• Godwin’s law - reductio ad Hitlerum
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches” that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends.
    ...
    Godwin’s law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent’s argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate. Similar criticisms of the “law” (or “at least the distorted version which purports to prohibit all comparisons to German crimes”) have been made by the American lawyer, journalist, and author Glenn Greenwald.

    Godwin’s law does not claim to articulate a fallacy; it is instead framed as a memetic tool to reduce the incidence of inappropriate hyperbolic comparisons. “Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or of mathematics,” Godwin wrote, “its purpose has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about the Holocaust.”

    #discussion #rhétorique #internet #usenet #psychologie


  • 1845 - Friedrich Engels - Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England
    http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me02/me02_430.htm

    Trois ans avant la révolution de 1848 Friedrich Engels décrit la supériorité culturelle du prolétariat à une époque quand double morale et censure empêchent la bourgeoisie de s’intéresser à ses propres auteurs les plus avancés.

    Ich habe manchmal Arbeiter, deren Samtröcke nicht mehr zusammenhalten wollten, mit mehr Kenntnis über geologische, astronomische und andre Gegenstände sprechen hören, als mancher gebildete Bourgeois in Deutschland davon besitzt. Und wie sehr es dem englischen Proletariat gelungen ist, sich eine selbständige Bildung zu erwerben, zeigt sich besonders darin, daß die epochemachenden Erzeugnisse der neueren philosophischen, politischen und poetischen Literatur fast nur von den Arbeitern gelesen werden.

    Der Bourgeois, der Knecht des sozialen Zustandes und der mit ihm verbundenen Vorurteile ist, fürchtet, segnet und kreuzigt sich vor allem, was wirklich einen Fortschritt begründet; der Proletarier hat offne Augen dafür und studiert es mit Genuß und Erfolg. In dieser Beziehung haben besonders die Sozialisten Unendliches zur Bildung des Proletariats getan, sie haben die französischen Materialisten, Helvetius, Holbach, Diderot usw., übersetzt und nebst den besten englischen Sachen in billigen Ausgaben verbreitet. Strauß’ „Leben Jesu“ und Proudhons „Eigentum“ zirkulieren ebenfalls nur unter Proletariern. Shelley, der geniale prophetische Shelley und Byron mit seiner sinnlichen Glut und seiner bittern Satire der bestehenden Gesellschaft haben ihre meisten Leser unter den Arbeitern; die Bourgeois besitzen nur kastrierte Ausgaben, „family editions“, die nach der heuchlerischen Moral von heute zurechtgestutzt sind.

    Die beiden größten praktischen Philosophen der letzten Zeit, Bentham und Godwin, sind, namentlich letzterer, ebenfalls fast ausschließliches Eigentum des Proletariats; wenn auch Bentham unter der radikalen Bourgeoisie eine Schule besitzt, so ist es doch nur dem Proletariat und den Sozialisten gelungen, aus ihm einen Fortschritt zu entwickeln.

    Das Proletariat hat sich auf diesen Grundlagen eine eigene Literatur gebildet, die meist aus Journalen und Broschüren besteht und an Gehalt der ganzen Bourgeoisie-Literatur bei weitem voraus ist.

    #culture #prolétariat #histoire #révolution



  • ‘Eva Doesn’t Sleep’ Review : Eva Peron’s Journey After Death – Variety
    https://variety.com/2016/film/reviews/eva-doesnt-sleep-review-1201631075

    Les corps des héroïnes sont l’objet de spéculations et de phantasmes encore longtemps après leur mort. Deuxième exemple : Eva Peron

    The presiding character in “Eva Doesn’t Sleep” is dead before most of the action takes place: Writer-director Pablo Aguero (“Salamandra”) speculates on the eerie journey of Eva Peron’s body, which disappeared in the aftermath of the 1955 military coup that overthrew her husband, Argentine president Juan Peron, and wasn’t returned to the country until the 1970s. This morbid subject matter is served at a chilly temperature about as far removed from Andrew Lloyd Webber as could possibly be imagined. The elliptical narrative and political intrigue will appeal to those well versed in Argentine history, as well as to arthouse audiences of the sort that flock to Alexander Sokurov’s films, to which “Eva” bears a resemblance in its cerebral approach to history.

    The movie unfolds in flashback from 1976, narrated by a military leader from a coup that year credited simply as “Admiral,” but likely representing Jorge Rafael Videla (Gael Garcia Bernal, seen only in the bookends, despite lead billing). A staunch enemy of the woman he repeatedly refers to as “that bitch,” he rues the populism she represented and her championing of the working class. Incorporating black-and-white newsreel footage, the rhythmic, immersive prologue captures the adulation that Eva Peron received in life and the national outpouring of grief that followed her death from cancer in 1952.

    The first proper segment centers on Peron’s embalmer, Dr. Pedro Ara (Imanol Arias), who treats her body (stood in for by the actress Sabrina Macchi) with unnerving reverence and intimacy. He sculpts her face to preserve what he sees as her best qualities and cracks her foot and fingers, in just one component of the movie’s sensationally moody sound design. These minimally lit scenes have an ambience that alternately evokes a mad-scientist picture and a religious ceremony, with imagery of the Madonna and child.

    The second and most compelling section takes place in 1956, when an army colonel (Denis Lavant, supplying a measure of his spastic physical intensity) is tasked by the military ruling powers with a covert mission to transport Evita’s body. The soldier (Nicolas Goldschmidt) traveling with him steals a peek at the top-secret cargo and seems hypnotized by what he sees (“It isn’t a corpse. It’s her”). As night turns into dawn, the two men argue and eventually brawl, giving the impression that Evita’s presence, even in death, exerts a mystical power. As the voiceover says, “Her body turned us into animals. It drove us crazy. It made us delirious.”

