Monthly Archives: August 2018

Apple says some iPhone 8 devices have a manufacturing defect and will fix them for free — here’s how to see if you’re affected

iPhone 8

caption
iPhone 8
source
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Apple says that a small percentage of iPhone 8 devices might be affected by a “manufacturing defect” that can cause random freezing and other problems.
  • You can check if your phone is affected here.
  • Apple is offering free repairs, but you have to mail away your phone.

Apple disclosed on Friday that “a very small percentage” of iPhone 8 smartphones have a “manufacturing defect” that can freeze the screen, make the device restart unexpectedly, or even cause it to not turn on.

If you own an iPhone 8, you can check whether or not you’re affected by putting your phone’s serial number into a web form at Apple’s website. The good news is that Apple will repair any affected iPhone 8 for free, by replacing its logic board.

“Affected units were sold between September 2017 and March 2018 in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, and the U.S.,” writes Apple. Given that the iPhone 8 was only introduced in September 2017, that means that it could affect any early adopter. It appears that this was the first time these problems were disclosed.

If your phone needs a repair, you have a few options. You can take your phone in to any authorized Apple repair center, an Apple retail store, or mail it in. In all cases, Apple says, it’ll get mailed away to one of the company’s main repair facilities to get fixed up.

The free repair offer comes with a few caveats: If your screen is cracked or there’s any other kind of damage, you’ll have to get that fixed, first. If Apple does that fix itself, it’ll charge you for that repair, even beyond the free logic board replacement.

The iPhone 8, introduced in late 2017, could be the last model without a notch. On September 12th, Apple is expected to release a trio of new iPhones that embrace the edge-to-edge design of the iPhone X, the current highest-end model.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for further information.

One of Apple’s secretive self-driving cars got in a crash for the first time — but it doesn’t seem to be Apple’s fault

Apple's object-detection software.

caption
Apple’s object-detection software.
source
Apple

  • An Apple autonmous vehicle was involved in an accident on August 24, marking a first for the company.
  • In a filing with the California DMV viewed on Friday, Apple reported that one of its vehicles got rear-ended while slowly merging onto a freeway just 3.5 miles from its Cupertino, California headquarters.
  • It was rear-ended while waiting for a safe gap to merge onto a freeway.
  • Nobody got hurt.

An Apple autonomous vehicle got rear-ended last week, marking the first time one of its secretive self-driving cars was involved in an accident.

In a form filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles on August 24th, viewed by Business Insider on August 31, Apple revealed that one of its test vehicles was rear-ended while preparing to merge onto the freeway in Sunnyvale, California, about 3.5 miles away from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

The car was in autonomous mode and driving less than 1 mile per hour while “waiting for a safe gap to complete the merge” when a 2016 Nissan Leaf hit it from behind, according to the filing. The Nissan was apparently going 15 miles per hour, according to the form. Both cars were damaged, but nobody got hurt.

As of May, Apple had 55 autonomous vehicles on the road in California- more than any other company besides Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle arm, which had 104 cars at the time.

The accident was a first for Apple’s autonomous car unit, and relatively minor compared to accidents that have occured with some of the company’s competitors. Apple hasn’t publicly discussed its plans for these self-driving cars, and most of what we know about them come from official filings with the DMV.

Uber shut down its self-driving car program in Arizona after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian there in March. Also in March, a Tesla Model X crashed into a barrier while in the semi-autonmous autopilot mode. The driver of the vehicle was killed in the collision.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A white supremacist group robocalled in Florida to hurt black Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum

Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.

caption
Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.
source
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee.
  • The recording is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background.
  • This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” and warned that he would “monkey up” the state’s economy.

A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who became the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee on Tuesday.

The recording, which is automatically triggered when a recipient answers the call, is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background, The Tallahassee Democrat first reported Friday. The calls conclude by saying that they are funded by The Road to Power, an Idaho-based neo-Nazi group reportedly behind other racist robocalls in Charlottesville, Virginia, Oregon and California.

