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    Montana Judge Won’t Halt Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Aggressive Wolf Hunt / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 23:56 · 6 minutes

A Montana judge declined a petition to halt the state’s controversial wolf hunt Tuesday, rejecting a claim from two environmental groups that continued killing would cause irreparable harm.

In a highly anticipated hearing Monday, Lewis and Clark County Judge Matthew Abbott considered a potential first-of-its kind closure of Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping season, following an October lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote against the state, its wildlife commissioners, and its Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

The battle over wolves in the Northern Rockies has reignited a culture war going back generations in the West. Last year’s wolf hunt, the most aggressive in modern Montana history, culminated in the deaths of one-fifth of Yellowstone National Park’s entire wolf population, with some three-quarters of those killed in Montana.

“There’s a lot of frustration that Montanans are not being heard and their best interests are not at play here for a few vehement, vocal wolf haters.”

Conservationists argue that Montana’s most extreme anti-wolf lawmakers have hijacked and politicized a formerly revered system of wildlife governance. Despite tens of thousands of public comments demanding a more measured approach to wolf management, the state has continued to pursue a campaign of large-scale population reduction.

“There are important justified values and ideals at play here,” Michelle Lute, the carnivore conservation director at Project Coyote, told the court Monday. “There’s a lot of frustration that Montanans are not being heard and their best interests are not at play here for a few vehement, vocal wolf haters.”

In court, the environmental groups argued that a flawed population model led Montana to overestimate its wolf population by hundreds of animals. The inflated numbers, they alleged, became the basis for legislation signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte in 2021 calling for the killing of at least 450 wolves — approximately 40 percent of Montana’s estimated population of more than 1,100 animals.

According to a plan developed in the early 2000s during wrangling over removing wolves from the endangered species list, Montana is required to review its wolf management regime at least every five years. The conservation organizations alleged that the reviews never happened, and the state adopted a controversial population estimation model — the central focus of Monday’s hearing — without adequate public comment and set statewide quotas based on the “stale” management plan.

“The issue is that the data doesn’t match the predictions of the model,” Francisco Javier Santiago Ávila, a conservation manager with Project Coyote, testified Monday, adding that his review of state records indicated that Montana overestimated its wolf population by as many as 300 animals in recent years.

The groups requested the injunction on hunting and trapping to prevent irreparable harm to the state’s wolf population, Montana’s system for democratic wolf management decision-making, and the organizations and individuals committed to wolf recovery.

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks responded in court by defending the state’s Integrated Patch Occupancy Model, or iPOM, as a sound tool created in conjunction with experts as part of a decade-and-a-half process. The department said the model had been presented to the public.

In a 26-page opinion rejecting the injunction request, Abbott wrote that he was not convinced that Montana’s population estimation is “so unreliable or so substantially tending to overestimate wolf populations” that its continued use would cause the kind of damage that warranted the injunction.

“There is no evidence that this season is the pivotal season for Montana’s wolves,” he wrote. “Even if 450 wolves are killed, no witness presented evidence that this year will plunge Montana wolf populations below a sustainable level.”

The plaintiffs could have a winning argument on Montana’s failure to review the wolf plan, Abbott went on to say, however, the proposed remedy for that issue was to order the state to review the plan, not to end its hunting and trapping season.

Abbott said his task was “not to decide what Montana’s policy should be or to predict the outcome of this case.”

“The attention this case has garnered so far might lead one to believe the Court is deciding the fate of the Gray Wolf in the Northern Rockies today. It is not,” Abbott wrote. “Gray wolf management is principally a matter for the political branches; at most, this Court’s role is simply to ensure those branches of government are coloring within the lines set by the Constitution and the statute. And even that is not truly before the Court today: here, the Court considers only a request for preliminary injunction.”

To achieve the wolf reduction mandated by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, a panel of Montana wildlife commissioners appointed by Gianforte approved an array of highly controversial hunting and trapping methods in 2021, including the use of bait to lure wolves off protected lands, night hunting with night vision goggles, the use of snares, and an increase on bag limits that allowed a single individual to kill 20 wolves.

Most controversially, Montana abolished hunting quotas that had limited the number of wolves that could be killed in two hunting districts north of Yellowstone to one per year. The result was the deadliest winter the national park has seen since the animals were reintroduced in 1995. (Montana reinstated wolf hunting quotas outside Yellowstone in August — albeit with a threshold five times higher than it was at the time of Gianforte’s 2020 election.)

With the 2021 legislation still in effect, WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote filed suit on October 27. Abbott then issued a temporary restraining order reinstating the 2020-era quotas outside Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, reducing the number of wolves an individual hunter could kill to five, and prohibiting the use of snares.

Gianforte, who unlawfully killed a collared Yellowstone wolf himself a month after taking office, responded by attacking the judge’s credibility.

“The legislature makes laws, the Fish and Wildlife Commission sets rules based on both those laws and science, and FWP implements those rules,” the governor tweeted . “Unfortunately, another activist judge overstepped his bounds today to align with extreme activists.”

With his decision Tuesday, Abbott’s restraining order was lifted, and the regulations that were in place before went back into effect.

The eight-hour hearing in Abbott’s courtroom followed more than a year of escalating conflict over Montana’s management of wolves. At the center of that story is the relationship between Gianforte and the state’s once-vaunted fish and wildlife department.

By law, Montana’s governor is to make selections for the state’s “quasi-judicial citizen board” of wildlife commissioners, who set policy for FWP, “without regard to political affiliation” and “solely for the wise management of the fish and wildlife of the state.”

As The Intercept detailed in an investigation in July, all but one of Gianforte’s nominees, were high-dollar contributors to his political campaigns. One was his former running mate. The commissioners hailed from the trophy hunting, outfitting, oil and gas, and livestock industry. Gianforte did not select a single representative from Montana’s expansive community of conservationists for the critical panel.

Veteran Montana wildlife managers have accused the governor, through his commission, of tarnishing a respected and professional department and seeking to return the state to the 1880s , when wolves were systematically extirpated from the landscape.

In a statement Tuesday, Lizzy Pennock, a Montana-based carnivore coexistence advocate at WildEarth Guardians who testified at Monday’s hearing, said her organization would continue its challenge to Gianforte’s campaign to slash Montana’s wolf population.