    Set in 1969, the third movement extrapolates from the real-life kidnapping of Pedro Aramburu (Daniel Fanego), a general in the 1955 coup who subsequently presided as Argentina’s president over a period of repressive crackdown on all images and mention of the Perons. Here, his kidnappers, self-proclaimed Peronist revolutionaries, put him on trial and demand to know the location of their heroine’s body. One of them, Esther (Sofia Brito), is first seen from behind at an angle that gives her hair bun a ghostly resemblance to Evita’s own. (She is perhaps also the child Esther who catches a glimpse of Evita’s body in the embalming segment.) These tense and spare scenes call to mind Marco Bellocchio’s similar “Good Morning, Night.”

    Aguero favors a desaturated, at times almost sepia palette and long takes, some apparently broken up in editing, that help to draw out suspense even while little is happening. The movie’s visceral qualities are substantially enhanced by a theatrical viewing.

    #Argentine #histoire #femmes


  • Des Rätsels Lösung : Die Leiche im Keller ist nicht Rosa Luxemburg - Gesellschaft - FAZ
    https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/des-raetsels-loesung-die-leiche-im-keller-ist-nicht-rosa-luxemburg-1909092.html

    Les corps des héroïnes sont l’objet de spéculations et de phantasmes encore longtemps après leur mort. Premier exemple : Rosa Luxemburg

    Wurde Rosa Luxemburg 1919 auf dem Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde in Berlin beigesetzt oder liegt sie seit 90 Jahren im Keller der Berliner Charité? Am Donnerstag soll sie erscheinen - in Buchform: die ganze Wahrheit über den Tod der ermordeten Revolutionärin.

    Am Donnerstag soll sie erscheinen – in Buchform, auf 204 Seiten: die ganze Wahrheit über den Tod Rosa Luxemburgs. „Dieser Band klärt alles auf“, sagt der Frankfurter Autor und Regisseur Klaus Gietinger, einer der Herausgeber des Buches „Rosa Luxemburgs Tod – Dokumente und Kommentare“. Für ihn ist der Fall klar: Der Leichnam der ermordeten Revolutionärin wurde am 13. Juni 1919 auf dem Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde in Berlin beigesetzt – und liegt keinesfalls seit 90 Jahren im Keller der Berliner Charité. Mit dieser Vermutung war Michael Tsokos, Leiter der Rechtsmedizin der Charité, im Mai vergangenen Jahres an die Öffentlichkeit getreten.

    Es gelang Tsokos nicht, einen Beweis für seine These zu finden, dafür aber, eine Schar von Fachleuten gegen sich aufzubringen. „Ich unterstelle ihm eine gewisse Publicity-Neigung“, sagt Gietinger. „Diese ganze Geschichte ist eine PR-Ente, an den Haaren herbeigezogen“, sagt Volkmar Schneider, Tsokos’ Vorgänger an der Charité, dessen Amtsübergabe an den jungen Kollegen nicht ohne Reibungen verlief. Auch Schneider hat Dokumente gegen seinen Nachfolger gesammelt, die er vor Weihnachten in einem Pamphlet zusammenstellte und an Freunde und Bekannte versandte. „Darin habe ich ihn Punkt für Punkt widerlegt.“

    Tsokos fühlt sich von seinen Kritikern verfolgt: „Das nervt langsam.“ Er habe nur einen spannenden Fall lösen wollen, als er bei seinem Amtsantritt Anfang 2007 eine unbekannte Wasserleiche im Keller der Charité vorfand, die das Gerücht umgab, es handele sich um die sterblichen Überreste Rosa Luxemburgs. Um durch persönliche Gegenstände der Revolutionärin an DNA-Material für einen Abgleich mit dem Torso heranzukommen, wandte Tsokos sich früh an die Öffentlichkeit – ohne Erfolg. Zwar spürte er das Herbarium Rosa Luxemburgs in einem Archiv in Warschau auf, aber der Pflanzensammlung war kein verwertbares DNA-Material zu entnehmen. Mit Irene Borde fand er in Israel eine Großnichte der Revolutionärin, die allerdings verwandtschaftlich zu weit entfernt war für einen Vergleich des Erbgutes. Zuletzt scheiterte der Versuch, Rosa Luxemburgs Eltern exhumieren zu lassen. Einer Öffnung der Gräber in Warschau stimmte Irene Borde nicht zu – nachdem sie, nach Angaben Tsokos’, zunächst ihr Einverständnis erklärt hatte.

    Seine Kritiker werfen Tsokos vor, er habe mit dem schlagzeilenträchtigen Fall den Verkauf seines Buches „Dem Tod auf der Spur. Dreizehn spektakuläre Fälle aus der Rechtsmedizin“ ankurbeln wollen. Bis zum November waren es noch zwölf Fälle, seitdem prangt ein roter Hinweis auf dem Cover: „Jetzt mit seinem neuesten Fall Rosa Luxemburg“. Das sei die Idee seines Verlages gewesen, sagt der Rechtsmediziner, der er aus heutiger Sicht nicht noch einmal zustimmen würde. Tsokos unterschätzte wohl, dass seine These den Irrtum anderer bedeutet. Forscher und Biographen von Rosa Luxemburg hätten demnach schlecht recherchiert. So auch Gietinger, der 2008 das Buch „Eine Leiche im Landwehrkanal. Die Ermordung Rosa Luxemburgs“ veröffentlichte. Und Tsokos’ Vorgänger Schneider sah sich auf einmal mit dem Vorwurf konfrontiert, möglicherweise jahrelang den Leichnam Rosa Luxemburgs im Keller seines Instituts liegen gehabt zu haben, ohne sich um den Fall zu kümmern. „Ich glaube, er wusste noch nicht einmal von der Leiche“, sagt Tsokos. Schneider dagegen sagt, er habe sehr wohl von den Gerüchten um die unbekannte Wasserleiche gehört und habe sie daher eingehend untersuchen lassen. Es habe keinen Hinweis darauf gegeben, dass es sich um die Revolutionärin handele.

