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​​Dozens of Activists in Brazil Were Arrested Not for Protesting the World Cup, but for Possibly Planning to Do So

Graffiti on the walls in Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro reads "Genocidal police loves FIFA." 13 July 2014. Photo by Shay Horse. Copyright Demotix

Graffiti on the walls in Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro reads, “Genocidal police loves FIFA.” 13 July 2014. Photo by Shay Horse. Copyright Demotix

A day before the final World Cup match, 28 people opposed to hosting the tournament in Brazil were arrested “preemptively” at their homes in the city of Rio de Janeiro on the early morning of July 12. Police suspected they would engage in violent acts during a protest scheduled for the next day and accused them of “forming an armed gang” based on what activists and alternative media are calling false evidence.

A total of 37 people were arrested as part of Operation Firewall; some were detained simply for having a connection to the activists. Most were released, but five are still in jail waiting to be brought before the court or indicted.

Police reportedly found weapons, masks and explosives at some of the homes of those arrested, but activists have disputed the claim, saying that only knee pads, a tear gas mask, newspapers and a flag were seized. A 16-year-old, one of two minors detained, was accused of forming an armed gang based on a gun belonging to her father discovered in the house she was in, according to the collective Rio na Rua.

Those jailed before the World Cup final match were also accused of belonging to or helping the so-called Black Blocs, who have attended some demonstrations since 2013. “Black Bloc” describes the tactic of wearing black clothing and covering the face with a mask or bandanna, and some protesters dressed this way have vandalized property or committed arson. 

The activists have denied being part of any Black Bloc group or engaging in any violent activity.

This isn't the first time during the World Cup that police have accused protesters of being Black Blocs. Fabio Hideki Harano was arrested on June 26 after a demonstration against the mega-event in São Paulo. Police said he was carrying an explosive, but haven't produced evidence of it. He remains in jail.

Amnesty International and the Order of Attorneys of Brazil have criticised the latest arrests, calling them illegal and a method of intimidation. One activist and lawyer, Eloisa Samy Santiago, who was arrested asked unsuccessfully for asylum at the Consulate of Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro after she was released. 

It is believed that these activists were targeted by authorities because they have taken part in past street demonstrations since June 2013, when massive anti-government protests rocked the country. Their demands vary, as well as their political affiliation. Some are members of socialist or anarchist groups, and some have no affiliation whatsoever.

In 2013, protesters demanded free or reduced fare for bus tickets, rallied against the treatment of those living in the slums, and called for the impeachment of Rio de Janeiro's mayor and governor of Rio de Janeiro. This year, activists railed against the public money spent on the World Cup and the forced evictions for infrastructure construction that left some people homeless.

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, one of the most famous anthropologists in the country, detailed the police operation quoting a friend who preferred to stay anonymous:

A policia esta com mandados de prisão indo na casa de educadores, manifestantes com alegações mentirosas e variadas (sequestro, vandalismo, crime de internet).. estão t[am]b[em] seguindo pessoas na rua através de grampo no celular e prendendo… não se sabe o numero de militantes, mas não para de chegar gente na cidade da policia…

The police are going to the homes of educators and protesters with arrest warrants with false and varied allegations (kidnapping, vandalism, Internet crime) and are also following people in the street through bugs on their mobile [devices] and arresting… no one knows the number of activists, but more and more are arriving at Police City… 

According to Pablo Ortellado, a professor and leading figure within many social movements in Brazil, teachers and free media and anti-Cup activists were among those taken in. Alternative newspaper The New Democracy reported that relatives and friends of those arrested were “threatened and intimidated at the police station.”

The arrests appeared to be an effort to prevent protests during the final day of the World Cup at Maracanã stadium. Targets were usually leaders or prominent figures of previous demonstrations who participated in last year's mass protestsGlobal Voices reported in June on similar preemptive arrests of activists even the games began.

The Network of Communities and Movements Against Violence explained:

O objetivo imediato dessa ação, tão ilegal e arbitrária como várias outras que acontecem no país desde os protestos que começaram em junho do ano passado, parece ser intimidar e amedrontar as pessoas dispostas a participar dos protestos que estão sendo convocados para amanhã, durante a partida final da Copa do Mundo, no Maracanã. Para isso, está sendo utilizada a legislação de exceção aprovada aos níveis federal e estadual desde o ano passado.

The immediate objective of this action, as illegal and arbitrary as several others that have happened in the country since the protests began in June last year, seems to be to intimidate and scare people willing to participate in the protests tomorrow during the final match of the World Cup at Maracanã. For this, an legal exception approved at the federal and state levels since last year is being used.

