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Sergio Cesaratto — The Nature Of The Eurocrisis: A Reply To Febrero, Uxó And Bermejo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/05/2018 - 8:03am in

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Recently I commented on a paperThe Financial Crisis In The Eurozone: A Balance-Of-Payments Crisis With A Single Currency? by Eladio Febrero, Jorge Uxó and Fernando Bermejo, published in ROKE, Review Of Keynesian Economics. I hadn’t realised that Sergio Cesaratto has a reply (paywalled) in the same issue.

Sergio Cesaratto

Sergio Cesaratto. Picture credit: La Città Futura, Sergio Cesaratto

Abstract:

Febrero et al. (2018) criticise the balance-of-payments (BoP) view of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) crisis. I have no major objections to most of the single aspects of the crisis pointed out by these authors, except that they appear to underline specific sides of the EMU crisis, while missing a unifying and realistic explanation. Specific semi-automatic mechanisms differentiate a BoP crisis in a currency union from a traditional one. Unfortunately, these mechanisms give Febrero et al. the illusion that a BoP crisis in a currency union is impossible. My conclusion is that an interpretation of the eurozone’s troubles as a BoP crisis provides a more consistent framework. The debate has some relevance for the policy prescriptions to solve the eurocrisis. Given the costs that all sides would incur if the currency union were to break up, austerity policies are still seen by European politicians as a tolerable price to pay to keep foreign imbalances at bay – with the sweetener of some European Central Bank (ECB) support, for as long as Berlin allows the ECB to provide it.

Sergio carefully responds to all views of Febrero et al. and Marc Lavoie, Randall Wray and also Paul De Grauwe, pointing out that he agrees with most of their views except that their dismissal of this being a balance-of-payments crisis with their claims that the problem could have been addressed by the Eurosystem/ECB lending to governments without limits. He points out that, “The austerity measures that accompanied the ECB’s more proactive stance are clearly to police a moral hazard problem”. It is true that the ECB, the European Commission and the IMF overdid the austerity but it doesn’t mean that Sergio’s opponents’ claims are accurate.

How Identity Politics Has Divided the Left: An Interview With Asad Haider

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/05/2018 - 1:30am in

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Identity politics has something for everyone — but not in a good way. In her 2016 election campaign, Hillary Clinton invoked “intersectionality” and “white privilege” as a shallow gesture of allyship to young liberal voters. Richard Spencer and members of the “alt-right” refer to themselves as “identitarians” to mask that they are, in fact, white supremacists. And for some “woke” people, wearing a shirt that says “feminist” and calling out celebrities for being vaguely “problematic” is the extent of political participation.

What was once intended as a revolutionary strategy to take down interlocking oppressions has become a nebulous but charged buzzword co-opted across the political spectrum. A new book, “Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump,” undertakes a rigorous analysis of race politics and the history of race in the United States to grapple with the shifting relationship between personal identity and political action.

9781786637376-cbe373447986afdac5e0af4862629e5b-1527260222

Photo: Courtesy of Verso

In “Mistaken Identity,” Asad Haider argues that contemporary identity politics is a “neutralization of movements against racial oppression” rather than a progression of the grassroots struggle against racism. Haider, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, puts the work of radical black activists and scholars in conversation with his personal experiences with racism and political organizing. He charts out the process through which the revolutionary visions of the black freedom movement — which understood racism and capitalism as two sides of the same coin — have been largely replaced with a narrow and limited understanding of identity.

Identity, he argues, has become abstracted from our material relationships with the state and society, which make it consequential to our lives. So when identity serves as the basis for one’s political beliefs, it manifests in division and moralizing attitudes, instead of facilitating solidarity.

“The framework of identity reduces politics to who you are as an individual and gaining recognition as an individual, rather than your membership in a collectivity and the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure,” Haider writes. “As a result, identity politics paradoxically ends up reinforcing the very norms it set out to criticize.”

The concept of identity politics was originally coined in 1977 by the Combahee River Collective, a group of black lesbian socialist feminists who recognized the need for their own autonomous politics as they confronted racism in the women’s movement, sexism in the black liberation movement, and class reductionism. Centering how economic, gender, and racial oppression materialized simultaneously in their lives was the key to their emancipatory politics. But their political work didn’t end there. The women of Combahee advocated for building coalitions in solidarity with other progressive groups in order to eradicate all oppression, while foregrounding their own.

By grounding his critique in specific histories and material relations, Haider takes a multi-pronged approach to exploring just how sharply identity politics has veered from its radical roots.

Through his involvement in organizing against tuition hikes and privatization, Haider describes the missteps of movements that falsely separate economic and racial issues into identity-based “white” issues and “POC” issues. His examination of “white privilege” reflects on the development of the white race, codified in 1600s colonial Virginia by the ruling class to justify economic exploitation of Africans as slaves and preclude alliances between African and European laborers following Bacon’s Rebellion.

In his chapter on “passing,” Haider attempts to understand the case of Rachel Dolezal as an example of “the consequences of reducing politics to identity performances.” He examines the work of novelist Philip Roth, as well as the political transformation of poet Amiri Baraka, who embraced black nationalism in the 1970s and later renounced it for Marxist universalism. Finally, Haider explains how Donald Trump’s election was foreshadowed through the rise of neoliberalism in electoral politics decades before. Through the work of British cultural theorist Stuart Hall, he draws careful comparisons to how the U.K.’s Labour Party managed economic crisis and moral panic in the 1970s, which paved the way for Margaret Thatcher to take power.

Haider’s short book concludes with the paradox of rights as the end goal of mass movements. Instead, he calls for a reclaiming of an “insurgent universalism,” in which oppressed groups position themselves as political actors rather than passive victims. At turns fascinating and provocative, “Mistaken Identity” steps back from Twitter fights and think pieces to contextualize debates on identity politics and reconfigure how race informs leftist movements. The Intercept’s interview with Haider has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Can you walk through how identity politics shifted from a revolutionary political practice to an individualist liberal ideology?

1977 was a historical turning point. First of all, it was a crisis for mass movements, which can be traced back to the civil rights movement — the New Left of the 1960s and black nationalism that came after that. These mass mobilizations and organizations ran up against their own strategic limits, they were confronted with state repression, and so their dynamism was declining. At the same time, there was what Stuart Hall called a “crisis of hegemony,” in which the coordinates of American politics were being totally rearranged — and the same process was happening in Europe — in which the economic crises of the 1970s had led to a total reorganization of the workplace, trade unions were on the defensive, and mass movements were decomposing. And so part of what happened in this period is that the language of identity and fighting against racism got individualized and attached to the individual advancement of a rising black political class and economic elites who were once excluded from the center of American society by racism, but now had a passageway to entry.

I think in the current moment, we lack a political language that can shift from division to solidarity, and that’s something that was a major question for the anti-racist movements from the ’50s to the ’70s, and that’s what the Combahee River Collective was writing about. We don’t have a language about collective struggles that take on issues of racism and can incorporate cross-racial movements. So I think part of the reason that this individualistic kind of identity politics comes up so much on the left among activists who really do want to build movements that challenge the social structure is because we’ve lost that language that came with mass movements, which could allow us to think of the ways to build that solidarity.

You write that “the ideology of race is produced by racism, not the other way around.” What does this mean?

In this book, I don’t talk about “race” in general because we could think about many different historical contexts in which divisions are introduced between groups, which become hierarchical, and some of them may be related to color of skin. But there are examples of that type of group differentiation that isn’t related to color of skin, like the case of the Irish and English colonialism in Ireland in the 13th century, which I refer to in the book. You could look at different examples of plantation slavery in the Caribbean, and you’d have to explain [race] differently because there were not only African slaves, but also “coolies” from India and China.

I talk about a very specific history of race that emerged from forced labor in colonial Virginia in the 17th century. … My argument is that the first racial category that gets produced is that of the white race, in order to exclude African forced laborers from the category that European forced laborers were placed in, which was one in which there was an end of their term of servitude, [as opposed to] the category of slaves, who had no end to their term. The white race was invented, as Theodore Allen said, in the way that the laws changed regarding forced labor, and that’s the beginning of the division of people into racial categories in U.S. history. What racism did in this case was it differentiated between different kinds of economic exploitation and ultimately became a form of social control, which divided the exploited through introducing hierarchies and privileges for some people, which prevented them from seeing a common interest [between European and African migrant forced laborers] and a common antagonism against those who were exploiting them.

Your personal encounters with racism and observations of campus activism are woven throughout the book. How have your own identity and experiences informed your understanding of race?

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Asad Haider, co-founding editor of Viewpoint Magazine and the author of “Mistaken Identity.”

