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(Eigener Bericht) - Das Berliner Büro eines EU-weit vernetzten Think-Tanks warnt vor zunehmendem "Frust über die deutsche Dominanz" in den Mitgliedstaaten der EU. Die Bundesrepublik sei in den vergangenen zehn Jahren EU-weit zur unbestritten stärksten Macht geworden, heißt es in einer aktuellen Analyse des European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Die "EU-Partner" müssten nun "entscheiden, wie sie mit Deutschlands Stärke umgehen". Manche äußerten Unmut, andere setzten darauf, "ihre Strategien an Deutschland auszurichten", und suchten nun nach Möglichkeiten, "um die Berliner Polit-Maschinerie zu beeinflussen". Kein Zweifel könne bei alledem daran bestehen, dass "Deutschlands politische Klasse" die EU weiterhin "als den bestmöglichen Rahmen für die Artikulation ihrer nationalen Interessen" betrachte. Während die ECFR-Analyse den Blick vor allem auf das Polit-Establishment anderer EU-Staaten richtet, stellt sich auch darüber hinaus die Frage, wie mit der deutschen Dominanz umzugehen ist, immer dringlicher: Berlin treibt die Militarisierung der Außenpolitik sowie Überwachung und Repression im Innern massiv voran - Maßnahmen, die der Kriegsvorbereitung dienen und alle betreffen.

US-Finanzministerium kritisiert EU-Steuerermittlungen scharf

Hintergrund.de - Do, 25/08/2016 - 23:54

(25.08.2016/dpa)

In den Steuerermittlungen der EU-Kommission kann es für Apple und den amerikanischen Fiskus um Milliarden gehen. Kurz vor der Entscheidung schickt die US-Regierung eine ungewöhnliche scharfe Warnung nach Brüssel.

Die US-Regierung verstärkt den Druck auf die EU-Kommission wegen der Steuerermittlungen gegen Mitgliedsländer, bei denen es unter anderem um eine Milliarden-Nachzahlung für Apple gehen kann. Kurz vor der erwarteten Entscheidung zum Apple-Standort Irland kritisierte das Finanzministerium in Washington das Vorgehen der Brüsseler Behörde in scharfen Worten und drohte mit nicht näher beschriebenen Gegenmaßnahmen.

Die Kommission wies den Vorwurf der Amerikaner, speziell US-Firmen im Visier zu haben, am Donnerstag zurück. „EU-Recht gilt gleichermaßen für

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Embarreiramento de Marcelo Freixo e Luiza Erudina nos debates segue a lei, mas fere a democracia

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 22:46

(este texto contém atualizações)

O que é, o que é o jogo em que o segundo colocado nas pesquisas de intenção de voto a prefeito fica de fora do primeiro debate realizado pela TV? A democracia brasileira. A brincadeira não tem nenhuma graça, mas foi exatamente o que aconteceu com Marcelo Freixo (PSOL), candidato a prefeito que ocupa o segundo lugar nas pesquisas no Rio de Janeiro, excluído no debate da TV Bandeirantes nesta quinta-feira, dia 25, pelos próprios oponentes.

Essa era a situação, pelo menos, até aproximadamente as 17h desta quinta-feira, 25, enquanto o Supremo Tribunal Federal votava sobre a manutenção da lei eleitoral. A maioria dos ministros defende que a lei não deve ser modificada, mas que candidatos já convidados pelas emissoras não podem ser vetados por seus concorrentes.

Procurado por The Intercept Brasil, Freixo comemorou o resultado do STF: “Toda a minha reclamação e a crítica que eu fazia à lei se confirmou, e o STF mostrou que estávamos corretos. É uma vitória, estaremos presentes nos próximos debates. Neste não será possível por questões burocráticas, não vai mais dar tempo. Manterei minha participação nos moldes de manifestação no Centro da cidade como havia marcado antes.”

Além de Freixo, no maior município brasileiro, São Paulo, sua colega de partido Luiza Erundina, empatada em 3º lugar com outros dois candidatos, também foi embarreirada. As duas situações são frutos de mudanças na legislação eleitoral que acabam beneficiando os interesses dos partidos mais fortes, ao custo de princípios democráticos fundamentais.

Segundo a nova lei eleitoral, para um candidato a prefeito ter presença obrigatória em um debate, seu partido precisa ter pelo menos dez deputados federais, e a presença de candidatos de partidos que não têm o mínimo exigido pode ser vetada pelos que têm lugar garantido no palco.

O que o trabalho de deputados que atuam na esfera legislativa federal tem a ver com a capacidade de um candidato agir no executivo em nível municipal?O resultado é que os votos de cidadãos dos demais estados e uma minoria de candidatos dos grandes partidos acabam pesando mais do que a opinião dos eleitores da própria cidade.  

O que o trabalho de deputados que atuam na esfera legislativa federal tem a ver com a capacidade de um candidato agir no executivo em nível municipal? Nem mesmo especialistas conseguem responder com clareza. Mas quem votou pela mudança, é claro, foram os próprios deputados.

Como se não fosse o suficiente, alguns dos mesmos deputados que votaram pela mudança hoje são, justamente, os tais candidatos a prefeito que fazem parte da lista VIP nos debates.

Luiza Erundina durante pronunciamento no Congresso.

Foto: Arquivo/EBC

Para entender a polêmica é preciso, primeiro, entender o que mudou. O texto da Lei 9504 foi alterado na minirreforma eleitoral presidida por Eduardo Cunha em setembro de 2015. Antes, para um candidato a prefeito ter lugar garantido nos debates, bastava seu partido ter apenas um deputado federal eleito. O critério era baseado na  ideia de que o partido do candidato tivesse representatividade política. A alteração subiu para dez o número de deputados necessários, isolando os partidos menores, mais novos ou com foco regional.

Fragmento da lei eleitoral que foi alterada na última minirreforma, aumentando o número de deputados federais necessários ao partido de um candidato.

Outra mudança fez com que o número de participantes nos debates fosse decidido em um acordo feito pelas empresas de comunicação com os candidatos obrigatórios. Para que algum candidato além dos obrigatórios seja convidado, é preciso que dois terços dos obrigatórios aprovem o número.

Mudanças na lei eleitoral permitem que os candidatos de partidos maiores definam o número de participantes de um debate.

O presidente do Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE), ministro Dias Toffoli, diz que a lei “não promove a absoluta exclusão das legendas minoritárias dos debates eleitorais”. Ele afirmou que “os órgãos e os meios de comunicação poderão convidar todos os candidatos, independente do número de parlamentares que tenha (o partido)”.

Na prática, porém, a consequência da mudança é que, para definir quantos candidatos podem participar de um debate, precisa-se resolver um problema de lógica parecido com as questões matemáticas colocadas em provas escolares:

RESOLVA O PROBLEMA: A cidade de Maria tem 11 candidatos a prefeito. Sete deles são de partidos com mais de nove deputados federais no Congresso, por isso, sua participação em debates é obrigatória. Para definir o número de participantes em seu primeiro debate, a emissora de TV de João precisa que pelo menos dois terços dos participantes obrigatórios concordem com o total de convidados. Marcelo é um dos 11 candidatos e está em segundo lugar nas pesquisas eleitorais. Ele quer participar do debate, mas seu partido tem apenas cinco deputados federais. Pedro, Flávio e Antônio estão entre os nove obrigatórios, mas não querem sua presença. Marcelo conseguirá participar?

RESPOSTA: Não.

(Esta é uma obra de ficção, mas qualquer semelhança com nomes, pessoas, fatos ou situações da vida real não terá sido mera coincidência.)

A Associação Brasileira de Emissoras de Rádio e Televisão (Abert) divulgou uma nota pública defendendo que “na falta de consenso, rádio e TV poderão realizar debates eleitorais, bastando convidar todos os candidatos aptos e aqueles não aptos que julguem de maior representatividade”. A Abert explica ainda  que “essa escolha deve observar critérios objetivos, como o da posição nas pesquisas eleitorais”.

Segundo o presidente da Comissão Eleitoral da OAB-RJ, Eduardo Damian, a posição em pesquisas eleitorais não é um critério objetivo. “Por que um deputado bem ranqueado tem mais direito que outro? Um candidato pode liderar as pesquisas e perder a eleição”, explica o advogado, que foi chefe de gabinete do governo Sérgio Cabral (PMDB).

Para ele, convidar um candidato que não se enquadra na determinação da lei, mas é favorito nas pesquisas, é privilegiá-lo em detrimento dos demais: “Se os candidatos possuem os mesmos requisitos segundo a lei, uma emissora não pode convidar apenas um, o correto seria chamar todos”. Foi o que a rede Bandeirantes tentou fazer para o debate no Rio de Janeiro, que será veiculado nesta quinta-feira, 25, às 22h, mas não conseguiu.

O caso carioca ilustra perfeitamente a situação bizarra criada pela alteração da lei. Freixo foi barrado no debate porque três dos sete candidatos obrigatórios vetaram sua participação. A rede televisiva propôs, então, convidar todos os candidatos, mas parte dos políticos da lista VIP decidiu que já havia participantes suficientes.

Freixo tem 12%  das intenções de voto. Os partidos PSOL e Rede entraram na justiça com uma Ação Direta de Inconstitucionalidade (ADI) pedindo para participar dos debates em vários municípios.

Os ministros do Supremo Tribunal Federal votaram pela rejeição dos pedidos dos pequenos partidos, mantendo as regras como estão. Ao todo, foram abertas cinco ações por diferentes partidos, motivados por casos em várias cidades. O cientista político Leonardo Paz Neves, professor do Ibmec/RJ, considera essa uma consequência previsível para a minirreforma: “É possível predizer que o judiciário terá bastante trabalho para julgar o provável avalanche de recursos em função da insegurança regulatória”.  

Levy Fidelix também entrou na justiça pelo direito a participar dos debates.

Foto: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Outros políticos estão sendo prejudicados pela alteração da lei. Em São Paulo, além de Erundina (PSOL),  o PRTB também entrou na justiça pedindo direito de participação nos debates. “Queremos que a população conheça as propostas de todos os candidatos. O debate é uma ferramenta importante para isso”, defende o candidato da sigla à prefeitura, Levy Fidelix.

No Rio, os candidatos que vetaram a participação de Freixo no debate são Flávio Bolsonaro (PSC), Pedro Paulo (PMDB) e Índio da Costa (PSD). Todos pertencem a partidos que votaram a favor da alteração da lei.

Pedro Paulo conquistou 6% dos eleitores até o momento, mas  seu partido elegeu nada menos que 80 deputados federais. Já Bolsonaro tem 11% das intenções de voto. Seu partido, o PSC, elegeu 11 deputados federais, mas hoje possui apenas sete deputados federais em exercício. Entre eles estão seu pai e seu irmão, que votaram a favor da mudança. Índio tem apenas 5% do eleitorado, e seu partido tem 42 deputados federais. Ele mesmo, inclusive, foi um dos deputados de seu partido que votou a favor da mudança que, agora, o privilegia.