“We are devastated that the court has allowed countless more wolves — including Yellowstone wolves — to be killed under the unscientific laws and regulations we are challenging,” Pennock said. “We will keep fighting for Montana’s wolves in the courtroom while our case carries on and outside the courtroom in every way possible.”

The post Montana Judge Won’t Halt Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Aggressive Wolf Hunt appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Railroads Have Invested Heavily in Congress. They Need Their Payoff in the Senate. / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 20:06 · 7 minutes

A showdown over a looming railroad strike heads to the Senate floor this week, after a group of progressive Democrats, led by Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pushed to modify a tentative agreement to include seven days of sick leave. The expanded agreement passed the House 220-206 on Wednesday, and the fight now moves to the Senate, where it remains unclear if there is enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster and send the agreement to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The original agreement was approved by a bipartisan majority, 290-137, with the extra sick days added as an “enrollment correction.” With a strike deadline approaching, Senate Democrats have the choice of insisting Republicans approve the expanded agreement, or folding and allowing the original agreement, which includes just one sick day, to move through. Aside from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a handful of allies, there appears to be little appetite for such a fight.

The tentative agreement was brokered by Biden and has been publicly rejected by the rank-and-file members of the union. Federal law, however, allows Congress to impose labor agreements in the rail industry to avert strikes. The single day of sick leave itself represented a breakthrough. Time off is an especially contentious issue because the companies have stripped the number of staff on a single train well below the bare bones. With often just two staff for an entire train, if one calls out sick, the entire system is threatened, leading to draconian attendance policies in order to maximize profits.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had told her caucus that there would be an up-or-down vote on the tentative agreement between the companies and the unions, with no amendments allowed. “This week, the House will take up a bill adopting the Tentative Agreement — with no poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms — and send it to the Senate,” she said.

But Bowman introduced a measure to give seven days of sick leave, joined by the other five members of the Squad and Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill. In the Senate, Sanders floated a companion version. Public pressure quickly led Pelosi to say she would, after all, allow for a vote on changes to the deal, sending out a new letter on Tuesday night amending her approach. On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced it had reached a deal to support the new floor strategy, which creates two separate votes that would allow the Senate to reject the expanded agreement and pass the original agreement without it needing to come back through the House.

The Senate vote puts pressure on a Republican Party that has increasingly positioned itself as a champion of the working class. Sen. Marco Rubio, symbolic of that attempted transformation, said Tuesday he would follow the lead of the workers.

On Tuesday, Sen. John Cornyn, the influential Republican from Texas, signaled openness to expanding sick days to seven, but on Wednesday walked it back. “I just think it’s a bad idea for Congress to try to intervene and renegotiate these collective bargaining agreements between labor and management,” he said .

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman she was fighting “tooth and nail” for the seven days of leave, calling it a “showdown.”

With agreement in the House and a deadline for a strike looming, the dynamics put Senate Republicans in the awkward position of forcing a rail strike in order to block workers from getting an extra six days of sick leave, a position that might be difficult to defend politically amid the economic pain that would be caused by a strike — and that could be ended simply by Republicans agreeing to allow modest time off. But if and when they block the expanded agreement, pressure will be on Democrats to pass the weaker deal and avert the strike.

“Put up or shut up,” said Sanders on MSNBC . “If you can’t vote for this, to give workers today, who really have hard jobs, dangerous jobs, if you can’t guarantee them paid sick leave, don’t tell anybody that you stand with working families.”

As lawmakers scramble to pass a deal before the December 9 deadline when workers are allowed to strike, unions have hailed lawmakers’ efforts to add sick days into their contract.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes “applauds the representatives in Congress and any Senators that will stand in support of Railroad Workers receiving paid sick leave,” Peter Kennedy, a spokesperson for BMWED, which represents tens of thousands of union rail workers, told The Intercept. “The additional legislation needs to pass so that Railroad Workers will have basic protections against illness, and protection from punishment from the railroads when workers are most vulnerable.”

Railroad companies have spent years softening legislators in preparation for such a moment. As the fight moves to the Senate, it will do so under a Congress whose members have been the recipients of at least $20 million in campaign cash from the rail industry over the past decade.

A coalition of over 400 trade groups signed a letter to congressional leaders on Monday, calling for Congress to act to avert a rail strike. “While a voluntary agreement with the four holdout unions is the best outcome, the risks to America’s economy and communities simply make a national rail strike unacceptable,” they wrote.

A review of campaign finance records shows 19 members of Congress who have received at least $10,000 each from railroad companies in the past election cycle. Another 130 members each received at least a $1,000 contribution from either rail operators or the Association of American Railroads, the largest industry trade group. According to OpenSecrets, AAR has spent over $3.5 million on lobbying this year, consistent with past trends.

Since 2020, the rail companies Union Pacific and BNSF — which have both been locked in tense negotiations with the unions — spent nearly $1.5 million each in direct contributions and donations to congressional campaign political action committees. The two massive employers, along with rail operator Northern Southern, have spent the past decade scaling back their workforces, refusing to give sick days to workers, and operating dangerously understaffed trains.

The Teamsters, which absorbed the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees in 2004, donated just under $1.5 million to political candidates during the 2022 election cycle. BMWED and two other unions — the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalman and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union — also lobbied Congress this year to the tune of $55,000. The PAC for SMART contributed over $1.5 million to political candidates this cycle, while the PAC for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen gave $260,000.

Recipients of Union Pacific’s cash infusion include $30,000 donations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Union Pacific also contributed $10,000 to Sens. Patty Murray, Tammy Duckworth, John Hoeven, John Boozman, and made slightly smaller contributions to Sens. Joe Manchin and Marco Rubio. In the 2022 cycle, the rail company also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on over 120 House candidates from both parties.

Following Union Pacific’s lead, BNSF contributed $30,000 donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It also gave contributions of $10,000 or more to the PACs affiliated with Sens. Patty Murray, Jerry Moran, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, James Lankford, Marsha Blackburn, Ben Sasse, Dan Sullivan, Mitch McConnell, John Hoeven, Jon Tester, John Cornyn, Gary Peters, Jack Reed, Debbie Stabenow, and Mark Warner, alongside Reps. Jim Clyburn and Kay Granger.

Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern often compete for the first and second-lowest ratings on Glassdoor for any employer in the U.S. In February, BNSF — which is controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway — began penalizing workers taking time off for “fatigue, family emergencies, or illness.” At the same time, a federal judge ruled a rail strike illegal.

“This should not be a political issue,” said Kennedy, the BMWED spokesperson.“This is an issue about protecting our workers who ensure the nation’s rail infrastructure and supply chain function as best as possible. Representatives on both sides of the aisle should unanimously support paid sick days for railroad workers because it is good for the railroads, it is good for their customers, it is good for the American economy, and it is good for the long-term stability and vitality of the railroad industry.”

The post Railroads Have Invested Heavily in Congress. They Need Their Payoff in the Senate. appeared first on The Intercept .

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    War Industry Looking Forward to “Multiyear Authority” in Ukraine / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 18:43 · 9 minutes

Gen. Mark Milley , chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently offered some matter-of-fact observations about the immense human suffering and death caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and placed the responsibility for ending the war squarely on Moscow’s shoulders. “There’s one guy that can stop it — and his name is Vladimir Putin,” Milley said. “He needs to stop it.”

But then Milley crossed what he most certainly never imagined to be a tripwire when he said, “And they need to get to the negotiating table.”

The general cited the multiyear death toll of 20 million during World War I — caused, he said, by the failure to negotiate an earlier end to the war — and went on to suggest that it would be better for the war in Ukraine to end soon in negotiation rather than continue on indefinitely.

“There has to be a mutual recognition that military victory is probably — in the true sense of the word — is maybe not achievable through military means, and therefore you have to turn to other means,” Milley said during the November 9 event at the Economic Club of New York. Referring to recent Russian setbacks at the hands of Ukrainian forces and the coming winter, Milley went on: “When there’s an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it. Seize the moment.”

Milley clearly did not think he had said anything controversial. A day later, he was making similar points during an interview on CNBC. “We’ve seen the Ukrainian military fight the Russian military to a standstill,” Milley said. “What the future holds is not known with any degree of certainty, but we think there are some possibilities here for some diplomatic solutions.”

But as snippets of Milley’s remarks in New York started to spread, the White House began fielding angry calls from Ukrainian officials protesting Milley’s comments and asking if they indicated that the U.S. might be getting soft in its support for Ukraine’s stated goal of militarily expelling Russia from its territory. Or if the White House did not believe that Ukraine could win the war.

As the Biden administration “ scrambled ” to “ clean up Milley remarks ” and “ handle Ukraine’s feelings ,” Milley defended his assessment in a press briefing at the Pentagon alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “The probability of a Ukrainian military victory defined as kicking the Russians out of all of Ukraine to include what they define or what the claim is Crimea, the probability of that happening anytime soon is not high, militarily,” Milley said in response to a reporter’s question on November 16. “There may be a political solution where, politically, the Russians withdraw, that’s possible.” He added: “You want to negotiate from a position of strength. Russia right now is on its back.”

This made some Russia hawks apoplectic. In an essay for The Atlantic titled, “Cut the Baloney Realism: Russia’s war on Ukraine need not end in negotiation,” Eliot A. Cohen, a former adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asserted that “the argument for diplomacy now is wrongheaded,” writing: “The calls for negotiations, like the strategically inane revelations of our fears of escalation — inane because they practically invite the Russians to get inside our head and rattle us — are dangerous.” Instead, Cohen declared, it is “time to pass the ammunition and to stop talking about talking,” suggesting that Ukraine should be given top-tier U.S. drones and advanced fighter aircraft like F-16s as well as “a tank fleet superior to that of Russia.”

In a column for the Wall Street Journal, former Pentagon official Seth Cropsey suggested that Milley should be replaced and said his comments on Ukraine were part of a track record of being soft on China and “apparently resisting then-President Trump’s desire to strike the [Iranian] regime in the final months of his term.” Like Cohen, Cropsey — who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush — also argued for increasing weapons shipments to Ukraine. “U.S. interests would be better served by providing Ukraine with support to retake more territory from Russia and declaring Ukrainian victory the aim of U.S. policy,” he wrote . “At some point there might be negotiations in which Russia gains something. Yet these talks should be undertaken only when Ukraine has a superior position.”

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Politico that he believed Ukraine would expel Russian forces from the country by summer. “People should get their heads around the idea that Ukraine is going to defeat Russia on the battlefield, the old fashioned way. They have irreversible momentum,” he said . “Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal.”

Conceding the massive, unprecedented U.S. military shipments and other support to Ukraine, it is undeniable that President Joe Biden has at key points treaded cautiously in his stance toward Moscow. He and other U.S. officials have consistently said they do not want to risk direct military conflict with Russia. The president recently won some praise from the Kremlin for the “measured and more professional response” to his handling of the missile that landed in Poland killing two people on November 15. While major news organizations reported that it was a Russian attack, Biden urged caution and refuted the claims, which turned out to be false. The White House has also stopped several weapons transfers to Ukraine — in some cases on grounds that misuse of the weapons against Russia could lead to further escalation. At times, the White House has sought assurances from Ukraine that it would not use long-range U.S. weapons “to attack Russian territory.” Biden has also slow-walked a decision on whether to give Gray Eagle weaponized drones to Ukraine, despite mounting pressure from the industry, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and Kyiv.

Biden isn’t dovish on Russia. But the administration has its own calculus for how it wants this war to proceed, and frequently games out how it might end.

None of that indicates that Biden is dovish on Russia — he isn’t. But the administration has its own calculus for how it wants this war to proceed, and frequently games out how it might end. Some news reports have described “a broad sense” within the Pentagon that winter will provide an opportunity to reach a political settlement, while senior national security officials, including national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have opposed pushing Ukraine to negotiate. “One official explained that the State Department is on the opposite side of the pole from Milley,” according to CNN. “That dynamic has led to a unique situation where military brass are more fervently pushing for diplomacy than U.S. diplomats.” Milley’s public remarks offered a glimpse into the informed analysis of one powerful camp within the administration. “Milley is much more willing to just say what he thinks,” one U.S. official said . “I’m sure they sometimes wish he wouldn’t always say the quiet part out loud.”

