A federal judge in Rio de Janeiro issued an injunction late Tuesday night barring the police from ejecting spectators from Olympic venues simply for protesting against Brazil’s unpopular interim president, Michel Temer, by wearing T-shirts, waving signs or chanting slogans against him.
As Folha de S. Paulo reported, Judge João Augusto Carneiro Araújo ruled that Brazilians do not forfeit their constitutionally protected right to free speech just by attending the games.
"The more they ban it (anti-gov protest) the more it makes you want to do it," he said. pic.twitter.com/fAwI6gvKpx
— Bruce Douglas (@bruceecurb) August 8, 2016
The ruling came after images of ticket holders being forced from their seats by the police, soldiers or Olympic volunteers went viral on social networks over the weekend, prompting a wave of anger at the censorship of political speech.
Padre João, the president of Human Rights Commission in Brazil’s House of Representatives, wrote to the nation’s attorney general on Tuesday to argue that a special law governing behavior at Olympic venues — signed in May by President Dilma Rousseff before she was suspended — clearly prohibits only signs or other forms of demonstration that are racist, xenophobic or encourage discrimination. The display or chanting of the slogan “Fora Temer,” or “Temer Out,” must be permitted, the commission president wrote.
Two incidents caught on video by activists on Saturday showed spectators being forced from their seats by the security forces for waving placards or wearing T-shirts that called for the resignation of the interim leader, who came to power in what many Brazilians consider a legislative coup.
On Saturday afternoon, a man was removed from the stands at the Sambadrome in Rio during the archery finals for waving a sign that read “Fora Temer.” His ejection was recorded and posted on Facebook by Pedro Freire, a member of the activist media collective Mídia Ninja.
The ejected fan’s wife told the Washington Post that he was warned to put the sign away, and did so, but was later forced from the stands after someone else shouted the slogan.
Then, during a women’s soccer match between the United States and France at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte on Saturday night, nine spectators wearing t-shirts that spelled out the slogan were told they had to take them off or leave the stadium.
— Catherine Osborn (@cculbertosborn) August 7, 2016
That incident was also captured on video by Mídia Ninja and seen widely on social networks.
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 6, 2016
No Mineirão, manifestantes com camisas que tinham letras que formava a frase "FORA TEMER" foram expulsos do Estádio. pic.twitter.com/R7D9SNs1Lv
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 6, 2016
Protesters were also warned that anti-Temer signs and T-shirts were prohibited during a pre-Olympic soccer match at the Mané Garrincha National Stadium in the capital, Brasília, and in the Olympic stadium in Rio on Friday.
Those incidents and others inspired at least one Olympic volunteer to resign in protest, and post a photo of the slogan scrawled on his credentials on Facebook.
— Conversa Afiada (@ConversaAfiada) August 8, 2016
The official crackdown on dissent, initially justified by Olympic officials as an attempt to keep the games “clean” of politics, appeared to backfire by inspiring protesters to smuggle anti-Temer messages into the venues and then share images of them on social networks.
— Chico D'Angelo (@chico_dangelo) August 8, 2016
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 7, 2016
Se proíbem faixas a gente vai de camisa, de tinta no braço… Vai ter #ForaTemer sim!
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 8, 2016
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 8, 2016
Engenhão grita #ForaTemer , em alto e bom tom. Quero ver prender o estádio inteiro.
— Midia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) August 7, 2016
Before the ruling made it clear that signs explicitly calling for the interim president to go could not be banned, several spectators found creative ways of making their point — including one woman who simply displayed the message: “Out with you know who.”
assim pode pic.twitter.com/cgj6Bj0hJf
— Whatsapp Brasil (@whatsappsbr) August 8, 2016
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The post Brazilians Can Protest Against Temer Inside Olympic Venues, Court Rules appeared first on The Intercept.
Apenas duas semanas depois de seu lançamento, Pokémon Go, o jogo de realidade aumentada que virou sensação pelo mundo, ultrapassou Twitter, Facebook e Netflix em usuários ativos diários em dispositivos Android, de acordo com uma estimativa. Nos dispositivos da Apple, há mais downloads do jogo do que qualquer outro aplicativo na semana de estreia na App Store.
A adoção meteórica e em larga escala do Pokémon Go se deve ao uso agressivo de informações pessoais de usuários. Ao contrário de Twitter, Facebook e Netflix, o aplicativo requer acesso ininterrupto a sua localização e câmera (um verdadeiro estoque de dados sigilosos de usuários), conforme colocou um órgão fiscalizador de privacidade em carta aos órgãos federais.
Mais alarmante ainda é o fato de que o Pokémon Go, da Niantic Labs, é gerenciado pelo homem responsável pela equipe que dirigiu, literalmente, o maior escândalo de privacidade na Internet, em que os carros do Google, no percurso realizado para fotografar ruas para o recurso “Street View” dos mapas online da empresa, copiou secretamente os tráficos de internet de redes domésticas, coletando senhas, mensagens de e-mail, prontuários médicos, informações financeiras, além de arquivos de áudio e vídeo.
Antes de se tornar CEO da Niantic Labs, John Hanke era o homem por trás de uma mina de ouro incrivelmente popular no mundo do smartphones: a divisão geográfica do Google, responsável por quase tudo o que envolvia localização, em uma época que a empresa de busca estava crescendo e se expandindo muito além da simples indexação da web, rumo à catalogação de todos os quarteirões do planeta. Hanke chegou ao Google após deixar sua empresa, Keyhole, extremamente popular (e admissivelmente, muito interessante). Fundada pela CIA, coletava imagens geográficas, foi adquirida em 2004 e relançada em 2005, com o nome de Google Earth. Em 2007, Hanke já administrava praticamente tudo o que envolvia um mapa no Google. Em 2007, um perfil na Wired, (“Google Maps Is Changing the Way We See the World” – Google está mudando a forma como enxergamos o mundo), Hanke foi elevado ao status de pioneiro (“Liderados por John Hanke, Google Earth e Google Maps estão levando ferramentas de cartografia às massas”) e endeusado, sendo exibido em uma foto com um enorme globo sobre seus ombros.
Foi uma época sensacional para o Google. O Google Maps se tornou indispensável, fazendo com que outros recursos, como o MapQuest, ficassem obsoletos, e o Google tinha grandes ambições para transformar as ruas em receita. Mas antes do Google vender o mundo de volta para seus habitantes, era preciso digitalizá-lo; por todo o planeta, frotas de carros do Google equipados com sensores passearam por cidades, ruelas e autoestradas, fotografando edifícios, postes, árvores e outras características. Todos os veículos tinham adesivos “Street View Car”, do Google – uma referência ao recurso “Street View” do Google Maps, que recebia as fotos tiradas. O Google compartilhou as fotografias do Street View extensamente através de uma interface de programação de aplicativos, ou API. Dentre os aplicativos que deve muito aos carros do Street View, está o Pokémon Go.
Porém, em abril de 2010, o comissário de proteção de dados da Alemanha anunciou que os veículos do Google coletavam dados de Wi-Fi de forma ilegal. Investigações regulatórias subsequentes e notícias confirmando a violação trouxeram a verdade à tona: Enquanto circulavam pelas ruas, os carros do Street View coletavam dados de redes Wi-Fi não criptografadas. Peter Schaar, do Órgão Fiscalizador de Privacidade alemão, se disse “horrorizado” e “chocado”.
Finalmente, foi estabelecido que esse tipo de coleta de dados foi praticado por pelo menos dois anos nos Estados Unidos. O escândalo, à época chamado de caso “Wi-Spy” (espião de Wi-Fi), resultou em:
- conclusões das respectivas autoridades competentes que a coleta de dados de Wi-Fi era ilegal em diversos países: Reino Unido, França, Canadá, Coreia do Sul e Nova Zelândia;
- uma investigação de grampo pelo Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos;
- uma contundente investigação da Comissão Federal de Comunicações dos EUA (FCC – Federal Communications Commission), que se seguiu a um comentário de um de seus diretores, alegando que a atividade do Google “infringia na privacidade de clientes claramente”, e que resultou em uma multa de US$ 25.000;
- uma ação civil pública federal contra o Google, ainda em curso, em que um tribunal distrital e um tribunal de recursos concluíram, em oposição às justificativas da empresa, que os dados acessados pelo Google contam com proteção legal contra interceptação, de acordo com a Lei de Escutas dos EUA (a suprema corte americana se recusou a aceitar a apelação do Google);
- processos legais na Espanha;
- intervenção de órgão reguladores na Itália e na Hungria;
- e uma investigação governamental na Alemanha.
O Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC – Centro de Privacidade de Informações Eletrônicas), um grupo fiscalizador e crítico veemente do Google durante o escândalo do Street View, tem um excelente resumo dessas ações legais).
Hanke, através de um porta-voz, negou ter conhecimento da coleta de dados por Wi-Fi enquanto ela ocorria e responsabilizou a divisão de dispositivos móveis do Google. Mas foi sua divisão, e não a divisão de dispositivos móveis, que foi o foco principal das investigações dos órgãos reguladores dos EUA sobre o assunto. Além disso, foram os veículos de sua divisão que realizaram as coletas em discussão. A forma como a intercepção de dados de Wi-Fi se deu debaixo do nariz de Hanke deveria alarmar os usuários, e pais de usuários, do Pokémon Go.
OGoogle tentou se esquivar da responsabilidade durante os desdobramentos do escândalo, rechaçando preocupações, refutando investigadores e demonstrando a insolência e a arrogância pelas quais a empresa de engenheiros foi criticada inúmeras vezes.
Em uma postagem publicada no começo do escândalo, a empresa negou qualquer irregularidade, alegando não ter copiado dados de redes Wi-Fi, mas coletado “informações que identificavam as redes e como operavam”, como o nome do roteador, uma informação supostamente pública.
A narrativa não durou muito tempo: Duas semanas depois, à medida que aumentava a pressão internacional, a empresa mudou de tática, deixou de negar completamente o ocorrido e passou a tentar encontrar bodes expiatórios, admitindo ter copiado dados, mas “por engano” e de forma “fragmentada”. Surpreendentemente, a empresa americana tentou passar a responsabilidade dos carros operados pela equipe de Hanke para um engenheiro não autorizado “trabalhando em um projeto experimental de Wi-Fi”.
Um dos vice-presidentes da divisão de Hanke, dois meses depois, admitiu em um blog que “foram cometidos erros graves na coleta de conteúdo de Wi-Fi, e trabalhamos celeremente para retificá-los (…). Os equipamentos de coleta de dados de Wi-Fi foram removidos de nossos carros”, mas continuaram a chamar a coleta de dados um erro.
Três meses depois, outra publicação oficial reafirmou que a coleta foi um “erro”, mas apenas admitiu a coleta específica de e-mails, URLs e senhas.
Apenas depois de diversos questionamentos cada vez mais veementes da FCC, frustrada com as tentativas da multinacional americana de “obstruir e atrasar” as investigações “deliberadamente”, o Google revelou a verdade, que foi então resumida em um franco relatório da comissão em 2012. Longe de agir de forma independente, o suposto “Engenheiro Fulano” colaborou e discutiu de forma aberta o “trecho de código” por ele escrito com diversos engenheiros do Google, inclusive seus superiores.
Na verdade, ele tentou alertar seus colegas, enviando o código de software que havia escrito e um documento de design para os gerentes do projeto Street View, que repassaram o material para toda a equipe do Street View. “O documento de design”, relatou a FCC, “identificou ‘ressalvas sobre a privacidade’ e recomendou revisão por parte do conselho, mas isso nunca ocorreu”. Esse resumo do design afirmou, de forma bastante objetiva, que “uma das preocupações naturais [a respeito do projeto] é coletarmos o tráfego de usuários com dados suficientes para estabelecer com precisão suas localizações geográficas em um determinado momento, além de informações sobre o que estavam fazendo”.
Um alerta não pode ser mais claro do que isso.
O relatório da FCC também mostrou que, ao planejar o projeto de coleta por Wi-Fi, em “pelo menos duas” ocasiões, o “Engenheiro Fulano” foi específico ao informar seus colegas de que os carros Street View estavam coletando conteúdo de usuários”, e chegou a compartilhar porções dos dados pessoais coletados. Em um e-mail de 2008, um desses colegas, “um gerente sênior do projeto Street View”, disse achar a análise de mais de 300 milhões de pacotes de tráfego Wi-Fi, contendo mais de 32 mil endereços da web, “interessante”, e perguntou: “estes são os URLs obtidos através dos pacotes de Wi-Fi coletados pelos carros”? A resposta do engenheiro confirmou a suspeita do gerente: “Os dados foram coletados durante o dia, quando a maior parte do tráfego ocorre em ambiente profissional (e provavelmente criptografado). Não acho que o número seja alto suficiente para uma amostra relevante”.
Os dados encaminhados para os reguladores europeus e analisadas pela FCC comprovaram que foram coletados, basicamente, todos os tipos de dados, incluindo informações relacionadas a sites de namoro online e sobre preferências sexuais dos usuários.
No final das contas, é possível que tenham sido coletadas e armazenadas de forma secreta as atividades online não criptografadas de centenas de milhares de pessoas , enquanto o carros realizam as tarefas declaradas publicamente de coleta de localizações de redes sem fio. Os carros do Google não estavam apenas coletando os nomes de roteadores sem fio; estavam absorvendo todas as informações desprotegidas enviadas e recebidas pelos roteadores à medida que os carros circulavam, incluindo sites visitados, histórico de buscas e e-mails. Naturalmente, mesmo uma pequena amostra do tráfego de internet pode revelar tanto a respeito de um usuário que talvez eles preferissem que ficassem no âmbito privado.
Tudo isso ocorreu sob a direção de John Hanke na divisão geográfica, incluindo o Street View e o Maps, como vice-presidente de gerenciamento do produto. O Google, eventualmente, implementou reformas às políticas de privacidade, mas não é certo, mesmo antes das alterações, por que ninguém interveio quando os engenheiros falaram abertamente sobre a coleta do tráfego de internet de estranhos. Isso pode estar relacionado à cultura interna do Google, incluindo a divisão de Hanke; em uma entrevista em 2009 para o The Times de Londres, um ano antes do escândalo, ele disse:
“Como empresa, podemos não satisfazer 100% das pessoas em todas as situações, mas acho que você não pode viver a vida, seja como indivíduo ou como empresa, tentando não aborrecer ninguém. Temos que estabelecer um equilíbrio entre os possíveis benefícios de uma atividade e o respeito a leis e códigos sociais.”
Logo após a publicação do relatório da FCC, o New York Times identificou o Engenheiro Fulano como Marius Milner, um pesquisador de segurança e figura conhecida na comunidade de hackers. Na época, Milner preferiu não entrar em detalhes a respeito de seu papel no fiasco dos dados, dizendo apenas que a alegação do Google, de que ele havia agido por conta própria, “deixa muitas questões em aberto”. Milner confirmou ao The Intercept que ainda é funcionário do Google, o que significa que o engenheiro não autorizado durou quatro anos mais do que John Hanke, mas disse “nunca o ter conhecido”.
Milner, coincidentemente, tem vínculos com o Pokémon Go: ele, três outros engenheiros e Hanke colaboraram na criação de uma patente, mantida pela Niantic, de um “sistema e método de transporte de objetos virtuais em um jogo de realidade paralela”. Milner me contou que a patente veio de “ideias desenvolvidas com um amigo pessoal que foi um dos coautores” e que nunca a discutiu com Hanke. É importante mencionar que o Google solicitou a patente em 2012, dois anos depois de a empresa acusar Milner de ser um engenheiro não autorizado agindo por conta própria, e foi concedida pelo gabinete de patentes em 2015, quando foi atribuída à Niantic – à época, uma startup desconhecida de realidade aumentada.
Hanke começou a desenvolver a Niantic em 2010, dentro do Google, como uma unidade de negócios autônoma, de acordo com as notícias da época, antes de se desvincular, no fim do ano passado, visando liberar a Niantic para trabalhar com uma variedade mais ampla de parceiros. Google e Nintendo se associaram para investir US$ 20 milhões na empresa, embora o valor exato do investimento do Google não seja conhecido.
Quando deixou o Google, a Niantic levou a patente de Milner/Hanke consigo. A patente descreve extensamente como um jogo como Pokémon Go poderia ser usado para coletar dados reais de um jogador sem que ele saiba:
“O objetivo do jogo pode ser vinculado diretamente à atividade de coleta de dados. Um dos objetivos do jogo que pode ser vinculado diretamente à atividade de coleta de dados envolve uma tarefa que requer a obtenção de informações sobre o mundo real e o fornecimento das mesmas como condição para a conclusão do objetivo do jogo”.