Marcelo Crivella (PRB), líder nas pesquisas de intenção de votos para prefeito do Rio de Janeiro.

Foto: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Para Paz Neves, “o fato de termos um sistema que tende a privilegiar os partidos faz com que os candidatos ao executivo sirvam de cabo eleitoral para os candidatos ao legislativo. A mudança da lei irá na realidade reforçar esse laço na medida em que agora as campanhas para prefeito dependem da representatividade do legislativo”.

O primeiro colocado, até agora, na disputa a prefeito carioca é Marcelo Crivella (PRB-PR-PTN), que tem  27% das intenções de voto. Os deputados de sua coligação partidária votaram contra a alteração da minirreforma. Questionado sobre a situação criada, Crivella disse que, ao vetar a participação de Freixo, os três oponentes “não estão pagando mico, estão pagando um gorila”.

ATUALIZAÇÃO: O texto foi atualizado para refletir a votação em andamento no STF. Até o momento, a maioria dos ministros concorda em manter a lei, porém considerando inconstitucional o veto à participação de candidatos já convidados pelas redes de televisão.

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Scharfe Kritik an Chemiewaffeneinsatz in Syrien

Hintergrund.de - Do, 25/08/2016 - 20:54

(25.08.2016/hg/dpa)  Nach einem neuen UN-Expertenbericht über den Einsatz von Chemiewaffen im syrischen Bürgerkrieg fordern Deutschland und Frankreich Konsequenzen des Sicherheitsrates. „Wir verurteilen den skrupellosen und rücksichtslosen Einsatz international geächteter chemischer Waffen gegen die syrische Bevölkerung, von welcher Seite auch immer, auf das Schärfste“, erklärte Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) am Donnerstag. Die syrische Opposition verlangte harte Maßnahmen gegen das Regime in Damaskus.

Eine vom UN-Sicherheitsrat in Auftrag gegebene Studie kommt zu dem Schluss, dass Syriens Regierung im April 2014 und im März 2015 in der nordwestlichen Provinz Idlib Chlorgas eingesetzt hat. Die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat (IS) benutzte im August 2015 nahe Aleppo

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Friedensabkommen für Kolumbien

Hintergrund.de - Do, 25/08/2016 - 20:54

(25.08.2016/hg/dpa) Nach über 50 Jahren Gewalt, Elend und Vertreibung schließen die kolumbianische Regierung und die linke Guerillaorganisation Farc Frieden. „Die Regierung und die Farc haben sich nach über einem halben Jahrhundert der Kämpfe darauf verständigt, den bewaffneten internen Konflikt ein für alle Mal zu beenden“, teilten die Unterhändler am Mittwoch in Havanna mit.

Mit der Einigung wird der älteste Konflikt Lateinamerikas beigelegt. Allerdings müssen die Kolumbianer am 2. Oktober noch in einer Volksabstimmung das durchaus umstrittene Paket billigen.

In den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen staatlichen Sicherheitskräften, linken Rebellen und rechten Paramilitärs waren seit den 1960er Jahren über 220 000 Menschen getötet worden. „Heute enden

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The Death Toll in Yemen Is So High the Red Cross Has Started Donating Morgues to Hospitals

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 20:37

Almost a year and a half into Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed bombing campaign in Yemen, the humanitarian toll has become so extensive that the International Committee of the Red Cross has taken the unusual step of donating entire morgue units to Yemeni hospitals.

“The hospitals were not able to cope,” said Rima Kamal, a Yemen-based spokesperson for the Red Cross. “You could have more than 20 dead people brought into one hospital on one single day. The morgue capacity at a regular hospital is not equipped to handle this influx of dead bodies.”

“At times several dead bodies had to be stored on one shelf to avoid further decomposition,” Kamal continued. “The situation was not sustainable.”

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, after Houthi rebels took control of the capital and forced Yemen’s Saudi-backed leader, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into exile. The United Nations has since attributed the majority of the war’s 6,500 deaths to the Saudi coalition, which the U.S. and U.K. have resupplied with tens of billions of dollars of weapons.

The Red Cross has donated body bags and refrigerated storage machines to three hospitals – two in the capital of Sana’a, and one in Dhamar, in southwestern Yemen. “More are in the pipeline,” said Kamal.

Aid workers also train hospital staff in the forensics of identifying bodies.

“It is not that common for the ICRC to donate morgues,” said Kamal. “The fact that we now do is telling of the size of the human tragedy in Yemen.”

Two people killed in a heavy shelling on their neighborhood are seen on stretchers at the entrance of the hospital. Their respective families still have to come in to identify them. Al-Rawdah Hospital. Taiz. Yemen.

Photo: ICRC

Yemen’s hospitals often store bodies for a long period of time before they can be identified. Displaced people often lose contact with their families, who don’t know where to search for missing relatives. After a while, unidentified bodies are buried in anonymous graves.

Shortages of electricity, fuel, and medical supplies also affect hospitals’ ability to provide care. The Red Cross has had to donate generators to help ensure medical facilities and morgue units were provided with power.

Both sides in the conflict are complicit in the hundreds of reported attacks on clinics and hospitals, which have led many to close, leaving more than 14 million Yemenis without access to healthcare.

Last week, for example, Saudi Arabia bombed an MSF-supported hospital, leading the charity to withdraw doctors from six hospitals in northern Yemen. The government-run Saudi Press Agency issued a statement expressing “deep regret” over MSF’s decision. Saudi Arabia had previously bombed MSF medical facilities and personnel three times.

Three morgue units donated by the ICRC are seen at Dhamar hospital. Dhamar. Yemen.

Photo: ICRC

In addition to a relentless bombing campaign, the Saudi-led coalition has maintained a strict naval blockade of the country, which previously imported 90 percent of its food, medicine, and fuel. As a result, the war in Yemen has spawned one of the world’s largest manmade humanitarian disasters.

UNICEF reported in May that more than 21 million people – nearly 90 percent of Yemen’s population –are in need of humanitarian assistance. Fourteen million people lack sufficient food, with more than 320,000 children under five-years old at risk of severe malnutrition.

The situation has been exacerbated by recent surge of airstrikes. In the days following the collapse of one-sided peace talks last month, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a key bridge to Sana, which Oxfam estimates carried 90 percent of World Food Program aid to the besieged city. Days later, Saudi Arabia announced the closure of the Sana airport, effectively cutting of humanitarian aid to millions of people.

As Yemen descends into chaos, the U.N. is facing a lack of resources. The current humanitarian response plan for Yemen calls for $1.8 billion, but the international community has only funded 28 percent of it. Ironically, 60 percent of the money comes from countries involved in bombing Yemen or supplying weapons to the coalition.

Under pressure from critics to end the war, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, to participate in talks about the situation in Yemen. Kerry’s visit comes as numerous Human Rights groups are calling for a Saudi arms embargo, and as several U.S. congressmen are trying to block arms shipments.

Top Photo: A hospital operated by the the Paris-based aid agency, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), on August 16, 2016 in Yemen, a day after the hospital was hit by an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition.

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U.S. Military Now Says ISIS Leader Was Held in Notorious Abu Ghraib Prison

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 19:56

In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade.

At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker.

Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.

Experts have long known that Baghdadi spent time in U.S. custody during the occupation of Iraq. Previous reports suggested he was at Camp Bucca, a sprawling detention facility in southern Iraq. But the U.S. Army confirmed to The Intercept that Baghdadi spent most of his time in U.S. custody at the notorious Abu Ghraib.

Baghdadi’s detainee records don’t mention Abu Ghraib by name. But the internment serial number that U.S. forces issued when they processed him came from the infamous prison, according to Army spokesperson Troy A. Rolan Sr.

“Former detainee al-Baghdadi’s internment serial number sequence number begins with ‘157,’” Rolan said, describing the first three digits of the second half of Baghdadi’s serial number. “This number range was assigned at the Abu Ghraib theater internment facility.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the Grand Mosque in Mosul, July 4, 2014.

Source: YouTube

The details of Baghdadi’s biography have always been murky, and his time in U.S. custody is no exception. In June 2014, the Daily Beast reported that the United States held Baghdadi at Camp Bucca from 2005 to 2009, citing Army Col. Kenneth King, the camp’s former commanding officer. However, King backtracked after U.S. officials told ABC News that Baghdadi was out of U.S. custody by 2006.

Days later, the Pentagon confirmed that Baghdadi was only in U.S. custody for 10 months, from February to December 2004. The Department of Defense told the fact-checking website PunditFact in a statement that Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca. “A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time.”

In February 2015, the Army released Baghdadi’s detainee records to Business Insider, in response to a records request. They showed that coalition forces first captured Baghdadi on February 4, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, and held him at Camp Bucca. But a line on one of the documents also suggested that Baghdadi had been transferred to Bucca after being held elsewhere — a detail that was not widely reported.

It turns out that Baghdadi was held at Abu Ghraib, just a stone’s throw from where he was captured in Fallujah, for eight of the 10 months that he was in detention. He was only transferred to Camp Bucca, some 400 miles south of Baghdad, on October 13 — less than two months before his release on December 9.

In the occupation’s first few years, U.S. facilities like Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca developed a reputation as “jihadi universities” where hard-line extremists indoctrinated and recruited less radical inmates. Analysts have long suspected that Baghdadi took full advantage of his time at Bucca to link up with the jihadis and former Iraqi military officials who would later fill out the Islamic State’s leadership.

In November 2014, the Soufan Group, a private intelligence firm, published a list of nine Islamic State leaders it said had been detained at Camp Bucca. The list included Baghdadi and Hajji Bakr, a former Iraqi military official who became head of the Islamic State’s military council and is widely reported to have spent time in Bucca.

However, when The Intercept requested their detainee files, the Army Corrections Command said it could not find records that any of the men besides Baghdadi were ever in U.S. custody. Richard Barrett, a senior adviser at the Soufan Group who authored the 2014 report, declined to share the source for his information about Camp Bucca but said that at the time the report was drafted, the U.S. government never denied holding the senior leaders.

“It may be that the Army Corrections Command were not very clear who they held, as numbers were large and the ability to check identities fairly limited,” Barrett said in an email. “Whatever the facts, it is clear that ex-Baathists and other opponents of the U.S. invasion of Iraq were able to make contact and develop plans.”

Camp Bucca prison near Basra, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2009.

Photo: Essam Al-Sudani/AFP/Getty Images

There is also still some confusion about where and when Baghdadi was held. The timeline in Army records puts him at either Abu Ghraib or Camp Bucca for his entire 10-month detention. However, one document also mentions the Camp Adder Holding Facility — a possible reference to a former U.S. military base in southern Iraq. The Army denies that Baghdadi was ever held in that facility.

“There is no record of an external transfer to a Camp Adder,” Rolan, the Army spokesperson, wrote over email. “The Camp Adder reference likely refers to an internal movement within Abu Ghraib.”

It’s impossible to know what effect Baghdadi’s detention at Abu Ghraib had on his trajectory.

