Tag Archives: Brazil

The War on Journalism: The Greenwald Persecution Mimics Assange, by Nozomi Hayase

While paying lip service to a free press and saluting whistleblowers, governments are going after those in the press who help whistleblowers get their stories before the public. From Nozomi Hayase at antiwar.com:

At the hearing on Thursday, at Westminster in London, the timetable for Julian Assange’s US extradition case was worked out. Assange’s US legal teams made an application to have the extradition hearing split. His defense lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, emphasized to the court that they won’t be ready to call the main body of their evidence until after the first week of the hearing, which is now set to start at the end of February.

Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage, for his publishing of documents concerning the US wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and torture in the Guantanamo Bay prison. During his previous hearing on Monday, January 13, his lawyer, Gareth Peirce, raised concern about Assange’s lack of access to legal counsel, making it difficult for him to adequately prepare for his defense as he faces sentences that carry prison time of up to 175 years.

Recently, new evidence has emerged showing that the CIA hired the Spanish security company, US Global, to spy on Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, while Assange was living under political asylum. The targets of this surveillance included his lawyers, doctors and visitors. Now, three former employees of the company came forward as witnesses confirming that their then-boss, David Morales, ordered workers to install new embassy video cameras with audio recording capacity in December 2017.

Outside the court after the hearing, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said, “We have now learnt from submissions and affidavits presented by the US… that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection.” He reiterated how this is a political persecution of a journalist, and is a grave attack on press freedom worldwide.

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Why shouldn’t Brazilians burn down trees? by Brendan O’Neill

How would US citizens feel if Brazilians hectored us on our wildfire policies? From Brendan O’Neill at spiked-online.com:

The Western hysteria over the rainforest fires is riddled with colonial arrogance.

Every now and then the environmentalist mask slips. And we get a glimpse of the elitist and authoritarian movement that lurks beneath the hippyish green facade. The hysteria over the rainforest fires in Brazil is one of those moments. As well-off, privileged Westerners rage against Brazil for having the temerity to use its resources as it sees fit, and as they even flirt with the idea of sending outside forces to take charge of the Amazon, we can see the borderline imperialist mindset that motors so much green thinking. In the space of a few days, greens have gone from saying ‘We care about the planet!’ to ‘How dare these spics defy our diktats?’. And it is a truly clarifying moment.

You don’t have to be a fan of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and spiked certainly isn’t, to feel deeply uncomfortable with the Western outrage over his policy on the rainforest. Observers claim the Amazon is experiencing its highest number of fires since records began. That those records only began in 2013 should give the Western hysterics pause for thought – this isn’t the historically unprecedented End of Days event they claim it is. There are always fires in the Amazon, some started by nature, others by human beings logging or clearing land for farming. Some of the current fires were started by people who need wood or land – how dare they! – while others are just part of the natural cycle.

More tellingly, NASA has attempted to counter the hysteria. Its data suggests that, while the number of fires might be larger than in the past few years, ‘overall fire activity’ in the Amazon is ‘slightly below average this year’. How striking that the people who wave around NASA reports when making their case that mankind has had a terrible impact on the planet are ignoring NASA’s reports that there is less fire in the Amazon this year in comparison with the past 15 years.

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Brazilgate is Turning into Russiagate 2.0, by Pepe Escobar

The situation in Brazil isn’t getting a lot of attention in the US media, but a recent report in The Intercept made people sit up and take notice. From Pepe Escobar at consortiumnews.com:

The Intercept‘s bombshell about Brazilian corruption is being ludicrously spun by the country’s media and military as a “Russian conspiracy,” writes Pepe Escobar

It was a leak, not a hack. Yes: Brazilgate, unleashed by a series of game-changing bombshells published by The Intercept, may be turning into a tropical Russiagate.

The Intercept’s Deep Throat – an anonymous source — has finally revealed in detail what anyone with half a brain in Brazil already knew: that the judicial/lawfare machinery of the one-sided Car Wash anti-corruption investigation was in fact a massive farce and criminal racket bent on accomplishing four objectives.

  • Create the conditions for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the subsequent ascension of her VP, elite-manipulated puppet, Michel Temer.
  •  Justify the imprisonment of former president Lula in 2018 – just as he was set to win the latest presidential election in a landslide.
  • Facilitate the ascension of the Brazilian extreme-right via Steve Bannon asset (he calls him “Captain”) Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Install former judge Sergio Moro as a justice minister on steroids capable of enacting a sort of Brazilian Patriot Act – heavy on espionage and light on civil liberties.