A patente também menciona, para fins ilustrativos, um artigo acadêmico do The International Journal of Virtual Reality (Jornal Internacional de Realidade Virtual), “Aquisição lúdica de dados geoespaciais por comunidades de jogos com base em localização”, de Sebastian Matyas, que inclui o seguinte parágrafo em sua introdução:
“Em nossa opinião, o verdadeiro desafio está em motivar o usuário a fornecer dados constantemente, mesmo após o desgaste do entusiasmo inicial com a tecnologia inovadora. O processo de aquisição de dados deve ser divertido para que um possível contribuidor se envolva a longo prazo. Estamos convencidos de que o entretenimento e a diversão são aspectos fundamentais no design de serviços de coleta de dados como esse”.
Ao ser questionado sobre haver trabalhado na equipe do Street View de Hanke, conforme mencionado no relatório da FCC, Milner disse que não poderia responder.
Hanke, através de um porta-voz, se distanciou da controvérsia de forma mais explícita. Um representante da Niantic, falando em seu nome, disse que “ele não era o responsável pelo que aconteceu” e que não tinha conhecimento prévio das escutas sem fio, que, de acordo com o porta-voz, foi de responsabilidade absoluta da divisão móvel do Google, mesmo que a operação tenha sido conduzida por meio dos carros Street View em nome da divisão de Hanke.
O relatório da FCC sobre o escândalo Wi-Spy é diretamente voltado para a equipe do Street View de Hanke e não menciona a equipe móvel. Além disso, o relatório oferece uma possível explicação sobre como foi possível Hanke alegar não ter conhecimento da espionagem: apesar das tentativas verbais e por escrito de Milner (ou “Engenheiro Fulano”) de manter informados os gerentes do Street View sobre a coleta de dados sem fio, ele foi simplesmente ignorado com frequência. A FCC contou que “em entrevistas e declarações, gerentes do projeto Street View e outros funcionários do Google que trabalharam no projeto disseram ao gabinete que não leram o documento de design do Engenheiro Fulano”, ainda que ele tenha sido enviado para toda equipe do Street View.
A confusão a respeito da responsabilidade pelas ações de Milner podem vir do fato de que o engenheiro trabalhava no YouTube (do Google) na época, que não faz parte da divisão geográfica de Hanke, nem da equipe móvel, e criou o coletor de sinais de Wi-Fi como um projeto paralelo sob a política de 20% de tempo livre para funcionários do Google. Embora tenha dito que a coleta sem fio foi iniciada por “nossa equipe móvel”, a empresa deixou claro, na mesma postagem, que a equipe móvel era responsável pelas ações de Milner, visto que os “gerentes do projeto não queriam e não tinham intenção de usar os dados de conteúdo” coletados.
Enquanto isso, os dados coletados pelo software de Milner, contendo nomes e localização de pontos de acesso sem fio, foram implementados nos carros do Street View (operando em nome da divisão de Hanke) e foram usados para ajudar pedestres e motoristas a se localizar na versão para dispositivos móveis do Google Maps (parte da divisão de Hanke) e no sistema operacional móvel do Google, Android (uma divisão diferente). Em uma postagem no “Blog oficial” da empresa sobre a questão, o Google mencionou ambas as equipes – Google Maps (novamente, parte da divisão de Hanke) e a equipe móvel (que não fazia parte da divisão de Hanke), como beneficiários dos dados de Milner (que não trabalhava para nenhuma das duas).
Evidentemente, nenhum funcionário do Google está disposto a reivindicar a responsabilidade pelo Wi-Spy, incluindo Hanke.
Agora, levando em consideração a disseminação do Pokémon Go e a confidencialidade dos dados que acessa, o fato de Hanke culpar a equipe móvel pelo escândalo do Wi-Spy é menos importante do que o fato de sua divisão, propositadamente ou não, ter se tornado o veículo – ou, literalmente, os veículos – usado por um engenheiro para coletar enormes quantidades de dados extremamente confidenciais, enquanto gerentes e engenheiros da divisão de Hanke ignoraram inúmeras vezes os alertas explícitos, verbais e por escrito, sobre o que se passava com esse engenheiro, de acordo com a mais completa investigação sobre o assunto publicada por uma entidade do Governo dos EUA.
O Centro de Privacidade de Informações Eletrônicas, entidade fiscalizadora de assuntos de privacidade, já está pressionando a Niantic e seu CEO.
Em uma carta enviada à Comissão Federal de Comércio dos EUA (FTC –Federal Trade Commission) neste mês, o Centro de Informação sobre a Privacidade Eletrônica (EPIC – Electronic Privacy Information Center) defendeu que o “histórico sugere que a Niantic continuará a desrespeitar a segurança e a privacidade de consumidores, o que aumenta a necessidade de acompanhamento rigoroso à medida que continua a crescer a popularidade da Niantic, assim como seu estoque de dados”, e acrescentou que “dados os antecedentes do Google Street View, há poucos motivos para acreditar nas garantias oferecidas em relação às práticas de coleta de dados da Niantic”.
Por telefone, um porta-voz do EPIC enfatizou que o escândalo do Street View deve fazer os jogadores do Pokémon Go “pensarem duas vezes se devem acreditar na palavra deles” e que a FTC deve prestar mais atenção a isso e se certificar de que as práticas de coleta de dados [da Niantic] são honestas”.
É muito importante se certificar de que as práticas de coleta da Niantic são “honestas” por que já sabemos que são vastas. A política de privacidade oficial do Pokémon Go deixa isso claro:
“Coletamos e armazenamos informações sobre sua localização (ou a localização de crianças autorizadas) quando você (ou uma criança por você autorizada) usa nosso aplicativo e executa ações no jogo que usam os serviços de localização disponibilizados por meio do sistema operacional de seu dispositivo móvel (ou do dispositivo móvel de uma criança por você autorizada), que usa a triangulação de torres de sinais de celular, triangulação de Wi-Fi e/ou GPS. Compreende e aceita que, ao utilizar nosso aplicativo, você (ou criança por você autorizada) nos enviará a localização de seu dispositivo móvel, e algumas dessas informações de localização, assim como o seu nome do usuário (ou nome de usuário de criança por você autorizada) podem ser compartilhados por meio do aplicativo…
“Coletamos determinadas informações que seu dispositivo móvel (ou o de uma criança por você autorizada) envia quando você (ou criança por você autorizada) usa nossos Serviços, como um identificador, as configurações de usuário e o sistema operacional de seu dispositivo (ou do dispositivo de criança por você autorizada), bem como informações sobre o uso de nossos Serviços ao utilizar o dispositivo móvel.”
Uma vez coletadas, a Niantic se reserva o direito de compartilhar algumas das informações que coleta, no que alega ser de forma “não identificadora”, com terceiros “para pesquisas e análises, perfis demográficos e outras finalidades”. Isto seria uma grande quantidade de informações confidenciais a serem transmitidas em confiança, mesmo para um CEO com um bom histórico de respeito à privacidade de estranhos. E, como era de se esperar, na primeira semana de lançamento do Pokémon Go, a Niantic causou um breve pânico em torno da privacidade de usuários ao ser descoberto que o aplicativo solicitava um acesso muito mais aprofundado do que o necessário a usuários de contas do Google. A empresa respondeu quase que imediatamente:
“Descobrimos recentemente que o processo de criação de conta do Pokémon Go no iOS solicita, por engano, acesso total à conta de usuários do Google. (…) O Google verificou que nenhuma outra informação foi recebida ou acessada pelo Pokémon Go ou pela Niantic”.
Faltava apenas um “engenheiro não autorizado” na história.
Traduzido por: Inacio Vieira
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Within two weeks of its release last month, Pokemon Go, the augmented reality gaming sensation, surpassed, by one estimate, Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix in its day-to-day popularity on Android phones. Over on Apple devices, the game was downloaded more times in its first week than any app that came before it.
The suddenly vast scale of Pokemon Go adoption is matched by the game’s aggressive use of personal information. Unlike, say, Twitter, Facebook, or Netflix, the app requires uninterrupted use of your location and camera — a “trove of sensitive user data,” as one privacy watchdog put it in a concerned letter to federal regulators.
All the more alarming, then, that Pokemon Go is run by a man whose team literally drove one of the greatest privacy debacles of the internet era, in which Google vehicles, in the course of photographing neighborhoods for the Street View feature of the company’s online maps, secretly copied digital traffic from home networks, scooping up passwords, email messages, medical records, financial information, and audio and video files.
Before Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke was the man behind an unfathomably popular smartphone goldmine, he ran Google’s Geo division, responsible for nearly everything locational at a time when the search company was turning into much more, expanding away from cataloging the web and towards cataloging every city block on the planet. Hanke landed at Google after his wildly popular (and admittedly very neat) CIA-funded company Keyhole, which collected geographic imagery, was acquired in 2004 and relaunched as Google Earth in 2005. By 2007, Hanke was running basically everything at Google that involved a map. In a 2007 Wired profile, (“Google Maps Is Changing the Way We See the World”) Hanke was lauded as a pioneer (“Led by John Hanke, Google Earth and Google Maps are delivering cartography tools to the masses”) and deified, appearing in photo with an enormous globe across his shoulders.
It was an exciting time for Google. Google Maps had become indispensable, dumping the likes of MapQuest into obsolescence, and Google had great ambitions for turning surroundings into revenue. But before Google could sell the world back to its inhabitants, it needed to digitize it; around the world, fleets of sensor-laden Google cars roamed cities, back roads, and highways, snapping photos of buildings, posts, trees, and other features. Each vehicle was labeled a Street View Car by Google, a reference to the Street View feature their pictures enabled on Google Maps. Google shared Street View imagery widely via an application programming interface, or API, and among the apps that owe a debt of gratitude to Street View Cars is Pokemon Go.
Then, in April 2010, Germany’s data protection commissioner announced that Google vehicles had been illegally collecting Wi-Fi data. Further regulatory scrutiny and corroborating news reports eked out the truth: As they drove, Street View Cars were swallowing up traffic from unencrypted wireless networks. Germany’s federal privacy czar, Peter Schaar, said he was “horrified” and “appalled.”
It eventually emerged that, in the U.S. alone, this collection went on for more than two years. The scandal, referred to as the “Wi-Spy” case as it was unfolding, resulted in:
- Findings that Wi-Fi traffic collection was illegal by authorities in the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Korea, and New Zealand.
- A bruising Federal Communications Commission investigation, which followed a director’s comment that Google’s activity “clearly infringes on consumer privacy” and which resulted in a $25,000 fine.
- A Department of Justice wiretapping investigation.
- A federal class-action case against Google, ongoing to this day, in which a district and appeals court have both ruled, against the company’s arguments, that the sort of data Google accessed is protected from interception under the U.S. Wiretap Act. (The Supreme Court has declined to hear Google’s appeal.)
- Lawsuits brought by authorities in Spain.
- Regulator intervention in Italy and Hungary.
- And a government investigation in Germany.
(The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group and vocal critic of Google’s during the Street View scandal, has a good overview of these actions.)
Hanke, through a spokesperson, denied any knowledge of the Wi-Fi collection at the time it was happening, pinning blame on Google’s mobile division. But a unit within his division, not mobile, was the focus of the largest investigation into the matter by U.S. regulators, and it was his division whose vehicles did the actual collection. The way Wi-Fi traffic was intercepted under Hanke’s nose should alarm people who use, or whose children use, Pokemon Go.
Google itself tried to escape responsibility as the scandal unfolded, dismissing concerns, rebuffing investigators, and evincing the sort of hubris and arrogance for which the engineer-dominated company has been repeatedly criticized.
In a blog post published at the very beginning of the scandal, Google denied any wrongdoing, saying it had copied no traffic from inside Wi-Fi networks, but rather gleaned “information that identifies the network and how that network operates,” like the name of your router, which you assume to be public anyway.
This narrative was short lived: Two weeks later, as international scrutiny increased, Google shifted from outright denial to scapegoat tactics, admitting it had copied traffic, but only “mistakenly” and mostly in “fragments.” Google attempted, amazingly, to divert blame from the cars operating on behalf of Hanke’s operation onto one single unnamed rogue “engineer working on an experimental WiFi project.”
A vice president from Hanke’s Geo division two months later acknowledged in a blog post that “serious mistakes were made in the collection of WiFi payload data, and we have worked to quickly rectify them … the WiFi data collection equipment has been removed from our cars.” But Google continued to call the traffic collection a mistake.
Then, three months after that, yet another official post repeated that the collection was “mistaken” but only specifically acknowledged collecting emails, URLs, and passwords.
Only after repeated and increasingly vociferous inquiries from the FCC, which was frustrated that Google had “deliberately impeded and delayed” its investigation, did the company reveal the truth, which was summarized in blunt 2012 commission report. Far from acting on his own, the supposedly rogue “Engineer Doe” (as the report referred to him) had collaborated on and discussed openly his “piece of code” with several other Google engineers, including superiors.
In fact, he’d tried to warn his colleagues, sending his software code and a design document to the leaders of the Street View project, who in turn forwarded it to the entire Street View team. “The design document,” the FCC wrote, “identified ‘Privacy Considerations’ and recommended review by counsel, but that never occurred.”
This design overview stated quite plainly that “a typical concern [with the project] might be that we are logging user traffic with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.”
Warnings don’t come clearer than that.
The FCC report went on to show that while planning the Wi-Fi collection project, on “at least two” occasions, “Engineer Doe specifically informed colleagues that Street View cars were collecting payload data,” and even shared portions of the collected personal traffic. In a 2008 email, one of these colleagues, “a senior manager of the Street View project,” called Engineer Doe’s analysis of 300 million Wi-Fi traffic packets containing 32,000 web addresses “interesting” and asked, “Are you saying that these are URLs that you sniffed out of Wifi packets that we recorded while driving?” The engineer’s reply confirmed this to be the case: “The data was collected during daytime when most traffic is at work (and likely encrypted). … I don’t think the numbers are high enpugh [sic] for a good sample.”
Data turned over to European regulators and reviewed by the FCC further showed that essentially all types of computer data were collected, including information related to online dating and sexual preferences.
In the end, the unencrypted internet habits of possibly hundreds of thousands of people were secretly scraped up and stored while the cars were carrying out their publicly stated mission of collecting the locations of wireless networks. Google’s cars weren’t just sniffing out the names of wireless routers, but also sucking down all of the unprotected information being sent to and from those routers as the vehicles drove by, including visited websites, search queries, and emails. Of course, even a brief sample of a person’s internet traffic can reveal a great deal that they would prefer remain between them and the computer.
All of this happened while John Hanke led the Geo division, including Street View and Maps, as vice president for product management. Google eventually imposed a set of privacy reforms, but it’s unclear, even before those changes, why no one intervened when engineers spoke openly about collecting the internet traffic of strangers. It may have had to do with the culture inside Google; in a 2009 interview with The Times of London, a year before the scandal began, Hanke said:
“As a company we may not make 100% of everybody happy in all situations but I don’t think you can live your life as an individual or as a company not wanting to step on anybody’s toes. We have to chart a course between the benefit that can come from something and adhering to social mores and the law.”
Soon after the FCC published its findings, the New York Times identified “Engineer Doe” as Marius Milner, a security researcher and well-known figure in the hacker community. Milner at the time declined to elaborate on his role in the data fiasco, saying only that Google’s claim that he acted alone “requires putting a lot of dots together.” Milner confirmed to The Intercept that he still works at Google, meaning the rogue engineer outlasted John Hanke by four years, but said he “never met him.”
Milner, as it happens, does have his own link to Pokemon Go: He and Hanke co-authored with three others a patent held by Niantic on a “System and Method for Transporting Virtual Objects in a Parallel Reality Game.” Milner told me that the patent stemmed from “hatching some ideas with a personal friend that was one of the other co-authors” and that he never discussed the patent with Hanke. It’s worth noting that Google filed the patent in 2012, two years after the company scapegoated Milner as a supposedly lone, rogue engineer. It was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015, when it was assigned to Niantic, then a little-known augmented reality startup.
Hanke had begun Niantic inside Google in 2010 as an autonomous business unit, according to news reports, before the unit was spun off late last year to free Niantic up to work with a wider variety of partners. Google and Nintendo joined to put $20 million into the company, though the exact size of Google’s stake remains unclear.
As Niantic left Google, it took the Milner-Hanke patent with it. The patent discusses, at length, how a game such as Pokemon Go could be used to collect real-world data from a player without them knowing it:
The game objective can be directly linked with a data collection activity. An exemplary game objective directly linked with data collection activity can include a task that involves acquiring information about the real world and providing this information as a condition for completion of the game objective.”