In late April 2004, while Baghdadi was held at the facility, CBS News published photos that showed U.S. soldiers smiling next to piles of naked prisoners and a hooded detainee standing on a narrow box with electrical wires attached to his outstretched hands. An independent panel appointed by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the abuse “acts of brutality and purposeless sadism.”

Officials blamed the photos on a few bad apples. But some U.S. interrogators in Iraq continued to use abusive techniques like stress positions after the photos were taken, according to Eric Fair, who has written a memoir about the time he spent as a civilian interrogator with the defense contractor CACI International at Abu Ghraib and in Fallujah in early 2004.

Fair does not believe that Baghdadi’s time in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca was a defining moment in the rise of the Islamic State. But, he says, the conditions inside U.S. detention facilities and the policy, early in the war, of housing extremists and former Iraqi military officials side by side contributed to the chaos that has engulfed Iraq and Syria.

“It’s the perfect playbook for how not to deconstruct an insurgency,” Fair said.

Top photo: Prisoners at Abu Ghraib, July 15, 2004.

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Depois de cortes sociais, extrema pobreza dobrou nos EUA

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 17:41

Em uma segunda-feira de reuniões em Washington, D.C., um grupo de ex-funcionários do governo de ambos os partidos concordavam a respeito dos benefícios resultantes dos cortes na rede de proteção social americana.

Esta semana marcou o vigésimo aniversário da “Reforma do Estado de Bem-Estar Social”, a lei de 1996 aprovada pelo Congresso americano e implementada pelo Presidente Bill Clinton, que restringia a quantidade de assistência financeira oferecida às famílias americanas mais necessitadas. O programa de Auxílio a Famílias com Crianças Dependentes foi transformado em um programa mais limitado, o Auxílio Temporário para Famílias Necessitadas [que obrigou os segurados a conseguir um emprego em um prazo de 24 meses e instaurou um limite cumulativo de 60 meses de benefícios por pessoa].

Um dos principais impactos da lei foi ter dobrado o número de lares americanos vivendo em condições de extrema pobreza, o equivalente a menos de US$ 2 por dia.

O evento em Capitol Hill, organizado por uma organização de direita, Instituto Empresarial Americano (American Enterprise Institute), e pelo Instituto de Políticas Progressistas (Progressive Policy Institute), conhecido como “fábrica de ideias” do Presidente Bill Clinton, comemorou o vigésimo aniversário da lei. Seus principais idealizadores disseram não se arrepender de sua aprovação.

O ex-governador republicano do Michigan, John Engler, pioneiro dos cortes do estado de bem-estar social em nível estadual e que hoje atua como presidente do grupo de lobistas corporativos Business Roundtable (Mesa Redonda de Negócios), relembrou como o apoio de Bill Clinton foi importante para tornar possível a reforma do estado de bem-estar social.

“Foi incrível como, em 1992, tínhamos um candidato a presidente do Partido Democrata, ainda que tivesse 12 anos de experiência como governador, discutindo o “fim do formato atual do estado de bem-estar social””, contou o republicano. “Foi um momento decisivo.”

Foram inúmeros os elogios vindos da direita para Bill Clinton durante o evento. Robert Rector, um intelectual da Fundação Heritage, que já foi apelidado de O Poderoso Chefão Intelectual da reforma do estado de bem-estar, declarou que Clinton defendeu a mesma causa que Ronald Robert Rector, podendo, assim, frustrar George W.H. Bush. “Na minha perspectiva, esse foi o motivo para Clinton ter chegado à Casa Branca em 1993”, contou Rector.

Thompson, que atuou como outro republicano pioneiro da reforma enquanto era governador do Wisconsin, estava irredutível quanto ao impacto da revisão do estado de bem-estar social.

“Funcionou”, disse Thompson. “A pobreza diminuiu e mais pessoas estão trabalhando.”

Mas nem todos concordam com essa avaliação positiva. Luke Shaefer, professor de Assistência Social da Universidade de Michigan e um dos pesquisadores que documentaram o aumento da pobreza extrema desde a aprovação da reforma, contou ao The Intercept que as declarações de que a pobreza extrema havia sido reduzida e que o número de empregos havia aumentado estavam corretas até 2000. “Mães solteiras arrumaram trabalho, mas não é possível dizer se isso estava relacionado à reforma do estado de bem-estar social”, contou. A expansão do Crédito Fiscal sobre Rendimentos “foi obviamente muito mais importante. E sabemos que as mães que deixaram de contar com o estado de bem-estar social não melhoraram de vida, em alguns casos, pioraram”.

Shaefer trabalhou com o sociólogo Kathryn Edin em um livro lançado no ano passado que concluiu que, antes da reforma do estado de bem-estar, mais de um milhão de lares com crianças evitavam a pobreza extrema graças à assistência federal. Em 2011, esse número havia caído para aproximadamente 300 mil. Os pesquisadores estimam que 1,5 milhão de lares americanos, incluindo três milhões de crianças, vivem hoje abaixo da linha da extrema pobreza — o dobro do número em 1996.

O impacto da reforma do estado de bem-estar foi particularmente duro em mulheres e minorias.  Muitas famílias chefiadas por mulheres perderam renda e mulheres foram forçadas a trabalhar em empregos com  salários baixos e sem assistência social.

Shaefer cita uma pesquisa de Jim Ziliak, um importante economista que estudou o problema para a Agência Nacional de Pesquisa Econômica dos EUA (National Bureau of Economic Research). “Em conjunto, os resultados dos estudos, análises e amostras nacionais de pessoas que deixaram o estado do bem-estar social sugerem que muitas mulheres acabaram em uma situação financeira pior depois da reforma”, diz a pesquisa. “Em especial, na parcela mais baixa da distribuição.”

Ainda assim, as pessoas consideradas mais vulneráveis não tiveram muito destaque no evento. Havia apenas duas mulheres entre os 19 palestrantes convidados.

Bill Clinton, ex-presidente dos EUA, dando um fazendo discurso sobre a reforma do sistema de bem-estar social, dia 28 de outubro de  1996, em Nashville, Tennessee.

Foto: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Bruce Reed, um dos principais conselheiros de política interna de Bill Clinton e o homem por trás da proposta de campanha do ex-presidente para “acabar com o formato atual de bem-estar social”, admitiu que ainda há mais a ser feito pelos trabalhadores pobres, mas contou ao The Intercept que a reforma foi um “sucesso” de forma geral.

Na verdade, os números mais recentes da Suplemento de Segurança Alimentícia do Censo Populacional descobriu que 5,5% dos lares americanos — 6,7 milhões de lares, no total — precisaram usar os bancos de alimento ou outros órgãos de auxílio alimentação em 2014. Essa é a maior porcentagem desde que os dados começaram a ser registrados em 1995.

Mesmo com as reformas, o estigma de receber ajuda do governo permanece — e os contrários ao auxílio continuam a atacar os programas restantes, como o vale-refeição para os necessitados. O Governador do Maine, o republicano Paul Lepage, declarou recentemente que os beneficiários de vale-refeição em seu estado encontram-se em uma “dieta constante de barras de chocolate e refrigerante”.

Ao fim do evento, os palestrantes e o público atenderam a um banquete de bebidas alcoólicas, bolo de queijo, carnes finas e queijo gourmet.

Tradução de Inacio Vieira

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The post Depois de cortes sociais, extrema pobreza dobrou nos EUA appeared first on The Intercept.

Jeff Wood’s Stay of Execution Casts More Doubt on the Texas Death Machine

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 17:30

Terri Been was being interviewed by a reporter inside a Whataburger restaurant in East Texas on the afternoon of August 19 when the text came in: Her brother, Jeff Wood, on death row for his alleged involvement as an accomplice in the 1996 murder of his friend, and facing imminent execution, had been granted a stay. She read the text sent by Wood’s attorney twice before dialing him up. “Are you serious?” she asked.

It had been a long and emotionally taxing day: Been and her husband, her parents, Wood’s daughter, and another friend had traveled to Huntsville, Texas, the location of the state’s execution chamber, for the first of several eight-hour visits with Wood in anticipation that he would be executed sometime after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24. The news from the lawyer, Jared Tyler, was a serious relief. “I consider it a miracle,” she told The Intercept. “He’s stopped Texas from killing my brother.”

That afternoon the state’s highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, agreed with Tyler that a state district court should determine whether the punishment hearing portion of Wood’s 1998 trial was infected by junk science and misleading testimony offered by the notorious Dr. James Grigson. If the district court agrees that it was tainted, Wood could get a new hearing, and a chance to get off of death row.

Grigson, who died in 2004, was known even among peers in the psychiatric community as “Dr. Death” for routinely offering scientifically unsupportable testimony that helped to send defendants to death row in a number of capital cases. He was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and its Texas counterpart prior to testifying in Wood’s case, where he opined that unless sentenced to die Wood would continue to be violent, a determination he made without ever examining Wood.

But the court majority sidestepped — at least for now — the biggest question in Wood’s case: Is he legally eligible for the death penalty? That prompted a strongly worded opinion from one of the court’s nine jurists, Elsa Alcala, who for at least the second time this year has called into question whether Texas’ death system itself is constitutional — an unusual stance for a jurist on such a conservative and notoriously pro-death penalty court in the state with the nation’s most active execution chamber. Indeed, Alcala has been airing concerns that have not been expressed in any meaningful way by any member of that court in nearly two decades. Wood, she wrote, “may be actually innocent of the death penalty because he may be categorically ineligible for that punishment.”

Elsa Alcala (center) during the State of the Judiciary speech at the Texas Capitol, February 2013.

Photo: Bob Daemmrich

An Unconstitutional Sentence

Wood is on death row even though he has never killed anyone. He was convicted and sentenced to die for the January 2, 1996, robbery of a convenience store that ended with the shooting death of his friend Kriss Keeran, who worked at the store. But it was another man, Danny Reneau, who entered the store armed, intending to rob the place, and who shot Keeran. Wood, Reneau, Keeran and another store employee had planned an inside-job robbery for the previous day, but the plan had been aborted. Wood said he had no idea that Reneau intended to rob the store that day, and certainly had no idea that Reneau would kill Keeran. After the murder, Wood admits that he did help Reneau steal money from the store, along with a surveillance videotape, but says he did so only after Reneau threatened to harm his daughter.

But a quirk of Texas law allows the state to seek the death penalty against a defendant who never killed or intended to kill anyone. Known as the law of parties, the law posits that if conspirators plan to commit one crime — in this case a robbery — but in the course of events someone ends up committing another crime (such as a murder) all parties are liable for the crime committed regardless of their individual intent, under the notion that everyone should have anticipated that the crime committed would occur.

Advocates and lawyers argue that Wood’s impending execution would violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It is an argument that would appear to be in line with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which holds that a sentence must be proportional to the crime committed. In two cases involving parties to a planned crime that ended in murder, the court determined that the death penalty would be unconstitutional when a person lacked either the intent to kill or failed to exhibit a clear “reckless indifference” to human life.

