Tim Anderson 21st Century Wire In mid 2012, as foreign jihadists poured into Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon authorised replacement of the Special Mission on Syria (UNSMIS) with a Geneva-based ‘Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria’ (IICOIOS), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd and Brazilian Paolo Pinheiro. Unlike UNSMIS, led by Norwegian General Robert Mood and based in Syria, the IICOIOS was based in Geneva, never visited Syria and was deeply compromised by its link to US diplomacy and its reliance on jihadist sources. The US Government, by then, was arming anti-government jihadist groups in Syria. Ban had thus embedded a deep conflict of interest in a nominally ‘independent’ UN agency. The Abuzayd-Pinheiro group, joined by Italian lawyer Carla del Ponte, issued a series of distant reports which echoed western war propaganda against Syria. Notable amongst these were reports on the 2012 Houla massacre, a report on the 2016 liberation of Aleppo, and a recent report which seeks to blame a series of chemical weapons attacks in 2017 on the Syrian Government. Carla del Ponte, in a better moment, revealed in mid 2013 that the first use of sarin gas in Syria was by Jabhat al Nusra. But none of this appeared in the group’s reports.
It’s no secret that Latin America is rife with violence. A recent ranking from the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice(CCSPJP) further illustrates this point with the top 10 most violent cities in the world being exclusively located in Latin America. Additionally, Latin America has the dishonor of having 43 of the 50 most violent urban centers located in the region. These shocking levels of violence can be attributed to several factors – corruption, failed drug war policies, and the lack of rule of law in the region. *** But there is one elephant in the room that is largely ignored in the discussion of crime in Latin America: the stringent gun-control laws present in these countries. While the previously mentioned factors cannot simply be discounted, the lack of coverage on Latin American gun control policy is rather alarming. Countries like Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela feature some of the most draconian gun control policies in the region. With crime rates at already high levels, gun control simply makes matters worse for law-abiding citizens fearful of criminals.
In a move that will surely light the proverbial lightbulb over Donald Trump’s head, Brazilian President Michel Temer, having been officially dragged into Brazil’s massive corruption scandal after a record emerged in which he urged the payment of “hush money”, said on Saturday he would ask the Supreme Court to suspend its investigation into allegations he was also involved in the carwash corruption scheme, vowing to remain in power. Speaking during a televised address on Saturday afternoon, Brazil’s deeply unpopular president, who replaced a just as deeply unpopular president last year when Dilma Rouseff was impeached, claimed the recording that implicated him in the scandal was doctored and said he would file a petition with the Supreme Court to suspend the investigation until it could be verified, the WSJ reported. In the recording cited by Temer, which unleashed a historic crash of the Brazilian stock market and currency on Thursday when news of Temer’s involvement broke, the president can be heard chatting with Joesley Batista, chairman and heir of the beef-and-chicken JBS empire, apparently him his approval to pay the jailed former speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha – the man responsible for Dilma Rouseff’s ouster last year – to buy his silence. Batista, who made the recording and gave it to prosecutors in hopes for prosecutorial leniency against JBS, said the recording wasn’t edited.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.
Recall that behind the latest political scandal to grip Brazil, in which president Michel Temer was accused of paying hush money to the jailed former House speaker, Eduardo Cunha (who was responsible for the impeachment of Temer’s predecessor Dilma Rouseff) to keep him from dragging Temer down as well, and which yesterday led to historic losses for the the Bovespa, was a plea bargain by the top executives of Brazil’s meatpacking giant JBS, Joseley Batista and his brother Wesley, which among other things, included an alleged recording of a phone conversation in which Batista told Temer he was paying Cunha to remain silent, to which the president was recorded saying, “You need to keep that up, okay?”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 19, 2017.
