Facebook Removes Conservative Brazilian Accounts After Court Declares Them ‘Fake News’

Facebook announced on Sunday that it would comply with a Brazilian Supreme Court order to remove 12 accounts belonging to supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro.

The court claimed that the accounts were guilty of “fake news” and forced the American company to delete them. In a company statement, Facebook said it would comply with the order to avoid risking criminal liability for employees in Brazil, but called the measure “extreme” and a “threat to freedom of expression” outside of Brazil.

The statement read:

Facebook complied with the order of blocking these accounts in Brazil by restricting the ability for the target Pages and Profiles to be seen from IP locations in Brazil. People from IP locations in Brazil were not capable of seeing these Pages and Profiles even if the targets had changed their IP location.

This new legal order is extreme, posing a threat to freedom of expression outside of Brazil’s jurisdiction and conflicting with laws and jurisdictions worldwide. Given the threat of criminal liability to a local employee, at this point we see no other alternative than complying with the decision by blocking the accounts globally, while we appeal to the Supreme Court.

Last Friday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes also ordered Facebook to pay a 1.92-million-real ($367,000) fine for “non-compliance” with the initial order, adding that it would face additional daily fines of 100,000 reais ($19,000) if it did not remove the accounts worldwide.

De Moraes has become an unpopular figure among Bolsonaro supporters, many of whom accuse him of trying to usurp power from Bolsonaro. In May, the 51-year-old ordered raids against 29 comedians, YouTubers, and other pro-Bolsonaro journalists as part of a supposed crackdown on “fake news.”

Since Bolsonaro’s election in 2018, Facebook has repeatedly targeted him and his followers for censorship. Even before his victory, the network blacklisted accounts and pages described as his “main network of support” for supposedly violating the website’s rules related to spam.

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Glenn Greenwald Charged With Cybercrimes in Brazil

Federal prosecutors in Brazil on Tuesday charged the American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes for his role in bringing to light cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anticorruption task force.

In a criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, prosecutors in the capital, Brasília, accused Mr. Greenwald of being part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of several prosecutors and other public officials last year.

Mr. Greenwald, an ardent critic of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a deeply polarizing figure in Brazil, where his work is lionized by leftists and condemned as partisan and heavy handed by officials in the Bolsonaro administration.

The news organization Mr. Greenwald co-founded, The Intercept Brasil, published articles last year based on the leaked cellphone messages that raised questions about the integrity and the motives of key members of Brazil’s justice system.

The articles cast doubt on the impartiality of a former judge, Sérgio Moro, and of some of the prosecutors who worked on a corruption investigation that landed several powerful political and business figures in prison.

Among those charged in connection with the corruption investigation was a former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a popular leftist whose conviction paved the way for the election of Mr. Bolsonaro. Mr. Moro was the judge who handled that case, and he is now Mr. Bolsonaro’s minister of justice.

Continue Reading at the NY Times…

Brazil’s former president Lula released from prison

A judge has ordered the release from jail of former President of Brazil Lula da Silva until his appeal process ends. Da Silva stands accused of corruption, though he and his supporters call the charges politically motivated.

On Friday, the judge accepted the request filed by the ex-president’s defense team, authorizing him to leave jail. Da Silva will now be able to stay out of prison until his appeal process continues.

Within two hours after the release request was accepted, former Brazilian President walked out of jail, meeting a large crowd of his supporters who gathered outside to celebrate the occasion.

Shortly after the ruling, Lula’s official Twitter account released a video of of the 74-year-old working out. The post was accompanied by two words only: “Lula free”.

Brazil has a four-level appeal system, while the former president has only gone through two of them. In both instances he was found guilty of corruption and money laundering.

The move follows the Thursday ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, which overturned, in a 6-5 vote, its own 2016 decision, which had obliged convicted criminals to go to jail after they lose their first appeal. Now, the court decided such a provision to be non-constitutional, since the country’s basic law says no one can be considered guilty until due process is over.

Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, was slapped with a 12-year jail term as a result of a probe into an alleged massive corruption scheme, commonly known as the ‘Car Wash.’ The socialist icon has always maintained his innocence, vehemently rejecting all the accusations as politically-motivated.

Source: https://www.rt.com/news/472985-lula-brazil-release-prison/

Survey finds ‘sextortion’ rife in Latin America, women worst hit

One in five people in Latin America and the Caribbean has either direct or indirect experience of officials using their positions of power to demand sexual favours, usually from women, according to a survey published on Monday.

“Sextortion” – abuse of power to obtain sexual favours – is prevalent in Latin America partly due to inequality between men and women in politics and pay though few reliable statistics exist on the form of corruption that is notoriously hard to prove.

However, a survey by anti-corruption group Transparency International of 17,000 people from 18 Latin American countries found the practise to be widespread in schools, hospitals and municipal buildings.

Seven out of 10 people said sexual extortion happened “at least occasionally”.

“In some cases, when women are asked for a bribe, the currency changes from money to sexual favours,” the chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Of the countries surveyed, Barbados fared worst with 30% of people saying they had experiences of sextortion or knew someone who had, followed by the Bahamas and Guatemala. Panama and Chile fared best, at 14%.

Women often experience petty corruption in their daily lives at the hands of low-level civil servants who exploit mothers seeking social services, Ferreria said.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, hundreds of thousands of women from Argentina to Mexico have taken to the streets since 2018 to speak out against sexual violence and harassment.

But despite progressive legislation protecting women in places like Brazil, rights groups say prosecutors still find it difficult to charge people for sexual exploitation because evidence is elusive and victims shy away from coming forward.

Often taking place behind closed doors and attached to stigma, there is scant information on sexual extortion in other parts of the world.

Women in Kenya have had to exchange sex for water, according to the water policy institute SIWI.

A 2014 study by the IAWJ and the Thomson Reuters Foundation on laws in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, Taiwan, Uganda and the United Kingdom found that none of the nine countries had adopted laws that use the term sextortion. (Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Claire Cozens and Tom Finn. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Source: http://news.trust.org/item/20190923053555-8yuxe

Study: Transgenic Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes Transfer Genes into a Natural Population

An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned. Traces of the mutated insects have been detected in the natural population of mosquitoes, which was never supposed to happen.

The deliberate release of 450,000 transgenic mosquitoes in Jacobina, Brazil has resulted in the unintended genetic contamination of the local population of mosquitoes, according to new research published last week in Scientific Reports. Going into the experimental trial, the British biotech company running the project, Oxitec, assured the public that this wouldn’t happen. Consequently, the incident is raising concerns about the safety of this and similar experiments and our apparent inability to accurately predict the outcomes.

The point of the experiment was to curb the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, in the region. To that end, Oxitec turned to OX513A—a proprietary, transgenically modified version of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. To create its mutated mosquito, Oxitec took a lab-grown strain originally sourced from Cuba and genetically mixed it with a strain from Mexico.

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