Meldungen (Feeds)

Die Ära des Revisionismus (II)

German Foreign Policy - Cum, 13/05/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die Beteiligung von Regierungsmitgliedern an ehrenden Gedenkveranstaltungen für NS-Kollaborateure sorgt für Auseinandersetzungen in Kroatien. Am morgigen Samstag werden bei den Erinnerungsfeierlichkeiten für Ustascha-Kämpfer, die im Mai 1945 von jugoslawischen Partisanen umgebracht wurden, mehrere kroatische Minister erwartet, darunter der Kulturminister. Dieser fördert das Ustascha-Gedenken, das von Organisationen der äußersten kroatischen Rechten stark frequentiert wird, bereits seit Jahren - und treibt zugleich die Relativierung der Verbrechen von NS-Kollaborateuren voran. Ein Film, der die Morde im kroatischen Vernichtungslager Jasenovac verharmlost, trifft bei einer wachsenden Zahl an Kroaten auf Zustimmung. Die Grundlagen für das Erstarken des kroatischen Revisionismus, das mit einer deutlichen Rechtsentwicklung verbunden ist, wurden bereits zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre gelegt - mit deutscher Unterstützung. Damals kam im sich abspaltenden Kroatien mit Franjo Tudjman ein Politiker an die Macht, der ebenfalls die Verbrechen in Jasenovac verharmloste und zugleich die Ustascha verherrlichte. Bonn half, die Sezession Kroatiens unter seiner Führung international durchzusetzen, und ebnete damit zugleich der äußersten kroatischen Rechten den Weg.

Myth of the Ferguson Effect Is Hard to Kill

The Intercept - Engl. - Per, 12/05/2016 - 20:58

The myth of the widely debunked “Ferguson effect” on policing is hard to kill. FBI Director James Comey once again raised the specter of the impact of protests against police brutality on police effectiveness yesterday, when he made comments suggesting that a spike in violent crime in some cities may be correlated to officers’ fear of doing their jobs because of community hostility and the growing popularity of cop watching.

“What I’m talking about is sort of the viral video effect,” Comey told reporters. “Changes in the way police may be acting and in the way communities may be acting in terms of how much information they share with police could well be at the heart of this or could well be an important factor in this.”

Comey, who in the past has spoken sensationally about a “chill wind blowing through law enforcement,” and has been widely criticized for making his allegations with zero data to back them up, was once again vague with his fear mongering. Crime experts say his alarm doesn’t square with the numbers.

Comey said yesterday he “resists” calling the phenomenon the Ferguson effect, though his message echoed his earlier stance. “The reason I resist Ferguson effect is, Ferguson at least to my recollection wasn’t about videos.” “I think it is the potential effect of marginal pullbacks by lots and lots of police officers that is changing some cities. I continue to hear that privately,” he said. “I’ve heard it in lots of conversations privately with police leaders.”

“I don’t know for sure,” he said.  “Something has happened.”

But to those that have been closely watching — and, yes, videotaping — police, that’s “nonsense.”

“If their job is hunting people, hunting black men, then yes, we made it harder for them to do their job. If their job is to be public servants, then no,” said Jacob Crawford, who moved to Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brown and has handed out hundreds of cameras to residents there and in other cities, training them on their right to document the police.

“Police now for the first time are having to consider the consequences of being brutal, being unethical, and doing things that for the longest time they could do and not be accountable for,” he added. “But that doesn’t make crime happen.” In Ferguson, he said, scrutiny of police has meant officers are now coming into a community when called for help, and that “they know better than jump out of cars and chase kids.”

Michael Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer turned advocate for police reform also questioned Comey’s assumption that less aggressive policing leads to more crime. “Comey’s position is that if the armed enforcement wing of the government takes its boot off the neck of the public, just a little, then we will just become killers,” he wrote in an email to The Intercept, citing the example of cities like New York where less aggressive policing has actually led to a decline in crime — a decline that remains unchanged despite significant protests against police violence in recent years.

The problem with the FBI director’s statements is that there is “a lack of science,” he charged. “Comey is making a claim of which there is no evidence to support, he is pushing an ideology.” After Ferguson, the FBI promised to compile data on “officer involved” incidents, but that hasn’t happened yet and lack of consistent data across police departments remains one of the largest obstacles to serious reform.

The nationwide trend in violent crime continues to point downward, as it has for the last 25 years.

Comey’s claim that an intimidated police force is at the root of growing violence is also a gross oversimplification of the multiple and complex factors that determine crime rates, which are mostly rooted in socioeconomic issues and a lack of resources and opportunity. The very cities Comey chose to single out reveal the lack of a consistent cause behind spiking crime rates. In St. Louis, where the “Ferguson effect” was supposedly born in the aftermath of protests over the police killing of Michael Brown, gun violence has been on the rise for years. In Baltimore, where 344 people were killed last year, its most violent yet, violence did spike following the protests over the death of Freddie Gray but the reasons there, according to researchers, were also more complex and deeply rooted in economic problems.

“It’s really a local problem, not a broad trend,” Ames Grawert, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice, told The Intercept, pointing to the group’s research on 2015 crime rates. “There is no evidence that crime has gone up overall.”

There are year-to-year variations, and differences between cities, but no nationwide crime epidemic and most importantly no easy explanation for the violence, he added. And while some cities are undoubtedly facing unacceptable levels of violence, the nationwide trend in violent crime continues to point downward, as it has for the last 25 years.

“The cities with more crime in the last years are cities that are already facing severe challenges,” Grawert added, citing poverty and unemployment. “If we’re going to talk about causes of crime we should be talking about that.”

Comey’s latest remarks were prompted by a private briefing on crime rates in the first quarter of 2016. “The numbers are not only going up, they’re continuing to go up, in most of those cities, faster than they were going up last year,” he said.  Comey himself acknowledged local differences yesterday. “Why does Dallas see a dramatic spike and Houston doesn’t?” he asked. “The map and the calendar makes no sense.” The FBI has not yet released the statistics Comey was briefed on.

Yet Comey’s alarmist claims that public demands for police accountability have increased violent crime may actually make the problem worse, Wood charged. “He could heed his own advice when he says that he does not know what it is,” Wood said. “This is the point where he should remind himself to not speak because his words influence the perceptions of police officers and the public, insulting both, and breaking down the public trust that is pivotal to police legitimacy, and police legitimacy is critical to police and public safety.”

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Brasilien: Präsidentin Rousseff aus dem Amt getrieben

Hintergrund.de - Per, 12/05/2016 - 17:53

Mithilfe des Senats haben die rechten und wirtschaftsliberalen Kräfte es geschafft, Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff aus ihrem Amt und die Arbeiterpartei von der Macht zu drängen – zumindest für ein halbes Jahr –

Von REDAKTION, 12. Mai 2016 –

Brasiliens Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff muss ihr Amt vorläufig abgeben. Der brasilianische Senat stimmte am Donnerstag nach einer rund 20-stündigen Marathonsitzung mit 55 zu 22 Stimmen für eine Suspendierung Rousseffs von zunächst 180 Tagen, um mögliche Amtsverfehlungen der Präsidentin juristisch prüfen zu lassen. Nötig war eine einfache Mehrheit, es wurde aber eine Zweidrittelmehrheit erreicht. Der Präsidentin werden eigenmächtige Kreditvergaben und Bilanztricks zur Verschleierung der wahren

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Donald Trump Calls Hillary Clinton “Trigger Happy” as She Courts Neocons

The Intercept - Engl. - Per, 12/05/2016 - 17:02

Donald Trump derided Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy record over the weekend, a glimpse into a potential general election strategy of casting Clinton as the more likely of the two to take the nation to war.

