
Grimm was not looking at her phone. She was still holding the sense of relief that her father had not suffered. It would be short-lived. Shortly before 9:30, loud wailing broke through the quiet conversation outside the prison. A reporter had called Lynn Scott, asking her to respond to the news that her brother had shown signs of suffering. “I knew it!” she cried, sobbing uncontrollably. Grimm was stunned, letting the information sink in. “It was the one thing,” she said, trailing off.
Arkansas officials immediately rejected the claims in the motion, accusing defense attorneys of having authored it beforehand. The state conceded that staff had tried and failed to put a central line in Jones’s neck for 45 minutes, but said they had done so with his consent, given his physical condition. Besides, the state does not count the placing of IV lines as part of the official execution timeline. It happens out of view of witnesses. At the prison, J.R. Davis, a spokesperson for Governor Hutchinson, described the execution as “flawless.”
On Twitter, media witnesses pushed back against the claim that Jones gulped for air, while acknowledging that they had seen him move his mouth. But in reality, no one knows exactly what happened on the gurney. The second drug in the three-drug protocol paralyzed Jones, making it impossible to know whether the anesthetic has worked as fully intended.
Marcel Williams was already on the gurney as courts considered the challenge brought by the emergency motion. It was eventually denied. After a short break, during which he was allowed back in his holding cell, and allowed to use the bathroom, his execution proceeded. Williams was declared dead at 10:33 p.m.
The next day, media witness Jacob Rosenberg described what he saw when the curtains went up. “Light from fluorescent bulbs cast a strange yellow glow in the room in front. Marcel Williams’s eyes looked right up at the ceiling. He was on a gurney, tied down. His head was locked in place and the right side of his body was facing us, the viewers. He said no final words.”
Rosenberg, a reporter for the Arkansas Times, described the difficulty following the procedure. “No one announced that a drug was being given. The process simply moved along.” He saw Williams’s eyes droop and close, although “the right one lingered slightly open throughout.” Eventually, “his breaths became deep and heavy. His back arched off the gurney as he sucked in air. I could not count the number of times his body moved in such a way, rising off the gurney.”
In an email to Bonowitz, trauma surgeon Jonathan Groner shared his own disturbing impression. “Sounds like tonight’s Arkansas execution was botched,” he wrote. “No one would try to place a central line in the neck of a 400 pound man without ultrasound guidance and a lot of previous experience. Who was placing the line? Central lines are typically inserted by physicians who have specific training. If the line was not in correct position in the soft tissues of the neck instead of in the vein, the drugs would take effect very slowly and lead to a tortuous death.”
The morning after her father’s execution, Grimm woke up early and went down to the lobby of her hotel, picking up a newspaper from a stack outside the breakfast area. Her dad’s face was on the front page, with the headline, “2 Killers Executed Hours Apart,” In front of the free eggs and coffee, Grimm broke down crying.
A hotel employee comforted her. She told Grimm that her own husband died some years earlier while imprisoned at the Varner Unit, a result of medical neglect. In Pine Bluff, everyone seems to know people behind the prison walls, either behind bars, or working. In some families, there are both.
On the road to Little Rock later that day, Grimm felt a pressure in her chest, a deep-seated anxiety she could not shake. She was glad she came to Arkansas, to say goodbye to her father. More unexpected, she now had friends who were part of an activist community she had never known existed. Yet as texts flooded her phone, with friends and family checking in on her, even the support felt overwhelming. She wished her evening flight back home was earlier. She just wanted to see her kids and her dogs, Grimm said, and try to begin to mourn, whatever that might look like.
“I just need to be somewhere normal,” she said.
The post How a Daughter’s Search for Her Biological Father Led Her to an Execution in Arkansas appeared first on The Intercept.
The Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission after more than a year of work has recommended that a moratorium on carrying out capital punishment in the state be continued indefinitely. “It is undeniable that innocent people have been sentenced to death in Oklahoma,” the report concludes.
The bipartisan commission’s findings span nearly 300 pages, covering every stage of the state’s death penalty system. It addresses such issues as the problematic interrogation of suspects, overworked defense attorneys in capital cases, and an execution process with a disastrous track record. Headed by former Gov. Brad Henry, former federal magistrate Judge Andy Lester, and Judge Reta Strubhar, the first woman to sit on the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals, the commission urges the state to correct the “systemic flaws” in its death penalty system before seeking to restart executions, or sentencing any new defendants to death row.
It is not the first time a report has found deep problems with the death penalty in Oklahoma. A blistering grand jury report released last year found myriad failures by state officials entrusted to carry out lethal injection. But this is a more far-reaching review, conducted by an 11-member commission that, beginning in 2015, “gathered data, reviewed scholarly articles, commissioned studies, and conducted interviews” to thoroughly examine the state’s capital punishment system from top to bottom. Its specific findings and recommendations are divided into 10 chapters spanning subjects from the handling of forensic evidence to the clemency process. “The commission hopes this report will help foster an informed discussion among all Oklahomans about whether the death penalty in our state can be implemented in a way that eliminates the unacceptable risk of executing the innocent, as well as the unacceptable risks of inconsistent, discriminatory, and inhumane application of the death penalty,” the co-chairs write.