The patent also cites, for illustrative purposes, an academic paper from The International Journal of Virtual Reality, “Playful Geospatial Data Acquisition by Location-Based Gaming Communities” by Sebastian Matyas, which includes as its introduction the following paragraph:
“To our opinion, the real challenge lies in motivating the user to provide the data constantly, even after the exciting appeal of technological innovation at the beginning wears off. The data acquisition process should be entertaining for a possible contributor to engage him in the long run. We convince that entertainment and fun are an important design aspect of such data collecting services.”
When asked if he had worked with Hanke’s Street View team, as stated throughout the FCC report, Milner said he was unable to comment. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Hanke, through a spokesperson, more explicitly distanced himself from the controversy. A Niantic representative communicating on his behalf said “he was not the boss of what happened” and that he had no prior knowledge of the wireless eavesdropping, which, the spokesperson said, was ultimately the fault of Google’s mobile division, even though it was conducted via Street View Cars operating on behalf of Hanke’s division.
The FCC’s report on the Wi-Spy scandal is squarely focused on Hanke’s Street View team and never mentions the mobile team. It also offers one possible explanation for how Hanke can claim he had no knowledge of the eavesdropping: Despite Milner’s (or “Engineer Doe’s”) written and verbal attempts to keep Street View leadership in the loop about the wireless data collection he was doing, he was often simply ignored. The FCC said, “in interviews and declarations, managers of the Street View project and other Google employees who worked on the project told the Bureau they did not read Engineer Doe’s design document” even though it was sent to the entire Street View team.
The confusion about responsibility for Milner’s actions may stem from the fact that he was actually working for Google’s YouTube at the time — which is not part of either Hanke’s Geo division or the mobile team — and created his Wi-Fi collector as a side project under Google’s “20% time” policy. While Google has said wireless collection was initiated by “our mobile team,” it made clear in the same blog post that said team was in control of Milner’s actions, since “project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.”
Meanwhile, the data collected by Milner’s software, about the names and location of wireless access points, was deployed on Street View Cars (working on behalf of Hanke’s divsion) and was used for helping pedestrians and drivers locate themselves on the mobile version of Google Maps (part of Hanke’s division) and on Google’s mobile operating system Android (a different division). In a post on the company’s “Official Blog” about the matter, Google mentioned both Google Maps (again, part of Hanke’s division) and the mobile team (not part of Hanke’s division) as recipients of data from Milner (who worked for neither).
Clearly, no one at Google is eager to claim Wi-Spy as their own, Hanke included.
Today, given the spread of Pokemon Go and sensitivity of the data it accesses, it’s less important that Hanke now blames the mobile team for the Wi-Spy scandal than that his division, unwittingly or not, became the vehicle — or vehicles, to be precise — through which one engineer was able to collect massive amounts of hugely sensitive data, while managers and engineers from Hanke’s division repeatedly ignored explicit warnings, written and verbal, about what was going on from that engineer, according to the most thorough published investigation of the matter by a U.S. government entity.
Electronic Privacy Information Center, the privacy watchdog, is already putting pressure on Niantic and its CEO.
In a letter to the FTC sent this month, EPIC argued that “history suggests Niantic will continue to disregard consumer privacy and security, which increases the need for close FTC scrutiny as Niantic’s popularity – and trove of sensitive user data – continues to grow,” and added that “given the prior history of Google Street View, there is little reason to trust the assurance regarding the current state of Niantic’s data collection practices.”
Reached via phone, EPIC spokesperson Claire Gartland stressed to me that the Street View scandal should make any Pokemon Go player “think twice about whether you can take them at their word” and that the FTC should “pay closer attention to this and make sure that [Niantic’s] data collection practices are on the up and up.”
We collect and store information about your (or your authorized child’s) location when you (or your authorized child) use our App and take game actions that use the location services made available through your (or your authorized child’s) device’s mobile operating system, which makes use of cell/mobile tower triangulation, wifi triangulation, and/or GPS. You understand and agree that by using our App you (or your authorized child) will be transmitting your (or your authorized child’s) device location to us and some of that location information, along with your (or your authorized child’s) user name, may be shared through the App…
We collect certain information that your (or your authorized child’s) mobile device sends when you (or your authorized child) use our Services, like a device identifier, user settings, and the operating system of your (or your authorized child’s) device, as well as information about your use of our Services while using the mobile device.
Niantic reserves the right to share some of the information it collects, in what it claims is a “non-identifying” form, with third parties “for research and analysis, demographic profiling, and other similar purposes.” This would be a lot of sensitive information to entrust even to a CEO with a good record of respecting the privacy of strangers. And in fact, in the very first week of Pokemon Go’s release, Niantic caused a brief privacy scare when it was discovered that the app asked for far broader access to users’ Google accounts than was necessary. The company responded almost immediately:
“We recently discovered that the Pokémon Go account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. … Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon Go or Niantic.”
All that was missing was a rogue engineer.
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The revelation that an undercover FBI agent encouraged a would-be terrorist to “Tear up Texas” shortly before he opened fire on a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, last year raises new concerns about FBI counterterrorism efforts that were already under fire for manufacturing terrorism cases rather than halting them.
According to an affidavit filed in a related case last week, Elton Simpson — one of two men who donned body armor and fired assault weapons before being shot dead by a Garland police officer — had been corresponding with an undercover FBI agent. And in a text message roughly a week before the attack, as they discussed the cartoon contest, the agent had exhorted Simpson to “Tear up Texas.”
The FBI, in the affidavit, explained the comment as “an effort to continue their dialogue” with the suspect.
But testing the willingness of suspects to take certain steps in a conspiracy is one thing; actively encouraging them to commit a violent, criminal act is another.
“The FBI uses informants and undercover agents to pressure suspected ISIS sympathizers into committing acts of violence, so that they can then be prosecuted. The Garland shooter case is the most striking illustration yet of the dangers of this approach,” says Arun Kundnani, a lecturer on terrorism studies at New York University. “Essentially, it suggests the government may be manufacturing the very threat it is supposed to be countering.”
Kundnani called for “an independent congressional investigation of the FBI’s tactics.”
The extensive role played by the undercover agent was first reported by the Daily Beast.
Though sting operations are generally seen as an appropriate tool for infiltrating criminal organizations or conspiracies, their use is more problematic in contemporary terrorism cases involving isolated individuals. In those cases, the concern is that the informant or undercover agent could plant the idea to actually conduct an attack in the mind of a suggestible or unstable person.
“These cases always have a lot of gray area and there has always been a question of how far the FBI should go when they get involved in these sting operations,” said Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. “But if you’re going to target potentially unstable, vulnerable individuals in undercover sting operations, you have to examine the potential consequences of having these types of discussions with them.”
The utility of sting operations has changed in the era of Islamic State, Greenberg said. Terrorist groups in the past, including al Qaeda, tended to have more coherent plots and mature conspirators. “There are several factors which make it harder to control a situation with informants in ISIS cases, including the instability, vulnerability, and, frequently, the young age of most ISIS recruits,” Greenberg said. “Not only is there often a lack of a specific plot in mind, there tends to be a real sense of suicidal thinking and self-hatred in their motivations that can make it more difficult to control a situation.”
“We just don’t know what happened in this case, but it’s a real warning sign that the foreseeable consequences of acts are now unknown,” she adds. In none of the previous cases is the FBI known to have actively encouraged violence, nor dealt with anyone equipped and prepared to carry out an imminent, violent act. Here they seemingly did both.
FBI Director James Comey has said there are active investigations of suspected ISIS sympathizers ongoing “in all 50 states.” But little is known about the nature of the individuals held under suspicion or what methods the FBI is using to investigate them.
The New York Times reported in June that since February 2015, two thirds of terrorism prosecutions related to Islamic State have involved undercover operatives.
And in recent years a number of plots have materialized involving seemingly unstable individuals interacting with government informants. This January, a 25-year old man with a history of psychiatric problems was arrested after attempting to attack an upstate New York bar with a machete — with the assistance of a government informant who helped provide him with the machete. And in October 2014, a former army recruit was introduced to FBI informants after being released from of a mental institution. Months later, he was arrested for plotting to attack a military facility — with a fake bomb provided by the informants.
Although more than 100 alleged Islamic State plots have been documented in the United States since 2014, it’s unclear how many would have materialized without the involvement of informants or undercover agents. Such cases nevertheless help inflate the public fear of terrorism and feed the misconception that terrorist sleeper cells are ubiquitous in the United States.
The escalation of FBI tactics to actively encouraging violent actors in these investigations would be a dangerous step.
Many of the targets of prior terrorism investigations did not demonstrate any ability to prepare for an actual attack without the FBI providing their equipment. But the Garland shooters did.
And had they been more competent in their assault, the result could have been one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in recent U.S. history – an attack that was encouraged by the FBI.
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The post FBI Agent Goaded Garland Shooter to “Tear Up Texas,” Raising New Alarms About Bureau’s Methods appeared first on The Intercept.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday denounced in harsh terms the impeachment of Brazil’s democratically elected president. As the Brazilian Senate heads toward a final vote later this month, Sanders described his position, set forth in a statement posted on his Senate site, as “calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office.” He added: “To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.”
Sanders also condemned the unelected center-right coalition under Michel Temer that has seized power during Rousseff’s suspension and is now trying to install themselves through 2018. “After suspending Brazil’s first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern,” he said, ” the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights” and “replaced a diverse and representative administration with a cabinet made up entirely of white men.” They are now attempting to implement radical policies that could never be democratically ratified: “impose austerity, increase privatization and install a far right-wing social agenda.”
Sanders’ statement comes as Brazil’s elites – virtually unified in favor of Dilma’s impeachment – have taken extraordinary (and almost comically futile) measures during the Olympics to hide from the domestic public, and the world, how deeply unpopular Temer is. Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, last month was caught manufacturing polling data when it claimed that 50% of Brazilians want him to stay (in fact, their own poll showed a large majority (62%) want Temer out and new elections held and the paper’s Ombudsman harshly criticized them). Brazilian media spent months hyping the prospect of Temer’s election in 2018 without mentioning the rather significant fact that he’s been banned by a court for running for 8 years because he violated election law (they were forced to mention that last week when the São Paulo prosecutor called attention to this fact in the wake of a new media movement to have Temer run).
Temer himself, fearful of intense booing, demanded that protocol be broken by not announcing his presence at the opening ceremony of the Olympics (he was intensely booed anyway when Brazilians realized he was present). Peaceful ticket-holders have been systematically and at times forcibly removed by Brazilian soldiers from Olympic events for holding “Fora Temer!” (Temer Out) signs, creating international controversy; watching the military use force to silence citizens criticizing an unelected “president” is a jarring image in a country that suffered under a 21-year military dictatorship that only ended in 1985 (a judge last night ruled such removals violate the Constitutional guarantee of free expression).
Sanders’ denunciation of Temer could not come at a worse time for the would-be unelected President. Executives from the construction giant at the heart of the Petrobras scandal, Odebrecht, told investigators this week that Temer’s Foreign Minister, José Serra, received R$ 23 million (US$ 5.5 million) in illegal funds for his 2010 presidential campaign. In just two months in office, three of Temer’s ministers have been forced to resign due to corruption scandals. Even worse, as The New York Times noted yesterday, Odebrecht executives also “told investigators that Mr. Temer [himself] had requested more than $3 million for his centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. As part of a plea deal they are seeking, the Odebrecht executives said the payment had been made in cash through a unit used to deliver bribes, according to Veja, a newsmagazine.”
It’s a bit difficult to justify the removal of democratically elected President by citing corruption, when far more serious corruption scandals are engulfing the person eager to replace her along with his closest associates. But that has been the sham at the heart of this anti-democratic process from the start. As Slate‘s Franklin Foer put it in a long article on Brazil yesterday: “Dilma’s impeachment was a farce, if only for the fact that her accusers have benefited from graft on a mind-bending scale and ginned up the spectacle to distract from their own misdeeds.”
Sanders’ denunciation of the attack on Brazilian democracy is part of a growing international recognition of the illegitimacy of Temer’s rule. Just two weeks ago, “40 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives published a letter … expressing ‘deep concern’ about threats to democracy in Brazil.” Similar denunciations of Dilma’s impeachment have been issued by British MPs and labor leaders, the Organization of American States, dozens of members of the EU Parliament, and Brazil’s first Pulitzer Prize winner. So dubious is Temer’s standing that, as AP reported last month, many world leaders are avoiding the Rio Olympics so as to avoid the quandary of whether to shake his hand.
One question that arises from Sanders’ statement is timing: why, after months of silence on Brazil’s political crisis, did he finally speak out now? One of the significant flaws of his candidacy was that he rarely addressed foreign policy at all, notwithstanding the fact that his primary opponent is a war advocate and militarist who (even long before Trump’s emergence) was attracting neoconservative support. He was a candidate steadfastly on message. Requests had been made for Sanders by his supporters to speak out on Brazil during the primary race, but those requests were rejected or ignored.
When Sanders did speak on foreign policy, it was to offer the mildest critiques, while endorsing many of the fundamentals of the bipartisan War on Terror. There were noble exceptions – some of his statements on Israel and Palestine were among the best from any major party candidate in decades, and his refusal to repudiate some of his more controversial 1980s positions when confronted with red-baiting was impressive – but by and large, Sanders avoided any foreign policy views that could be castigated as left-wing or out of the mainstream.
Now that his presidential campaign is over, he is free to speak out in ways that would not necessarily be politically beneficial in the eyes of the Democratic Party voter base. Some of his most prominent supporters have been steadfast in their opposition to Dilma’s impeachment. Whatever the explanations on timing, Sanders’ statement is strong and unequivocal. Perhaps most significant is his call for the U.S. Government to “demand that this dispute be settled with democratic elections” – the solution which a large majority of Brazilians also support as the resolution to their political crisis, but which the country’s anti-democratic elites, fearful of who would be elected, vehemently oppose.
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The post Bernie Sanders Denounces Brazil’s Impeachment as Undemocratic, Calls for New Elections appeared first on The Intercept.
Der in Deutsch-Wagram und Ferlach produzierende österreichische Waffenproduzent Glock – vor allem bekannt für Pistolen und Feldmesser – hat für das Jahr 2015 eine Rekordbilanz hingelegt. Der Nettoumsatz stieg um satte 55 % auf 501,6 Mio. Euro, der Gewinn wurde mit 127,9 Mio. Euro mehr als verdoppelt. Laut „Wirtschaftsblatt“ lag das an neuen Produkten, die vor allem in den USA reißenden Absatz fänden.
Eine Glock 20 (Foto: Ken Lunde, http://lundestudio.com)
Insgesamt sind für Glock 10 Beteiligungsunternehmen bekannt, 5 davon in äußerst problematischen Ländern:
Glock (H.K.) Ltd. in China (Bestehendes EU-Waffenembargo)
Glock Asia Pacific Ltd. in China (Bestehendes EU-Waffenembargo)
Glock America (Uruguay) S.A. in Uruguay
Glock America S.A. in Uruguay
Gock de Venezuela C.A. in Venezuela (Massive Menschenrechtsverletzungen)
Glock do Brasil S.A. in Brasilien (Massive Menschenrechtsverletzungen)
Glock Middle Eas (FZE) in den VAE (Massive Menschenrechtsverletzungen)
Glock Professional inc. in den USA
Glock inc. in den USA
Bereits in der Vergangenheit fiel Glock unter anderem damit auf das es auf kritische Fragen von Amnesty International, wie Glockpistolen in das Bürgerkriegsland Sudan kommen, mit Gerichtsverfahren reagierte. Bisher auch ungeklärt ist wie der Attentäter von München an eine Glock-Pistole kommen konnte.
Three of Peace & Planet’s Japanese partner and other organizations here have launched an audacious campaign, a signature campaign titled “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” for which they are seeking HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of petition signatures worldwide.
The goal is to add global force to the door that has opened toward nuclear weapons abolition by the United Nations Open Ended Working Group, whose draft report will be issued tomorrow, and which for the first time will lead to a U.N. process of nuclear weapons abolition negotiations.
I AM WRITING TO ASK THAT YOU SIGN, CIRCULATE AND OTHERWISE SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL PETITION CAMPAIGN which has been launched by the Japan Confederation of A- & H- Bomb Sufferers organizations. it is supported by a broad spectrum of Japanese disarmament and peace organizations.
In today’s World Conference rally Hibakusha from across Japan, South Korea and North Korea spoke about their hopes for the campaign, and Bui Lien Huong of the Vietnam Peace Committee presented more than 80,000 signatures they collected in Vietnam over the past two months.
The Vietnamese representative reported that they have already collected 70,000 signatures
You will find the petition at: http://www.antiatom.org/sig-press/
Please sign the petition. Please share it via social media, and print out copies for use in Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day commemorations and through the coming year.