Just moments after maligning Syrian refugees at a rally in Lynden, Washington, Trump pivoted into a tirade against Clinton as a warmonger.

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump told the crowd. “She is, she’s trigger happy. She’s got a bad temperament,” he said. “Her decisions in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and have totally unleashed ISIS.”

And he expressed a rarely heard appreciation for the “other side to this story,” noting: “Thousands of lives yes, for us, but probably millions of lives in all fairness, folks” for the people of the Middle East.

Trump implied that casualties inflicted by the U.S. military were far higher than reported. “They bomb a city” and “it’s obliterated, obliterated,” he said. “They’ll say nobody was killed. I’ll bet you thousands and thousands of people were killed every time you see that television set.”

“If we would’ve done nothing,” Trump argued, “we would’ve been in much better shape.”

Clinton has made herself vulnerable to this kind of criticism. She did in fact enthusiastically vote for the Iraq War. She also spearheaded the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, now supports a “no-fly zone” in Syria, and has aligned herself with Gulf State monarchies and Israel’s extremist right-wing leadership.

And yet, unlike most everything else he says, Trump’s attack on Clinton’s war record garnered remarkably little media coverage, despite representing a significant break from the traditional foreign policy dichotomy between the two parties, one that’s been building since Trump entered the race.

Of course, Trump is hardly the candidate of peace. Nor is he a credible messenger.

He’s advocated for killing the families of terrorists, endorses torture and in his tirade against Clinton he applauded Saddam Hussein for executing people without trial, saying, “He used to kill [terrorists] instantaneously. … they didn’t go through 15 years of a court case.”

And at the Washington state rally, Trump contrasted Clinton’s vote for the war in Iraq with what he claimed was his own opposition. “I voted against it except I was a civilian so nobody cared,” he said. “From the beginning I said it’s gonna destabilize the Middle East and Iran will take over Iraq.”

But as Buzzfeed reported recently, Trump did not oppose the invasion at the time; his support was “totally unambiguous.”

Trump’s isolationist posturing, however dubious it might be, has triggered a neoconservative flight from the presumptive Republican ticket while repositioning the Democrats, if led by Clinton, as the war party.

After spending the last several months casting herself as a progressive to compete with Bernie Sanders, Clinton now appears to be recalibrating to appeal to disaffected Republicans.

Clinton’s supporters, for example, are tapping Bush family megadonors for campaign cash.

And the Clinton campaign is proudly boasting a growing list, constantly updated, of establishment Republicans who have either refused to vote for Trump or have openly defected to Clinton.

Neoconservatives feature prominently on this list, including the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, Iraq war architect Elliott Abrams and Republican foreign policy advisor Max Boot. (Boot officially endorsed Clinton on Sunday.)

As Weinstein wrote in his endorsement of Clinton: “Despite his bombastic rhetoric about ‘bomb[ing] the hell’ out of ISIS, Trump has mainly articulated a ‘come home America’ non-interventionist foreign policy.” He added: “For all Hillary Clinton’s many, many domestic and foreign policy faults and failures, she has not proposed dismantling the national security infrastructure America has built up since World War II or initiating destructive trade wars.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, delivering a commencement address at Northeastern University, alluded to Trump’s flirtation with isolationism, telling the new graduates, “When you consider the range of challenges that the world is struggling with, most countries don’t lie awake at night worrying about America’s presence; they worry about what would happen in our absence.”

Available data suggests Kerry actually has it backwards. According to a 2014 WIN/Gallup poll of more than 66,000 people in 65 nations, the U.S. is viewed as the greatest threat to world peace.

Nevertheless, the myth of America as an indispensable superpower burdened with the task of leading the world to prosperity, through force if necessary, has long dominated the thinking of political elites across the ideological spectrum. Republicans have represented the more militaristic extreme. Today it’s not so clear.

“Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues,” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said on MSNBC last week. “And the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.”

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Mozilla Wants Heads-Up From FBI on Tor Browser Hack

The Intercept - Engl. - Per, 12/05/2016 - 16:55

The maker of the Firefox browser is wading into an increasingly contentious court battle over an undisclosed security vulnerability the FBI used to track down anonymous users of a child-porn site.

The FBI took over a dark web child-pornography site called Playpen last year and, rather than shut it down, used a secret, still-undisclosed vulnerability in the Tor Browser to install malware on the computers of more than 1,000 users that allowed the FBI to determine their locations.

But in Tacoma, Washington, lawyers for a school administrator caught in the dragnet have successfully demanded the right to review the malware in order to pursue their argument that it, rather than he, was responsible for the illicit material ending up on his computer.

The Tor Browser is a free browser that shields a user’s identity. It is also based on code from the Firefox browser.

Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, has long worried that the Tor Browser vulnerability might still be out there, could be exploited by bad actors, and could exist in Firefox, which is much more widely used than the Tor Browser.

So while it seems likely that the FBI will go to great lengths not to turn over the code – possibly dropping the case altogether – Mozilla’s top lawyer Denelle Dixon-Thayer is now arguing “that the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party.”

She explained: “Court ordered disclosure of vulnerabilities should follow the best practice of advance disclosure that is standard in the security research community. In this instance, the judge should require the government to disclose the vulnerability to the affected technology companies first, so it can be patched quickly.”

Dixon-Thayer noted that Mozilla isn’t taking sides, pro- or anti-disclosure. It just want to make sure that if there is disclosure, Mozilla gets it first. Here is the legal brief Mozilla filed on Wednesday.

The issue of when the government should disclose security vulnerabilities is a hotly contested issue outside the courtroom as well.

The Obama administration’s policy is that when the government learns of a new flaw it has to submit the flaw to an interagency group. The White House says that group has a “strong bias” toward disclosure to vendors so that they can fix them, rather than just letting the agencies keep the flaws secret and continue to use them. But the evidence suggests that is not the case.

Top photo: “Mozilla Booth” by Mozilla in Europe using CC BY 2.0, photo cropped.

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AfD befiehl, wir folgen Dir

Rationalgalerie - Per, 12/05/2016 - 02:00
Wie die von der Leyen die Petry macht : Stillgestanden! Rechts um! In den nächsten Krieg: Marsch! Diese Kurzfassung des AfD-Programms in seinem Militärteil hat sich die Kriegsministerin von der Leyen – in ihrer jüngsten Erklärung zur „Verstärkung für die Truppe“ – diensteifrig zu eigen gemacht: „Im Ergebnis benötigt...

TAGESSCHAU-Gniffke zum Wording - der Schmock des Monats

Rationalgalerie - Per, 12/05/2016 - 02:00
Unser Himmel ist nicht bedeckt, er ist bewölkt! : Atemlose Stille herrscht in der weißen Villa am Schwanenwik auf der Uhlenhorst, dem Literaturhaus in Hamburg: Dr. Gniffke, der Chefredakteur von ARD-aktuell liest aus seinem Buch „Wie Journalismus auch einfacher geht“. Er spricht über das Wording: „Ein Himmel zum Beispiel...