Luiz Eduardo Soares, a leading expert on public security in Brazil, agreed: 

A manobra visa evitar manifestações na final da Copa. Arrogância, incompetência e corrupção degradaram nosso futebol e estão arruinando as instituições que se pretendiam democráticas. É hora de denunciar e resistir.

The move aims to prevent demonstrations during the Cup final. Arrogance, incompetence and corruption eroded our football and are ruining the institutions that pretended to be democratic. It's time to denounce and resist.

A local judge in the 27th Criminal Court of Rio, Flavio Itabaiana de Oliveira Nicolau, gave the order to make the preemptive arrests. Filmmaker Fernando Marés tweeted a copy of the judge’s decision:

Decisão do juiz da 27ª Vara Criminal do Rio: prisões tentam impedir protestos marcados pra amanhã.

— Roteiro de Cinema (@roteirodecinema) 12 julho 2014

Decision of the judge of the 27th Criminal Court of Rio: Arrests try to prevent protests scheduled for tomorrow.

The Jornal Zona de Conflito Mídia Independente posted a list of activists who were arrested and those who were considered fugitives. Luis Rendeiro, considered a fugitive, sent a message on Facebook to the newspaper The New Democracy saying police have accused him of a plot to bomb Maracana stadium. “They are harassing me and making bizarre accusations” in front of his wife and 3-year-old son, he wrote. 

The arrests sparked outrage on social media. The hashtag #PresosdaCopa (World Cup arrests) reached the top of trending topics in Brazil in the early evening of July 12. 

On Facebook, activist Renata Gomes was direct in her description of what was happening: “Temporary detention warrants are the SCANDAL OF SCANDALS! To prevent people from demonstrating today! Someone please watch over the body of Brazilian democracy, because she's dead!”

Another activist, Caio Almendra, summarized the situation:

Ativistas suspeitos de serem capazes de um dia, em algum momento, por alguma razão ainda não estabelecida, cometer atos violentos são detidos sem acusação clara, direito a advogado, com flagrantes forjados.

Viva o estado de direito!

Activists suspected of being able to one day, at some point, for some reason not yet established, commit violent acts are held without clear accusations, access to lawyers, with false evidence.

Long live the rule of law!

Written by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia · Translated by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
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Bagdad.- Mosul, una de las mayores ciudades de Irak, se ha quedado sin habitantes cristianos después de que estos huyesen tras un ultimátum del grupo terrorista sunita Estado Islámico, informaron hoy fuentes oficiales locales.

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“Yo no creo en la suerte, creo en la bendición, obligado Señor, …
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A Brutal Loss, but an Enduring Conviction


New York State of Fracking: A ProPublica Explainer


by Naveena Sadasivam

New York is one of a handful of states around the country that currently has at least temporarily halted fracking. Since 2008, when the state was first confronted with interest in gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing by energy companies, towns have banned the practice, the state has undertaken environmental and health studies, courts have issued rulings on fracking and concerns have been raised about the state’s pristine water supply.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about the current status of fracking in New York, the protections available to the state’s major watershed and the implications of the most recent court ruling for local municipalities.

So, does NY have a moratorium on fracking?

Yes, New York currently has a moratorium in place. But the current moratorium, as opposed to a legislative moratorium, is not codified into law and does not have an expiration date. In 2010, former Gov. David Paterson vetoed a bill intended to rein in natural gas drilling and instead issued an executive order instituting a six-month moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is more commonly known. That moratorium, contingent on the completion of a review of the environmental impacts of fracking by the state environmental agency, is still in place.

In the last six years, two drafts of environmental impact reviews and two sets of draft regulations have been prepared. After the Department of Environmental Conservation released its 2012 report, it asked the Department of Health to review information related to the public health effects from natural gas drilling. That review is currently underway.

Environmental groups have been pushing for a moratorium with a time frame locked in or a moratorium enacted through the legislature, which they say would legally guarantee the moratorium will stay in place and provide time for the additional health studies currently being conducted by researchers around the country to be completed. In the last four years, at least three bills have been proposed to codify the moratorium into law but they have all failed to pass the Senate and reach the Governor’s desk.

When will Gov. Cuomo decide to permit or ban fracking?

Nobody knows.

Recently, Joeseph Martens, the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, indicated that he won’t issue fracking permits before April 2015, delaying the decision until after Cuomo faces re-election. Earlier this year, health commissioner Nirav Shah said that he was “in no hurry” to finish the review as he did not want to “play with any potential risks with the health and safety of New Yorkers.” Cuomo has said that he did not want to put “undue pressure” on Shah. “My timeline is whatever commissioner Shah needs to do it right and feel comfortable,” said Cuomo.