    Wer die Tote aus der Charité ist, bleibt weiter ungeklärt

    Für Schneider ist der Fall Luxemburg eine Frage der Ehre. Seiner eigenen, aber vornehmlich der von Fritz Strassmann und Paul Fraenckel, seinen Vorgängern an der Charité. Strassmann und Fraenckel hatten den angeblichen Leichnam Rosa Luxemburgs nach ihrer Entdeckung am 31. Mai 1919 im Berliner Landwehrkanal obduziert. Nach Angaben Tsokos’ hätten sie unter dem Druck des Militärs eine andere Tote als Rosa Luxemburg ausgegeben – den Obduktionsbericht, der im Freiburger Militärarchiv lagert und den Tsokos einsah, hätten sie jedoch mit versteckten Hinweisen auf das Komplott versehen: etwa mit dem Vermerk eines fehlenden Hüftschadens, den Rosa Luxemburg aber gehabt habe. „Strassmann war der bedeutendste Gerichtsmediziner seiner Zeit. Es hat mich geärgert, dass Tsokos sagt, er hätte sich der Fälschung hingegeben“, sagt Schneider. Den Obduktionsbericht hält er für tadellos. „Er ist in sich schlüssig, es gibt keinen Ansatz für einen Zweifel. Ich weiß gar nicht, wie ein erfahrener Rechtsmediziner wie Tsokos zu solch einer Fehleinschätzung kommen kann.“

    Der Berliner Historiker Jörn Schütrumpf, Verleger der Werk- und Briefausgabe von Rosa Luxemburg, teilt dagegen Tsokos’ Meinung. „Den Obduktionsbericht können nur ein Historiker und ein Rechtsmediziner gemeinsam verstehen. Es ist eindeutig, dass gefälscht wurde.“ Die Militärs hätten zunächst tatsächlich geglaubt, den Leichnam der Revolutionärin gefunden zu haben, erst bei der Obduktion sei der Irrtum aufgefallen. „Aber das hätte der Regierung niemand geglaubt. Also haben sie die Flucht nach vorne angetreten und haben die Leiche als Rosa Luxemburg beerdigt, damit Ruhe herrscht. Das haben die Historiker nicht begriffen. Sie haben jahrelang ihre Hausaufgaben nicht gemacht.“ Für Schütrumpf, der zusammen mit Tsokos monatelang nach einem Beweis für oder gegen dessen These forschte, steht derzeit nur fest, dass 1919 die falsche Leiche beerdigt wurde. Ende offen – wer die Tote aus der Charité ist, bleibt weiter ungeklärt. „Wir können nicht beweisen, dass sie nicht Rosa Luxemburg ist.“

    Tsokos hegt noch immer einen Rest Hoffnung, irgendwann DNA-Material Rosa Luxemburgs mit dem des Torsos aus der Charité, dem Kopf, Hände und Füße fehlen, vergleichen zu können. Die unbekannte Wasserleiche wird nach 90 Jahren nun immerhin ihre letzte Ruhe finden. Sie soll in den kommenden Wochen beerdigt werden.

    #Allemagne #histoire #communismes #femmes


  • Facebook – eine Grundsatzentscheidung | Digitalcourage
    https://digitalcourage.de/themen/facebook/facebook-eine-grundsatzentscheidung

    Quelques proposition pour ceux qui pensent que la présence « sur Facebook » est impérative pour leurs affaires.

    Unsere Aufgabe als Datenschutzverein ist es, über Datenschutz aufzuklären und Menschen dafür zu sensibilisieren sowie sie zu mobilisieren. Es gilt Menschen dort zu erreichen, wo sie sich tummeln. Für uns stellt sich daher die Frage: „Wollen wir als Verein Facebook nutzen oder nicht?“ – Dafür spricht, dass Facebook allein in Deutschland über 28 Millionen aktive Nutzer.innen besitzt; weltweit sind es sogar 1,44 Milliarden. Was spräche dagegen eine solche Reichweite auszuschöpfen?
    Wir haben Verständnis für Ihre Entscheidung

    Jede Organisation, welche öffentlichkeitswirksam arbeitet, befindet sich in folgendem Dilemma: Entweder entscheidet man sich für einen Online-Auftritt bei Facebook und stimmt in Folge dessen den zweifelhaften Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen zu. Oder der Zugang zu einer Plattform, mit dessen Hilfe eine ungemeine Anzahl an Menschen erreicht werden kann, bleibt einem verwehrt. Der Verzicht auf Facebook kann für Organisationen mitunter einem Schritt in die Bedeutungslosigkeit gleichkommen, da andere Organisationen ihre Reichweite mittels Facebook signifikant erweitern.
    Unsere Entscheidung lautet: Kein Facebook!