Gillum’s communications director, Geoff Burgan, denounced the calls, telling the Democrat, “This is reprehensible – and could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity. Please don’t give it undeserved attention.”

The news outlet did not publish the recording because of its derogatory content. Burgan told Politico that the campaign believes “it is important for people to know about” the calls.

The volume of political robocalls has shot up in recent years – increasing by nearly 900 million calls per month over the last year. The largely anonymous calls are notoriously difficult to regulate, and simultaneously easy and cheap to produce.

This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” for the Democratic Party and warned that the state would “monkey up” its economy by putting a “socialist” in office – comments that many interpreted as racist.

DeSantis’ campaign spokesman, Steven Lawson, insisted that the congressman’s comments were not racially charged, and DeSantis did not apologize for them.

But Lawson condemned the robocalls on Friday.

“This is absolutely appalling and disgusting – and hopefully whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” Lawson told Politico. “Our campaign has and will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state as we continue to build on our success.”

A white supremacist group robocalled in Florida to hurt black Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum

Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.

caption
Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.
source
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee.
  • The recording is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background.
  • This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” and warned that he would “monkey up” the state’s economy.

A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who became the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee on Tuesday.

The recording, which is automatically triggered when a recipient answers the call, is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background, The Tallahassee Democrat first reported Friday. The calls conclude by saying that they are funded by The Road to Power, an Idaho-based neo-Nazi group reportedly behind other racist robocalls in Charlottesville, Virginia, Oregon and California.

Gillum’s communications director, Geoff Burgan, denounced the calls, telling the Democrat, “This is reprehensible – and could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity. Please don’t give it undeserved attention.”

The news outlet did not publish the recording because of its derogatory content. Burgan told Politico that the campaign believes “it is important for people to know about” the calls.

The volume of political robocalls has shot up in recent years – increasing by nearly 900 million calls per month over the last year. The largely anonymous calls are notoriously difficult to regulate, and simultaneously easy and cheap to produce.

This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” for the Democratic Party and warned that the state would “monkey up” its economy by putting a “socialist” in office – comments that many interpreted as racist.

DeSantis’ campaign spokesman, Steven Lawson, insisted that the congressman’s comments were not racially charged, and DeSantis did not apologize for them.

But Lawson condemned the robocalls on Friday.

“This is absolutely appalling and disgusting – and hopefully whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” Lawson told Politico. “Our campaign has and will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state as we continue to build on our success.”

Trump is moving forward on a trade deal with Mexico, cutting out Canada for now. Here’s what happens next.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) is greeted by U.S. President Donald Trump prior to holding talks at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017.

caption
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) is greeted by U.S. President Donald Trump prior to holding talks at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017.
source
Reuters/Carlos Barria

  • President Donald Trump notified Congress that the administration plans to enter a new bilateral trade deal with Mexico, starting an official countdown.
  • The notification does not include Canada, the other member of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Talks between US and Canadian officials failed to produce an agreement Friday.
  • US officials said negotiations with their Canadian counterparts will continue next week, and Canada may join the US-Mexico agreement “if it is willing.”
  • Here are the next procedural steps to move forward with the deal and the outstanding issues that need to be resolved between the US and Canada.

President Donald Trump is moving forward with a bilateral trade deal with Mexico after talks with Canada to finish a full North American Free Trade Agreement overhaul stalled Friday.

Trump’s decision to notify Congress about the new US-Mexico agreement does not mean that Canada can’t be included in a final deal. But it does officially start the countdown clock.

Here are the next steps

To renegotiate NAFTA, Trump decided to use Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, also known as fast-track authority. This method allows Congress to approve a deal with a simple majority vote, avoiding a possible filibuster in the Senate. It also creates a statutory timeline for notifying Congress of any deal.

  • Trump’s notification of an intent to enter into an agreement with Mexico triggers a 90-day waiting period before Congress can take up the deal for a vote.
  • As part of that waiting period, the Trump administration must produce the text of the deal 60 days before the vote.
  • This gives the US Trade Representative and the rest of the administration 30 days to hammer out the fine details if they want to get a vote as soon as possible.