The commission was formed in the fall of 2015, not long after the state attempted to kill Richard Glossip on September 30 of that year. It was his third date with death. Only after courts had cleared the way for Glossip’s execution — and as witnesses were waiting to be brought to the viewing chamber — did state officials discover they had procured the wrong drug with which to kill him, impermissibly substituting an untested drug in place of one that was specified in the official execution protocol. In a dramatic 11th-hour stay by Gov. Mary Fallin, the state called off the execution.
The high-profile mistake — the latest in a series of ugly incidents casting negative attention on Oklahoma executions — prompted then Attorney General Scott Pruitt to impose the current, indefinite moratorium in order to give officials a chance to sort out what “had transpired” leading up to Glossip’s failed execution. That inquiry morphed into a multi-county grand jury investigation after news broke less than a week later that the state had previously killed another man, Charles Warner, in January 2015 using the same untested and improper drug that it had erroneously obtained to execute Glossip.
As The Intercept reported following the release of the grand jury report in May 2016, its findings showed dizzying incompetence and disregard for protocol in the run-up to Glossip’s planned execution, as well as deceit on the part of state officials, who afterward lied to the public about key aspects of what happened. Particularly egregious were the actions of the general counsel for Gov. Fallin, who, when confronted with evidence that Warner had been killed using the wrong drug, protested that stopping Glossip’s execution “would look bad for the state of Oklahoma,” because officials would then have to admit they had carried out an execution with the wrong drug.
The commission expanded on the grand jury findings by widening the review to consider the system as a whole. Although Glossip is just one example cited in its report, the case is particularly emblematic of the range of failures the commission urged the state to address. Glossip was once mainly known as the named plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross, which upheld the state’s lethal injection protocol — and specifically the use of midazolam, a sedative that remains controversial. But his case exploded onto the national stage after it was exposed that, as Glossip has insisted for decades, he may well be an innocent man. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling opened the door to Glossip’s execution, an investigation by The Intercept cast serious doubt about the evidence behind his conviction. In the run-up to Glossip’s scheduled execution that fall, his attorneys raced to uncover more evidence that their client had been wrongfully convicted, while the state sought to push his execution through anyway.
Glossip was sentenced to die for the January 7, 1997, murder of his boss, Barry Van Treese, who owned a seedy motel in Oklahoma City, where Glossip worked as the manager. The state conceded from the start that Glossip took no part in carrying out the actual murder — the reason no physical evidence linked him to the bloody crime — but argued over two trials that Glossip convinced a hapless 19-year-old named Justin Sneed to do the job for him, in exchange for money. Indeed, Sneed confessed to the murder and traded his testimony against Glossip for a chance to avoid the death penalty. Sneed is currently serving out a sentence of life without parole at a medium security prison.
But in obtaining Sneed’s confession, investigators offered Sneed the opportunity to implicate Glossip — before Sneed even shared his firsthand account of the crime. “We know this involves more than just you, OK?” Oklahoma Police Detective Bob Bemo tells Sneed in the interrogation video. In another leading question, he asks, “You know Rich is under arrest, don’t you?” Sneed did not know. But shortly thereafter, he offered up a story that implicated Glossip as the mastermind behind Sneed’s grisly crime.
Oklahoma courts never vetted Sneed’s testimony to determine whether it was reliable. Nor did Detective Bemo or other state actors understand the serious role that incentivized informant testimony plays in wrongful conviction cases. In its report, the commission makes recommendations that would almost certainly have impacted the conviction of Glossip had they been standard practice in 1997. These include a requirement that police receive training “consistent with best practices” for interrogation techniques, that courts vet the reliability of informant testimony before allowing it before the jury, and that prosecutors and law enforcement receive “mandatory” training on the common causes of wrongful convictions.
The commission’s report comes on the heels of “Killing Richard Glossip,” a multi-part TV series launched by Investigation Discovery. Directed by Joe Berlinger, whose previous work includes the documentaries that helped lead to the release of the famed West Memphis Three in Arkansas, the series draws on The Intercept’s reporting, taking viewers on a journey through the case to show how states’ labyrinthine criminal justice systems can entrap and even execute the innocent.
While specific to Oklahoma, the report also comes at a time when the death penalty is making national headlines and reigniting passions over the issue. In Arkansas, three executions have been carried out over the course four days this month, part of an unprecedented rush to kill that has raised controversy across the country. At a rally at the state Capitol earlier this month, Damien Echols, who spent more than 18 years on death row as a member of the West Memphis Three, spoke alongside Paris Powell, a death row exoneree from Oklahoma, who flew to Little Rock to warn the state about the risk of executing innocent people.
In the face of overwhelming legal challenges, Arkansas has failed to carry out its original plan of executing eight people over the course of 11 days — a ramped-up schedule prompted by the imminent expiration of the state’s stash of midazolam. But the cases that have culminated with an execution have placed the pitfalls of capital punishment on full display. To those familiar with Oklahoma’s embattled death penalty system, the problems are all too familiar. Ledell Lee was executed on April 20 despite his insistence upon his innocence and his pleas that the state give him a chance to test critical DNA evidence. More recently, on April 24, Jack Jones Jr. and Marcel Williams were killed back to back, in executions that were far from perfectly carried out. While the state and some witnesses have said there is no proof the executions were botched, prison staff struggled to find a vein in both cases and witnesses described movement that should not have occurred following an efficacious dose of midazolam.