    Bei Digitalcourage besteht ein allgemeiner Konsens darüber, sich deutlich gegen Facebook zu positionieren: Kommerzielle Überwachung stellt eines unserer Kernthemen dar. Aus diesem Grund erhielt Facebook bereits im Jahr 2011 den – von Digitalcourage verliehenen – BigBrotherAward in der Kategorie „Kommunikation“. In zahlreichen Interviews kritisieren wir das maßlose Sammeln von Daten durch Facebook. Nichts desto trotz sind die Möglichkeiten der Vereinsarbeit mithilfe eines Facebook-Zugangs nicht von der Hand zu weisen. Sollten Sie sich, trotz der Risiken, für Facebook entscheiden, beachten Sie bitte Folgendes:
    Grundregeln zur Nutzung von Facebook

    Mit ein paar einfachen Regeln ist es möglich, dem gesellschaftlichen Schaden, der durch die Nutzung von Facebook entsteht, entgegenzuwirken. Gegen die grundsätzlichen Probleme bezüglich Facebook, beispielsweise Monopolisierung, Kommerzialisierung und die Umgehung des deutschen und europäischen Datenschutzes, helfen auch diese Regeln allerdings nicht.
    1. Alternative Kommunikationsplattformen anbieten:

    Wer Facebook & Co. nutzt, sollte zusätzlich mindestens einen weiteren Kommunikationskanal anbieten. Dieser sollte frei sein und ebenfalls alle Inhalte verbreiten. Die Auswahl der Anbieter ist groß genug. Wir empfehlen dezentrale Ansätze wie Diaspora* oder das Fediverse. Sie haben die Wahl. Denn wer selbst keine Alternative anbietet, ist mitverantwortlich dafür, dass eines Tages vergessen ist, dass Alternativen bestehen. Durch das Befüttern alternativer Plattformen steigt auch deren Attraktivität. Wenn sich alle Organisationen, die Facebook & Co. nutzen, allein an diese Praktik hielten, wäre schon viel gewonnen.
    Mit Accountverwaltungsprogrammen wie Hootsuite sparen Sie Zeit bei der Pflege verschiedener Social-Media-Plattformen. Je höher die Nachfrage nach alternativen Plattformen wird, desto verlässlicher werden auch die Verwaltungsprogramme, welche diese einbinden. Die Attraktivität auf andere Kommunikationskanäle umzusteigen stiege, sodass langfristig die Marktmacht von Facebook aufgebrochen werden kann.
    2. Aus Facebook raus linken, nicht hinein:

    Es sollte stets auf Websites außerhalb von Facebook verwiesen werden. Die Internetnutzer.innen, welche Sie außerhalb von Facebook erreichen, sollten Sie wiederum nicht zu Facebook weiterleiten. Keine Links zu Facebook zu verwenden, ist im Interesse jeder Organisation: Denn Ihr eigenes Angebot können Sie somit verbreiten, ohne parallel kostenlos Werbung für Facebook zu machen.
    3. Mitarbeiter.innen vor AGB schützen:

    Ihr Facebook-Konto sollte von einem gesonderten Rechner verwaltet werden. Denn es ist unklar, was es im Detail bedeutet, dass – so heißt es in den Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen – das Onlineverhalten außerhalb Facebooks ebenfalls erforscht wird. Der Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) mahnte Facebook bereits ab, da 19 Klauseln der Geschäftsbedingungen aus Sicht des vzbv rechtswidrig seien. Es ist demnach verantwortungslos, Facebook von einem, für diverse Zwecke genutzten, Arbeitsrechner zu bedienen. Abhilfe kann ein sogenannter virtueller Rechner liefern.
    4. Ablehnung von Facebook kundtun:

    Eine kritische und reflektierte Haltung gegenüber Facebook sollte auf Ihrer Facebook-Seite sehr deutlich kommuniziert sowie der Umgang mit dieser transparent gemacht und andere zur Einhaltung der hiesigen Regeln animiert werden. Verweisen Sie auf die alternativen Plattformen, auf denen Sie ebenfalls kommunizieren.
    5. Social-Media-Buttons allenfalls als Ein-Klick-Lösung:

    Sollten Sie auf Ihrer Website Social-Media-Buttons einbinden, gibt es auch hierfür eine Möglichkeit, dies zu tun, ohne die Besucher.innen ihrer Site gesammelt an die Datenkraken auszuliefern. Mittels Shariff können Share-Buttons mit „Ein-Klick-Lösung“ datenschutzkonform auf der eigenen Website eingebunden werden. Nutzer.innen stehen hierdurch erst dann mit Facebook und Co. direkt in Verbindung, wenn sie aktiv werden, zuvor können die sozialen Netzwerke keine Daten über sie erfassen.
    Facebook lohnt sich nicht mehr

    Auch wenn die Verlockung groß ist, auch wirtschaftlich betrachtet gibt es gute Gründe, gegen eine Facebook-Nutzung:
    Grund 1: Reichweite ist begrenzt

    Eine große Reichweite kann nur durch eine hohe Interaktivität hergestellt werden. Das heißt, dass Community-Manager.innen einen hohen Arbeitsaufwand betreiben: Kommunizieren mit den Nutzer.innen, das Bereitstellen von Inhalten, planen und durchführen von Umfragen oder Spielen und Vieles mehr. Dies kostet viel Arbeitszeit und bedeutet viel Aufwand für eine vergleichsweise kurze Aufmerksamkeitsspanne der Konsumenten Ihrer Informationen.
    Grund 2: Inhalte haben es schwer

    Die Inhalte, welche Nutzer.innen auf Facebook angezeigt werden, werden ähnlich wie bei Google anhand von Algorithmen und Rankings errechnet. Facebook filtert, was die Nutzer.innen sehen (sollen). Wenn eine Facebook-Seite, beispielsweise, 200 „Gefällt-mir“-Angaben hat, wird ein Posting der betreffenden Seite möglicher Weise zwischen 15 und 30 Leuten angezeigt. Die Reichweite ihrer Informationen ist somit häufiger geringer, als angenommen.
    Grund 3: Katzenvideos sind interessanter