No court has ever considered whether Wood’s sentence was proportionate to his crime. Although Tyler finally raised the question directly in Wood’s most recent appeal, in staying the execution last week the Court of Criminal Appeals declined to ask the lower court to address the issue — except for Alcala, who opined in favor of addressing the question head on. “Perhaps one might suggest that I should not concern myself with the fact that applicant’s death sentence appears to be unconstitutional under [Supreme Court precedent] because [Wood] should have raised this claim at some earlier stage of his post-conviction challenges and he is now procedurally barred from raising this challenge,” she wrote. “I, however, would disagree with that suggestion.”

It was the latest in a string of opinions by the conservative jurist questioning the legality of the death penalty and the approach of her colleagues to affirming death sentences. Alcala, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, has questioned her colleagues’ reluctance to allow inmates to present evidence challenging the Texas system as racist and out-of-step with a nation that is moving away from the death penalty. She has written strongly-worded dissents in two notable cases, involving the question of whether racially discriminatory testimony and poor lawyering condemned Duane Buck to die, and in another urging her colleagues to act to “uphold the federal Constitution” by setting up a modern and fair system for determining which defendants are barred from execution because of their intellectual disability. In the absence of a legislative standard, the court set up its own scheme for determining cognitive disability, a standard based on the mental abilities of the character Lennie from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

The level of skepticism Alcala has expressed regarding the state’s death penalty scheme — and her colleagues’ role in maintaining the status quo — hasn’t really been seen in Texas since Republicans took over the court in its entirety nearly two decades ago. As conservative jurists came to power in the 1990s, a waning contingent of Democratic judges held on, including Judge Charlie Baird, now a defense attorney in private practice in Austin. Baird said he and his colleagues would regularly dissent from the majority’s rubber-stamping of death convictions. In 1996 Baird authored a dissent  suggesting that Texas was not fulfilling its promise to the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of the 1976 opinion that reauthorized the death penalty. Texas had promised “we would interpret the statute fairly and apply the death penalty fairly,” he recalled.  “And I don’t think we ever kept those promises.”

To be fair, other Republican judges have joined or written dissenting opinions in the intervening years, but none so clearly skeptical of the system as Alcala’s — save for a literal swan song opinion by Judge Tom Price, who opined in 2014, just before retiring his seat, that the death penalty “should be abolished.”

Although Alcala hasn’t uttered the same words, she nonetheless stands out even more than Price in one key way — her current term is up in 2018, meaning that speaking out could derail her chances to remain on the court in the future. In a profile published by Fusion, Alcala said it was “unlikely” that she’d run again, but also acknowledged that she has not made any definitive decision.

Attorneys with considerable experience litigating capital cases before the Texas court say that they are encouraged by Alcala’s opinions, but are nonetheless skeptical that her more moderate and thoughtful approach to considering death penalty cases would necessarily have any outwardly obvious effect on her colleagues.  “I’ve been waiting and I haven’t seen it. I just haven’t seen it,” said Keith Hampton, a veteran defense attorney who was behind the only successful bid to have a death sentence commuted by Perry during his three-term tenure as the state’s governor, during which time he presided over more executions than any other modern governor. Hampton said he could see Alcala’s approach evolving in recent years, and believes now that she’s “genuinely dedicated” to reform. “Clearly she’s not playing to the crowd — because we’re in Texas and there is no crowd for this here.” In fact, Hampton worries that Alcala’s writings and public posture may have given ammunition to any number of aggressive prosecutors who could try to force her recusal from considering appeals of their death cases.

Bryce Benjet, a former lawyer with the nonprofit Texas Defender Service who now works for the Innocence Project, said it might be more significant that the concerns Alcala has expressed haven’t “happened with more frequency” on the court. But what is especially noteworthy, he said, is that these concerns are coming from a former prosecutor for Harris County (which includes the city of Houston), a jurisdiction responsible for sending hundreds of defendants to death row, and the U.S. county responsible for the most executions since 1976.

To Tyler, Wood’s attorney, Alcala’s views are more in line with those of the U.S. Supreme Court than with her colleagues. He notes that the Supreme Court has accepted for review two recent cases where she authored stern dissents — in the Buck case and in the case challenging the state’s process for determining cognitive disabilities. And he said he believes the Supreme Court should take up Wood’s case as well, to finally decide whether Wood’s sentence is proportionate to his crime.

In the meantime, Wood’s family and supporters have attracted another contingent of unlikely supporters in the form of conservative state House members who have been airing their own concerns about whether Wood’s sentence is proper. Ultra-conservative members have each spoken out about their concerns and have been trying to persuade the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbot to consider commuting Wood’s sentence. “I believe the death penalty, and in some cases the law of parties, has a place. Human life, being made in the image of God, is very precious,” East Texas state Representative David Simpson, wrote in a column published in the Dallas Morning News. “In the case of Wood, I have seen enough questions to warrant advocating that his life be spared. Ultimately, God will judge our actions, and as humans we make mistakes and our justice system is not perfect.”

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Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 16:42

As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the foundation, and then insinuate — or even outright state — that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the foundation are “going to hell.” Other Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.

The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny. To see how true that is, just look at who some of the biggest donors are. Although it did not give while she was secretary of state, the Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by “the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.

Theoretically, one could say that these regimes — among the most repressive and regressive in the world — are donating because they deeply believe in the charitable work of the Clinton Foundation and want to help those in need. Is there a single person on the planet who actually believes this? Is Clinton loyalty really so strong that people are going to argue with a straight face that the reason the Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti and Emirates regimes donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation is because those regimes simply want to help the foundation achieve its magnanimous goals?

Here’s one of the Clinton Foundation’s principal objectives; decide for yourself if its tyrannical donors are acting with the motive of advancing that charitable goal:

All those who wish to argue that the Saudis donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation out of a magnanimous desire to aid its charitable causes, please raise your hand. Or take the newfound casting of the Clinton Foundation as a champion of LGBTs, and the smearing of its critics as indifferent to AIDS. Are the Saudis also on board with these benevolent missions? And the Qataris and Kuwaitis?

Which is actually more homophobic: questioning the Clinton Foundation’s lucrative relationship to those intensely anti-gay regimes, or cheering and defending that relationship? All the evidence points to the latter. But whatever else is true, it is a blatant insult to everyone’s intelligence to claim that the motive of these regimes in transferring millions to the Clinton Foundation is a selfless desire to help them in their noble work.

Another primary project of the Clinton Foundation is the elimination of wealth inequality, which “leads to significant economic disparities, both within and among countries, and prevents underserved populations from realizing their potential.” Who could possibly maintain that the reason the Qatari and Emirates regimes donated millions to the Clinton Foundation was their desire to eliminate such economic oppression?

It doesn’t exactly take a jaded disposition to doubt that these donations from some of the world’s most repressive regimes are motivated by a desire to aid the Clinton Foundation’s charitable work. To the contrary, it just requires basic rationality. That’s particularly true given that these regimes “have donated vastly more money to the Clinton Foundation than they have to most other large private charities involved in the kinds of global work championed by the Clinton family.” For some mystifying reason, they seem particularly motivated to transfer millions to the Clinton Foundation but not the other charities around the world doing similar work. Why might that be? What could ever explain it?

Some Clinton partisans, unwilling to claim that Gulf tyrants have charity in their heart when they make these donations to the Clinton Foundation, have settled on a different tactic: grudgingly acknowledging that the motive of these donations is to obtain access and favors, but insisting that no quid pro quo can be proven. In other words, these regimes were tricked: they thought they would get all sorts of favors through these millions in donations, but Hillary Clinton was simply too honest and upstanding of a public servant to fulfill their expectations.

The reality is that there is ample evidence uncovered by journalists suggesting that regimes donating money to the Clinton Foundation received special access to and even highly favorable treatment from the Clinton State Department. But it’s also true that nobody can dispositively prove the quid pro quo. Put another way, one cannot prove what was going on inside Hillary Clinton’s head at the time that she gave access to or otherwise acted in the interests of these donor-regimes: was she doing it as a favor in return for those donations, or simply because she has a proven affinity for Gulf State and Arab dictators, or because she was merely continuing decades of U.S. policy of propping up pro-U.S. tyrants in the region?

While this “no quid pro quo proof” may be true as far as it goes, it’s extremely ironic that Democrats have embraced it as a defense of Hillary Clinton. After all, this has long been the primary argument of Republicans who oppose campaign finance reform, and indeed, it was the primary argument of the Citizens United majority, once depicted by Democrats as the root of all evil. But now, Democrats have to line up behind a politician who, along with her husband, specializes in uniting political power with vast private wealth, in constantly exploiting the latter to gain the former, and vice-versa. So Democrats are forced to jettison all the good-government principles they previously claimed to believe, and instead are now advocating the crux of the right-wing case against campaign finance reform: that large donations from vested factions are not inherently corrupting of politics or politicians.

Indeed, as I documented in April, Clinton-defending Democrats have now become the most vocal champions of the primary argument used by the Citizens United majority. “We now conclude,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the Citizens United majority, “that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” That is now exactly the argument Clinton loyalists are spouting to defend the millions in donations from tyrannical regimes (as well as Wall Street banks and hedge funds): oh, there’s no proof there’s any corruption going on with all of this money.

The elusive nature of quid pro quo proof — now the primary Democratic defense of Clinton — has also long been the principal argument wielded by the most effective enemy of campaign finance reform, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell. This is how USA Today, in 1999, described the arguments of McConnell and his GOP allies when objecting to accusations from campaign finance reform advocates that large financial donations are corrupting:

Senate opponents of limiting money in politics injected a bitter personal note into the debate as reformers began an uphill quest to change a system they say has corrupted American government. . . .

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the legislation’s chief opponent, challenged reform advocate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to name Senate colleagues who have been corrupted by high-dollar political contributions.

”How can there be corruption if no one is corrupt?” McConnell asked, zeroing in on McCain’s frequent speeches about the issue in his presidential campaign. ”That’s like saying the gang is corrupt but none of the gangsters are.”

When McCain refused to name names, Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, confronted him. Standing just eight feet from him on the Republican side of the chamber, Bennett charged that McCain had accused him of corruption in seeking pork-barrel spending for his home state.

”I am unaware of any money given that influenced my action here,” Bennett said. ”I have been accused of being corrupt. … I take personal offense.”

The inability to prove that politicians acted as quid pro quo when taking actions that benefitted donors has long been the primary weapon of those opposing campaign finance reform. It is now the primary argument of Democratic partisans to defend Hillary Clinton. In Citizens United, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a scathing dissent on exactly this point, one that Democrats once cheered:

So if you want to defend the millions of dollars that went from tyrannical regimes to the Clinton Foundation as some sort of wily, pragmatic means of doing good work, go right ahead. But stop insulting everyone’s intelligence by pretending that these donations were motivated by noble ends. Beyond that, don’t dare exploit LGBT rights, AIDS and other causes to smear those who question the propriety of receiving millions of dollars from the world’s most repressive, misogynistic, gay-hating regimes. Most important, accept that your argument in defense of all these tawdry relationships — that big money donations do not necessarily corrupt the political process or the politicians who are their beneficiaries — has been and continues to be the primary argument used to sabotage campaign finance reform.