Despite some moments of narrow strategic restraint from the White House, Biden and virtually the entirety of established political power across the U.S. government is unified in the project of flooding Ukraine with weapons and other military support. Milley, it must be noted, has been a major proponent of heavily arming Ukraine and has advocated continuing to do so indefinitely. Biden currently has a request before Congress for nearly $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine, and the military component of his proposal would, with the swipe of a pen, more than double the entire U.S. expenditure since the invasion began in February.

There is legislation pending in Congress that indicates that the U.S. government believes the Ukraine war may continue for years. On October 11, the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted its amended draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023. Nestled within the draft is a provision that would establish an “emergency” multiyear plan to award massive defense contracts to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE Systems, and other war corporations to produce weapons for Ukraine and to “replenish” U.S. stockpiles as well as those of “foreign allies and partners.” An amendment , spearheaded by New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and co-sponsored by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, would allow the Pentagon to award noncompetitive no-bid contracts to arms manufacturers under the plan.

Congress is “supportive of this. They’re going to give us multiyear authority, and they’re going to give us funding to really put into the industrial base — and I’m talking billions of dollars into the industrial base — to fund these production lines,” said the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Bill LaPlante, in remarks reported by Defense News. “That, I predict, is going to happen, and it’s happening now. And then people will have to say: ‘I guess they were serious about it.’ But we have not done that since the Cold War.”

Among the weapons that would be preauthorized for procurement by the Pentagon, according to the legislation, are: 100,000 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, 30,000 Hellfire missiles, 36,000 Joint Air-to-Ground missiles, and 700 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems — all manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The list also includes a staggering stream of other missiles, rockets, and ammunition.

It is often said that in war there are no winners. But that has never really been true, certainly not in modern U.S. wars. From Vietnam to Korea, and Iraq to Afghanistan, the winner has always been the same. That victor also prevailed in the Cold War and will most certainly do so again throughout this new cold war that is being rapidly ushered into existence. The winner is the war industry.

That a powerful U.S. general would suggest that it might be better for the war to end through negotiation rather than prolonging the bloodbath, with Ukrainian civilians paying the highest price, is not an earth-shattering development. But the response to Milley’s expression of that sentiment, combined with the ever-intensifying preparations for a protracted war in which the U.S. is the premiere arms dealer, should spur a discussion over whose interests are being served right now.

Perhaps more significant than Milley’s comments about negotiations was his assessment that a victory for Ukraine is likely unachievable on a purely military level. Already, some European officials are warning that the appetite in their countries to continue the war in Ukraine is waning and that “the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance.” As one senior European Union official told Politico, “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons.”

The NDAA now before Congress is a reminder of the prescience exhibited by President Dwight Eisenhower in his January 1967 farewell address . “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience,” Eisenhower said. “We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.” Eisenhower warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

The post War Industry Looking Forward to “Multiyear Authority” in Ukraine appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Relatório mostra que 13 clubes de tiro na Amazônia foram autuados por armas sem registro, munição sem controle e outras irregularidades / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 18:02 · 6 minutes

A rma sem registro. Falta de controle de munição. Permissão de uso do estande por atiradores sem registro. Licença vencida. Essas são algumas das irregularidades encontradas pelo Exército brasileiro em clubes de tiro da Amazônia Legal entre 2020 e 2021. Um documento de acesso restrito do Exército, enviado ao Tribunal de Contas da União e repassado ao Intercept , mostra que ao menos 13 clubes na região foram autuados por irregularidades. Piora: ele mostra também despreparo e descumprimento das leis pelos próprios militares.

No fim de julho do ano passado, por exemplo, o Exército constatou que o clube 454, em Cacoal, Rondônia, não informou às autoridades sobre o evento Glock Week, que aconteceu entre os dias 24 de junho e 4 de julho de 2021. A portaria que regulamenta atividades de colecionamento, tiro despostivo e caça, de 2019, diz que a exposição de produtos controlados – caso das armas – em eventos públicos deve ter autorização prévia. Por mensagem, o 454 informou que a situação “já foi resolvida”.

Na mesma operação, a 12ª Região Militar, responsável pela fiscalização, ainda encontrou uma arma não registrada no clube de tiro Center Point, também em Cacoal. No relatório, não há registro de apreensão da arma, nem de encaminhamento de Marcelo Hupp Labendz ou Iracema Labendz, donos do Center Point, à delegacia. O clube segue funcionando normalmente. Labendz informou que “a informação estava equivocada”, que nunca foi autuado por esse motivo. Quando questionado se houve outra autuação, disse se tratar de um assunto muito pessoal sobre o qual não falaria por telefone.

De acordo com o Estatuto do Desarmamento , “portar, deter, adquirir, fornecer, receber, ter em depósito, transportar, ceder, ainda que gratuitamente, […] arma de fogo, acessório ou munição […] em desacordo com determinação legal ou regulamentar” é crime, com pena de dois a quatro anos de reclusão e multa. E qualquer um pode reportar infrações criminosas às autoridades policiais para que os responsáveis sejam presos em flagrante, de acordo com o Código Penal. No caso dos clubes, caberia aos militares fazê-lo. Mas não consta sequer qual punição os militares da 12ª Região Militar aplicaram ao clube de tiro.

Em Epitaciolândia, no Acre, uma das armas do Clube de Tiro da Fronteira não estava no estande – e não há qualquer justificativa para o desaparecimento no relatório do Exército. Segundo um dos responsáveis pelo clube, a arma estava fora do cofre e foi entregue à Polícia Federal. A multa foi de R$ 2,5 mil.

A mesma operação dos militares, batizada de Herácles, também constatou que, entre os dias 25 e 27 de setembro de 2020, o Clube Amazonense de Tiro Esportivo, em Manaus, não tinha qualquer controle de munição. Faltava ainda um “comprovante das armas que foram para manutenção”. Ou seja, não se sabe das armas, não se sabe das munições e, portanto, não há uma fiscalização efetiva. Qual a punição para as duas entidades de tiro? O relatório não diz. O clube também segue funcionando e se propagandeia como “o que mais cresce no estado do Acre”.