    Es ist kein Geheimnis: Die Beiträge mit der höchsten Resonanz auf Facebook sind emotionale Inhalte, Musik- und Katzenvideos. Da die meisten Inhalte von Organisationen aber eher informativer Natur sind, werden diese nur ein vergleichsweise kleines Zielpublikum erreichen. Denn laut Facebook-Algorithmus sind Sachinformationen weniger relevant und werden entsprechend eingestuft. Darum raten wir: Stellen Sie Ihre Inhalte auf Ihrer eigenen Seite zur Verfügung.
    Grund 4: Ohne Moos nix los

    Wer mehr Reichweite will, muss der Datenkrake Geld in den Schlund werfen. Bei einem bezahlten Account sind Ihre Möglichkeiten – Überraschung! – völlig andere. Facebook stellt Ihre Inhalte, in diesem Fall, allen Nutzer.innen vor. Der Slogan, „Facebook ist und bleibt kostenlos“, ist somit Augenwischerei, dies betont auch der Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband.
    Unterm Strich: Facebook ist vergebene Liebesmüh

    Sie und Ihre Organisation verpassen nichts, wenn Sie nicht auf Facebook vertreten sind. Ganz im Gegenteil; in Relation überwiegt der Aufwand gegenüber dem Nutzen. Überlegen Sie es sich daher zwei Mal, ob Sie Facebook auch wirklich nutzen möchten. Im Zweifel hat Facebook mehr von ihrer Organisation als Sie von Facebook. Und wenn Sie nach diesem Artikel immer noch der Meinung sind, ohne Facebook nicht auszukommen, halten Sie sich dabei bitte aber an die oben genannten Grundregeln.

    #surveillance #Facebook #politique


  • Funklöcher : Immer mehr Orte wollen keinen Mobilfunkmast - Golem.de
    https://www.golem.de/news/funkloecher-immer-mehr-orte-wollen-keinen-mobilfunkmast-1903-139757.html

    Dans le sud de l’Allemagne l’opposition contre la 5G de plus en plus forte

    Besonders in Baden-Württemberg wehren sich laut Vodafone Bürger zunehmend gegen die Mobilfunkversorgung. Die Telekom beklagt sogar bundesweiten Widerstand.

    Viele Bürger wehren sich gegen Mobilfunkstationen in ihrer Nähe. „Die aufgeklärte Bürgerschaft opponiert in viel größerer Zahl gegen Vorhaben der öffentlichen Hand“, sagte Steffen Jäger vom Gemeindetag Baden-Württemberg der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung. Das verzögert neben dem Bau von Bahnhöfen und Flughäfen auch den Ausbau des Mobilfunks.

    Die drei Netzbetreiber Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone und Telefónica/O2 stoßen häufig auf Widerstand. Laut Vodafone erschweren Bürgerinitiativen den Bau von Stationen in Stuttgart, Mannheim, Schorndorf, Waiblingen, Ludwigsburg und Kernen, wie die Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung berichtet.

    Die Telekom nennt als Hürden baurechtliche Verfahren, Naturschutzbestimmungen, fehlende Wegerechte und die Nichtbereitstellung öffentlicher Gebäude. Das gelte bundesweit, teilte das Unternehmen der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung mit.

    #Allemagne #internet #réseaux #politique


  • Deal der Region Stuttgart mit der Telekom Digitalisierte SmartCity : Überwachung, Klimakiller, Elektrosmogverseuchung
    https://soeslinkeplus.de/2018/09/deal-der-region-stuttgart-mit-der-telekom-digitalisierte-smartcity-ueb

    Les responsables politique de Stuttgart accordent le monopole pour la construction et la gestion du nouveau réseau 5G au konzern Telekom. L’entreprise touchera également des subventions à hauteur de 500 millions d’Euros et dictera ensuite les prix aux utilisateurs et concessionaires. La municipalité s’est ainsi décidée contre la gestion communale et fait un cadeau énorme à la multinationale.

    Die Transformation der Städte zu SmartCitys ist das derzeit größte und teuerste Großprojekt der Bundesregierung. Vordergründig heißt es, die Bürger bekämen schnelles Internet. Doch das ist der Köder für andere Ziele. SmartCity bedeutet den Umbau der Städte von Orten der kommunalen Demokratie zu Orten der zentralisierten Überwachung und Kontrolle. Seit Jahren fordern unsere Bürgerinitiative Mobilfunk, und auch die GRÜNEN und SÖS LINKE PluS im Gemeinderat, dass die Stadt Stuttgart das profitable Kommunikationsnetz in einem Eigenwirtschaftsbetrieb aufbaut und betreibt, weil die Internetversorgung zur Daseinsvorsorge gehört und der Datenfluss eine sensible Hauptschlagader der Gesellschaft ist. Das hatte die Stadt Stuttgart geplant, auch als dauerhafte Einnahmequelle. Denn nur dann können Kontrolle über Preise, Gleichbehandlung der Anbieter, Energieeffizienz, Gesundheitsschutz bei den Funkfrequenzen und der Datenschutz gesichert werden. Mit dem Monopol aber könnte die Telekom die Preise diktieren, auch für die Wettbewerber, die sich in ihr Netz einmieten wollen.

