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23 Aug 00:24

Como a liberdade na propaganda eleitoral pode salvar a política das velhas ideias

by Carlos Góes

por Fábio Monteiro de Lima

A liberdade de expressão caminha sempre sobre águas turvas no Brasil. Pelos ditos progressistas é vista como um direito ultrapassado,liberal, burguês, que deve ser a todo tempo sopesado e afastado para evitar todo tipo de abusos indeterminado. Os tutores do povo, devidamente instalados no poder, querem controlar quem fala o quê, quando e onde.

A primeira notícia obscura que se publica, a menor visão crítica dos fatos, é sempre vista como fundamento para regrar e controlar a imprensa ou a Internet vista como uma terra sem lei que teima em não se curvar ao Estado-tutor. Esquecem que a proteção da honra e da imagem, pode e deve ser realizada sempre após o dano, havendo medidas legais suficientes para tanto.

Na seara do Direito Eleitoral este debate toma contornos ainda mais dramáticos. Sob o pálio do combate ao abuso do poder econômico e do “uso indevido dos meios de comunicação”, a Liberdade de Expressão é cada dia mais enclausurada e compartimentada sob um sem número de regras, não apenas quanto à forma, mas discretamente sobre o conteúdo.

Hoje as principais restrições à propaganda eleitoral estão na Lei 9.504/97 e são:

  1. Temporal (art. 36-A): é vedada qualquer propaganda eleitoral antes de 06/07, sob pena de multa;
  2. De meio: é proibida a propaganda paga no Rádio e TV (art. 44), assim como opinião (des)favorável, degradar ou ridicularizar, apoio expresso ou velado (art. 45, II e III) a qualquer candidato por estes meios, além de propaganda paga na Internet (art. 57-C);
  3. Local (art. 37): Proibida a propaganda – fixa ou móvel – em bens públicos ou particulares de acesso público, salvo a móvel via pública;
  4. Tamanho: Proibição de outdoor (placa acima de 4m²), adesivo de carro superior a 40x50cm (art. 38, §3º), anúncio em jornal (art. 43) acima de 1/8 de página e revista acima de ¼ de página.

Digno de nota que à mídia impressa é lícito emitir opinião favorável ou crítica a algum candidato, desde que tal ato não seja reiterado ao ponto de se mostrar capaz de induzir o pensamento do eleitorado, caso em que pode configurar propaganda escamoteada (sob pena de multa) ou uso indevido dos meios de comunicação social, podendo levar a cassação do registro ou do mandato.

A realidade que precisa ser encarada urgentemente em uma Reforma Eleitoral é de que esse sistema contribui para a criação de monopólios artificiais do sistema político, criando enormes barreiras à entrada de novos competidores, diminuindo a isonomia e normalidade do pleito, restringindo o exercício de direitos fundamentais, justamente os seus alegados fundamentos constitucionais.

Primeiramente porque, com estas restrições, sobram aos candidatos o horário eleitoral gratuito, a propaganda gratuita em suas páginas pessoais ou dos partidos nas redes sociais, os eventos milionários (ainda que sem showmícios), as carreatas e a panfletagem através dos cabos eleitorais. Em todas estas modalidades as candidaturas daqueles que já estão no poder tem larga vantagem.

O horário eleitoral de rádio e televisão é dividido proporcionalmente às bancadas dos partidos e coligações na Câmara dos Deputados ou nas Assembleias Legislativas, facilitando a permanência das velhas ideias na política. Por outro lado, a simples divisão igualitária não resolveria a situação em um país com 32 (trinta e dois) partidos políticos em funcionamento.

Aos candidatos ao poder executivo ainda sobram os debates, mas no caso do legislativo – com o número absurdo de candidatos decorrente do sistema de lista aberta e proporcional – esta opção é totalmente irreal.

A panfletagem, mídia cara e ineficiente que polui as cidades gerando toneladas de lixo, somente tem utilidade se acompanhada de um exército de cabos eleitorais – cujo trabalho deve ser pago – o que infla os custos da campanha, aumentando a influência do poder econômico. Portanto, a centralidade dos panfletos e santinhos nas campanhas apenas fortalece o abuso que estas regras dizem coibir.

Jornais e revistas são mídias caras e com influência cada vez menor, além do que, o tamanho dos anúncios permitidos impede a melhor descrição de propostas ou posições políticas, se aplicando integralmente as mesmas críticas feitas à panfletagem.

Restaria a internet, a última fronteira do livre mercado de ideias, mas também está é alvo de crescente regulação governamental. A mini-reforma de 2009 proibiu a propaganda eleitoral paga na Internet, restringindo os meios lícitos a propaganda na própria página, o site pessoal ou do partido/coligação, além de mensagens diretas para eleitores prévia e espontaneamente cadastrados.

Ou seja, somente os eleitores que tenham manifestado interesse em acompanhar determinada candidatura é que terão acesso às suas propostas, desnaturando a ideia mais básica da propaganda que é a busca ativa de novos ouvintes. O resultado nós já sabemos, todos os pré-candidatos impulsionam – pagando – suas páginas pessoais até 05 de julho, procedendo desde já a todo tipo de propaganda antecipada. Quem chegar na frente em número de seguidores terá a maior difusão de suas mensagens durante o período eleitoral propriamente dito.

Por óbvio, ainda, que aqueles candidatos que já ocupam cargos públicos, assim como aqueles que estão na mídia através de seus programas de Rádio e TV, despertam muito mais interesse na população nesse período preparatório e terão uma leva maior de seguidores durante a campanha.

Importante ainda lembrar que, proporcionalmente, a campanha – mesmo paga – via internet é muito mais barata que a mídia impressa. Some-se a isso o efeito viral e a possibilidade de participação popular ativa e logo se conclui que a propaganda paga na rede seria capaz de combater a desigualdade eleitoral, fazendo frente ao favorecimento do horário de eleitoral gratuito e ao poderio econômico dos meios impressos.

Para arrematar esse sistema perverso, o controle explícito, a censura imposta à radiodifusão – em menor escala aos jornais – que deve se abster de emitir opiniões e críticas aos candidatos nos três meses que antecedem o pleito, priva o eleitor de avaliações e informações atuais sobre os governos, ou de relembrar fatos positivos e negativos. Tornando a versão propagandeada no bilionário horário eleitoral, com seus fantásticos marqueteiros, a única versão no momento mais delicado da vida política nacional.

A verdade inconveniente é que a nossa regulação de propaganda, como usualmente acontece com qualquer restrição estatal de direitos, torna mais difícil o surgimento de novas lideranças e novas ideias. Favorece, isto sim, os parlamentares que usam por quatro anos a verba de gabinete em benefício próprio, os governantes que estão diariamente no rádio e TV e tem orçamentos bilionários para promover seus governos, as campanhas milionárias que contratam um sem número de cabos eleitorais e imprimem milhões de panfletos.

É necessário, é urgente, um banho de liberdade no sistema eleitoral brasileiro. Dado que o marketing já tornou os eleitores em consumidores, é hora de quebrar esse cartel e fazer valer o livre mercado de ideias, possibilitando a renovação da política e o avanço do país.

 * Fábio Monteiro de Lima é advogado eleitoralista em Brasília. Graduado pela Universidade de Brasília (UnB), é membro da Aliança pela Liberdade, sendo representante discente no Conselho Universitário da UnB.

19 Aug 04:05

Why Conservatives Should Reform Philanthropy

by Brian Brown
Adam Victor Brandizzi

Velho, que texto espetacular! Vale muito até se você se interessa por filantropia mas não se vê conservador. Lindo mesmo.

On paper, conservatives have always valued civil society. After all, as Yuval Levin put it earlier this summer,

The premise of conservatism has always been that what matters most about society happens in the space between the individual and the state—the space occupied by families, communities, civic and religious institutions, and the private economy—and that creating, sustaining, and protecting that space and helping all Americans take part in what happens there are among the foremost purposes of government.

Yet while today’s conservatives agree that the space is important, they are much more interested in the “protecting” part than creating and sustaining. They fiercely man the wall, defending the citadel against all threats, while the city inside decays. They do this because they have a flawed understanding of what civil society is, and what is has to offer the social problems of American society. If they had half an idea, they would be leading the charge to reform “the space between.”

What is civil society?

In recent years I’ve seen two (related) flaws in how conservatives approach civil society.

The first is that, to put it quite bluntly, they don’t seem to understand what civil society is. In most of D.C. think tankery as much as in an after-church conversation in Oklahoma, “civil society” seems to be a euphemism for “religion and family” (example here). There are lots of conversations about those things in conservative circles. There aren’t many about the countless other pieces that make up, or have made up, civil society: philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship, fraternal organizations, and the like (a list that is constantly changing with time, contrary to conservative conceptions of civil society as a monolithic thing).

The second is that across this board, caring about civil society usually seems to amount to protecting its existence, rather than shaping how it works. The primary reason for the “space between,” the assumption goes, is to serve as a buffer between the individual and government. Civil society is a naturally occurring collection of “spontaneous orders” (libertarian hero Friedrich Hayek’s words) that need not and should not be shaped or directed intentionally (at least not by the government); as with the free market itself, simply preserving it will allow it to fulfill its purpose. The irony here is that this conception of civil society dates back to Enlightenment liberals—eventually Hegel and Marx would understand civil society as essentially market forces that insulate the individual from the state (and God forbid conservatives should mess with market forces!).

Yet the notion of civil society is much older than Hegel, and much older than the Enlightenment individual-vs.-state conceptual dynamic. It dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Cicero viewed it as one of two ways (along with republican government) in which civilized people worked together to shape their collective existence. In this view, it’s not enough that civil society exists—how it functions, and to what ends, are questions of importance equal to the legislative debates that make national news today. In a healthy view of civil society, arguing that government shouldn’t solve a problem because “civil society can do it” isn’t enough—the conversation must continue into how civil society will solve it, and it must continue in the institutions of civil society itself.

How should civil society solve problems?

The culture war mentality that prevails in much of the conservative mind views “the culture” as a battlefield to be fought over, rather than, as Makoto Fujimura puts it, a resource to be stewarded. Case in point: a few conservatives raised an outcry against the idea of eliminating the charitable tax deduction, but it took that crisis to draw their interest from Important Things. Generally, they seem to think the nonprofit sector will do just fine if left to its own devices—that is, if it continues to be run mainly by liberals.

Meanwhile, self-described liberals generally have an opposite view of civil society from conservatives—much less Hegel and much more Cicero. They don’t use the term “civil society,” but they’re very interested in all the elements of it conservatives ignore (philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship, etc.). And they’re less interested in protecting their existence than in figuring out how to make them work better; that is, in using them to better shape our collective existence. On the rare occasion when an argument ends in “civil society can do it,” it’s mostly left-wingers and left-wing foundations and research centers that continue the conversation about how.

Read the prominent blogs and magazines of American philanthropy and NGOs, go to the conferences of the people who are thinking about how to solve social problems through nonprofits, visit academic centers like those at Penn or Stanford, or just hang out with the 20-somethings who say they want to work for a nonprofit—nearly all the prominent voices and new ideas are coming from people who would self-identify as liberal or moderate, or institutions that carry with them a predominantly left-wing philosophy of philanthropy. Having lost the battlefield (in the case of the nonprofit sector, largely unfought), conservatives have, if we accept Cicero’s understanding, withdrawn from civilized society.

This is unhealthy. Conservatives say they want less government, they say they value civil society, but they can’t have less government unless civil society actually does the things it’s supposed to do. The pieces of the puzzle that work together to accomplish those things aren’t the same pieces as a century ago. And while conservatives have been AWOL from the sector as such, it has been shaped by ideas and institutions that are increasingly damaging its ability to function.

While there are many great ideas being experimented with in (and out of) the nonprofit sector these days, the way the sector has been structured (formally and informally) in recent decades has created a growing demand for ideas that don’t come from the technocratic groupthink of yesteryear’s leftism.

Here are three examples of the situation, and what conservatives could offer:

1. The culture of the nonprofit sector has been driven by a dated Progressive mentality that is hurting nonprofits and their efforts to improve society.

Individual donors give 73 percent of the money supporting American nonprofits. Yet the nonprofit sector has been dominated structurally by foundation giving and government grants—potentially big payloads that ask local organizations and even entire cities to rebuild themselves in the image of one program or foundation’s dream. Big Philanthropy, like big government, tends to oversimplify problems in a quest to knock them out in one big blow. It substitutes the theoretical knowledge of “experts” (a very loose term in this sector) for the on-the-ground experience of people who know their communities. And it often makes situations worse rather than better. After years of pressuring nonprofits to do everything their way, technocratic foundations are increasingly admitting their way (most recently, “strategic philanthropy”) has often been ineffective. Yet their solution is to find a new grand silver bullet rather than question their own suffocating influence over civil society (the most recent sexy idea, “effective altruism,” was designed by a man who thinks a cow is more valuable than a human child).