Photo: Courtesy of Asad Haider

I always refer to a quote from Stuart Hall, who said that identity is not about returning to your roots, but about coming to terms with your routes. So in that sense, identity is not your essence or what’s inside you or at the foundation of you, but it’s about all the movement that has led to putting you where you are. I can trace my own identity back to my ancestors migrating from Iran to India, and then after the Partition, from India to Pakistan, and from there, my parents to rural Pennsylvania. That’s a story of movement across the globe and at every step, a mixing and mingling that transformed what was moving. My awareness of that has always made me skeptical of making the leap from identity to a particular kind of politics because identity can’t be reduced to one fixed thing, and when you have a politics which does that, it’s a disservice to people and to all of our histories of mixing and traveling and dynamism.

Regarding campus activism, my experience was as a person of color who was radicalized largely by learning about the Black Power movement and Marxism through the Black Power movement. So I never imagined that people would see an incompatibility between them, especially because Marxism was the powerful force that it was in the 20th century, as it was taken up and adapted in the non-Western world. That’s something that’s forgotten or suppressed today. So as a person of color getting involved in social movements, I was getting really dismayed that often, race became the source of division and fragmentation and defeat, instead of being part of a general emancipatory program. It was that frustration that led me to thinking about and writing about what went into this book.

The left is often accused of being “too white” or “too male.” How can the left begin to address internal racial dynamics?

If you have an organization or a movement that is dominated by white men, that is a political and strategic problem. If you treat it as a moral problem, you’re not going to be able to solve it. I think the important thing is to actually be able to change the situation. Anyone who has participated in activism knows that in a meeting, someone may be called out or told to “check their privilege.” There’s an interesting article that came out of the feminist movement by Jo Freeman called “Trashing” — the contemporary equivalent of “trashing” is “calling out.” The funny thing about calling out is that it doesn’t work because it centers all the attention on the white man who engaged in whatever transgression is being morally condemned. It also creates an atmosphere of tension and paranoia so that even people who aren’t white men may feel nervous about speaking because they might say the wrong thing — and get trashed. So it’s a question that people who are involved in organizing have to take seriously, that white men have to take seriously.

There was a principle that the black communist Harry Haywood said was fundamental in organizing during the anti-racist struggles of the 1930s. He said that everybody has to come to terms with their own national position. So white comrades have to oppose white chauvinism, and they have to take a leading role in opposing it. And he said black comrades have to take the leading role in opposing reactionary nationalism, which at the time was Garveyism and the like. He said that with this division of labor, which was part of actual mass movements, you could start to overcome these problems. But then he said later on, when the party dropped their actual campaigns against racism, they started policing each other’s language, and that division of labor was gone, and the problem didn’t get addressed. So that’s something that still holds. White men in movements have to take the lead in trying to overcome those hierarchies that manifest themselves in social interactions, but also people of color have to step up and say, “We don’t accept this division between racial and economic issues, between race and class, and if someone is coming in and trying to say that these issues are all ‘white’ or this is a ‘white movement,’ that’s not true because we’re here and we’re playing a role, and we believe these issues are connected and we can work on them together.”

Can you talk about the ideas behind black nationalism in the 1970s and its limitations? How has black nationalism endured in contemporary U.S. politics?

After 1965, after the civil rights movement had achieved major policy changes, it was unclear where the movement should be headed. Even leading figures in the civil rights movement were thinking that now that legal segregation had been formally undermined, they still had to deal with the fact that most black people were in poverty and that there were de facto structures of exclusion. Martin Luther King, for example, started to get interested in the Poor People’s Campaign, which is what he was working on at the end of his life. But another approach at this point was what some people called “riots” and what others called “urban rebellions” in the northern cities, revolting against the economic control of landlords and white businessmen and so on. In the northern, urban context, black nationalism as a political program was about building alternative institutions, rather than asking for integration into white society.

So there were two things happening. One was black nationalists building parallel institutions, and the other was the overcoming of legal segregation and the rise of a new black political class and economic elites, which had always existed to some extent, but the scale completely changed. And so black nationalist organizations were behind many of the campaigns to have a black mayor in a majority black city. In the case of Amiri Baraka, it was Kenneth Gibson. Part of the reason Baraka turned from black nationalism toward Marxism was the realization that once Gibson was in charge of Newark, politics as usual continued. I think black nationalism had a revolutionary role in its period — it was a very important strategic and political development — but throughout the ’70s, with the ascendance of the black political class and black economic elites, it ran into a contradiction.

Black nationalism became tied to black political and economic elites because it had an ideology of racial unity, and when people were completely excluded from governance and control over their own lives, it made sense for there to be a kind of alliance between these more elite figures and the lower economic strata because they were both confronting racial structures of exclusion. But as the process of incorporation of black elites into the existing political and economic structures continued, those interests were no longer aligned, especially in the 1970s, as politicians at every level were starting to impose austerity on their populations, cutting social programs and so on. It became the black politicians who were doing that, and so the contradictions between the black elite and the majority of black people in cities became very clear. And so what I think persists now is that division between the elites and ordinary working people, and a residual ideology of racial unity that is often used to cover up that class division. That was very much the case with Barack Obama.

How can identity politics be brought back to its radical origins within contemporary political discourse and organizing?

I think we have to be open to understanding that our identities are not foundations for anything; they are unstable, they are multifarious — and that can be unsettling. But we have to find ways to become comfortable with that, and part of how we can do that is by creating new ways of relating to each other, which can come through mass movements. The way we can overcome the fragmentation that identity seems to lead to now is precisely by recognizing what the Combahee River Collective proposed: being able to assert a political autonomy and also being in coalitions. I think that’s very practical. It’s not going to come from having endless arguments on Twitter; it’s something that has to come through political activity. It’s through working on concrete, practical projects in coalition with others. That in itself is a process in which racism is undermined, and white people who are working together with people of color can learn to question their own assumptions and overcome racist impulses.

I’m very inspired by the rapid growth of socialist organizations right now, but I am concerned sometimes that socialism gets equated with some kind of program for economic redistribution that has been the same since the 19th century. Socialists have always been engaged in coalition-building — there was always a principle of internationalism, there was never a fixed conception of the kinds of demands a socialist movement has to put forward. Sometimes a demand that may not seem to be directly related to the redistribution of wealth can be part of coalition-building and mobilizing people. If a socialist organization is at the forefront of a movement against racism — and this was the goal of certain black members of the Community Party in the ’30s — then people are going to look around and say, “Who’s on our side? It’s these people. When we were dealing with police violence, these were the people, this was the organization that stepped in to help. And this is an organization that is multiracial, and they think that these issues we encounter in our daily lives matter, just as much as any other economic demand might matter.” So socialist organizations also have to be open to experimentation and flexibility in order to pre-empt identity as a source of division and instead, pre-emptively build solidarity.

Can you explain your vision of a universalist political framework?

We have to set aside the kind of universalism that resolves divisions and difficulties in advance by saying that we have some kind of universal foundation, like human nature or materialism like it’s some physical matter, which has nothing to do with materialism as Marx talked about it. That’s not the universalism I’m advocating for because that kind of universalism has historically been caught up with exclusion and domination — like what was put forth by the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, which were systematic with slavery, colonialism, and various forms of violence. … My understanding of universalism is when the people and groups that are excluded from this [definition of] universal rise up and claim their autonomy to produce a new kind of universality. It’s not something that pre-exists; it’s a break with the existing state of things. The classic example is the Haitian Revolution, which came after the French Revolution, which pointed out that France still held colonies in which there was slavery, despite whatever was happening there.

We’d be able to see a new universalism if these rigid divisions between so-called identity categories like race and gender and the category of class were overcome in a real, practical movement. If we were able to see organizations emerge and make real, concrete change in which they bridge those gaps — in which it would become impossible to say that “this is a white organization” or “this is a male-dominated organization” — it would necessarily involve challenging economic inequality and the class structures of American society. For a movement to arise, which tackled the fundamental structures of inequality, domination, and exploitation in American society in such a way that identity as a force of division could not exist — that would be a real universal moment.

Top photo: Isaiah Moore, right, argues with counterdemonstrators about race relations during a rally in Coolidge Park on Aug. 17, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The post How Identity Politics Has Divided the Left: An Interview With Asad Haider appeared first on The Intercept.

M Metin Basbay On Free Trade And All That

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/05/2018 - 12:40am in

M Metin Basbay On Free Trade And All That

In his article, Is A Potential Trade War An Opportunity For Developing Countries?, in TRT World, M Metin Basbay argues how the rules of the international trade, i.e., free trade favours the developed world and that the rising trade war gives developing countries a chance to “better maneuver their political agendas”.

He quotes Ha-Joon Chang to make his point:

In a globalised world, newly emerging (infant) industries have to compete with century-old industrial giants, and more often than not, are crushed before they can even develop the capacity in terms of human capital and know-how for high technology sectors – and reduce the per-item cost associated with large scale initial investments.

Cambridge Economist Ha-Joon Chang argued that the infant industries hypothesis is still relevant in the modern context. In his influential book Kicking Away the Ladder, he argued that developed nations force liberalised trade and globalisation upon less developed nations so that they can enjoy both the cheap labour force and the larger market of developing countries. By doing so, they deprive these nations of political instruments like trade protections which they themselves had the luxury of using while in their own infant-state era.