Outra exigência da lei é que os frequentadores desses clubes emitam junto ao Exército o Certificado de Registro de CAC, sigla para caçador, atirador e colecionador. Para isso, os candidatos precisam enviar certidões de antecedentes criminais e comprovante de ocupação lícita, declarar que não respondem a inquérito policial ou processo criminal, indicar o endereço de armazenamento das armas e encaminhar um laudo de aptidão psicológica, entre outros documentos. É um mecanismo de controle e rastreamento das armas para que não sejam desviadas e usadas em crimes. E para evitar, ao menos em teoria, que criminosos ou psicopatas frequentem os clubes e tenham acesso legal a armas de fogo.

Mas nem todos os proprietários de clubes de tiro se importam em conferir o registro de seus associados. Em Senador Guiomard, no Acre, os donos do Estande de Tiro Século XIX foram autuados por permitir acesso sem o certificado. Não se sabe se houve punição para o CAC ou para os responsáveis pelo empreendimento – mas o clube segue em atividade. Foi até palco de campanha de uma candidata ao Senado pelo PL no estado.

Em outro relatório, da 8ª Região Militar – responsável pelos estados do Amapá, Maranhão, Pará e parte do Tocantins –, consta mais um caso de atiradores sem licença de CAC. Não é possível identificar, pelo documento, em qual cidade e clube de tiro isso aconteceu. Neste caso, o relatório ao menos aponta a punição: estande e depósito lacrados.


Clube Amazonense de Tiro Desportivo, que não tinha controle de munição e nem comprovante das armas que foram para manutenção segundo o relatório do Exército.

Foto: Reprodução/Facebook

Fiscalização ‘administrativa’

N o fim de 2021, uma auditoria do Tribunal de Contas da União apontou problemas na fiscalização de clubes de tiro no Brasil. “Essa falta de padrão na execução das ações fiscalizatórias do órgão compromete o sistema de controle de armas de fogo instituído e impacta negativamente a segurança pública do país. Ademais, não apresentar os administrados em situação de possível infração criminal às autoridades competentes é uma infração gravíssima ao Estatuto do Desarmamento”, concluiu o  TCU.

“Em casos de outros estados, eles até apreendem a arma, mas deixam o clube de tiro como fiel depositário. Diante de um crime, como é o caso, ou a pessoa é presa e a arma apreendida, ou o Exército precisa convocar a força policial para fazer isso. Aí [quando não fazem isso] eles dizem: ‘Ah, a nossa fiscalização é administrativa’. Mas isso não é um ilícito administrativo. Isso é um crime”, contestou Bruno Langeani, gerente de projetos do Instituto Sou da Paz.

Outros casos citados nos relatórios de fiscalização envolveram, de fato, apenas problemas administrativos – como certificado vencido ou documentação desatualizada. Mas essas irregularidades também deveriam ser penalizadas. Por vezes, nem mesmo o endereço do estabelecimento estava correto. “Há casos em que os militares chegam ao local indicado, e os vizinhos avisam que o clube de tiro não fica mais ali há muito tempo”, disse Langeani. Até por isso nem sempre os militares cumprem as metas de inspeções traçadas previamente. Segundo o relatório, só 87% dos clubes de tiro foram inspecionados conforme a meta.

As punições previstas no decreto 10.300 , que regulamenta produtos controlados e foi publicado por Jair Bolsonaro, são: advertência, interdição, cassação e multas (mínima, média, máxima e pré-interditória). Só que os valores são irrisórios, variando de R$ 500 a R$ 2,5 mil. “Tanto as taxas para registro de CAC e abertura de clube de tiro quanto as multas foram estabelecidas em 2003 e nunca foram reajustadas. Imagina o que a gente teve de inflação até hoje. Então, mesmo que levem a multa mais alta, o valor é muito baixo”, criticou Langeani.

Na auditoria, o TCU encontrou indícios graves de fragilidade na fiscalização dos clubes de tiro, das lojas de armas e dos CACs pelo Exército. A auditoria lista casos que se enquadram em crimes previstos no Estatuto do Desarmamento, mas não se sabe se a polícia foi informada, porque o Exército não apresentou parte das informações solicitadas.

Tentamos falar com o Clube Amazonense de Clube de Tiro, Estande de Tiro Século XIX e também com o o próprio Exército, mas não obtivemos resposta até o fechamento do texto.

The post Relatório mostra que 13 clubes de tiro na Amazônia foram autuados por armas sem registro, munição sem controle e outras irregularidades appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Senador pede investigação de capitão lotado no gabinete da Presidência que estimula atos golpistas / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 16:32 · 1 minute

O senador petista Humberto Costa pediu nesta quarta-feira, dia 30, que a Justiça Militar investigue possíveis crimes cometidos pelo capitão da ativa do Exército Andriely Cirino. Ele está lotado no gabinete do presidente Jair Bolsonaro, do PL, e estimula atos golpistas por meio de uma lista de transmissão no WhatsApp, como o Intercept revelou em 11 de novembro.

“Pleiteio que se iniciem os procedimentos investigatórios contra o militar em epígrafe, a fim de apurar, em tese, infração militar acometido de crimes de atentado contra o Estado Democrático de Direito, ao incitar e propagar atos ilegais e antidemocráticos”, pediu Costa, presidente da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Legislação Participativa do Senado, em ofício ao procurador-geral militar, Antônio Pereira Duarte.

O senador considera que as ações de Cirino desonram a corporação militar e “caracterizam práticas criminosas, com ameaças de abolição do Estado Democrático e os Poderes Constitucionais, incitando a deposição de um governo legítimo, e ademais, almejando animosidade entre as Forças Armadas, sociedade e os Poderes Constitucionais”.

Essa foi a segunda ofensiva do PT contra membros das Forças Armadas ligados aos atos golpistas. Também nesta quarta-feira, deputados do partido acionaram o Supremo Tribunal Federal contra um outro militar da ativa que coordena atos antidemocráticos. O caso foi revelado ontem pela Folha de S.Paulo.