Krieg und Spiele

German Foreign Policy - Per, 12/05/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die sogenannten Jugendoffiziere der Bundeswehr weiten ihre Propagandatätigkeit gegenüber Studierenden auf die ausländischen Operationsgebiete des deutschen Militärs aus. Erst kürzlich waren Angehörige der Einheit erneut im Norden Afghanistans eingesetzt, um Studenten der Universität Balkh durch das Strategiespiel "Politik und Internationale Sicherheit" (POL+IS) zu führen. Bei POL+IS handelt es sich um eine Simulation, in deren Verlauf die Teilnehmer gehalten sind, Maßnahmen der Aufstandsbekämpfung oder "Stationierungen von Truppen" vorzunehmen. Über den Verlauf des Spiels, das in den Räumlichkeiten des deutschen "Regionalkommandos" stattfand, informierte sich unter anderem der nordafghanische Provinzgouverneur Atta Mohammad Noor. Dem Politiker und Warlord, der als enger Verbündeter des Westens gilt, werden schwerste Menschenrechtsverletzungen vorgeworfen. Beobachtern zufolge waren von Noor befehligte Milizionäre nach dem Sturz des Taliban-Regimes 2001 an systematischen Vertreibungen, Vergewaltigungen und Morden beteiligt.

Vermüllte Weltmeere

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 20:53

Millionen Tonnen Plastikmüll und herrenlose Fischereinetze sind ein wachsendes Risiko für Umwelt und Gesundheit -

Von SUSANNE AIGNER,  11. Mai 2016 -

Ein Leben ohne Plastik scheint heute nicht mehr vorstellbar. Ein beträchtlicher Teil davon landet aber nach seiner Nutzung in den Weltmeeren und bleibt dort als Plastikmüll Jahre und Jahrzehnte. Hier zerfällt es in immer kleinere Teile – und schädigt als Mikroplastik das Leben von Mensch und Tier. Ein besonderes Problem sind herrenlose Fischernetze, in denen sich zahllose Meerestiere verfangen.

Plastikeimer in Pottwalmägen

Ende Januar 2016 strandeten dreizehn männliche Pottwale an der Nordseeküste. Als Wissenschaftler den Inhalt der Mägen untersuchten, waren sie schockiert,

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The Secret NSA Diary of an Abu Ghraib Interrogator

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 18:55

After working as an interrogator for a U.S. military contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair took a job as an analyst for the National Security Agency. When he went to the NSA, Fair was reckoning with the torture of Iraqi prisoners, torture he had witnessed and in which he had participated.

Fair would go on to write a memoir detailing his experiences in Iraq; the book, Consequence, was published last month to strong notices, including not one but two positive reviews in the New York Times. But Fair actually wrote about his time as an interrogator more than a decade earlier in an internal NSA publication.

One of the publication’s editors asked him to contribute a piece about “how my experience as an interrogator influences my work at the NSA,” as he put it in Consequence. Fair submitted an article in which “I question the efficacy of certain intelligence-gathering techniques and wonder whether, for the sake of morality, it might be best to sacrifice some level of tactical knowledge.”

“I was asked rewrite this section. I cut it completely. Instead, I wrote about how my experience in the interrogation booths had familiarized me with the overall intelligence cycle.

Fair’s article for the NSA publication is among the files provided by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. It appeared in SIDtoday, a newsletter for the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, or SID, and is being released by The Intercept. (Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/2829583-2005-03-10-SIDToday-From-SIGINT-to-HUMINT-to.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-2829583-2005-03-10-SIDToday-From-SIGINT-to-HUMINT-to' }); DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/2829584-2005-03-11-SIDToday-From-SIGINT-to-HUMINT-to.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-2829584-2005-03-11-SIDToday-From-SIGINT-to-HUMINT-to' });

In the essay, dated March 2005, Fair examines the relationship between human intelligence, or HUMINT, which can be derived from interrogations, and signals intelligence, or SIGINT, which comes from electronic communications. Fair’s article is titled “From SIGINT to HUMINT to SIGINT (through HUMINT): How a SIGINTer became an interrogator in Iraq, and what he learned as a result.”

The article describes his deployment to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, when he worked as a contractor at Abu Ghraib and at a base in Fallujah. In his previous intelligence work, he had “been limited to gathering only the information a target would reveal in conversation, searching for clues and hints,” he wrote. In Iraq, he was “excited” by “the opportunity to get to know these targets, ask them questions about their personal lives, gain a better understanding of who they were.”

But Fair soon became overwhelmed by the number of prisoners being brought in, and “as the numbers grew, so too did the ominous feeling that things were going downhill.” Fair wrote that “detainees were scared and apprehensive, and it was all I could do to get them talking about basic biographical information let alone their knowledge of the insurgency. When the success stories would come, it was often because the detainee was tired and worn out from his ordeal and hoped to gain something by providing information.”

Back in the United States at the NSA, he was assigned to a team that sorted through interrogation reports from Iraq to develop leads for signals tracking. Most of the rest of the article consists of platitudes about making SIGINT and HUMINT “work more effectively together.”

The can-do tone of the SIDtoday article belies the true nature of the prisoners’ “ordeals,” which Fair would soon make public. In 2007, he published the first of many public articles about the brutality with which he and other U.S. personnel treated Iraqis. Abu Ghraib, he insisted, was not “an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system.”

In Consequence, he recounts the daily work of manipulating and mistreating prisoners even as he became disillusioned with the idea that such interrogations produced any intelligence of value.

He writes about shoving detainees into walls and throwing chairs, seeing men naked in freezing temperatures and subjecting them to sleep deprivation. He sees detainees being struck by other interrogators. He describes a technique known as the “Palestinian chair,” rumored to have been taught to U.S. forces by Israeli interrogators. Fair describes the torture of one Iraqi detainee in the chair in excruciating detail. “His hands are tied to his ankles. The chair forces him to lean forward in a crouch, forcing all of his weight onto his thighs. … He is blindfolded. His head has collapsed into his chest. He wheezes and gasps for air. There is a pool of urine at his feet.”

A U.S. Marine guards a prisoner detained at a base in Saqliwiyah, Iraq, Aug. 3, 2005.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In May 2005, not long after he wrote the SIDtoday article, Fair deployed to Iraq again, this time as an NSA intelligence analyst, part of a team known as a “Cryptological Support Group.” In fact, he writes, “like most analysts in Iraq, I spend much of my day playing solitaire and Minesweeper.”

Fair did not respond to requests for an interview with The Intercept. He has said that he is still bound by a nondisclosure agreement with the NSA, and had to submit a draft of his book for pre-publication review. As a result, large sections of the book, where Fair talks about his second tour in Iraq with the NSA, are redacted.

“My intention when writing this book was never to reveal classified information,” Fair told the writer and Iraq veteran Matt Gallagher in an interview in the Daily Beast recently. “Do I agree with what they decided to strike? Absolutely not.”

“Don’t they realize this allows readers to put whatever preconceived notions or worst-case scenarios they want into those sections?” Gallagher asked.

“There’s an endless conversation there about unintended consequences. I’ll just leave it at that,” Fair replied.

By 2005, horrific photos from Abu Ghraib had been made public, along with other allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Guantánamo, and Afghanistan, and military commanders had reined in the use of many interrogation techniques. Still, between the redactions in Consequence, Fair writes that at this point, “there is to be no redemption for me in Iraq.”

He recounts a visit to a facility at Camp Victory, the U.S. base at the airport in Baghdad. Although portions of the description of the room are blacked out, the space is clearly for interrogations and contrasted with the conditions Fair worked under at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah; he notes that the chair is “too heavy to throw,” and that “there are no marks on the walls.”

