The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The NSA's mass and indiscriminate spying on Brazilians | Glenn Greenwald

I’ve written an article on NSA surveillance for the Sunday edition of O Globo, the large Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro. The article is headlined (translated) “US spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilians”, and I co-wrote it with Globo reporters Roberto Kaz and Jose Casado. The rough translation of the article into English is here. The main page of Globo’s website lists related NSA stories: here.

As the headline suggests, the crux of the main article details how the NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians. The story follows an article in Der Spiegel last week, written by Laura Poitras and reporters from that paper, detailing the NSA’s mass and indiscriminate collection of the electronic communications of millions of Germans. There are many more populations of non-adversarial countries which have been subjected to the same type of mass surveillance net by the NSA: indeed, the list of those which haven’t been are shorter than those which have. The claim that any other nation is engaging in anything remotely approaching indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of this sort is baseless.

As those two articles detail, all of this bulk, indiscriminate surveillance aimed at populations of friendly foreign nations is part of the NSA’s “FAIRVIEW” program. Under that program, the NSA partners with a large US telecommunications company, the identity of which is currently unknown, and that US company then partners with telecoms in the foreign countries. Those partnerships allow the US company access to those countries’ telecommunications systems, and that access is then exploited to direct traffic to the NSA’s repositories. Both articles are based on top secret documents provided by Edward Snodwen; O Globo published several of them.

The vast majority of the GuardianUS’s revelations thus far have concerned NSA domestic spying: the bulk collection of telephone records, the PRISM program, Obama’s presidential directive that authorizes domestic use of cyber-operations, the Boundless Informant data detailing billions of records collected from US systems, the serial falsehoods publicly voiced by top Obama officials about the NSA’s surveillance schemes, and most recently, the bulk collection of email and internet metadata records for Americans. Future stories in the GuardianUS will largely continue to focus on the NSA’s domestic spying.

But contrary to what some want to suggest, the privacy rights of Americans aren’t the only ones that matter. That the US government - in complete secrecy - is constructing a ubiquitous spying apparatus aimed not only at its own citizens, but all of the world’s citizens, has profound consequences. It erodes, if not eliminates, the ability to use the internet with any remnant of privacy or personal security. It vests the US government with boundless power over those to whom it has no accountability. It permits allies of the US - including aggressively oppressive ones - to benefit from indiscriminate spying on their citizens’ communications. It radically alters the balance of power between the US and ordinary citizens of the world. And it sends an unmistakable signal to the world that while the US very minimally values the privacy rights of Americans, it assigns zero value to the privacy of everyone else on the planet.

This development - the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus - is self-evidently newsworthy, extreme, and dangerous. It deserves transparency. People around the world have no idea that all of their telephonic and internet communications are being collected, stored and analyzed by a distant government. But that’s exactly what is happening, in secrecy and with virtually no accountability. And it is inexorably growing, all in the dark. At the very least, it merits public understanding and debate. That is now possible thanks solely to these disclosures.

thinkmexican:

Shame on Brazil: Forceful Removal of Indigenous Group Stains World Cup With the Blood of 500 Years of Genocide

While nations competed to go to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Friday, more than Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples were clashing with police over a building they’ve used as a community center in Rio de Janeiro for almost 30 years.

With the World Cup and the Olympics around the corner, local authorities have been under pressure from FIFA and International Olympic Committee to make room for housing, parking and administrative offices.

It so happens the space in question is literally steps from the famous Maracanã Stadium and was designated to become a parking lot by the World Cup organizing committee. However, leaders of Aldeia Maracanã (Maracanã Village), the group living in the building that was formerly the National Indigenous Museum, had plans to make their presence permanent and covert the space into an Indigenous school.

The forced removal of Native Brazilians by police was characterized by Aldeia Maracanã leaders as part of “513 years of struggle.”

Brazilian authorities, World Cup and Olympic organizers need to know the world is watching. This blog and many of our readers are very upset that our brothers and sisters in Brazil were treated as foreigners on their own land and violently removed from their center.