A conservative perspective, one that builds strategies around the 73 percent and its far fatter wallet, and respects and develops the actual relationships and practical knowledge inherent in healthy civil society, would be both effective and welcome. Civil society is about effectively structuring and empowering human relationships, not replacing them. But with a few quiet exceptions, conservatives working in the nonprofit sector have mostly gone along with whatever the Big Philanthropy trend happens to be. The only pushback, from some admittedly excellent organizations, has been a feeble argument for “respecting donor intent,” which we could translate as “let the market work; preserve the space between.”

2. The mentality of the nonprofit sector doesn’t mesh with human nature, and as a result is contributing to the fragmentation of society.

If you’ve ever ignored a beggar and told yourself that your donation to the United Way or your church exempted you from the awkwardness of that situation, you know that the way American charity is currently structured has something terribly wrong with it. There’s a bizarre moral dualism in play when the wannabe Good Samaritan is supposed to ignore his actual neighbor, and give to support The Poor in the abstract. You, like the beggar, are just a piece in the system—you’re supposed to focus on making money so you can donate, and leave things like helping the poor and building community to the professionals.

Yet there’s been a lot of work in recent years on the psychology involved in things like giving, civic involvement, and community. And it has supported a lot of old ideas which today would be considered conservative—like the idea that there’s an inherent value to participation in human-scaled institutions, the idea that things like love and compassion are incarnational (you have to give them to real people, not just the idea of people), and the idea that visible habits and social norms—far from being inherently restrictive and therefore bad—can actually get more people to do the right thing and thereby improve results.

In other words, the professionalization of American civil society (whatever its short-term value), by denying these scientific facts, has contributed to cutting people off from each other, heightening the modern sense of isolation, and actually increasing the problems civil society is supposed to fix. (That’s a big claim—more on that here).

Nonprofits could run very differently. A few are restructuring to reflect these truths about how human nature works. It’s likely (see below) that nonprofits that try will see a dramatic increase in both their effectiveness and their budget size. But there hasn’t been an audible conservative voice making this case.

3. The donors who support the nonprofit sector are becoming more conservative in their giving styles, desires, and expectations—with little to no market for what they want to invest in.

Partly because of the fragmentation of contemporary society, and partly because of the ways the Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial generations were raised, the American donor is changing. He’s less and less comfortable with the dynamic described above, where he’s supposed to give his money to the professionals and then get out of the way and mind his own business. He tends to want to see the real, human results of the good deeds he does; and he tends to want to have a hand in those good deeds himself if he possibly can, rather than pay somebody else to do them. He’s more likely to give to organizations with which he has a personal or relational connection, and to keep giving when it’s something he sees his friends doing too. He sees the problems in the world around him every day, and he wants to feel he has some ability to affect that environment. He loves words like “community,” even if he’s never actually seen a good one in real life. In other words, he yearns for civil society.

What if American civil society rose up to meet the challenge this donor offers? What if its communications and fundraising strategies were designed to make involvement a worthwhile experience? What if it were generating new and creative ways for supporters to play a firsthand role in taking ownership of their own neighborhoods and communal problems? What if it were a catalyst for the slow eradication of fragmentation and social isolation, as “places where people sleep in buildings near each other” became real communities? What if it rejected the inhumane bigness, compartmentalization, and professionalization of the contemporary “space between” and rededicated itself to being civil society; the nongovernmental means by which civilized people shape their collective existence?

There is a very real chance such a civil society would accomplish things unheard of in today’s existing charitable arenas. I’ve spoken with people who think the $300 billion Americans give to charity every year could double, if American nonprofits did this. But unless conservatives take ownership of civil society, we may never know.

Brian Brown is a nonprofit strategist and social fundraiser based in Colorado; his company works with nonprofit organizations and political campaigns to develop civil society (and increase revenue!) by building and expanding real-life social network structures. He is the senior editor of Humane Pursuits. You can follow him on Twitter @BrianBrownSF.

21 Aug 15:25

How Washington Enabled ISIS

by Patrick Cockburn
Adam Victor Brandizzi

Realmente um bom resumo.

[This essay is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprisingwith special thanks to his publisher, OR Books.  The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.]

There are extraordinary elements in the present U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The U.S. would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

But U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate” Syrian opposition being helped by the U.S., Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis.  It is, however, weak, and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of U.S. policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well.  This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

Using the al-Qaeda Label

The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qaeda central or “core” al-Qaeda. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

In fact, the idea that the only jihadis to be worried about are those with the official blessing of al-Qaeda is naïve and self-deceiving. It ignores the fact, for instance, that ISIS has been criticized by the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for its excessive violence and sectarianism. After talking to a range of Syrian jihadi rebels not directly affiliated with al-Qaeda in southeast Turkey earlier this year, a source told me that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the U.S.”

Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qaeda have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qaeda-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qaeda affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qaeda in Syria.

The name al-Qaeda has always been applied flexibly when identifying an enemy. In 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, as armed Iraqi opposition to the American and British-led occupation mounted, U.S. officials attributed most attacks to al-Qaeda, though many were carried out by nationalist and Baathist groups. Propaganda like this helped to persuade nearly 60 percent of U.S. voters prior to the Iraq invasion that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and those responsible for 9/11, despite the absence of any evidence for this. In Iraq itself, indeed throughout the entire Muslim world, these accusations have benefited al-Qaeda by exaggerating its role in the resistance to the U.S. and British occupation.

Precisely the opposite PR tactics were employed by Western governments in 2011 in Libya, where any similarity between al-Qaeda and the NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was played down. Only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qaeda “core” of Osama bin Laden were deemed to be dangerous. The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with al-Qaeda was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

Imagining al-Qaeda as the Mafia

Al-Qaeda is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qaeda’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. At the center of this doctrine for making war is an emphasis on self-sacrifice and martyrdom as a symbol of religious faith and commitment. This has resulted in using untrained but fanatical believers as suicide bombers, to devastating effect.

It has always been in the interest of the U.S. and other governments that al-Qaeda be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

Osama bin Laden’s gathering of militants, which he did not call al-Qaeda until after 9/11, was just one of many jihadi groups 12 years ago. But today its ideas and methods are predominant among jihadis because of the prestige and publicity it gained through the destruction of the Twin Towers, the war in Iraq, and its demonization by Washington as the source of all anti-American evil. These days, there is a narrowing of differences in the beliefs of jihadis, regardless of whether or not they are formally linked to al-Qaeda central.

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qaeda because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qaeda’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qaeda-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently.

Ignoring the Roles of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

The key decisions that enabled al-Qaeda to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite, and his father had been a close associate of the Saudi monarch. Citing a CIA report from 2002, the official 9/11 report says that al-Qaeda relied for its financing on “a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

The report’s investigators repeatedly found their access limited or denied when seeking information in Saudi Arabia. Yet President George W. Bush apparently never even considered holding the Saudis responsible for what happened. An exit of senior Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, from the U.S. was facilitated by the U.S. government in the days after 9/11. Most significant, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report about the relationship between the attackers and Saudi Arabia were cut and never published, despite a promise by President Obama to do so, on the grounds of national security.

In 2009, eight years after 9/11, a cable from the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, revealed by WikiLeaks, complained that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. But despite this private admission, the U.S. and Western Europeans continued to remain indifferent to Saudi preachers whose message, spread to millions by satellite TV, YouTube, and Twitter, called for the killing of the Shia as heretics. These calls came as al-Qaeda bombs were slaughtering people in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. A sub-headline in another State Department cable in the same year reads: “Saudi Arabia: Anti-Shi’ism as Foreign Policy?” Now, five years later, Saudi-supported groups have a record of extreme sectarianism against non-Sunni Muslims.

Pakistan, or rather Pakistani military intelligence in the shape of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the other parent of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and jihadi movements in general. When the Taliban was disintegrating under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001, its forces in northern Afghanistan were trapped by anti-Taliban forces. Before they surrendered, hundreds of ISI members, military trainers, and advisers were hastily evacuated by air. Despite the clearest evidence of ISI’s sponsorship of the Taliban and jihadis in general, Washington refused to confront Pakistan, and thereby opened the way for the resurgence of the Taliban after 2003, which neither the U.S. nor NATO has been able to reverse.

The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The U.S. did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.

The spectacular resurgence of al-Qaeda and its offshoots has happened despite the huge expansion of American and British intelligence services and their budgets after 9/11. Since then, the U.S., closely followed by Britain, has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and adopted procedures normally associated with police states, such as imprisonment without trial, rendition, torture, and domestic espionage. Governments wage the “war on terror” claiming that the rights of individual citizens must be sacrificed to secure the safety of all.

In the face of these controversial security measures, the movements against which they are aimed have not been defeated but rather have grown stronger. At the time of 9/11, al-Qaeda was a small, generally ineffectual organization; by 2014 al-Qaeda-type groups were numerous and powerful.

In other words, the “war on terror,” the waging of which has shaped the political landscape for so much of the world since 2001, has demonstrably failed. Until the fall of Mosul, nobody paid much attention.

Patrick Cockburn is Middle East correspondent for the Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy, and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. His forthcoming book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is now available exclusively from OR Books. This excerpt (with an introductory section written for TomDispatch) is taken from that book.

Copyright 2014 Patrick Cockburn

22 Aug 19:50

Vida

by Daniel Lafayette

tirinha---despadrao---vida

22 Aug 20:20

Mental Health Break

by Dish Staff
22 Aug 04:00

August 22, 2014

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Chega fez a nostalgia ter sentido.


Last day to submit for BAHFest, geeks!
22 Aug 17:34

What Lies Beneath Stonehenge? | History | Smithsonian

We walked the Avenue, the ancient route along which the stones were first dragged from the River Avon. For centuries, this was the formal path to the great henge, but now the only hint of its existence was an indentation or two in the tall grass. It was a fine English summer’s day, with thin, fast clouds above, and as we passed through fields dotted with buttercups and daisies, cows and sheep, we could have been hikers anywhere, were it not for the ghostly monument in the near distance.

Faint as the Avenue was, Vince Gaffney hustled along as if it were illuminated by runway lights. A short, sprightly archaeologist of 56, from Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, he knows this landscape as well as anyone alive: has walked it, breathed it, studied it for uncounted hours. He has not lost his sense of wonder. Stopping to fix the monument in his eyeline, and reaching out toward the stones on the horizon, he said, “Look, it becomes cathedralesque.”

Gaffney’s latest research effort, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, is a four-year collaboration between a British team and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria that has produced the first detailed underground survey of the area surrounding Stonehenge, totaling more than four square miles. The results are astonishing. The researchers have found buried evidence of more than 15 previously unknown or poorly understood late Neolithic monuments: henges, barrows, segmented ditches, pits. To Gaffney, these findings suggest a scale of activity around Stonehenge far beyond what was previously suspected. “There was sort of this idea that Stonehenge sat in the middle and around it was effectively an area where people were probably excluded,” Gaffney told me, “a ring of the dead around a special area—to which few people might ever have been admitted....Perhaps there were priests, big men, whatever they were, inside Stonehenge having processions up the Avenue, doing...something extremely mysterious. Of course that sort of analysis depends on not knowing what’s actually in the area around Stonehenge itself. It was terra incognita, really.”

The huge bluestones each weigh between four and eight tons and were brought to the site from North Wales, 170 miles away. (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)
The Stonehenge landscape, the new evidence suggests, guided the movement of great crowds. (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)
The heelstone aligns with the rising sun on the summer solstice as seen from the stone circle, about 80 yards away. It is one of “an excessive number” of such features in the Stonehenge landscape. (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)
The massive stone monument rising from Salisbury Plain must have been an impressive sight to ancient visitors (above, the site at dawn). (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)
The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project used ground-penetrating radars (left) and GPS-guided magnetometers (right) to produce what amounts to a 3-D map of a four-square-mile area. (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to National Trust, Stonehenge, Wiltshire)
Nighttime only enhances the mystery of Stonehenge (above, a pair of enormous trilithons). Was it a temple? A graveyard? A healing place? (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)
Scholars believe the first stones were erected at Stonehenge around 2600 B.C. and that construction continued on the site for a millennia. (Photo by Henrik Knudsen, with thanks to English Heritage)

Nobody has yet put a spade in the ground to verify the new findings, which were painstakingly gathered by geophysicists and others wielding magnetometers and ground-penetrating radars that scan the ground to detect structures and objects several yards below the surface. But Gaffney has no doubt of the work’s value. “This is among the most important landscapes, and probably the most studied landscape, in the world,” he says. “And the area has been absolutely transformed by this survey. Won’t be the same again.”