He writes that, “unlike the CIA, the NSA doesn’t draw conclusions or make assumptions. Signals intelligence is unambiguous.” Then a few redacted lines. Then:

There is no doubt about his guilt. He wasn’t seen running from the scene of an explosion. He isn’t just suspected of anti-coalition activities. His jealous neighbor didn’t turn him in because of an old grudge. It doesn’t matter if he is Sunni or Shia. He has done terrible things to his fellow countrymen, and he has done terrible things to U.S. soldiers. There is hard evidence to prove this. This will not be an [REDACTED] about determining guilt. This will be about gathering critical information from a man who wields great power and has done terrible things on the streets of Iraq.

What follows — presumably the interrogation — is blacked out. The next sections are also mostly redacted. The few lines that remain describe Fair playing on the computer and drinking the alcohol his wife has smuggled to him in bottles of mouthwash as he begins to break down and slip into depression that would later drive him almost to suicide.

“I am not disgusted by my actions” is readable amid the black bars. So is “I am disgusted by how good it felt to wield power.”

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A Democracia Brasileira Sofrerá um Duro Revés com a Posse de um Inelegível e Corrupto Neoliberal

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 17:43

(The English version of this article can be read by clicking here)

Em 2002, o Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), de centro-esquerda, chegou à presidência depois da expressiva vitória de Lula da Silva sobre o candidato de centro-direita do PSDB (ao longo do ano de 2002, os “mercados” ficaram indignados com a mera possibilidade de vitória do PT). O PT permaneceu no poder quando Lula, em 2006, foi reeleito com outra expressiva vitória contra um candidato diferente, também do PSDB. Os inimigos do PT pensaram que teriam sua chance de acabar com o partido em 2010, quando Lula não podia mais disputar as eleições por limites legais, mas suas esperanças foram esmagadas quando a sucessora escolhida por Lula, a anteriormente desconhecida Dilma Roussef, ganhou com uma vantagem de 12 pontos, do mesmo candidato do PSDB que foi derrotado por Lula em 2002. Em 2014, os inimigos do PT investiram enormes quantias de dinheiro e recursos para derrotá-la, acreditando que ela estaria vulnerável e que finalmente teriam encontrado um candidato bem-aventurado no PSDB, mas perderam novamente, dessa vez numa eleição apertada, quando Dilma foi reeleita com 54 milhões de votos.

Em resumo, o PT ganhou quatro eleições nacionais consecutivas – a última há apenas 18 meses. Seus oponentes tentaram vigorosamente derrotá-lo nas urnas e fracassaram, em grande parte por conta do apoio que o PT tem entre os pobres e os trabalhadores no Brasil.

Então, se você é um plutocrata dono dos maiores e mais influentes meios de comunicação, o que você faz? Você ignora a democracia por completo – afinal, ela segue empoderando candidatos e políticas que o desagradam – explorando seus meios para incitar distúrbios e depois implantar um candidato que jamais seria eleito por conta própria, mas que seguirá fielmente sua agenda política e ideologia.

Isso é exatamente o que o Brasil fará hoje. O Senado brasileiro votará à tarde a admissibilidade do processo de Impeachment iniciado na Câmara, que resultará no afastamento automático da Presidente Dilma até o fim do julgamento.

Seu sucessor será o Vice-Presidente Michel Temer, do PMDB. Ele está submerso em corrupção: foi acusado por delatores de envolvimento em um esquema ilegal de compra de etanol, acaba de ser considerado culpado, e multado, por irregularidades nos gastos de campanha, e enfrenta a possibilidade de ficar inelegível por 8 anos. Ele é profundamente impopular: apenas 2% dos brasileiros o apoiariam como presidente, e quase 60% querem seu impeachment. Mas ele servirá fielmente aos interesses dos ricos do Brasil: ele está planejando indicar executivos do Goldman Sachs e do FMI para controlar a economia e instalar uma equipe neoliberal sem nenhuma representatividade (composta em parte pelo mesmo partido – PSDB – que perdeu quatro eleições seguidas para o PT).

Nada disso é uma defesa do PT. Este partido – como o próprio Lula reconheceu em entrevista concedida a mim – está cheio de casos de corrupção. Dilma falhou como presidente em aspectos cruciais, e é extremamente impopular. Por muitas vezes se alinharam e serviram às elites do país em detrimento dos mais pobres, que são sua base de apoio. O país está sofrendo com a economia e em muitos outros aspectos.

Mas a solução para isso é vencê-los nas urnas, não simplesmente removê-los e colocar em seu lugar alguém mais conveniente aos interesses dos ricos. Apesar dos danos que o PT está causando ao país, os plutocratas e seus jornalistas-propagandistas e a corja de bandidos em Brasília que arquitetam essa farsa são muito mais nocivos. Eles estão literalmente destruindo a democracia do quinto maior país do mundo.

Mesmo a The Economist – que é hostil aos mais moderados partidos de esquerda, odeia o PT e quer a renúncia de Dilma – denunciou o impeachment como um “pretexto para a deposição de uma presidente impopular” e apenas duas semanas atrás alertou que “o que é alarmante é que aqueles que estão trabalhando pela remoção dela são, em muitos aspectos, piores”. Antes de se tornar um agente ativo de sua própria ascensão, o próprio Temer disse, no ano passado, que “o impeachment é impensável, geraria uma crise institucional. Não tem base jurídica em nem política.”

A maior fraude é o fato de que as elites da mídia estão justificando tudo isso em nome da “corrupção” e da “democracia.” Como alguém com um mínimo de razão pode acreditar que se trata de “corrupção” quando estão prestes a instalar na presidência alguém muito mais implicado em problemas de corrupção que a pessoa que está sendo removida, e quando as facções que estão ascendendo ao poder são indescritivelmente corruptas? E se estivessem realmente preocupados com a “democracia”, por que também não impedem Temer e convocam novas eleições, deixando os eleitores decidirem quem deve substituir Dilma? A resposta é óbvia: novas eleições provavelmente resultariam em uma vitória de Lula ou outros candidatos que não os agradam, por isso seu maior temor é deixar que a população brasileira decida quem vai governa-la. Essa é a própria definição de destruição da democracia.

Para além da óbvia importância global deste assunto, a razão pela qual eu dediquei tanto tempo e energia escrevendo sobre estes eventos é porque tem sido espantoso – e irritante – assistir ao desenrolar dos acontecimentos, particularmente a forma pela qual os meios dominantes de comunicação, dominados por um pequeno grupo de famílias muito ricas, sufocam qualquer pluralidade de opinião. Ao invés disso, como disseram os Repórteres Sem Fronteiras neste mês: “De maneira pouco velada, os principais meios de comunicação do país incitaram o público a auxiliar na derrubada da Presidente Dilma Rousseff. Os jornalistas que trabalham para estes grupos estão claramente sob influência dos interesses privados e partidários, e esses conflitos permanentes de interesses estão em óbvio detrimento da qualidade de suas reportagens.”

Como alguém que vive no Brasil há 11 anos, tem sido inspirador e revigorante assistir a um país de 200 milhões de pessoas se livrar dos grilhões de 21 anos de uma ditadura militar de direita (apoiada pelos EUA e pelo Reino Unido) e amadurecer para se tornar uma jovem e vibrante democracia, e prosperar sob ela. Constatar como isso pode ser rápida e facilmente revertido – eliminando todos os valores da democracia mantendo apenas seu nome – é ao mesmo tempo triste e assustador. É também uma lição para todos que, em países do mundo todo, ingenuamente presumem que as coisas continuarão como estão e que a estabilidade e o progresso estão garantidos.

