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Brazil acknowledges spying on US diplomats

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government acknowledged Monday that its top intelligence agency had spied on diplomatic targets from countries including the United States, Iran and Russia, putting Brazilian authorities in the uncomfortable position of defending their own surveillance practices after repeatedly criticizing U.S. spying operations.

Brazil’s Institutional Security Cabinet, which oversees the nation’s intelligence activities, contended in a statement Monday that the spying operations, involving relatively basic surveillance about a decade ago of diplomats and diplomatic properties in Brazil, were “in absolute compliance” with legislation governing such practices.

The statement came in response to a report in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo describing how the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, commonly known as Abin, had followed some diplomats from Russia and Iran by foot and by car, photographing their movements, while also monitoring a commercial property leased by the U.S. Embassy in Brasília, the capital.

By almost any measure, such modest operations stand in sharp contrast to the sweeping international eavesdropping operations carried out by the National Security Agency. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, recently postponed a state visit to Washington following revelations that the NSA had spied on her and the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.

—Simon Romero, The New York Times

For the NFL, a question of pranks or abuse

Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito spent most of the season side by side, a pair of 300-pound men made rich from football, crouched inches apart on the offensive line of the Miami Dolphins. When the defense took the field, they sat on the bench in order of their position — Martin, the left tackle, next to Incognito, the left guard. They were as connected as teammates could be — though they could hardly be more different. Now Martin and Incognito are gone from the team, at least temporarily, opposites embroiled in a twisted controversy over hazing and workplace abuse.

Martin, a Classics major who attended Stanford and the son of two Harvard graduates, left the Dolphins last week after falling victim to the latest in a two-season string of hazing incidents. Incognito, a 30-year-old veteran with a reputation for dirty play and a history of rough behavior, was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins late Sunday while the team and the league investigated the matter.

Their unfolding saga is forcing the National Football League to uncomfortably turn its gaze toward locker room culture and start defining the gray areas between good-natured pranks and hurtful bullying. For years, young players in the NFL have been subjected to a wide swath of indignities straight from the hallways of high school or the back rooms of fraternity houses. Young players are often expected to carry teammates’ equipment off the field. They are sometimes forced to sing or otherwise entertain teammates on demand, left helplessly taped to goal posts or asked to regularly bring sandwiches or fast food to teammates.

ESPN and the Associated Press, among other outlets, citing unnamed sources, have reported that Incognito sent threatening and racist voice-mail and text messages to Martin. Incognito is white, and Martin is black.

Most incidents come with the tacit, unsupervised approval of coaches and executives, who see the pranks as a rite of passage, a worthy bit of team building and character strengthening. But the hazing generally stays within the macho atmosphere of the locker room. The Dolphins’ latest problems — symbolized by a pair of behemoth millionaire teammates turned archetypical opposites — burst into the public in recent days, forcing the team to address the matter.

—John Branch and Ken Belson, The New York Times