***

The joys and frustrations of all archaeological study—perhaps all historical inquiry—come into particularly sharp relief at Stonehenge. Even to the most casual observer, the monument is deeply significant. Those vast stones, standing in concentric rings in the middle of a basin on Salisbury Plain, carefully placed by who-knows-who thousands of years ago, must mean something. But nobody can tell us what. Not exactly. The clues that remain will always prove insufficient to our curiosity. Each archaeological advance yields more questions, and more theories to be tested. Our ignorance shrinks by fractions. What we know is always dwarfed by what we can never know.

Take the big question: Was Stonehenge predominantly a temple, a parliament or a graveyard? Was it a healing ground? We don’t know, for sure. We know that people were buried there, and that the stones are aligned in astronomically important ways. We also understand, because of the chemical composition of animal bones found nearby and the provenance of the stones, that people traveled hundreds of miles to visit Stonehenge. But we cannot say, with certainty, why.

A full map of the project’s findings is to be presented September 9 at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, England. (David Preiss)

Try a simpler question: How did the bluestones, which weigh between four and eight tons apiece, arrive at the site, nearly 5,000 years ago, from 170 miles away in North Wales? Land or sea? Both alternatives explode with possibilities, and nobody has an impregnable theory. Mike Parker Pearson of University College London is working on a new idea that the bluestones might have been lifted onto huge wooden lattices and carried by dozens of men to the site. But it’s just a theory. We can’t know, definitively. We can only have better-informed questions.

The ineffability of Stonehenge has not dulled our appetite. The site has long proved irresistible to diggers. In 1620, the Duke of Buckingham had his men excavate right in the center of the monument. Although they did not know it at the time, they dug on the site of a prehistoric pit. Buckingham’s men found skulls of cattle “and other beasts” and large quantities of “burnt coals or charcoals”—but no treasure, as they had hoped.

In the 19th century, “barrow-digging,” or the excavation of prehistoric monuments and burial hills, was a popular pastime among the landed gentry. In 1839, a naval officer named Captain Beamish dug out an estimated 400 cubic feet of soil from the northeast of the Altar Stone at Stonehenge. As Parker Pearson notes in his book Stonehenge, Beamish’s “big hole was probably the final blow for any prehistoric features...that once lay at Stonehenge’s center.”

Cursus outlined in special effects. (© October Films for Smithsonian Channel)
Vince Gaffney (in a special effects scene in the film Stonehenge Empire) stands above the mysterious pit at the western end of the Cursus. (© October Films for Smithsonian Channel)
Frames from Stonehenge Empire show stones whose locations were determined only in 2013. (© October Films for Smithsonian Channel )
The monument as it would have appeared in its Neolithic heyday. (© October Films for Smithsonian Channel)
The monument as it would have appeared in its Neolithic heyday. (© October Films for Smithsonian Channel)

Work at Stonehenge became less invasive. In 1952, Willard Libby—the American chemist and later a Nobel Prize winner—used his new radiocarbon dating technique on a piece of charcoal from a pit within Stonehenge to date the monument to 1848 B.C., give or take 275 years. That date has since been refined several times. The prevailing opinion is that the first stones were erected on the site around 2600 B.C. (although the building of Stonehenge was carried out over a millennium, and there were centuries of ritual activity at the site before the stones were in place).

In 2003, Parker Pearson conducted his own survey, concentrating on the nearby settlement at Durrington Walls and the area between there and the River Avon. Based on huts, tools and animal bones he uncovered, he concluded that Durrington Walls likely housed the workers who built Stonehenge. Based on an analysis of human remains he later excavated from Stonehenge, he also surmised that, far from being a site of quotidian religious activity, Stonehenge served as a cemetery–a “place for the dead.”

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is different from everything that came before it. When Gaffney and his team started their work, they were less interested in theories than in data. To that end, they concentrated on taking what amounts to a three-dimensional and yards-deep photograph of the entire landscape. “The perceived wisdom was driven by the monuments we knew about,” says Gaffney. “We’ve put in the data between the monuments.”

***

Chris Gaffney, Vince’s younger, slighter and less voluble brother, was one of the instigators of this new approach. The duo’s grandfather was a metalwork teacher from Newcastle with an interest in archaeology, who took his clever grandchildren on trips to Hadrian’s Wall, the old barrier between the Roman Empire and the blasted north. Small wonder that Vince became an archaeologist and Chris a geophysicist, now at the University of Bradford.

The Gaffney brothers’ interest in new technologies that were becoming available to archaeologists led them to the first GPS-guided magnetometer systems. A magnetometer has sensors that allow a geophysicist to see evidence of historic building, and even ancient ditch-digging, beneath the soil by mapping variations in the earth’s magnetic field. The GPS-guided versions were able to pinpoint some of those discoveries to within one centimeter. The Gaffneys believed that Stonehenge scholarship needed a massive magnetometer- and radar-led survey of the whole site. “We just didn’t know if anything’s there,” Vince Gaffney recalled. “So we’re constructing various hypotheses on the basis of something we don’t know.”

Around the same time, an Austrian archaeologist named Wolfgang Neubauer, now of the Boltzmann Institute, was hoping to conduct large-scale projects all over Europe using tools including GPS magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar. Neubauer’s team had also developed software to process the 40 or 50 gigabytes of raw data that these instruments could create in a day. Suddenly, instead of waiting weeks or months to see what the machines had found, it was possible to cover several acres with magnetometers and radar in a day and to display that information on a screen almost instantaneously.

One of the areas Neubauer wanted to scan was Stonehenge, and in the spring of 2009 he contacted Vince Gaffney. A few months later, the Boltzmann Institute and the University of Birmingham—plus several other British and European universities, museums and companies that contributed expertise and resources—began their collaboration at Stonehenge.

Their first days on site, Gaffney recalled, were “like a geophysical circus has come to town.” Tractors pushed the ground-penetrating radars, which looked like high-powered lawn mowers. All-terrain vehicles dragged the magnetometer sensors on long strings. Delicate instruments covering hard, uneven ground kept mechanics and technicians busy. “I have seen one of our magnetometers shear clear apart in front of me,” said Gaffney. “It was back in service the next day.” In all, the fieldwork took about 120 days, spread over four years.

***

In a multimedia room at the University of Birmingham there was a vast touch screen, six feet by nine, on which a new map of the Stonehenge landscape appeared. Gaffney pointed out the key features.

There was Stonehenge itself, marked by the familiar circles. To the north was the long, thin strip called the Stonehenge Cursus or the Greater Cursus, which was demarcated by ditches, and ran east to west for nearly two miles. (The Cursus was given its name by the antiquarian William Stukeley in the 18th century because it looked like an ancient Roman race course. Its construction predates the first building work at Stonehenge by several hundred years.) Gaffney also pointed out the Cursus Barrows—hillocks containing mass human graves—just south of the Cursus itself, and King Barrow Ridge to the east.

Scattered all over the map were blotches of black: features without names. These were new finds, including the more than 15 possible new or poorly understood Neolithic monuments. Gaffney emphasized possible, acknowledging that it will require digging—“the testimony of the spade”—to discover precisely what was there.

Standing in front of this constellation of evidence, he seemed unable to decide where to start, like a child at the Christmas tree. “These are little henge monuments,” he said, touching the screen to highlight a group of black smudges. “Nice little entrance there, and a ditch. These things we know nothing about.”

He saved his greatest enthusiasm for the discoveries that had been made in the Cursus. This feature, said Gaffney, had always been thought of as a “bloody great barrier to the north of Stonehenge.” Nobody knew quite what it was for. Because the Cursus runs east to west, archaeologists have always believed that its presence owes something to the passage of the sun. The monument must be significant: It was dug in the fourth millennium B.C. using antler picks—hundreds of thousands of man-hours went into its construction.

The Hidden Landscapes Project’s instruments discovered several new clues. First of all, they found gaps in the ditch, in particular a very large break in the northern side, to allow people to enter and exit the Cursus. Now, instead of seeing the Cursus exclusively as a monument that encouraged movement along the path of the sun, east to west, Gaffney began to consider these gaps as “channels through the landscape” to guide the movement of people north to south.

A bigger discovery, Gaffney says, was a “bloody huge” pit about five yards in diameter at the eastern end of the Cursus. Today it lies buried at least three feet below the surface of the ground. Such a pit was much too large for a practical use—for instance, burying trash—because of the labor involved in digging it. In the archaeologists’ minds it could only have ritual implications, as “a marker of some kind,” Gaffney said. What’s more, if you drew a straight line between the pit and the heelstone at Stonehenge, it ran directly along the final section of the Avenue, on the path of the sunrise on the summer solstice.

“We thought, That’s a bit of a coincidence!” Gaffney recalled. “That was the point at which we thought, What’s at the other end? And there’s another pit! Two pits, marking the midsummer sunrise and the midsummer solstice, set within a monument that’s meant to be something to do with the passage of the sun.”

With his hands passing over the map, Gaffney showed how—on the longest days of the year—the pits formed a triangle with Stonehenge marking sunrise and sunset.

“Nobody had ever seen these pits before,” he continued. “But they link the area of Stonehenge with the Cursus directly. Either these things have been put inside the Cursus to mark these points, or the Cursus has been wrapped around them.”

What was so interesting about the Cursus pits was that they told a story about the landscape. The “sunrise” pit was visible from Stonehenge, but the “sunset” pit was not—it was nestled behind a ridge, and could have been seen only if there had been fire and smoke coming from it. (At some point the pits will have to be excavated for evidence of such activity.) These discoveries fed into a larger understanding of Stonehenge as “diachronic”—operating in light and dark, sunrise and sunset, day and night.

“The point I think we’re coming to,” said Gaffney, “is that increasingly we can see the area around Stonehenge as providing extensive evidence for complex liturgical movement—which we can now understand, largely because we know where things are.”

Parker Pearson, for his part, takes a cautious view of the new research. “Until you dig holes, you just don’t know what you’ve got,” he told me in his office at University College London. “What date it is, how significant it is. [There are] extraordinary new features coming up, and we’re thinking well, what are they?”

To be sure, he said the data from the Hidden Landscapes Project “backs up the pattern we’ve already been seeing for some years. We have an excessive number of solstice-aligned monuments in that landscape. Nowhere in the rest of Europe comes even close.” He added, “This is fantastic stuff that’s been done, and it’s raised a whole series of new questions,” he said. “It’s going to take years.”

***

The clouds shifted in front of the sun, dappling the landscape with shadow. Gaffney and I were walking the Avenue, 300 yards or so from Stonehenge, and in the distance a string of barrows gleamed like opals. Although he acknowledged the fallibility of all archaeological projection (“In the end,” he said, “we are all wrong”), his work has led him to a new interpretation of how Stonehenge was used.

Gaffney’s idea was not to focus on Stonehenge itself, but on “processionality” within the whole landscape. He imagined people moving around the area like Roman Catholics processing through the Stations of the Cross. He recalled an Easter Friday ritual he saw in Croatia, in which a “bloke with a cross” led fellow barefoot celebrants on a miles-long trip. In Gaffney’s view, the building of the great stone circle was a “monumentalizing” of a similar, if heathen, procession.

As we walked downhill through the fields, Gaffney stopped from time to time to point out the hillocks in which “the illustrious dead” were buried. He also noted how the Avenue was not a straight line between the Avon and Stonehenge, but rather a series of tacks that brought the visitor to the Stonehenge site in a “theatrical” way, along the line of sunrise on the summer solstice.

He thrust himself into the mind of a Bronze Age visitor to the site. “You will have seen nothing like it,” he said. “It would have been massively impressive.” Soon we descended into a valley called Stonehenge Bottom, only a hundred yards or so from the great stones. “They’re disappearing....Watch, just watch!” he said.

Within a few yards, the monument became invisible. When you picture Stonehenge in your mind’s eye, you imagine the concentric rings of vast stones standing in a desolate open landscape, visible for miles around. But now, here we were, a hundred yards away, and the thing had gone.

We stood in a field, watched by some lethargic cows, and savored the strangeness of the moment. Then, as we stepped uphill, Stonehenge re-emerged on the horizon. It happened fast. The lintels, then the great sarsens, then the smaller bluestones were suddenly before us.

Gaffney’s voice lifted. He spoke about Jerusalem Syndrome: the feeling of intense emotion experienced by pilgrims on their first sighting of the Holy City. In the prehistoric world, there was no conception of God as he was understood by the later Abrahamic faiths. But, said Gaffney, as Stonehenge reappeared before us, “whatever the ancient version of Jerusalem Syndrome is, that’s what you’re feeling now.”

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22 Aug 05:13

Contra o conservadorismo travestido de liberalismo nas eleições e na mídia

by Valdenor Júnior

Na última terça foi entrevistado na Rede Globo o candidato à presidência da República Pastor Everaldo, que defende um amplo programa de privatizações e, em suas próprias palavras, “o Estado mínimo”.