We demand accommodations be made for the Aldeia Maracanã to return and for resources to be appropriated for the establishment of an Indigenous cultural and academic center within sight of Maracanã Stadium, so that locals and tourists are forever reminded that the country’s original inhabitants are still very much alive and present in Brazil.

(via randomactsofchaos)

thepeoplesrecord:

Brazilian Indians threaten mass suicide over loss of land
October 24, 2012

Approximately 100 adults and 70 children members of the indigenous tribe Guarani-Kaiowa announced this week that they prefer collective death to leave the Cambar’s farm in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, where they settled, than to accept the Federal Court rule that everyone should leave immediately.

The collective death threat, interpreted as a warning of collective suicide, was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, which reaffirms that the Indians will not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region. They call this region ‘tekoha’ which means ancestral cemetery.

According to the Federal Court’s decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians, FUNAI, will have to pay a fine of approximately $ 250 per day.

According to the Indians Missionary Council, the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe is known for continuing acts of suicide and almost every six days, one tribesman kills himself, because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.

In the letter sent to Federal Court, they demanded that the decision be over ruled, for the reason that they won’t leave the grounds of their ancestors. They also ask that the Justice secure their rights to be buried in these lands, so that even in their dead bed, they will continue to occupy their territory.

Source

This is heartbreaking. We’ll continue to track the story & post updates.

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via climateadaptation)

Brazil asks Venezuela to investigate village massacre claims

the-eco-warrior:

Brazil asks Caracas for help in determining whether gold miners killed more than 70 members of Yanomami tribe from helicopter

Brazil is pressing Venezuela to determine whether Brazilian gold miners crossed the border and massacred a village of about 80 indigenous people from a helicopter.

The alleged assault, which a tribal group says could have killed more than 70 people in early July, came to light this week when the group asked Venezuela’s government to investigate. Because of the remoteness of the region and the scattered nature of the native settlements, fellow tribe members were able to alert the government only on Monday.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said on Friday that its embassy in Caracas had asked the Venezuelan government to provide it with any information that could help it determine whether the attack had happened and whether Brazilians had been involved.

Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, a government body that oversees indigenous affairs, said it would seek a joint investigation by officials from both countries at the site.

The border area between the two countries – a long, dense swath of the Amazon rainforest – has increasingly become the site of conflicts between indigenous people, gold miners, and others seeking to tap jungle resources.

The tribe that was allegedly attacked, the Yanomami, says it has given repeated, but unheeded, warnings to Venezuela’s government that the conflicts are intensifying.

On Wednesday, Venezuela’s public prosecutor said it would investigate. By late Friday, however, Venezuela’s government still could not confirm whether the attack had occurred.

The Venezuelan interior minister, Tareck Al Aissami, said in televised comments on Friday that officials had managed to speak with seven of the nine known groups of the Yanomami tribe and thus far had no proof of an attack in any of their settlements. Officials would soon meet with those and the other two groups to further clarify the matter, he said. “God willing, there won’t have been any violence among the other two groups either.”

In the document presented to Venezuelan authorities this week, Yanomami leaders said tribe members in the area had spoken with three villagers from the community where the attack allegedly took place.

The three villagers, the only inhabitants of the community known to be alive, said they had been hunting away from the settlement when they heard a “tokotoko” – their indigenous word for helicopter. They also heard gunfire and explosions, the document said. Other Yanomami who visited the village later said a communal hut had been burned and that they found charred bodies and bones.

The attack was the latest in a growing number of conflicts with Brazilian gold miners, the Yanomami said in the document. The tribe alerted soldiers in the region in late July about the attack and the soldiers interviewed some of the tribespeople who had seen the destroyed village, according to the document. Venezuela’s army has not commented.

The remote settlement is a five-hour helicopter flight, or 15-day walk, from Puerto Ayacucho, capital of the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas. Because of the distance and isolation of many indigenous settlements, the government is often unable to protect tribes from incursions by outsiders. Much of the violence goes unreported, and followup investigations are difficult once conflicts take place.