Conforme revelamos no dia 11, o capitão Cirino tem veiculado mensagens com conteúdos golpistas, negando o resultado das eleições presidenciais do segundo turno, além de conclamar manifestações antidemocráticas e levantar suspeitas — infundadas — contra as urnas eletrônicas. Há cerca de um mês, milhares de bolsonaristas estão acampados em diversos estados do país pedindo uma intervenção militar, o que é crime.

Quando procurado para comentar as mensagens, Cirino negou que propagasse fake news e atentasse contra a Constituição e não respondeu se enviava as mensagens por ordem do presidente. O Planalto não se manifestou.

The post Senador pede investigação de capitão lotado no gabinete da Presidência que estimula atos golpistas appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Iran’s Protest Movement and Its Future / TheIntercept · Yesterday - 11:01

For a month and a half, Iran has been rocked by protests. The sustained demonstration, which were kicked off after a young woman was killed by the notorious morality police, are the most serious challenge to the ruling regime in at least a dozen years — maybe since its inception. This week on Intercepted: Murtaza Hussain, a reporter at The Intercept, is joined by Neda Toloui-Semnani, a journalist and the author of “They Said They Wanted a Revolution: A Memoir of My Parents.” Toloui-Semnani discusses the recent trajectory of the protests in Iran and its parallels with the 1979 revolution. Then, Hussain is joined by Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, a longtime activist, an expert working on issues of women in conflicts, and the founder of the International Civil Society Action Network. Naraghi-Anderlini and Hussain discuss the West’s approach to the demonstrations and the future of the movement.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Iran’s Protest Movement and Its Future appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Why Queer Communities Are Welcoming Armed Anti-Fascist Protection / TheIntercept · 2 days ago - 22:31 · 5 minutes

COLORADO SPRING, CO - NOVEMBER 21: Police crime tape is still surrounding the scene of the shooting outside of Club Q on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. An attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub late Saturday night killing five people and wounding at least 25, officials said. The club said the suspect was subdued by patrons and Colorado Springs police said he was taken into custody and hospitalized for treatment of his injuries. Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez identified the suspect as 22-year old Anderson Lee Aldrich. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Police crime tape surrounds the scene of the mass shooting outside of Club Q on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Co.

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Over the weekend, the paper of record’s editorial board described a “chilling preview of what the future might look like if violence from the right begets violence from the left.”

The event that precipitated those fears at the New York Times offices in Manhattan? A would-be showdown that never was at a Roanoke, Texas, restaurant’s family-friendly drag brunch. An armed far-right group, including Proud Boys and self-identifying “Christian fascists,” turned up to harass brunch-goers — a sadly commonplace form of fascistic intimidation that’s hardly news.

Instead, what concerned the Times about this event was that the armed fascists were met and obstructed by armed anti-fascists, who had been asked by members of the local community to provide security for the brunch.

In the end, no one was hurt in this alleged portent of political violence and the restaurant owner’s son, a performer at the drag brunch, thanked the anti-fascists of the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club for “keeping us safe.”

Just a week had passed since the Club Q massacre, which left five attendees of an LGBTQ club dead, when the Times decided to draw an equivalence between the fascists who threaten LGBTQ-friendly spaces with guns and the anti-fascists with guns who volunteer to defend those spaces — a new low in bothsidesism.

For as long as marginalized and minority communities have been threatened and imperiled by armed white supremacists and fascists — a violence foundational to this country — they have been condemned for taking up arms in self-defense.

It is a profound mischaracterization of the history and principles of armed community defense to suggest that armed anti-fascists and anti-racists are engaged in escalatory political violence that is worthy of the same condemnation as the fascists they confront.

Oppressed groups and their allies have time and again seen guns as necessary defensive tools. This has been true at key points in the history of Black struggle in the U.S. — formerly enslaved marronage communities, Black civilians in the late 19th century who blocked jails to stop lynchings, and the Black Panthers, who were originally named the Black Panther Party for Self Defense — but also among the queer militants of Bash Back! in the late 2000s. Yet the decision to take up arms in community defense has consistently been decried as escalatory and extremist.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 23: Mourners visit a memorial outside of Club Q on November 23, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBTQ+ club on November 19th, killing 5 and injuring 25 others. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)

Mourners visit a makeshift memorial outside of Club Q on November 23, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Co.

Photo: Chet Strange/Getty Images

History of Self-Defense

Debates about violent and nonviolent protest, and what constitutes violence at all, are well worn . It’s important to note, though, that the presumption that armed community defense serves to escalate violence is simply not borne out in U.S. history.

The late political scientist Cedric Robinson highlighted in his epic “ Black Marxism ” that even in slave rebellions and marronage communities, there was no doubt a reliance on armed physical violence to ensure escape and sustain freedom, but there was a remarkably small number of retributive killings of white enslavers.

In the past century, too, white supremacist, far-right deadly violence in this country has so dwarfed the number deaths caused by Black, Indigenous, and queer armed struggle that talk of mutual escalation is obscene. In the last 30 years alone, over 85 percent of extremist killings are attributable to far-right actors. A separate New York Times report last weekend found that at 700 armed demonstrations since January 2020, 77 percent of those openly carrying guns were right-wing.

These numbers aren’t incidental but reflect something inherent about how white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ ideology operates: The goals are eliminationist. This is what makes the “bothsidesing” so horrifically off base: The far right has made clear their commitment to eradicate trans people, either through violent law or extralegal violence.

The far right has made clear their commitment to eradicate trans people, either through violent law or extralegal violence.

It is amid this larger picture that the Times wondered about a “chilling future.” With queer communities quite aware that police are more likely to harass them than help them, would it truly be less chilling to imagine a future in which armed right-wingers are met with no serious opposition?

Groups like Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club — which is one chapter among many anti-fascist John Brown Gun Clubs in the Redneck Revolt network nationwide — will not end the anti-trans, white supremacist violence of the far right. By showing up, though, they can at least give pause to the would-be assailants of these embattled communities.

More Guns?

To say that armed community defense is necessary and justified is not to say that there are not difficult questions around the issue.

It’s an understandable impulse to fear that the more guns on a scene, the more likely one is to be used, resulting in deadly violence. It’s a tragedy at the heart of all too many domestic violence murders , that women who keep guns in the house to defend themselves against abusive partners are killed with those very weapons.