Existing home sales, Durable goods, China debt, State index

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 11:31pm in

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More weakness:

Highlights

Yesterday’s new home sales report showed less strength than expected while today’s existing home sales results are outright disappointing. Sales fell 2.5 percent in April to an annualized rate of 5.460 million which falls below Econoday’s low estimate.

The decline in sales came despite a sizable increase in supply on the market, at 1.800 million for a monthly gain of 9.8 percent though the year-on-year rate remains squarely in the negative column at minus 6.3 percent. On a sales basis, supply rose to 4.0 months from 3.5 months.

The median price for a resale rose 3.2 percent in the month to $257,900 which no doubt held down the month’s sales. But the year-on-year rate for the median, in contrast to FHFA or Case-Shiller data which are near 7 percent, is a more moderate 5.3 percent.

All regions were weak in the month especially the Northeast where sales fell 4.4 percent. And only one region, the South, is in the year-on-year plus column and at only 2.2 percent.

Housing got off to a slow start this year and the first indications on the second quarter are not pointing to any acceleration. Housing, like consumer spending, has been unexpectedly flat.

Been near flat for going on three years now:


Ex aircraft better than expected, apparently due to the tariffs. The chart shows modest growth and levels that have not yet exceeded 2008 in real terms:

Highlights

Tariff-related price inflation may be driving up dollar totals in the factory sector which, based on the April advance durable goods report, has gotten off to a very strong start for the second quarter. Forget the 1.7 percent headline decline in the month, one due entirely to an understandable swing lower for what have been very strong aircraft orders. Excluding aircraft and other transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose 0.9 percent to beat Econoday’s consensus by 3 tenths.

Orders for primary metals, where tariffs on steel and aluminum are in effect, jumped 1.3 percent in April on top of March’s giant 4.6 percent surge when tariffs first took effect. Orders for fabricated metals, also affected by tariffs, rose 2.0 percent following March’s 1.2 percent gain. These two components make up more than 20 percent of total durable orders.

Elsewhere, capital goods put in a very strong April showing in what is very auspicious news for second-quarter business investment. Core orders, which exclude aircraft, rose 1.0 percent with core shipments, which are direct inputs into fixed nonresidential investment, up 0.8 percent.

Civilian aircraft orders fell by 36.2 percent but follow March’s 71.7 percent climb. And defense aircraft helped narrow the difference, rising 7.5 percent in the month. Vehicle orders also opened up the second-quarter on a strong note with a 1.8 percent gain.

The factory sector, as has been indicated by the regional reports, is picking up steam and, showing no immediate negatives and possibly positives from tariffs, looks to be an increasing contributor to the 2018 economy. Other details include a third straight strong rise in unfilled orders, up 0.5 percent in April, and a useful 0.3 percent build for inventories.

These numbers are not adjusted for inflation:

China debt crackdown leaves regional institutions short of cash

(Nikkei) China is cutting off funds to financial companies and banks tied to regional governments in a crackdown on risky debt. China’s massive state-owned banks are largely responsible for keeping the interbank market flush. Chinese regional governments that have hit limits on debt issuance have traditionally founded quasi-private companies to handle infrastructure and public works, borrowing as needed. From the beginning of 2018 through last week, financial institutions and companies sold just under 460 billion yuan in securitized products, a drop of 10% from a year earlier.

This chart has been revised by the Fed and now looks very different:

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The post Existing home sales, Durable goods, China debt, State index appeared first on The Center of the Universe.

How Two House Democrats Defended Helping the GOP Weaken Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 11:23pm in

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Legislators from both parties came together this week to put the finishing touches on a sweeping measure to weaken bank regulations put in place to respond to the 2008 financial crisis.

In a shock to some observers, 33 House Democrats and 17 Senate Democrats ultimately joined with nearly every Republican to send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk. Only one GOP legislator, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., voted against it. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., a co-author of the bill, stood next to Trump at the signing ceremony on Thursday.

The repeal bill was a major priority for industry. As The Intercept has reported, the bill loosens an array of regulations, including reporting requirements used to counter racial discrimination in lending practices. The bill also crucially shrank the amount of capital reserve banks must maintain and raised the threshold at which banks are required to comply with heightened risk-management regulations — all of it with the consequence of introducing more risk into the system.

Though touted as a bill narrowly tailored to benefit small and community banks, it also includes a provision that could allow banks, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan, to add more debt-fueled risk to their balance sheet, a change advocated by Citigroup’s lobbyists.

The House Democrats who backed the bill are broadly a coalition of New Democrats and Blue Dogs, who are self-consciously pro-business, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been the target of focused lobbying campaigns by Wall Street.

The Intercept spoke to two of the New Democrats who voted in support of the bill, one of which previously worked at Goldman Sachs, while the other made his fortune launching two commercial lending start-ups.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., one of the Democrats to vote for the repeal bill, said the measure was “entirely about community banks.”

Asked about large regional banks, such as SunTrust Bank, that stand to directly benefit from the bill, Delaney shrugged off the issue. “Yeah,” he said, “but they’re much more like community banks.”

Delaney is not running for re-election to the House, but said he instead plans to run for president. He is one of the only former chief executives of a publicly traded corporation to serve in Congress. He founded two commercial banks, one of which, CapitalSource, was later acquired by PacWest Bancorp, a bank with over $24 billion in assets.

The suggestion that SunTrust is akin to a community bank might strike some as odd. SunTrust currently holds $201.6 billion in assets, making it roughly the same size as Countrywide, the failed subprime lender that originated 1 out of every 5 mortgages in the country at its peak, helping to trigger the global financial crisis.

The banking lobby, Delaney continued, had no influence over his vote. “I didn’t have anyone come and see me,” he said. The Maryland representative said the bill contained consumer protections targeted for veterans, and that Barney Frank, one of the original drafters of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, had supported the repeal bill. (Frank has praised aspects of the repeal bill, but has said if he were in Congress, he would have voted against the measure.)

Questioned about Frank’s new role as board member to Signature Bank, Delaney did not respond.

“I think when people misrepresent what things are, it makes it really hard for our democracy to work. I gotta go,” Delaney said.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., another supporter of the repeal effort, stood by his vote, though he argued that the bill wasn’t ideal. In particular, he thought the bill was too generous in expanding the threshold for enhanced regulatory scrutiny to $250 billion.

“If I were writing the bill, I wouldn’t have gone to $250 billion; I might have sort of landed at $100 to $150 billion. But, you know, on balance, this bill wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the bill I would have written, but we don’t get to vote on perfect bills,” said Himes.

Himes, whose district in Connecticut is home to a sizable population of financial industry types, did concede that the banking lobby had pushed the bill, but said his vote was based on a consideration of all sides of the issue. “Obviously the lobbyists weigh in,” said Himes.

Himes is a former Goldman Sachs banker, and many of the supporters of the repeal bill have received significant financial support from the banking lobby. Himes bristled at the suggestion that the banks had significant influence over the vote, and when his former career in the industry was brought up, said it made no difference. “If you oppose a bill, you say this is a Wall Street bill. But this is not a Wall Street bill. This was a bill about providing relief to small- and medium-sized community banks. No, but they are not big Wall Street banks,” Himes argued.

The banking lobby mobilized scores of lobbyists to influence the vote. As we’ve reported, bankers mobilized public support for the bill through targeted advertising, letter writing, and a concentrated lobby effort designed to sway moderate Democrats.

In one unusual twist, the American Bankers Association decided to use a 501(c)(4) nonprofit to air a campaign-style television advertisement in support of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the leading sponsors of the repeal measure, who is facing a tough re-election this year. The decision to use such a nonprofit to air the ad conceals the source of the funding, a strategy commonly referred to as “dark money.”

Both Delaney and Himes are members of the New Dem caucus, a group of business-centric Democrats. Of the 33 House Democrats voting in support of the repeal bill, 27 are members of the New Dems. Himes is the chair of the group. The New Dem PAC, which has worked to recruit more moderate Democrats as candidates for Congress this year, receives significant funding from the banking industry.

Other Democrats who spoke to The Intercept expressed concern that Congress was moving to give the financial industry another policy victory, just 10 years after the crisis that sparked the Great Recession.

“The truth is the American people are sick and tired of government working for somebody other than them,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., an avowed opponent of the repeal bill. “We’re rolling back rules under the guise of helping community banks and small banks. But you can fix that with a scalpel, you don’t need to take a sledgehammer to the Dodd-Frank regulation overall. I think, again, I think they tried to hide behind this community bank thing. This is couching small banks in order to give big banks relief from these necessary regulations,” she added.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was “very proud of our vote against this” when The Intercept asked about the repeal bill. In regards to the 33 House Democrats who voted for it, she said, “They have an issue about community banks, that we share their concern about, but, overwhelmingly, we voted against it.”