(Source: , via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

'Massacre': Scores of Amazon Indigenous Tribe Members Killed by Miners

As many as 80 Yanomami Indians have been killed in a “massacre” carried out by unauthorized gold miners from Brazil, leaving charred remains of a community and polluted rivers in its wake.

Survival International, a London-based groups that works for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, says that the massacre took place in July but news of the event is only coming to light now due to the community’s remote location in Venezuela’s Momoi region close to the border with Brazil.

The Guardian reports on the details of the massacre: “According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.”

Witnesses who saw the aftermath of the massacre reported seeing “burnt bodies and bones” and a burnt communal home.

Luis Shatiwe Yanomami, a leader of the Yanomami organization Horonami, told Survival International that the problem of illegal mining has been ongoing. “‘For three years we have been denouncing the situation. There are lots of goldminers working illegally in the forest.”

Luis Bello, a lawyer in Puerto Ayacucho who defends indigenous rights, says that these mining activities are on the rise and “have also become more sophisticated. They used to fly in and land in clandestine strips, now they come in helicopters and use huge extracting machinery that is decimating the jungle.”

Survival International says that the number of unauthorized gold miners in Yanomami territory now number 1,000. When they come, they bring diseases like malaria to the isolated tribe. The mining itself is devastating to the local environment, as it pollutes rivers with mercury. On top of the mining, the tribe faces threats from cattle ranchers who bring deforestation to the rainforest.

“This is another appalling tragedy for the Yanomami – heaping crime upon crime. All Amazonian governments must stop the rampant illegal mining, logging and settlement in indigenous territories. It inevitably leads to massacres of Indian men, women and children. The Venezuelan authorities must now bring the killers to swift justice, and send a signal throughout the region that Indians can no longer be killed with impunity. The mining and logging must be stopped,” said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International

(Source: jayaprada, via randomactsofchaos)

5 Million Brazilian farmers win $2 billion judgment against Monsanto

Five million Brazilian farmers have taken on US based biotech company Monsanto through a lawsuit demanding return of about 6.2 billion euros taken as royalties from them.

The farmers are claiming that the powerful company has unfairly extracted these royalties from poor farmers because they were using seeds produced from crops grown from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds, reports Merco Press.

In April this year, a judge in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, ruled in favor of the farmers and ordered Monsanto to return royalties paid since 2004 or a minimum of $2 billion. The ruling said that the business practices of seed multinational Monsanto violate the rules of the Brazilian Cultivars Act (No. 9.456/97).

Monsanto has appealed against the order and a federal court ruling on the case is now expected by 2014.

About 85% of Brazil’s massive soyabean crop output is produced from genetically engineered seeds. Brazil exports about $24.1 billion worth of soyabeans annually, more than a quarter of its total agri-exports.

Farmers say that they are using seeds produced many generations after the initial crops from the genetically modified Monsanto seeds were grown. Farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from “renewal” seed harvests. Renewal crops are those that have been planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest. Monsanto disagrees, demanding royalties from any crop generation produced from its genetically-engineered seed. Because the engineered seed is patented, Monsanto not only charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, but a continuing two per cent royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

The first transgenic soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 and their use was banned and subject to prosecution until the last decade, according to the state-owned Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA). The ban has since been lifted and now 85 percent of the country’s soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres) is genetically modified, Alexandre Cattelan, an EMBRAPA researcher told Merco Press. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of soyabean. China is one of its biggest buyers.

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production,” Jane Berwanger, lawyer for the farmers told the media agencies.

(Source: pulsarae, via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

Brazil’s brazen new monied class is turning out to be no less corrupt than the old, arrogant, comprador elites that used to run the country. Pepe Escobar

Pinheirinho: when the state attacks its own people | Sócrates Fabiano

The Brazilian government was delighted with the news that Brazil has overtaken the UK in the GDP rankings to become the sixth largest economy in the world, according, ironically, to the British Centre for Economics and Business Research at the end of 2011. However, does it mean anything?