But questions remain regarding the legality of a bilateral agreement with Mexico under the current TPA.

Some trade experts and lawmakers believed that the wording of the TPA being used in the NAFTA renegotiation is restricted to a trilateral agreement, with both Canada and Mexico included.

Other experts, such as Vanderbilt University law professor Tim Meyer, believe the Trump administration can use the current TPA but may need to add another procedural step. The TPA has two different 90-day notification steps: alerting Congress to the intent to negotiate, and alerting Congress to the intent to sign a deal.

The Trump administration’s notification to negotiate, Meyer told Business Insider, included both Canada and Mexico. So the Trump administration may need to first notify Congress of the intent to negotiate with just Mexico, adding another waiting period.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not this TPA covers the bilateral deal may come down to the Senate parliamentarian – the official rules-keeper of the chamber.

Where things stand with Canada

While Friday’s deadline was arbitrary, the notification to Congress does start a countdown clock for US-Canadian negotiations.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called the talks with Canada “constructive” and a senior administration official expressed hope that the Canadians would join the deal.

“We continue to be in the process to work with Canada in terms of whether they want to be part of this historic agreement, but certainly that remains our intention,” the official said in a call with reporters.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was also optimistic at a press conference Friday afternoon, telling reporters that she believes a deal is within reach, as long as all parties show “goodwill and flexibility.”

“The Canadian government will not sign an agreement that doesn’t work for Canadians,” she added.

Both US and Canadian officials declined to answer reporters’ questions Friday afternoon about the individual trade issues that still need to be resolved. Freeland said both sides have committed to avoid “negotiating in public” due to the intensity of the negotiations.

But based on reports, here are the issues that still need to be resolved:

  1. Dairy: Trump has long complained about Canada’s protection for its dairy industry, which restricts the ability of US farmers to enter the market. Lighthizer told reporters Friday morning that Canada was not making concessions about US dairy access to the Canadian market. Freeland, on the other hand, said that Canada has offered concessions on dairy.
  2. Dispute settlements: The US is aiming to get rid of a binding dispute settlement process created in Chapter 19 of NAFTA that allows one member to bring a grievance about unfair trade practices, such as countervailing duties or tariffs. Canada wants to maintain those protections.
  3. Cultural protection: The US has sought to eliminate provisions that allow Canada to shield Canadian-made books, music, and television from having to compete with American content. Canada imposes a quota system to ensure that broadcasters and publications feature a certain amount of Canadian content, and areas like Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are particularly keen to keep those protections.
  4. Trump: His off-record comments to Bloomberg were leaked by the Toronto Star on Friday. In the remarks, Trump claimed that the US is fleecing Canada in the trade negotiations. The comments threw a major public-relations wrench into the talks.

When asked about Trump’s leaked remarks, however, Freeland demurred and said she could only speak to the Canadian position.

“My negotiating counterpart is Ambassador Lighthizer, and as I said, he has brought good faith and good will to the table,” she said.

Our 7 best bets for Week 1 of the college football season

College football is officially back, and with it, the best season of the year for gamblers.

Week 1 offers several intriguing matchups, with numerous powerhouse programs facing off against each other, as well as a few teams looking to continue to build on newfound success.

With over 100 FBS programs kicking off their season this weekend, it would be impossible (and fiscally irresponsible) to bet every game on the slate, so we’re narrowing it down to seven games you may want to consider throwing a few coins on this weekend.

Below are your best seven bets of the first Saturday of the college football season.


Michigan (PK) over Notre Dame

source
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines have won their past two season openers by a combined score of 96-20. Michigan has high expectations this year and extremely little room for error, with a ton of pressure on Harbaugh to finish better than third in a tough East division of the B1G that features powerhouses Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. Notre Dame is a tough place to win on the road, but Michigan will be prepared and has more at stake.