Given who their candidate is, Democrats really have no choice but to insist that these sorts of financial relationships are entirely proper (needless to say, Goldman Sachs has also donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, but Democrats proved long ago they don’t mind any of that when they even insisted that it was perfectly fine that Goldman Sachs enriched both Clintons personally with huge, numerous speaking fees (though Democrats have no trouble understanding why Trump’s large debts to Chinese banks and Goldman Sachs pose obvious problems)). But – just as is true of their resurrecting a Cold War template and its smear tactics against their critics – the benefits derived from this tactic should not obscure how toxic it is and how enduring its consequences will likely be.

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The post Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation? appeared first on The Intercept.

Gegen CETA auf die Straßen

Rationalgalerie - Do, 25/08/2016 - 02:00
Nur wer den Widerstand übt, wird den Aufstand wagen : Ein heiteres Konzerne-Raten wird zur Zeit auf offener Bühne gespielt: Wer ist noch dreister, noch brutaler, noch mächtiger? Traditionell wird der Macht-Preis Jahr für Jahr an die Finanzoligarchie vergeben, die, unmittelbar gefolgt von der Waffenindustrie, wie eine Krake in allen...

Amnesie im Nahen Osten

Rationalgalerie - Do, 25/08/2016 - 02:00
Das neue Syrien kommt aus Wilmersdorf : 
Wenn man den Medienberichten der letzten Tage und Wochen zu Syrien tatsächlich Glauben schenken würde, käme man zu der Überzeugung, dass Russland den Krieg dort zu verantworten hätte. Zwar berichteten unsere Medien bereits seit dem Frühjahr 2011 über die Unruhen...

ARD missbraucht Kinder - der Schmock des Monats

Rationalgalerie - Do, 25/08/2016 - 02:00
Kriegs-Pädophilie steht nicht unter Strafe : Schlagen Sie mal Seite 231 in meinem Buch „Wie Journalismus wirklich geht“ auf, herrscht Dr. Gniffke, Chefredakteur von ARD-Aktuell, die Volontäre an. „Na? Was steht da? Richtig: `Kinder, Hunde und Blinde gehen immer´. Wenn die vorliegende Nachricht sonst nichts bringt,...

French Police Create Propaganda for ISIS by Ticketing Muslim Women on Beaches

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 25/08/2016 - 01:14

Photographs and video of French police officers issuing tickets to Muslim women — for violating new local ordinances that ban modest beachwear as an offense against “good morals and secularism” in more than a dozen towns along the Riviera — spread widely on social networks on Wednesday, prompting waves of outrage and mockery by opponents of the laws.

Just let this sink in. Men with guns forcing a women to undress, with the weight of the law behind them. pic.twitter.com/4BI16Bbss9

— Abdul-Azim ???? (@AbdulAzim) August 23, 2016

Let's stop pretending France is the land of "liberté" and "egalité" – when it allows something like this #WTFFrance pic.twitter.com/txSN4vw4In

— ?? Elena Rossini ?? (@_elena) August 24, 2016

L?i?b?e?r?t?é?, égalité, fraternité pic.twitter.com/QwzXfLBKFK

— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) August 24, 2016

Un dessin du Soudanais Khalid Albaih sur la polémique française du #Burkini pic.twitter.com/YSntEP3rAT

— David Thomson (@_DavidThomson) August 24, 2016

Arrêté anti-burkini: une nouvelle photo de femme voilée verbalisée à Nice https://t.co/XRxe18g0WV pic.twitter.com/R3Q5bJoj7r

— L'Express (@LEXPRESS) August 24, 2016

Voici la vidéo des deux jeunes filles se faisant sortir de l'eau par la police à #Nice06 Sans porter de burkini… pic.twitter.com/NoY6i6V7bK

— Feiza Ben Mohamed (@FeizaK) August 22, 2016

Verbalisées pour un simple voile : la dérive des arrêtés "anti-burkinis" https://t.co/C8DVNAl12t pic.twitter.com/NOkIdO9s7i

— L'Obs (@lobs) August 24, 2016

"The body of the Muslim woman has always been a way for the French state to assert power over an entire population" pic.twitter.com/bgTqmkXiaP

— ????? ??????? (@Boutaina) August 22, 2016

But the same images were greeted with undisguised glee by extremists eager to make the case that observant Muslims have no place in European countries. A series of photographs published by The Daily Mail — showing armed officers confronting a woman wearing a headscarf, leggings and a long-sleeved shirt on a beach in Nice on Tuesday — was hailed by the anti-Muslim, Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Fantastic.

Armed police order Muslim woman to remove burkini on packed Nice beach https://t.co/NmjWt5Y8Lw via @MailOnline

— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) August 24, 2016

David Thomson, a French journalist who tracks jihadist activity online, told Radio France that Islamic State sympathizers on social networks seemed surprised to find police officers in Nice “creating propaganda on their behalf,” by providing the perfect illustration of their case that France humiliates Muslims.

“For them, this is a godsend,” Thomson said. “The jihadist narrative has insisted for years that it is impossible for a Muslim to practice their religion with dignity in France.” Within minutes of publication, he said, these photographs became one of the most discussed topics in the online “jihadosphere.”

“These shots of Nice,” he added, “will fuel years of jihadist propaganda.”

The irony, Thomson noted last week, is that the specific swimming costume the bans have targeted, the full-body swimsuit known as the “burkini,” is rejected as immodest by Islamist ideologues.

Although the authorities in Nice confirmed that the incident reported by the Mail did take place — and that at least 23 other women have been ticketed there this week, and forced to pay 38-euro fines, or about $40 — defenders of the so-called “burkini ban” accused the unnamed woman of taking part in a staged “provocation.”

Jérémie Boulet, a member of the xenophobic National Front party, argued that the woman must have been trying to bait the authorities into approaching her by wearing such an outfit on a warm day. He also suggested, incorrectly, that she was not sitting on a towel when approached by the officers.

– Photo de bonne qualité
– Sans serviette sur des galets
– Habillée sous 36°
La provocation est réussie! #WTFFrance pic.twitter.com/ON7L1lauRt

— Jérémie Boulet (@BouletJeremie) August 24, 2016

Christian Estrosi, a former mayor of Nice who is now the regional president of the Côte d’Azur, issued a statement on Wednesday in which he called the behavior of the two dozen women fined for their dress this week, “unacceptable provocations” intended to “undermine the city’s police officers.” Estrosi also warned people who share images of the police ticketing women on social networks that they could be prosecuted for endangering the officers.

A French photo agency that acquired the rights to the images told Libération that the photographs were “certainly not staged, as some people have alleged,” and were the work of an unnamed freelancer “who happened to be on the beach at the time,” looking for images of the ban being enforced. He was about 100 meters away from the woman when he saw the officers approach and shot the encounter using a telephoto lens.

“The freelancer witnessed the scene, which took place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and lasted roughly 10 minutes,” the agency, Best Image, said in a statement. “The woman was issued with a fine and left the beach a few minutes later. That is all the photographer was able to see.”

Speculation that the officers could have been set up was fueled by the fact that the photographer’s name was not released, but the incident took place the same day that a French journalist, Mathilde Cusin, witnessed something worse: a woman in Cannes being fined by the police and harassed by on-lookers. That woman, a 34-year-old mother who gave her first name as Siam, told Agence France-Presse that she was given a ticket for sitting on the beach with her family, wearing a headscarf and leggings. “I had no intention of swimming,” she said.

In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, the woman said that she was baffled at first by the police officers who told her that beachgoers were obliged to “dress properly” according to a new ordinance. When she asked the officers what that meant she was told that she could only stay on the beach if she agreed to wrap her scarf into a headband.

“My children were crying, witnessing my humiliation,” Siam told the magazine. “Even I could not help crying. They humiliated us.”

During her standoff with the police, a crowd of onlookers gathered. Some of them defended the woman, arguing that she was causing no harm and was not even wearing a burkini. Others, however, taunted her with racist remarks. “I was stunned,” she said. “I heard things no one had ever said to my face, like ‘Go home!'” Siam, who was born to French parents in Toulouse, said that someone else added, “We are Catholics here!”

“People demanded that she leave or remove her veil, it was pretty violent,” Cusin told the magazine. “I had the impression of watching a pack go after a woman sitting on the ground in tears with her little girl.”

“What shocked me is that it was mostly people in their thirties, not the elderly as one might imagine,” Cusin added.

“In the country of human rights, I see no trace of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity,” Siam said. “I am outraged that this could happen in France.”

“Today we are banned from the beach,” she told Al Jazeera’s AJ+ later in a video interview. “Tomorrow it will be the street.”

This Muslim woman was forced to undress by armed French police. Social media reacted with #WTFFrance.https://t.co/RcC5mMIfX9

— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 24, 2016

“We are women. We are adults,” she added. “And if the headscarf is a personal choice, and if women want to wear it, why stop them?”

Top Photo: At a beach in Nice, France, the text of a bylaw was posted last week that bars women from wearing full-body swimsuits.

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Das neue Direktorium

German Foreign Policy - Do, 25/08/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Nach dem Treffen des informellen neuen EU-"Direktoriums" Merkel/Hollande/Renzi am Montag setzt Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel am heutigen Donnerstag ihre Europa-Rundreise zur Vorbereitung einer Neustrukturierung der EU fort. Äußerer Anlass ist der bevorstehende Austritt Großbritanniens, der Verschiebungen bei den Machtverhältnissen innerhalb des Staatenbundes zur Folge hat. Dazu gehört, dass Berlin die bisherigen exklusiven Absprachen mit Frankreich durch ein deutsch-französisch-italienisches Dreier-"Direktorium" zu ersetzen sucht. Zugleich setzt die Kanzlerin mit ihrer aktuellen Reisediplomatie darauf, die zerstrittenen EU-Staaten in Interessengruppen aufzuspalten und diese jeweils getrennt in die Neustrukturierung einzubinden. Diesem Ziel dienen etwa die morgigen Treffen mit den Staaten der Visegrad-Gruppe und anschließend mit den EU-Mitgliedstaaten aus Nordeuropa. Die strukturellen Umbrüche werden von Berlin mit einer weiteren Verschärfung bei der äußeren Militarisierung und der inneren Repression verbunden. Vorbild der Aufrüstung, die neben dem Militär auch die Geheimdienste betrifft, sind die USA.

Impeachment é “ataque contra instituições democráticas”, declaram intelectuais internacionais

The Intercept - Engl. - Mi, 24/08/2016 - 23:49

O impeachment da presidente Dilma Rousseff seria um “ataque contra [as] instituições democráticas”, alertaram 22 artistas e intelectuais internacionais que assinaram uma carta endereçada aos senadores brasileiros. A carta, publicada nesta quarta-feira, dia 24, descreve “ondas de choque negativas” que “irão reverberar em toda a região” se a presidente for afastada do cargo. O julgamento final está marcado para começar no Senado nesta quinta-feira, dia 25.