William Bonner questionou sua adesão ao liberalismo, ao que o candidato reiterava que, apesar de ter estado junto à esquerda brasileira de tradição trabalhista durante a maior parte de sua vida política, sempre acreditou no empreendedorismo e na meritocracia, que teriam sido prejudicados pelo agigantamento do Estado com o governo do PT.

Já o Candidato a Deputado Estadual Paulo Batista tornou-se, ontem, viral nas redes sociais, sendo citados por inúmeros sites incluindo o Terra e o Não Salvo, com seu vídeo do “Raio Privatizador”, onde aparece como um super-herói que dispara um raio laser de seus olhos, com os quais torna grevistas da USP pública em formandos de uma USP privatizada, entre outras façanhas. Seu slogan: “Contra comunista, vote no Batista”.  Ele mostrou em sua página no facebook que seu resultado do Diagrama de Nolan o apontaria como libertário.

Alguém poderia, então, pensar que o liberalismo está em alta na mídia e nas eleições, certo?

Não, não está. Preste atenção nos detalhes, caro leitor, pois o diabo está nos detalhes.

Na mesma entrevista, Pastor Everaldo deixou claro que sua principal defesa é a “da família” e pelo casamento conforme está na Constituição, em clara referência às suas pautas anti-progressistas no que diz respeito às questões LGBT. Além de contrário ao casamento e adoção por homossexuais e ao aborto, também se expressa contrário à legalização de qualquer droga, incluindo a maconha.

Aliás, na page de seu partido no facebook é afirmado explicitamente o ideal de um Brasil conservador, chegando a dizer que “O PSC defende uma sociedade em que a ordem moral tradicional e os costumes sociais sejam respeitados e preservados. Se você também defende esses valores para manter a ordem social, compartilhe!” com a seguinte imagem:

10406757_750916808303049_6959632005933217506_n(encontrado na page do partido do candidato aqui)

Há também a sugestão de que importantes conquistas das minorias seriam uma ameaça à família:

10464319_745576642170399_7180984675325740128_n(encontrado na page do partido do candidato aqui)

Uma das supostas ameaças à família adviria da Lei nº 12.845/2013. Uma lei que foi criada para proteger vítimas de violência sexual, preservando seu direito de receber atendimento hospitalar, inclusive para a realização do aborto que, nesse caso, é legal no país, mas que, pelo conservadorismo existente aqui, não se permitia fosse realizado pela rede pública de saúde. Mas o Pastor Everaldo deseja revogar essa lei, deixando milhões de mulheres desprotegidas ao negar um direito básico em face da violência sexual sofrida, especialmente as mulheres mais pobres.  Veja na imagem:

10455324_747710165290380_2021232655961607148_n

(encontrado na page do partido do candidato aqui)

De fato, o suposto “Estado mínimo” do Pastor Everaldo parece ser um “Estado máximo” quando se trata de negar liberdade de ação às minorias e de regular estilos de vida sob a suposta proteção da família.

Por outro lado, em outro vídeo, o candidato Paulo Batista apresenta um cigarro de maconha falante, instigando universitários a fazer greve. O que está sugerido nesse vídeo é uma das bandeiras da campanha de Batista: o fortalecimento da política proibicionista de guerra às drogas, especialmente em uma cruzada para o fim do que denomina como “bolsa crack”, dentro de uma política de “tolerância zero”. Veja por si mesmo:

10494419_741168895942795_3271208850464404973_o(encontrado na page do candidato aqui)

A incoerência é até maior porque referida proposta está contida em imagem onde Batista se autoproclama de “candidato da liberdade”. Lembrando que a proposta de “abolição da bolsa crack” deve ser lida conforme a imagem anterior. Veja:

10580094_739964939396524_5751130550296533704_n(encontrado na page do candidato aqui)

Em outra imagem, ressalta ainda mais que o substituto à “bolsa crack” é a “tolerância zero”:

10483693_737742479618770_4723101267638251195_n(encontrado na page do candidato aqui)

Batista deveria ter lido “Vícios não são crimes” de Lysander Spooner, assistido ao vídeo em que Milton Friedman defende a legalização das drogas, estudado a defesa de Jeffrey Miron (com base em estudos de “economia do crime”) da legalização de todas as drogas, ou ao menos ter lido a HQ de Stuart McMillen contando a história da guerra às drogas, com base na obra do já citado Friedman. Saberia que uma das bandeiras liberais é o fim de uma política que cerceia nossas liberdades, coloca pessoas não violentas atrás das grades (nos Estados Unidos, chegou ao ponto de que algumas foram condenadas a passar o resto de suas vidas em uma prisão) e mata muito mais do que os problemas de saúde relacionados ao abuso dessas substâncias pelo usuário, ao conferir uma fonte rápida de financiamento aos criminosos que passam a controlar este mercado. Não se engane, é Milton Friedman quem nos diz:

drogas

(Assista ao vídeo completo)

Como vimos, o suposto liberalismo desses candidatos é superficial, e, na verdade, eles são candidatos conservadores, não liberais. Mas essa confusão nem é de se estranhar. [UPDATE 29/08/2014: Dizer que Batista seria conservador gerou certa comoção entre pessoas que se consideram libertárias e o apoiam, e, após questionado, afirmou ser defensor da legalização das drogas, mas manteve a ideia da tolerância zero para agora. Mas isso cria graves questionamentos a esse tipo de discurso pragmático onde alguém que se autodeclara libertário adota uma agenda conservadora; discuto isso no texto "Libertários deveriam aceitar mais repressão às drogas em troca de menos impostos e privatizações?"]

Um famoso blogueiro da Veja, Rodrigo Constantino (na imagem que ilustra este texto, o vemos conversando com o Pastor Everaldo), se autodenomina como “liberal sem medo da polêmica”, mas na verdade é um neoconservador. Eu e Carlos Góes já escrevemos texto criticando seu posicionamento conservador em relação à família. E há momentos em que sua posição afunda no mais lamentável, estreito e cego direitismo.

Em face do texto de Miriam Leitão, onde a jornalista relata como foi torturada durante a ditadura militar (espancada brutalmente, jogada em uma sala com uma cobra, atiçaram cachorros contra ela, quando encarou um dos seus algozes levou um soco na cara pelo crime de olhar, a despiram, abusaram sexualmente dela e chegaram no limite do estupro, no final de tudo ainda simularam um fuzilamento) pelo crime de achar que o comunismo era bom em 1972, o que Rodrigo Constantino teve a dizer?

Constantino acha que ela deveria ter pedido desculpas por ter achado que o comunismo era bom quando jovem. Perceba: ela foi torturada grávida, e o mais importante que Constantino acha que tem a dizer é exigir dela um pedido formal de desculpas (sendo que ela apenas acreditava no comunismo, e nunca usou de violência contra ninguém).  E ainda: Constantino nem parece se preocupar com a Lei de Anistia, e com o fato do Estado brasileiro ter desculpado crimes hediondos de seus agentes, como todo liberal consistente deveria se incomodar. Aliás, nem é questão de liberalismo, é mais de humanidade simples ou bom senso mínimo. (Ao final do dia, o Editor da Veja.com pediu que Constantino retirasse o texto do ar)

E isso não é de hoje: no caso do assassinato de Cláudia Silva Ferreira por agentes policiais, cujo único “crime” foi o de estar com um copo de café à mão, e que por isso foi baleada, carregada até a viatura policial na qual seria levada para o hospital, colocada no porta-malas, que abriu no trajeto, de modo que seu corpo ficou preso no para-choque e foi arrastada por cerca de 350 metros pelo asfalto até ser empurrada de volta para dentro do carro, o que Constantino falou sobre isso em seu blog?

Nada.

Na verdade, estou sendo injusto: Há uma única referência. E a referência é apenas para criticar o texto de Erick Vasconcelos onde este denuncia a brutalidade policial e seu pretexto na guerra às drogas. O texto de Constantino tem como título “Legalizar drogas não é panaceia contra o crime. Ou: quando ‘libertários’ mais parecem comunistas“, e sua premissa é de que o Estado policial brasileiro não precisa ser severamente questionado, o que nenhum liberal sério jamais concordaria! (Recomendo que o leitor confira a réplica do Erick)

Curiosamente, no final desse texto, Constantino afirma: “Enfim, tudo isso poderia ser apenas um episódio menor a ser ignorado, não fosse o fato de que um texto absurdo desses fala em nome de muitos “libertários”, que mais parecem jovens saídos diretamente de uma reunião do PSTU ou do PSOL. De “libertários” assim, o movimento liberal não precisa mesmo!”

Sério mesmo? O movimento liberal não precisa é de tanta gente querendo adotar o rótulo de liberal, quando conhece de forma muito superficial essa tradição política e, na verdade, adota uma ideologia contraposta, o conservadorismo e o direitismo.

O liberalismo defende a mudança social e econômica profunda como objetivo final (mesmo quando o gradualismo é definido como meio). De fato, o liberalismo historicamente foi mesmo considerado de esquerda, foi oposição à plutocracia e aos imperialistas de todos os tipos. Como gosto de dizer, “liberalismo fora de contexto, é pretexto“, e o liberalismo deve resgatar seu papel enquanto um movimento inclusivo, libertador e humanitário.

Quanto à política, penso que um representante verdadeiramente progressista, libertário e liberal, deve pautar sua atuação na defesa radical da liberdade pessoal, da justiça social e da economia livre, com uma opção preferencial pelos mais pobres e pelas minorias, e focado na redução de danos gerados pelo próprio Estado. Descrevi um candidato semelhante, no contexto da política estadual e municipal em texto aqui para o Mercado Popular. Mas não encontrei entre os supostos candidatos liberais nenhum que adotasse este perfil – com certeza não no Pastor Everaldo e no Paulo Batista.

Por isso, estes supostos liberais em foco nas eleições e na mídia não representam o liberalismo. Se eles fossem representantes do liberalismo, eu não me consideraria mais liberal, porque de fato seria um posicionamento superficial, incompleto e mesmo prejudicial para lidar com os grandes problemas relativos à liberdade individual e às vulnerabilidades sociais e econômicas. Mas o fato é que eles não são, e o conservadorismo deles deve ser exposto e criticado como tal.

junior

Valdenor Júnior é advogado. Desde janeiro de 2013, escreve em seu blog pessoal Tabula (não) Rasa & Libertarianismo Bleeding Heart onde discute alguns de seus principais interesses: naturalismo filosófico, ciência evolucionária com foco nas explicações darwinianas ao comportamento e cognição humanas, economia, filosofia política com foco na compatibilidade entre livre mercado e justiça social. Também escreve para o Centro por uma Sociedade sem Estado – C4SS e o Liberzone.

21 Aug 20:00

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21 Aug 04:00

August 21, 2014

21 Aug 01:37

O problema com o movimento pelos direitos dos homens

by Valdenor Júnior

Por Erick Vasconcelos

O movimento de “direitos dos homens” (em inglês, Men’s Rights Activism – MRA), também chamado no Brasil de masculinismo, utiliza diversas estatísticas fora de contexto para avançar suas ideias de que homens, na verdade, são socialmente oprimidos. Recentemente encontrei um post no Facebook que listava algumas dessas estatísticas especificamente listadas para provar que, na verdade, os homens estão em situação desfavorável. O post era o seguinte:

40% das vítimas de violência doméstica são homens
94% das mortes e acidentes industriais acontecem para homens
75% de todas as internações em clínicas para tratamento de vício em droga
vem de lar sem pai
42% dos que se formam na universidade são homens
90% dos divórcios são requerido por mulheres
30% dos pais que registraram uma criança em seu nome ao fazer um teste de DNA descobrem que NÃO SÃO os pais biológicos
85% das crianças que apresentam distúrbios de comportamento provém de lar sem pai
71% das desistências no ensino médio são de lares sem pai
60% MENOS verba é destinada pelo governo para pesquisas sobre câncer de próstata em comparação à verba destinada para pesquisas sobre câncer de mama a despeito de vitimarem igualmente
80% dos suicidas são homens
63% dos suicídios de jovens estão relacionados a lares sem pai
76% dos assassinados são homens
90% dos moradores de rua são homens
90% das crianças de rua provém de lares sem pai
85% das detenções juvenis provém de lares sem pai
97% das mortes em combates desde a Guerra do Golfo foram de homens
90% dos pedidos de guarda por parte do pai são RECUSADOS.

Algumas dessas estatísticas são falsas (como a de violência doméstica), mas eu decidi escrever uma resposta mais extensa sobre por que o uso dessas estatísticas não faz qualquer sentido dado os objetivos dos masculinistas.

O problema com o MRA é que é um movimento que wants to have their cake and eat it too.

Eles querem manter uma cultura que estipula certos comportamentos culturais para os homens e não querem assumir os custos desses comportamentos.