In our lifetime!
Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons
In August 1945, two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki instantly turned the two cities into ruins and took the lives of about 210 thousand people. Even now, more than 200,000 Hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors, are carrying with them scars. Their tragedy should not be repeated anywhere on earth.
The call for the elimination of nuclear weapons is becoming ever widespread across the world. Citizens are taking actions, and many governments are endeavoring to reach this goal. The surest guarantee against there being another Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, is a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
In May 2010, the 189 parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the Nuclear weapons States, agreed “to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. Now is the time to act to accomplish it.
We call on all governments to enter negotiations without delay on a convention banning nuclear weapons.
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The Declaration was adopted on the morning of August 4, 2016, with represenatives of several member organizations of Peace & Planet participating (Gensuikyo, International Peace Bureau, Mouvement de la Paix, and AFSC.)
With the help of Alyn Ware of Unfold Zero, the Declaration was delivered to the Open Ended Working Group in Geneva yesterday, the day that the OEWG’s Draft report was released.
2016 World Conference against A & H BombsDeclaration of the International Meeting Seventy one years ago, the USA used nuclear bombs for the first time against humanity by releasing atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With tremendous destructive power and radiation, the two bombs burned out the cities and claimed the lives of about 210,000 people by the end of the year. It was a hell on earth. The Hibakusha who survived then had to suffer from latent effects and social discrimination for many subsequent years. Such inhumane weapons should not be used again in any circumstances whatsoever. The nuclear powers still maintain more than 15,000 nuclear warheads. Not a small number of them are on alert for launch. The concern for the outbreak of nuclear war due to deteriorating regional tensions is real. A recent study shows that even if only a small percentage of existing nuclear weapons are used, it would cause serious climate change and would bring the human race to the brink of extinction. The elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for the very survival of the humanity. By international law and justice, weapons of mass destruction are widely perceived to be illegal. As biological and chemical weapons have been banned by international treaties, nuclear weapons should be banned immediately and made illegal. At present, a new move to open the door to a “world without nuclear weapons” is developing. Substantial discussions for a treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons have begun at the United Nations. The 70th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted by majority a number of resolutions calling for the start of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. With the support of more than 70% of the member states, it also decided to convene an open-ended working group (OEWG) to discuss “concrete effective legal measures” to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons”. The meetings of the OEWG turned out to be an epoch-making opportunity where substantive matters for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons were discussed, and the convening of a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty was proposed. We cordially request that the OEWG include the commencement of negotiations for a treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons in the recommendations submitted to the coming session of the UN General Assembly. The motive power of these developments is found in the anti-nuclear peace movement all around the world, including the Hibakusha who have kept warning about the inhumanity and atrocity of nuclear weapons. The appeals of Hibakusha in the international political arenas have elicited huge responses. Through the 2015 NPT Review Conference, where international anti-nuclear peace movements rallied, the voices demanding legally binding measures have expanded ever more widely. The forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly in autumn will have discussions, focusing on the report of the OEWG. To ban nuclear weapons by treaty and eliminate them is the long standing core demand of the World Conference against A and H Bombs. Now is the time to make every possible effort to build overwhelming public support to achieve this goal. The five nuclear powers of the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China are working in unison to counter this development. Their posture and that of their allies who follow them is clearly a major obstacle put in a way to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons”. They boycotted the OEWG, and their allies who spoke for them, including Japan, oppose any immediate step to take to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons and insist that the “step-by-step” is the only practical approach. History proves, however, that this approach does not really lead us one step closer towards nuclear disarmament. It is an approach that puts off the abolition of nuclear weapons into indefinite future. While being defensive before the argument on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the nuclear powers still cling to the “nuclear deterrence” doctrine, saying that the security aspects should also be considered. The essence of this argument is to try to justify the use or threat to use nuclear weapons against other countries to protect so-called national interest, which is the most dangerous concept. Besides, deterrence has actually induced nuclear proliferation in the name of “self-defense”, and thus helped spread threat to peace. Opening a door to a “world without nuclear weapons” will only be possible by defeating such absurdity in the posture of the nuclear powers. The focal point today is a treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. We must make every effort to strengthen the movement and public opinion demanding the commencement of negotiations and conclusion of such a treaty. No first use of nuclear weapons and ban on their use, ratification of the CTBT, ending the development, replacement and modernization of nuclear arsenals, and reduction of nuclear armament are also all important. These measures will become more effective, if the movement and public opinion demanding an agreement on the prohibition of nuclear weapons are mobilized. The nuclear weapon-free zones are playing an important role for regional peace and security, and their further development is called for. As agreed upon by the past NPT Review Conferences, an international conference for the creation of a nuclear weapon and WMD-free zone in the Middle East should be convened with no further delay. The problem of nuclear development of North Korea should be resolved through diplomacy, including the resumption of the six party talks. To achieve a “world without nuclear weapons”, it is essential to resolve regional conflicts and contentious problems by peaceful means based on the peace principles of the U.N. Charter and international law, excluding the use or threat to use force. International community in unity must isolate and root out terrorism, which resorts to indiscriminate killing, by non-military means. For the purpose of preventing proliferation, it is all the more urgent to reach an agreement to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. Releasing greater resources by drastic cuts in military expenditures, including the cost for maintenance and development of nuclear forces, overcoming poverty and disparity, improvement of living standard and welfare, and protection of human rights and democracy are all integral parts of “a peaceful and just world”. Although the Japanese Government is expected to play an appropriate role as the only A-bombed country, it is actually acting as a spokesperson for nuclear powers. At home, it forced through the security-related laws, or War Laws, disregarding the constitutional principles of peace, to consolidate its readiness to take part in war overseas. Relying on the US “nuclear deterrence”, it is even taking the position of agreeing to the use of nuclear weapons. Underlying this is the absolute priority given to the Japan-US military alliance. In the meantime, a wide range of people have risen in action demanding the abolition of War Laws and restoration of constitutionalism. Against this background, all opposition parties came together to field their united candidates in the House of Councilors elections in July. In Okinawa, a united candidate who opposes the construction of a new US base defeated a former Cabinet member. The Japanese anti-nuclear peace movement took active part in this struggle. The International Meeting of the 2016 World Conference against A and H Bombs expresses solidarity with the Japanese movement which stands in defense of the Constitution and works to establish a non-nuclear and peaceful Japan. The movements and public opinion of the peoples of the world are the driving force to open a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just future. We propose the following actions: — To build the “International Signature Campaign in Support of the Appeal of the Hibakusha, the Atomic Bomb Survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” and other actions to build public opinion demanding the start of negotiations for a treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, with the goal of hundreds of millions signatures collected worldwide. To help to promote these actions, we will continue to make widely known the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and help Hibakusha to speak about their experiences internationally. We will carry out these activities particularly on such occasions as the nuclear disarmament deliberations of the UN General Assembly, UN International day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (Sept. 26) and UN Disarmament Week (Oct. 24-30). — Let us extend relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha and support them to achieve their demand for state compensation. Let us call for the relief of the victims of the nuclear tests and nuclear plant accidents. Let us strengthen our support of the sufferers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. We strengthen our solidarity with the zero NPP movement. Let us extend our support to the victims of Agent Orange and depleted uranium, and other war victims. — Let us strengthen our solidarity with all such movements against war and for peace, reduction and dismantling of foreign military bases from Okinawa, Guam and other places, effective control of arms exports and military industry, cuts in military expenditures, improvement of living conditions, employment and social welfare, overcoming poverty and disparity, prevention of climate change, protection of global environment, elimination of sexism and other discriminations, overcoming social justice and for sustainable development. The Hibakusha appeal: “It is our strong desire to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world in our lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.” Responding to their pressing desire, with fresh determination, let us make many steps forward to a “nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world”. August 4, 2016 International Meeting, 2016 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs
As more details emerge over last week’s killing by Baltimore County police of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, activists have directed growing anger not only at local law enforcement but also at Facebook, the social media platform where Gaines posted parts of her five-hour standoff with police.
At the request of law enforcement, Facebook deleted Gaines’ account, as well her account on Instagram, which it also owns, during her confrontation with authorities. While many of her videos remain inaccessible, in one, which was re-uploaded to YouTube, an officer can be seen pointing a gun as he peers into a living room from behind a door, while a child’s voice is heard in the background. In another video, which remains on Instagram, Gaines can be heard speaking to her five-year-old son, who’s sitting on the floor wearing red pajamas.
“Who’s outside?” she asks him. “The police,” he replies timidly. “What are they trying to do?” “They trying to kill us.”
Statements made by officials in the days after the incident revealed little-known details of a “law enforcement portal” through which agencies can ask for Facebook’s collaboration in emergencies, a feature of the site that remains mostly obscure to the general public and which has been criticized following Gaines’ death.
It’s not the first time Facebook has become the stage on which violent encounters between law enforcement and residents play out — and it seems likely more and more such incidents will be documented on the social media hub, given that the company’s livestreaming app, Facebook Live, is only nine months old and spreading at a time when recording police has become an instinctive reflex in some communities. Gaines herself had filmed her interactions with police before, even instructing her son to do the same.
But while it’s common for police to ask Facebook to provide them with users’ information, many observers are troubled that the social media giant would take down accounts at the request of law enforcement.
So far, Facebook seems to have struggled with its role at the heart of the national conversation on race and policing. Just last month, the site removed live video posted by the girlfriend of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African-American man who was shot during a traffic stop in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, started livestreaming and narrating his death seconds after police shot him, garnering nationwide attention. On that occasion, Facebook said the video’s disappearance, which lasted about an hour, was due to a “technical glitch.” It later reinstated the post, with an added graphic-content warning, and the video has since been viewed 5.7 million times.
Then last week, before Gaines was killed, Facebook deactivated her accounts in response to a request by Baltimore County police — drawing criticism that it censored free speech and even accusations that it was complicit in her death. The accounts have since been reinstated, but most of the videos have not.
“Facebook helped Baltimore police kill #KorrynGaines in the dark,” the artist Ferrari Sheppard tweeted, reflecting a sentiment shared by many on social media. “Letting it sink in.”
Nicole Carty, a campaigner with the corporate watchdog group SumOfUs, told The Intercept that “by deactivating Korryn Gaines’ account, Facebook created a really dangerous precedent of censorship by orders of police. … It’s a fundamental threat to civil liberties. Social media and shareable video are instrumental in exposing the epidemic of police violence against black people in the United States.”
“Facebook is acting as a part of the problem,” she added.
Facebook is a private platform — which means that the First Amendment does not constrain what it chooses to censor.
“But there’s no question that constitutional values are not only a good idea but they’re also good for a business’s bottom line when that business is selling a platform for speech,” Lee Rowland, a senior attorney at the American Civil Liberty Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told The Intercept. “There’s a real risk for social media companies if they’re perceived as choosing sides in a public debate; by censoring on the request of law enforcement they run the risk of becoming a propaganda wing of the state.”
On August 1, Baltimore County police officers went to Gaines’ home to serve separate warrants to her and her boyfriend. According to court documents reported by the Baltimore Sun, the attempt quickly escalated:
One officer then “kicked the door forcing the door open” and another entered the apartment and saw the woman, later identified as Gaines, holding a shotgun, the warrant states. She pointed the shotgun at an officer and told them to leave, police wrote in the documents. The officer left and called for backup.
But police weren’t just watching Gaines through her door; they were also following her on social media.
At a press conference the day after her death, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson confirmed the department had asked Facebook to deactivate her account while the standoff was still ongoing — “in order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process,” he said, and for the safety of the officers involved and Gaines’s son, who was in the room with her and was also struck and injured by police fire.
“Ms. Gaines was posting video of the operation as it unfolded, and followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ request that she surrender peacefully,” Johnson said. He added that it took Facebook nearly an hour to deactivate the account after police filed a request through a “law enforcement portal” available on the site to verified agencies.
The department later elaborated in a statement:
The content on Gaines’ social media accounts has not been deleted. BCoPD has filed a request with Facebook to preserve this content as evidence. A search warrant will be obtained to obtain these records.
Law enforcement officials do not have the ability or authority to deactivate social media accounts on their own. Facebook maintains a law enforcement portal through which police request assistance. This portal includes an “exigency” option for emergency situations like the one yesterday. BCoPD applied for the exigency deactivation because of a barricade situation involving an armed subject with a child.Facebook evaluates law enforcement requests and determines what action will be taken.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Intercept that the company removed the videos, and stressed that they were never Facebook Live streams and that Gaines’ account was back online and “memorialized,” (The company offers a special feature to preserve the accounts of the dead.) The spokesperson said, echoing the claims of the police that Gaines’ followers were encouraging violence, removing the videos was a means of preventing “physical harm or death.” With the videos now removed, this is a difficult claim to analyze.
This spokesperson added that some of the videos were also removed not because they represented an actual clear and present danger to someone’s life, but because they violated the site’s “community standards” against “credible threats of physical harm to individuals.”
Interestingly, the mechanism through which law enforcement agents request the deletion of Facebook content is the exact same one they use when requesting the disclosure of content: the law enforcement portal. The portal says it is designed for “a law enforcement agent who is authorized to gather evidence in connection with an official investigation.” On the site, officers can write a message to Facebook with links to the profile or content in question, and a description of the situation.
Facebook provides ample documentation of how law enforcement agents can, for example, request access to someone’s otherwise private Facebook page for the purposes of an investigation. But these guidelines only describe how police can preserve or access information as evidence — not how they can take it down. The specific emergency action policy cited by the Facebook spokesperson describes only data requests, not deletions:
“In responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay, a law enforcement official may submit a request through the Law Enforcement Online Request System at facebook.com/records.”
An “unofficial guide” apparently created by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to help officers navigate Facebook’s portal, and first discovered by The District Sentinel, goes into greater detail about the process — although it also focuses on information disclosure, rather than deletion.
But while it’s no secret that law enforcement is increasingly relying on social media to conduct investigations and build cases, shutting down accounts presents a different set of questions.
Even though Baltimore county is in the process of implementing a new body camera program, none of the officers involved in the standoff were wearing one.
“Visual evidence is powerful and there’s no question that the current movement for police accountability has everything to do with powerful images that have been made public of excessive force by police,” said Rowland. “There’s a particular risk when social media takes down video that may represent the only point of view besides that of law enforcement.”
“In general, social media companies should be very hesitant to comply with law enforcement demands in a manner that might circumvent a citizen’s first amendment right to record interactions with the police,” she added.
Some have called for Facebook to instate a public editor to review users concerns about civil rights issues, and many are demanding greater transparency about how, when, and why Facebook decides to comply with law enforcement’s requests.
“Facebook is increasingly put in a position of power by deciding what the public can see,” said Carty, of SumOfUs. “People don’t want to be in a position where they’re trying to communicate with their networks and people who care about them, and trying to bring accountability to officers acting against them, and then have Facebook turn off the switch. That’s terrifying.”
Following Gaines’ death, the group started an online petition calling on the site to “explain its actions and stop this unacceptable practice immediately,” which has already gained more than 55,000 signatures. “Facebook needs to be accountable and transparent about how it’s making these decisions,” said Carty. “And it needs to put in place policies that protect civil liberties and protect the freedom of information rather than curb it down.”
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Wissenschaftliche Studie zeigt neuen Trend auf –
Von HUBERT BEYERLE, 8. August 2016 –
Es einmal besser zu haben als die Eltern – das ist seit Jahrzehnten eines der fundamentalen Versprechen moderner Gesellschaften, das jede neue Generation mit auf den Weg bekommt. Seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wurde dieses Versprechen für die Mehrheit in den meisten hochentwickelten Ländern auch eingelöst. Die Kinder sollten es einmal besser haben als man selbst, und hatten es in der Regel auch – von historischen Ausnahmefällen einmal abgesehen.
Dieser Optimismus verliert seine Basis. Eine neue Studie, ausgerechnet vom elitären McKinsey-Institute, mit dem Titel „Poorer than their parents?“ zeigt
A frequent weapon for Democrats in the 2016 election is to publicly malign those they regard as critics and adversaries as Russia sympathizers, Putin stooges, or outright agents of the Kremlin. To put it mildly, this is not a new tactic in U.S. political discourse, and it’s worth placing it in historical context. That’s particularly true given how many people have now been targeted with this attack.