Shah has since resigned and the charge has been handed over to an acting commissioner, which will probably only further delay a decision.

I vaguely remember reading something about a recent court ruling in New York. It made a lot of the anti-fracking activists very happy. What was it about?

Two small towns in upstate New York, Dryden and Middlefield, had banned fracking within their boundaries. Soon after, an energy company in Dryden and a dairy farm that had leased land for drilling in Middlefield sued the municipalities, arguing that the towns did not have the authority to limit drilling activity. The lower courts initially dismissed the lawsuits. On appeal, intermediate level courts upheld the ruling and most recently the state Court of Appeals also upheld the decision.

“The towns both studied the issue and acted within their home rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently alter and adversely affect the deliberately-cultivated, small-town character of their communities,” wrote Judge Victoria Graffeo in the majority ruling.

And why is this court ruling so important?

It gives towns the authority to decide whether they’re willing to allow fracking within their town boundaries. Several towns already have bans in place against fracking. This ruling ensures that if those towns were to be met with similar lawsuits, they’d still be able to enforce the ban. Also, if Cuomo lifted the state-wide moratorium, towns can individually take action through local ordinances.

Wait, doesn’t fracking cause your water to light on fire? Should New Yorkers worry about their water supply?

ProPublica’s reporting over the years has shown that fracking can be done safely, and very often is. That said, natural gas drilling and fracking done improperly or recklessly can be a threat to water safety. – Residents of New York City, though, probably don’t have much to worry about. New York City and several upstate communities receive water from the Delaware, Catskill and Croton watersheds, where there is currently no fracking taking place because of the moratorium. If the health review process came to an end and Cuomo made a decision on fracking, there are several scenarios that could play out.

  • Fracking could be banned altogether in the state
  • Fracking could be allowed in the state and additional regulations specifically banning fracking on land overlying the New York City watersheds and their buffer areas could be passed
  • Fracking could be allowed almost anywhere in the state, including over the New York City watersheds

Though considered highly unlikely, if the third scenario were to play out, environmental groups will almost definitely sue the state and try to block drilling over the watersheds. The watersheds are a statewide resource, providing unfiltered drinking water to over 9 million people, and New York City alone has spent hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring land and protecting it. About 37 percent of the land overlying two of the watersheds is protected through land trusts and direct ownership, and the City has an agreement with the state and watershed towns, which gives it some negotiation power with the state.

Finally, the recent court ruling also means that the towns which contain the watersheds could also band together and ban fracking. While it is highly unlikely that it will come to that, the option is now available to towns if needed.

Is there a video I can watch that explains the issues with fracking?

Why, yes. Yes, there is.

For more, read our investigations on how fracking affects public health, causes ground water contamination and the difficulties in disposing the large amounts of waste generated from the process.

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Readout of the Chief of Staff’s Meetings in Berlin, Germany


In follow up to the telephone conversation between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel, the respective Chiefs of Staff, Denis McDonough (US) and Peter Altmaier (Germany), accompanied by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and Günter Heiss, Head of Directorate-General 6 (Federal Intelligence Service, Coordination of Federal Intelligence Services), Federal Chancellery, met on Tuesday in Berlin for intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation.

The full range of issues was addressed, including intelligence and security matters.

Mr. McDonough and Mr. Altmaier agreed to set up a Structured Dialogue to address concerns of both sides and establish guiding principles as the basis for continued and future cooperation. The Structured Dialogue will be overseen by the Chiefs of Staff.

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Apelación a la conciencia social


Por Joaquín Benita Mendieta

Un hombre en silla de ruedas. (GTRES)

Un hombre en silla de ruedas. (GTRES)

A los concejales de Tráfico, Movilidad y Seguridad Ciudadana de todos los ayuntamientos y a los encargados de los parkings de los centros comerciales les propongo una campaña de conciencia de personas con movilidad reducida.

De tal forma, lograremos un mayor respeto entre los conductores por los estacionamientos reservados para estas personas.

Mientras, para todos los conductores infractores, podríamos simplemente fijar en la parte inferior de la señalización propia de estos aparcamientos mensajes tipo: “¿De verdad quieres estar en mi lugar? Para ti puede ser solo cuestión de minutos, para mí, una barrera que franquear todos los días”. Es decir, mensajes que traten de concienciar al conductor e insistir en la empatía por los demás.

Es simplemente una apelación a la conciencia, a lograr un mayor respeto para todos sin importar la condición de cada uno.