Vamos deixar de lado a estatística mentirosa sobre violência doméstica. Algumas dessas outras estatísticas são falaciosas também, mas vamos tomá-las pelo valor de face.

A penúltima estatística, por exemplo, afirma que 97% dos mortos em combates militares desde a Guerra do Golfo são homens. Não sei se é uma estatística verdadeira, mas vamos presumir que seja.

O dado omitido é que mulheres historicamente são mais contrárias às intervenções militares e tendem a não entrar no exército. Nos EUA o alistamento não é obrigatório nem para homens nem para mulheres; os homens, porém, culturalmente procuram mais o serviço militar e são empregados em posições de combate.

Essa estatística é tão irrelevante quanto dizer “95% dos executivos que se suicidam são homens”, porque omite o fato de que entre os executivos há uma proporção esmagadora de homens. Também seria absurdo dizer que não há discriminação contra negros porque dentre as pessoas que pagam mais impostos os negros são os que menos pagam – o que pode ser verdade, mas que omite o fato de que negros pagam menos impostos proporcionalmente porque têm rendas menores.

Outro dado: mulheres são maioria nas universidades (a proporção nos países ocidentais gira em torno de 60% de mulheres, 40% de homens e também já vale para o Brasil). Esse eu posso atestar que é verdadeiro.

O que esse dado não diz é que os homens tendem a deixar os estudos por causa de demandas para que assumam a liderança financeira da casa, por exemplo, o que os força a arranjar empregos e impede que estudem.

Por outro lado, as mulheres também tendem a completar mais os estudos por causa do paternalismo de que elas não devem entrar no mercado de trabalho e devem se concentrar mais a atividades intelectuais por causa de sua natureza delicada, etc. E isso não leva nem em conta o fato de que cursos técnicos, por exemplo, como de engenharia são fortemente dominados por homens por motivos banais, enquanto mulheres tendem a entrar em áreas classicamente consideradas “femininas”, como psicologia – reforçando a ideia de que os homens são os únicos capazes de fazer o heavy lifting no trabalho, enquanto as mulheres são as únicas capazes de empatia humana.

Quer dizer, o patriarcalismo empurra os homens para fora da universidade e empurra as mulheres para dentro por motivos essencialmente iguais e essencialmente estereotipadores.

A estatística sobre as guardas infantis também me parece verdadeira, mas ela é revoltante justamente por isso.

Ela significa que juízes (majoritariamente homens, inclusive) ainda veem a mãe como a “provedora” dos filhos e, também por motivos paternalistas, tende a dar a guarda a ela. O pai ainda é culturalmente visto como um acidente e não como parte integral da criação e da vida da criança, o que faz com que os argumentos dele para a guarda infantil após a separação sejam vistos como mais fracos.

A estatística sobre crianças de rua só reforça essa ideia. Os homens aí não são vítimas, são os culpados: crianças de rua tendem a sair de lares sem pai. É verdade que crianças de rua tendem a advir de lares desestruturados; e isso acontece porque culturalmente os homens não assumem sua responsabilidade familiar e social em pé de igualdade com as mulheres. Nas favelas, mães solteiras em dificuldade econômica predominam. Se os filhos dessas mães acabam em situação de dificuldade, isso torna os homens, que fugiram de sua responsabilidade como pais, vítimas ou agressores?

Em resumo, os dados, mesmo que verdadeiros (e alguns são manipulados), contam outra história.

Eles dizem que os homens que não desejam se sujeitar à visão de masculinidade clássica (defendida por grupos de ativismo masculinista) são desprivilegiados em relação aos homens que assumem seu papel dentro de uma cultura patriarcalista, à qual coloca as mulheres em posição de fraqueza e deveres familiares, enquanto os homens ao mesmo tempo devem ser provedores mas têm menos deveres familiares ou sociais.

É por isso que as estatísticas do MRA são falaciosas.

___________________________________________________

Publicado originalmente no contrapolitcs

vasconcelos

Erick Vasconcelos é jornalista, tradutor e mestrando em comunicação pela Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. Gosta dos aspectos mais obscuros da filosofia e do movimento liberal, mas quando não está pensando neles, provavelmente está passando o tempo com algum jogo indie ou assistindo lutas de MMA, como todos deveriam. É dono dos blogs Manipulação, Contrapolitics e do finado Libertyzine. Também escreve para o Centro por uma Sociedade sem Estado – C4SS.

21 Aug 05:00

Como falar com nossos filhos

Como mostra Diogo Bercito (na Folha de 17/8), aumenta significativamente o número de judeus europeus que emigram para Israel. Comento a notícia com um amigo, que "entende" imediatamente: crescem, na Europa, as expressões (inclusive violentas) de antissemitismo, é lógico que um jovem judeu tenha vontade de ir embora.

Eu acho curioso que a gente entenda automaticamente o fenômeno como uma fuga dos perigos do antissemitismo europeu —como se Israel não fosse um país ameaçado. Ou seja, um jovem judeu francês pode decidir emigrar, não para fugir da França, mas para ir defender Israel.

Cuidado, não me interessa aqui decidir quem tem razão no Oriente Médio. O que me surpreende e me interessa é o viés cínico, que nos faz pensar que alguém só possa agir para fugir do perigo —como se a covardia fosse uma sabedoria implícita.

Não sei você, mas eu gostaria que meus filhos desejassem forte e corajosamente —não que vivessem uma vida acanhada e regida por interesses materiais imediatos. Como ensinar isso sem ser ridículo e pernóstico como um moralista?

Pois bem, fui assistir a "Chef", de e com Jon Favreau, porque procurava uma comédia da qual uma menina de 13 anos gostasse. Acertei: o filme é divertido e tocante, com uma ressalva: não entre no cinema de estômago vazio. Eu saí de lá com uma fome desgraçada, tanto de audácias gastronômicas de alta cozinha como da comida de caminhão de beira de estrada.

Seja como for, além de garantir o sorriso e o apetite, o filme é uma ocasião (imperdível) para pensar sobre o que transmitir para nossos filhos e como fazer isso. Sem spoilers, menciono alguns pontos.

1) Muitos homens acima de 50 anos acham que não deveriam se tornar pais: "Serei velho demais para jogar bola com meu filho". Amigo, seu filho (ou filha, se ele/ela gostar de futebol) terá muitos amigos para jogar bola, todos mais divertidos e melhores jogadores do que você. Na verdade, seu filho só vai achar importante que você jogue bola com ele se você tiver sido jogador de futebol de verdade. E, se você repetir mais uma vez que essa era sua real vocação, e que você tinha tudo para ser Garrincha, ele vai achar você patético. Nossos filhos não querem saber quais são nossos sonhos de uma infância ideal; eles querem saber quem somos nós, hoje, adultos.

2) É falsa a ideia de que os filhos nos pediriam sempre para "distraí-los" (levá-los à Disney, por exemplo). Quase sempre, as "distrações" que propomos às crianças revelam sobretudo nosso infantilismo.

3) Não tem como conhecer um filho sem se deixar conhecer por ele. Isso não significa contar ao filho detalhes espinhosos de nossa vida amorosa —como se a revelação comprovasse nossa cumplicidade. Deixar-se conhecer significa falar do que é importante para nós (sim, os filhos se interessam pelo que é realmente importante para nós —e os pais que não se importam com nada, em regra, criam filhos perdidos, sem rumo).

4) No filme, um dia, o pai explica ao menino que talvez ele não tenha sido um pai muito bom nem um marido muito bom, mas uma coisa ele sabe fazer: cozinhar para as pessoas —e nisso ele não quer e não vai falhar. O menino responde "Sim, chef", sem ironia alguma. Ou seja, você quer respeito de seu filho? Leve sua própria vida a sério.

Lembranças. Meu pai não fez nunca um esforço para me propor uma diversão que ele supusesse apropriada à infância. No máximo, ele me incluía nas diversões dele: cinema, teatro, leituras, visitas a igrejas, museus e monumentos. Eu só entendia que a vida devia ser uma coisa muito séria.

Ele nunca sentou para me dizer o que ele queria da vida, mas, lá pelos meus oito anos, num sábado, eu o acompanhei nas visitas que ele fazia a seus pacientes hospitalizados. No caso, o paciente estava num hospital psiquiátrico. Fiquei no carro esperando que meu pai voltasse. Alguém, ao lado do carro, aparava uma cerca viva com enormes tesouras de jardineiro. Pensei que fosse o fim: o jardineiro do hospício me olhava enviesado e ia se aproximando. Eu ouvia o clack-clack das tesouras.

Fui salvo pela chegada do meu pai, que conversou com o jardineiro e subiu no carro. Timidamente, perguntei se o jardineiro era um louco. Meu pai comentou: "Não é maravilhoso? Você achou que ele te olhava torto, e ele achou que você era encarregado de vigiá-lo". Aquele "maravilhoso" nunca me saiu da cabeça.

12 Mar 08:23

Almost died…



Almost died…

19 Aug 20:20

Mental Health Break

by Dish Staff
by Dish Staff

Music videos don’t get much better than this:

20 Aug 18:50

Winner Winner Second Dinner

by nedroid

Winner Winner Second Dinner

20 Aug 17:00

A Grounded Goth Teen Angrily Renames Household Items

by Mallory Ortberg

gothIt’s not a bathroom, it’s a PISS GRAVEYARD.

They’re not pants, they’re an ASS CAGE.

It’s not a vacuum cleaner, it’s a CHOKING ROBOT.

It’s not an alarm clock, it’s the METAL AWAKENING.

It’s not a door, it’s a WALL COFFIN.

It’s not a freezer, it’s a DINNER SARCOPHAGUS.

Those aren’t stairs, that’s a MUTILATED FLOOR.

That’s not a toothbrush, it’s a MOUTH INVADER.

That’s not a phone, it’s a VOICE PRISON.

That’s not a teakettle, that’s the LEAF COMMUNION.

That’s not a spice rack, that’s a FLAVOR CATACOMB.

Those aren’t Band-Aids, they’re SKIN LIES.

That’s not a sink, that’s a PIPE VOMITORIUM.

That’s not a comb, that’s a HAIR PIERCER.

That’s not a duvet, that’s a TAXIDERMIED BLANKET.

That’s not a litter box, it’s CAT SHIT JAIL.

They’re not boots, they’re FOOT CORSETS.

That cat isn’t fixed, he’s INTO HARDCORE CASTRATION BODY MODS.

Read more A Grounded Goth Teen Angrily Renames Household Items at The Toast.

19 Aug 22:00

How to Make Your Actions Seem More Glamorous (rerun)

by Scott Meyer

As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada).

20 Aug 03:03

Finally, a Use for Big Data: Cracking the Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript might have been dropped to Earth by aliens; it might be a medieval cipher whose mystery outlived anyone who had the key; it also might be a prank and moneymaking scheme by some haggard rare bookseller. But whatever the book actually is, Brazilian scientists are pretty certain that the manuscript's text—which is written in a language and alphabet only found in the Voynich itself—isn't just gibberish. There's meaning in there, and complex network modeling or other big data tools might crack the enigma that has thus far proven unbreakable.

Granted, the work led by Dr. Diego Amancio hasn't yet told us anything new about the manuscript, which is named for the antiquarian who came across the medieval-looking book in 1912, Wilfred Voynich. A professor at University of São Paulo's Institute of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Amancio found evidence that indicates, at least, that the manuscript makes some sort of sense. Beyond just revealing the manuscript's secrets, Amancio's work may help to boost the intelligence of bots past the Turing Test, like the impressive or maybe unimpressive software Eugene Gootsman, which famously sort of passed the test early this year.

“Our research has shown that the Voynich Manuscript presents a great deal of statistical patterns that are similar to those of natural languages,” says Amancio. Besides endorsing the existence of some meaning in the text, his conclusions fly in the face of many theories that treat this piece of work as an elaborate prank made by some old-school braggadocio.

Fraud theories have long loomed over the studies of the manuscript. Chemical analyses prove that the book was crafted between 1404 and 1439, but much of the book's life, like its meaning, remains shrouded. It began its rise to worldwide fame starting at the beginning of the 20th century, with its rediscovery in Italy, by the Polish bookseller Wilfrid Voynich.

Voynich wasn't able to translate the weird book, nor could he find anyone who could. Thanks to his efforts, however, the story of the Voynich Manuscript and its singular Voynichese language has piqued the interest of scientists and cryptographers no less notable than Alan Turing himself. None have succeeded, but people to this day won't give up trying.

It's easy to see why: The Voynich Manuscript boasts around 200 pages written in unknown characters, and filled with sketches of bizarre, unrecognizable plants, naked women diving into weird-ass pools, tentacled creatures, and Zodiac constellations. I mean, what's going on here?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In his thesis, published on the scientific magazine PLoS One, Amancio applied statistical methods to the text to determine if it was just codified mumbo-jumbo that looks a lot like a text—which frustrated would-be translators have accused it of being—or if its an actual text in an actual language. Instead of considering possible meanings, and attempting to translate, Amancio mapped the words with clusters and connection cables, in what is called complex network modeling.