Well, undeniably it confirms the trend of the last ten years of continuous growth. Unsurprisingly, this growth has been very poorly distributed, with the rich guys, who are happy with the current government, getting away with most of the pie. Only the smaller part of it is left to the majority of the 190 million Brazilians. A wealthy country doesn’t mean wealth for everyone, far from it. In Brazil, widespread poverty still goes hand in hand with corrupt institutions and oppression against the vulnerable in society. Of this, on 22nd January Brazilians had a timely reminder.

At 6am on that Sunday morning, when not even the birds had woken up, around 2,200 well-armed policemen, supported by two helicopters, crushed into Pinheirinho, a very poor neighborhood on the outskirts of São José dos Campos, one of the biggest cities in São Paulo state. Their mission seemed to have come out of a movie script: to evict 6,000 people from their houses using force. And no, there wasn’t any Al Qaeda training camp in there. The Pinheirinho residents’ crime was to have their houses built in the wrong place, owned by the wrong guy: multi-millionaire Naji Nahas.

Continue reading →

Latin America’s message to the Arab world | Pepe Escobar

Take a good look at this 1970 photo.
The 22-year-old woman in the photo is about to be examined by a bunch of subtropical inquisitors.
She has just been tortured, electrocuted and waterboarded - what Dick  Cheney dismisses as “enhanced interrogation” - for 22 days.
Yet she didn’t break down.
Today this woman, Dilma Rousseff, is the President of Brazil - the  perennial “country of the future”, the world’s seventh-largest economy  by purchasing power parity (ahead of the UK, France and Italy), a member  of the BRICS, and exercising a soft power way beyond music, football  and joy of living. 
This photo has just been published, as part of a Rousseff-biography,  exactly when Brazil finally launches a Truth Commission to establish  what really happened during the military dictatorship (1964-1985).  Argentina, way ahead, already did it - judging and punishing its own  surviving inquisitors in uniform.
This Saturday, Rousseff will be in Buenos Aires for the swearing-in  ceremony of Cristina Kirchner, re-elected as President of Argentina. The  presidents of these two key South American countries are women. Tell  that to the Tantawi junta in Egypt - or those democratic paragons at the  House of Saud.

Read the whole thing →

Latin America’s message to the Arab world | Pepe Escobar

Take a good look at this 1970 photo.

The 22-year-old woman in the photo is about to be examined by a bunch of subtropical inquisitors.

She has just been tortured, electrocuted and waterboarded - what Dick Cheney dismisses as “enhanced interrogation” - for 22 days.

Yet she didn’t break down.

Today this woman, Dilma Rousseff, is the President of Brazil - the perennial “country of the future”, the world’s seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity (ahead of the UK, France and Italy), a member of the BRICS, and exercising a soft power way beyond music, football and joy of living. 

This photo has just been published, as part of a Rousseff-biography, exactly when Brazil finally launches a Truth Commission to establish what really happened during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). Argentina, way ahead, already did it - judging and punishing its own surviving inquisitors in uniform.

This Saturday, Rousseff will be in Buenos Aires for the swearing-in ceremony of Cristina Kirchner, re-elected as President of Argentina. The presidents of these two key South American countries are women. Tell that to the Tantawi junta in Egypt - or those democratic paragons at the House of Saud.

Read the whole thing →

Latin America's message to the Arab world | Pepe Escobar

Egyptians may not know that it took Brazilians no less than 21 years to get rid of a military dictatorship…

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose - except a lot of time. In Brazil, real democracy was advancing just as it was smashed by the 1964 military coup - actively supervised by Washington. The coma lasted for a long two decades.

Then, in the 1980s, the military decided to dub their snail-pace “transition” towards democracy as “slow, gradual and secure” - secure for them, of course. But it was the street - Tahrir Square-style - that finally turbocharged it.

The strengthening of democratic institutions took over a decade - including a presidential impeachment for corruption. And it took another eight years for a president - the immensely popular Lula, whom Obama revered as “the man” - to open the way for Dilma [Rousseff].

So the road was long until one of the most unequal countries in the world - ruled for centuries by an arrogant, rapacious elite who only had eyes for the wealthy North - finally enshrined social inclusion as essential to national politics.

