Sunday, June 12, 2022

Last Call For Brazil Nuts, Con't

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is going down the Trump "stolen election"route as he faces a vote later this year, but unlike Trump, it looks like Bolsonaro may actually get his military coup plan should he lose.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has for months consistently trailed in the polls ahead of the country’s crucial presidential race. And for months, he has consistently questioned its voting systems, warning that if he loses October’s election, it will most likely be thanks to a stolen vote.

Those claims were largely regarded as talk. But now, Mr. Bolsonaro has enlisted a new ally in his fight against the electoral process: the nation’s military.

The leaders of Brazil’s armed forces have suddenly begun raising similar doubts about the integrity of the elections, despite little evidence of past fraud, ratcheting up already high tensions over the stability of Latin America’s largest democracy and rattling a nation that suffered under a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

Military leaders have identified for election officials what they say are a number of vulnerabilities in the voting systems. They were given a spot on a transparency committee that election officials created to ease fears that Mr. Bolsonaro had stirred up about the vote. And Mr. Bolsonaro, a former army captain who filled his cabinet with generals, has suggested that on Election Day, the military should conduct its own parallel count.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who has spoken fondly about the dictatorship, has also sought to make clear that the military answers to him.

Election officials “invited the armed forces to participate in the electoral process,” Mr. Bolsonaro said recently, referring to the transparency committee. “Did they forget that the supreme chief of the armed forces is named Jair Messias Bolsonaro?”

Almir Garnier Santos, the commander of the Brazilian Navy, told reporters last month that he backed Mr. Bolsonaro’s view. “The president of the republic is my boss, he is my commander, he has the right to say whatever he wants,” Mr. Garnier Santos said.

With just over four months until one of the most consequential votes in Latin America in years, a high-stakes clash is forming. On one side, the president, some military leaders and many right-wing voters argue that the election is open to fraud. On the other, politicians, judges, foreign diplomats and journalists are ringing the alarm that Mr. Bolsonaro is setting the stage for an attempted coup.

Mr. Bolsonaro has added to the tension, saying that his concerns about the election’s integrity may lead him to dispute the outcome. “A new class of thieves has emerged who want to steal our freedom,” he said in a speech this month. “If necessary, we will go to war.”
Unlike America, Brazil has been under a military dictatorship before for a couple of decades, and seems to be heading right back for another round. 

Republicans are absolutely paying attention here.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

Senate GOP Minority Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to maneuver Democrats into taking 100% of the blame for the failure of any meaningful gun safety legislation in the wake of multiple mass shootings in the last month is working as intended.

The emerging package is anchored around extra scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, grants to states to enact so-called red flag laws and new spending on mental health treatment and school security. While translating the agreement into legislation will take time, the group of senators is expected to announce that a significant number of lawmakers in both parties are behind their proposal responding to rising gun violence.

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are the lead negotiators on the proposal, which would need 60 votes to reach the Senate floor once legislative text is completed.

More senators are poised to back the bill to demonstrate its breadth of support — to that end, a broader bipartisan group has held its own regular meetings on guns over the past three weeks since the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Those talks have included Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The most significant piece of the proposal would subject gun buyers 21 and younger to scrutiny of their criminal records as juveniles. It’s proved tricky to write because each state has different laws governing juvenile records. The package is also expected to close the so-called boyfriend loophole, broadening firearms restrictions on those who have abused their romantic partners.

The emerging framework comes nearly three weeks after 19 children and two teachers died in the Uvalde shooting. The killings in Texas occurred roughly a week after a racist mass shooter killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. March for Our Lives, a gun safety group founded after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., held nationwide demonstrations on Saturday urging Congress to address gun violence.

While Sunday’s announcement is a major breakthrough, translating a framework into an actual bill often proves challenging. During last year’s bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, for example, more than six weeks passed between negotiators’ announcement of a framework and Senate passage of the resulting bill.

While the nascent framework is modest compared to Democrats’ long-running push for expanded background checks, it could result in a high-water mark for GOP support for any level of gun restrictions. And at the moment, it’s the closest the chamber’s been to a broader gun safety deal since 2013, when Manchin and Toomey wrote bipartisan legislation in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Most Republicans and a handful of Democrats blocked the Manchin-Toomey legislation. And while the Senate tried again in 2019 to reach a deal after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, then-President Donald Trump disengaged amid the House impeachment inquiry. The most significant recent new gun law came from Murphy and Cornyn, which strengthened the background check system.