Na semana passada, eu falei no Democracy Now por cerca de 10 minutos sobre o porquê eu acho que esses eventos no Brasil são tão significantes:

(clique em CC para ativar as legendas em português)

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The post A Democracia Brasileira Sofrerá um Duro Revés com a Posse de um Inelegível e Corrupto Neoliberal appeared first on The Intercept.

Democratic Convention Hosted by Republican Donors, Anti-Obamacare Lobbyists

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 15:51

The Democratic Party’s 2012 platform pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But the 2016 convention in Philadelphia will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality.

Some of the members of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, whose job is to organize the logistics and events for the convention, are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.

The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry. In October 2015, DNC. chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly huddled with dozens of lobbyists to plan the convention in Philadelphia, and provided the influence peddlers involved with a menu of offerings in exchange for donations. In February, news reports revealed that the DNC. had quietly lifted the Obama-era ban on federal lobbyist donations to the party and convention committee.

Anna Adams-Sarthou, the communications director for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, wrote in an email to The Intercept that she has “no concerns” about lobbyists participating in the effort, because “the Host Committee is a nonprofit entity that does not lobby.” 

The Host Committee, however, is deeply involved in planning events for the delegates, fundraising, and handling media relations, among other responsibilities.

“Our Host Committee is made up a diverse group of civic leaders that have led efforts like this in the past, many of whom were integrally involved in the bid for Philadelphia to host the Convention,” Adams-Sarthou wrote.

The Host Committee’s Finance Chair is Daniel Hilferty. In his day job, Hilferty is CEO of Independence Blue Cross, a health insurance giant that covers nine million people. In December, Hilferty became board chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of America, a trade group that lobbies for the insurance industry, and he serves on the board of directors of America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP), the insurance industry lobbying group that spearheaded the campaign against the Affordable Care Act. Lobby registration documents show the BCBS Association is actively supporting a number of Republican bills to roll back provisions of the ACA. 

In an interview conducted late last year, Hilferty said he plans to make “sure to work closely at the congressional level, with the administration, with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to have input” into how the ACA is implemented under the next administration.

Hilferty has also donated heavily to Republicans this cycle, giving $10,000 to Prosperity for Pennsylvania, a Super PAC supporting the reelection of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; $1,000 to the PAC supporting Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah; $1,000 to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; $2,700 to Chris Christie’s presidential campaign; $25,300 to the NRCC, a GOP committee designed to reelect House Republicans; and $2,700 to Jeb Bush. Hilferty also gave $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Allyson Schwartz, a former Democratic lawmaker, is a co-chair of the Host Committee. She was recently named head of a new advocacy group for the health insurance industry called Better Medicare Alliance. The group, according to the Center for Public Integrity, was set up by APCO, a lobbying firm for health insurance companies, to push to expand Medicare Advantage plans, the privately managed programs that were curtailed with the enactment of the ACA.

David Cohen is the Special Advisor to the Host Committee, and serves as the Executive Vice President of Comcast, overseeing the company’s lobbying and regulatory strategy. In addition to being a “Hillblazer” — one of Hillary Clinton’s bundlers who has raised $100,000 or more — Cohen has been a particularly bitter and duplicitous leading opponent of the rules regarding net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally. And despite hosting fundraisers for Clinton at his home last summer, Cohen has spent heavily to help elect a Republican Congress, including recent donations to the NRCC; Sen. Toomey; Sen. Scott; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; as well as $33,400 to the NRSC, a committee for helping elect GOP members to the Senate.

The Philadelphia Host Committee chairman, former Gov. Ed Rendell, headed for Wall Street as soon as he left office, and has since represented a number of controversial special interests. In 2011, as New York was debating regulations on fracking, Rendell wrote a pro-fracking opinion column in the New York Daily News, while failing to disclose that he was a paid consultant at a private equity firm that had investments in the industry.

That same year, Rendell started providing paid speeches on behalf of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a fringe Iranian exile group that was considered a terrorist organization by the State Department at the time (it was delisted in 2012).

The former governor also joined the group Fix The Debt — an organization backed by private equity billionaire Pete Peterson that advocates for cutting Social Security benefitsco-chairing its activities alongside Judd Gregg.

Rendell is currently a special counsel at the law and lobbying firm Ballard Spahr; earlier this year, the firm launched a new election law group, advising clients on campaign finance and lobbying strategy.

“The Democratic Party, especially the DNC, have never liked Obama’s policies to disengage lobbyists from campaign fundraising,” says Craig Holman, an expert on ethics and campaign finance with Public Citizen. “The party only went along with the restrictions because Obama was the party leader. As soon as Obama could no longer be viewed as the leader of the party, the DNC quietly repealed the lobbyist restrictions. The public learned about it only weeks later.”

“Party bosses have always preferred a Wild West when it comes to fundraising,” he adds. “If party bosses had their way, we would have no restrictions on campaign contributions to the parties and return to the days of Tammany Hall.”

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Brazil’s Democracy to Suffer Grievous Blow Today as Unelectable, Corrupt Neoliberal is Installed

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 15:48

(Para ler a versão desse artigo em Português, clique aqui.)

In 2002, Brazil’s left-of-center Workers Party (PT) ascended to the presidency when Lula da Silva won in a landslide over the candidate of the center-right party PSDB (throughout 2002, “markets” were indignant at the mere prospect of PT’s victory). The PT remained in power when Lula, in 2006, was re-elected in another landslide against a different PSDB candidate. PT’s enemies thought they had their chance to get rid of PT in 2010, when Lula was barred by term limits from running again, but their hopes were crushed when Lula’s handpicked successor, the previously unknown Dilma Rousseff, won by 12 points over the same PSDB candidate who lost to Lula in 2002. In 2014, PT’s enemies poured huge amounts of money and resources into defeating her, believing she was vulnerable and that they had finally found a star PSDB candidate, but they lost again, this time narrowly, as Dilma was re-elected with 54 million votes.

In sum, PT has won four straight national elections – the last one occurring just 18 months ago. Its opponents have vigorously tried – and failed – to defeat them at the ballot box, largely due to PT’s support among Brazil’s poor and working classes.


So if you’re a plutocrat with ownership of the nation’s largest and most influential media outlets, what do you do? You dispense with democracy altogether – after all, it keeps empowering candidates and policies you dislike – by exploiting your media outlets to incite unrest and then install a candidate who could never get elected on his own, yet will faithfully serve your political agenda and ideology.

That’s exactly what Brazil is going to do today. The Brazilian Senate will vote later today to agree to a trial on the lower House’s impeachment charges, which will automatically result in Dilma’s suspension from the presidency pending the end of the trial.

Her successor will be Vice President Michel Temer of the PMDB party (pictured, above). So unlike impeachment in most other countries with a presidential system, impeachment here will empower a person from a different party than that of the elected President. In this particular case, the person to be installed is awash in corruption: accused by informants of involvement in an illegal ethanol-purchasing scheme, he was just found guilty of, and fined for, election spending violations and faces an 8-year-ban on running for any office. He’s deeply unpopular: only 2% would support him for President and almost 60% want him impeached (the same number that favors Dilma’s impeachment). But he will faithfully serve the interests of Brazil’s richest: he’s planning to appoint Goldman, Sachs and IMF officials to run the economy and otherwise install a totally unrepresentative, neoliberal team (composed in part of the same party – PSDB – that has lost 4 straight elections to the PT).