No documento, profissionais de cultura do Reino Unido, da Índia, do Canadá e dos Estados Unidos pedem aos parlamentares que “respeitem o processo eleitoral de 2014, quando mais de 100 milhões de pessoas votaram”.

Encabeçam a lista do abaixo-assinado o escritor e ativista paquistanês Tariq Ali e o cantor, compositor e ativista social Harry Belafonte. Entre as assinaturas, estão a do cineasta Oliver Stone, que escreveu e dirigiu Plantoon; a da atriz americana Susan Saradon, conhecida famosa por sua atuação em Thelma & Louise e por sua atuação política, e do ator Viggo Mortensen, famoso por interpretar o Aragorn, um dos protagonistas da saga Senhor dos Anéis

Este não é o primeiro sinal de reprovação que intelectuais e artistas estrangeiros dão ao processo de impeachment. Em maio, durante a Conferência Internacional de Filosofia e Ciências Sociais em Praga, na República Tcheca, um manifesto foi apresentado por acadêmicos brasileiros, contando com assinaturas de filósofos estrangeiros. Entre os apoiadores internacionais estavam os filósofos alemães Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth e Rainer Forst, a filósofa norte-americana Nancy Fraser e o filósofo canadense Charles Taylor.

Este mês, membros do Congresso Americano também entregaram uma carta similar ao Secretário de Estado americano, John Kerry, com 40 assinaturas. Em seguida, 115 figuras públicas britânicas, entre elas 35 parlamentares, assinaram um documento se posicionando contra o processo de impeachment no Brasil.

Desta vez, a ação é um apoio a inúmeros profissionais brasileiros da área de cultura que já se manifestaram contra o processo de impeachment. “Centenas de músicos, atores, escritores, cineastas e outros artistas têm se pronunciado corajosamente contra os esforços antidemocráticos em remover a presidente eleita, Dilma Rousseff, de sua função. Queremos mostrar a eles, e ao Brasil, e ao mundo, que artistas e intelectuais dos Estados Unidos, Reino Unido e outras partes do mundo estão ao seu lado e apoiam sua luta por democracia, direitos humanos e justiça social no Brasil”, explica o compositor e cantor britânico Brian Eno explica que defende.

Leia abaixo a carta na íntegra:

Artistas e intelectuais apoiam a democracia no Brasil

Nos solidarizamos com nossos colegas artistas e com todos aqueles que lutam pela democracia e justiça em todo o Brasil.

Estamos preocupados com o impeachment de motivação política da presidenta, que instalou um governo provisório não eleito. A base jurídica para o impeachment em curso é amplamente questionável, e existem evidências convincentes demonstrando que os principais promotores da campanha do impeachment estão tentando remover a presidenta com o objetivo de parar investigações de corrupção nas quais eles próprios estão implicados.

Lamentamos que o governo interino no Brasil tenha substituído um ministério diversificado, dirigido pela primeira presidente mulher, por um ministério compostos por homens brancos, em um país onde a maioria se identifica como negros ou pardos. Tal governo também eliminou o Ministério das Mulheres, Igualdade Racial e dos Direitos Humanos. Visto que o Brasil é o quinto país mais populoso do mundo, estes acontecimentos são de grande importância para todos os que se preocupam com igualdade e direitos civis.

Esperamos que os senadores brasileiros respeitem o processo eleitoral de 2014, quando mais de 100 milhões de pessoas votaram. O Brasil emergiu de uma ditadura há apenas 30 anos, e esses eventos podem atrasar o progresso do país em termos de inclusão social e econômica por décadas. O Brasil é uma grande potência regional e tem a maior economia da América Latina. Se este ataque contra suas instituições democráticas for bem sucedido, ondas de choque negativas irão reverberar em toda a região.

Assinado:

Tariq Ali – Escritor, jornalista e cineasta

Harry Belafonte – Ativista, cantor e ator

Noam Chomsky – Professor emérito de Linguística no MIT, teórico e intelectual

Alan Cumming – Ator e autor

Frances de la Tour – Atriz

Deborah Eisenberg – Escritora, atriz e professora

Brian Eno – Compositor, cantor, artista visual e produtor

Eve Ensler – Dramaturga, autora de “Os Monólogos da Vagina”

Stephen Fry – Locutor de rádio, ator, diretor

Danny Glover – Ator e diretor de cinema

Daniel Hunt – Produtor musical e cineasta

Naomi Klein – Escritora e cineasta

Ken Loach – Cineasta

Tom Morello – Músico

Viggo Mortensen – Ator e músico

Michael Ondaatje – Novelista e poeta

Arundhati Roy – Autora e ativista

Susan Sarandon – Atriz

John Sayles – Roteirista, diretor e novelista

Wallace Shawn – Ator, dramaturgo e comediante

Oliver Stone – Cineasta

Vivienne Westwood – Estilista

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EpiPen Uproar Highlights Company’s Family Ties to Congress

The Intercept - Engl. - Mi, 24/08/2016 - 21:07

The CEO of a former Fortune 500 company, who is also the daughter of a U.S. senator, is under fire from for jacking up the rates of life-saving anti-allergy device known as the EpiPen.

Heather Bresch, whose father is U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., became president of Mylan Pharmaceutical in 2009 and CEO in 2012. She is no stranger to controversy: She moved Mylan’s headquarters to the Netherlands last year after a corporate “inversion” merger with Abbott Laboratories.

The move enabled the company to operate its headquarters in the U.S. but maintain corporate citizenship in Holland, benefiting from a lower tax rate.

But the EpiPen scandal, sparked by a sudden price hike, could cause more trouble for the company, its CEO, and her lawmaker father. This week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee, demanded hearings on the EpiPen’s 450 percent price increase in just seven years.

The cost of a two-pack of EpiPens — shots of epinephrine that relieve symptoms from severe allergies that restrict breathing and can cause death — has risen from $103.50 in 2009 to $608.61 today, despite no changes in the chemical formula. Two vials of the proper dosage of epinephrine and manual syringes would cost only $20; some put the cost of the dosage in each EpiPen at as little as $1.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have all decried the EpiPen’s skyrocketing cost. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in a statement today, called the situation “the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.” Even infamous pharmaceutical price gouger Martin Shkreli has called Mylan “vultures.”

“This outrageous increase in the price of EpiPens is occurring at the same time that Mylan Pharmaceutical is exploiting a monopoly market advantage that has fallen into its lap,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

Klobuchar, whose daughter uses EpiPens due to severe allergies, is calling for hearings in the Judiciary Committee, and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into Mylan’s price hikes, which have occurred every quarter since 2013. “The commission should also report to Congress on why these outrageous price increases have become common and propose solutions that will better protect consumers within 90 days,” Klobuchar said.

EpiPens are critical for anyone with severe allergies to things like bee stings or peanuts to carry, and doctors recommend that they carry two, in case an extra dose is needed. But they expire after a year, forcing families to pay for a new dosage annually. Doctors wrote 3.6 million prescriptions for EpiPens last year, giving Mylan $1.2 billion in sales off that single product.

The price increases coincide with Mylan’s purchase of the product in 2007, and with Bresch taking control of the company shortly thereafter. Mylan has virtually no competition for epinephrine auto-injectors, as they control 87 percent of the U.S. market. One competitor, the Auvi-Q, was recalled from pharmacies last year; the Food and Drug Administration rejected another potential alternative from Teva Pharmaceuticals this spring.

Bresch, born Heather Manchin, started at Mylan in 1992. She was hired after her father, then a West Virginia state senator, told then-CEO Mike Puskar that she needed a job.

From working in the company’s basement, she moved through the ranks to become Mylan’s chief lobbyist in 2002. In that position, she contributed to the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, which barred the federal insurance provider from bargaining with drug companies over prices. She was also key to the passage of the 2012 Generic Drug User Fee Act, which increased inspections of foreign facilities manufacturing drugs for the U.S. market. While it increased regulations at Mylan’s own sites outside the U.S., it also made it more difficult for foreign drugmakers to sell their products domestically, knocking out many of Mylan’s competitors.

The bill passed Congress easily, with her father among those providing yes votes.

Congress also passed a law in 2013 prioritizing grant money for schools to stock EpiPens in case of emergency, since children are most at risk for a severe allergy attack. Some states require EpiPens in their schools, including West Virginia, where Gayle Manchin, mother of Heather Bresch, was head of the Board of Education when the policy went into effect in 2013.

Manchin has spoken out against his daughter’s use of an inversion to renounce Mylan’s corporate citizenship, saying that such tax dodging should be illegal. He has not, however, made any public statement about EpiPens since the scandal came to light, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.

He has been hearing from people on his Facebook page. “Buddy what is up with your daughter?” asked one commenter. “How could you raise a child that takes advantage of suffering families?” Another wrote, “Your daughter Heather Bresch and Mylan Pharmaceuticals just raised the cost of an epipen 400%. People will die because of her greed.”

Mylan claims that they have improved the EpiPen product, necessitating the cost increases. “Ensuring access to epinephrine — the only first-line treatment — is a core part of our mission,” the company said in a statement.

Correction: August 24, 2016
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Mylan as a current Fortune 500 company. Fortune removed Mylan from its list after the company left the U.S. for tax purposes.

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Donald Trump is Spending More on Hats and Other Merchandise Than on Campaign Staff

The Intercept - Engl. - Mi, 24/08/2016 - 20:16

Some GOP operatives  and other political observers are starting to suspect that Donald Trump’s campaign is structured more as a publicity tour than a quest for the White House.

Federal disclosures released this past weekend help make the case that the real estate mogul at the very least is not conducting a traditional campaign operation.

They show, among other things, that Trump’s organization spent more money in July on the now-iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats, Trump t-shirts, and mugs than on the staff whose job it is to run the campaign.

The Trump campaign paid more than $1.8 million to two vendors — California-based headware-maker Cali-Fame and Louisiana’s Ace Specialties — for t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and the red hats (which the campaign spent over $400,000 on alone)

Compare that to his spending on staff. In the month of July, Trump spent roughly $921,000 on staff and consultants, about half of what he spent on merchandise bearing his own name and slogans.

There’s also curiously little spending on field staff – ground troops who work to corral votes. In the crucial swing state of Ohio, the Trump campaign at the tail end of July employed a single field staffer: Andrew Coffield, who lists himself as the Southeastern Ohio Regional Representative for the campaign on his Linkedin page.

The local Ohio press reports that Trump opened a modest campaign office in the state in early August, although we’ll have to wait until next month’s federal disclosures to know if his spending in the state has ramped up in any significant way.

Then there is the fact that a significant amount of Trump’s campaign spending is going to his own businesses. One analysis of the latest financial disclosures found that the campaign has spent $7.7 million at Trump’s companies, around 9 percent of the campaign’s total spending. This includes money that went for Trump’s private jets, the Trump Tower, and the Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida.

Then there’s the almost non-existent presence on the advertising airwaves. The Trump campaign has been outspent 17-to-1 by the Clinton campaign; the Republican nominee has spent just $4 million to date on general election advertising compared with Clinton’s $68 million.