These problems were entirely predictable; in their many filings on behalf of Arkansas prisoners last month, defense attorneys pointed to Oklahoma as a cautionary tale, describing the nightmarish execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. Lockett’s execution was the first time Oklahoma used midazolam, a sedative relatively untested for use in lethal injection that has also been adopted by Arkansas. The drug was first haphazardly substituted into the standard three-drug lethal injection protocol in Florida due to diminishing supplies of other, previously relied upon drugs. Other states followed suit, despite signs — and warnings from medical professionals — that midazolam is not capable of rendering a person fully unconscious for the purpose of a humane execution. In Lockett’s case, prison staff failed to properly insert the IV lines into his body; over 43 minutes, witnesses saw Lockett writhe on the gurney, in a spectacle described as a “bloody mess.”
Should Oklahoma continue with capital punishment, the commission recommends that it adopt the “most humane and effective method of execution possible” — they suggest a one-drug barbiturate protocol — and that it “require verification” at every stage of the process that the proper execution drugs have been obtained. But as in Arkansas, where an insistence on obtaining drugs in secret has led to lawsuits and chaos, Oklahoma has made it impossible to guarantee such a thing. Under a secrecy statute passed in 2011, the commission notes, Oklahoma officials can now purchase drugs using cash, “without creating a record, thereby limiting review by the state, courts, or public concerning the legality or propriety of the purchase, or concerning other accountability issues such as the origin, cost, and reliability of the drugs.”
By asking the state of Oklahoma to revise its capital punishment system through and through, the commission presents a challenge that is sure to be costly, time consuming, and likely impossible given the entrenched problems that have defined the death penalty over the course of U.S. history. With the number of death row exonerees climbing to 158 this month, the state would do well to listen to Paris Powell, a man Oklahoma once planned to kill. As he said in front of the Arkansas state Capitol this month, “There’s a lot of kids that are gonna get up over the next couple weeks and ask their parents what it means to be executed. And they’re not gonna be able to understand it.”
The post “Innocent People Have Been Sentenced to Death in Oklahoma,” Commission Concludes appeared first on The Intercept.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s far-right National Front, was expelled from the party two years ago by his daughter Marine — for spoiling her rebranding campaign by repeating his infamous claim that the gas chambers used to exterminate Europe’s Jews were merely “a detail in the history of the Second World War,” and saying nice things about Marshal Pétain, the wartime leader who collaborated with the Nazis.
Despite that dramatic falling out, the elder Le Pen voted for his daughter in the first round of France’s presidential election, along with 7,679,492 others, and proudly called her achievement in advancing to the May 7th run-off against Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister, “the culmination of a 45-year political battle” for the party he started in 1972.
Now Jean-Marie Le Pen is eager to offer his daughter some advice, whether she wants it or not: to win, she needs to drop the facade of moderation and “campaign à la Trump,” by channeling the anger of disaffected working-class voters who have abandoned mainstream parties for the far-left as well as the far-right.
“I think that her campaign was too ‘cool,'” Le Pen told France Inter radio. “If I’d been in her place, I would have had a campaign like Trump’s,” he explained. “That’s to say, a wide-open campaign, very aggressive against those who are responsible for the decay of the country, whether right or left.”
— France Inter (@franceinter) April 25, 2017
Le Pen also expressed dismay that Marine had not emulated Trump by focusing on more “divisive” issues, like the perceived threat to Western civilization posed by mass immigration and terrorism, rather than discontent with the European Union.
Those comments suggest that Jean-Marie has not been watching the same campaign as the rest of France. To start with, Marine’s vaunted rebranding of the National Front seems to consist mainly of replacing the anti-Semitism of her father with the sort of virulent, anti-Muslim rhetoric embraced by Trump. Then there is the fact that she launched her second-round campaign by attacking her rival in the run-off, Macron, as a supporter of open borders, “mass immigration and the free circulation of terrorists.” Trump used almost identical language to vilify Hillary Clinton, at least after his campaign was taken over by Steve Bannon, one of Marine Le Pen’s biggest fans.
Far from welcoming her father back into the fold, Marine Le Pen has spent the past few days doing everything she can to distance herself from his toxic legacy, even temporarily stepping aside as the leader of the party he founded. She then declared, “I am not the candidate of the National Front,” during a live television interview on Tuesday night.
— TF1 Le JT (@TF1LeJT) April 25, 2017
That claim provoked near-universal astonishment and a good deal of mockery.
— Xavier Alberti (@xavier_alberti) April 25, 2017
While Le Pen’s opponents dismiss her effort to recast herself as a moderate — the Ivanka to Jean-Marie’s Donald — it is not hard to see why she sees it as essential to make herself electable.
By making it to the run-off with 21.3 percent of the vote in the first round this year, Marine has improved on her father’s showing in 2002, when he advanced to the second round with 16.9 percent. But she is well aware of what happened next that year: Jean-Marie lost the run-off in a landslide, as anti-fascist voters from every other party rallied around the unpopular incumbent, Jacques Chirac, even though he was suspected of corruption. (At a May Day rally just before that year’s second round, half a million protesters marched against Le Pen in Paris, holding signs with the slogan: “Votez escroc, pas facho” — “Vote for the crook, not the fascist.”)