Democrats would have preferred to expand background checks to more prospective gun buyers and ban assault rifles, though those moves lack the necessary support among Republicans. A handful of Republicans are supportive of raising the age to purchase assault rifles to 21, something Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed personal openness to, but neither McConnell nor Cornyn have pushed that as part of the package, and the idea may not get the 60 votes needed to survive a GOP filibuster.

Given those challenging dynamics, Senate Democratic leaders are willing to take a more modest deal than the sweeping restrictions most in President Joe Biden’s party support.
Observations, as usual: first, there's nowhere in the article that mentions the ostensible leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer.  The fact that he's not listed as being involved in talks (when he absolutely is) is a HUGE clue that Politico here knows this is all window dressing and that McConnell is running the show.


Second, there are so many outs here that Mitch can take that you'd think this was a Joe Manchin project. For now, the framework has 60 senators and that means any single one can scuttle the entire deal and blame the other side.

We've been here before, at the "agreed upon framework" stage, and it's all gone to hell.  See: Build Back Better.

Just another day in Gunmerica.

Sunday Long Read: The Man Next Door

Another solid true crime story this week from The Atavist, as Greg Donahue takes us through the story of Tim Brown, just another non-descript pilot enthusiast in the plane-crazy town of Love's Landing, Florida in late 2020 whose dark secret was about to come to light.

On the morning of December 2, 2020, Tim Brown got up early to start a fire. The night before, an unseasonable cold front had descended on Love’s Landing, Florida, where Brown lived with his wife, Duc Hanh Thi Vu. By 8 a.m., the mercury in the thermometer had yet to reach 40 degrees. At the bottom of the cul-de-sac where the couple lived, a thin layer of frost glistened on the long grass runways that extended through the quiet neighborhood: Love’s Landing is a private aviation community, home to pilots, plane engineers, and flying enthusiasts.

As heat from the fireplace warmed the house, Brown headed to the small hangar he’d built right outside. Nearly everyone in Love’s Landing owned a plane, and Brown was no exception. He’d just had the engine of his gleaming Tecnam P2008 replaced, and despite the chill in the air, the morning was shaping up to be calm and clear. Perfect weather to take the plane up.

A carpenter by trade, Brown had spent much of his life enjoying the outdoors. In his younger days, he was an expert scuba diver and deep-sea fisherman. But now, at 66, his age had finally caught up with him. His close-cropped hair had gone gray, and health issues had him in and out of the hospital. During the past year alone, he’d suffered two heart attacks. Flying offered the chance, as Brown put it, “to continue the fun.” He’d fallen in love with aviation years earlier, after taking a charter trip with friends in Alaska. Flying sure beat staring at the trees on either side of the road, he said. This was the kind of enthusiastic attitude that made Brown popular in Love’s Landing. Soon after moving there in 2017, he and Vu became, as a neighbor put it, “one of the best-liked couples in the airpark.”
Brown had just raised the hangar door when an unmarked Dodge Durango roared into the driveway, along with a Marion County police cruiser. As Brown turned toward the commotion, a law enforcement agent in a tactical vest leapt out of the SUV. He was pointing an MK18 short-barreled automatic rifle at Brown’s face. “Step back! Raise your hands!” the agent shouted.
Brown did as he was told. Officers from a half-dozen federal agencies were fanning out across the property. “Are you Tim Brown?” the lead officer demanded as he approached the hangar. Brown nodded. “I’ve got a warrant for your arrest,” the officer said. Agents moved in formation to clear the hangar and headed toward the main house to execute a search warrant.

Brown’s neighbors would later recount their confusion at the fleet of official vehicles facing every which way in the street. No one knew what Brown had done. But whatever they imagined, the truth was almost certainly stranger.

For the previous 35 years, Tim Brown had been living a carefully constructed lie. He wasn’t just an aging retiree with a passion for aviation. In fact, he wasn’t Tim Brown at all. His real name was Howard Farley Jr., and law enforcement alleged that he’d been the leader of one of the largest drug-trafficking rings in Nebraska history.

As he was placed under arrest, a wry grin spread across his face. “I had mentally prepared myself for being caught,” he would later say. “When it happened, with men pointing guns at me, the only thing to do was smile


The note here is that I spent summers with my brother and cousin in Lincoln, Nebraska with my grandparents about the same time Tim Brown, who was actually Robert Farley, was becoming one of the top coke dealers in Lincoln in the 80's, and just the concept of "Lincoln's top coke dealer in the 80's" is wild if you've ever been to Lincoln.

Of course we had no idea what was going on. Lincoln was flat, boring, had a couple of good mini-golf places and Gramps worked in an office building downtown. It's still a hell of a tale.

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