#protest now in #SoPaulo against #Brazil #Temer caught negotiating kickbacks & for direct elections in the country (photo: Dani Sampaio) pic.twitter.com/t4ojSzwyoe — ana cernov (@anacernov) May 18, 2017
The presidency of Brazil’s Michel Temer, who replaced disgraced and impeached predecessor Dilma Rouseff last summer, lasted about one year without a major corruption scandal. That changed tonight, when Brazil’s O Globo newspaper which was instrumental in exposing the Carwash scandal which ultimately led to Rouseff’s downfall and the arrest and incarceration of countless politicians, reported that the chairman of meatpacking giant JBS secretly recorded his discussion with Temer about “hush money” payments to jailed former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha in return for his silence. The allegations are the latest development in Operation Carwash, a sprawling corruption probe that has implicated many of Brazil’s business and political elite, including some in the president’s own party. Temer has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Readers may recall that in a delightfully ironic case study of political irony and power vacuum, Eduardo Cunha, the conservative Brazilian political leader who led the push in 2016 to oust Dilma Rousseff, was sentenced in March to more than 15 years in prison himself, when a Brazil judge found him guilty of corruption, money laundering and illegally sending money abroad, all in connection with the sprawling graft investigation involving the state-run oil company Petrobras, and which Cunha himself used as a pretext to dispose of Rouseff.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 18, 2017.
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil cost Brazilian taxpayers $4.6 billion, conservative estimates show. But once related expenses covered by the Brazilian government are factored in, the overall costs hit the $12 billion mark, which equates to about 0.72 percent of Brazil’s national budget. Prior to the Olympics, however, the Brazilian government had already spent BR$39.5 billion on infrastructure, or about $12 billion. Stadiums and urban projects designed to ensure the country was ready for the sports event were built, but aside from the events scheduled for 2014 and 2016, there seemed to be little to no demand for such public investments, which prompted the country to wonder whether the expenses were worth the trouble. Now, as these same structures are left to rot, the documented decay becomes a symbol of government waste, not only because the investments weren’t meant to stand the test of time, but also because the Brazilian government’s lack of concern for the taxpayer is not the main story. It is, in fact, just a footnote. Like many others, the government ignored the economic realities of the country, betting on inflation and cronyism in order to throw an unforgettable party.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 22, 2017.
A very inconvenient connection. Brazil is in the middle of a political and corruption crisis blooming on the verdant pastures of an economic and fiscal crisis that has now produced a second year of recession in a row, with the financial curse of the Olympics still hanging over the country for years to come. Nearly 12 million people were counted as unemployed in December. The number of employed fell to 90.4 million, from 92.1 million a year earlier. The unemployment rate has steadily climbed to reach 12% in December, up from 6.5% in December two years earlier (via Trading Economics):
This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Feb 14, 2017.
The death of Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki who had presided over the sprawling “Carwash” corruption scandal, and who died yesterday in a freak airplane crash has sent shockwaves both around the globe and in Brazil, because while few in polite company will discuss it, it has opened the possibility of political assassinations as a means of “quieting” legal proceedings. And as Reuters reports today, while the death of the judge will likely not derail the country’s biggest ever graft probe, it will delay it, “handing valuable breathing space to President Michel Temer” who many have accused of being even more corrupt than his predecessor. While there is no evidence yet of “foul play”, the timing of the death is oddly coincidental, especially since the upcoming revelations could have had damaging implications for Brazil’s still relatively new president Temer. As a reminder, Justice Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, “just weeks before he was due to unveil explosive testimony from executives at engineering group Odebrecht SA that is expected to implicate as many as 200 politicians in a vast kickback scandal” Reuters notes.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 20, 2017.
Update: as feared, the Supreme Court Justice has died. Reuters with the update: Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, his son said, raising doubt over who will take over his blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians. Rescuers found three bodies in the wreckage of the small, twin-prop plane that crashed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state amid heavy rains, according to firefighters. “Dear friends, we have just received confirmation that our dad died! Thank you all for your thoughts,” his son, Francisco Prehn Zavascki, said on his Facebook page. A judicial source earlier told Reuters that Zavascki was on board the aircraft. Zavascki had been reviewing explosive testimony from dozens of executives at engineering group Odebrecht that has been expected to implicate hundreds of politicians in the biggest corruption case in Brazil’s history.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 19, 2017.