To keep the same thing from happening again, Marine Le Pen’s supporters, including her father, are trying to split apart the unified front against her before it can form by praising Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left critic of the “rigged system” who won 19.6 percent of the first round vote.
Mélenchon, who blames the neoliberal economic policies Macron wants to continue for the rise of the far-right, has refused to endorse the former investment banker. On Tuesday, Jean-Marie Le Pen called that stance “very dignified.”
Macron’s campaign drew attention to those comments and expressed outrage at Mélenchon, noting that he showed no such hesitation in 2002, when he forcefully urged leftists to vote against Jean-Marie Le Pen — even if they had to “wear gloves” or use “clothespins” to hold their noses as they did so.
— MacronInEnglish (@MacronInEnglish) April 25, 2017
It was important, Mélenchon said then in televised remarks, to “push Le Pen down as far as possible.”
Jean-Luc Mélenchon et le Front National :
En avril 2002, il n’hésitait pas. pic.twitter.com/27fzeLqgj1
— Brut (@brutofficiel) April 24, 2017
On Wednesday morning, a spokesman for Mélenchon, Alexis Corbière, said that even though the leader of the “France Unsubjugated” movement would not tell his supporters what to do in the second round, the only possible options were to vote for Macron, abstain or cast a blank ballot. “No one should vote for the National Front,” Corbière said. “I repeat: not one vote for the National Front.”
Despite that statement, and polls showing that half of Mélenchon’s voters intend to vote for Macron, and a third plan to abstain or spoil their ballots, Marine Le Pen has already adopted some of the far-left candidate’s language on economic insecurity.
“Macron is our enemy, he is our class enemy,” one young Mélenchon supporter told the Financial Times on Sunday, rejecting the prospect of voting for a banker who served briefly as the economy minister of the current, deeply unpopular president, François Hollande. “Macron is the hard 3 percent deficit rule, lower salaries, lower social protection and the Uberization of society,” the Mélenchon activist explained. (A European Union rule requiring national governments to keep deficits below 3 percent of their gross domestic product is detested by the left in France and other countries since it limits spending on social welfare programs even in times of crisis.)
In a nationally televised interview on Tuesday night, Marine Le Pen used exactly the same phrase as the Mélenchon supporter, claiming the tech-friendly Macron, whose new political movement has been compared to a start-up, wants “the widespread Ubérisation” of the French labor market.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 25, 2017
Then on Wednesday, Le Pen seemed to tear a page from Trump’s playbook, by making a surprise visit to striking workers at a Whirlpool factory in Amiens, Macron’s hometown, and promising to save their jobs if she becomes president by preventing the company from moving its production to Poland.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 26, 2017
Le Pen timed her visit to the factory to upstage Macron, who was meeting with union leaders from the plant nearby. When Macron emerged later to meet the workers, he was initially met with jeers and chants of “Marine! President!”
— Anne-S Chassany (@ChassNews) April 26, 2017
French journalists reported that the chanting had come from National Front activists who stayed behind after Le Pen’s departure to disrupt Macron’s visit.
But Macron got credit from some reporters for staying with the workers much longer than Le Pen — she left after 10 minutes, he stayed more than an hour — and being willing to stream live video of the dialogue on his Facebook page.
— Peter Thal Larsen (@peter_tl) April 26, 2017
— Helene Fouquet (@HeleneFouquet) April 26, 2017
In an exchange with one worker, Macron was asked if Le Pen’s charge against him was true, that he supported globalization. Globalization was a fact, Macron replied, and Le Pen’s promise to save France’s economy by withdrawing from the European Union was “a lie.”
The only way to save the jobs of 286 workers at the plant, Macron said, was to work to find a buyer for the factory after Whirlpool departs.
“The answer to what is happening to you is not to remove globalization or to close the borders,” Macron added, according to Le Monde. “Those who tell you that lie to you. The closing of borders is a false promise. Behind that, there is the destruction of thousands of jobs that need their openness.”
The post Marine Le Pen Can Win, if She Campaigns “à la Trump,” Her Father Says appeared first on The Intercept.
Lobistas de associações empresariais são os verdadeiros autores de uma em cada três propostas de mudanças apresentadas por parlamentares na discussão da Reforma Trabalhista. Os textos defendem interesses patronais, sem consenso com trabalhadores, e foram protocolados por 20 deputados como se tivessem sido elaborados por seus gabinetes. Mais da metade dessas propostas foi incorporada ao texto apoiado pelo Palácio do Planalto e que será votado a partir de hoje pelo plenário da Câmara.
The Intercept Brasil examinou as 850 emendas apresentadas por 82 deputados durante a discussão do projeto na comissão especial da Reforma Trabalhista. Dessas propostas de “aperfeiçoamento”, 292 (34,3%) foram integralmente redigidas em computadores de representantes da Confederação Nacional do Transporte (CNT), da Confederação Nacional das Instituições Financeiras (CNF), da Confederação Nacional da Indústria (CNI) e da Associação Nacional do Transporte de Cargas e Logística (NTC&Logística).
O deputado Rogério Marinho (PSDB-RN), relator da reforma na comissão especial formada em fevereiro para discutir a proposta do governo, decidiu incorporar 52,4% dessas emendas, total ou parcialmente, ao projeto substitutivo. Elas foram apresentadas por deputados do PMDB, PSDB, PP, PTB, SD, PSD, PR e PPS – todos da base do governo de Michel Temer. Reforçando o artificialismo das emendas, metade desses parlamentares que assinaram embaixo dos textos escritos por assessores das entidades sequer integrava a comissão especial, nem mesmo como suplente.