Strongly insinuating that the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has nefarious, possibly treasonous allegiances to Moscow has migrated from Clinton-loyal pundits into the principal theme of the Clinton campaign itself. “The depth of Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin is revealing itself by the day,” her website announced yesterday, and vital “questions” must be answered “about Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia.” The Clinton campaign this weekend released a 1-minute video that, over and over, insinuates Trump’s disloyalty in the form of “questions” – complete with menacing pictures of Red Square. Democrats cheered wildly, and really have not stopped cheering, ever since the ex-Acting CIA Director (who, undisclosed by the NYT, now works for a Clinton operative) went to The New York Times to claim “that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
But this smear tactic extends far beyond Trump. It is now used to vilify anyone perceived to be an impediment to Clinton’s victory. When WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails shortly before the Democratic Convention, which ultimately forced the resignation of four top officials, it was instantly asserted that it was The Russians who gave them those emails (even though The Washington Post cited an intelligence official as saying that “the intelligence community . . . has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks” and “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none”). Democrats not only treated this evidence-free conspiracy theory as Truth, but – following the Clinton campaign – proceeded to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin operation
Tomorrow on #AMJoy we'll explore the unprecedented affinity between an American presidential candidate – Trump – Russia and Wilileaks.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 24, 2016
After converting Trump and WikiLeaks into arms of the Kremlin, Democrats turned their smear campaign to media outlets and journalists who simply reported on the contents of the leaked DNC emails: beginning with The Intercept, the first to report on it. That The Intercept and its journalists and editors proved themselves to be witting or unwitting Kremlin weapons and guilty of being Russia apologists and sympathizers was pronounced by MSNBC’s most enthusiastic neo-McCarthyite host, a Clinton-revering Boston Globe columnist, the Communications Director of California Democratic Congressman John Garamendi (including the outright lie below), and one of the growing legion of Hillary’s neocon supporters.
When Bernie Sanders looked earlier this year to be the one who was standing in Clinton’s way, slimy suggestions began emerging of his dark connections to Russia. In January, Clinton’s Senate ally Claire McCaskill went to The New York Times to warn of ads “with a hammer and sickle” if Democrats nominate Sanders (smearing opponents by pretending to be concerned about how they’ll be attacked by the GOP is a Clinton speciality: it’s how her 2008 campaign justified inflaming the Obama-is-a-Muslim falsehood by being the first to circulate the now-famous picture of Obama in Muslim garb while in Indonesia).
McCaskill WIELDS A KNIFE: GOP is nice to Bernie because "they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle"https://t.co/0TAOcmTnyX
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) January 20, 2016
Meanwhile, Clinton operative David Brock said “Sanders is a socialist” and “has got a 30 year history of affiliation with a lot of whackadoodle ideas and parties,” and pro-Clinton pundits linked Sanders to Communists through his 1980s praise of Castro and the Sandinistas. All of that culminated in Republicans like Lindsey Graham and National Review citing Sanders’ honeymoon in the Soviet Union as proof of his suspicious loyalties:
— The Weekly Standard (@weeklystandard) October 29, 2015
Bloomberg‘s Leonid Bershidsky noted that “Sanders’s long-ago ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union is held up by his opponents as evidence of dubious judgment, and even Communist sympathies or anti-American tendencies.” During a CNN debate, Anderson Cooper began a question to him this way: “You honeymooned in the Soviet Union.”
On Saturday, it was Jill Stein’s turn in the Kremlin seat. As the Green Party candidate rises in the polls, it was only a matter of time before Democrats turned their Russia-smearing eyes toward her. One of the most widely-shared tweets of the weekend was this one from Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment: a total fabrication that was nonetheless heralded by dozens of Clinton-support journalists because it did the job of smearing a Hillary dissenter as a Russian tool:
— Andrew S. Weiss (@andrewsweiss) August 6, 2016
This tweet is, to state it plainly, a lie. Stein simply did not “gush over Russian support for human rights.” To the contrary, in this very video, she criticized Russia for diverting scarce resources into military spending while its people suffered, and merely praised her fellow participants from around the world who attended an RT-sponsored conference. But no matter: Democratic operatives and journalists widely hailed it as proof that she, too, is some sort of Russia dupe or worse.
One Clinton-supporting blog – while also lying by claiming that “she only criticized the US” – attacked Stein for criticizing the U.S. while standing on dirty foreign soil (“with Red Square as her backdrop”), a long-standing trope used by the Far Right to attack liberals and Democrats for being unpatriotic by virtue of criticizing the U.S. while outside its borders. Commenting on that post, numerous Clinton supporters predictably denounced Stein as a traitor, saying “I don’t think it goes too far to suggest these are acts of sedition and possibly treason,” while the blogger himself dismissed objections over his “red-baiting” by saying “Putin is former KGB!” Journalists from major media outlets used all this to announce that Putin now has not one but (at least) two presidential candidates he controls:
So just like that, literally overnight, Clinton-supporting journalists and Democratic operatives converted Jill Stein into an agent of the Kremlin – all because she went to Russia and attended an event where Putin spoke.
So that’s the Democratic Party’s approach to the 2016 election. Those who question, criticize or are perceived to impede Hillary Clinton’s smooth, entitled path to the White House are vilified as stooges, sympathizers and/or agents of Russia: Trump, WikiLeaks, Sanders, The Intercept, Jill Stein. Other than loyal Clinton supporters, is there anyone left who is not covertly controlled by or in service to The Ruskies?
There are so many levels of irony to the Democrats’ reliance on this ugly tactic. To begin with, one presidential candidate who actually has significant, questionable ties to Russia is named . . . Hillary Clinton.
As The New York Times detailed in 2015, Hillary and her husband Bill were at the center of a deal that “gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.” Those responsible for engineering that deal gave millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, which “were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.” Hillary herself approved the deal as Secretary of State, while Bill personally “received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”
Those are ties far more substantial than either Sanders or Stein have ever been shown to have to Russia. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that The Washington Post recently reported that at least some Moscow factions may prefer Clinton to Trump.
Then there’s the policy basis for insinuating that people like Stein and Trump have misplaced allegiances to Russia rather than the United States of America. Both have been vilified for advocating ways to reduce US/Russian tensions. Trump in particular has been attacked by Democrats for his opposition to arming Ukraine in order to deter Russian aggression, his desire to cooperate with Putin in Syria, and his questioning of the ongoing financial and security value of NATO. All this, we’re told, would benefit Putin, making anyone who advocates it in “alignment” with the Russians deliberately or otherwise.
But there’s another politicians who advocates many of these exact same policies. His name is . . . Barack Obama. Last year, even as bipartisan demands mounted for him to arm anti-Russian elements in Ukraine, Obama adamantly refused, “fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed.” One of Obama’s key arguments, as he expressed to The Atlantic earlier this year: “Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.”
Obama’s views on Syria are similar: he wants to work in cooperation with, not in opposition to, Russia, and has proposed a partnership to achieve that. And, of course, Obama famously mocked Mitt Romney in their 2012 debate when the GOP nominee pronounced Russia as the “biggest geopolitical threat” facing the U.S.; said the President: “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
In sum, Obama has continually downplayed the threat posed by Russia, and has repeatedly advocated and implemented policies that are in accord with Russia’s interests, with the goal of avoiding conflict with them rather than seeking it.
Because of all this, Obama has repeatedly been attacked by the militaristic Right for being “soft on Russia” and an “enabler of Putin.” For Democrats to now adopt this warped template, and try to equate efforts to reduce tensions with Russia with some sort of disloyalty, is nothing short of mad. As my colleague Lee Fang pointed out, Obama’s refusal to capitulate to anti-Russia hysteria and seek conflict with Moscow – something Democrats are now depicting as servitude to Putin – is one of his most important accomplishments:
After forging peace with Iran, Obama's second & far less recognized foreign policy accomplishment was refusing to turn Ukraine into Syria
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) August 7, 2016
Obama steadfastly refused to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, knowing it would lead to endless escalation and bloodshed.
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) August 7, 2016
If all this Russia fear mongering leads to a proxy war during the Clinton presidency, plz send the pundits to fight on the front lines.
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) August 7, 2016
This Democratic campaign theme not only stigmatizes any efforts to reduce tensions with Russia as wrong-headed – just observe how Stein’s pro-peace message was converted into subversive Kremlin propaganda – but explicitly equates such efforts with evidence of disloyalty and love for Putin. Given Obama’s own record, that tactic is as self-destructive as it is stupid, manipulative and dangerous.
But by far the greatest irony in all of this is that Democrats have now explicitly adopted the exact smears that were used by the Far Right for decades to demonize liberals and the left as disloyal Kremlin stooges. For the entire second half of the 20th Century, any Americans who opposed U.S. proxy wars with Russia, or advocated arms control deals with them, or generally desired less conflict, were branded as Useful Idiots of the Kremlin, loyal to Moscow, controlled by Russian leaders. Democrats have taken this script – one of the most shameful and destructive in American history – and have made it the centerpiece of their 2016 presidential campaign.
The examples are too numerous to cite, but let’s start with the most ironic one. When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992 against the Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush, one of the primary attacks on him was that he harbored sympathy for Russia or even disloyalty to the U.S. as evidenced by, among other things, his anti-war activism regarding Vietnam and his “unexplained” trip to Moscow as a college student. An October 9, 1992 Guardian article referred to how “the strange case of Mr Clinton’s trip to Moscow” to explain that “the Republicans are scratching away at those doubts about Mr Clinton ‘s character.” The Christian Science Monitor on October 15 of that year described “the Bush camp’s new effort to turn Bill Clinton’s bit part in the anti-war movement that swept the country 25 years ago, plus a student trip to Moscow, into something akin to treason.”
President Bush himself invoked these smears to bolster dark insinuations about Clinton’s loyalty to the Kremlin:
Mr Clinton should “level with the American people on the draft, on whether he went to Moscow, how many demonstrations he led against his own country from foreign soil,” Mr Bush declared on the Larry King television show.
“I don’t have the facts, but to go to Moscow one year after Russia crushed Czechoslovakia, and not remember who you saw – I think the answer is, level with the American people,” Mr Bush repeated.
The prospect of disloyalty became a systematic theme against Bill. As the Los Angeles Times reported on October 9, 1992, “some Republican defenders of Bush suggested that the Clinton trip was, indeed, unusual and deserved close scrutiny. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who was secretary of the Navy at the time of the trip, said Thursday: ‘As far as I know, travel to Moscow in those days was primarily official business.'” That Clinton harbored KGB and Kremlin connections became a staple of far-right attacks on him for years.
That Ted Kennedy harbored secret Russian connections and loyalties was also a favorite right-wing smear for decades. In 2006, a new book led the right-wing press to claim that Kennedy had been secretly collaborating with Kremlin leaders to undermine U.S. policy on Russia. They also accused the Massachusetts Democrat of inducing the Russians to interfere in the 1984 election in order to help Democrats defeat Ronald Reagan.
Claims that the Russians were trying to interfere in U.S. elections to help the Democratic candidate beat the Republican was a constant theme of the Far Right for as long as one can remember:
Even Ronald Reagan – who declared the Soviets to be an “Evil Empire” – was not immune from this smear. When Reagan sought to finalize an arms control treaty with the Russians in the 1980s, Howard Phillips, head of the Conservative Caucus, denounced him as Russia’s “Useful Idiot” – now a favorite Democratic Party slur – while another key right-wing activist, Richard Viguerie, declared: “He has quit the fight and left the field of battle.”
This slur – “Useful Idiot” – is now a favorite Democratic insult. If you’re a Hillary critic, or someone who advocates a reduction of tension with Russia, you will literally be called it every day. What’s so amazing about that is that this was the favorite right-wing insult for years, aimed at liberals, Democrats, the left – anyone who opposed U.S. militarism or advocated peace treaties. As The New York Times‘ William Safire wrote in a 1987 column about “useful idiots,” the term “is being used by anti-Communists against the ideological grandchildren of those liberals, or against anybody insufficiently anti-Communist in the view of the phrase’s user.” Indeed:
National Review has published far too many articles to count accusing Democrats of being the Kremlin’s “Useful Idiots,” while right-wing columnist Mona Charen wrote a 2004 book with that title, arguing: “Meet the ‘Useful Idiots’ Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, Madeleine Albright, Katie Couric, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and all the other liberals who were — and are — always willing to blame America first and defend its enemies as simply ‘misunderstood.'”
A 2010 book by right-wing historian Paul Kengor was called “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.” It argues that “from the Bolshevik Revolution through the Cold War and right up to the present, many progressives have unwittingly aided some of America’s most dangerous opponents.” Specifically:
And then, of course, there’s the great pioneer of all of this himself: Senator Joseph McCarthy, who rose to fame, and then infamy, by running around accusing all sorts of domestic adversaries of being secretly loyal to, if not controlled by, their masters in Moscow. My favorite image of the Wisconsin Senator is from this YouTube clip, where he voices an accusation that one literally sees from Democrats on a daily basis:
This – at times verbatim – is the ugly, disgraceful, destructive far-right-wing script which Democrats have now fully and enthusiastically adopted in 2016 to smear their adversaries and critics. Notwithstanding the fall of Communism, it works because of the decades of training Americans have received to regard Russians as Evil Enemies, the fact that Putin himself was a former KGB official, that Americans always want and need a Super-Villain Enemy, and the massive benefits received by all sorts of influential factions from maintaining US/Russian tensions as high as possible.
But whatever else is true, there is no doubt that the methods, rhetoric, and tactics Democrats are now using are identical to the ones used by America’s Right for decades to smear liberals and the left. As The Los Angeles Times recently put it, “for decades, Republicans were the fiercest of Cold Warriors . . . winning elections by painting Democrats as the party of the frail and feckless. . . But in one of the most startling turnabouts in a campaign filled with role reversals, it is now the Democrats brandishing fear of Moscow as a club.” Some of them seem quite proud of this role reversal, notwithstanding the fact that they are mimicking and echoing many of the most shameful people and tactics of the 20th Century.
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Uma votação sem precedentes, com o aval de partidos dos mais diferentes matizes ideológicos no Congresso Nacional, garantiu um avanço significativo num sonho antigo dos militares: que integrantes do Exército, Marinha e Aeronáutica, quando destacados para missões de garantia da “lei e da ordem”, possam ser julgados por um tribunal formado por militares caso atirem e matem um civil.
Foram apenas três horas e seis minutos de intervalo entre a apresentação do projeto de lei, redigido por alguém de fora do gabinete do autor oficial da proposta, e sua aprovação em plenário da Câmara. Nesse meio tempo, o texto ainda foi modificado para conseguir angariar a simpatia de partidos inicialmente contrários a uma discussão extremamente acelerada, como o PT. Em vez de alterar as regras definitivamente, um acordo entre os deputados estabeleceu que as regras seriam válidas apenas até o dia 31 de dezembro deste ano – nada que não possa ser eventualmente prorrogado posteriormente.
No início de julho, a poucos dias do recesso de meio de ano no Congresso, Esperidião Amin (PP), deputado catarinense de 68 anos, governador de Santa Catarina indicado pelo regime militar em 1975, e um dos políticos mais experientes da Câmara, recebeu um grupo de representantes das Forças Armadas em seu gabinete em Brasília. Eles estavam preocupados. Desde 2015, tentavam aprovar uma mudança nas regras do Código Penal Militar. Hoje, o código estabelece que militares do Exército, Marinha e Aeronáutica devem ser julgados pelo tribunal do júri quando cometerem crimes dolosos (com intenção de matar) contra civis. Eles acreditam que esses militares deveriam ter tratamento especial: serem julgados não por jurados civis, mas por um tribunal bastante fechado, formado por militares como eles.
O projeto original estava com a tramitação tumultuada, com muitos penduricalhos que não eram de pleno interesse dos militares e que tinha chance de aprovação muito menor. Foram nada menos que 12 anos de idas e vindas nos gabinetes da Câmara. “Parecia uma árvore de Natal”, disse Amin ao The Intercept Brasil, referindo-se à quantidade de propostas misturadas num mesmo processo. Era preciso, portanto, começar tudo do zero.
Às 18h26 de 6 de julho, o deputado Esperidião Amin protocolou um projeto de lei na Câmara. Desde as últimas eleições (posse em fevereiro de 2015), este foi o primeiro projeto relevante apresentado pelo deputado (outros três foram apresentados no período, um deles dava o título de “Capital Nacional do Frio” a uma cidade de seu estado). Mas não foi Amin quem escreveu o projeto. The Intercept Brasil verificou nos metadados do arquivo PDF entregue pelo deputado que o autor é registrado como um certo “Maj_Corbal Corbal”. Nos projetos anteriores do deputado, no campo do autor estão códigos numéricos pertencentes a assessores do parlamentar.
Questionado, Amin disse que não tem nenhum funcionário chamado Corbal e admitiu que não escreveu o texto, nem a justificativa do projeto.
“Pode ser que alguém tenha me entregado uma minuta do projeto para eu assinar”, disse.