    #Allemagne #internet #politique #monopole #réseaux


  • McFadden-Prozess : BGH weist Klage wegen Störerhaftung endgültig ab - Golem.de
    https://www.golem.de/news/mcfadden-prozess-bgh-weist-klage-wegen-stoererhaftung-endgueltig-ab-1903-13987

    Il semble qu’en Allemagne on aura enfin les réseaux wifi libres et ouverts pour tous. Pour en être sûr il faut encore attendre le texte complet de la dernière décision de justice en matière de réseaux ouverts , mais il y a des éléments qui justifient l’optimisme.

    7. März 2019 - Ein jahrelanges Verfahren um ein offenes WLAN ist mit einer überraschenden Begründung zu Ende gegangen. Dennoch warnt Prozess-Gewinner McFadden weiter vor dem Betrieb offener Hotspots.

    Der jahrelange Rechtsstreit des Netzaktivisten Tobias McFadden für offenes WLAN in Deutschland ist zu Ende. Der Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) in Karlsruhe wies am Donnerstag die Revision des Musikkonzerns Sony zurück. Damit ist ein Urteil des Oberlandesgerichts (OLG) München von März 2018 rechtskräftig. (Az. I ZR 53/18)

    In dem Prozess ging es um die Frage, ob Internetnutzer, die ihr WLAN-Netzwerk für die Allgemeinheit öffnen, für Urheberrechtsverstöße über ihren Anschluss geradestehen müssen. McFadden war 2010 von Sony abgemahnt worden, weil jemand über das offene WLAN seines Büros illegal einen Song heruntergeladen hatte. In der Auseinandersetzung wurde er von der Piratenpartei unterstützt.
    Regierung schaffte Störerhaftung ab

    In dem Verfahren hatte der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) im September 2016 entschieden, dass kommerzielle Hotspot-Betreiber bei Urheberrechtsverletzungen, die über ihr WLAN begangen wurden, nicht zur Zahlung von Schadenersatz sowie entsprechenden Abmahn- und Gerichtskosten verpflichtet werden können. Allerdings dürfe der Geschädigte die Zahlung von Abmahn- und Gerichtskosten für die Durchsetzung von Unterlassungsansprüchen verlangen.

    Auf Basis dieses Urteils hatte McFadden am 20. April 2017 seinen Prozess vor dem Landgericht München verloren, weil er sein WLAN nicht mit einem Passwort geschützt hatte. Doch die große Koalition beschloss im Sommer 2017, das bereits geänderte Telemediengesetz ein weiteres Mal zu modifizieren, um kostenpflichtige Unterlassungsforderungen zu unterbinden. Im Berufungsverfahren vor dem OLG München hatten die Richter bestätigt, dass diese Gesetzesänderungen mit EU-Recht vereinbar sind. Die Sony-Anwälte hatten dies in dem Prozess angezweifelt.
    Überraschende Begründung

    Allerdings hatte das Gericht eine Revision des Urteils vor dem BGH zugelassen, die nun abgelehnt wurde. Die Begründung überraschte selbst McFadden. Denn die Karlsruher Richter urteilten, dass kommerzielle Anbieter schon nach alter Rechtslage erst dann verpflichtet gewesen seien, ihr Netzwerk zum Beispiel mit einem Passwort zu sichern, wenn sie jemand auf einen Rechtsverstoß hingewiesen habe. Dass Sony McFadden vor der Abmahnung einen solchen Hinweis erteilt habe, sei nicht festgestellt, sagte der Vorsitzende Richter Thomas Koch in der Verhandlung.

    McFadden schloss daraus, „dass alle ’Altfälle’ von Hotels etc. kippen könnten und die noch laufenden Verfahren zugunsten der WLAN-Betreiber ausfallen“. Die schriftliche Urteilsbegründung liege aber noch nicht vor. Er forderte Nutzer trotz des Erfolgs vor Gericht dazu auf, ihr WLAN geschlossen zu halten. Auch mit diesem Urteil sei das neue TMG „noch nicht komplett gerichtlich getestet“. Stattdessen sollten Nutzer Freifunk-Router mit VPN zu einem Freifunkverein verwenden.

    #Allemagne #droit #internet #WIFI


  • Schwarzbuch Bundeswehr, 2016
    https://www.linksfraktion.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Publikationen/Sonstiges/schwarzbuch-bundeswehr.pdf