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Martedì 22 Luglio 2014 – 287ª Seduta pubblica : Comunicato di seduta

Seduta Pomeridiana
Ora inizio: 16:00

L’Assemblea ha ripreso l’esame del ddl costituzionale n. 1429, e connessi, recante disposizioni per il superamento del bicameralismo paritario, il contenimento dei costi delle istituzioni, la soppressione del CNEL e la revisione del titolo V della Costituzione.

Prosegue l’illustrazione degli emendamenti riferiti all’ articolo 1, iniziata nella seduta pomeridiana di ieri. L’articolo 1 ridefinisce le funzioni del Senato che rappresenta le istituzioni territoriali, concorre alla funzione legislativa, esercita la funzione di raccordo tra l’Unione europea, lo Stato e gli altri enti della Repubblica, partecipa alla formazione degli atti normativi comunitari, valuta l’attività delle pubbliche amministrazioni, verifica l’attuazione delle leggi dello Stato, controlla le politiche pubbliche, concorre all’espressione di pareri su nomine governative.

Premesso che le riforme economico sociali dovrebbero avere priorità rispetto alle riforme istituzionali, la Lega Nord, che ha presentato un centinaio di emendamenti di merito, non vuole il deragliamento della revisione costituzionale, vuole invece interventi seri e ponderati. Auspica quindi il ricorso alla mediazione politica per superare la situazione di stallo.

Movimento 5 Stelle, che ha presentato duecento emendamenti privi di finalità ostruzionistiche, invita la maggioranza a fare insieme le riforme, previo referendum consultivo d’indirizzo. Il Senato disegnato dal ddl è ibrido e contraddittorio, occorre dunque chiarire le funzioni e il ruolo di rappresentanza del Senato. Il Partito Democratico, che si è strenuamente opposto alla riforma varata dal centrodestra nel 2005, non dovrebbe sottomettersi, per assecondare le ambizioni del premier, ad un progetto autoritario, scaturito da un patto scellerato con Berlusconi.

Il Gruppo Misto-LCI, che ha avanzato proposte in un’ottica costruttiva e non di ostruzione, invita il Governo ad abbandonare la logica del muro contro muro. Il potere legislativo, specie in materia elettorale, spetta al Parlamento: il Governo non può imporre paletti, peraltro irragionevoli, sulla non elettività del Senato e il mantenimento di 630 deputati.

La Conferenza dei Capigruppo ha confermato il calendario della settimana corrente. Per i lavori fino all’8 agosto, a maggioranza, ha ridefinito gli orari e ha confermato gli argomenti già previsti. Da lunedì 28 luglio tutte le sedute inizieranno alle 9,30 e si concluderanno alle ore 24, con una pausa dalle 12,30 alle 15. Le richieste di votazione a scrutinio segreto su emendamenti riferiti al ddl costituzionale dovranno pervenire entro le ore 20 di stasera, per consentire al Presidente una valutazione complessiva.

La sen. De Petris (Misto-SEL) ha proposto di inserire in calendario l’informativa del Governo sulla situazione in Medio Oriente.

Secondo il sen. Romani (FI-PdL) il calendario è irragionevole. Richiamando il lavoro egregio svolto dalla Commissione, il Capogruppo del PdL ha rivolto un appello a superare lo scontro duro e sterile tra maggioranza e opposizione e a individuare alcune modifiche.

Il sen. Zanda (PD) ha sottolineato che l’orario di lavoro è stato prolungato perché i Capigruppo non hanno accolto il suo invito a ridurre il numero degli emendamenti presentati.

Secondo il sen. Ferrara (GAL) la situazione di stallo dipende dall’arroganza del premier che non ha rispetto per il Senato e dà l’impressione di cercare un pretesto per andare alle urne.

Secondo il sen. Centinaio (LN-Aut) la maggioranza non ha avuto il coraggio di mettere la tagliola: ha chiesto di rinunciare a emendamenti, privi di finalità ostruzionistiche, senza che il Governo chiarisse priorità e fornisse risposte politiche. La maggioranza impone il calendario nella consapevolezza che non si potrà comunque arrivare alla votazione del provvedimento l’8 agosto.

Il sen. Petrocelli (M5S), preannunciando voto favorevole alla proposta del sen. Romani (FI-PdL) di mantenere invariato il calendario, ha affermato di essere disponibile a prolungare i lavori oltre l’8 agosto.

Secondo il sen. Sacconi (NCD) non approvare la riforma costituzionale prima della pausa estiva significa rinunciarvi, perché a settembre il Parlamento sarà impegnato in provvedimenti economici per affrontare la grave situazione economica.

I sen. Romano (PI) e Susta (SC) hanno preannunciato voto favorevole al calendario di maggioranza.

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