Amin, contudo, defende o projeto com paixão. Diz que os militares fizeram uma ponderação a ele, que lhe “sensibilizou a apresentá-lo [o projeto]”.
Diz o deputado: “Se não tivermos uma perfeita adesão das Forças Armadas ao esforço de combater quaisquer tipos de atos nas Olimpíadas, como furto, roubos etc, vamos nos amargurar muito”.
Então é tudo por causa das Olimpíadas, certo? Errado. A justificativa do projeto assinado por Amin tem 561 palavras. Nenhuma delas é “Olimpíadas” ou “Jogos Olímpicos” ou “grandes eventos”. Eis o que o projeto apresenta como argumento para a criação de um foro especial para militares que matarem civis:
“Cumpre ressaltar que as Forças Armadas encontram-se, cada vez mais, presentes no cenário nacional atuando junto à sociedade, sobretudo em operações de garantia da lei e da ordem. Acerca de tal papel, vale citar algumas atuações mais recentes, tais como, a ocorrida na ocasião da greve da Polícia Militar da Bahia, na qual os militares das Forças Armadas fizeram o papel da polícia militar daquele Estado; a ocupação do Morro do Alemão, no Estado do Rio de Janeiro, em que as Forças Armadas se fizeram presentes por longos meses; e, por fim, a atuação no Complexo da Maré, que teve início em abril de 2014″.
A justificativa não são as Olimpíadas, mas as ações militares cada vez mais comuns em favelas, como as citadas no trecho acima. Neste exato momento, num outro contexto, mas que também está inserido na lógica de “garantia da lei e da ordem”, uma crise grave ocorre no Rio Grande do Norte. No último dia 3, mil homens e mulheres do Exército desembarcavam em Natal para tentar debelar uma rebelião que já havia gerado 78 incêndios e tentativas de incêndio, além de sete episódios de tiros disparados contra prédios públicos.
Questionado sobre a ausência das Olimpíadas na justificativa do projeto, Amin, um ex-ungido do militarismo que dominou o Brasil entre as décadas de 60 e 80, disse: “Esse contexto foi discutido comigo, mas não foi escrito por mim”.
Amin também discorreu sobre a situação de excepcionalidade que justificaria o projeto, dizendo que ele só valeria para as Olimpíadas. De fato, o projeto aprovado pela Câmara diz que a lei tem vigência transitória – até 31 de dezembro deste ano. Mas o texto original, assinado por Amin, defendia uma mudança definitiva da regra.
Perguntamos ao deputado, então, por que a data de 31 de dezembro, se as Olimpíadas terminam em agosto. “Porque ainda tem as Paraolimpíadas”, respondeu. Questionado sobre o fato de que essa competição termina em setembro, respondeu: “31 de dezembro, 31 de outubro, 30 de novembro, tanto faz. O importante é que fosse transitória”. Amin disse, depois, que essa transitoriedade foi definida a pedido do PT e do PC do B.Se alguém saiu de Brasília naquele dia às 18h25 com destino a Porto Alegre, entrou no avião sem que houvesse qualquer discussão a esse respeito e desembarcou com um projeto extremamente polêmico aprovado por nossos parlamentares.
Aquele dia 6 de julho ainda teria mais capítulos fora do normal. Além de tudo, era véspera da renúncia de Eduardo Cunha à Presidência da Câmara. Como já informado, Esperidião Amin apresentou o projeto escrito no computador do “Maj. Corbal” às 18h26. Depois de apenas 40 minutos, às 19h07, foi requerida a urgência por meio dos líderes de 9 partidos ou blocos partidários, além do líder do governo, André Moura (que responde na Justiça por tentativa de homicídio). O PT também assina o requerimento de urgência.
Naquela noite, o deputado Jair Bolsonaro fez questão de discursar apoiando a medida. “Parabéns ao Ministério da Defesa e ao Comando das Forças Armadas por se preocuparem com o possível julgamento de seus integrantes no caso de um imprevisto”.
Alguns deputados, como o notório opositor do desarmamento Alberto Fraga (DEM/DF), discordaram da proposta, mas acabaram votando “sim”. A divergência envolvia o entendimento de que o projeto era muito restrito. Eles queriam que todos os policiais militares passassem também a ter foro especial.
Às 21h02, o requerimento de urgência foi aprovado. No minuto seguinte, o deputado Júlio Lopes (PP-RJ) subiu à tribuna para ler um relatório de três linhas e um voto de cinco linhas onde, numa costura feita minutos antes com líderes partidários, chegou-se à ideia de estabelecer que a nova lei seria apenas temporária. Trinta e quatro minutos depois, o projeto propriamente dito foi aprovado simbolicamente (não houve necessidade de votação no painel) e seguiu para o Senado.
Se alguém saiu de Brasília naquele dia às 18h25 com destino a Porto Alegre, entrou no avião sem que houvesse qualquer discussão a esse respeito e desembarcou com um projeto extremamente polêmico aprovado por nossos parlamentares.
Somente PSOL, PC do B e Rede votaram contra a urgência da tramitação. O PT, embora tenha votado contra o projeto, endossou a necessidade de ele ser discutido em velocidade digna de Usain Bolt. O líder do partido, Pepe Vargas, disse no plenário que “a matéria é pacífica”.
Ao menos nos dois dias que se seguiram à aprovação do projeto pela Câmara, nenhum dos três maiores jornais do país publicou algo a respeito. Agora, ele está no Senado. Ao contrário da Câmara, os senadores rejeitaram pedido de urgência para a tramitação do projeto. Mas a tentativa aconteceu, e desta vez não foram representantes das Forças Armadas, mas o ministro Raul Jungmann (Defesa) em pessoa. Ele foi até o gabinete do senador Renan Calheiros pedir que fosse dada agilidade à votação do projeto. O plenário acabou rejeitando.
O projeto, de qualquer forma, está tramitando – os senadores não votaram no mérito, mas na necessidade de eliminar debates para aprovar logo a medida. Em princípio, o texto passaria apenas pela Comissão de Relações Exteriores e Defesa Nacional, antes de voltar para ser votado em plenário. O presidente da comissão é o senador tucano Aloysio Nunes Ferreira (SP), que vem a ser o líder do governo no Senado. A situação é curiosa. O senador, que começou sua trajetória política como integrante da luta armada contra o regime militar, agora defende diretamente os interesses do governo, que tem interesse na aprovação do projeto, na Casa. Segundo sua assessoria, ele é contra a proposta e “não vai dar agilidade nenhuma ao processo”.
Cabe a ele indicar o relator que emitirá parecer a respeito do texto. Pelo regimento do Senado, ele teria dois dias úteis a partir da volta do recesso para escolher esse relator. No entanto, na terça-feira, antes do fim deste prazo, o senador Paulo Paim (PT-RS) apresentou requerimento para fazer com que o projeto também seja discutido na Comissão de Direitos Humanos antes de ir a plenário. Esse requerimento ainda não foi votado.
Para críticos ao projeto, trata-se de uma verdadeira licença para matar. Afinal, o julgamento ocorreria em um tribunal potencialmente corporativista. O deputado Esperidião Amin nega que o projeto represente essa criação de “007” fardados.
“Não é licença para matar. Licença para matar seria extinguir a Justiça Militar. Isso é algo que eu gostaria de debater também”, afirmou ao The Intercept Brasil. “Entendo que a Justiça Militar funciona. Ela foi mantida na Constituição e nunca ouvi ninguém propor sua extinção”, concluiu Amin.
Seu colega Julio Lopes defende a tese de que existe rigor da Justiça Militar em relação a militares que cometem abusos. “A Justiça Militar não é diferente das demais. Não vai se permitir que ninguém mate ninguém, acho até que a Justiça Militar impõe um nível de rigor maior”, disse em entrevista ao jornal O Globo.
O advogado Fernando Gardinalli, do Instituto Brasileiro de Ciências Criminais, reforça a impressão de corporativismo da Justiça Militar, embora ressalve não ter dados concretos para apontar julgamentos mais favoráveis a militares naquele foro do que na Justiça comum. Mas ele vê claramente essa expectativa na lógica por trás do projeto.
“Talvez ele [o militar] se sinta com mais liberdade de agir de maneira mais violenta, se sinta mais à vontade para cometer uma arbitrariedade, uma vez que ele saberá que terá um julgamento excepcional, já que a lei, em si, é excepcional”, afirma Gardinalli.
Sua crítica mais central ao projeto é ao “casuísmo” da proposta. O fato de o texto prever que a lei será vigente somente num determinado período de tempo, o que foi considerado um avanço por alguns partidos, representa para ele a constatação de que se trata da criação de uma espécie de tribunal de exceção.
“No fundo, o que a lei tenta criar é uma competência específica para aqueles sujeitos naquele contexto. Um tribunal de exceção para determinadas pessoas”, avalia.
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The post Projeto que “dá licença para matar” a militares para as Olimpíadas sequer cita as Olimpíadas appeared first on The Intercept.
O rasante de um helicóptero acordou Thainã de Medeiros, 33, às 5h da manhã de terça-feira, 2 de agosto. O ruído das hélices do blindado aéreo se misturava aos barulhos de tiros, explosões e sirenes. Apesar da descrição acima ser muito parecida com a cena de um tão temido ataque terrorista, o que Medeiros e seus vizinhos no Complexo do Alemão, na Zona Norte do Rio de Janeiro, viveram a dois dias da abertura dos Jogos foi uma megaoperação policial.
Batizada de “Germânia”, a ação envolveu 250 homens da Polícia Civil e 250 da Polícia Militar. Durante a troca de tiros, três pessoas foram presas e três foram baleadas, entre elas, um delegado. No grupo de mensagens online dos moradores do Complexo, Medeiros recebeu inúmeras mensagens das pessoas avisando umas às outras para não saírem de casa porque o “caveirão”, o caminhão blindado do Batalhão de Operações Especiais, estava passando. Questionado pela imprensa sobre um possível temor gerado pela operação, o delegado responsável por sua coordenação, Fábio Asty, titular da 45ª Delegacia de Polícia, negou que a ação tenha relação com a proximidade dos Jogos e disse não acreditar que ela amedronte as pessoas: “Muito pelo contrário, traz uma maior sensação de segurança.”
Medeiros desconfia: “Não é à toa que, a dois dias da abertura dos jogos, teve uma megaoperação. Sabemos que é por causa dos jogos, hoje fica muito claro por que as Forças Armadas estão aí. As casas estão sendo invadidas e revistadas. Essa operação não foi para nos sentirmos mais protegidos, o interesse é em manter represada a população pobre. No projeto de cidade olímpica, o lugar da favela é como expectador distante ou então sob a mira do fuzil”, denuncia o museólogo.
No Complexo da Maré, Zona Norte, os relatos de operações também aumentaram. Uma moradora da Baixa do Sapateiro, uma das 16 favelas que compõem o Complexo, preferiu não se identificar ao denunciar: “Está um tiroteio intenso. Na rua atrás da minha casa estão acontecendo os confrontos. Minha laje tem quatro caixas d’água, todas foram furadas. As casas que estão na linha de fogo estão furadas. Está nesse ritmo pesado desde 2014, mas aumentou em março deste ano”.
As favelas do Complexo do Alemão e da Maré não ficam próximas aos locais dos jogos, porém, encontram-se justamente na beira das linhas expressas que ligam o Aeroporto Internacional Tom Jobim à Barra da Tijuca, bairro da Zona Oeste onde está o Parque Olímpico.
Contradizendo a promessa olímpica de entregar uma cidade mais segura com a proximidade das Olimpíadas, o número de mortes durante ações da polícia na cidade do Rio de Janeiro deu um salto assustador. Segundo dados do Instituto de Segurança Pública, foram 124 vítimas entre abril e junho, 103% a mais do que o mesmo período em 2015.
“Como a cidade está recebendo seu terceiro grande evento esportivo, já é possível identificar no Rio de Janeiro um claro padrão no aumento do número de pessoas mortas pela polícia no ano dos Jogos”, aponta Renata Neder, assessora de direitos humanos da Anistia Internacional Brasil.
A pesquisadora buscou explicações da polícia: “Dificilmente eles vão dizer aberta e oficialmente ‘olha, os Jogos estão chegando e as operações estão acontecendo’. Pedimos ao comando da Polícia Militar uma explicação sobre o aumento no número de mortos e eles não tiveram, só estavam fazendo o mesmo trabalho de sempre”.
Foi montada, no entanto, uma estratégia de trabalho focada nos Jogos Olímpicos em que mais de 3 mil policiais aposentados foram retirados da reserva para reforçar o efetivo. O aumento do contingente policial na cidade sede de um evento internacional é comum, no entanto, no Rio, esse aumento vem acompanhado de uma regra de três básica, como simplifica Neder: “mais operações acabam resultando em mais violência”.
A Defensoria Pública do Estado do Rio de Janeiro constatou que os números apresentados refletem a rotina dos defensores nos últimos meses. “É o que temos presenciado em nosso trabalho. No Alemão, está tendo tiroteio todos os dias há mais de duas semanas. Esse aumento da violência também é visto em ações da prefeitura, como a guarda municipal. Vemos uma higienização do centro e das áreas turísticas da cidade, com a retirada forçada de moradores de rua”, explica o defensor Daniel Lozoya, atuante no Núcleo de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos, cujo trabalho é focado em casos de violência institucional. Lozoya ainda critica a falta de transparência dos órgãos de segurança sobre quem ordena as operações e incursões policiais.
“Essa prestação de contas não existe e é inclusive uma das coisas que estamos buscando. Quando acontece uma incursão numa favela, quem dá a ordem? Qual é o propósito? Ninguém assume a responsabilidade. Temos muito a avançar na prestação de contas e transparência das forças de segurança pública”, alerta
The Intercept Brasil questionou a Secretaria de Segurança do Rio de Janeiro sobre o aumento no número de mortes entre 2015 e 2016 na cidade. As respostas da secretaria foram com base em um comparativo entre os anos de 2015 e 2007, e não com o período pedido. Sobre quem ordena as operações e se há documentos ou registros com as justificativas das operações, a secretaria não respondeu.
No site da Polícia Militar, no entanto, há balanços sobre as operações com breves explicações. Uma das motivações, por exemplo, foi a busca pelo traficante Nicolas Labre Pereira de Jesus, conhecido como Fat Family. Na megaoperação montada no fim de junho para encontrá-lo, 27 batalhões atuaram juntos, cada um em uma área da cidade – ainda assim o criminoso não foi encontrado. O balanço divulgado pela Polícia Militar ao final da operação menciona cinco mortos e delimita as ações aos dias 20 a 24 de junho. No entanto, um levantamento das notícias locais revela para pelo menos nove mortos e três feridos em regiões apontadas como alvo da operação, entre os alvejados, um era sargento e estava trabalhando na ação.“A importância do próprio Fat Family não justifica uma operação desse tamanho. Em nenhum momento eles vão admitir que, por conta dos jogos, aumentaram a brutalidade.”
Por e-mail, a comunicação social da Polícia Militar informou que “a partir de sexta-feira, 25 de junho, após a fuga, o objetivo das operações voltou a ser de prender bandidos que cometem crimes de latrocínio contra policiais militares e cidadãos do Rio de Janeiro”. No entanto, dias depois ainda foram noticiadas operações ligadas à busca, inclusive com mais casos de mortes e de ferimentos em decorrência da ação militar.
“Isso é feito sistematicamente, sempre aparece um nome de um grande traficante para justificar uma operação. Talvez ele solto seja mais útil que preso”, alfineta o delegado de Polícia do Rio de Janeiro, Orlando Zaccone.
Na terça-feira, 2 de julho, uma investigação que seria sobre o tráfico de drogas em comunidades da Zona Norte acabou descobrindo, a partir de grampos nos telefones dos traficantes, um esquema de corrupção de policiais da Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP) Arará, em Manguinhos.
As gravações envolvem justamente um traficante foragido que pertence à mesma facção criminosa de Fat Family, o Comando Vermelho. Thailan Soares foi gravado falando sobre pagamentos de propina: “Esse cara aí é supervisor do outro plantão que nós arrega mil e duzentos”
O cientista político focado em políticas públicas de segurança, André Rodrigues, pesquisador do Instituto de Estudos da Religião, concorda com o delegado Zaccone: “A importância do próprio Fat Family não justifica uma operação desse tamanho. Em nenhum momento eles vão admitir que, por conta dos jogos, aumentaram a brutalidade. As justificativas para fazer operações sempre se repetem.”
De fato, nos balanços sobre operações, repetem-se motivações como “objetivo de capturar e prender os bandidos que praticaram crimes contra policiais militares e cidadãos de bem”, sem entrar em maiores detalhes sobre quem são os procurados.