None of this is a defense of PT. That party – as even Lula acknowledged to me in my interview of him – is filled with serious corruption. Dilma, in many critical ways, has been a failed president, and is deeply unpopular. They have often aligned with and served the country’s elite at the expense of their base of poor supporters. The country is suffering economically and in almost every other way.

But the solution to that is to defeat them at the ballot box, not simply remove them and replace them with someone more suitable to the nation’s richest. Whatever damage PT is doing to Brazil, the plutocrats and their journalist-propagandists and the band of thieves in Brasilia engineering this travesty are far more dangerous. They are literally dismantling – crushing – democracy in the world’s fifth-largest country. Even The Economist – which is hostile to even the most moderate left-wing parties, hates PT and wants Dilma to resign – has denounced impeachment as “a pretext for ousting an unpopular president” and just two weeks ago warned that “what is alarming is that those who are working for her removal are in many ways worse.” Before he became an active plotter in his own empowerment, Temer himself said last year that “impeachment is unthinkable, would create an institutional crisis. There is no judicial or political basis for it.”

The biggest scam of all is that Brazilian media elites are justifying all of this in the name of “corruption” and “democracy.” How can anyone who is minimally rational believe this is about “corruption” when they’re about to install as President someone far more implicated in corruption than the person they’re removing, and when the factions to be empowered are corrupt beyond what can be described? And if they were really concerned with “democracy,” why wouldn’t they also impeach Temer and hold new elections, letting voters decide who should replace Dilma? The answer is obvious: new elections would almost certainly result in a victory for Lula or other candidates they dislike, so what they fear most is letting the Brazilian population decide who will govern them. That is the very definition of the destruction of democracy.

Beyond its obvious global significance, the reason I’ve spent so much time and energy writing about these events is because it’s been astonishing – and unnerving – to watch it all unfold, particularly given how the country’s dominant media, owned by a tiny handful of rich families, allows almost no plurality of opinion. Instead, as Reporters Without Borders put it earlier this month: “In a barely veiled manner, the leading national media have urged the public to help bring down President Dilma Rousseff. The journalists working for these media groups are clearly subject to the influence of private and partisan interests, and these permanent conflicts of interests are clearly very detrimental to the quality of their reporting.”

As someone who has lived in Brazil for 11 years, it’s been inspiring and invigorating to watch a country of 200 million people throw off the shackles of a 21-year-old right-wing (US/UK supported) military dictatorship and mature into a young, vibrant democracy and then thrive under it. To see how quickly and easily that can be reversed – abolished in all but name only – is both sad and frightening to watch. It’s also an important lesson for anyone, in countries all over the world, who blithely assume that things will continue as is or that they’re guaranteed stability and ongoing progress.

Last week, I spoke to Democracy Now for about 10 minutes on why I think these developments in Brazil are so significant:

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The post Brazil’s Democracy to Suffer Grievous Blow Today as Unelectable, Corrupt Neoliberal is Installed appeared first on The Intercept.

CETA stoppen, egal wie ...

Amazonas-Box/Frieden-etc. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 12:28

Jede Aktion ein eigener Link ...

www.volksbegehren-gegen-ceta.de

Ich hoffe die "Freihandels"-Abkommen lassen sich verhindern, also dranbleiben ..

-->

[DN] 8. Mai Aktion

Linksunten Antimil - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 11:52

GPS Tracking Devices Catch Major U.S. Recyclers Exporting Toxic E-Waste

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 01:08

A two year investigation of electronics recycling using GPS tracking devices has revealed that policies aimed at curtailing the trade in toxic e-waste have been unsuccessful, with nearly one third of the devices being exported to developing countries, where equipment is often dismantled in low-tech workshops — often by children — endangering workers, their families, and contaminating the surrounding environment.

A report from the Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle-based non-profit devoted to ending the trade in toxic waste, raises major questions about U.S. government e-waste policies and oversight as well as the voluntary programs the electronics recycling industry relies on to ensure that this equipment is handled responsibly. BAN’s early data has already resulted in one major recycler losing an important certification as a responsible e-waste handler and launched state investigations into possible hazardous waste violations. The data BAN obtained with these tracking devices also shows equipment left at Goodwill, with whom Dell partners for recycling, was also exported.

Following E-waste by GPS Tracking Device

Knowing that e-waste exports were ongoing and frustrated by recent federal government commissioned reports suggesting that these exports had dropped dramatically, BAN decided to physically track devices sent for recycling. “In our view those reports underestimated the export flows,” said BAN’s executive director Jim Puckett. “So we decided if the government is not going to use tracking devices, we will.”

BAN installed 200 GPS tracking devices into “used, non-functional computer equipment that its research team delivered to publicly accessible e-waste recycling drop-off sites around the U.S.” This equipment was left for recycling in more than a dozen states across the country between July 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015; 149 devices went to recyclers, 49 to thrift stores (mainly Goodwill) and 2 to retailers.

“What we found out is that quite a large percentage of this equipment is flowing offshore,” said Puckett. “These are like little lie detectors that we put out there. They tell their story and they tell it dispassionately.”

As of this month, BAN has found that 65 of all those devices (or 32.5 percent of the equipment tracked) has been exported. Of that equipment, BAN estimates that 62 devices (or 31 percent of all the tracked equipment) were likely to be illegal shipments based on the laws in the countries or regions where the electronics ended up. Of the equipment left with commercial recyclers, 39 percent of the tracked equipment was exported. Of the 46 tracked devices sent to Goodwill stores, 7 (or 15 percent) were exported. This includes 6 (or 21 percent) of the 28 delivered to Dell Reconnect stores.

Most of this equipment went to Hong Kong. But others were tracked to 10 different countries that include China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia and Kenya. While China has been a major e-waste export destination, the government there has been cracking down on these imports and trying to clean up some former major e-waste sites like Guiyu. Hong Kong’s New Territories region near the Chinese border appears to be the “new ground zero” for e-waste processing, said Puckett.

Hong Kong has long been used for a staging post for e-waste exports, Puckett explained. But e-waste facilities themselves are now proliferating there. While some dismantling processes appear to have changed for the better, BAN’s team did see what Puckett described as “dirty smashing, including of mercury lamps, toner and cartridges.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab created an interactive map to show exactly where the equipment has gone.

A screenshot of an interactive map produced by MIT’s Senseable City Lab visualizing exports of e-waste.

Map: Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab (MIT-SCL)

No U.S. federal E-Waste Law

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent estimate, the U.S. generates an estimated 3.14 million tons of e-waste annually. About 40 percent of this waste is recycled. Based on these numbers, BAN calculates that the U.S. is exporting between 314,000 and 376,800 tons of e-waste annually — or 43 to 52 container loads daily.

If not disposed of properly, e-waste can release numerous toxics — heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium; and chemicals, among them brominated flame retardants and dioxins — into the environment. Numerous studies have found toxics associated with e-waste leaching from landfills, contaminating waterways, and contributing to global air pollution. In developing countries where informal and rudimentary electronics recycling often takes place, this e-waste processing has led to high levels to toxic exposures, including for children.

“We think this is a big enough problem to bring this to the World Health Organization’s attention,” said Michelle Heacock of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a lead author on a new paper summarizing these dangers. A particular challenge in solving these problems, the paper notes, “is the increasing number of e-waste sites.”

Despite exceptionally well-documented evidence of these hazards, the U.S. restricts e-waste exports of only one type of component, cathode ray tubes, which it considers hazardous waste. Many states, however, bar landfilling and dumping of used electronics. Many also have e-waste recycling programs. But there is no federal law overseeing e-waste recycling.