Much talk has been made lately about the Left’s recent defeats in countries throughout Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela most notably. These countries have been characterized by Leftist governments that had the luxury of exploiting commodity prices during the early-to-mid 2000s to finance their profligate social programs. Various experts saw this new ‘pink tide’ as a viable alternative to free-market models of economic organization. However, the game has completely changed as of late. These very governments now find themselves on the ropes not only because of low commodity prices, but also due to increasing degrees of corruption and economic malaise – largely the result of years of economic interventionism now taking its toll on these nations’ economic and institutional foundations. Essentially, the commodity price booms only masked the institutional rot that was dwelling underneath the economic house of cards many of these countries were already built on. Once prices plummeted, these governments could no longer maintain their artificial economies and quickly saw significant political reversals.
Hillary and her supporters have vehemently asserted that ‘seventeen intelligence agencies’ agree with the assessment that Russia hacked the election. It might be greater news to the American people to hear that there actually are seventeen such agencies out there. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama might explain exactly what they are beyond the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the NSA, and DHS. Personally, I feel less secure knowing that there are so many additional surveillance services sifting through everybody’s digital debris trail. – James Kunstler, ‘Deep State Blues’ The public voted with its wallet and truthseeking data reveals that in any election in which the growth in average household real disposable income is less than 3.1%, the incumbent party loses the White House. The study goes back to the 1932 election. Real disposable income growth was well below 3.1% in 2016 and the Democrats lost the White House. It’s really as simple as that, for the most part. In addition, enough of the voting public determined that, with the help of the Wikileak emails, Hillary Clinton could not be trusted. In fact, the Wikileak oeuvre revealed that the entire Democratic Party was indefatigably corrupt. At the root of this corruption is the Clinton Foundation. But beyond that it was discovered that, among other atrocities, the DNC conspired to rig the Democratic Primary against Bernie Sanders and the current DNC Chairman, Donna Brazile, slipped debate questions to Hillary ahead of the debates.
This post was published at GoldSeek on 20 December 2016.
Six months after Brazil’s former president Dilma Rouseff was removed from power as a result of a carefully orchestrated process by her former Vice President, Michel Temer, who as many suggested at the time, was merely trying to shift attention away from himself and to his former boss due to his “checkered past”, swirling with allegations of corruption on par with those of the deposed president, Temer himself may be in danger of impeachment when overnight, Brazil’s public prosecutor announced it was studying a possible investigation into whether President Michel Temer put pressure on a former minister to favor a Cabinet colleague’s property investment. Marcelo Calero, who resigned last week as culture minister, told federal police that the president pressured him to resolve a dispute with another Cabinet member, Geddel Lima, president Temer’s top government congressional liaison, who was seeking a permit for an apartment building in a historic preservation area of his hometown, a federal police source said. Calero’s accusations have set off new crisis for Temer for allegedly using his public office to obtain a permit for the luxury oceanfront building in the city of Salvador. Following the news, the Brazilian real slumped as much as 2.2% to 3.4679 reais to the dollar, the biggest intraday drop since Trump’s unexpected victory. Traders cited concern that the controversy could derail an overhaul of government finances favored by investors. Simiarly, Brazil’s main stock market index, the Bovespa, fell 1.3 percent on concerns of continued political uncertainty delaying recovery from the country’s worst recession since the 1930s. As Reuters adds, adding fuel to the crisis, the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported on Friday that Calero secretly recorded his conversations with Temer and Vieira Lima to back his case. If the chief prosecutor’s office finds grounds to investigate the allegations it would have to ask the Supreme Court for authorization to allow the probe involving the president, the spokeswoman said, effectively starting a new impeachment process. Confirming this, the leader of the Workers Party in lower house Afonso Florence said that former Culture Minister Calero’s allegation that President Michel Temer pressured him on Lima’s case is ‘very serious’ and may lead to an impeachment request.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2016.