Then there is the notion that teachers should be armed to defend against school shootings, which is belied by the facts: The more guns brought into schools, by teachers or cops, the more dangerous gun-related accidents there have been.

The proliferation of guns in the U.S. is intolerable, exceptional in its deadly consequences, and has always been organized around white supremacy — from various historical moves to bar Indigenous or Black people from owning guns, to the first federal “gun control” law in 1968, which was part of a massive crime bill that endowed police forces with military-grade weapons.

There’s every reason to be wary of the misuse of “self-defense” as a pretext for violent action — it has, after all, been the legally accepted justification for centuries of racist killings. Yet it is not the armed anti-fascists who are initiating the potential for gun violence in these instances; they go where the armed fascists go. And the fascists with guns, political support, and consistent police allegiance are turning up at restaurants, libraries, night clubs, school board meetings, and polling stations because they want to expunge whole marginalized communities from public life — by threatening them with a gun’s barrel, if not killing them with a spray of bullets.

So-called moderates can rely on tired tropes about violence begetting more violence. But such a stance, usually held from a comfortable distance, refuses to see that the fascist violence targeted at LGBTQ existence — and the lives of Black people — seeks to be annihilating and total. Thankfully, there are braver anti-fascist forces willing to stand in the way.

The post Why Queer Communities Are Welcoming Armed Anti-Fascist Protection appeared first on The Intercept .

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    In a Wisconsin Trump County, and Across the U.S., Progressive Health Care Initiatives Coasted Through / TheIntercept · 2 days ago - 20:01 · 11 minutes

The 45,000 or so residents of Dunn County live off on the western side of Wisconsin, not far from central Minnesota, but not close to much of anything. Like other rural counties, it leans heavily Republican, going by double digits to Donald Trump in 2020. This year, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., notched a 14-point margin there, and Tim Michels beat the incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers by 9 percentage points.

But when it came to health care, Dunn County voters said they would support a national health insurance program. The overwhelmingly Republican residents of this farming community approved a ballot measure that affirms their support for a single-payer public health insurance program. The idea, which passed 51-49, ran 11 points ahead of Evers, who was reelected statewide, and 16 points ahead of Senate candidate Mandela Barnes.

The largely unnoticed rural election result affirmed support for nationalizing and expanding health insurance, a program popularly known as Medicare for All. While the national media discourse about the election largely ignored health care issues beyond abortion rights, voters across the country registered support for progressive reforms focused on improving health care access and reining in the for-profit industries that dominate the medical system.

In Arizona and South Dakota, like in Dunn County, progressive health care initiatives outpaced Democratic Party candidates by a wide margin. Arizona voters passed Proposition 209, a measure that reduces the allowable interest rate for medical debt and expands exemptions for what can be garnished by medical debt collectors, with a landslide 72 percent in favor. South Dakota became the 40th state to expand Medicaid coverage, making an additional 40,000 residents eligible.

Oregon passed Measure 111, making it the first state to enshrine a right to “cost-effective, clinically appropriate affordable health care” for every resident in the state constitution. In Massachusetts, voters enacted Question 2, which forces dental insurance companies to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on actual dental care, rather than administrative costs and profits.

Medicare for All has become associated with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party — not a large population in Dunn County. National party operatives consider it an albatross around the neck of Democrats, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has warned candidates to stay away from it, and to focus instead on lowering prescription drug prices, which everyone who doesn’t work for the pharmaceutical industry supports instantly.

“The wording of the question sold it to them, because we avoided using words like Medicare for All and single payer,” said John Calabrese, a Dunn County board supervisor who works for Our Wisconsin Revolution, an offshoot of Sanders’s 2016 campaign for president. Taking the issue out of a partisan lens allowed for conversations that, he believed, wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.

In a divided Congress, there is little prospect for a sweeping reform such as single-payer health care. But lawmakers, a growing number of whom support Medicare for All, are likely to face growing pressure to take action on rising costs — and the industry is mobilizing accordingly.

A post-election report by the Healthcare Leadership Council, a trade group that represents the bulk of the private health care system — hospitals, drugmakers, medical device companies, insurers, and electronic records firms — flagged the state ballot measures and scored incoming lawmakers. The update featured polling that showed among voters who prioritized health care issues, apart from Covid-19, there is sweeping support for the need to tackle “high health care and drug costs/prices.”

The group was formed in the early ’90s as part of industry push to defeat progressive provisions of the health reform overhaul announced by President Bill Clinton, and now works to prevent policies that may reduce the ability for investors to make profit from the current system.

The council maintains a team that carefully screens candidates for Congress on health care issues in an attempt to inform industry lobbyists and help foster relationships for influencing legislation. HLC alerted its members about a wave of incoming Democrats who are not considered a “Healthcare Champion” — in other words, candidates who do not favor corporate positions on health policy.

Ohio Republican J.D. Vance and Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman are listed prominently as potential critics of the industry. Vance, HLC noted , “has staked out healthcare positions that break from traditional Republican orthodoxy, including support for government involvement in Medicare drug pricing and advocacy for prescription drug importation.” Fetterman, the document explains, adds to the “Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party” and supports “lowering of the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and advocating even tighter government controls on prescription drugs.”

A slew of newly elected House Democrats also support Medicare for All, HLC’s report noted, including Sydney Kamlager, Kevin Mullin, and Robert Garcia in California; Yadira Caraveo in Colorado; Summer Lee in Pennsylvania; and Hillary Scholten, who defeated a Republican opponent in a Michigan swing race. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who succeeds retiring Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., also backs single-payer health insurance. Subject Matter, a lobbying firm that represents UnitedHealth Group and the Federation of American Hospitals, in a similar note to clients, lists Becca Balint, D-Vt.; Maxwell Frost, D-Fla.; Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill.; Shri Thanedar, D-Mich.; and Glenn Ivey, D-Md., as other candidates who voiced support for Medicare for All.

In addition, many new House Democrats have voiced support for lowering the Medicare eligibility age. The document circulated by Subject Matter observed that Gabriel Vasquez, a New Mexico Democrat who unseated Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., supports expanding Medicare eligibility, as does Chris Deluzio, who succeeded moderate Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa.