Alabama (-24) over Louisville

source
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Saban is essentially unbeatable Week 1. He’s 11-0 in his opening games as Alabama’s head coach, including six wins over other ranked teams, all of which came by double-digits. I hate the idea of laying 24 points with a team that hasn’t even named a starting quarterback, but it’s tough to bet against the Crimson Tide in this spot.


Washington (+2.5) over Auburn

source
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Possibly the most intriguing matchup of the Week 1 slate. Both Washington and Auburn have hopes of competing in the College Football Playoff this year and will be looking to get off to a strong start. Both teams have top-tier coaches and quarterbacks expected to compete for the Heisman, so I’m closing my eyes and taking the points in what should be a slugfest.


FAU (+21.5) over Oklahoma

source
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Lane Kiffin’s takeover at FAU was one of the most entertaining stories of the 2017 college football year, with the Owls turning the ship around after three consecutive 3-9 seasons to produce an 11-3 campaign capped off by a 50-3 bowl victory. Oklahoma is obviously on a completely different level when it comes to recruiting, but Kiffin’s team averaged over 40 points a game last year. Granted, it came against lesser competition, but a potentially high scoring offense getting a huge number like this is a rare occasion in sports betting.


Wyoming (+3) over Washington State

source
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While you might be tempted to lower your expectations for Wyoming this season with the departure of quarterback Josh Allen, the Cowboys return eight of 11 starters on a defensive unit that led the country in takeaways last year. Don’t be surprised if they still make some noise in the Mountain West.


Miami (-3.5) over LSU

Nothing against LSU, but it’s tough to bet against the return of the turnover chain. The Hurricanes will be hyped and looking to avenge what was a dismal end to what started out as an unbelievably promising 2017 season.


Virginia Tech (+7) over Florida State

source
Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Virginia Tech and Florida State are two historic programs expected to have solid seasons but fall short of the playoff. While it’s tempting to back Florida State to bounce back after their 2017 season got off to the worst start imaginable, the seven-point line is too juicy to pass up. Even if the Hokies can’t win this one, I expect them to keep things close.


Now check out all the new uniforms for the 2018 season.

source
Notre Dame Equipment

Here are the new college football uniforms for the 2018 season

Brazil took an ‘extreme measure’ to fight crime in one of its biggest cities, but it’s only made things worse

Brazilian armed-forces members patrol during an operation against organized crime as residents look on in Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, August 21, 2017.

caption
Brazilian armed-forces members patrol during an operation against organized crime as residents look on in Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, August 21, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

  • Brazil’s government sent the army into Rio de Janeiro to take over public security in February.
  • It was the first such move since the country’s military dictatorship fell in the mid-1980s.
  • In the months since, violent crime continues and gangs remained unbowed.

In February, after a Carnival celebration marred by violence, Brazilian President Michel Temer again sent the country’s army into Rio de Janeiro, giving it control of public security in the city – a step not taken since Brazil’s military dictatorship fell in the mid-1980s.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Temer said at the time, adding that gangs had “virtually taken over” Rio’s metropolitan area, home to 12 million people.

“I know it’s an extreme measure but many times Brazil requires extreme measures to put things in order,” he said.

Those measures appear to have had the opposite effect, however, and the consequences of a failing intervention could have a lasting impact on Brazil, its military, and its democracy.

Brazilian navy personnel patrol in an armored vehicle during an operation against drug dealers in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2011.

caption
Brazilian navy personnel patrol in an armored vehicle during an operation against drug dealers in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2011.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Six months after thousands of soldiers were deployed to Rio to take over police functions and increase operations in high-crime areas, homicides in Rio de Janeiro state are up 5% over the same period in 2017.

Between February and July, 738 people were killed in confrontations with police, which was 35% more than that period last year, according to Reuters. Between February and July, 16 police officers were killed – one fewer than during that period in 2017.

Polls have shown that many in the state support the intervention, but few believe much has improved during it.

The federal intervention office told Reuters in mid-August that some crime, like cargo and car thefts, had declined. A spokesman for the office said much of its work focused on administrative and logistical problems and the results would take longer to see.