There’s a long-standing joke in international finance that goes ‘Brazil is the country with the most potential… and always will be.’ The idea is that a Brazil, with all of its immense resources and capacity, will never come close to realizing its potential because of how screwed up everything is. The same joke easily applies here in South Africa, and across most of this continent. I’m sitting here in the airport lounge about to fly off to Asia and have been reading the local news about the latest political scandal. Political scandal in South Africa is about as commonplace as US media outrage against some Donald Trump buffoonery, or a leak showing yet another series of deceit and misconduct from the Clinton political dynasty. Africa is just rampant with corruption. Is it Friday? It must be time for another major political scandal. The latest one happens to involve South Africa’s President (Jake the Snake Zuma) who has been caught red-handed letting his buddies dip into taxpayer funds. I’ll spare you the sordid details. The interesting thing I wanted to point out is what else I saw.
Over the past several weeks DNC Chair Donna Brazile has been pummeled in the media after Podesta’s emails revealed that she provided a debate question to Hillary in advance of a March 13, 2016 debate with Bernie Sanders. Now, the latest WikiLeaks dump reveals that it wasn’t just a one-off thing. The following email from Brazile, sent one day prior to a March 6th debate with Bernie, shows yet another occasion of her providing an advanced peak at debate questions to the Hillary campaign. We can’t imagine that Bernie supporters are very happy that this is the person chosen to takeover the leadership position at the DNC after Schultz was pushed out for showing favoritism toward the Clinton campaign.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 31, 2016.
Megyn Kelly grilled Donna Brazile on the recently released videos that show the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hiring people to create violence at Trump rallies in an effort to discredit Trump supporters. American political activist James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, released the undercover tapes entitled ‘Rigging the Election’ to expose the corruption behind the curtain. When questioned by Kelly, DNC Chairwoman Brazile dismissed the tapes by claiming that O’Keefe had doctored the videos. ‘No one has come out to question the validity of these tapes,’ probed Kelly, ‘In fact, they’ve acted on them.’ Kelly questioned why the DNC would fire two staff members if they held the belief that the tapes were falsified. However, Brazile insisted that the DNC did not ‘fire’ the staff members, but rather they ‘stepped aside’ to avoid becoming ‘a distraction’ to the Clinton campaign. In addition to the incriminating tapes, Hillary’s leaked e-mails contain further evidence that the DNC is engaging in foul play. On March 12, 2016, Brazile sent an email to Jennifer Palmieri, the director of communications for the Clinton campaign, with the subject line, ‘From time to time I get questions in advance.’ The email contained a specific question about abolishing the death penalty that the staffers wanted to share with Hillary.
Every “revolution” has it: the moment when the sequence of events unleashed by the initial decision ultimately boomerangs and takes down the very people who started the revolution. In Brazil, that would be the powerful former speaker of Brazil’s lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff, and who almost singlehandedly ushered in Michel Temer into the presidential office. Alas, for Cunha the “game of thrones” now appears to be over after he himself was arrested early on Wednesday as part of a sprawling graft probe involving state oil giant Petrobras. As a reminder, Cunha initiated impeachment proceedings against Rousseff in December when he was speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. That led to a Senate vote to remove her from office in August. Cunha, who until recently was a key ally of new President Temer, was accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion related to an oilfield purchase that Petrobras made in 2011 in the west African nation of Benin. Prosecutors said in a statement that they requested Cunha’s detention on the grounds that he represented a threat to the integrity of the investigation and was a flight risk. They also asked for bank accounts he holds totaling some $60 million to be frozen.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2016.