Moro, side by side with prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who was leading the Public Ministry’s 13-strong task force, are the vigilante stars of the lawfare racket. Over the past four years, hyper-concentrated Brazilian mainstream media, floundering in a swamp of fake news, duly glorified these two as Captain Marvel-worthy national heroes. Hubris finally caught up with the swamp.

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US Foreign Policy Exposed, by Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers

It would be hard to find a square inch of the world that the US government does not deem a vital national interest. From Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers at antiwar.com:

In the last week, the realities of US foreign policy have been exposed by a leaked audio tape, a leak about a US attack on the Russian electrical grid, and US attempts to extradite Julian Assange. All the information points to a foreign policy that violates international law and standards, perpetrates wars and conflict and seeks to undermine press freedom in order to commit its crimes in secret.

This is not new information to those of us who closely follow US foreign policy, but these new exposures are broad and are in the mass media where many millions of people can view them and gain a greater understanding of the realities of US actions around the world. Join the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine this September.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Exposes Himself To Jewish Leadership

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the presidents of major Jewish organizations. The speech was remarkable because it shows the special attention this group receives. Very sensitive secrets of US foreign policy were provided to the audience. Thankfully, someone in the audience audio-taped the conversation, and as a result, millions of people in the US and around the world now know the truth about some critical US foreign policy issues. Here are some of the topics he discussed:

US Seeks To Stop Jeremy Corbyn Before He Is Elected: The audio includes Pompeo promising to do his “level best” to stop Corbyn from ever being elected as Prime Minister of the UK. Pompeo was responding to a question, “Would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” This was about the false claim that Corbyn is anti-Semitic because he favors the rights of Palestinians and criticizes Israel. Pompeo responded:

“It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

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The Consequences of System Failure, by Michael Krieger

Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonero, is a result of Brazilian’s disgust with their own institutions. Call it blowback. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

In short, every major political institution has been increasingly discredited as Brazil has spiraled deeper and deeper into a dark void. And from the abyss emerged a former army captain and six-term congressman from Rio de Janeiro, Jair Bolsonaro, with the slogan “Brazil above everything, God above everyone,” and promises to fix everything with hardline tactics.

– From today’s Intercept article: Jair Bolsonaro Is Elected President of Brazil. Read His Extremist, Far-Right Positions in His Own Words.

It’s been only a little over two years since the people of Great Britain surprised the world by voting to leave the European Union. Just a few months later, this nascent trend of political shock continued with the election of Donald Trump.

This tectonic shift toward political upheaval has continued to spread throughout much of the world, with Italy and Brazil being two more recent examples. That something very major and very global is happening is undeniable at this point, yet everyone seems to have their own pet reasons for why it’s occurring. I continue to stick to the same thesis I’ve had for nearly a decade, which is that the dominant global economic/financial paradigm led and managed by the U.S. has failed and is experiencing a slow, painful and dangerous death.

This reality was temporarily papered over by the shady and extremely corrupt financial bailouts of a decade ago. An event that focused all government resources on rescuing the already rich and powerful, while keeping bank executives out of prison.

Ten years ago, all of America’s resources were irresponsibly and aggressively marshaled toward the sole purpose of resuscitating a dead system and keeping it on life support. Rather than jail those who committed egregious fraud and ask the difficult questions about the sustainability of the global financial system, those in charge pretended nothing was wrong and just threw money at the problem. This (coincidentally I’m sure) ended up making those who were rich and powerful before the crisis even more rich and powerful after it. Now it’s 2018 and the world’s staring straight into the face of a gigantic unpayable debt bubble, as well as an overextended and hyper-aggressive U.S. empire abroad.

Incredibly enough, many people still have no conception of what’s actually going on.

What’s been most shocking and disturbing to me — both following the financial crisis and in the aftermath of every new “surprise” election result — is the continued inability of so many people to face reality. The dominant reaction to Trump’s election in the U.S. has been a pathetic joke of a political movement based on fantasy and delusion known as “The Resistance.” A collection of mindless self-proclaimed liberals who actively resurrected George W. Bush’s reputation while running into the arms of opportunistic neocons simply because they couldn’t admit that Obama was a guardian of elitist interests, and Hillary an atrocious candidate.

So they’ve spent two years blaming Russia, blaming Facebook, blaming deplorables, blaming everything imaginable rather than accepting reality. Indeed, we seem to have a cultural addiction to denying reality. We did it after the financial crisis and we’re doing it again in the aftermath of Trump’s election. There’s a large group of people who just want to rewind history back to the way things were, but that world’s gone and it’s not coming back.