The support for an expanded public support for health care across the country gives the administration a mandate as it drafts rules implementing key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate prices on the costliest prescription drugs covered by the program.

That sets the stage for the next confrontation. Industry lobbyists have fought bitterly against allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. HLC President Mary Grealy previously denounced the proposal as “heavy-handed government regulation” that imposes “the dangerous precedent of importing the price control policies of foreign governments.”

And the industry are moving to influence the Biden administration to derail the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions on drug prices. Shortly after the election, Grealy sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to ask that the administration provide an opportunity for groups such as HLC to weigh in on the implementation of the drug pricing program.

President Joe Biden speaks about protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug costs, at OB Johnson Park Community Center in Hallandale Beach, Florida, on Nov. 1, 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks about protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug costs, at OB Johnson Park Community Center in Hallandale Beach, Fla., on Nov. 1, 2022.

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Wisconsin is one of just 10 states that has yet to accept the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act. Calabrese, the Dunn County board member, said that the toll health insurance takes on the county budget helped persuade his fellow board members to allow the referendum to go forward. The county has roughly 350 employees, he said, and insuring them costs roughly a half million dollars every month.

“So when you’re at the end of the year trying to balance the budget button, and we’re cutting $1,000 here and 500 bucks there and having to cut jobs, I mean, half a million dollars a month?” Calabrese, who helped shepherd the referendum through the maze of committees needed to get before the full board, said. “I thought, I bet there’s a way where we can talk about this single-payer system, this national health insurance program at a county level, and talk about the finances — maybe that’s worth putting some volunteer effort into and could really start to shift some conversations.”

On the day of the hearing, residents showed up to tell stories of their nightmare experiences either with insurance companies or without insurance. It also happened that the state had just released its annual health and human services report, and a state official was on hand to walk the county lawmakers through the budget.

“Nobody on that committee said, ‘I think that our health insurance system is great,’’’ said Calabrese. And really, nobody said that to me in going around the county for a month and a half handing out literature, not a single person started a conversation with ‘This is crazy, our health insurance system is great.’ We got some people saying, you know, this sounds like a socialist takeover, or whatever.”

The board’s most conservative member, Larry Bjork, was apoplectic at health care costs the county was accruing for people in its care in jails and other institutions. “Where does the money go?” he asked. “It blows my mind when I look at the financial statement, Chris, and we spend 38 percent of our budget on behavioral health services and health and human services. … I guess my question to you is, in listening to the presentations from the public today about universal health care, do you think there would ever be a universal — can counties get out from underneath that 38 percent going to mental health care by a federal program of any sort?”

The state official told him that if it was implemented, it would indeed resolve it for the county. She noted that before implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the county was spending roughly $100,000 a year to treat uninsured indigent patients at local hospitals, but that number had fallen to around $10,000. “Medicaid expansion to childless adults helped with some of that,” she said, according to audio of the hearing. “In direct answer to your question, if people had affordable health insurance available to them and coverage to get them the care that they needed when it wasn’t a crisis or emergency, it seems hard to not conclude that there would be cost savings to that.”

Calabrese said that Bjork’s approach to the issue, moving away from ideology toward practicality, was common among the board members confronted with the overwhelming cost of health care. Bjork said he was all in, and the referendum was moved to the ballot unanimously.

The measure would ask Dunn County voters, in an obviously nonbinding fashion, “Shall Congress and the president of the United States enact into law the creation of a non profit, publicly financed national health insurance program that would fully cover medical care costs for all Americans?”

Members of Our Wisconsin Revolution and other supporters of the referendum made day trips around the county throughout the fall, leafleting in small villages and hitting every door they could find. Calabrese had run unsuccessfully for state legislature in 2018 and 2020, and had gotten access to Democratic voter data to help with his targeting. He noticed that the county’s trailer parks and many of the apartment buildings weren’t included, as many of the residents there move frequently and/or aren’t registered to vote. “We visited every trailer park in the county,” Calabrese said.

On election night, as the returns came in, he watched as the villages they visited sided with a national public health insurance program. Those same towns had soundly rejected him for state legislative office. “All these little townships started to come in first for the referendum,” Calabrese said, “and what I was noticing was there are the little villages — the village of Elk Mound, village of Boyceville, village of Wheeler, and these little places — and as the names kept coming in, I noticed that those are the places where me and some other volunteers spent entire days doing lit drops and talking to anybody that we could. And so in those places that I know always go Republican, we were winning in these little villages by 10 or 15 votes and I’m like, oh my God, we spent a day in Wheeler, we spent a day there.”

“In the townships, people don’t really trust the government, don’t trust it can do anything good for them,” said Dr. Lorene Vedder, a retired general practitioner and one of the leaders of the referendum. Vedder is active with Physicians for a National Healthcare Program, which supports single payer. She noted that in rural areas they visited, the numbers were good. “Otherwise it was just dismal in the townships,” she said.

In Boyceville, for instance, voters went 239-132 for Ron Johnson over Mandela Barnes, but supported single-payer by 183 to 171. In Wheeler, Johnson won 52 votes to Barnes’s 27, but the referendum carried by 40 to 37. In Elk Mound, Johnson won 190-142, but health insurance won 184 to 124. The county seat of Menomonie delivered the biggest margin for the referendum, where it won by 1,369 votes.

In some parts of the surrounding countryside, the results fell along more partisan lines, but the overperformance in places like Elk Mound meant that even outside the county seat, it only lost by 485 votes, close enough to let Menomonie carry it. Rural townships “[are] much harder to get to, it’s rural country roads and we only had so much time and our resources weren’t as locked in as we hope to be in the future,” he said.

“I don’t want to get too high-minded and idealistic about it, or whatever the word is,” he added, “but I felt, at the end of it all, this real connection to my neighbors, in a time where it seems like if you watch national news, there’s this almost push in some networks and from some politicians who actually further the division and tell people that half the country is irredeemable, these people should just be written off and so to approach every trailer, whether it had big Trump flags or not, was — I just felt like talking about issues that affect everybody, it’s kind of the secret to us getting along better.”

The post In a Wisconsin Trump County, and Across the U.S., Progressive Health Care Initiatives Coasted Through appeared first on The Intercept .

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