    Kritisches Handbuch zur Aufrüstung und Einsatzorientierung der Bundeswehr

    Seit rund 25 Jahren wer-den deutsche Soldaten systematisch in Kriege und Kri-sengebiete entsandt. Das Weißbuch hat die Aufgabe, diesen Kurs als alternativlos darzustellen.2Es entstand unter Federführung des Bundesministeri-ums für Verteidigung. Laut Eigendarstellung stellt es „das oberste sicherheits- und verteidigungspolitische Grundlagendokument der Bundesregierung“ dar und formuliert „das sicherheitspolitische Programm für die nächsten Jahre“.
    ...
    Seit Ursula von der Leyen am Jahresende 2013 das Amt der Verteidigungsministerin übernahm hat sich die Frequenz, mit der neue Auslandseinsätze beschlossen oder bestehende Mandate erweitert worden sind, spürbar erhöht. Glaubt man den Beteu-erungen der Verteidigungsministerin, dann geht es dabei stets um „Terrorabwehr“, „Stabilisierung“ oder „Friedenssicherung“. Die infl ationäre Ausdehnung der Einsätze selbst zeigt, dass sie damit nicht besonders erfolgreich ist.
    ...
    Die Herrschenden und ihre Strategen ziehen daraus nicht den Schluss, dass die militärische Eskalation selbst Teil des Problems ist.
    ...
    Sie erzeugen den Eindruck, militärische Passivität und Zurückhaltung seien das Problem. Tatsächlich verhält es sich umgekehrt: Dort, wo die Groß- und Mittel-mächte, und mit ihnen Deutschland, militärisch einge-griffen haben, wurden Krisen verschärft, oft auch erst geschaffen. Die vermeintliche Medizin ist maßgebliche Mitverursacherin des Leidens: oft jahrelanges mili-tärisches Eingreifen von außen haben den Zerfall Af-ghanistans, Iraks, Syriens und Libyens ausgelöst oder befördert.
    ...
    Es ist so, die Welt befi ndet sich in einem Umbruch. Hintergrund dafür ist der Wettlauf der großen und mittleren Mächte um Rohstoffe, um Märkte und politi-schen Einfl uss. Dies stand hinter den Entscheidungen, die zu den jahrelangen Militärinterventionen im Mitt-leren Osten, Zentralasien und Afrika geführt haben.
    ...
    Heeresinspekteur Jörg Vollmer formulierte diesen Gedanken so: Russland dränge als flächenmäßig größter Staat der Erde nun mit Macht in die Rolle des einstigen weltpolitischen Großakteurs. Es wolle seine Weltmachtrolle „militärisch hinterlegen“.
    Hier handelt es sich um eine Art Projektion, eine spiegelbildliche Negativfolie der eigenen Strategie. So formuliert das Weißbuch für Deutschland den Anspruch, „aufgrund seiner wirtschaftlichen, politischen und militärischen Bedeutung [...] die globale Ordnung aktiv mitzugestalten.“

    Was im Hinblick auf Russland als internationale Bedrohung dargestellt wird, erscheint im Weißbuch für Deutschland als internationale „Ver-antwortung“.
    ...
    Impressum

    Herausgegeben von der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung und der Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag
    Entstanden unter Mitwirkung von: Jacqueline Andres, Christine Buchholz (v.i.S.d.P.), Mario Candeias, Erhard Crome, Claudia Haydt,Thomas Mickan, Maria Oshana, Frank Renken, Rainer Rilling, Andreas Seifert, Ingar Solty.
    Layout/Satz: Thomas Herbell, Berlin
    Druck: MediaService, Berlin
    Bildnachweis: dpa (7, 21, 43), Frank Schwarz (27), Sebastian Wilke (71) CC-BY-ND 2.0, linksjugend [solid] (81), Uwe Hiksch (95)
    Stand: 18. August 2016

    #Allemagne #Russie #militarisme #guerre #impérialisme


  • Gemeinnützigkeit ǀ Diese Attacke ist nur der Anfang — der Freitag
    https://www.freitag.de/autoren/felix-werdermann/diese-attacke-ist-nur-der-anfang

    Pour les dictatures et régimes autoritaires la première étape du combat contre une organisation critique est l’interdiction de son financement par des sources étrangères et institutionnelles. Le ministre des finances allemand Wolfgang #Schäuble et son administration ont opté pour la suppression du statut d’intérêt commun pour freiner les activités Attac. Cette décision vient d’être confirmée par un jugement de la plus haute cour de finances (Bundesfinanzhof).

    La décision de la justice crée un danger imminent pour chaque organisation critique envers la politique du gouvernement. Les dirigeants CDU proches des producteurs d’automobiles s’en félicitent et préparent l’attaque contre leur ennemi juré, l’association Umwelthilfe qui se prononce régulièrement pour l’interdiction de la circulation automobile dans les centres villes. D’autres cibles seront sélectionnés et attaquées au fur et a mesure. A l’époque de la montée de l’extrémisme de droite ce sont d’abord les associations anti-racistes de gauche qui se font des soucis pour leur bases financière.

    Nous sommes en train d’entrer dans une nouvelle phase de la transfomation sociétale. Elle est marquée par des actes d’une violence inconnue en Allemagne jusque hier.

    Jetzt ist es passiert, und in der Großen Koalition gibt es Streit. Der SPD-Politiker Lothar Binding sieht Handlungsbedarf: „Die Entscheidung des Bundesfinanzhofes zu Attac zeigt, dass der Katalog der gemeinnützigen Zwecke in der Abgabenordnung zu eng ist.“ In der Union hingegen sorgt das Urteil für Freude. Olav Gutting vom Franktionsvorstand twittert: „Das sollte eine Ermunterung für Finanzämter sein, auch bei vielen anderen #NGOs genauer hinzuschauen.“ Der parlamentarische Geschäftsführer der CSU, Stefan Müller, hat gleich einen konkreten Vorschlag: „Als Nächstes muss man an die @Umwelthilfe ran.“

    Die Deutsche Umwelthilfe steht in der Union ohnehin auf der Abschussliste, seitdem sie das Versagen der Bundesregierung in der Dieselaffäre immer wieder kritisiert. Vor Kurzem hat sogar der CDU-Parteitag beschlossen, dass die Gemeinnützigkeit der Umwelthilfe überprüft und dem Verein sämtliche Mittel aus dem Bundeshaushalt entzogen werden sollen. Doch so leicht wie bei Attac dürfte das nicht werden. Schließlich ist Umweltschutz in der Abgabenordnung ausdrücklich als gemeinnütziger Zweck festgeschrieben, das Attac-Urteil also nicht direkt anwendbar. Zittern müssen eher die Vereine, deren Ziele in der Abgabenordnung nicht vorkommen und die sich mit der politischen Bildung eine Hilfskonstruktion geschaffen haben.