When I left Wall Street back in 2010, I naively thought by embracing a passion for liberty and sharing what I knew about the financial crisis I could make a difference to the debate. My efforts proved an abject failure, but the process taught me some painful yet valuable lessons. First, that the wheels of history are going to turn in the way they’re going to turn and there’s not much I can do about it. Second, that more often than not the societal response to system failure is a rejection of freedom and liberty in favor of easier, jingoistic and often darker solutions.

Although I’ve begrudgingly accepted this reality, I haven’t given up. I’ve increasingly turned my attention inward, toward my family and my own individual action. The only things I can impact with any degree of certainty are the things closest to me, so I’ve tried to focus on self-improvement in the small areas of everyday life. I can’t force people to look under the hood of our vast societal problems and focus on root issues versus symptoms. Unfortunately, it seems many people, and indeed entire societies, often have to learn lessons the hard way.

The time for liberty will come, but I fear we’ll see increased hardship first. This is why I remain short-term concerned, but long-term optimistic. We’re still in a very dark stage in this particular cycle of human progress and the longer we remain in denial about what’s happening, the longer this period will last.

My personal hope and challenge is that I do no harm while also adding some joy, knowledge and happiness to the world as we transition from one paradigm to the next. I wish everyone luck, peace and fortitude as we march, crazed, into the vast unknown.

The Bolsonaro Effect, by Hardscrabble Farmer

You get tired of being the “mark” for other people’s scams. From Hardscrabble Farmer at theburningplatform.com:

Over the weekend my son and I decided to take a break and watch a couple of episodes of a show called The Carbonaro Effect. It features a young magician that pulls a Candid Camera style set of tricks on unsuspecting people using magic as it’s hook. If you haven’t seen him before it’s fairly entertaining in a fashion the first couple of times, but as we watched it became evident that what he was doing wasn’t very popular with the people he was fooling.

During the show there are numerous pop-ups that appear on the screen explaining how he came up with the trick, the way the crew were involved, how the staging was placed, etc. At the end of each trick he reveals to the unsuspecting mark that he has just tricked them and gives them a big hug letting them know it was all in good fun, like Allen Funt used to do with his high trust audiences in the 1960’s. After one of these tricks concluded there was a pop-up that said “most people will try to walk away after the trick and the crew has to re-direct them back into the shot.”

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Future of Western Democracy Being Played Out in Brazil, by Pepe Escobar

An important election in South America’s largest country looms. From Pepe Escobar at consortiumnews.com:

Nothing less than the future of politics across the West – and across the Global South – is being played out in Brazil.

Stripped to its essence, the Brazilian presidential elections represent a direct clash between democracy and an early 21st Century, neofascism, indeed between civilization and barbarism.

Geopolitical and global economic reverberations will be immense. The Brazilian dilemma illuminates all the contradictions surrounding the Right populist offensive across the West, juxtaposed to the inexorable collapse of the Left. The stakes could not be higher.

Jair Bolsonaro, an outright supporter of Brazilian military dictatorships of last century, who has been normalized as the “extreme-right candidate,” won the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday with more than 49 million votes. That was 46 percent of the total, just shy of a majority needed for an outright win. This in itself is a jaw-dropping development.

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“I’m Totally Freaked Out”: Brazil’s Elite Fleeing Bloodshed And Chaos, by Tyler Durden

Many well to do Brazilians are fleeing their nation’s hellish descent. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Amid the economic, political, and social collapse, Brazil has been described by many as being in the midst of a “zombie apocalypse” as years of corruption and violence spectacularly implodes all at once.

Horrified by the out of control violence and pessimistic about the nation’s political and economic outlook, thousands of wealthy Brazilians are now fleeing the country.

Thiago Lacerda, a high-profile actor, is one of the thousands of celebrities, bankers, lawyers and affluent Brazilians considering emigration before the next round of turmoil.

“I’m totally freaked out by what’s been happening, especially here in Rio [Rio de Janeiro],” Mr. Lacerda told The Wall Street Journal.

The 40-year-old actor said he has considered moving his family to Europe for the safety of his three children. “In several years, they’re going to want to go out, to start dating, without worrying about getting shot.”

Naercio Menezes Filho, director of the center for public policy at Insper, a São Paulo business school, commented on the situation and pointed out — the elite fleeing the country is the newest trend amid the threat of gang violence and economic instability.

According to a study published in June by Brazilian polling agency Datafolh, about 52 percent of the wealthiest Brazilians — those with a monthly income of more than $2,500 — want to emigrate, while 56 percent of college graduates have plans on leaving the country.