To fill this gap and to rein in the rampant export that BAN and other NGOs documented in the early 2000s, the recycling industry developed certification programs, such as e-Stewards and R2, which are relied upon by governments and businesses, including electronics manufacturers.

The federal government has developed guidelines for used electronics disposal, but they also rely on these voluntary certification programs. “The federal government does not play a direct role in the auditing and certification process,” explained an EPA spokesperson. And while there are required guidelines for how the federal government — estimated to be the world’s largest single e-waste generator — handles its own electronics, these are recommendations, not regulations.

No Effective Government Oversight

A workers dismantles a computer keyboard at the Super Dragon Technology Inc. e-waste processing facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Photo: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A key issue in electronics recycling is knowing where equipment and material goes and how it’s handled. While some equipment can be refurbished for reuse, large amounts end up being taken apart for materials recovery: glass, metals (including precious metals), and plastics. But most recyclers are not equipped to handle or process all these materials. So dismantled electronics and materials are sent to other companies for processing. And many companies won’t say — some don’t know — where the stuff goes. This is where BAN’s tracking devices come in.

“No one company can disposition all the different commodities,” explained Sean Magann of Sims Recycling Solutions,. “Unless you have a person checking where the trucks go, there’s a real risk,” he said. “It can be expensive but we physically audit our downstream globally around the world,” said Magann. And he said, the export market “is not regulated in the U.S. the way it is in other countries.”

“Transparency is the key to successful recycling,” said John Shegerian co-founder and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International. But he said, “The problem is worse than ever,” “There’s not enough downstream due diligence,” Shegerian explained. “More and more is being shipped abroad.”

What drives this business are commodity prices, what recyclers can make on glass, plastics and metals. When those prices are low, as they are now, it’s difficult to turn a profit if the costs of dismantling equipment are high. “It’s a very difficult time for the industry in general. Everyone is under some degree of financial distress because of relatively low commodity prices,” explained Sage Sustainable Electronics founder and CEO Robert Houghton.

“The more stress operators are under, the more attractive it is to export to commodity brokers,” Houghton explained. “All you need to do is fill a shipping container and there are plenty of people willing to pay per pound for e-scrap. That’s absolutely still going on.” A significant source of what ends up overseas, Houghton thinks, comes from community collection events.

Another source long a concern for these exports is the equipment auctioned by the General Services Administration (GSA). A 2009 presidential executive order established guidelines suggesting procedures for federal agencies to follow when disposing of their used electronics, but these too are essentially voluntary. They “strongly encourage recycling” by recyclers certified by e-Stewards and R2 — and ask winning bidders to sign a statement of “their obligation to act responsibly.” But the GSA acknowledged in a statement that “it is nearly impossible to validate” what happens after equipment is sold and says it hopes the guidelines will deter “irresponsible activity.” Bidders are required to register with the GSA site and to provide proof of citizenship identification but they remain anonymous during bidding, and there is no way to oversee what happens to equipment they acquire.

The GSA currently lists 146 active computer equipment auctions, including equipment from Veterans Administration medical centers, Department of Labor, Transportation Security Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices. No calls to any auction locations were returned, and the sales office referred inquiries to the GSA’s communications department.

The GSA “is not set up to be a monitoring nor enforcement agency,” the agency said in its statement. “If we are made aware of any egregious offenses, we may elect to refer the matter to the Inspector General’s Office for investigation; but to date, we are unaware of any such offenses.”

Shegerian was blunter. “There’s no oversight. Zero oversight. The Federal GSA is one of the biggest bad actors in the industry.”

Computer chips and bits of scrap metal await processing at Falconbridge’s Horne copper smelter in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada.

Photo: Norm Betts/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Major Recyclers Caught Exporting

Among the discoveries revealed in BAN’s investigation is that a leading Washington state recycler, Seattle-based Total Reclaim, a long-time champion of responsible recycling and certified e-Steward, had in fact exported mercury-containing flat screen computer monitors to Hong Kong. The company has now had this certification revoked and the Washington State Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which both considered Total Reclaim a preferred recycler, are now investigating whether the company violated any laws.

Total Reclaim has admitted to exporting flat screen devices to undocumented facilities in Hong Kong and withholding information about these exports from their customers and certifiers. Citing “immense pressures of a very difficult market,” Total Reclaim apologized for “failing to live up to its commitments” and pledged to rebuild customers’ trust.

“On the face of it, it is certainly is disappointing. I know it’s a hard time for many recyclers with commodity prices being where they are, but this seems really out of character,” said Glen Gaidos, founder and CEO of 3R Technology a Seattle-based recycler. “We have been working with Total Reclaim for a long time,” said Gaidos. “We certainly rely upon third-party auditors, and the certifying bodies to police other recycling operations and reduce the likelihood of fraud or ‘bad actors,’” he explained, adding that his company is already discussing ways to “gain additional assurance from all recycling vendors we work with, above and beyond the requirements of any certification standard, that they are doing the right thing with e-waste material they receive from us.”

Through an external PR company, Dell said it had not yet reviewed the BAN report so could not comment on its findings. Calls to one of the recyclers through whom BAN tracked Goodwill overseas export went unanswered. Others contacted were not yet aware of the findings.

“Awareness that export was bad probably peaked around 2008 or 2009,” said Puckett. “Since then there’s been backsliding. It’s time to wake people up again. And I have some hope we can stop the flow.”

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The post GPS Tracking Devices Catch Major U.S. Recyclers Exporting Toxic E-Waste appeared first on The Intercept.

Hackers Attempt to Hold Capitol Hill Data for Ransom

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 00:04

The House is under attack by hackers hoping to infiltrate congressional computers, encrypt their contents, and then force users to pay a ransom to get their access back.

“In the past 48 hours, the House Information Security Office has seen an increase of attacks on the House Network using third party, web-based mail applications such as YahooMail, Gmail,” the House’s Technology Service Desk wrote in an email to House staffers on April 30.

According to the email obtained by The Intercept, the hacked emails impersonate familiar people and invite staffers to download an attachment laced with malware—what’s known as a “phishing” attack.

“When a user clicks on the link in the attack e-mail, the malware encrypts all files on that computer, including shared files, making them unusable until a ‘ransom’ is paid,” the email said.

But House administrative offices refused to say how many if any attacks have been successful, what sort of data may have been affected, or how much has been paid in ransom, if anything.

“The potential for ransomware attacks the House faces is similar to any large organization,” a spokesman for the Chief Administrative Officer of the House wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “The House recognizes the importance of taking steps to employ a cyber security plan to protect our infrastructure, and we constantly work to improve training and education for all House users.”

A lockdown on parts of the House internet network—from WiFi to Ethernet—remains ongoing.

Access to both YahooMail and Google Cloud services hosted by Google’s appspot.com appear to be completely blocked on the House’s network, according to Ted Henderson, a former Hill staffer and founder of two social-network applications designed for Capitol Hill communication: Cloakroom and Capitol Bells. It’s unclear if both blockages, not just Yahoo’s, are related to the ransomware attacks.

Henderson says his several thousand users cannot post to the social networks inside the House office buildings. The way Cloakroom works, you’re normally able to log-in either anonymously simply by using Capitol Hill Wi-Fi or with your staff email address. The Senate office buildings don’t appear to be affected.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this happen at a scale like this in five years,” Henderson wrote The Intercept in an email.