Trump, at the bill-signing ceremony, gloated about receiving support from the Democratic Party, a voting bloc that made passage possible in the Senate. “Dodd-Frank was something they said could not be touched and, honestly, a lot of great Democrats knew that it had to be done,” he said.

Top photo: President Donald Trump signs into law S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, during a ceremony in the White House on May 24, 2018.

The post How Two House Democrats Defended Helping the GOP Weaken Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations appeared first on The Intercept.

In Uganda, Groups Offering Contraception and Family Planning Have Lost Millions in U.S. Aid Thanks to Trump’s Global Gag Rule

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 10:00pm in

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A handful of women clad in brightly colored dresses sat just out of the reach of the sun, focusing their attention on Felicity Lanyero and her presentation on family planning methods. Another woman, often with a baby in tow, joined every few minutes and found a seat among the group. The gathering took place in the yard of Parabongo Health Center, a basic facility down a dirt path in rural northern Uganda.

“What is family planning?” an older woman among the group asked aloud.

“Family planning is about spacing children. You find someone with five children. She is already busy, and then she becomes pregnant. That’s difficult,” Lanyero answered in Acholi, the local language. The older woman clasped her hands and nodded in agreement.

“As for me, I have two children and they are well-spaced. If I walk on the street shaking my butt, what man can resist me?” Lanyero posed, her lecture veering into stand-up to keep the mood light and engaging. She shimmied in front of the women, which sparked a round of laughter. Lanyero continued: “This is 2018. The world is changing. You need to see your children grow older.” In other words, when women become pregnant less often, they are less likely to die in childbirth. Maternal mortality in Uganda is high — 343 women for every 100,000 births in 2015 — and it’s not uncommon for women to have given birth to 10 children.

“You are telling the truth. I’m always telling my sisters about this,” piped in 22-year-old Brenda Akwero from the center of the group.

Felicity Lanyero, a Marie Stopes health worker gives a speech on family planning methods on March 26, 2018 in Parabongo, Uganda.

Felicity Lanyero, a Marie Stopes health worker, gives a speech on family planning methods.

Lanyero’s presentation was, in all likelihood, the most comprehensive information these women had ever received about contraception and reproductive health. She was visiting Parabongo Health Center for the day as part of an outreach team from the Ugandan branch of London-based Marie Stopes International, a reproductive health organization.

Marie Stopes International Uganda does not provide abortions, but the entire organization has lost funding by refusing to agree to the Global Gag Rule’s stipulations.

After her presentation, Lanyero, a midwife, met with each woman individually to discuss which family planning method was right for them. Akwero, already a mother, decided that she wanted an intrauterine device, or IUD, which other Marie Stopes staff would give her inside one of the clinic’s private rooms. This was Akwero’s second visit to a Marie Stopes outreach team mobile clinic. She came because friends had told her that “Marie Stopes provides a lot of information.” Akwero was also tested for HIV and ovarian cancer before she got the IUD, as is protocol. “Now, I will wait to have another child until my baby is grown,” she told me. Akwero knew she was fortunate to have access to free contraception thanks to the Marie Stopes team. Yet that access was at risk due to the politics of a country far away.

Marie Stopes International’s work around the globe is being stretched thin due to a dramatic loss of funding from the United States government — the result of the Trump administration reinstating an executive order known as the global gag rule, or GGR, also sometimes called the “Mexico City Policy.”

The GGR prohibits U.S. aid money from going to international organizations that either provide abortions, suggest abortions as a family planning method, or lobby to make abortion legal in foreign countries, even when they do so with non-U.S. funds.

Marie Stopes International Uganda does not provide abortions, as the procedure is illegal in almost all circumstances in the country, but the entire organization has lost funding by refusing to agree to the GGR’s stipulations. The U.S. had been giving Marie Stopes International Uganda around $6.5 million per year at the time the GGR was enacted. As a direct result of the rule, five of Marie Stopes’s 35 outreach teams, like the one that visited Parabongo, have had to stop operations, meaning the teams are no longer able to access some more remote areas. The British government has filled in some of the gaps that the U.S. left behind in Uganda, but not to the same level of funding. Reproductive Health Uganda, the country’s other prominent reproductive health organization, has lost the $500,000 it received annually from the U.S. due to the GGR, which went, in particular, toward its programming that focused on educating communities about sexual health practices.

Marie Stopes health workers unload family planning supplies on March 26, 2018 in Parabongo, Uganda.

Marie Stopes health workers unload family planning supplies in Parabongo.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

Ronald Reagan was the first U.S. president to enact the GGR, and every Republican administration has done so since, while every Democratic president has done away with it. President Donald Trump’s iteration of the GGR, announced in the early days of his presidency, goes farther than those of his Republican predecessors, because it applies to all global health assistance, not just funds pegged specifically to reproductive health and family planning. His administration has called the executive order “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” and around $9 billion of U.S. aid now has to meet its stipulations.

Trump’s iteration of the so-called global gag rule goes farther than those of his Republican predecessors, affecting around $9 billion in U.S. aid.

The ramifications of the order are still being played out as funding cycles come to fruition and sexual health programs are canceled around the globe. Marie Stopes International headquarters announced that it has lost $80 million as a result of the GGR. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, a London-based organization that funds sexual and reproductive health around the globe, often in countries where abortion is illegal, estimates that it will lose around $100 million. The Trump administration has issued a domestic version of the gag rule as well, which would bar federal family planning funds from going to organizations that provide abortions or refer women to places that offer them.

Where the order hits the hardest is in countries like Uganda, where comprehensive health care, particularly when it comes to sexual health, is largely provided by charity organizations, not the government. For example, Marie Stopes International Uganda and Reproductive Health Uganda are the country’s two largest distributors of contraceptives.

A 2011 Stanford University study found that abortion rates more than doubled in the African countries that were most impacted by funding cuts when the GGR was reinstated under the George W. Bush administration. The vast majority of these abortions are performed secretly at home, or by unskilled local medical practitioners. Already in Uganda, 14 percent of pregnancies end in induced abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and advocacy organization for global reproductive rights. A recent State Department six-month review of the GGR focused almost entirely on how to better implement the executive order. It did not mention that, by limiting women’s access to contraception, the GGR could increase the prevalence of abortions around the world,.

“We are concerned about the effect GGR will have in terms of us not being able to deliver services,” said Alhassan Bah, managing director of Marie Stopes International Uganda, when we met for an interview in Kampala. “And the increase in the number of unintended pregnancies and maternal death that will occur because we are not there, or the effect that it will have on a rural woman, or that young girl who will not be able to go to secondary school or university because someone wasn’t there to provide them services that would allow them to make their own life better.”

Grace Lakot, who used to receive family planning instruction from Marie Stopes, on March 27, 2018 in Karuma, Uganda.

Grace Lakot, who used to receive family planning instruction from Marie Stopes, in Karuma, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

Grace Lakot first visited a Marie Stopes mobile clinic in 2015, when they set up in her home city, Karuma, in northern Uganda. “I needed a break from giving birth,” she said. The 35-year-old already had four children. The first was born out of rape. When Lakot was 15, she was abducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal militia that had laid waste to Uganda’s lush, yet impoverished, northern region in the 1990s and early 2000s. By age 18, Lakot was a mother in captivity. We spoke in her small thatched-roof home made of mud brick. Translucent sheets separated living and sleeping spaces, and photos of Lakot’s children were attached to the walls in every spare space. “I’m unlucky. I didn’t study,” she said of her life. She sells water for a living.

Like the women at Parabongo, Lakot was impressed with the amount of information she received from Marie Stopes. It made her feel comfortable, even though using birth control is still quite stigmatized within her community. Fewer than half of the sexually active women in Uganda — and only 26 percent of married women — use modern contraception, according to 2013 statistics from the Guttmacher Institute. (In the U.S., around 62 percent of women of reproductive age use contraception.) Myths that contraception causes cancer or infertility contribute to Uganda’s low rates, as do problems around accessibility.

The home of Grace Lakot, who used to receive family planning instruction from Marie Stopes, on March 27, 2018 in Karuma, Uganda.

Family portraits in the home of Grace Lakot in Karuma, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

Lakot received an implant the last time she went to a Marie Stopes mobile clinic in late 2017, though it brought undesired side effects. She no longer has a period and that worries her, but Marie Stopes outreach teams no longer come to Karuma due to the funding cuts. Lakot doesn’t know where else she can turn for her medical concerns. “Is there any medicine to take to bring back my period?” she asked us, two American journalists. Lakot toyed with the rosary that hung around her neck with downcast eyes. She chewed on its cross. Lakot’s partner doesn’t know she has the implant, and he would “definitely not understand” if he found out, she warned.

Unsure about the implant itself, Lakot still doesn’t want more children. “If they could remove the tubes, I would be happy,” she said.

Tracy Atim, a sex worker who says family planning is important on March 27, 2018 in Karuma, Uganda.