As propostas encampadas pelos deputados modificam a CLT e prejudicam os direitos dos trabalhadores. O texto original enviado pelo governo alterava sete artigos das leis. O substitutivo de Rogério Marinho, contando com as emendas, mexe em 104 artigos, entre modificações, exclusões e adições.
Não falta polêmica para meses de discussão qualificada. Mas o governo decidiu encerrar o debate e colocar logo o projeto para voto, em regime de urgência. Numa primeira tentativa, não conseguiu votos suficientes para acelerar a tramitação. Mas, no dia seguinte (19 de abril), num movimento incomum, o presidente da Câmara, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), manobrou e conseguiu aprovar a urgência. Por ser um projeto de lei, se aprovado pela Câmara, vai direto para avaliação do Senado.
O tom geral da reforma é que o que for negociado entre patrões e empregados passa a prevalecer sobre a lei. O texto original enviado pelo governo, no entanto, não deixava isso explícito. Falava que o acordado teria “força de lei”, mas as empresas conseguiram emplacar emenda para deixar essa força do negociado mais evidente. Com isso, a redação nesse ponto passou a ser que os acordos “têm prevalência sobre a lei”.
As emendas aceitas também preveem restrições a ações trabalhistas. Deputados encamparam pedidos das associações empresariais para que o empregado, quando entrar na Justiça, passe a determinar o valor exato de sua reclamação e que o benefício da Justiça gratuita somente seja concedido àqueles que apresentarem atestado de pobreza. Ainda no campo da negociação entre empregadores e empregados, apesar de o que for acordado ganhar peso sobre a lei, ele não pode ser incorporado ao contrato de trabalho. O objetivo é forçar novas negociações a cada dois anos.
Outro exemplo de vitória das empresas em suas negociações no Congresso foi a incorporação da redução em 2/3 do valor do adicional que é pago a trabalhadores que têm seus horários de almoço ou descanso reduzidos – embora o Tribunal Superior do Trabalho tenha definido, por meio de súmula, que o valor a ser pago pelas empresas deve corresponder ao triplo do tempo “comido” pela empresa.
As emendas aprovadas também eliminam a necessidade de comunicação ao Ministério do Trabalho sobre casos em que houver excesso de jornada. O argumento, escrito por representante da CNT e aceito por parlamentares, é que “o empregado poderá recorrer à Justiça do Trabalho independentemente de comunicação à autoridade competente”.Relações de gratidão
As propostas agora defendidas pelos deputados provavelmente não estarão em seus palanques ou santinhos nas eleições do ano que vem, mas certamente poderão ser lembradas nas conversas de gabinete para acertar apoio a suas campanhas. Embora o financiamento empresarial tenha sido eliminado, pessoas físicas ligadas ao setor podem doar e, embora seja crime, ainda é difícil imaginar um cenário próximo sem o caixa 2.
O vínculo de gratidão de parlamentares que aceitaram assumir como suas as emendas preparadas por lobistas das entidades empresariais é verificável pela prestação de contas da última campanha. Julio Lopes (PP-RJ), Paes Landim (PTB-PI) e Ricardo Izar (PP-SP), que apresentaram sugestões da CNF na comissão, receberam doações de Itaú Unibanco, Bradesco, Santander, Safra, entre outras instituições financeiras. Desses, somente Landim participava da comissão especial, e ainda assim como suplente.
O potencial conflito de interesse também aparece de forma clara no caso de parte dos parlamentares que assinaram emendas da CNT. A começar por Diego Andrade (PSD-MG), que, além de ter recebido doações de empresas que dependem de logística adequada para o escoamento de suas produções, é sobrinho do presidente da entidade, o ex-senador Clésio Andrade. O deputado apresentou 22 emendas à Reforma Trabalhista. Todas elas, sem exceção, foram redigidas por um assessor legislativo da CNT. O deputado Renzo Braz (PP-MG) também chama a atenção. Todas as suas 19 emendas foram preparadas pelo mesmo assessor. Além de ser de família ligada ao transporte de cargas, sua campanha de 2014 foi bancada majoritariamente por empresas do setor de transportes.
Uma das emendas idênticas apresentadas pelos dois deputados mineiros, mas não acatadas pelo relator, previa que, por exemplo, se um motorista perdesse sua habilitação, ele pudesse ser demitido por justa causa pela empresa que o tivesse contratado. Da mesma forma que os colegas “amigos” da CNF, Diego Andrade e Renzo Braz também não estavam entre os 74 integrantes da comissão especial da Reforma Trabalhista.Lobby informal
Numa visão condescendente, o que as entidades empresariais estão fazendo no caso da Reforma Trabalhista e em outras situações menos visadas tem nome: lobby. A atividade não é crime, mas também não tem regras definidas no Brasil. Em países como os Estados Unidos, ela é regulamentada. No Brasil, há mais de uma década o tema é alvo de discussão, com divisão de opiniões sobre a conveniência da criação de regras. Uma vantagem é clara: isso traria mais transparência para a atuação de grupos de pressão privados.