By every measure, Trump has little more than a skeleton of a campaign operation, and what little he does have is unusually tilted towards benefiting his own bottom line and publicity.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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Donald Trump, o Silvio Berlusconi americano

The Intercept - Engl. - Mi, 24/08/2016 - 17:02

Como um escritor que cobriu Silvio Berlusconi desde que se tornou Primeiro Ministro da Itália, em 1994, tem sido difícil não ser tomado por uma forte sensação de déjà vu assistindo à campanha presidencial de Donald Trump nos EUA.

Algumas semelhanças são tão óbvias quanto perturbadoras. Ambos são milionários que acumularam suas fortunas iniciais através do mercado imobiliário e se tornaram celebridades por conta da riqueza e do estilo de vida de playboy. Ambos passaram por divórcios difíceis e se gabam de sua virilidade. Particularmente, Trump defendeu sua masculinidade em um debate em março deste ano, enquanto Berlusconi uma vez contou: “A vida é questão de perspectiva: Imagina todas as mulheres que querem dormir comigo e não sabem”. (A declaração veio antes de Berlusconi começar a dar festas de bunga bunga com a presença de prostitutas). Os dois são mestres na manipulação da mídia: Berlusconi é proprietário da maior rede de televisão privada da Itália, e Trump é estrela de seu próprio reality show e criador da marca “Trump”. Ao ingressarem na política, ambos adotaram o estilo do grande antipolítico: um empresário extremamente bem-sucedido concorrendo com “políticos profissionais” insípidos, que nunca lideram com uma folha de pagamento e que estão arruinando seus respectivos países.

A estratégia funcionou bem para Berlusconi — ganhou três eleições nacionais e foi primeiro ministro por nove anos entre 1994 e 2011. Será que a estratégia trará os mesmos resultados para Trump?

Ambos são deliberadamente transgressivos, quebrando o tédio da política convencional com o uso de uma linguagem vulgar, insultando e gritando com adversários, adotando slogans simples e fáceis de lembrar e fazendo piadas obscenas e comentários misóginos. Suas “gafes” orais — que seriam suicídio no caso da maioria dos políticos —, na verdade, fazem parte do que os torna atraentes para alguns. Lembro de quando Berlusconi presidiu uma conferência europeia e, quando as negociações estagnaram, o primeiro ministro disse aos chefes de Estado: “Vamos descontrair o clima conversando sobre futebol e mulheres”. Dirigiu-se a Gerhard Schroder, à época chanceler da Alemanha, que havia sido casado por quatro vezes: “Você, Gerhard”, disse Berlusconi, “o que você sabe sobre mulheres?”. O comentário foi recebido com frieza. De imediato, me perguntei como Berlusconi poderia ser tão tolo. Mas seu verdadeiro público não eram os chefes de Estado europeus — eram os homens italianos em casa. Afinal, quais são os dois assuntos favoritos na maioria dos bares italianos? Futebol e mulheres.

Da mesma forma, não seria difícil imaginar as consequências catastróficas, para Trump, de seus comentários sobre, possivelmente, o ciclo menstrual da apresentadora da Fox News, Megyn Kelly, e de sua capacidade de conquistar “uma bundinha jovem e atraente”. Mas esse desprezo pelo “politicamente correto” permitiu que Berlusconi e Trump criassem, com sucesso, uma personalidade híbrida rara: um tipo de bilionário comum que, por outro lado, devido à extrema riqueza, sucesso e audácia, é um tipo de super-homem a quem as regras de conduta normais não se aplicam. Ao mesmo tempo, seu discurso curto e grosso toca de forma visceral muitas pessoas, em especial, a parte menos escolarizada do eleitorado. Ambos exercem uma atração inter-classista inusitada. São homens ricos que buscam implementar políticas em benefício de ricos (veja a proposta de redução de impostos de Trump), enquanto fazem um apelo retórico eficiente, usando uma linguagem de bar, aos anseios das classes média e trabalhadora que passam por dificuldades.

“Antes de tentar competir comigo, tente ao menos vencer uns campeonatos nacionais!”

Nem Trump nem Berlusconi têm um programa político real, eles vendem a si mesmos. Berlusconi costumava dizer que a Itália precisa mesmo é de mais Berlusconi. Lembro de um momento muito revelador em sua primeira campanha eleitoral: durante um debate televisivo, seu adversário, o economista Luigi Spaventa, apontava as falhas e inconsistências do programa econômico de Berlusconi, quando ele o interrompeu no meio de uma frase e mencionou as vitórias de seu time de futebol, o Milan AC: “Antes de tentar competir comigo, tente ao menos vencer uns campeonatos nacionais!” O comentário tinha ares de uma verdade incontestável — independentemente da irrelevância perante a capacidade de Berlusconi governar. Da mesma forma, quando perguntado sobre como fará com que o México pague pela muralha gigante na fronteira entre os dois países norte-americanos, Trump simplesmente respondeu: “Não se preocupe, eles vão pagar”!

Ainda assim, há outro elemento — um elemento sistêmico — que ajuda a explicar por que a Itália e os EUA são as únicas grandes democracias em que o circo de um bilionário pode armar sua tenda: a desregulamentação quase total da mídia televisiva. Através de seus contatos políticos (provas de subornos), Berlusconi pode adquirir um monopólio virtual das redes de televisão privadas nos anos 70. O magnata criou jornais televisivos tendenciosos, oferecendo programas de TV para valentões como Vittorio Sgarbi e Paolo Liguori, que vendiam teorias conspiratórias, como Glenn Beck, e gritavam com adversários políticos, como Bill O’Reilly. Tanto na Itália quanto nos EUA, há grandes canais de televisão que, na prática, funcionam como o departamento de mídia de um dos grandes partidos políticos dos países. Contudo, é importante observar que a transformação do cenário político na Itália e nos EUA não aconteceu por acaso, mas foi, em parte, resultado de decisões políticas.

Por volta de 30 anos atrás, a Comissão Federal de Comunicações (Federal Communications Commission – FCC) usava regras antiquadas chamadas de Doutrina da Integridade (Fairness Doctrine) e Doutrina da Igualdade de Tempo (Equal Time Doctrine). Eram vistas como uma forma de garantir que os detentores de licenças privadas operassem, ao menos parcialmente, em benefício do interesse público e garantissem uma certa pluralidade de pontos de vista. Essas regras faziam sentido na era analógica, quando o número de frequências era limitado. A televisão (e os jornais televisivos) era dominada pelos três grandes canais, competindo entre si para aumentar sua fatia no mercado. Não fazia sentido para esses canais criar um noticiário que alienasse espectadores do partido adversário. Não foi exatamente um período áureo. Os noticiários eram discutivelmente monótonos, centristas e defendiam a manutenção do status quo, mas havia regras básicas de civilidade e um certo respeito pela veracidade dos fatos.

Com o advento da TV a cabo, nos anos 70, e com a “Revolução Reagan”, nos anos 80, tudo mudou. Presidente da FCC durante o mandato de Reagan, Mark Fowler insistia que a televisão não era diferente de nenhum outro eletrodoméstico comercial — “uma torradeira com imagens”. As inovações tecnológicas no setor — o surgimento da TV a cabo — reforçaram essa posição. Com dezenas e, em dado momento, centenas de canais, parecia que as antigas regras sobre integridade e equilíbrio estavam ultrapassadas, já que o grande número de canais garantiria a pluralidade almejada. Mas essa perspectiva não levou em conta o fato dessa não ser a forma como as pessoas assistem ao noticiário: o telespectador não busca diversos pontos de vista, alternando entre PBS, Fox, MSNBC e CNN. Cada grupo procura o noticiário que se adequa a suas predisposições políticas e ali permanece.

Em 1987, Fowler revogou a Doutrina da Integridade. No ano seguinte, Rush Limbaugh criou seu programa de rádio com retransmissões locais por todo o país. A Fox News, dirigida por um ex-membro do Partido Republicano, Roger Ailes, começou a operar em 1996.

Na Grã-Bretanha, Alemanha e França, os órgãos de comunicação estatais ainda dominam a mídia, agem como árbitros do debate público e estabelecem fatos consensuais, prevalecendo uma situação semelhante às circunstâncias da TV americana antes de ser alterada por Reagan e pelo canal Fox. Isso não impediu o surgimento de movimentos políticos extremistas, mas possibilitou que os principais partidos tradicionais e seus eleitores aceitassem realidades fundamentais, como o aquecimento global e o fracasso da invasão do Iraque. Não é aceitável ir à televisão defender qualquer absurdo.

A Itália, em contrapartida, é a exceção à regra na Europa. Berlusconi transformou seus canais em seu arsenal de guerra, assim como colocou seus próprios aliados em posições estratégicas no sistema de comunicação estatal — seu aparente adversário. Um diretor do maior canal estatal inventou um sistema chamado de “sanduíche”, onde todas as notícias políticas seriam apresentadas da mesma forma. Começando com a posição do governo Berlusconi, acrescentando uma fatia fina da opinião da oposição e concluindo com outra fatia generosa do contra-argumento governista. Sem sua rede sofisticada de proteção midiática, é difícil imaginar como Berlusconi teria sobrevivido a tantos escândalos catastróficos.

Visando reforçar seu posicionamento alternativo, tanto Berlusconi quanto Trump atacaram fortemente a “grande mídia”. Trump e seu uso das redes sociais para atacar seus críticos remete aos frequentes ataques de Berlusconi aos seus críticos na mídia. Há pouco tempo atrás, um incidente particularmente perturbador ocorreu em um dos comícios de Trump, onde o candidato republicano pediu que os cinegrafistas apontassem suas lentes para uma manifestante, tornando-a alvo da raiva de seus correligionários. [Desde então, a campanha de Trump revogou as credencias de imprensa de mais de duas dúzias de organizações jornalísticas, incluindo  The Washington Post, Politico, The Huffington Post e Buzzfeed.] Isso me lembrou de um incidente em que Berlusconi se colocou ao lado de seu grande amigo, Vladimir Putin, em uma coletiva de imprensa em Moscou. Quando uma jornalista russa fez uma pergunta difícil sobre o líder russo (isso aconteceu há muitos anos, quando ainda era possível fazer perguntas difíceis sobre Putin), Berlusconi gesticulou como se atirasse na jornalista com uma metralhadora. Em um país onde diversos jornalistas críticos a Putin foram assassinados, a atitude de Berlusconi não teve a menor graça.

“A imprensa é um grande problema neste país”

Mais recentemente, Trump indicou que pretendia alterar as leis de difamação nos EUA para impedir que jornalistas escrevam matérias negativas a seu respeito. “A imprensa é um grande problema neste país”, disse Trump. “São piores do que políticos. (…) Podem escrever o que quiserem e não podem ser processados por causa das leis de difamação. Basicamente, eles não existem, e uma das coisas que vou fazer é abrir as leis de difamação”.