Tracy Atim, a sex worker who says family planning is important, in Karuma, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

A ten-minute walk from Lakot’s home lives Tracy Atim, in an old concrete colonial-style structure that may have once been a hotel, but now is home to nearly a dozen young female sex workers.

Atim, a slight 21-year-old with fuchsia hair, brought plastic chairs from the courtyard into her small square room to sit down for an interview. “Family planning is very important to me because I am already a mother,” she said. “I only want to have one more child, and I only want to have another child when there is a man in my life.”

Atim had dropped out of high school when she became pregnant, which happens quite frequently in Uganda. Her father is blind, and her 5-year-old child lives with him in nearby Lira and “guides him around.”

Atim had obtained contraception from a Marie Stopes outreach team in Lira before she left home, and once again when the team visited Karuma in 2017. She is on the Depo-Provera injection. Now that Marie Stopes does not come to Karuma, Atim said she will have to travel an hour to a larger hospital when she is due for a shot after a few weeks. It’s more likely that a hospital will have the injection than a small local clinic, where she may wait all day to learn that no contraception is available. Or she will have to go to a private clinic, where she says the injection costs around 40 U.S. cents. Atim pays $3.50 a day for rent, so that’s no small price. She is trying to save her money to get out of this place. “My hope and prayer is that I will get money and be able to start my own business,” she said. “I want to manage a restaurant.”

Women wait outside a local clinic to get family planning methods on March 26, 2018 in Parabongo, Uganda.

Women wait outside a local clinic to discuss family planning methods on March 26, 2018, in Parabongo, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

I stopped by Parabongo Health Center a few days after Marie Stopes’s outreach team had visited. Outside the clinic, a line of adults waited on a long wooden bench. One nurse saw patients. If someone wanted contraception, the clinic only had the Depo-Provera injection to provide. “Any other, I just don’t understand about it. We just wait for Marie Stopes to come,” said the nurse, Peace Sanyu, of the different types of birth control methods. Sanyu said around one woman a day asks about family planning.

At another village health center, in the town of Bobi — a blip on the road between northern Uganda’s biggest city, Gulu, and the capital, Kampala — a nurse from Marie Stopes used to help regular staff at the maternity ward. That nurse stopped working in December 2017, because Marie Stopes needed to pull back its programming in the wake of GGR funding cuts. A midwife at the Bobi health center, Filder Akello, said the Marie Stopes nurse had been a welcome addition to their team. For example, he was useful when only one other midwife was working, as sometimes happened. “If the midwife is stuck in the labor suite, those who come for family planning will have to wait,” Akello explained.

Akello herself had received specialized training from Marie Stopes. (In Uganda, midwives are often overworked, and also poorly trained when they come out of public training centers or smaller fly-by-night for-profit schools.) Marie Stopes also had provided supplies to the clinic, and without the organization’s support, the clinic hadn’t been able to test for sexually transmitted infections due to government stock-outs.

Filder Akello, a nurse midwife, enters another health facility on March 27, 2018 in Bobi, Uganda.

Filder Akello, a nurse midwife, enters a health facility in Bobi, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

Another local organization that had provided training for midwives, called the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, or CEHURD, had to stop its training because the program was funded by the U.S. government, and CEHURD did not agree to the GGR’s stipulations. “We were doing advocacy to increase human resources for health, especially with regard to midwives knowing that they play a critical role in fighting maternal mortality,” said Joy Asasira, program manager of research documentation and advocacy at CEHURD, when we met for an interview in Kampala. CEHURD lost around $100,000 in funding as a result of the GGR, a big cut for a smaller, local organization.

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the best health services are provided by charity organizations or the United Nations, which makes their populations extremely susceptible to massive funding cuts that can come when a foreign government changes its priorities. The GGR is a prime example. Asasira felt that the Ugandan government’s reliance on nonprofit organizations to fill its massive gaps in public services needed to be remedied.

“The global gag rule happened, fine, it happened. But is the Ugandan government doing enough to provide health care for its citizens, in particular family planning?” she asked. “Our government can’t say President Trump ruined everything — ‘Look, see the global gag rule happened and we can’t provide contraceptives.’ We are trying to shake up our government and say there is social contract.”

Brenda gets follow up paperwork after receiving her IUD on March 26, 2018 in Parabongo, Uganda.

Brenda gets follow-up paperwork after receiving her IUD on March 26, 2018, in Parabongo, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

CEHURD’s advocacy and lobbying efforts have been a thorn in the side of the Ugandan government — for example, the organization sued over Uganda’s ban on comprehensive sexual education in schools in 2017. It also lobbies for less restrictive abortion laws.

It’s an uphill battle. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, Uganda’s government is influenced heavily by evangelical and conservative voices from the United States. Christian churches in Uganda — both Catholic and even Protestant in some cases — teach against using modern contraception. “In the born-again fraternity, people are not comfortable with the use of condoms,” said Patrick Okecha, the overseer of the Born Again Faith Federation for Acholi Sub-Region in northern Uganda, a conglomeration of pentecostal churches. “If you are using condoms, that means you are trying to protect yourself for HIV. So if you are married, why do you need to use condoms?”

“We expect that Trump’s global gag rule will stymie maternal health and family planning progress around the world.”

Despite these odds, more women in Uganda had been using contraceptives in recent years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, between 2003 and 2013, the percentage of married women in Uganda using modern contraception increased from 14 to 26 percent. (Although, the percentage of sexually active, unmarried women who use modern contraception didn’t change over the decade, remaining at 38 percent. These percentages declined sharply when it came to poorer women in rural areas.) Meanwhile, maternal mortality in Uganda has improved dramatically since the early 2000s.

Those who work in reproductive health worry that those statistics might regress while Trump’s GGR is in effect.

“We expect that Trump’s Global Gag Rule will stymie maternal health and family planning progress around the world,” said Serra Sippel, president of the Washington-based Center for Health and Gender Equity. “Now more than ever, progress in Uganda should be celebrated and sustained with funding for evidence-based health interventions. The United States should support — not obstruct — increased access to contraceptives for women to safely space and deliver pregnancies.”

To Gloria Munguchi, a comprehensive nurse based in Gulu who works on Marie Stopes’s outreach team in the region, the contradictions embedded in the GGR were puzzling, but mostly troublesome.

“When they said USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] is stopping funding, I got scared,” she said. “If they could give us a chance, I would tell them that we are just doing family planning methods, and the mothers will miss us. You will find a mother with 10 children, and if we don’t reach these communities …” Munguchi trailed off for a second. Then she asked: “In the U.S., can you not have family planning?”

Villagers clean up the local health clinic prior to giving a family planning class  on March 26, 2018 in Parabongo, Uganda.

Villagers clean up the local health clinic prior to giving a family planning class on March 26, 2018, in Parabongo, Uganda.

Photo: Alex Potter for The Intercept

Reporting for this story was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation, as part of its African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative.

 

Top photo: Brenda Akwero, center, already a mother of one, came to the family planning clinic in Parabongo, Uganda, to learn about different methods of birth control.

The post In Uganda, Groups Offering Contraception and Family Planning Have Lost Millions in U.S. Aid Thanks to Trump’s Global Gag Rule appeared first on The Intercept.

Professor da rede pública de São Paulo cata lixo para sobreviver

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 3:00pm in

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Uma lata de óleo, um pacote de arroz e um gomo de linguiça. Foi isso que Ronaldo Pereira, de 44 anos, conseguiu comprar com os 10 reais que ganhou depois de passar um dia inteiro catando papelão na rua e revendendo para reciclagem.

“Teve uma vez que conseguimos comprar uns bolinhos de carne. Minha mulher juntou tudo, enrolou e fomos picando de pouquinho em pouquinho para render mais”, contou.

Ronaldo não era catador de ofício. Recolher lixo na rua para revender foi a forma que encontrou para complementar o salário que recebe como professor da rede pública do estado de São Paulo. Ele dá aulas de História e Sociologia em duas escolas estaduais na cidade de Birigui, no interior paulista, e ganha R$ 1.800 por mês, de acordo com o dado mais recente disponível no portal da Transparência do governo. O piso salarial da categoria é de R$ 2.585 e só vale para professores de carreira da rede pública. Quem é temporário, como Ronaldo, recebe um valor proporcional ao número de aulas que dá por mês. E nem sempre a carga horária é suficiente para chegar ao piso.

Desde 2011, ele pertence a um grupo específico de professores que, de tempos em tempos, são afastados dos cargos, deixam de receber o salário e, depois, são recontratados. É a chamada categoria O, criada em 2009 por um decreto assinado pelo então governador tucano José Serra e mantida até os dias de hoje. Por conta dessa renda variável, Ronaldo passou a catar lixo em março de 2015. Assim, garantiu um dinheiro extra para sustentar a família, incluindo a mensalidade do filho de 19 anos numa universidade particular.

