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Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 46,801

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Journal Archives

How will history look back on Rousseff's impeachment?

In 1992, senators and MPs in Brazil's Congress came together to impeach the country's first democratically elected president in almost 30 years.

Fernando Collor de Mello (simply known as Collor) had won the votes of 53% of the electorate three years earlier, but was caught in a massive corruption scandal.

Mr Collor's impeachment was a clear-cut case. There was abundant proof of bribes paid to him and a smoking gun - a car that was bought with illegal money. Also Collor was part of a small political party with weak support both from Congress and the streets.

Twenty-four years later, Brazil has for the second time impeached a president. But this time the circumstances seem far less clear cut.

Although polls suggest there is ample rejection of Dilma Rousseff as a president, the question of whether she is guilty of a crime punishable with the loss of her mandate has proven explosively controversial in Brazil.

How did things get to this point and how will history look back on the impeachment of Brazil's first woman president?


Impeachment or Coup in Brazil? Depends on Your Politics

WASHINGTON — Was the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff as the president of Brazil on Wednesday a coup?

Technically, the answer is no. Although there is no single definition of what constitutes a coup, it is at its core an illegal seizure of power. The Brazilian Senate’s 61-to-20 vote to remove Ms. Rousseff was the culmination of a legal process set forth in the Brazilian Constitution, and it simply does not meet that standard.

But Ms. Rousseff and her supporters have argued for months that the effort to oust her was in fact a coup engineered by a small group of elites.

They are not bothered by strict legal definitions. Rather, “coup” has become shorthand for accusing Ms. Rousseff’s political opponents of exploiting the law to subvert democracy.

There is truth to that. But it is rooted in problems that afflict Brazil’s entire political system, not just its right or its left.

Any opposition party anywhere stands to gain from the downfall of the governing party’s leader. In Brazil, that was heightened by the fact that members of the opposition had been caught up in a major corruption scandal.


Brazil's flawed impeachment of Dilma Rousseff

After a largely successful—especially in light of almost insultingly low expectations—Olympics, Brazil is now abruptly pulled back to reality. The end of Olympics revelry coincided with the tempestuous final stretch of former President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial, and the general atmosphere in Brazil has taken an unenviable 180-degree turn.

Brazil's fourth democratically elected president since the end of the military dictatorship was officially removed from office on Wednesday afternoon. Her impeachment has been lauded and derided both within Brazil and abroad, with her supporters denouncing the proceedings as a "judicial coup d'état" and her opponents hailing the process as a victory for Brazilian democracy.

Both theses, however, are deeply flawed.
On the one hand, likening an impeachment trial that has—at least nominally—followed codified legal procedures to a coup is tactless, particularly given Brazil's sensitive history and the loaded significance that word carries in the country. On the other hand, to extol Rousseff's ouster as evidence of Brazil's robust rule of law entails glossing over a host of glaring irregularities and the greater context of the impeachment proceedings.

Dilma's administration was marked by a few key wins and quite a few more shows of ineptitude. Lacking the charisma and political wherewithal of her predecessor, Dilma was perhaps the worst imaginable choice to tackle the myriad problems that would soon arise after years of countercyclical economic policy. By the time President Lula's unbridled spending during Brazil commodities bonanza began to show its limitations, he was already out of office, and left to preside over the country's hangover was a timid Rousseff. Instead of swiftly implementing austerity measures to stem Brazil's ballooning fiscal deficit, Dilma displayed a degree of inertia that exacerbated the country's problems and alienated her from opponents and even allies in Congress. By the time she belatedly announced an austerity plan after her re-election, a fiercely antagonistic legislature had rendered her effectively impotent.

It is exceedingly clear that Dilma was not a "good" president, and she had the single-digit approval ratings to prove it. Though the opposition was poised for a smooth victory in the next elections, waiting until 2018 seemed an unappealing prospect when a vote of no confidence could quickly free Brazil from an unpopular administration.


Who didn't see THIS coming?

Prosecutor of George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander gets dreaded verdict from voters

Angela Corey, the Florida prosecutor who was lackadaisical about prosecuting George Zimmerman and overzealous about prosecuting Marissa Alexander, was tossed by voters Tuesday. Not only did she lose in the Republican primary for Florida's 4th circuit judicial state attorney, but she lost big. Her challenger got 64 percent of the vote to Corey's 26 percent.

Months before Zimmerman was put on trial for killing Trayvon Martin, I spoke to a Florida journalist who said that Corey didn't have a reputation for fighting for justice for black victims. After Zimmerman was acquitted, an attorney who has worked as a prosecutor and a defense attorney in New Orleans he was sure that Corey's office had deliberately tanked the case. Perhaps not murder, but every prosecutor he had spoken to about the case was sure they could have convicted Zimmerman of a lesser charge.

But when there was an outcry for Corey to go easier on a suspect, the prosecutor instead went full throttle. A week after Marissa Alexander gave birth, she fired a gun inside her house in the presence of her abusive husband and two children. She called it a warning shot. Corey called it aggravated assault. Alexander, who had never even been arrested before, was initially convicted and given three concurrent sentences of 20 years. When she won a new trial, Corey promised to make the three sentences consecutive, which would have meant 60 years. Eventually Alexander pleaded and was sentenced to three years, which she had already served.

But it was primarily her harshness toward juvenile suspects and her fondness for the death penalty that prompted The Nation magazine to ask in its most recent edition, "Is Angela Corey the Cruelest Prosecutor in America?" That story focuses on her decision to charge a 12-year-old with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old brother.