For residents of Rio, the results can already be seen, including suspected rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

Brazilian navy personnel patrol the Copacabana beach as part of a plan to combat organized crime in Rio de Janeiro, July 30, 2017.

caption
Brazilian navy personnel patrol the Copacabana beach as part of a plan to combat organized crime in Rio de Janeiro, July 30, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

“In addition to the rights frequently violated, like entering homes (without a warrant), mistreatment and torture, there is an even more grave situation,” Pedro Strozenberg of Rio’s Public Defender’s Office told the Associated Press in August. “It’s (allegations of) homicides, deaths and bodies hidden in the forest.”

Strozenberg’s comments came several days after shootouts between soldiers and armed gangs in the Penha, Mare, and Complexo do Alemao favelas left three soldiers dead. Five suspects were killed and another 10 arrested. Soldiers led those operations, despite previously having mostly a supporting role.

Similar confrontations between soldiers and armed criminal groups have shut down swaths of the city for extended periods, interfering with daily life. But criminal groups in the city have remained defiant.

Rio de Janeiro slums

source
Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

A member of Red Command, the most powerful drug gang in the city, told Reuters this spring that there was “not a chance” the army could break the cycle of violence in Rio.

A leader in the Pure Third Command, the city’s second most powerful gang and the arch rival of the Red Command, said he would lie low during the intervention but fellow gang members would keep selling drugs and the gang would reassert itself once the armed forces withdrew.

“Nothing will change,” he told Reuters. “I will return and get back to work when they leave.”

Brazilian armed force members frisk residents during an operation against drug dealers in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, February 7, 2018.

caption
Brazilian armed force members frisk residents during an operation against drug dealers in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, February 7, 2018.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

“Violent crimes remain persistently high, and both civilian and police casualties are on the rise, whereas results in terms of dismantling drug trafficking groups, improving intelligence-gathering and providing local police forces with better resources and training have been disappointing,” Caio Pizetta Torres, a political risk analyst at Control Risks, told Latin America Advisor.

Gen. Richard Nunes, commander of the intervention force, said in late August that a rise in killings during police operations was a sign authorities were confronting crime and not that the situation was worsening.

Nunes, a Rio native, lamented the increase in deaths, but he said those figures would decline and touted the fall in crimes like theft and other improvements. “We now have a much stronger police presence in the streets,” he said.

Security forces search residents during an operation against organized crime in the Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, August 21, 2017.

caption
Security forces search residents during an operation against organized crime in the Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, August 21, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The intervention is set to last until the end of the year, and some observers have said a final evaluation should wait until the deployment was concluded.

“It is very difficult to answer such questions while the military intervention is still trying to rework the present intelligence processes in place as well as the organizational structure of the Rio police,” Henrique Rzezinski, former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio, told Latin America Advisor.

“Until then, we can only speculate with very little data,” Rzezinski said, suggesting Temer government’s low popularity influenced public opinion about the intervention.

At the time of the announcement, Temer’s decision to send the army into Rio, which is not among the country’s most violent states, was seen as politically motivated. (One of the leaders ahead of the presidential election in October, Jair Bolsonaro, has promoted hardline responses to crime.)

Even before the intervention, officials and activists said the use of the military in a public-security role would increase abuses, especially against minorities, while failing to have a serious impact on the underlying factors driving crime.

From the outset, the intervention seemed unlikely to succeed. The strategic plan laying out its goals was not released until five months after the operation started, and little progress has been made on reforms to local police forces, which was seen as a central component of the intervention.

Skepticism has grown about the armed forces’ involvement in public security, including among members of the military, and the way the intervention has played out raises concerns about the lasting impact on Brazilian society.

“Brazilian military involvement in policing is compromising Brazil’s democracy and jeopardizing the military’s image as one of the few remaining trusted government entities,” Katie Hillegass, a military-science professor and US Army officer who was stationed in Rio as part of an exchange program, told Latin America Advisor.