No entanto, os analistas e policiais entrevistados concordam que não existe algo como um plano ou orientação unificada para aumentar a violência. “Não é como se dissessem ‘vamos fazer um conjunto de operações’, não existe uma política que oriente, é um imenso varejo”, afirma Rodrigues.
Já a pesquisadora do Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania da Universidade Candido Mendes, Sílvia Ramos, é mais direta: “Minha percepção é muito mais de um descontrole e um salve-se quem puder, o que é até mais pessimista, na verdade. Não vejo um controle, muito menos com inteligência e coordenação. Ficar trocando tiro todo dia não serve para nada, só acontece na favela porque pressupõe-se que ali pode”.
Esse é o problema, não pode.
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The post “Sensação de segurança” para a Família Olímpica é criada a custo de mortes no subúrbio appeared first on The Intercept.
n the early morning hours of July 28, Salvadoran police arrested 77 people in a nationwide raid of alleged members of a multimillion-dollar financial network run by El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha gang, known as MS-13. Among those arrested was Dany Balmore Romero García, a former member of MS-13 who for the past decade has served as the director of the OPERA Youth Group, a violence-prevention organization that works with former and current gang members.
At a hearing on August 1, the judge presented three formal charges against Romero: being a leader of a terrorist organization, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, and conspiring to commit homicide against someone with the code name “Meme,” who will serve as a key witness in the trial, according to a lawyer present for the proceedings. The judge announced that the investigation to substantiate the charges will last at least six months.
The raid that netted Romero, called “Operation Check,” was not officially supported by the U.S. but bears a remarkable resemblance to Operation Avalanche, a February raid in Honduras targeting MS-13 finances that was led by the U.S.-trained Technical Agency of Criminal Investigation unit in conjunction with U.S. authorities, according to Honduran media.
Romero’s arrest appears to be part of the Salvadoran government’s attempt to clear a path for its vicious zero-tolerance approach to gang violence. In August 2015, the country’s Supreme Court declared gangs “and their apologists” to be terrorist groups, a vague description under which Romero is now accused. A pattern of torture and extrajudicial killings of young people assumed to be gang members has emerged since January 2015, which the country’s human rights ombudsman, David Morales, calls “extermination violence … for purposes of social cleansing.”
Given the context of extrajudicial violence in the country, “the arrest of Dany Romero is particularly worrisome,” said Adrian Bergmann, a research fellow at the University of Central America. “It sends a signal to those who investigate these crimes in the country.”
Hours after Operation Check, the British ambassador to El Salvador, Bernhard Garside, tweeted his concern about the arrest of Romero, who he called an “an ex-gang member” who “works for peace in El Salvador.” A Twitter user responded, “Could it be that he never stopped being a gangster?” Ten minutes later, the ambassador answered, “If he never left, he’s spent the past eight years living an incredible lie.”
— Bernhard Garside (@HMAGarside) July 28, 2016
Si nunca lo dejó estaba viviendo una mentira increíble los últimos ocho años. https://t.co/hmoK1N2uAr
— Bernhard Garside (@HMAGarside) July 28, 2016
Six months ago, on February 16, Romero’s name abruptly appeared on a sanctions list maintained by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. In the press release announcing the designation, OFAC named Romero for allegedly “acting or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of MS-13,” which the press release calls “one of the most dangerous criminal gangs worldwide.” Romero is accused of doing everything from “leading local operations to orchestrating assassination campaigns for MS-13,” and has “sought to disrupt Salvadoran government efforts to combat MS-13 activity,” said the acting OFAC Director John E. Smith. The press release announced that Romero’s U.S. assets would be frozen and that U.S. citizens were prohibited from engaging in transactions with him. At the bottom of the announcement was a link to a second page: Romero’s home address.
I interviewed Romero on February 17, the day after the designation, and have interviewed him regularly since, most recently on July 23. Romero has said repeatedly that he is innocent of the allegations that appeared on the Treasury website. In the past six months, in addition to seeking the evidence behind the OFAC designation, he has continued to carry out his work as the director of OPERA: collecting testimonies about extrajudicial execution, torture, and abuse of young people — many of whom are gang-identified — allegedly at the hands of Salvadoran police and soldiers. Such work in El Salvador is dangerous, and publicly accusing Romero of gang activity and publishing his home address put him and his family in immediate danger.
During the raid, the Salvadoran police confiscated OPERA’s files, including the details of more than 140 cases of alleged murder and torture by authorities that included the identities of some witnesses.
omero, 42, was raised in San Salvador during the country’s civil war. His childhood, he has said, was marked by extreme violence, and he joined MS-13 after a close friend was killed by the Barrio 18 gang. By 1996, he was serving a prison sentence for murder in El Salvador’s notorious Quezaltepeque prison, where he participated in gang rehabilitation workshops run by psychologists from the University of El Salvador and foreign NGOs. He says the workshops helped him to process his war trauma and think critically about his country, a place “in which privileges are reserved only for the affluent, and where being young and poor is a crime punished with prison or death.” One year later Romero founded OPERA — an acronym for the virtues the original membership chose for their life transformation: Optimism, Peace, Hope, Renewal, and Harmony — a group that pushed gang members to “analyze and reflect on the cultural roots that obligated them to choose the crazy life.” OPERA, he later wrote, was meant to help “those youth the world rejected, who would make the sacrifices and had the willpower necessary to show society that they had true interest in changing.” Romero, still a prisoner, began organizing fellow prisoners — and at first, he told me, “The authorities themselves were the ones who applauded and promoted our work as a model.”
But when OPERA members began denouncing human rights violations in Quezaltepeque, authorities labeled them “high-risk prisoners,” Romero told me, and divided them with prison transfers. In the decade he was incarcerated, Romero was transferred seven times, records from the Ministry of Justice show.
When freed in 2007, Romero continued working as OPERA’s director, with support from the Foundation for the Study and the Application of the Law. “During the time that FESPAD coordinated educational workshops with Romero, it was clear that elements within the prison and security systems continued to refer to a list of alleged crimes he committed while in prison — none of which were ever investigated or charged formally against him,” said Jeanne Rikkers, a gang violence researcher who worked at FESPAD at the time. “Which is to say, he has a long history of being accused of very serious crimes and then treated as guilty, with no evidence or due process to validate those accusations at all.”
In December 2008, Romero received a series of phone calls from people identifying themselves as special forces agents of the Salvadoran police. “We know who you are, what jails you’ve been in, and that you’re working for prisoners,” the callers said, as Romero later wrote in official complaints filed with El Salvador’s human rights ombudsman’s office. “You’re asking to be murdered for something that’s not worth it.” He continued filing reports of surveillance and threats from the police in 2009, 2014, and 2015, government records show.
Nelson Flores, the coordinator of the Citizen Security and Penal Justice program at FESPAD, accompanied Romero multiple times to report these threats to human rights officials and the police’s internal inspections unit. “The whole time I worked with [Romero], I trusted him very much,” Flores told me.
Romero wasn’t the only human rights worker facing threats — in 2005, for example, three officials with the human rights ombudsman’s office were arrested while monitoring a police operative to ensure rights were respected. A general distaste for human rights work also pervades Salvadoran society. According to Rosa Anaya of the Herbert Anaya Human Rights Collective, there is “a general sense that if you’re supporting human rights, you may be doing something criminal.”
In 2009, Romero joined one of El Salvador’s early attempts at solving gang violence through dialogue instead of repression. First called the Ombudsman’s Working Group on Prisoner’s Rights and later Mesa de Esperanza, these monthly roundtable meetings were convened by the family members of prisoners. They included top government officials from the attorney general’s office, ministry of security, prison system, human rights ombudsman, and the judiciary, according to the group’s foundational document. Simultaneously, the incarcerated population allied with the Mesa’s work staged a peaceful protest in 11 of the country’s 19 prisons.
n the days after the February OFAC designation, Romero’s bank accounts in El Salvador were frozen. Romero told me he went several times to all relevant Salvadoran institutions seeking evidence for the designation. In March he submitted a letter to human rights Ombudsman David Morales, reiterating his long career spent working for peace, and demanding help in obtaining the right to defend himself before the Americans.
On March 15, 2016, Romero sent an email in Spanish to the address OFAC.Reconsideration@treasury.gov, forwarded to The Intercept, in which he introduced himself, explained his work, and continued:
I am afraid. You’ve published the address of my residence. You’ve put in danger the lives of my family.
I want to clarify that I have not participated in any murder, kidnapping or extortion. I have three children and am legally married. I live from my work. With this designation you are closing the doors on my ability to live with human dignity. The only thing I ask is that you please carry out a meticulous investigation. I have nothing to hide. I am willing to submit myself to any scientific test that laws regard as legitimate. I have nothing other than my work to provide for my wife and children. God is my highest witness. I beg of you to give me my right to defend myself.”
The response from OFAC read:
Please provide English translation.
Romero did so, and OFAC acknowledged receipt. No other response was forthcoming. In response to FOIA requests filed by The Intercept, both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security responded that they could not provide any information about Romero’s case. The FBI claimed it had no files related to him, and DHS could not confirm nor deny the existence of records, but said that releasing information to The Intercept would violate Romero’s privacy, despite the fact that Romero signed a release authorizing both requests.
Repeated attempts in the past six months to solicit on-the-record interviews with Salvadoran authorities — including the police, attorney general, ministry of security, national prison system, and human rights ombudsman’s office — have been denied. OFAC and the Department of the Treasury also refused repeated requests for comment. Romero’s contacts within the police and attorney general’s office have told him they have nothing on him, but were “being pressured” to find something.
In April, the government of El Salvador was called before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for an increasingly obvious trend of torture and extrajudicial murder by security forces in the name of fighting gangs. Romero has continued to document stories of such abuses. In an April 14 interview in his office, he played an audio recording from one of the most recent statements he’d received, a 10-minute testimony from the girlfriend of a gang member who says she was gang raped by police who came looking for her boyfriend when he wasn’t home. A list of cases Romero shared with a U.S. colleague in the weeks before his arrest is a litany of similar alleged offenses: names, dates, locations, number of victims. For instance, on November 23, 2015, in a town in the department of Usulután: “At 7:30pm, during a kindergarten graduation party, a Civilian National Police patrol car, headlights off, drove up and parked, and officers walked to where the families were. They came in violently, laid everyone facedown and started shooting, leaving five people dead … and various people wounded, including a 70 year old woman and three children.” The Civilian National Police did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
On April 15, Romero told me that he was followed and stopped by a police truck. After a half hour of asking him about his work, the officer warned Romero, “Be careful. People can disappear at night here.” A human rights worker at an international NGO in San Salvador was on the phone with Romero’s assistant at the time, who was in the passenger seat, and overheard the officer’s words.
Romero’s struggle for information about the U.S. government’s accusations is not unusual, said Alexander Abdo, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Oftentimes, the biggest fight is just learning the basis of the designation,” he said, describing OFAC as “in essence, a Constitution-free zone, or at least the government believes it is.”
In two recent cases, federal courts found that the due process rights of Muslim charities — KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development and Al Haramain Islamic Foundation — had been violated after OFAC abruptly froze their assets. Both groups were accused of supporting terrorism. When courts forced the government to reveal its evidence in each case, said Lynne Bernabei, a civil rights lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has litigated OFAC cases, “what we saw is there’s no evidence there.” Both organizations ultimately settled with the government and were delisted, though KindHearts had already to shut down, due to economic strain, and Al Haramain agreed to do so under the terms of its settlement, which specified that neither party admitted to any wrongdoing.
“Since then, we’re not aware of a single designation of a U.S. person inside the U.S., and that’s in part because doing so raises some serious constitutional questions,” Abdo said. “I think the government now handles U.S. persons differently so that it can avoid those questions entirely,” he continued. “For non-U.S. persons it is, from the designated person’s perspective, an entirely ‘due process-free’ process.”
In order to use U.S. law to contest an OFAC designation, you must be a citizen or own property in the U.S., Bernabei said. Romero has never been to the U.S. and has no assets there. He can’t afford to hire a lawyer because his assets have been frozen. His income consisted of a monthly salary through a grant to OPERA’s parent organization, Equipo Nahual, from Caritas Germany, a Christian NGO. Holger Veith, the organization’s press officer, wrote in an email that the organization is “deeply concerned about the security of our partner organization and their staff members” and sees “absolutely no indications which could lead to the assumption that Equipo Nahual is a façade organization supporting illegal activities.” Veith said that Caritas contributes less than 100,000 euros annually to Nahual, all of which “is clearly documented and professionally monitored.”
There has been at least one case of a foreign national who successfully challenged his OFAC designation. In October 2001, Yassim Kadi, a Saudi architect with significant business interests in Switzerland, was added to OFAC and similar lists created by the EU and the U.N. for allegedly funneling money to al Qaeda. Kadi challenged the ruling, beginning in the EU, which eventually admitted it designated him because the U.S. claimed to have evidence. When the U.S. evidence was later revealed, it included a USA Today article written by a journalist fired for fabricating multiple stories. In 2013, both the Europeans and the U.N. delisted him. In November 2014, the U.S. dropped Kadi from the OFAC list.
OFAC designations are also often used to further U.S. foreign policy goals, Bernabei said. “If you look at how they happen, they tend to be very political,” she said. “With Al Haramain, for instance — this is a tiny organization, there’s just no evidence it did anything remotely connected to terrorism.”
ass arrest sweeps like Operation Check are a fundamental part of the mano dura approach employed by Salvadoran authorities since 2004 to solve gang violence. This mirrors similar zero-tolerance tactics in the U.S., such as the New York Police Department’s April gang sweep in the Bronx. But these mass arrests invariably lead to arbitrary detentions — which the Salvadoran attorney general relies on to crack cases, said Arnaú Baulenas, the legal coordinator at the Institute for Human Rights at the University of Central America. Baulenas litigates cases of torture and extrajudicial murder by the police. “They grab people and accuse them of being gang members, but they’re not. Their only crime is being poor and not having the means to move to another neighborhood where the gangs aren’t such a strong presence,” Baulenas said, adding that the public prosecutor often uses protected witnesses or confidential informants to prove guilt, as it will do to substantiate the third charge against Romero. “The truth matters little. They’re seeking a way to convict the accused,” he said. “Everything is focused on going after these groups. But basic rule of law, basic rights — none of that. The jails are full of people wrongly convicted.”
One week before his arrest, Romero continued to insist on his innocence. “If there’s a serious, honest investigation, they will realize they’ve created things where there’s nothing,” Romero said. “This is a society of vengeance. It wants to continue accusing you, punishing you, for things that happened decades ago.” He repeated that he has been targeted for his work. “It’s our right as human beings to denounce those things that go against humanity, that damage our dignity. We cannot remain quiet just because people want us to.”
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The post The U.S. Government Accused a Salvadorian Human Rights Activist of Gang Activity – Now He’s In Jail appeared first on The Intercept.
É conhecido o combo que estabelece a linha narrativa que guia o debate político no Brasil: manchetes de capa dos grandes jornais, doses noturnas de William Bonner e uma capa da Veja no fim de semana. É esse tripé fundamental que, há anos, vem pautando o noticiário e influenciando fortemente o jogo político. Ele conta com a receptividade de uma massa consumidora de manchetes que não se aprofunda nos assuntos e ignora a complexa relação de poder existente entre mídia e política.
Os maiores veículos de imprensa do país – O Globo, Folha, Estadão e Veja – não esconderam sua opinião em favor do impeachment e rejeitaram a versão que defende a existência de um golpe em curso.
Otavinho Frias, herdeiro da Folha, chamou uma jornalista britânica de “representante da militância petista” ao ser questionado sobre a participação decisiva da imprensa no processo de impeachment de Dilma. Apesar de se dizer pessoalmente contra o impedimento da presidenta, defendeu sua renúncia em editorial.
João Roberto Marinho, herdeiro do O Globo, defendeu no The Guardian a legalidade do impeachment e ainda afirmou que a sua lojinha fez uma cobertura imparcial de todo o processo. Sim, ele teve essa audácia.
Portanto, fica registrada na história a posição tomada pelas famílias que comandam a comunicação do país. As mesmas que apoiaram entusiasticamente o golpe de 64.
Ainda assim, ninguém pode acusar a imprensa brasileira de omitir informações. Ela publica tudo. Tudo mesmo, sem ironia. Mas, como se sabe, o diabo mora mesmo é nos detalhes, nas manchetes de capa, nos editoriais e na opinião dos colunistas mais prestigiados pelos patrões. Dentro desse contexto, cabe até alguns articulistas de esquerda para conferir aquele verniz pluralista. No final das contas, a decisão sobre o que vai brilhar na capa do jornal – ou se esconder num rodapé – sempre estará alinhada à opinião das famílias proprietárias. Trata-se apenas de uma questão de lógica, mas há quem prefira acreditar na pureza e neutralidade do jornalismo.