“In texts, each distinct word represents a vortex. Each words are connected by an edge if they appear close to the other on it”, Amancio said. Programming on C and using the Network 3D software, Amancio managed to create gigantic orbital models in which words and their connections showed themselves according their presence and location within the text.

The researcher attested that the Voynich systems are, in 90 percent of cases, similar to those of other known books such as the Bible, indicating that it’s an actual piece of text in an actual language, and not well planned gibberish. While Voynichese has been accepted as very language-like, at least, by employing concepts such as frequency and intermittence, which measure occurrence and concentration of a term in the text, Amancio was able to discover the manuscript’s keywords.

The gigantic model created by Diego Amancio

What emerged are terms like cthygokeedy, and shedy. Although each original Voynichese letter got an equivalent from the Latin alphabet, the results don't make any sense to human beings yet. Let’s just say that Amancio sees that as an edge piece of a bigger, complicated puzzle. “These words can be studied further by cryptographers and other manuscript scholars," he says.

After so much research, even he can only guess at what the book's actual content says. “I believe it’s a compendium of medieval practices involving medicinal recipes, astrological and metaphysical descriptions and fertility rites, as the images imply,” he says.

FANTASTIC PAST, REAL FUTURE

The Voynich Manuscript is held at the Beinecke Library at Yale. Amancio saved himself a trip to New Haven, and instead examined the pages of the book through its digital version, which has opened the Voynich to any willing cryptographer with an internet connection.

At the beginning of 2014, Stephen Bax, professor of applied linguistics on Bedforshire University, in the UK, implied that Amancios's hunch is correct after using a totally different approach to the enigma. In an interview with Motherboard, Bax pointed to one of his articles wherein, just like the first Egyptologists, he began establishing meanings starting from capital letters, proper nouns and illustrative images. In this manner, Bax believes he discovered Voynichese words for “bull” and “coriander."

His line of work has attracted a great deal of criticism from other scholars though. The website Cipher Mysteries dismissed Bax as that dude who has come crashing in late to the party. Bax, though, shrugs and goes on trying to break the code. In the end, criticism like this is commonplace on the academic universe, and in the manuscript’s case, which has attracted its share of crackpots, even more so.

Jorge Stolfi, a specialist in natural languages’ processing, has studied the manuscript for seven years. He believes it to be a transcription of an East Asia language, but the Campinas University (Unicamp) professor avoids stating what the book contains for certain. “Even if my hypothesis is correct, I don’t dare foreseeing when it’ll be deciphered," he told FAPESP Magazine in an interview.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Another language specialist raised on a hard sciences diet, Osvaldo Oliveira Jr. is a bit more apprehensive regarding the Manuscript’s translation. The professor and director for USP São Carlos’ Physics Institute is openly enthusiastic about the possibilities presented by research that merge data and machine analysis with complex network modeling though.

“We want to use statistical physics to analyze texts. This is a hardware limitation in 2014, but it may not be so in 2020," he says. Along with Amancio and researchers Eduardo Altmann and Diego Rybski, Osvaldo is a co-author of the article on the manuscript. According to their research, the principles used on the book can also someday be used to identify the authors of unknown documents, as well as determine the most likely meaning for an ambiguous term, and even determine the quality of a translation.

If all it takes is more hardware to crack the Voynich manuscript, whose authorship, meaning, and translation have resisted revelation for over a century, it's time to send some processors to Brazil, stat. Making robotic Russian teenagers is one thing, but this is a whole new language game.

Bookmarked at brandizzi Delicious' sharing tag and expanded by Delicious sharing tag expander.
20 Aug 10:00

Idoso ‘passa’ o cartão em semáforo e ganha tempo extra para atravessar

ESTELITA HASS CARAZZAI, DE CURITIBA

A cidade de Curitiba está testando uma tecnologia inédita: um semáforo que dá mais tempo de travessia para idosos e pessoas com dificuldade de locomoção.

O local é estratégico: em frente ao Santuário do Perpétuo Socorro, no bairro Alto da Glória, onde toda quarta-feira se realiza uma das mais frequentadas novenas da cidade. Os idosos são público cativo.

São seis segundos a mais para a travessia da rua (de 12 para 18 segundos), que fica num cruzamento com vias de mão dupla –um desafio para o pedestre.

Só aproveita o benefício, porém, quem tiver o cartão transporte para idoso, usado no transporte público da cidade. É ele que, quando encostado ao semáforo, sinaliza ao equipamento para que aumente o tempo de travessia.

Veja as fotos

“Melhorou. Antes era uma correria para pegar o ônibus”, afirma Marlene Miller, 69, sobre o ponto que existe do outro lado da rua.

Agora, já é comum ver idosos saindo da igreja com o cartão transporte na mão, prontos para encostá-lo no semáforo.

O projeto ainda é piloto e deve ficar em testes por 90 dias.Por trás da iniciativa está um plano para diminuir o número de atropelamentos de idosos, as maiores vítimas desse tipo de acidente em Curitiba.

Só no ano passado, segundo levantamento da prefeitura, 30 idosos morreram atropelados na capital paranaense. Do total de acidentes com pedestres, 34% foram com pessoas com mais de 60 anos. É o maior grupo de risco na cidade.“Foram os dados que nos alertaram”, diz o diretor da Escola Pública de Trânsito de Curitiba, Cassiano Novo.

Com o alerta, os técnicos da prefeitura fizeram uma pesquisa com quase 500 idosos para saber a qual velocidade eles atravessavam a rua.

“A gente ouviu bastante [reclamação]”, conta Novo. Havia um semáforo no centro, próximo à praça Rui Barbosa, com míseros 6 segundos para travessia. “Nem quem anda numa velocidade normal conseguia atravessar.”

Depois do diagnóstico, a prefeitura começou a aumentar o tempo de travessia dos semáforos para pedestre na cidade. A ideia é alterar todos até o final de 2016, deixando entre 12 e 18 segundos para a travessia.

O semáforo para idosos, se aprovado, será implantado nos locais com maior fluxo de idosos e com alto índice de atropelamentos. O mapeamento já começou a ser feito pela prefeitura.

Até agora, a tecnologia não teve custo para o município. O projeto foi desenvolvido pela empresa Dataprom, que participou de um edital que convidava a iniciativa privada a apresentar propostas para melhorar a qualidade do trânsito de Curitiba.

Além do “sinaleiro” para idosos, estão em teste um radar que mede a velocidade média dos carros ao longo de uma via e sistemas eletrônicos para pagamento de estacionamento, entre outros projetos.

Siga o blog Brasil no Twitter: @Folha_Brasil

19 Aug 13:35

Por que ninguém comenta a melhor notícia do Oriente Médio?

by Gustavo Chacra

Há uma excelente notícia no Oriente Médio e quase ninguém fala nada. As armas químicas da Síria foram totalmente destruídas menos de um ano depois de estes armamentos terem sido usados nos arredores de Damasco em ação atribuída pelos EUA e países europeus às forças de Bashar al Assad – o regime sírio, assim como a Rússia, acusa rebeldes pelo uso. Não há uma conclusão independente.

Depois da ação, na qual mais de mil pessoas morreram, falcões em política externa dos EUA, tanto do Partido Democrata quanto do Republicano, defenderam uma intervenção militar com bombardeios a posições das forças de Assad. E isolacionistas, incluindo os libertários do Partido Republicano e a esquerda do Partido Democrata, se posicionaram contra.

O presidente Barack Obama estava relutante. Ameaçou abertamente bombardear, mas queria mais apoio internacional. No Conselho de Segurança da ONU, seria impossível diante do veto da Rússia e da China. Mas o cenário para os bombardeios ficou ainda mais complicado com o Parlamento britânico se posicionando contra uma participação do Reino Unido na ação.

Como alternativa, Obama disse que pediria autorização ao Congresso dos EUA, onde possivelmente o resultado seria favorável aos isolacionistas e o “não” ao bombardeio. Mas quem resolveu a questão, no final, foi a Rússia. O governo de Vladimir Putin, em relativa coordenação com Washington, convenceu o regime de Assad a entregar os armamentos.

As forças sírias, apesar de estar em meio a uma guerra civil contra o grupo ultra radical ISIS e a rede terrorista Al Qaeda, cumpriu sua promessa e entregou todo o arsenal químico para os EUA e outros países europeus. Ontem estas nações concluíram a destruição dos armamentos.

Caso houvesse bombardeios, provavelmente o regime sírio teria ficado enfraquecido. Como sabemos, as forças de Assad defendem e são apoiadas pelas minorias cristãs, alauítas e drusas, além de sunitas moderados. A consequência de bombardeios dos EUA, como defendiam falcões como John McCain, provavelmente seria o fortalecimento do ISIS e da Al Qaeda, com a possível tomada de Damasco. Cristãos, alauítas e drusos seriam perseguidos mortos, assim como ocorre com minorias no Iraque. Mais centenas de milhares de refugiados iriam para o Líbano, desestabilizando ainda mais o país. E o grupo mais radical da história moderna do Oriente Médio estaria na fronteira com Israel nas colinas do Golã.

Portanto, ponto para os governos dos EUA, da Rússia e da Síria, que conseguiram negociar uma saída diplomática para a crise das armas químicas.

Não sei como faz para publicar comentários. Portanto pediria que comentem no meu Facebook (Guga Chacra)  e no Twitter (@gugachacra), aberto para seguidores

Guga Chacra, comentarista de política internacional do Estadão e do programa Globo News Em Pauta em Nova York, é mestre em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade Columbia. Já foi correspondente do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo no Oriente Médio e em NY. No passado, trabalhou como correspondente da Folha em Buenos Aires

Comentários islamofóbicos, antissemitas, anticristãos e antiárabes ou que coloquem um povo ou uma religião como superiores não serão publicados. Tampouco são permitidos ataques entre leitores ou contra o blogueiro. Pessoas que insistirem em ataques pessoais não terão mais seus comentários publicados. Não é permitido postar vídeo. Todos os posts devem ter relação com algum dos temas acima. O blog está aberto a discussões educadas e com pontos de vista diferentes. Os comentários dos leitores não refletem a opinião do jornalista

Acompanhe também meus comentários no Globo News Em Pauta, na Rádio Estadão, na TV Estadão, no Estadão Noite no tablet, no Twitter @gugachacra , no Facebook Guga Chacra (me adicionem como seguidor), no Instagram e no Google Plus. Escrevam para mim no gugacha

19 Aug 19:00

Kool, Relevant Science: A Cartoon

by Emma Steinkellner

Emma Steinkellner’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

pss19

Read more Kool, Relevant Science: A Cartoon at The Toast.

19 Aug 20:00

dinosaurspen: Programmer, hardware engineer and attorney Mary...



dinosaurspen:

Programmer, hardware engineer and attorney Mary Allen Wilkes, pictured here programming a LINC computer at her parents’ Baltimore residence.

While Wilkes spent a brief four years at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, her contributions were immense: she played an instrumental role in the creation of LINC, the first viable small computer and progenitor of DEC’s PDP-8 line, programmed its operating system (the LINC Assembly Program or LAP) and developed the assembler-linker model used by modern compilers. In 1965, she designed and built a computer at home and is subsequently cited as the first owner of a “personal computer” by some computer history experts. 

[Further reading: x x]

19 Aug 21:42

Egypt urges US restraint in Ferguson

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Zoeira overflow.

Police in riot gear patrol the streets in Ferguson, Missouri - 18 August 2014
Heavily armed police wearing riot gear have become a regular sight on the streets of the St Louis suburb

Egypt's government has called on US authorities to show restraint against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

It said it was "closely following the escalation of protests" after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman on 9 August.

The statement echoes US President Barack Obama's comments during Egypt's crackdown on protesters in 2013.

Correspondents say the criticism is unusual since Egypt gets about $1.5bn (£1bn) in aid from the US every year.

President Obama is under increasing pressure to bring an end to the violent scenes in the St Louis suburb.

It is now 10 days since Michael Brown's death, which sparked mass demonstrations.

Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri, has ordered the National Guard to support police operations, but violence flared again on Monday night, with law enforcement officers arresting 31 people.

Police officers point their weapons at demonstrators protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri - 18 August 2014
The unrest continued on Monday night, with police firing tear gas at crowds of demonstrators

The statement from Egypt's foreign ministry followed a similar call from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who called on Missouri police to abide by "US and international standards".

Iran added its voice to the criticism, with Majid Takht-Ravanchi, the deputy foreign minister for European and American Affairs, saying the unrest was a sign of "the phenomenon of racism" in the West.

Meanwhile Chinese state news agency Xinhua said that despite the US playing the role of an international human rights defender, the clashes showed "there is still much room for improvement at home".

"Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others," the Xinhua editorial added.

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19 Aug 16:02

Ferguson and the Troubled Spirit of St. Louis

by John Payne

I live in the city of St. Louis, about 10 miles south of the suburb of Ferguson as the crow flies. As I have watched national media cover the events in Ferguson over the past 10 days, I have wondered what impression people outside of St. Louis have formed about the city.

The first thing that outsiders should know is that Ferguson is not some post-urban hellscape. It’s a working class suburb with a roughly two-thirds majority black population, which is not unusual for communities in north St. Louis County. Nor is the city government and law enforcement exceptionally poorly managed or racist. That is not a compliment, however. Most St. Louisans think of our area as representative of the nation as a whole, and there is a great deal of truth to that. But, like the nation at large, St. Louis is still divided along racial lines. Ferguson exploded as a flash point specifically because of the shooting of Michael Brown, but many communities in the area are just tinderboxes waiting for a spark.

The St. Louis metropolitan area can largely be divided into five areas. First, there is the city of St. Louis itself, which seceded from St. Louis County in 1876, making it both a city and county under state law. A little more than 300,000 people call the city of St. Louis home, and it is almost equally divided between black and white. That’s true both in terms of numbers and geography, with Delmar Boulevard serving as a stark dividing line between the south (mostly white) and north (essentially all black) parts of the city.

A plurality of area residents live in St. Louis County, with just under a million people according to the last census. St. Louisans usually subdivide the county into the informal regions of south, west, and north, which some people actually mistake for counties themselves. To put it as briefly as possible, the south county region is working class and largely white; west county is middle and upper class and white; and north county is working class and largely black. The demographics of north county—where Ferguson is located—have changed the most in recent years, with many white residents moving into the outer counties—most notably by moving west across the Missouri River into St. Charles County.

Ferguson exemplifies the shifting demographics of north county. It was nearly three-quarters white in 1990 and is two-thirds black now. However, I do not want to give the impression that people are moving away from Ferguson because it is a particularly undesirable place to live. It is served by the Ferguson-Florissant School District, which is one of the better districts in north county. By contrast, the school districts of St. Louis, Jennings, Riverview Gardens, and Normandy School District—where Michael Brown graduated this spring—have all lost their state accreditation. And on the subject of school districts, I am obliged to mention what is often called “the St. Louis question”: Where did you go to high school? This single question can neatly profile your race, class, religious affiliation, and upbringing. The question speaks to a local insularity and desire to keep to one’s social milieu that is stronger in St. Louis than other metropolitan areas that I know.

That’s not necessarily problematic, but it is very easy to live in St. Louis and only interact with people of your background. That can quickly lead to labeling people who don’t fit that as other and unwelcome. I do not believe that St. Louisans harbor more racist attitudes than people in other cities, but they are more skeptical of those they consider to be outsiders.

That said, Ferguson law enforcement is hardly alone in struggling with race relations. Just a few miles away in 96.4 percent black Pine Lawn, the police department is well-known for hiring the castoffs of other area departments and is regarded as something of a public joke in the law enforcement community. In 2012, the NAACP lodged 20 complaints of civil rights violations with the city.

Since 2012, University City—home to Washington University, my alma mater—has imposed a 9:00 p.m. curfew on teenagers under 17 in the Delmar Loop, a popular strip of bars, restaurants, music venues, and retail shops. Of course, the mostly white college students are not affected by the curfew, but the black teenagers who live around the area are rounded up with regularity. Police enforce the policy with the “nuisance abatement vehicle,” which is an armored vehicle mounted with cameras that allow it to record all 360 degrees.

In the primarily black neighborhoods north of Delmar, violent crime remains a serious problem. Nevertheless, University City seems to invest more resources in chasing black teens away from more affluent areas in quasi-military vehicles than in protecting their lives. I’m sure that makes an impression.

It may come as a surprise, but the city of St. Louis enjoys relatively good race relations compared to some of the suburbs. Mayor Francis Slay is white, but President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, who is black, mounted a strong challenge to Slay in 2013.

Perhaps more importantly, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department does not take a heavy-handed approach to minor offenses. For instance, possession of marijuana was decriminalized in the city last year. But even before the law was officially changed, city police did their best to avoid arresting low-level offenders, making only 58 arrests in 2011, compared to over 20,000 statewide. But even with the relaxed enforcement, the arrest numbers reflect a strong racial bias, blacks being more than 18 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites according to an ACLU report released last year.

In Ferguson itself, many people have seen the 2009 case where a black man was charged with bleeding on the uniforms of the Ferguson PD officers who beat him. But I know that police harassment is also a daily occurrence for many black residents. For instance, for the past three years, my best friend worked for an alternative learning center located at West Florissant and Canfield, just a few hundred yards from where Brown was shot. The center specializes in teaching students who dropped out but have come back to earn their diploma.

Even before this shooting, my friend complained frequently that the Ferguson police stopped and searched his students on their way to school nearly every morning. The problem became so bad that the teachers contacted their administration to ask for name tags for students so that the police would stop harassing them and allow them to get to class on time. In another case, a student was arrested and held for 24 hours because he was short and had dreadlocks, which matched the description of a robbery suspect—and probably a thousand other men in the area.

What happened in the Michael Brown case is still unclear, but what is clear is that the black community in Ferguson has lost all faith in local law enforcement. Speaking as someone who has lived in the area almost all of my adult life, I understand why. What’s more troubling is that I know that problem is hardly limited to Ferguson.

John Payne is the executive director of Show-Me Cannabis and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

16 Aug 14:29

Banco do Brasil cria cartão "seguro" para compras online

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Sobremaneira interessante...

Getty Images

Comércio eletrônico

Comércio eletrônico: cliente poderá informar apenas os dados do cartão virtual em compras

Brasília - Os clientes do Banco do Brasil terão a opção de gerar cartões virtuais customizados para compras em sites de comércio eletrônico, nacionais ou internacionais.

Os chamados "cartões-espelho" poderão ser criados a partir das necessidades dos consumidores: serão dadas opções para a validade, o limite, a quantidade de transações e a bandeira (Elo, Visa ou Mastercard). Nas compras em e-commerce ou por telefone, o cliente poderá informar apenas os dados do cartão virtual.

As aquisições feitas pela nova ferramenta, chamada Ourocard-e, continuarão sendo lançadas na fatura do cartão de crédito principal, no caso de uso dos cartões virtuais, ou na conta corrente no caso das ferramentas das bandeiras para compras via cartões de débito, além de contar com os mesmos benefícios e pontuação do programa de fidelidade.

O BB diz que desenvolveu a tecnologia com base em pedidos dos próprios clientes, que se sentiam inseguros em fornecer os dados do cartão de crédito nas compras eletrônicas.

Pesquisa da Fecomércio/SP com mil internautas paulistanos mostrou que os golpes de clonagem de cartão de crédito ou débito aumentaram em participação no ranking dos principais crimes eletrônicos neste ano. Em 2014, 44,5% disseram que elas ou parentes foram vítimas desse crime. No ano anterior, o índice era de 31,8%.

O banco afirma que o Ourocard-e é uma inovação mundial, pois é o primeiro cartão multibandeira e multifunções (crédito, débito e crediário). "O Ourocard-e é mais uma das nossas ações voltadas para ampliarmos cada vez mais a possibilidade de utilização de cartões no ambiente de e-commerce", afirma Raul Moreira, diretor de Cartões do BB.

Para ele, a nova plataforma será um diferencial do banco em um segmento que cresce a taxas médias de 30%. O comércio eletrônico representa 13% das transações dos 10 milhões de clientes do BB que utilizam a função crédito todo mês. Ele acredita que, em cinco anos, o e-commerce vai responder pela metade das transações de crédito.

Débito

Também foi desenvolvida uma ferramenta para os clientes que preferem realizar as compras por meio da função débito dos cartões. Para isso, o estabelecimento comercial precisa adotar as novas soluções do banco. O cliente tem de optar por qual bandeira quer pagar (Verified By Visa, Secure Code -Mastercard ou Pagamento Seguro Elo) e utilizar a mesma senha que permite a movimentação da conta corrente.

As informações são do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo.

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19 Aug 16:00

fuckyeahfortran: Dream Job: 80’s Programming Guide Cover...



fuckyeahfortran:

Dream Job: 80’s Programming Guide Cover Illustrator

19 Aug 17:13

Fim da revista vexatória: 5 passos para uma vitória política

Revista íntima deixa de ser feita em São Paulo

Revista íntima deixa de ser feita em São Paulo

“Foi um alívio. Só de não ver minha filha chorando de tirar a roupinha, já dei um grande suspiro”, escreveu a familiar de um preso sobre a visita que fez a uma penitenciária neste fim de semana. “Flórida Paulista sem revista íntima”, informou outra pela rede social. “CDP II de Guarulhos também”, respondeu mais uma. “CDP de Suzano foi suave. Outro nível entrar na cadeia e não tirar a roupa.”

Junqueirópolis, Lavínia III, Itapetininga, CDP de São Bernardo, CDP de Belém, Mauá, Parelheiros. Diversos familiares de presos confirmaram que no último final de semana, 16 e 17/8, os visitantes não precisaram tirar a roupa em todas as unidades prisionais do estado de São Paulo.

No presídio de Valparaíso, por exemplo, mães e crianças que costumavam aguardar até o meio-dia para entrar anteciparam a espera em 3 horas. A agilidade na entrada foi elogiada. Mulheres e crianças passavam pelo portal: detectores de metais. Caso apitasse, ficava proibido o ingresso, o que prejudicou algumas visitantes e gerou reclamação. O balanço geral entre as visitas, no entanto, foi altamente positivo. O fim imediato das revistas vexatórias neste fim de semana surpreendeu, já que o governo paulista ainda tinha 180 dias para regulamentar a nova lei e colocá-la em prática.

Na última quarta-feira, 13/8, foi publicada a sanção do governador Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) para a lei 15.552/14, que proíbe estabelecimentos prisionais de submeterem visitantes a procedimentos invasivos, como o desnudamento, o agachamento sobre espelhos e as inspeções anais e vaginais.

Se as ruas foram o palco principal das manifestações em junho do ano passado, o fim das revistas vexatórias pôs em prática uma estratégia alternativa, obtendo rápida e contundente vitória ao pressionar o Congresso Nacional e o governo de São Paulo a acabarem com as revistas íntimas nos presídios. Na última quarta-feira, 13/8, foi publicada a sanção do governador Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) para a lei 15.552/14, que proíbe estabelecimentos prisionais de submeterem visitantes a procedimentos invasivos como o desnudamento, o agachamento sobre espelhos e as inspeções anais e vaginais.

Em julho passado, o projeto de lei 7764/14, com teor semelhante, foi aprovado por unanimidade no Senado e aguarda votação na Câmara. A mobilização que começou mais intensamente em março continua para acompanhar os desdobramentos políticos em São Paulo e em Brasília.

A luta pelos direitos humanos não estava voltada somente às vítimas de abuso. Mas para toda a sociedade, que tem a ganhar com o fortalecimento dos laços familiares dos presos, fator maior de esperança na ressocialização

Seguem abaixo 5 passos principais que levaram a essa conquista política liderada pela sociedade civil. Aprenda, caso tenha sua pauta a reivindicar:


1) Foi preciso encontrar dados e documentos que sustentassem os motivos da necessidade social da mudança. Os governos argumentavam que os procedimentos invasivos eram necessários para evitar a entrada de drogas, celulares e produtos proibidos nos presídios. Em São Paulo, por meio da Lei de Acesso à Informação, a Rede de Justiça Criminal (formada por Conectas, Pastoral Carcerária, Defensoria Pública, Instituto Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania, Sou da Paz, IDDD, Justiça Global, NEV-USP) pediu os dados dos resultados das revistas a familiares para a Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária. Descobriu-se que a média de apreensão de objetos proibidos era de 3 casos para cada 10 mil famílias revistadas. No caso da Fundação Casa (cujo folheto de orientação a funcionários é mostrado abaixo), em 16 mil revistas feitas em unidades do ABC paulista em um ano e meio, não houve nenhuma apreensão relevante. O que significava um tremendo e traumático esforço, com custos diversos, para resultados pífios.

2) Com os dados em mãos, buscou-se mostrar como a mudança poderia produzir resultados positivos para toda a sociedade. Com cerca de 576 mil presos, o Brasil já é o 4o país do mundo com a maior população carcerária. Pouco menos de um terço está em São Paulo. Qual o objetivo desse encarceramento em massa? Além de punir, a pena tem o papel de reintegrar o preso. O desafio é inglório e pode ser facilitado com a presença da família e a manutenção dos laços afetivos com aqueles que estão do lado de fora. A humilhação por meio de revistas íntimas em dias de visita aos familiares dos presos vinha sendo uma forma de o governo paulista espantar os familiares dos presídios e minar assim as possibilidades de ressocialização.