We often criminalize behavior that is normal – Donna Brazile on ABC’s ‘This Week’ in reference to Hillary Clinton giving access to the State Department in exchange for 6-figure donations to the Clinton Foundation. Thank goodness for Wikileaks and the DNC and Podesta email dumps. There’s no question that the mainstream media is colluding with the Clinton Campaign to tip the election in HRC’s favor. For Obama to accuse Trump of ‘whining’ about it is absurd. But, then again, Obama’s speech last week sounded like something out of ’1984′ or Goebbels’s Nazi Party Propaganda playbook. Moreover, Obama’s silence is defeaning with regard to HRC’s overt corruption and criminality per the Podesta emails. As for whether or not the media is rigged, follow the money. According to analysis from the Center For Public Integrity, 430 people who work in journalism have donated almost $400,000 in total to both Presidential candidates. HOWEVER, these 430 journalists have given approximately $375,000 to HRC and roughly $15,000 to Trump. In other words, journalists have given 25x more money to HRC than to Trump. Quite frankly, journalists should be forbidden from contributing to any political campaign – as should Federal Reserve officials, who are also throwing wads of money at HRC.
Ten years ago, South America was witnessing the rise of what came to be known as the “pink tide.” Characterized by an allegedly kinder and softer version of socialism than the “red” communism of Castro’s Cuba, the pink tide had begun with the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, followed by the election of Lula da Silva in Brazil in 2002, and followed by the rise of the Kirchners in Argentina in 2003. The tide continued to roll in with the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia in 2006, and Rafael Correa’s election in Ecuador in 2007. As these new leftist candidates gained traction, their success was said to herald a new era of leftist politics in South America that would bring to an end the “neoliberal” consensus and impose a new, more humane economics on Latin American society. Eighteen years after Hugo Chavez’s inauguration, things haven’t gone quite as planned. The economy of Venezuela is in seemingly terminal decline with riots, shortages, and enforced slave laborimposed in an attempt to force more production out of the population. Meanwhile, the economies of Brazil and Argentina – while not comparable to Venezuela – are among the worst in Latin America, with Brazil heading for its its worst depression since 1901. As economies worsened, corruption and authoritarian tactics worsened as well. Venezuelans have gotten the worst of it with citizens groaning under the weight of a police state that shuts down small business and persecutes even the smallest entrepreneurs for alleged economic “crimes” such as being a “class traitor.” In her final years, Kristina Kirchner became increasingly autocratic and paranoid, going so far as to prosecute and impose fines on economists who made economic forecasts the Argentinian state found to be be unflattering. Meanwhile in Brazil, corruption reached new heights as President Rousseff – the pink-tide successor to da Silva – attempted to save the economy and her political career by showering her political allies with “stimulus” cash.
As was widely expected, the final step of Brazil’s historic impeachment process of former president Dilma Rousseff, concluded moments ago with a decision to formally impeach the former president, with 61 senators voting for her ouster, and 20 voting against. Dilma Rousseff thus becomes the second president to be impeached in Brazil’s 31-year-old democracy, after 13 years of her party’s leftist rule, paving the way for what the market hopes is a fundamental shift in economic policy. Rouseff was previously charged for breaking the country’s budget laws. As a result, the just as unpopular Michel Temer is set to become Brazil’s official president until 2018. Behind the narrow allegations of breaking budget laws, what led a majority of Brazilians to back impeachment was a sense that Rousseff mismanaged the economy and was lenient on rampant corruption. As Bloomberg reports, the decision caps a tumultuous period that began after Rousseff’s narrow re-election victory in 2014 and exacerbated the worst recession in decades. The second impeachment since Fernando Collor was ousted in 1992 has been a traumatic experience for this young democracy, coming on top of a two-year corruption scandal and unemployment at its highest in over a decade. With his mandate as Brazil’s leader confirmed, Temer hopes he can now push more forcefully to put the economy back on track, a challenge that includes unpopular austerity measures.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 31, 2016.