No dia a dia do Congresso, lobistas circulam livremente entre gabinetes de deputados e senadores, quase sempre com o rótulo de “assessor legislativo”, gerente de “relações governamentais” ou “relações institucionais” de associações que reúnem grandes empresas – ou, por vezes, representando diretamente uma empresa específica.
A legislação atual impede que eles apresentem emendas diretamente, embora isso seja feito de maneira clandestina, como revela o levantamento do The Intercept Brasil.
No regimento da Câmara, a determinação é que as emendas sejam apresentadas somente por parlamentares. No mesmo documento, o artigo 125 dá poderes ao presidente da Câmara para recusar emendas “formuladas de modo inconveniente” ou que “contrarie prescrição regimental”. Não há notícia de que o mecanismo tenha sido usado em algum momento para barrar emendas preparadas por agentes privados.
Advogados consultados pelo The Intercept Brasil divergem sobre a existência de crime a priori na produção de emendas por agentes privados.
“No caso do parlamentar, existe uma injeção ainda maior de dolo e é evidente o crime de corrupção passiva, justamente ao usar informações produzidas por uma entidade privada na esfera pública”, afirma Rafael Faria, professor de Processo Penal na Universidade Cândido Mendes, no Rio de Janeiro.
Segundo Faria, os parlamentares deveriam produzir emendas e suas justificativas por meio dos seus assessores contratados para trabalhar nos seus gabinetes, pagos com dinheiro público para exercer esse papel de assessoramento técnico e jurídico.
“Existe uma vantagem indevida, não sabemos qual é ainda, mas isso somente uma investigação poderá revelar. Mas que há, não tem dúvida. Não importa se o deputado não recebeu dinheiro de doações declaradas, é necessário que ele respeite as regras de compliance. Não trazer pareceres privados para a área pública”, argumenta.“Mais uma vez verificamos que processo legislativo pode enganar ou esconder interesse escusos da sociedade.
Por outro lado, Carolina Fonti, especialista em Direito Penal Empresarial e sócia do escritório Urquiza, Pimentel e Fonti Advogados, acredita que é necessário verificar se houve vantagem indevida em troca das emendas antes de enquadrar no crime de corrupção.
“Mais uma vez verificamos que processo legislativo pode enganar ou esconder interesse escusos da sociedade. Identificada uma vantagem eventual, futura ou apenas prometida aos deputados, podemos então ter o crime de corrupção”, afirma.
O senador Romero Jucá (PMDB-RR) apresentou, no ano passado, uma PEC (47/2016) com apoio do governo para regulamentar o lobby no país. No campo legislativo, sua proposta prevê que lobistas possam apresentar emendas a projetos em tramitação no Congresso. A tramitação está parada no Senado, aguardando designação de relator na Comissão de Constituição e Justiça.Criação e clonagem
Para chegar às 292 emendas redigidas pelas associações empresariais, The Intercept Brasil examinou todas aquelas protocoladas até o fim de março – antes, portanto, da apresentação do relatório de Rogério Marinho. Dentro dos arquivos PDF com o conteúdo da emenda e sua justificativa técnica, há metadados que indicam o “autor” original do arquivo, com a identificação do dono do computador onde ele foi redigido.
Há os casos que seriam naturais na atividade parlamentar, em que assessores do gabinete do deputado ou mesmo consultores legislativos da Câmara são os “donos” do arquivo. Mas em 113 deles o autor era um funcionário de uma das quatro entidades empresariais citadas na reportagem. Esses mesmos textos e justificativas foram clonados, inclusive mantendo eventuais erros de português, por outros parlamentares (veja aqui um exemplo, envolvendo os deputados Rômulo Gouveia (PSD-PB) e Major Olímpio (SD-SP).
Em alguns casos, o dispositivo a ser modificado na CLT era alterado, mas a justificativa permanecia exatamente a mesma. Na maioria das reproduções, o autor constava como “P_4189”, indicando o terminal de algum servidor do Congresso. Ou seja, um terminal específico serviu como “copiadora” de emendas originalmente redigidas pelas associações e que acabaram sendo apresentadas por diferentes deputados.
O parlamentar que mais assinou emendas apresentadas por associações foi Major Olímpio, candidato a prefeito de São Paulo nas últimas eleições e deputado do Solidariedade – partido fundado e presidido pelo sindicalista Paulo Pereira da Silva, o Paulinho da Força, que é justamente um dos principais opositores da reforma. Com discurso geralmente pró-trabalhadores, Olímpio, no último dia 24, postou em seu Facebook um chamado para sua base eleitoral:
Na Reforma Trabalhista, Major Olímpio apresentou 31 emendas – 28 delas escritas pelas entidades empresariais.
Mas nem tudo envolvia apenas associações empresariais. Há casos de deputados que defenderam emendas de interesse dos trabalhadores, mas preparadas também por entidades externas que atuam na defesa desses interesses. Ao menos 22 emendas foram redigidas pelo presidente da Associação Nacional dos Procuradores do Trabalho, Angelo Fabiano Farias da Costa. Elas foram encampadas por parlamentares do PT, PC do B, Rede e PDT, que têm posições majoritariamente contrárias ao governo Temer.