Berlusconi não teve o mesmo problema na Itália, onde as leis de difamação são mais favoráveis aos reclamantes. Na lei de difamação americana, a verdade representa uma defesa absoluta e, no caso de a mídia publicar informações falsas sobre uma figura pública, o reclamante precisa comprovar que o difamador sabia que a informação era falsa ou que agiu de forma negligente. Na Itália, uma informação pode ser verdadeira e difamatória ao mesmo tempo. Berlusconi e seus aliados processaram dezenas de críticos e jornalistas ao longo dos anos, sendo derrotados com frequência, mas impondo gastos a seus críticos, intimidando editores e os mantendo atrelados a processos judiciais ou limitados ao silêncio.

Eu conheci as distinções das leis de difamação italianas por experiência própria. Quando meu livro, The Sack of Rome (O Saque de Roma), foi lançado na Itália, o melhor amigo de Berlusconi e o presidente de sua empresa de comunicação, Mediaset, me processaram criminalmente por difamação. O argumento principal não era que os fatos no livro estavam incorretos, mas que eu deveria ter incluído outros elementos de prova favoráveis, que teriam oferecido uma visão mais positiva do ex-primeiro ministro e, em sua visão, uma imagem mais realística. Felizmente, eu obtive ganho de causa em primeira e segunda instâncias. Mas na Itália, onde há três instâncias, o caso ainda está sendo processado pelos órgãos legais 11 anos depois da abertura do processo.

Podemos aprender com Berlusconi de forma a prever a trajetória de Trump e nos protegermos? Sim e não. Indro Montanelli, um jornalista conservador italiano e crítico voraz de Berlusconi, disse que a Itália precisa desenvolver uma imunidade a Berlusconi absorvendo uma certa dose de Berlusconi. Infelizmente, foram necessários 17 anos de constantes escândalos e incompetência econômica para que os italianos se cansassem do ex-primeiro ministro. Um aspecto positivo a ser mencionado é que a temporada eleitoral americana é muito mais longa do que a italiana. Berlusconi chegou ao poder através de uma queda de braço rápida de menos de três meses. Nove meses de exposição constante de Trump podem ajudar a criar uma fadiga e permitir que a imunidade seja estabelecida. Além disso, Berlusconi se beneficiou das complicações da política italiana, que se baseia um um sistema semi-proporcional complexo: o italiano venceu eleições sem nunca ter obtido a maioria dos votos; Trump terá mais dificuldade em alcançar 50,1%.

Por fim, Berlusconi e Trump têm uma inclinação à autodestruição. A vertigem causada pela adoração do público — a embriaguez narcisista da atenção constante da mídia — cria um sentido de onipotência que os faz cometer deslizes, como Trump cometeu quando recusou se distanciar de David Duke e do Ku Klux Klan. Berlusconi, assim como Trump, criou um tipo de reality show constante, em que os níveis de audiência dependem de que eles continuem a dizer ou se comportar de forma ofensiva. Berlusconi, assim como Trump, se supervalorizou e subestimou seus adversários com frequência. Além de ter vencido três vezes, Berlusconi perdeu duas eleições para um político (Romano Prodi) muito mais desinteressante, mas muito mais competente. Esperamos que não leve 17 anos para que os EUA se cansem de Donald.

Este artigo foi publicado originalmente em março de 2016

Tradução de Inacio Vieira

 

The post Donald Trump, o Silvio Berlusconi americano appeared first on The Intercept.

“Deadly Heat” in U.S. Prisons Is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits

The Intercept - Engl. - Mi, 24/08/2016 - 16:25

In the summer months, 84 inmates at the Price Daniel Unit, a medium-security prison four hours west of Dallas, share a 10-gallon cooler of water that’s kept locked in a common area. An inmate there can expect to receive one 8 oz. cup every four hours, according to Benny Hernandez, a man serving a 10-year sentence at the prison. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults drink about twice that amount under normal conditions and even more in hot climates. According to Hernandez, in the summer the temperature in his prison’s housing areas can reach an astonishing 140 degrees.

The prison provides ice for the cooler twice a day, but the ice has long melted before the hottest part of the day, he wrote in a post on Prison Writers, a website where inmates share their experiences behind bars. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation,” he wrote. “For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.”

The TDCJ, which runs Texas prisons and houses more than 146,000 inmates, is currently in the middle of litigation over what inmates and advocates have said is deadly heat in its facilities. But Texas is not the only state facing such lawsuits. Louisiana is defending its refusal to install air conditioning on death row, while prisons and jails across the country have been ordered by courts to address their sweltering temperatures and extend protections to inmates, particularly the ill and elderly.

A spokesperson for TDCJ wrote in a statement to The Intercept that “the well-being of staff and offenders is a top priority for the agency and we remain committed to making sure that both are safe during the extreme heat.” He said that only 30 of the state’s 109 prisons have air conditioning in all inmate housing areas, because many were built before that became a common feature and retrofitting them would be “extremely expensive.” Instead, he said, the agency has taken measures like offering water and ice, restricting inmate activities, and training staff to recognize heat-related illness. The spokesperson said that inmates have “the ability to access water throughout the day” and that ice and water coolers are refilled continuously — contradicting the accounts of inmates who said that ice rations are often reduced and sometimes outright denied, that in some facilities they are given no ice or cold water for days at a time, that ice is so scarce that inmates will buy it off each other, and that inmates residing in a given cell block are given ice water to pass down the row of cells, which often leads to violence and hoarding of the vital resource.

Hernandez, the Price Daniel Unit inmate, acknowledged that prison officials there took some “precautionary measures,” like the water cooler and placing fans in common areas of the prison, but said that was hardly enough. Inmates have fans in their cells only if they can afford to buy them from the prison commissary, and “once the temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the fans simply circulate hot air,” he wrote.

“It routinely feels as if one’s sitting in a convection oven being slowly cooked alive.”

In a 2014 report documenting the “deadly heat” inside Texas prisons, researchers with the University of Texas School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic found that since 2007, at least 14 inmates had died from extreme heat exposure in prisons across the state. The report documented at length the failures of prison officials to prevent heat-related injury to inmates and concluded with a series of recommendations, including frequent monitoring of inmates at higher risk and the installation of air conditioning to ensure temperatures do not exceed 85 degrees. A year later, nothing had changed, and the same researchers issued a second report condemning the “reckless indifference” of prison authorities.

A cooling fan in a cell at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Holliday Unit near Huntsville, Texas, June 20, 2014.

Photo: AP Photo/Michael Graczyk

“They refuse to even acknowledge that there is a problem,” Ariel Dulitzky, director of the Human Rights Clinic, told The Intercept. “They’ll say that everybody suffers from extreme heat, that it isn’t an issue particularly affecting inmates, and that there are other people in Texas that don’t have AC either. So that’s their point, we all suffer.”

The 14 fatalities cited in the report are an extremely conservative estimate, Dulitzky noted. He and others have been fighting to obtain inmates’ death records, and based on their ages, medical conditions, and the given day’s heat index, believe that “several dozens” died at least in part as a result of extreme heat exposure in 2014 and 2015 alone.

Earlier this summer, a federal judge certified a class action after inmates at another Texas prison — the Wallace Pack Unit, which houses sick, disabled, and elderly prisoners serving time for nonviolent crimes — sued TDCJ officials in an effort to keep the temperature below 88 degrees and prevent heat-stroke deaths. Plaintiffs in that case, originally filed in 2014, described sleeping on the floor to get some relief from the heat, metal walls trapping heat “like a parked car,” and metal tables that “get so heated that prisoners have to lay towels on them to rest their elbows on.”

Fred Wallace, a 72-year-old plaintiff who is clinically obese and suffers from high blood pressure, said in a statement read by his lawyer that one day he felt he was going to pass out from the heat and asked a guard if he could go to the prison’s barber shop, a cooler area. He was denied permission.

“I felt so sick that I sat down on the floor,” he said in his testimony. “Only when the guard returned 15 minutes later and said, ‘You look like you’re going to die,’ did he allow me to enter the barber shop.”

“The only national standard is the Eighth Amendment”

“I realize that there is a small, yet vocal segment of our society that feels that prisoners deserve exactly what we are currently getting,” wrote Hernandez, the Price Daniel Unit inmate. “Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Constitution does not stop at the Texas border.”

But Texas, which has not set a maximum temperature standard for its prisons, is hardly unique. There’s no national standard for temperatures in prisons and jails, and as jurisdiction over prisons is decentralized among states and the federal system, and jurisdiction over jails is even more fragmented among thousands of local authorities across the country, fights over excessive heat in detention can only be waged facility by facility.

“The only national standard we have is the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment,” David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, told The Intercept.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons confirmed that “there are not any federal regulations concerning temperature control in federal prisons,” pointing instead to “guidelines” in a Facilities Operations Manual that discuss ventilation and set target temperatures at 76 degrees in the summer and 68 in the winter. The guidelines also note that due to the facilities’ age, “occupants may experience a range of temperatures in their space that is a few degrees on either side of the targeted set point.” Those standards do not apply to state and local facilities, which can vary widely.

But while it’s true that many of the country’s facilities are old and ill-equipped, that’s no excuse for failing to provide inmates with constitutionally required safe and humane housing, critics say. And politics, more than money, is often the obstacle.

Louisiana, for instance, made headlines earlier this summer when it was revealed that the state had spent more than $1 million of public funds on legal fees in an attempt to defend its refusal to install air conditioning on death row at Angola prison — even though the air conditioning would cost only about $225,000, plus operating costs, according to expert testimony. That astonished U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson. “Is this really what the state wants to do?” Jackson asked, calling the bill “stunning.” “It just seems so unnecessary.”

Jackson declined to comment on the pending case, as did the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. But the department’s secretary Jimmy LeBlanc told the Associated Press in June that installing air conditioning at Angola would open a “Pandora’s box.” “My biggest concern is the impact on the whole system and the cost,” he said.

Critics say the real problem is the political cost of being perceived as granting “luxuries” to prisoners.

“Part of the reason why you see this kind of irrational behavior — spending far more to fight the lawsuit than it would cost to just air-condition the prison — is because AC is seen as a luxury and prison officials don’t want to be seen as running luxurious prisons,” said Fathi. “Climate control is not a matter of comfort and luxury — it’s a matter of life or death.”

So far, the ACLU and other rights groups have been making that case one facility at a time. In Wisconsin, they won a court order to air-condition a prison where temperatures were reaching “potentially lethal levels.” In Mississippi, they won an order to provide fans, iced water, and daily showers when the heat index exceeds 90 degrees. They also secured protections for inmates more susceptible to heat-related injury at the Baltimore City Jail. In the Maricopa County jail in Arizona, run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the ACLU won an order that inmates on certain kinds of medication that make them more vulnerable to heat be housed in temperatures of 85 degrees or below.

“Unfortunately, because we have this very decentralized criminal justice system, you have to fight it out state by state and facility by facility” said Fathi.

“Everyone understands that if you leave a child in a car on a hot day, there’s a serious risk this child could be injured or die,” he added. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing when we leave prisoners locked in cells when the heat and humidity climb beyond a certain level.”

Top photo: Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana, July 14, 2015.

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The post “Deadly Heat” in U.S. Prisons Is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits appeared first on The Intercept.

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