“Brazilian military tactics, based largely on their international peacekeeping experience and American counterinsurgency doctrine, cannot remedy the endemic violence crippling Rio de Janeiro,” Hillegass said.

Brazil took an ‘extreme measure’ to fight crime in one of its biggest cities, but it’s only made things worse

Brazilian armed-forces members patrol during an operation against organized crime as residents look on in Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 21, 2017.

caption
Brazilian armed-forces members patrol during an operation against organized crime as residents look on in Manguinhos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 21, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

  • Brazil’s government sent the army into Rio de Janeiro to take over public security in February.
  • It was the first such move since the country’s military dictatorship fell in the mid-1980s.
  • In the months since, violent crime continues and gangs remained unbowed.

In February, after a Carnival celebration marred by violence, Brazilian President Michel Temer again sent the country’s army into Rio de Janeiro, giving it control of public security in the city – a step not taken since Brazil’s military dictatorship fell in the mid-1980s.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Temer said at the time, adding that gangs had “virtually taken over” Rio’s metropolitan area, home to 12 million people.

“I know it’s an extreme measure but many times Brazil requires extreme measures to put things in order,” he said.

Those measures appear to have had the opposite effect, however, and the consequences of a failing intervention could have a lasting impact on Brazil, its military, and its democracy.

Brazilian Navy personnel patrol in an armored vehicle during an operation against drug dealers in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2011. Rio de Janeiro's security forces started an operation in Mangueira slum to base a peacekeeping unit near Maracana Stadium. It is the last favela, located near Maracana Stadium, introduced to the peace program to ensure the security for the 2014 World Cup.

caption
Brazilian Navy personnel patrol in an armored vehicle during an operation against drug dealers in Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 2011. Rio de Janeiro’s security forces started an operation in Mangueira slum to base a peacekeeping unit near Maracana Stadium. It is the last favela, located near Maracana Stadium, introduced to the peace program to ensure the security for the 2014 World Cup.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Six months after thousands of soldiers were deployed to Rio to take over police functions and increase operations in high-crime areas, homicides in Rio de Janeiro state are up 5% over the same period in 2017.

Between February and July, 738 people were killed in confrontations with police, which was 35% more than that period last year, according to Reuters. Between February and July, 16 police officers were killed – one fewer than during that period in 2017.

Polls have shown that many in the state support the intervention, but few believe much has improved during it.

The federal intervention office told Reuters in mid-August that some crime, like cargo and car thefts, had declined. A spokesman for the office said much of its work focused on administrative and logistical problems and the results would take longer to see.

For residents of Rio, the results can already be seen, including suspected rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

Brazilian navy soldiers patrol the Copacabana beach as part of a plan to combat organized crime in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 30, 2017.

caption
Brazilian navy soldiers patrol the Copacabana beach as part of a plan to combat organized crime in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 30, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

“In addition to the rights frequently violated, like entering homes (without a warrant), mistreatment and torture, there is an even more grave situation,” Pedro Strozenberg of Rio’s Public Defender’s Office told the Associated Press in August. “It’s (allegations of) homicides, deaths and bodies hidden in the forest.”

Strozenberg’s comments came several days after shootouts between soldiers and armed gangs in the Penha, Mare, and Complexo do Alemao favelas left three soldiers dead. Five suspects were killed and another 10 arrested. Soldiers led those operations, despite previously having mostly a supporting role.

Similar confrontations between soldiers and armed criminal groups have shut down swaths of the city for extended periods, interfering with daily life. But criminal groups in the city have remained defiant.

A member of Red Command, the most powerful drug gang in the city, told Reuters this spring that there was “not a chance” the army could break the cycle of violence in Rio.

A leader in the Pure Third Command, the city’s second most powerful gang and the arch rival of the Red Command, said he would lie low during the intervention but fellow gang members would keep selling drugs and the gang would reassert itself once the armed forces withdrew.

“Nothing will change,” he told Reuters. “I will return and get back to work when they leave.”