“The hope that Brazilians once had in their country has gone out the window, and many people are now reaching the conclusion that things are unlikely to change in the next few years,” said Mr. Menezes Filho.

Government figures show the number of Brazilians filing emigration notices with the federal tax office reached 21,700 in 2017, that is nearly three times the number in 2011, when officials started recording the data. WSJ notes that many are moving to the Portuguese Riviera and to US cities such as Orlando and Miami.

To continue reading: “I’m Totally Freaked Out”: Brazil’s Elite Fleeing Bloodshed And Chaos

Brazil, Scared and Leaderless, Looks to the Military, by Brian Winter

South America’s largest country is falling apart. From Brian Winter at americasquarterly.org:

The once unthinkable is now becoming normal, writes AQ’s editor-in-chief.
brazil
Soldiers deployed to protect fuel transport for essential services during a truckers’ strike
Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

SÃO PAULO – I arrived here on Sunday in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Or so it seemed. A nationwide truckers’ strike was in its seventh day and 99 percent of São Paulo’s service stations had run out of gasoline. The roads of South America’s biggest city were deserted of cars and people, and the skies were a murky gray. The normally hellish drive from the airport, which often lasts two hours or more, took a disconcerting 23 minutes.

Up on Avenida Paulista, the city’s closest thing to a public square, things seemed more normal – at first. Huge crowds milled about, vendors were grilling beef and sausage, and girls in hot pink roller skates clomped by. A quadruple amputee was belting out the falsetto ending of Pearl Jam’s “Black” to an enthralled crowd. The sun was out now, and families sat at wooden tables with sweaty buckets of beer, laughing. Of course, I mused, Brazilians are going to make a party out of a bad situation. I bought a can of Skol and decided to join the fun.

Then I saw it. A huge banner, spanning the entire avenue, carried by a group of protesters:

“SUPPORT FOR THE TRUCK DRIVERS. MILITARY INTERVENTION! ARMED FORCES, URGENT!”

And that was the start of a week where I saw and heard things I never believed I would in Brazil.

The Brazil of mid-2018 is a frightened, leaderless, shockingly pessimistic country. It is a country where four years of scandal, violence and economic destruction have obliterated faith in not just President Michel Temer, not just the political class, but in democracy itself. It is a country where there will be elections in October, but most voters profess little faith in any of the candidates. Given that vacuum, many Brazilians – perhaps 40 percent of them, according to a new private poll circulating among worried politicians – believe the military should somehow act to restore order. Amid this week’s strike, the clamor became so loud that both Temer and a senior military official had to publicly deny the possibility of an imminent coup.

To continue reading: Brazil, Scared and Leaderless, Looks to the Military

Who’s Most Afraid of a Latin American Debt Crisis (Apart from Latin America)? by Don Quijones

The contagion metaphor often used in debt crises doesn’t really fit. It’s not like an overindebted entity “infects” healthy entities and the disease then spreads. The better analogy is a line of dominoes, and as one domino falls it knocks over a line of other dominoes, and all the dominoes represent overindebted entities. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

It’s not just countries that are at risk of contagion.

Economic history appears to be rhyming once again in Latin America. Perennial credit-basket-case Argentina was one of the first countries to suffer a major currency crisis this century. Now, its government has asked the IMF for a brand-new bailout. But if this classic last-gasp fix was meant to calm the markets, it isn’t working.

Previous Latin American debt crises have taught us two things:

  1. The direct impact on the general populace, already suffering from sky-high poverty rates, is devastating;
  2. Once the first domino falls, contagion can spread like wildfire.

The debt crisis of the early 1980s, which spread to virtually all corners of the region, famously paved the way to Latin America’s “lost decade.” Mexico’s Tequila Crisis of 1994-5 at one point became so serious that it almost brought down some of Wall Street’s biggest banks.

At the moment, as long as the US dollar and US yields continue to rise, emerging market jitters can be expected to grow. As British financial correspondent Neal Kimberley notes, markets often behave like predators, running down what they perceive as the weakest prey first — a role being filled, with usual aplomb, by Argentina.

Emerging market weakness is by now a generalized trend. The jitters could soon spread to Latin America’s two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico, which between them account for close to 60% of Latin America’s GDP. Both of the countries face general elections in the next two months. In Brazil the most popular presidential candidate, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is running his campaign from behind bars, where he serves a prison sentence after having been convicted of corruption. In Mexico, the front runner, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has the country’s business elite so spooked that it has launched a “Project Fear” against his candidacy.