O que é a categoria O

Na prática, é por meio dessa categoria que o estado evita o déficit de professores na rede pública estadual e, ao mesmo tempo, economiza gastos com pessoal. Sem vínculo empregatício, esses professores temporários recebem menos em direitos trabalhistas. O decreto determina que os contratados sob esse regime recebam apenas salário, férias e décimo terceiro. Eles não têm direito a FGTS (o Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço), plano de saúde, vale transporte, ou vale alimentação.

Hoje, há cerca de 30 mil professores nesse grupo, segundo o Sindicato de Professores do Ensino Oficial do Estado de São Paulo – mais do que um em cada sete profissionais. A entidade informou que um professor da categoria O recebe R$ 11,50 por hora de aula.

Professores concursados também ganham por aulas dadas. A diferença é que o docente de carreira tem prioridade na escolha da quantidade de aulas, bem como onde pretende lecionar.

Os temporários possuem contrato válido por três anos. Depois disso, são afastados por 200 dias – a chamada duzentena. Durante esse período, o professor fica sem receber salário até o dia em que for recontratado pelo estado. Algumas vezes, o professor pode ficar ainda mais tempo na “geladeira” do que o previsto no decreto.

“A secretaria tem feito uma gestão que implanta uma visão gerencial de educação, tendo a eficiência nos gastos como meta de qualidade”, avalia Débora Goulart, uma das líderes da ONG Rede Escola, que também é professora do departamento de Ciências Sociais da Universidade Federal de São Paulo. “É a eficiência a todo custo. Não está evidente que não está funcionando?”.

“Eu não vou falar que é humilhante, porque não acho. Mas sofro muito preconceito.”

Foi o caso de Ronaldo. Ele amargou a primeira duzentena por entre dezembro de 2014 e agosto de 2015. Ao longo de 240 dias, o professor de História ficou sem remuneração. Por conta disso, decidiu catar reciclado na rua.

“Eu não vou falar que é humilhante, porque não acho. Mas sofro muito preconceito. Sofri muito preconceito na sala dos professores mesmo”, afirmou Ronaldo. “Teve um empresário aqui em Birigui que perguntou para mim: ‘Por que não vai trabalhar?’ Pô, mas eu tô trabalhando! É um trabalho digno como outro qualquer”.

A rotina

Ronaldo dá aula de segunda à sexta a alunos de ensino fundamental e médio e, antes de chegar à escola, sempre cata recicláveis. Acorda cedo, pega sua motocicleta e acopla a ela à caçambinha que comprou em prestações (e que está pagando até hoje) para conseguir recolher um volume maior de lixo. Graças a isso, em alguns meses, já chegou a tirar R$ 1.400 só com revenda de material reciclado. Hoje, os melhores meses não chegam a R$ 400 – uma renda diária de R$ 13 por dia. Ele conta também com a ajuda da mulher – Regina Pedrosa da Silva Pereira, de 42 anos –, que fabrica sapatos em casa para aumentar a renda familiar. “O reciclado está cada dia mais difícil por causa da crise econômica”, disse o professor.

“Eu me sinto abandonado pelo estado mais rico do Brasil. Vou entrar em duzentena de novo no final deste ano. Acho difícil que renovem meu contrato de maneira mais rápida, porque o governo tem fechado salas de aula todo ano”, prevê.

Ronaldo Pereira (na foto com mulher, Regina Pereira, em frente a sua casa) é professor temporário do estado de São Paulo.

Ronaldo Pereira (na foto com mulher, Regina Pereira, em frente a sua casa) é professor temporário do estado de São Paulo.

Gabi di Bella

Outra professora da categoria O relata que é obrigada a fazer bicos para sobreviver. Luciana Pereira Silva, de 39 anos, dá aulas de Geografia a alunos de ensino médio e do Educação de Jovens e Adultos, uma espécie de supletivo oferecido pelo governo paulista. Para conseguir pagar as contas, Luciana faz faxina três vezes por semana em Taboão da Serra, na região metropolitana de São Paulo. Como professora, ela recebe R$ 1.700. “Fui ao médico e ele me disse que, por causa da limpeza, já estou apresentando sinais de tendinite e bursite”, lamenta.

Além da faxina, Luciana também faz bolos, vendidos pelo filho de 19 anos com a ajuda de uma amiga. A professora contou que seus patrões, donos das casas onde faz faxina, vivem perguntando a ela o motivo de não ter mudado de profissão ainda. Luciana responde que tem amor pelo que faz. Mas, ultimamente, ela tem reconsiderado: “Às vezes não tem giz na escola, não dá para passar filme, não dá para dar xerox aos alunos. Eu acreditava no ensino público. Fazia daqueles 50 minutos o melhor possível. Mas hoje penso em parar e estudar Direito”, afirmou.

Procuramos a Secretaria da Educação do Estado de São Paulo para comentar a história dos dois professores e sobre a atual postura com relação à categoria O. A secretaria nos enviou uma nota sem responder diretamente às questões. Informou apenas que o salário de um professor de carreira da rede estadual pode chegar a R$ 9.300 “em pouco mais de 20 anos” de serviço e “contando com adicionais”. Sobre a situação de Ronaldo e Luciana, a pasta afirmou que “a dedicação dos profissionais contratados (da categoria O) não é exclusiva, portanto, é totalmente permitido outras formas de trabalho”.

Foto em destaque: Ronaldo Pereira é professor de História e Sociologia da rede estadual de SP e cata lixo para complementar renda.

The post Professor da rede pública de São Paulo cata lixo para sobreviver appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump Has Liberated Koreans From the Illusion That America Is Helping Them

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 4:11am in

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It’s strange to say, but there is an upside to the goat rodeo way in which President Donald Trump has cancelled, for the moment, his North Korea summit. No president has done a better job of making clear that the United States is an impediment to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Is this a disaster? It could be, because anything Trump touches can turn to nuclear ash. But the summit cancellation — or postponement or revival or who knows what to call it, given Trump’s garbled moods — has the prospect of being useful if South Korea and North Korea seize the moment to take matters into their own hands, improving their ties despite the toxic clown show in the Oval Office.

“Ultimately, this cannot just go back to how it was before the Winter Olympics,” tweeted Abraham Denmark, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. “North Korea is in a stronger position, Kim has far more legitimacy, China is more engaged, South Korea has invested a lot into diplomacy, and the U.S. role is more circumscribed.”

While officials in North Korea and South Korea were apparently unaware of the cancellation until Trump announced it, South Korean President Moon Jae-in indicated that his reconciliation efforts would move ahead (and who knows, maybe the summit will move ahead, too). “The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and ensuring a permanent peace are historic tasks that cannot be delayed or forsaken,” Moon said after an emergency session of his national security council.

This is an emperor-has-no-clothes moment, but not only in the sense of Trump and coherent thinking. For more than a century, the Korean Peninsula has been the unlucky target of more foreign intervention than arguably any other spot on the planet (which, I know, is saying a lot). Trump has shown just how capricious and prejudicial the actions of outsiders can be, doing little to serve the interests of the 75 million people who live there.

From 1910 to 1945, Korea was a Japanese colony. Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names, forced to work in Japanese mines, and women were forced into prostitution for Japanese soldiers. After the Japanese empire collapsed at the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided into American and Russian zones along the 38th parallel — Koreans had no choice or role in that. In the Korean War that broke out in 1950, more than 5 million soldiers and civilians were killed – a calamity of historic proportions. Most of the slaughter occurred in North Korea, where the U.S. dropped more bombs than during its entire Pacific campaign against Japan.

While North Korea has been understandably condemned for its nuclear weapons program, guess who started the nuclear race? It was the U.S. that brought nuclear weapons to South Korea in 1958 and kept them there for more than three decades (the last ones were removed in 1991). “The presence of those American weapons probably motivated the North Koreans to accelerate development of their own nuclear weapons,” noted Walter Pincus. “The Seoul government still remains under the American nuclear umbrella — and the impetus for Kim Jong Un to have his own remains.”

Emphasizing this malignancy-from-without is not to ignore the unhelpful ways that Korea’s own leaders have contributed to the troubles. There was Kim Il Sung, who built the north into an achingly brutal dictatorship that was continued by his son, Kim Jong Il, and his son, Kim Jong Un (the current supreme leader). In the south, there was the U.S.-backed Syngman Rhee and the military leaders who succeeded him. While turning the south into an economic powerhouse, the virulently anti-communist generals (Park Chung Hee, Chun Doo Hwan, and Roh Tae Woo) suppressed democracy at gunpoint. But what the leaders of the north and south have done – what they were able to do – was a direct consequence of the policies and interests of Beijing, Moscow, and Washington, D.C.

And there’s a critical element missing from much of the U.S. discourse on North Korea: the 25 million North Koreans. I lived in South Korea for three years and visited North Korea on one bizarre occasion long ago, so I find it hard to forget that actual people are affected by what the U.S. does. We obsess about Kim Jong Un and his nuclear weapons. While that is understandable – nukes are not to be taken lightly, of course — there is little discussion of an issue right-wingers profess to be deeply concerned about: the well-being of the ordinary people who are brutally oppressed by the Kim regime. What is best for them? The hawks do not really care. “Stick to the status quo,” Bret Stephens memorably wrote in the New York Times. “It’s served us well enough for 65 years.”