Também há emendas cujo autor original, nos metadados dos arquivos, consta como TST – presumidamente o Tribunal Superior do Trabalho, inclusive considerando o conteúdo das emendas. Nesse caso, foram 11 emendas com essa autoria, todas apresentadas pela deputada Gorete Pereira (PR-CE) e com conteúdo restritivo aos atuais direitos previstos na CLT. O presidente do TST, ministro Ives Gandra Martins Filho, é um dos entusiastas da tese do “negociado acima do legislado” e já foi apontado como artífice da Reforma Trabalhista apresentada pelo governo Temer.As lições da Lava Jato
Os dados cruzados pelo The Intercept Brasil vêm de um modus operandi coincidente com o do esquema de corrupção revelado na Lava Jato e comandado pela Odebrecht – que, aliás, também era representada por uma associação empresarial, a Aneor (Associação Nacional das Empresas de Obras Rodoviárias), nos assuntos de interesse do Legislativo. Um dos delatores e ex-diretor da empresa, José de Carvalho Filho era dirigente da associação.
Os delatores revelaram em seus depoimentos aos procuradores que a relação corrupta construída com parlamentares envolvia, entre outros aspectos, a apresentação de emendas como contrapartida ao apoio financeiro já dado previamente ou como condição para colaborações financeiras futuras. É a promessa que, na avaliação da Procuradoria-Geral da República, caracteriza o crime de corrupção nos casos da Lava Jato. Um dos casos mais explícitos nesse sentido foi o de Romero Jucá, que apresentou quatro emendas preparadas pela Odebrecht à Medida Provisória 255 para que a petroquímica do grupo fosse beneficiada com redução de impostos.
Uma planilha organizada por Benedicto Júnior, outro delator, e apresentada ao Ministério Público detalhava montantes repassados a dezenas de políticos. Em um dos campos dessa planilha estava discriminado o motivo dos pagamentos. Uma das categorias apontadas no documento era “disposição para apresentar emendas/defender projetos no interesse da Companhia”. Um desses políticos, um deputado de codinome “Cintinho”, era Mauro Lopes (PMDB-MG), que agora aparece entre os parlamentares que se mostraram dispostos a assinar emendas de entidades privadas. No caso de Lopes, foram 24 assinaturas em documentos preparados previamente pela CNT e também pela associação das empresas de transporte de cargas.
O sigilo sobre as delações foi derrubado em 12 de abril. Na sequência, a imprensa, incluindo o The Intercept Brasil, publicou diversas reportagens sobre esse troca-troca promíscuo entre parlamentares e empresas privadas para a defesa de interesses comerciais no Congresso. A exposição dessa relação no mínimo controversa não impediu, contudo, que a CNF, a confederação dos banqueiros, usasse uma funcionária para entregar, no dia 19 de abril, no gabinete do deputado Antônio Bulhões (PRB-SP), ao menos seis emendas para serem assinadas e apresentadas por ele contra pontos do relatório da reforma.“Sugestões pertinentes”
O deputado Julio Lopes (PP-RJ) afirma que “a emenda sugerida” pela CNF “veio de encontro com tese já defendida anteriormente pelo parlamentar”. Disse ainda, em nota, que “recebe diariamente sugestões de propostas legislativas tanto de instituições como de cidadãos que pretendem contribuir para avanços no país”.
Major Olímpio, recordista de emendas apresentadas a partir das associações, afirma que sua função, como parlamentar, é “manifestar o anseio de todos os setores da sociedade”. “Apresentei emendas à reforma trabalhista, conforme meu entendimento sobre o projeto e outras conforme eu fui procurado e convencido da necessidade que o teor fosse colocado em debate”, escreveu o parlamentar, em nota.
Diego Andrade (PSD-MG), que apresentou somente emendas escritas pela Confederação Nacional do Transporte, disse que “as sugestões que acho pertinente, seja de projetos ou emendas, faço sempre uma análise jurídica e técnica, e apresento com convicção”. Acrescentou que “nosso gabinete continuará aberto a sugestões diversas, mas antes de apresentá-las sempre farei uma análise do mérito e nossa equipe uma análise técnica e jurídica”.
Rômulo Gouveia (PSD-PB) negou “veementemente” que “emendas, por mim apresentadas, foram elaboradas fora do meu gabinete”. Segundo ele, todas as suas emendas foram “discutidas e analisadas por minha assessoria técnica” e “confeccionadas no meu gabinete no dia 22 de março”. Contudo, no exemplo citado na reportagem, emenda idêntica apresentada por Major Olímpio foi protocolada cinco dias antes.
Gorete Pereira (PR-CE) nega que tenha apresentado emendas de autoria das entidades. Diz que, se elas estão coincidindo na redação, “eu não sei responder [a razão]”. “Respondo por todas que representei por achar que são importantes para a modernidade do Brasil”, disse.
Renzo Braz (PP-MG) e Paes Landim (PTB-PI), também citados diretamente nesta reportagem, não retornaram o contato até a publicação. Procuradas, nenhuma das entidades empresariais citadas comentou o teor da reportagem até o momento da publicação. Caso se manifestem, seus posicionamentos serão devidamente registrados.
Colaboração: Bruno Pavan, Jéssica Sbardelotto e Rodrigo Menegat
The post Lobistas de bancos, indústrias e transportes: quem está por trás das emendas da Reforma Trabalhista appeared first on The Intercept.