Brazil's armed force members frisk residents during an operation against drug dealers in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 7, 2018.

caption
Brazil’s armed force members frisk residents during an operation against drug dealers in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 7, 2018.
source
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The intervention is set to last until the end of the year, and some observers have said a final evaluation should wait until the deployment was concluded.

“It is very difficult to answer such questions while the military intervention is still trying to rework the present intelligence processes in place as well as the organizational structure of the Rio police,” Henrique Rzezinski, former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Rio, told Latin America Advisor.

“Until then, we can only speculate with very little data,” Rzezinski, added, suggesting Temer government’s low popularity influenced public opinion about the intervention.

At the time of the announcement, Temer’s decision to send the army into Rio, which is not among the country’s most violent states, was seen as politically motivated. (One of the leaders ahead of the presidential election in October, Jair Bolsonaro, has promoted hardline responses to crime.)

Even before the intervention, officials and activists said the use of the military in a public-security role would increase abuses, especially against minorities, while failing to have a serious impact on the underlying factors driving crime.

From the outset, the intervention seemed unlikely to succeed. The strategic plan laying out its goals was not released until five months after the operation started, and little progress has been made on reforms to local police forces, which was seen as a central component of the intervention.

Skepticism has grown about the armed forces’ involvement in public security, including among members of the military, and the way the intervention has played out raises concerns about the lasting impact on Brazilian society.

“Brazilian military involvement in policing is compromising Brazil’s democracy and jeopardizing the military’s image as one of the few remaining trusted government entities,” Katie Hillegass, a military-science professor and US Army officer who was stationed in Rio as part of an exchange program, told Latin America Advisor.

“Brazilian military tactics, based largely on their international peacekeeping experience and American counterinsurgency doctrine, cannot remedy the endemic violence crippling Rio de Janeiro,” Hillegass said.

The mother and brother of a New York state senate candidate have accused her of lying about her working class, immigrant background

New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar

caption
New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar
source
Screenshot/NYC DSA

  • New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar is under fire after her mother and brother disputed her accounts of being raised in a working-class, immigrant family.
  • While Salazar has said she was brought to the US as baby from Colombia, her family says she never lived in Colombia, and that she has exaggerated her stories of socio-economic hardship.
  • The 27-year-old Democratic socialist has attracted a series of positive media profiles after progressive insurgent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – and other top state Democrats – endorsed her.

New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar, an insurgent progressive endorsed by fellow Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is under fire after her mother and brother disputed her accounts of being raised in a working-class, immigrant family.

Salazar, 27, has provided confusing and sometimes contradictory descriptions of her background, including that she was partially raised in Colombia by a single mother who at times struggled to make ends meet – a story her brother, Alex, and mother, Christine, rebutted in a recent City & State story.

“My family immigrated to the US from Colombia when I was a baby, and my mom ended up raising my brother and me as a single mom, without a college degree, and from a working-class background,” Salazar told Jacobin last month.

Salazar later said that she was raised between Florida and Colombia and spent “the first years” of her life in the South American country.

But Alex, who is two years older than Salazar, says the two were raised entirely in Florida and that the family made just a handful of trips back to the South American country to visit family. He also disputed her claims that the family struggled financially.

“We were very much middle class. We had a house in Jupiter along the river, it was in a beautiful neighborhood,” Alex Salazar told City & State. “I feel very strongly about my family and I want to tell the truth.”

Alex provided a photo of the large Florida home he says the family lived in until their parents divorced in 1998.

While Salazar’s father was born and raised in Colombia, he became a naturalized US citizen in 1984, several years before his daughter was born. Christine was born and raised in the US and told City & State that she never lived in Colombia.

Christine also told City & State that there was never a time when her children worked in order to help their mother “make ends meet,” as Salazar claims on her campaign website.

“My kids always worked, from the time they were 14. I encouraged that because I thought there was a lot of value in that in terms of learning and responsibility so that was the purpose behind them having part-time jobs … not the light bill,” Christine told the outlet.