The Nation notes multiple mitigating factors that Corey ignored. The 12-year-old had been born to a 12-year-old who had been impregnated during a rape. Both mother and child had been in foster care – together. One of the mother's boyfriends had molested the boy. The boy had watched as his mother's last boyfriend had shot himself in the head. His life seems to have been invariably traumatic, and, yet, the prosecutor charged him as an adult, which meant he'd be sent to adult prison, which meant that his trauma would continue.

Melissa Nelson, who defeated Corey in the Republican primary Tuesday, was on the team of lawyers that stepped in and took the 12-year-old murder suspect's case away from the public defender. That team negotiated a 7-year sentence in what the magazine calls a "juvenile therapeutic facility."

Elected prosecutors typically enjoy great job security. But Corey is not the first prosecutor to be tossed this year after public outrage of their handling of cases. In March, Cook County's state attorney Anita Alvarez was voted out after she waited more than a year to release video of a Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. That same day, voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, voted out Tim McGinty. The person running for district attorney against McGinty criticized him for the way he handled the case of a Cleveland police officer killing Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old in possession of a pellet gun.

And now Corey gets tossed. The cover of The Nation says that Corey doesn't understand why people hate her. Thanks to voters she'll now have time to figure it all out.


FWIW, I was calling the Zimmerman prosecution a tank job from day one

MEANWHILE, in West Palm Beach...

I appreciate the local law enforcement showing the initiative to arrest Putin, but sadly it's the wrong one...


A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?” said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman.

As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.


"Racists Anonymous" Meetings Held at N.C. Church

There’s Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous…and then there’s Racists Anonymous.

According to WCNC, a Concord, N.C. church has been holding Racists Anonymous meetings on a weekly basis for the past month and it’s been picking up new members.

“What Jesus said is, ‘come see,'” Reverend Nathan King of the Trinity United Church of Christ told the news station.

The pastor, apparently tired of the shootings and racial unrest, wanted to do more than just pray.

“It seemed like every week we were coming into worship and we were doing another prayer because someone had been killed in the street,” King said.

And so, Racists Anonymous came into being to “deal with the racism within ourselves and to eliminate the racism within ourselves,” as King puts it.

According to the news station, a sister church in California started holding the “Racists Anonymous” meetings and extended the invitation to 20 other congregations to join them in trying to make social change.

King’s church took them up on that invitation.

WCNC reports that each week about a dozen people from varying backgrounds come to the meetings. Most are reportedly members of the church, but recently some new attendees have been coming in from the neighboring community.

“It’s an anonymous meeting, so there’s safety in that,” King said.


Iran Warns, Detains 450 Social-Media Users, Citing 'Immoral' Posts

Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it has summoned, detained, and warned some 450 administrators of social-media groups in recent weeks.

The announcement on August 23 was carried on a website affiliated with the IRGC's cyber arm, Gherdab, and said the unspecified number of detained people used social media like the messaging app Telegram, which is popular in Iran.

The announcement said those detained or summoned made posts that were considered "immoral." It said, without elaborating, that the IRGC only took action after "judicial procedures" were completed, and some people will face trial.

"These people were carrying out immoral activities, insulted religious beliefs, or had illegal activities in the field of fashion," said Gherdab.

In May, authorities announced an operation targeting modeling posts on Instagram. Several people were arrested for posting pictures of women without head coverings -- a crime in Iran.

The arrests are part of a larger cultural struggle in Iran between hard-liners and moderates over the country's future.

Despite restrictions, more than half of Iran's population of 80 million is online. Telegram alone has more than 20 million users.


Stop me if you've heard this story before:

Black Indianapolis man shot by cops after calling police to report robbery

Few cases typify everything that is wrong with gun rights, police brutality and racial profiling like this one.

Early Tuesday in Indianapolis, an African-American woman was being carjacked in front of her home in her working class neighborhood. She ran back in the house, told her husband, who is also black, and they called the police to report the robbery. That seemed to be the right and safe thing to do.

As the police pulled up, the husband, who was later identified as 48-year-old Carl Williams, opened the garage to their home and was immediately shot in the gut by police.

They claim they believed he was the robber and that because he had a firearm of his own, he was shot in self-defense. Officials identified the officer who shot Williams as nine-year veteran cop Christopher Mills.

He, of course, was not the robber. In fact, police have yet to even say if they caught the robber. Since they dusted the car for fingerprints, it appears that the actual man committing a crime got away and the man who wanted to protect his wife and family was instead shot and currently fighting for his own life in the hospital.

"I think that's really crazy. What do we have, trigger-happy police officers out here now?" asked Angela Parrot, who lives in the neighborhood told the Indy Star.


FBI investigating Russian hack of New York Times reporters, others

Source: CNN

Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at the New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.

The intrusions, detected in recent months, are under investigation by the FBI and other US security agencies. Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said.

The FBI declined to comment and a spokesperson for The New York Times would not confirm the attacks or the investigation.
"Like most news organizations we are vigilant about guarding against attempts to hack into our systems," said New York Times Co. spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. "There are a variety of approaches we take up to and including working with outside investigators and law enforcement. We won't comment on any specific attempt to gain unauthorized access to The Times."

The breaches targeting reporters and news organizations are part of an apparent surge in cyber attacks in the past year against entities beyond US government agencies.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/23/politics/russia-hack-new-york-times-fbi/index.html

Greenwald, Snowden and Assange were unavail- Yeah, yeah, you know the rest...

Seriously -- Greenwald, Assange and certain DUers here would be having rage orgasms if the U.S. was hacking foreign news orgs, so I heartily await their statements...
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