Over the last several decades, top government officials and even military brass have come to view climate change as a national security issue. Under President Barack Obama, the notion was codified through recognition of the link by Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the State Department, and the National Intelligence Council. Now, President Donald Trump, with nearly all the government’s climate change work in his crosshairs, is poised to dramatically scale back environmental security programs — perhaps eliminating many entirely — through dramatic budget cuts.
Many of these programs help cities cope with water emergencies. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one microbiologist interviewed by ABC News sampled floodwaters in New Orleans and found bacteria linked to sewage at 45,000 times the level considered safe for swimming. Seven years later, Hurricane Sandy inundated East Coast water treatment plants to the point of overflow, releasing a total of 10.9 billion gallons of sewage into waterways and streets along the mid-Atlantic coast. In places like Camden, New Jersey, an economically depressed, mostly black and Latino community with an outdated sewer system, the risk of contaminated water is more routine: sewage flows into the streets amid hard rains.
At the federal level, the task of helping cities like New Orleans and Camden deal with these water crises falls in part to Homeland Security. It’s not one of the department’s flashiest mandates, but the work, in partnership with the EPA, helps to secure public health by stopping toilet water from entering streets, homes, and waterways during extreme weather events.
“If you’re going to have catastrophic flooding that threatens public health, then that’s something we need to look at,” said Alice Hill, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and an architect of the Department of Homeland Security’s early efforts at addressing climate change under Obama. “To the extent you see chronic seepage of wastewater endangering routinely the health of American citizens, that’s something homeland security will worry about.”
The Trump administration, however, has focused on security in purely military and law enforcement terms, whether through $54 billion in new Defense Department spending or increased funding for immigration enforcement and border protection. Those efforts are likely to come at the expense of environmental security. Despite his Defense chief James Mattis’s public statements endorsing the links, Trump already issued an order cancelling Obama’s push to consider climate change in national security planning. And Trump’s budget outline portends even more drastic moves away from protecting the nation against climate-related threats.
Among the most draconian proposed cuts, the EPA stands to have about a third of its budget eliminated. EPA programs targeted for wholesale cuts include those designed to protect critical water infrastructure from terror attacks, accidents, pandemics, and extreme weather caused by climate change. A March 21 itemized 2018 EPA budget proposal, first released by the Washington Post, suggested eliminating EPA’s $7.7 million “critical infrastructure protection” program. Although the budget is expected to change dramatically as Congress weighs in, the draft version provides an insight into Trump’s conception of security.
The EPA’s homeland security efforts provide tools to help water utilities determine risks and plan for catastrophe — whether it be an accident that introduces a contaminant into drinking water, a terrorist attempt to access some of the massive volumes of chemicals utilities use to clean the water, or flooding extensive enough to bring down drinking and wastewater facilities.
Camden, where the threat from rain seems ever more immediate than a terrorist attack, hosted a pilot program for one of the EPA’s critical infrastructure projects. According to Andy Kricun, head of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, officials sped up flood prevention efforts after an EPA projection suggested a rapid rise in the Delaware River, according to data local water managers received from the EPA . The EPA helped the city draw up plans to deal with the issue through updating treatment plants, building a sea wall, and installing rain gardens that absorb millions of gallons of stormwater. Kricun said flooding has been reduced as a result.
Alan Roberson, who runs the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, does not see the project as a climate-specific program. “The EPA branded it with climate under Obama because that fit the administration,” he said, adding that water managers are interested in protecting the water, period. “From my point of view it doesn’t matter if your pump station is hit by a tornado or loses power from ice storm or someone puts a bomb on it … the end result is the same.”
Yet the climate change-related branding that helped advance the project under Obama has made it a target under the Trump administration. As White House budget director Mick Mulvaney put it, “Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward — we’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.” In early April, the EPA closed its climate adaptation program, reassigning four staffers. And the March budget memo would slash 224 jobs focused on climate protection.
Trump has proposed boosting funding for the Department of Homeland Security overall, but none of that money would make up for the proposed EPA cuts. In fact, the proposed DHS budget would reportedly pay for increased border enforcement in part by reducing the budget of another federal agency that helps deal with climate change fallout, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, by 11 percent.
Funding for the EPA’s office of civil enforcement would be slashed by 37 percent, according to the March memo. Consent decrees originating in the office have been key to forcing communities to update their sewer systems, protecting residents from floods of sewage that will worsen with climate change. Roberson, of the drinking water association, pointed to a proposed 30 percent cut to public water system supervision grants, which help local agencies pay for public inspectors. Roberson said the cut “would be devastating.”
Asked to comment, and EPA spokesperson replied, “EPA is evaluating different approaches to implementing the President’s budget that would allow us to effectively serve the taxpayers and protect the environment. While many in Washington insist on greater spending, EPA is focused on greater value and results. The EPA will partner with the states to ensure a thoughtful approach is used to maximize every dollar to protect our air, land, and water.”
When it comes to the climate, the Camden Utilities Authority’s Kricun argued that focusing on the idea of climate change misses the point. “Our current infrastructure is inadequate to the way the climate is now,” he said.
It’s a perspective that surely resonates in Camden, where environmental-related human security is already a major worry today. But with the Delaware River rising thanks to climate change, and without effective climate adaptation efforts, the city’s problems will only worsen. Instead of helping cities beef up their efforts, the Trump administration is withdrawing a lifeline.
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