It’s unsustainable to argue any longer that further isolating and punishing North Korea is the best way forward. That policy has been tried for most of the last few decades and guess what — the Kim regime now has a functional nuclear deterrent and shows no signs of collapsing under economic or political strains. What the hawks of the U.S. establishment wish for — more sanctions, more isolation, more threats — is the classic definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Moon, of South Korea, clearly realizes that forging a better relationship with his detestable counterparts in the north is preferable to trying to isolate them out of existence (which has not worked) or going to war against them (which would be another calamity). The clarifying advantage of Trump’s tween antics is that Moon and Kim and the rest of the world now have ample evidence the White House is not a helpful partner, or even sane. This is not the breakthrough we wished for, but to borrow an idea from Donald Rumsfeld, this is the breakthrough we have.

Top photo: A commemorative coin released by the White House for a potential “peace summit,” featuring the names and silhouettes of President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The post Donald Trump Has Liberated Koreans From the Illusion That America Is Helping Them appeared first on The Intercept.

In Apple Mail, There’s No Protecting PGP-Encrypted Messages

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 3:24am in

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It’s been nearly two weeks since a group of European researchers published a paper describing “EFAIL,” a set of critical software vulnerabilities that allow encrypted email messages to be stolen from within the inbox. And developers of email clients and encryption plug-ins are still scrambling to come up with a permanent fix.

Apple Mail is the email client that comes free with every Mac computer, and an open source project called GPGTools allows Apple Mail to smoothly encrypt and decrypt messages using the 23-year-old PGP standard. The day the EFAIL paper was published, GPGTools instructed users to workaround EFAIL by changing a setting in Apple Mail to disable loading remote content:

Similarly, the creator of PGP, Phil Zimmermann, co-signed a blog post Thursday stating that EFAIL was “easy to mitigate” by disabling the loading of remote content in GPGTools.

But even if you follow this advice and disable remote content, Apple Mail and GPGTools are still vulnerable to EFAIL. I developed a proof-of-concept exploit that works against Apple Mail and GPGTools even when remote-content loading is disabled (German security researcher Hanno Böck also deserves much of the credit for this exploit — more on that below). I have reported the vulnerability to the GPGTools developers, and they are actively working on an update that they plan on releasing soon.

Here is a short video that demonstrates how dangerous this exploit could be:

If you’re an Apple Mail user who relies on PGP-encrypted email, and completely disabling PGP for the time being, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, recommends, isn’t an option for you, then your best course of action is to temporarily stop using Apple Mail and switch to Thunderbird, at least until GPGTools releases an update that fixes this issue.

Thunderbird is an open source email client that works on Macs, and the latest version of the Enigmail plug-in, which adds PGP support to Thunderbird, successfully mitigates the EFAIL attack, at least as far as is publicly known. If you’re using Thunderbird, you should also configure it to only view emails in plain-text format instead of HTML format. Disabling HTML in your email will will prevent most, or maybe all, future variants of this attack from working against you. You can do this by clicking View > Message Body As > Plain Text.

Unfortunately, Apple Mail does not have an option to disable viewing HTML emails.

Two Weeks of EFAIL History

In a nutshell, the EFAIL attack works like this: First, the attacker needs a copy of a message that’s encrypted to your public key. They could get this by hacking your email account, hacking your email server, compelling your email provider to hand it over with a warrant, intercepting it while spying on the internet, or other ways. PGP was specifically designed to protect against this — the promise of PGP is that even attackers with copies of your encrypted messages can’t decrypt them, only you can. When you receive an email that’s encrypted to your public key, your email client automatically uses your secret key to decrypt it so that you can read it. The EFAIL researchers discovered that they could craft a special email that secretly includes a stolen encrypted message within it, and then send it to you. When you receive the malicious email, your email client uses your secret key to automatically decrypt the pilfered message within the malicious email, and then sends a decrypted copy of the stolen message back to the attacker — for example, through a web request to load an image into the email.

“One click means you lose the very thing that PGP is supposed to protect.”

On May 14, the research team behind EFAIL published its paper. At that point, both Thunderbird with Enigmail and Apple Mail with GPGTools were vulnerable for users who were using the default settings.

That day, EFF published a blog post stating that the proof-of-concept exploit provided in the EFAIL paper “is only one implementation of this new type of attack, and variants may follow in the coming days,” and that “EFF is advising PGP users to pause in their use of the tool and seek other modes of secure end-to-end communication for now.” This advice — to uninstall PGP software until the situation is resolved — caused a controversy in the digital security world. Nonprofits in this space pushed back against EFF’s stance, like in this blog post from Privacy International and in this blog post from the American Civil Liberties Union. (In my opinion, both sides make good points, but more on that below. Also, I worked previously at EFF.)

Also on May 14, GPGTools tweeted instructions to work around the vulnerability: Disable loading remote content in emails. While this at first appeared to mitigate the problem, in reality, it didn’t. Like EFF predicted, GPGTools is still vulnerable to a variant of the EFAIL exploit, as my exploit demonstrates.

On May 16, Enigmail released an update that mitigated the EFAIL vulnerability — only it turns out, this mitigation didn’t work either. The following day, Böck, the German security researcher, tweeted that he found a “trivial bypass” in Enigmail’s new version, and he disclosed his bypass to the Enigmail developers so that they could fix it.

On May 21, Enigmail released yet another update to mitigate EFAIL. On Twitter, Böck confirmed that this new version actually prevents his exploit from working, adding that “I’m still not happy with the mitigations” and “disabling HTML mail is still a good idea.”

My GPGTools Exploit

I personally know many journalists, free software developers, and activists around the world that rely on Apple Mail and GPGTools for encrypted email on a daily basis. So, I decided to write my own EFAIL exploit against Apple Mail. My initial exploit, which I announced on May 15, worked only if the user clicked the “Load Remote Content” button.

Later, I became curious if Böck’s technique to bypass Enigmail’s initial EFAIL fix would work against Apple Mail and GPGTools, even with the suggested mitigations. After Enigmail released a patch, he agreed to privately share his technique with me.

It took me about 10 minutes to modify my initial exploit to work against Apple Mail and GPGTools as well, even when remote-content loading is disabled. As soon as I confirmed that my exploit worked, and recorded a little video showing it working, I disclosed this vulnerability to the GPGTools developers in order to make sure that whatever update they’re working on will block this variant of the attack as well. (Since creating the video, I have discovered a separate simple variant of the EFAIL attack that also works against GPGTools with remote content disabled.)

Hopefully GPGTools will release an update soon that fixes this issue. But because the details of the EFAIL vulnerabilities have been public for weeks, and because this and related exploits are relatively simple, and it’s likely that others have already discovered them, we decided that it’s in the public interest to warn Apple Mail PGP users sooner rather than later that there is currently no available mitigation to EFAIL. This is especially true when some security experts are falsely claiming that disabling remote content in Apple Mail will mitigate the problem, such as in the statement co-signed by Zimmermann, which was also co-signed by the founders of Enigmail, the encrypted email service ProtonMail, and Mailvelope, a browser add-on for encrypted webmail.

Despite having several months of lead time, the Enigmail and GPGTools projects failed to fix the EFAIL vulnerabilities.

One difference between this EFAIL variant and the proof-of-concept that the researchers published in their paper is that the user needs to click something to get exploited. “I think a lot of non-expert users do things like click on links they receive from trusted senders,” said Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University. “They should feel comfortable and safe doing that, and they shouldn’t have to worry about losing their data to an attacker.” He expects that people could find more EFAIL exploits in email clients.

This EFAIL variant is “pretty serious in the sense that one click means you lose the very thing that PGP is supposed to protect,” EFF International Director Danny O’Brien said, “and there’s nothing you can do to defend against it — apart from remembering never to click anything in email ever again.”

Even with Enigmail updates, EFF isn’t confident that PGP is safe to rely on again yet, but it’s getting safer. “I want to stress that everybody in the PGP ecosystem has been working on this problem, and every day exploiting EFAIL gets harder,” O’Brien said. “Two weeks ago, you didn’t need to click for EFAIL to work. With the latest updates to Enigmail and Thunderbird, security researchers like Hanno [Böck] can still trigger it — but it takes more social engineering than just a single click.” He added that donating to projects like GPGTools and Enigmail would help, too, because “these people are almost all volunteers.”

You Think PGP Has Problems? S/MIME is Much Worse Off

Before I go into more details about EFAIL and how it affects the PGP ecosystem, I want to take a moment to discuss S/MIME, a different encrypted email standard that is far more vulnerable to attacks described in the EFAIL paper than PGP is, and that also presents more obstacles to mitigation.