In recent months, several lawmakers have penned letters asking the Obama administration how it’s dealing with the problem of ransomware—a type of attack more than two dozen government agencies have admitted to confronting in the past as well.

Now that Congress itself is the target, security researchers are hopeful the issue will draw more national attention. “What you’re seeing in Congress is just part of what’s happening,” Markus Jakobsson, founder of “Zapfraud”, a scam email detection service, and an expert on phishing attacks told The Intercept. “This will hopefully bring some awareness to decision makers…once they start [going after Congress], there will be changes.”

Ransomware attacks take many forms. Some hackers have managed to infect entire websites with malware.

It’s not clear whether the current spate of attacks on the House network were targeted, or whether House users just happened to find themselves among the ever-growing number of victims.

Ransomware is a major and growing threat to security. Just the day before the House emailed its staff about the attacks, the FBI published a press release titled “Incidents of Ransomware on the Rise,” warning that “hospitals, school districts, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, small businesses, large businesses” are all under increasing threat of being hacked and ransomed.

Nonprofit healthcare organization Health Information Trust Alliance warned in April that more than half of 30 hospitals it surveyed were infected with malware—most of it ransomware. Los Angeles hospital Hollywood Presbyterian paid $17,000 to recover its data in March.

Police departments have also been victims of ransomware attacks, sometimes forced to pay up to recover everything. One police chief compared the extortion to “what felt like terrorist threats.”

It’s not at all clear how to solve the problem, though researchers have come up with some solutions and recommendations. “This is something that the technical community is still struggling with getting a firm grip on,” Jakobsson said.

He suggests Congress install several levels of filters to detect possible spam and scams, backup their data, and launch awareness campaigns to alert people to the reality of the problem. “The problem of social engineering is so vast that you can’t just do one and hope that’s enough,” he said.

 

 

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The post Hackers Attempt to Hold Capitol Hill Data for Ransom appeared first on The Intercept.

Die Kriege der nächsten Jahre (I)

German Foreign Policy - Ça, 11/05/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die Bundeswehr wird erstmals seit 1990 wieder vergrößert, erhält neue Kapazitäten und kann ihren Haushalt massiv aufstocken. Dies teilt Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen mit. Demnach wird der "Personalbedarf" der deutschen Streitkräfte in Zukunft flexibel ermittelt; er soll bis 2023 um vorläufig 14.300 Militärs und 4.400 Zivilangestellte steigen. Der Wehretat, der im Jahr 2000 noch bei 23 Milliarden Euro lag, wird bis 2020 auf 39,2 Milliarden Euro erhöht. Damit materialisieren sich die weltpolitischen Ambitionen Berlins, die seit Herbst 2013 massiv propagiert werden - unter tatkräftiger Mitwirkung nicht zuletzt des Bundespräsidenten, der immer wieder für eine offensivere deutsche Weltpolitik auch unter Einsatz der Streitkräfte eingetreten ist. Dabei zielt Berlin auf die Kontrolle eines Rings von Staaten um Europa, der reiche Ressourcengebiete umfasst, der vor allem aber als "cordon sanitaire" zur Abschottung eines prosperierenden europäischen Reichs gegen Widrigkeiten aller Art vorgesehen ist. Weil die ursprünglichen Pläne der EU, den Staatenring mit politisch-ökonomischen Mitteln zu beherrschen, weitgehend gescheitert sind, geht die Bundesregierung nun zu offen militärischer Machtentfaltung über.

Striking Prisoners in Alabama Accuse Officials of Using Food as Weapon

The Intercept - Engl. - Sa, 10/05/2016 - 21:24

Alabama prisoners who have been on strike for 10 days over unpaid labor and prison conditions are accusing officials of retaliating against their protest by starving them. The coordinated strike started on May 1, International Workers’ Day, when prisoners at the Holman and Elmore facilities refused to report to their prison jobs and has since expanded to Staton, St. Clair, and Donaldson’s facilities, according to organizers with the Free Alabama Movement, a network of prison activists.

Prison officials responded by putting the facilities on lockdown, partially to allow guards to perform jobs normally carried out by prisoners. But prisoners told The Intercept that officials also punished them by serving meals that are significantly smaller than usual, a practice they have referred to as “bird feeding.”

The Alabama Department of Corrections did not respond to multiple requests for comment, though earlier this month they told local reporters that inmates had “not given any demands, or a reason for refusing to work.”

Prisoners told The Intercept they are protesting severe overcrowding, poor living conditions, and the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans slavery and servitude “except as a punishment for crime,” thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor. Prisoners said they have voiced their requests in meetings with prison officials but were told their demands were “too great.” Last month, after riots broke out at Holman prison twice in four days, prisoners also circulated a list of demands, including federal assistance, the release of inmates who are eligible for parole, and compensation for “mental pain and physical abuse.” They are planning to circulate an updated list today.

A prisoner serving a life sentence at Holman prison shared photos of his meals in text messages over the last several days. One picture shows a meal made of two slices of white bread, cereal, a slice of yellow cheese, artificial sugar and a brown sauce the inmate said was prune stew. Another meal was made up of two slices of white bread, an apple, and an unrecognizable white mixture wrapped in plastic.

The inmates said they were not complaining about the food itself, but about the very small quantities. “It’s only an issue when the deprivation of any necessity becomes a weapon used against us to make us discouraged,” the man sharing the photos said, adding that officials are using the tactic to break prisoners’ resolve. Still, prisoners have refused to return to work.

“The food is a blatant violation and these violations are the reason that we even formed a strike from the start,” that prisoner said. “We r not supposed to be fed the way they r feeding us, it is not 2300 or 2200 calories that we r suppose to be getting that they have been serving us for ten days straight.”

“We r weak feeling nauseated and having headaches from the lack of balanced meals,” he wrote.

Stabbings are frequent, as are suicides.

Alabama’s prisons — the most overcrowded prison system in the country — are operating at nearly 200 percent capacity. In recent years, the state’s department of corrections has been sued over medical neglect, abuse, dangerous conditions, and an extraordinary high level of violence. Stabbings are frequent, as are suicides.

State officials have acknowledged the problems plaguing Alabama’s prisons and recently proposed to shut down 14 prisons, swapping them for four massive, new “state-of-the-art” facilities — an $800 million project they dubbed the “Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act.” A scaled-down version of that proposal is currently pending.

Prisoner rights advocates say building more prisons won’t solve the problem. “The crisis with the prisons has to do with culture and management,” Charlotte Morrison, a senior attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which represents Alabama prisoners, told The Intercept last month. “It’s not something that can be solved by just building new prisons.”

Prison strikes have been on the rise in recent years, as prisoners organizing through a network of smuggled cell phones have established communication between prisons as well as with the outside. Last month, prisoners in Texas refused to leave their cells to report to their unpaid jobs, listing a series of demands, including “good-time” credit toward sentence reduction, an end to $100 medical co-pays, and a drastic downsizing of the state’s incarcerated population.

A nationwide strike is also planned for September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison riot by a group of prisoners coordinating efforts from Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, and Mississippi. As many as 870,000 prisoners are employed nationwide, some in manufacturing jobs for which they are paid a few cents an hour, if they are paid at all.

“We have made a vow to no longer cater to what we know to be inhumane and barbaric in its essence,” the Holman prisoners wrote, when announcing the strike. “We make this stand now and we will remain here.”

“We just refuse to be the components in the institution of slavery.”

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The post Striking Prisoners in Alabama Accuse Officials of Using Food as Weapon appeared first on The Intercept.

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