The progress in Brazil was parallel to many other parts of South America.

A partial climax was reached this past week, when the new Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (known by its acronym in Spanish, CELAC) met in Caracas. CELAC started as a flaming idea for the emergence - in a new world-system, as Immanuel Wallerstein would have put it - of an integrated Latin American nation, based on justice, sustainable development and equality. Two men were instrumental in the process - Lula and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Their vision convinced everyone from Uruguayan President Pepe Mugica - a former guerrilla leader - to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, a banker.

So now, amid the agonic crisis across the Atlanticist North, Latin America surges with the possibility of a real “third way” (forget the Tony Blair variety).

While Europe - dictated by the God of the Market - is engineering the further impoverishment of its own people, Latin America accelerates its push for increased social inclusion. read more →

Brazilian gunmen brandish tribal hit list in wake of leader’s murder | Survival International

anonymissexpress:

1 December

Guarani leader Nísio Gomes was murdered by gunmen.

Gunmen in Brazil are brazenly intimidating indigenous communities with a hit list of prominent leaders, following the high profile murder of Nísio Gomes last month.

Reportedly employed by powerful landowners in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the gunmen are creating a climate of fear to prevent Guarani Indians from returning to their ancestral land.

The tactics employed in recent incidents have been almost identical. Gunmen encircle vehicles transporting Guarani, force them to stop, and then verbally abuse and interrogate passengers about the names on the hit list.

One Guarani leader told Survival, ’They’ve pinpointed us and they’re set to kill us. We’re at great risk. Here in Brazil, we have no justice. We have nowhere left to run.’

More …

Brazil pays poor, creates a middle class. They return the favor with an economic boom.

manicchill:

The program, called Bolsa Familia (Family Grant) in Brazil, goes by different names in different places. In Mexico, where it first began on a national scale and has been equally successful at reducing poverty, it is Oportunidades. The generic term for the program is conditional cash transfers.  The idea is to give regular payments to poor families, in the form of cash or electronic transfers into their bank accounts, if they meet certain requirements.  The requirements vary, but many countries employ those used by Mexico: families must keep their children in school and go for regular medical checkups, and mom must attend workshops on subjects like nutrition or disease prevention.  The payments almost always go to women, as they are the most likely to spend the money on their families.  The elegant idea behind conditional cash transfers is to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.

What is this?! A government program that successfully reaches/exceeds its stated goals?! But all of my libertarian and right-wing friends told me that these didn’t exist….

I feel so lied to.

(Source: socialistexan, via manicchill)

Interzone Uprizings: Take Action Now - Amnesty International USA #Syria

news-intercom:

To date, the UN Security Council has remained silent on the situation in Syria. Three critical members of the UN Security Council need to join other members to call on the Syrian government to stop the use of tanks, snipers and torture to suppress peaceful dissent. Members of the UN Security Council have an increased responsibility to work on an end to the violent crackdown in Syria. By supporting the current draft resolution, Brazil, South Africa and India can help to end in the bloodshed and ensure accountability for the crimes committed.

Read More »
via takeaction.amnestyusa.org

sunfoundation:

How Data is Making Rio de Janeiro a Smarter City

In April 2010, the State of Rio de Janeiro was hit by a natural disaster, when floods and mudslides killed over 200 people and made 15,000 homeless. Worse, Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor admitted that Rio’s preparedness was “less than zero”. To avoid similar  tragedies, the city had until the next rainy season to prepare. This led  to the creation of Rio Operations Center in partnership with IBM. It opened its doors on December 31st 2010, only a few months after the catastrophe.

sunfoundation:

How Data is Making Rio de Janeiro a Smarter City

In April 2010, the State of Rio de Janeiro was hit by a natural disaster, when floods and mudslides killed over 200 people and made 15,000 homeless. Worse, Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor admitted that Rio’s preparedness was “less than zero”. To avoid similar tragedies, the city had until the next rainy season to prepare. This led to the creation of Rio Operations Center in partnership with IBM. It opened its doors on December 31st 2010, only a few months after the catastrophe.