Unlike PGP, which is decentralized and uses a model called “web of trust,” where users deal with key management and identity verification themselves, making  PGP notoriously confusing, S/MIME uses “certificate authorities,” where an organization (like your employer) centrally manages identity verification for its users, making S/MIME ideal for deploying encrypted email to large organizations.

S/MIME is widely deployed in banks, major corporations, and government agencies around the world, including the U.S. Department of Defense. It’s built into all major email clients, including Outlook and the default email apps on macOS, iOS, and Android, without requiring a plug-in. At the time of writing, as far as I can tell, no email clients have released an update that mitigates EFAIL for S/MIME, leaving all S/MIME users currently vulnerable to these attacks.

The reason I’m focusing primarily on PGP instead of S/MIME is because it’s what I, and the communities I work with, having been using for years.

Why Didn’t GPGTools and Enigmail Fix EFAIL Vulnerabilities Months Ago?

EFAIL has demonstrated how bad the encrypted email ecosystem is at responding to vulnerabilities in a timely matter. According to this timeline compiled by security researcher Thomas Ptacek, Enigmail was first notified about the EFAIL research in November 2017, and GPGTools was first notified in February 2018. Yet by May 14, when the researchers published their paper, both of these projects were still vulnerable.

Compare this to recent pair of vulnerabilities found in Signal Desktop earlier this month: Researchers discovered a remote code execution — hacker-speak for “very bad” — vulnerability in Signal Desktop on May 10, and they disclosed it to the developers on May 11. Later that same day, the Signal developers fixed the problem and released an update. But their fix wasn’t complete; on May 14 researchers discovered a second way of exploiting the vulnerability. An hour later, they disclosed it to the developers, and less than two hours after that, a new Signal Desktop update was released which finally solved the problem. Signal Desktop automatically updates itself, so nearly all users should have gotten the updates the day they were released.

Despite having several months of lead time, the Enigmail and GPGTools projects failed to fix the EFAIL vulnerabilities before the paper was made public. In all likelihood, the majority of PGP users are probably still vulnerable, two weeks later.

But to be fair, the Enigmail and GPGTools developers have a much harder job than the Signal developers. On one side, they must work with an ancient crypto system; PGP dates to 1991, it was standardized as OpenPGP in 1995, and the popular PGP/MIME system was first standardized in 1996. On the other side they must deal with the ancient messaging systems out of which email is constructed and on which it travels, including the message sending protocol SMTP, first standardized in 1982, and MIME, a standard for attachments that emerged in 1992. They also need to ensure that their software works seamlessly with all other PGP software, in all its diversity. These standards all contain a multitude of obsolete, and often insecure, features in order to maintain backwards compatibility.

If Signal developers had to deal with decades of technical baggage and handle dozens of possible message formats instead of just one it would take them more than a few hours to fix similar vulnerabilities too.

Based on all of this, the “temporary, conservative stopgap” that EFF suggests — uninstall or disable PGP, and switch to secure messaging apps like Signal or Wire until the encrypted email ecosystem solves the EFAIL problems — sounds like pretty solid advice.

But unfortunately, for many of us, it’s not that simple.

Why Giving Up On Encrypted Email Isn’t an Option

Several communities of users have grown dependent on encrypted email to get their daily work done, including civil society communities like human rights and internet freedom activists, hacker and open source developer communities like the Debian project, and, increasingly, journalists and researchers who collaborate and work with sensitive sources.

Secure messaging apps are not a substitute for email, and they never will be. You can keep old archives of emails, and you can search these archives years later when you need to look something up. With email, you can participate in mailing lists, have threaded conversations, forward messages around, and leave things marked as unread until you have time to deal with them. After you publish a blog post, article, or academic paper, people can email you feedback, but you might not have time to reply right away, and you definitely don’t want this feedback making your phone buzz at 3 a.m.

Secure messaging apps are not a substitute for email, and they never will be.

For many of us, maintaining our same email habits but sending them in plain text is simply not a viable option. Asking us to temporarily stop using PGP for a while is the same as asking us to stop using email — it’s just not practical without completely changing how we’ve been working for years.

And while the fact that email and PGP are based on open standards makes it more difficult to maintain and fix security vulnerabilities, it also adds an enormous benefit: Email servers inter-operate with each other. You can send an encrypted email to my theintercept.com address from your gmail.com address, and I’ll be able to read it, but you’ll never be able to send a message to my Wire account from your Signal account. Because email is an open, federated system that has been around for as long as the internet, everyone has an email address; only some people use Signal, and others use Wire, WhatsApp, or Telegram, and some are only reachable on Facebook. None of these systems work with each other.

In my imagination, there exists a brand new email-like system: It uses modern cryptography like Signal does; it only supports a single, sane messaging format instead of endless permutations; and it has all the other qualities that email has, like the ability to maintain and organize an archive of old messages, and different servers that can communicate with each other. It doesn’t have decades of cruft to maintain and, importantly, it’s impossible to use it insecurely. But, since this email-like system only exists in my imagination, and not in reality, we’re stuck with PGP for the moment.

If you’re one of these PGP-dependent people like me, then make sure you pay close attention to the EFAIL developments, always keep your software up-to-date, and, if at all possible, disable viewing HTML emails. If you’re not one of these people, then by all means, just use Signal or similar messaging apps when you need to communicate securely.

But it’s also possible that I’m just biased. I would have an entirely different life right now if it weren’t for PGP.

On January 11, 2013, I received a PGP-encrypted email from an anonymous stranger. “I’m a friend,” the email read, once I decrypted it. “I need to get information securely to Laura Poitras and her alone, but I can’t find an email/gpg key for her. Can you help?” I didn’t know at the time, but this stranger was Edward Snowden, and he was in the early stages of blowing the whistle on the National Security Agency.

Correction: May 25, 2018
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that copies of encrypted emails could be obtained via National Security Letters or subpoenas. A search warrant is required for message content.

The post In Apple Mail, There’s No Protecting PGP-Encrypted Messages appeared first on The Intercept.

House Bill Would Let Airports Stop Using Toxic Firefighting Foam

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 1:46am in

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While the controversy over the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent “leadership summit” on PFAS chemicals held in Washington earlier this week brought attention to the cancer-causing contaminants in the drinking water of millions of Americans, Congress has quietly made an important step toward getting rid of one of the products responsible for this widespread water pollution. On April 27, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would free the Federal Aviation Administration from longstanding requirements that commercial airports use firefighting foam that contains the chemicals.

For decades, FAA policy has been to require airports to use firefighting foam that meets specifications developed by the Navy. Those standards mandate the use of fluorinated chemicals, a term that includes PFAS, all of which persist indefinitely in nature. While most of the thousands of chemicals in this class have yet to be studied, research on several of them has shown that they accumulate in the human body and are linked to a long list of health conditions, including decreased immune response, reproductive problems, and cancers.

Because of concerns about PFOS and PFOA, the best-known members of this class of chemicals, the Department of Defense has already begun a multi-year process of phasing out those two particular compounds from firefighting foam. As The Intercept reported in February, at least 77 airports around the world have already stopped using foam that contains the chemicals. But the Defense Department’s process is far from complete, and because the military specifications for firefighting foam still require the use of fluorinated compounds, the military has been engaged in the expensive process of replacing the foam made with PFOA and PFOS with a newer version of the product that contains slightly tweaked versions of the same chemicals.

A provision of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which passed the House in April by a 393 to 13 vote, states that commercial aircraft manufacturers and airports “shall not require the use of fluorinated chemicals.” It would apply to 533 airports in the U.S. and require the airports and aircraft companies to stop using foam containing those chemicals within two years of the law’s passage. The military, however, seems no closer to abandoning these substances.

The Navy began using such foam to put out jet fuel fires and train firefighters to respond to fires in the late 1960s — and the rest of the military, commercial airports, and many private companies soon followed suit, as did many foreign military forces and airports. In the U.S., contamination that resulted from PFAS chemicals seeping into the ground and drinking water where the foam was used is now expected to cost at least $2 billion.

At the recent PFAS summit, Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Environment, Safety & Occupational Health at the Department of Defense, said that 401 military installations had at least one area with a known or suspected release of PFOS or PFOA. (Despite repeated inquiries, The Intercept was not invited to attend the summit.)

A March report, tallied the 401 impacted installations as of August 2017, but testing was ongoing, so the total number of installations may exceed that number. In 2015, the Department of Defense provided The Intercept with a list of 664 military fire and crash training sites where the foam was used.

The Senate has yet to vote on its version of the FAA reauthorization bill. A 2017 version of the legislation did not contain any language about the chemicals. The provision addressing the use of chemicals in firefighting foam was added to the House FAA bill earlier this year. A Republican aide to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee told The Intercept that “the committee is seeking an opportunity for floor consideration for the bill.”

Top photo: Marines extinguish a blaze during a live fire training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in Havelock, North Carolina, on Aug. 28, 2013.

The post House Bill Would Let Airports Stop Using Toxic Firefighting Foam appeared first on The Intercept.

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