3) Encontraram-se formas de explicar e dialogar com toda a sociedade sobre as razões da luta. A Rede de Justiça Criminal fez uma parceria com uma grande agência publicitária que se dispôs a pensar em formas de mostrar o drama para a população vítima dessa política. A ideia foi obter cartas de presas que passaram pelo processo para que o público se colocasse no lugar delas e sentisse na pele as injustiças da medida. Essas cartas foram lidas por atores e os vídeos foram disponibilizados no YouTube, assim como uma série de depoimentos. Um site foi criado para divulgar o debate, que estimulava os visitantes a mandar mensagem ao presidente do Senado cobrando a revisão da lei.

4) Foram ainda mobilizadas pessoas dispostas a contarem suas trajetórias para o público. A situação constrangedora e a fragilidade em que se encontram familiares dos detentos muitas vezes impedem essas histórias de virem à tona. Com a mobilização da Rede, mães e mulheres dos presos se sentiram respaldadas para denunciar os abusos. As histórias repercutiram na imprensa. Depois de conversar com algumas dessas mulheres, este blog publicou matérias sobre o tema. Reportagem reveladora saiu na Ilustríssima da Folha de S. Paulo. No mesmo jornal, o ex-ministro José Carlos Dias publicou artigo condenando as revistas vexatórias. A descrição de casos concretos causa empatia e aumenta o compromisso com a mudança.

5) Desmobilizar fica proibido. Apesar da vitória parcial, ainda existem problemas a serem acompanhados durante a implementação da lei. O Governo de São Paulo tem até 180 dias para regulamentar a lei por meio de um decreto. Scanners corporais são apontados como a solução adequada para garantir procedimentos humanitários sem comprometer a segurança do sistema. Eles evitam eventuais contrabandos aos presídios sem constranger mulheres e crianças. Dois vetos causaram preocupação nas entidades de direitos humanos. O primeiro determinou que a proibição não abrangeria manicômios judiciais e internação de menores, como é o caso da Fundação Casa. Com o veto, a revista vexatória fica impedida somente em ‘estabelecimentos prisionais’ em São Paulo. Humilhações semelhantes ocorrem hoje nas unidades da Fundação Casa, como mostra o vídeo abaixo. Não é admissível que as unidades para crianças e adolescentes fiquem de fora da nova lei. O segundo veto proibia a revista mecânica e eletrônica em gestantes e portadores de marca passo. Os desdobramentos seguem sob vigilância da sociedade civil.



Não foi uma vitória trivial, daquelas capazes de render votos aos políticos responsáveis pela aprovação. Foi preciso abrir o debate e aprofundar os argumentos. A mudança tinha forte resistência da Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária, que terá que se adequar à nova lei. Talvez o desafio maior da articulação tenha sido mostrar que a luta pelos direitos humanos não estava voltada somente às vítimas de abuso. Mas para toda a sociedade, que tem a ganhar com o fortalecimento dos laços familiares dos presos, fator maior de esperança na ressocialização.
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18 Aug 13:47

China pisa em ovos na questão do Estado Islâmico

by Felipe Corazza

A postura do governo chinês nos fóruns internacionais de discussão – na ONU, notadamente – a respeito do combate ao grupo Estado Islâmico no Iraque e na Síria é, ao mesmo tempo, de estímulo e cautela. A posição chinesa tem relação direta com uma questão interna do país comandado por Xi Jinping: a questão dos uigures em Xinjiang. A Região Autônoma chinesa é dor de cabeça constante desde 1949.

O movimento separatista do Turquestão do Leste, que defende a formação de uma grande nação islâmica abarcando a Província chinesa e áreas vizinhas pertencentes ao Cazaquistão, voltou aos holofotes recentemente com ataques violentos em trens e uma suspeita de atentado frustrado na praça Tiananmen, mas o combate a seus integrantes por parte do governo central nunca parou.

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Episódios violentos como ataques a delegacias de polícia ou a estabelecimentos comerciais ocorrem com frequência em Urumqi e outras cidades de Xinjiang. Do outro lado, prisões arbitrárias e repressão pesada sufocam a comunidade uigur – nem todos, obviamente, integram o movimento extremista, mas a maioria sofre com as consequências de seus atos.

No primeiro momento, o combate aos jihadistas no Iraque é boa oportunidade para o governo chinês. Puxando a questão para o seu lado, Pequim consegue um argumento forte para a repressão mais acentuada em Xinjiang.

Nas palavras de Liu Jieyi, representante da China na ONU, a comunidade internacional precisaria de um esforço conjunto para fazer cessarem as fontes de financiamento dos militantes do Estado Islâmico e da Frente Al-Nusra, que combate na Síria. Nas entrelinhas, a China pede também que se sufoquem as fontes de financiamento do movimento de Xinjiang, que conta com razoável apoio externo vindo de grupos e indivíduos jihadistas.

Enquanto o lado do combate às fontes do financiamento dos extremistas agrada a Pequim, a decisão de intervenção militar direta externa no Iraque é o ponto em que o Partido Comunista chinês se distancia novamente da comunidade internacional. O governo chinês segue sua praxe de não declarar apoio a intervenções diretas.

A posição chinesa é a mesma há muito tempo em relação a missões militares de “estabilização”. Pequim considera que tais decisões tomadas nas Nações Unidas sempre abrem precedente para uma hipotética intervenção na própria China.

Por enquanto, o ganho político em relação à repressão aos movimentos dos uigures supera, em muito, o temor chinês de uma intervenção externa. Resta a Pequim o temor de que o Estado Islâmico influencie jihadistas a abrirem uma nova frente de batalha na região. A fronteira com o Cazaquistão, apesar da geografia espinhosa e da vigilância constante, ainda é porosa ao ponto de permitir passagem de a

19 Aug 10:00

Unschooling: the Future of Education?

by Gracy Olmstead

Ben Hewitt doesn’t send his boys to school—he doesn’t even own a curriculum. He’s an “unschooling” parent. Though the method has grown in popularity since educator John Holt introduced it in his books and theory, many Americans are still largely unaware of the term’s meaning or methodology. Hewitt explains and introduces the concept at Outside magazine:

It is already obvious that unschooling is radically different from institutionalized classroom learning, but how does it differ from more common homeschooling? Perhaps the best way to explain it is that all unschooling is homeschooling, but not all homeschooling is unschooling. While most homeschooled children follow a structured curriculum, unschoolers like Fin and Rye have almost total autonomy over their days. At ages that would likely see them in seventh and fourth grades, I generously estimate that my boys spend no more than two hours per month sitting and studying the subjects, such as science and math, that are universal to mainstream education. Not two hours per day or even per week. Two hours per month.

But perhaps to abate the shock and alarm of thousands of parents, Hewitt adds,

Our sons are not entirely self-taught; we understand the limits of the young mind and its still-developing capacity for judgment. … I can report that Fin and Rye both learned to read and write with essentially zero instruction, albeit when they were about eight years old, a year or so later than is expected. They can add and subtract and multiply and divide. I can report that they do indeed have friends, some who attend school and some who don’t, and their social skills are on par with their peers. In fact, Penny and I often hear from other adults that our sons seem better socialized than like-aged schoolchildren.

Hewitt believes that unschooling makes his boys happier, healthier, and more exuberant learners. He’s part of a growing group of parents who thinking homeschooling—whether applied via a more structured format, or via the more self-directed unschooling methodology—presents a better environment for children to grow and learn.

The greatest contrast to unschooling, perhaps, is the helicopter parenting method, in which children adhere to a very strict curricular and extra-curricular regimen. This sort of learning can take place in public or private school, or even occasionally in homeschooling households. Such families usually have at least the outline of a college plan in mind for their children, and their academic, athletic, and artistic pursuits will align with this overarching trajectory. Many parents encourage this “track” in hopes that their children will be successful in their future adult lives. However, these “guaranteed” methods for career success have fallen into disarray as of late. With crippling student loans and shaky job prospects confronting college graduates at every turn, many are reconsidering their demanding trajectories, wondering whether the work is truly worth it.

On the opposite end of the educative spectrum, we have more libertarian, loose methods, in which children are given a vast array of freedom over their education. This can either be intentionally or passively developed: some children in public school may receive little to no adult supervision. The system is very flexible, giving parents the opportunity to lean in or opt out of their children’s education.

But then there’s unschooling: a very intentional sort of negligence (though the word “negligence” is perhaps a bit too dysphemistic). Parents choose to let their children choose, sculpt, direct, and orchestrate their own education (or lack thereof). This method seems to have two common motivations that separate it from the more popular method of “homeschooling”: first, there are unschooling parents who acknowledge that children will learn what they truly want to learn, and that forcing them down a given path can have deleterious consequences. They see that their children are highly motivated when they are free to pursue their own aspirations, ambitions, and projects, and want to foster this sort of driven passion in their children’s learning. Thus, the reasoning goes, what better than to give them control of their own education?

But some parents are likely to adopt unschooling because they think children know what they need better than adults do. It’s a sort of “noble savage” approach to the world of education and child-rearing. As unschooling parent Joyce Fetterol put it on her blog, Joyfully Rejoycing,

[If] they are happy and free and are making these choices because it brings them joy, then we should trust that it really is what they want or need right now. … We need to trust that when it is enough for them, then they will stop. Their ‘enough’ may be different from where ours is.

While parents like Fetterol have excellent intentions, the results of their approach are often mixed. Children, despite their innocence, are also ignorant—and often foolish. If a child wants to spend their days reading comic books and playing video games, because they think it’s best for them, should a parent intervene? At what point does one draw the line, and decide more supervision is necessary? Hewitt’s success relies at least in part on the fact that his sons live on a farm: thus, they have very structured and supervised days. Though their educational pursuits may not be mandatory, their daily chores are. This gives an important structure and framework to their day, in the way school would.

But the dilemma of unschooling remains: how much freedom is too much freedom? If we let children direct their own education, should we also let them direct their leisure time, social activities, spiritual, or emotional development? At what point do parents say “no” to a given pursuit or inclination? During past interviews on this subject, a few different unschooling parents told me they make sure unschooling does not because “unparenting”: children still receive daily supervision, chores, parental direction, etc. It seems Hewitt may take a similar approach with his boys.

And it seems that the unschooling method, when developed along these parameters, may indeed lead to healthier, happier kids: kids who have time to play, get exercise, develop their reasoning and problem-solving capacities, to discover and develop their pursuits with alacrity and passion. They can learn at their own pace, without the pressure and competition of a classroom. Some more extroverted or competitive children may find this method less palatable, but for highly self-motivated or introverted learners, something like the unschooling method may help them flourish and grow intellectually.

It’s also worth noting that, in today’s challenging job market, students may need a method such as this to thrive. Many of the grownup unschoolers I’ve met have become truly excellent at their given pursuit, whether science, veterinary work, farming, engineering, or what-have-you. These young adults were given the freedom and tools to build their own career out of passion and excitement, rather than squeezing such pursuits in between mandatory English and Chemistry classes.

But this seeming strength of unschooling could also be its greatest weakness: it pursues specificity to the detriment of balance and intellectual sagacity. Children’s pursuits could become too single-minded, too narrow, thus leading them to future career disappointments, or even into intellectual prejudice and ignorance. The liberal arts education customary amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans was thought to foster freedom, by nature of its scope and depth. It covered a swath of topics, from mathematics to music, that were thought to foster a healthy mind and virtuous character. The topics it presented transcended the professional, vocational, or technical, and sought to craft superior intellects and souls.

This is the sort of education that falls most into disrepute in modern America: we look at the classical liberal arts, and ask what they’re good for—yet if we dispose of this solid educational core, we estrange children from the deeper tenets by which they can organize and sort their lives. The liberal arts helps young adults and children develop intellectual discernment, which then enables them to navigate the more practical, technical facets of human existence.

Perhaps the best sort of unschooling method would be one in which students are encouraged to learn this core of important subjects—but are also given the freedom to pursue such subjects at a pace, and in a venue, they are most comfortable with. They may be told that they must read three classic works of fiction, and three of non-fiction, per semester—but they can read in the evening before bed, in the mornings before breakfast, or in the afternoon under a tree in the backyard. They must study basic math and geometry—but they can find innovative and practical ways in which to do so. They must learn a language, but they can pick the language and the method. On the list goes: giving students freedom, yet still directing them toward the principles of liberal education.

These questions of methodology are vitally important, as the next generation faces a daunting educational and career hurdle. Parents and children may need to bend, or even break, the customary ideals and stereotypes associated with a “good” education in order to succeed. But we must continually endeavor to align our schooling system—be it public, private, home, or “un”—with the higher principles of education, and what it’s for. Those principles never go out of style.

18 Aug 14:51

The Shape of Ideas

by Grant


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