Salazar has also claimed that she was raised “by a single mom without a college degree,” but Florida Atlantic University told City & State that Salazar’s mother received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the school in 1999, when Salazar was in elementary school.

Some progressives – and conservative critics – have also called attention to Salazar’s past as a Zionist, anti-abortion conservative who reportedly falsely identified herself as a Jew while a student at Columbia University.

Salazar is running as a more progressive alternative to state Sen. Martin Dilan in her Brooklyn district and has attracted a series of positive media profiles and seen a dramatic spike in donations and volunteers since Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory in June. And she’s been endorsed by a slew of top progressives in the state, including gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, and Brooklyn congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

US-Canada NAFTA talks break up after inflammatory Trump comments leak

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

caption
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
source
Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

  • Trade talks between the US and Canada broke off on Friday without a deal, leaving US officials with only a partial agreement with Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • US officials said that negotiations with Canada would continue next week and that Canada would join the agreement “if it is willing.”
  • Negotiations soured after The Toronto Star reported Friday that President Donald Trump had told reporters in an off-the-record setting that he didn’t plan to compromise at all with the Canadians on NAFTA.
  • Trump was said to have told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday that any NAFTA deal would be “totally on our terms.”
  • He said he didn’t want to make the remarks public because they would be “so insulting” to Canadians, according to The Star.

Trade talks between US and Canadian officials broke down on Friday, leaving US officials with only a preliminary agreement with Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The breakdown followed reports that President Donald Trump had said in an off-the-record setting that the US would make no concessions to Canada.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that Trump had notified Congress that he intends to sign a trade agreement with Mexico 90 days from now – and that Canada would join “if it is willing.” He added that US and Canadian officials would meet again next Wednesday.

“We have also been negotiating with Canada throughout this year-long process. This week those meetings continued at all levels,” Lighthizer said. “The talks were constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement.”

The trade talks with Canada were thrown into disarray Friday morning after The Toronto Star reported that Trump had told reporters in an off-the-record discussion that he didn’t plan to compromise with Canada at all on NAFTA.

According to The Star, Trump told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday that any deal reached would be “totally on our terms” and suggested that Canadians would have “no choice” but to go along with the plan out of fear that Trump would impose auto tariffs.

“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said, according to The Star. The Chevrolet Impala is produced at a General Motors plant in Canada.

Trump appeared to confirm that he made the remarks, tweeting on Friday afternoon: “At least Canada knows where I stand!” He also blamed Bloomberg for the leak, though it was unclear who The Star’s source was.

“Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED,” he wrote. “Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it.”

The Star said that the remarks were made to Bloomberg News reporters on condition they not be published and that it had obtained them from a source and published them because it was not bound by Bloomberg’s agreement with Trump.

Bloomberg said in a statement, “When we agree that something is off the record, we respect that.”

‘I can’t kill these people’

Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

caption
Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
source
REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Trump also reportedly said he didn’t want his comments published because it would be “so insulting” to Canadians.

“Here’s the problem,” he said, according to The Star. “If I say no – the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people.”

He reportedly added: “Again off the record, they came knocking on our doors last night. ‘Let’s make a deal. Please.'”

The Star said the Canadian government was aware of Trump’s remarks and viewed them as confirmation that the Trump administration was not bargaining in good faith. One official told The Star that the Americans were not offering “any movement” on the issues Canada wanted to negotiate.

NAFTA talks came down to the wire Friday morning, as officials from Canada and the US met with the stated goal of reaching a deal by the end of the day.

Canada and the US have been at loggerheads over several key NAFTA provisions, particularly agricultural and trade-dispute resolution issues. The US has demanded concessions from Canada on its protected dairy market, while Canada is fighting to keep the dispute-settlement mechanism that the US wants to eliminate.

The talks followed an announcement by Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Monday that the US and Mexico had reached a preliminary deal, a move seen as upping the stakes for Canadian negotiators, who risked being excluded from a bilateral agreement.