Façamos um recorte na tentativa de compreender melhor todo esse processo. No dia 3 de março deste ano, a revista Isto É teve acesso a fragmentos da delação de Delcídio Amaral, ex-líder do governo no Senado. Curiosamente, a publicação obteve apenas os trechos em que Dilma e Lula eram acusados pelo delator, rendendo manchetes que se encaixavam como uma luva na narrativa pró-impeachment estabelecida pelos donos de mídia.
Menos de duas semanas depois, em 15 de março, foi divulgada a delação completa. Eram 254 páginas de pura nitroglicerina, que não pouparam ninguém. Além de Dilma e Lula, Aécio, Cunha, Temer, Jucá e outros políticos de diferentes partidos apareciam ali como participantes de esquemas de corrupção.
Mas um trecho bombástico, que revelaria a gênese da briga de foice entre a presidenta e o homem que liderou a sua queda, foi completamente marginalizado, aparecendo apenas de forma tímida no noticiário. Não ganhou manchete de capa, não teve destaque no “Jornal Nacional”, nem fez balançar a cabeleira esvoaçante de Arnaldo Jabor. Uma verdadeira pedalada jornalística, calcada na Lei de Ricúpero: “o que é bom a gente fatura, o que é ruim a gente esconde”.
Vocês vejam só que coisa interessante. Segundo Delcídio, cuja delação tem sido tratada como verdade absoluta, Dilma teria estancado a corrupção na estatal ao demitir os propineiros ligados a Cunha, o que teria enfurecido o nobre proprietário da Jesus.com. Além disso, ela teria usado critérios técnicos na escolha da formação da nova diretoria de Furnas.
Se esse trecho da delação, que revela o primeiro ponto de conflito entre os presidentes de dois poderes do país, não é relevante o suficiente para ser destacado nas manchetes de capa e dissecado pelos colunistas, o que mais poderia ser? Michel Temer levando Michelzinho pra escola? A participação do pimpolho na escolha do logo do governo do papai?
Para completar o cenário, na última semana, Lauro Jardim noticiou solitariamente que, Luiz Henrique Hamann, um dos homens que Dilma havia afastado de Furnas por suspeitas de corrupção, foi nomeado diretor de Distribuição da Eletrobrás. Vejam só! O homem de Cunha retornou em grande estilo para o governo! Dessa vez, por indicação do Romero Jucá, autor da célebre frase sobre a Lava Jato: “Tem que resolver essa porra. Tem que mudar o governo para estancar essa sangria”.
Além de Hamman, outros três nomes de Cunha ganharam posições chave: André Moura (PSC), acusado de corrupção e tentativa de homicídio, tornou-se líder do governo na Câmara. Alexandre de Moraes, ex-advogado de Cunha, virou ministro da Justiça. Carlos Henrique Sobral, que era assessor especial de Cunha na presidência da Câmara até maio, virou chefe de gabinete do novo ministro da Secretaria de Governo. O número de apóstolos que Jesus.com emplacou no governo Temer impressiona, porém é autoexplicativo.
Claro que a história da derrubada da presidenta não se resume à briga Cunha x Dilma, mas, sem dúvidas, é relevante e contribui para a compreensão do processo. Tirar o peso devido a essa parte da delação ajuda a acobertar os verdadeiros interesses dos capitães do impeachment.
Olha, meus amigos, a boataria diz que Michel Temer tem pacto com Satanás, mas cada vez mais me convenço de que ele colocou Jesus.com no comando. E o melhor: conta com uma assessoria de imprensa divina.
*Se fizermos esforço para acreditar nos números da última pesquisa Datafolha, veremos que 37% dos brasileiros acreditam que o impeachment não seguiu as regras e a Constituição. Ou seja, para o Estadão, quase 40% da população é “matraca do golpe”.
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If your anger about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has lost its edge, Roy Scranton’s debut novel, War Porn, will help you recommit. It takes a while to appreciate the disjointed quality of the plot, which hopscotches back and forth through the lives of two U.S. soldiers, Specialist Wilson (identified only by his rank and last name), whose deployment to Iraq transforms him from a poet nice-guy into something else, and a National Guard military police officer, Aaron Stojanowski, who returns stateside jagged and dangerous. In writing War Porn, Scranton has produced a literary work that doesn’t just describe the outrages of the war, but punches them into the American gut.
We first meet Stojanowski at a Columbus Day barbecue in the fall of 2004, and watch as detached millennials ask questions about his service in Iraq. “That must have been intense,” one says. Eventually Stojanowski explodes, kicking a pet and harshing the party vibe. The novel then jumps through a set of disjointed scenes from Specialist Wilson’s time in Iraq, which illustrate in alternating fashion: the casual racism of military occupation; the boredom and routine of everyday violence; the sudden fragility of life; the unexpected, fleeting pleasures of the forward operating base.
Stojanowski’s story most compels and disturbs when he meets up with Dahlia, an underemployed American woman bored with marriage and life in Utah. Stojanowski’s life also crosses the story of Qasim al-Zabadi, an Iraqi academic trapped in Baghdad, who waits desperately and gracelessly as fate exes out the days of its cruel schedule. When these three lives — Stojanowski, Dahlia, and Qasim — finally intersect, it is by way of a rape and violations that are shocking and unexpected.
Scranton is part of a generation of mostly white, male American soldier authors who fought in Iraq. Scranton served in the U.S. Army from 2002-2006, and was deployed to Baghdad with the famous First Division in 2003-4. Since then, he has earned a Ph.D. in English from Princeton, published Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, a remarkable collection of essays about climate change, while also being active in Iraq Veterans Against the War. He now teaches creative writing at the University of Notre Dame.
Yet War Porn contains some of the most significant and original writing on deployment to be found in contemporary American literature about the Iraq War. Scranton sketches out grueling schedules that blur the difference between “on” and “off duty,” a form of time that passes felt but unmarked, a perpetual twilight of patrols and downtimes bleeding into one another. Similarly, War Porn maps a space lacking any “wire” to separate what is inside, and thus safe, from what is outside. In the time-space of occupied Iraq, distinctions between war and peace, combatant and noncombatant, dissolve into a world of ambiguous actions and relationships with no necessary meaning — an endless stream of DVDs and video games, pointless errands, furtive jerk-off sessions, interrupted naps, and senseless interactions with the local population.
Surrounded by soldiers he views as knuckle draggers, Wilson strives to maintain a semblance of his pre-military self. But eventually the contradictions become too large, and Wilson comes to the conclusion that his salvation must lie in the trigger.
This wasn’t who I was, who I was meant to be. I was sensitive. I was a poet. The solution seemed obvious: if I just shot a hadji, it’d all be okay. If I just killed one hadji, anyone, someone, then all the black bile, hatred, and fear would flow out of me like blood and water pouring from the wounds of Christ. I’d be transformed, transfigured. Please, Jesus, I prayed, let me fucking kill somebody.
Wilson gets his chance in a firefight, and he is indeed transformed, but not redeemed.
Further upsetting the typical narrative of war as redemption is the fact that the story is told out of order. The effect — like so much contemporary fiction on the war — is to plumb the disorientation that occurs in cycles of deployment and return, and to show how, in terms of experience, it is not so easy to keep “here” and “there,” much less “now” and “then,” apart from one another.
This collision of “Iraq” and “America” is multiplied by Scranton’s experiments with language. In an echo of John Dos Passos’s pastiches of newspaper headlines, many chapters begin with strangely evocative epigrams, expressed in the disembodied idiom of the U.S. military: “aline the front and rear sight with the target and squeeze the trigger” and “whenever possible, you should avoid kill zones such as streets, alleys, and parks.” The experimentation with language is even more radical in the mini-chapters titled “Babylon.” These sections read like William S. Burroughs’s cut-up experiments, composed of military acronyms and operation nicknames, tiny collages featuring images from Rambo and the Big Red One, shards from the Iliad and T. E. Lawrence, as well as fragments from the U.S. Army “Ethics and Combat Skills Handbook” and the “M16 Weapon Manual.” The result is to find yourself every so often in the shadow of another Tower of Babel that only further unravels the rhythm of story. It’s an effective, though maddening, technique. So much language. Such a wealth of register and style. So little meaning.
As an example of war lit, War Porn is more Hemingway than Heller, more O’Brien than Vonnegut, meaning it belongs to an existentialist, rather than absurdist tradition of American war fiction. It shares nothing with David Abrams’s Fobbit, a much celebrated title that manages to depict the war as comedy, and resonates more with titles like Phil Klay’s Redeployment.
A number of Iraq veterans-turned-writers have been supported and credentialed by a system of government-subsidized programs. This genuine military-literary complex was designed to create canons of great war literature. Ten years ago, we grappled with the ethics of embedded journalism; we have yet to grapple seriously with the ethics of “embedded literature,” as the noted Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon has called this phenomenon.
Scranton, however, is decidedly not part of that complex, and War Porn diverges sharply from other recent works of fiction about Iraq in such fundamental ways that it is difficult to imagine mainstream critics giving it the same hearty “thank-you-for-your-service” reception that they normally extend to any title produced by a veteran. Scranton insists that the American war story cannot be told without Iraqi characters who possess voice, history, and perspective. War Porn also argues vehemently against the age-old American investment in the idea that violence can redeem, and finally arrives at the conclusion that war offers no lessons or truths, not even the existentialist ones so favored by other soldier authors. Scranton’s writing suggests, in the end, that war has no intrinsic meaning. Which leaves us with nothing but the records of the violence we have committed, our lofty slogans, and a lingering sense of shame.
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No feriado municipal nesta sexta-feira (05), decretado por causa da abertura das Olimpíadas, enquanto alguns brasileiros se arrumavam para a festa, outros iam às ruas para manifestar revolta em relação à forma como o evento foi produzido. Entre diversas bandeiras e grupos diferentes, algo em comum nos discursos: a sequência de megaeventos recebidos pelo Rio, coroada pelas Olimpíadas, afetou a cidade, mas não da melhor forma. Não por acaso, várias faixas diziam “Jogos da Exclusão”, e panfletos foram distribuídos com um mapa do Rio onde se pode ver, por exemplo, onde aconteceram remoções de moradores e os pontos de alta concentração de força militar.
As manifestações aconteceram em dois pontos: a praia de Copacabana, na Zona Sul, que será palco de competições olímpicas; e na Tijuca, nas proximidades do estádio Maracanã, Zona Norte da cidade, onde foi realizada a cerimônia de abertura. Mas até mesmo outros estados tiveram casos de manifestação popular, como um ato na Avenida Paulista, em São Paulo, que acabou em repressão policial.
The Intercept Brasil acompanhou a manifestação que se concentrou na Praça Saens Peña, na Tijuca. Entre os manifestantes, tinham estudantes, famílias, representantes de Organizações Não Governamentais (ONGs) e artistas fazendo intervenções teatrais ou musicais para atrair as pessoas que passavam para o debate.
Dois eventos distintos foram marcados no Facebook para acontecer no local ao mesmo tempo, um por “Black Bloc Verdade Rj” e “Poder Do Povo” chamado “Ato contra as olimpíadas – Apagar a Tocha Saens Pena-Tijuca” e outro por “Rio 2016 – Os Jogos da Exclusão”, com uma presença confirmada combinada em torno de 3.800 pessoas. Não há estimativa oficial de quantos manifestantes estiveram presentes.
Desde o início, uma ação de intimidação policial era percebida. Pouco mais de 30 minutos após o horário marcado para a concentração (14h) cordões de agentes foram formados, circulando o perímetro e passando entre as pessoas no meio da praça. Eles escolhiam alguns manifestantes para serem revistados, faziam um círculo em torno da pessoa enquanto outros militares realizavam a abordagem sem que os demais presentes conseguissem ver o que acontecia dentro da roda formada. A chegada do alto contingente de membros das forças de segurança criou um clima de tensão.
A repressão policial é justamente uma das reclamações dos manifestantes. “O estado do Rio de Janeiro está quebrado e ao mesmo tempo tem dinheiro para gastar nas olimpíadas. Não tem dinheiro para pagar salário de professor, mas tem dinheiro para pagar a repressão olímpica” se queixa Mario Campagnani, membro do comitê organizador da manifestação “Rio 2016 – Os Jogos da Exclusão”, que realizou outros eventos nos últimos seis dias. Entre as bandeiras levantadas, Mario ressalta questões relativas ao transporte público.
“Existe a quebra financeira do estado, mas também temos de ver a forma como se gasta o dinheiro. Temos uma linha 4 do metrô que está sendo inaugurada enquanto o transporte público no geral está em colapso. Tem uma máfia dos sistemas de ônibus que controla o transporte do Rio de Janeiro. A gente tem um serviço de trem e de metrô que estão em nome de empresas privadas, que não estão interessadas em prestar um bom serviço, mas sim em lucrar em cima do trabalhador”.
Entre as denúncias de abusos nos sistemas de trem e metrô, há inclusive agressões aos passageiros.
Outras pautas apresentadas foram as remoções de mais de 70 mil pessoas e a falta de compromissos com promessas olímpicas, como a despoluição da Baía de Guanabara e a inclusão de projetos de moradia popular na região do Porto. A professora da Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rita Montezuma, de 51 anos, também lembrou que algumas pessoas não foram expulsas de suas casas por remoções diretas, mas pela supervalorização de determinadas áreas:
“Veja a Praça Mauá. O que é esse grande, hoje chamado, boulevard? É um lugar que não precisava ser revitalizado, precisava ser infraestruturado para seus moradores. E isso não foi feito. Tive a oportunidade, como professora, de conversar com vários moradores. Hoje, aquela parte da cidade está voltada para receber os turistas, sobretudo turistas externos. Então quem já estava lá, suas casas estão virando hostel, bares de rede, restaurantes… E o morador? Esse precisa ser deslocado, perder suas relações de vizinhança, suas relações pessoais, sua história, para poder sobreviver em outra área. Isso é criminoso, na minha opinião. Esse prefeito é criminoso”.
Quando a manifestação chegou à altura da Rua Carmela Dutra, pouco mais de quatro quadras depois de seu ponto de partida, helicópteros sobrevoaram o grupo e guardas montados bloquearam o caminho fechando a rua Conde de Bonfim, uma avenida larga por onde os manifestantes caminhavam. Após muita negociação, voltou-se a seguir o trajeto que havia sido combinado com os próprios agentes de segurança: seguindo pela rua Conde de Bonfim até a Praça Afonso Pena, que fica a pouco mais de 1km de distância do Maracanã.
Quando a guarda montada abriu caminho, um grupo pequeno disparou em corrida se dispersando e muitas pessoas, com medo da correria, entraram nas lojas mais próximas. Parte dos policiais correram para dentro de uma padaria, revirando, danificando o patrimônio dos comerciantes e machucando as pessoas que tinham entrado ali em busca de abrigo. Os policiais saíram do local segurando um menor de idade, que foi apreendido.
Após o incidente, os manifestantes retornaram para a rua e continuaram a caminhada até a Praça Afonso Pena, onde o movimento “Jogos de Exclusão” se dispersou e os organizadores comemoraram que, apesar de terem complicações, o evento aconteceu de forma muito mais pacífica do que as manifestações dos anos anteriores. “Conseguimos o que queríamos”, comemorou Campagnani.
O Após a dispersão, o ato “Apagar a Tocha” permaneceu na praça com faixas e continuou gritando palavras de ordem. Algumas pessoas deste grupo se dirigiram até o mastro no centro do espaço, arrancaram a bandeira do Brasil e a queimaram. Enrolaram o que sobrou na ponta de um cilindro de papelão, simulando uma tocha.Vídeo: Thiago Dezan
Quatro manifestantes correram para fazer uma “volta olímpica” com a tocha. A polícia respondeu soltando bombas de gás e spray de pimenta. A praça, que é um local de lazer, estava cheia de famílias e crianças brincando, todos tiveram que correr para fugir do gás. Duas pessoas precisaram de atendimento dos paramédicos pelo efeito dos químicos no ar.
Uma moradora da região entrou em contato com The Intercept Brasil para denunciar os abusos policiais. “Escutamos estouros e vimos pela janela que soltaram bombas de efeito moral, com muita fumaça na praça. Pouco depois uma correria e gritaria, fui pra sacada e testemunhei três policiais de preto, capacete e cacetete espancando um indivíduo covardemente”, relatou por e-mail.
Os Jogos Olímpicos e Paraolímpicos acontecerão no Rio de Janeiro até dia 18 de setembro e mais manifestações estão previstas ao longo desse período.
Foto acima: Mídia Ninja
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