    #Allemagne #politique


  • 06.03.2019 : Auf die Straße getrieben (Tageszeitung junge Welt)
    https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/350404.armut-auf-die-stra%C3%9Fe-getrieben.html

    La transformation politique de l’Allemagne fait perdre leur logement à un nombre croissants de jeunes.

    Wie viele Jugendliche in der Bundesrepublik tatsächlich wohnungslos sind, weiß offiziell niemand. Allerdings ging die Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe (BAGW) 2017 davon aus, dass die Zahl der Menschen ohne Bleibe insgesamt von rund 860.000 im Jahr 2016 auf 1,2 Millionen Ende 2018 ansteigen dürfte. Auch Kinder seien zunehmend davon bedroht, hieß es. Zur selben Zeit schätzte das Deutsche Jugendinstitut die Zahl der unter 25jährigen, die auf der Straße leben, rückblickend auf 37.000, darunter Tausende Minderjährige.

    Die Stiftung »Off Road Kids« hatte bereits vor einem Jahr vor einem rasanten Anstieg der Jugendobdachlosigkeit gewarnt. Im Jahr 2021 würden wohl mehr als 100.000 unter 25jährige auf der Straße sitzen, wenn die Politik weiterhin nicht handele, hieß es. Besonders Heimkinder seien gefährdet. Denn viele Kommunen stellten die Hilfe für sie am 18. Geburtstag abrupt ein. Unternommen hat die Politik bis heute nichts dagegen. Im Gegenteil: »Es gibt nahezu keine Wohnplätze mehr für junge Volljährige, die auf der Straße sitzen«, sagte der Vorstandssprecher von »Off Road Kids«, Markus Seidel.

    Un commentaire en explique la méthode.

    Beitrag von Jörg K. aus K. ( 5. März 2019 um 22:45 Uhr)
    Ich kann den Beitrag bestätigend ergänzen: der Auftrag des Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetzes (KJHG) wird weitgehend ignoriert: das Recht auf Erziehung und Förderung der Entwickling gilt für alle junge Menschen d.h. bis zum Alter von 27 Jahren. Leider gibt es sogar Bestrebungen (insb. auch in der SPD) das KJHG so zu verändern, dass soziale Infrastruktur (Beratungsstellen, Jugendzentren, usw) weiter abgebaut und zukünftig mehr solche Leistungen gewährt werden, die in Form von Massnahmen auf Projektbasis eine Gegenleistung (Wohnung nur gegen Jobcenter/Massnahme) verlangen, die Gehälter der befristet Beschäftigten der Sozialen Arbeit drücken, das Unternehmertum und damit auch einen methodenfetischistisch expandierten Weiterbildungsmarkt sowie daran gekoppelte Punitivität in der Sozialen Arbeit fördert. Dazu kommt, dass sich die Soziale Arbeit in eine Therapeutisierungsindustrie einschmiegt, in der Ärzte*innen und Psycholog*innen zusammen mit der Pharmaindustrie die behindernten gesellschaftlichen Beschränkungen in subjektive Beschränktheit mittels Diagnosen uminterpretieren und statt der es bestimmenden gesellschaftl. Verhältnisse das subjektive Verhalten kurzzeittherapeutisch regulieren. Soziale Arbeit ist weitgehend nicht nur Komplizin sondern hat auch methodisch Einzug in die neoliberale Ideologie genommen: Montagsmorgens die Blitzlichtrunde mit Befindlichkeitsbekundungen und Zielvereinbarungen, usw. Gleichwohl gibt es zugestandene fürsorgliche Freiräume, wie z.B. die o.a. Einrichtungen der Kinder- und Jugendwohnungslosenhilfe. Doch die Möglichkeitsräume werden nicht nur durch strukturelle Zwänge beschnitten, sondern selbst aus der Sozialen Arbeit heraus wird versucht die lebendige Arbeit im und am Sozialen sowie der zwischenmenschliche Kontakt methodisch herauszuprogrammieren. Sich vom Leid der Anderen berühren zu lassen oder gar Solidarität wird in der Sozialen Arbeit zu oft als unprofessionelle Befangenheit bewertet. Selbst beim sog. Kita-Streik waren Töne zu hören, die auf reine Selbstermächtigung der Profession zielten. Dabei war Soziale Arbeit von Beginn an immer auch Akteur in Sozialen Kämpfen um gesellschaftliche Teilhabe. Leider sind die Bestrebungen Kritischer Sozialer Arbeit, sich als Sprachrohr für eine Transformation des Sozialen zu organisieren, angesichts der derzeitigen gesellschaftl Entwicklungen quantitativ und qualitativ noch zu ungenügend, um mittels Allianzen Teil einer geschichtsmächtigen sozialen Bewegung zu werden.

    #Allemagne #social #jeunes


  • 06.03.2019: Geschichte einer Aggression (Tageszeitung junge Welt)
    https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/350415.von-bismarck-bis-westerwelle-geschichte-einer-aggression.html

    Im Jahre 1878 reklamierte Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck im Kontext des Berliner Kongresses zur Balkanfrage für sich den Ruf des »ehrlichen Maklers«, da er für Deutschland auf dem Balkan keine Interessen sehe, »welche auch nur die gesunden Knochen eines einzigen pommerschen Musketiers wert« seien. 36 Jahre später stand »Serbien muss sterbien« als Losung auf der Berliner Tagesordnung. Anlass war die Tötung des österreichischen Thronfolgers Franz Ferdinand 1914 in Sarajevo durch eine Gruppe junger Serben, die mit dem Attentat den kolonialistischen Anspruch Österreich-Ungarns auf Teile des Siedlungsgebietes der Südslawen zurückweisen wollten. Eigentlicher Hintergrund war aber, dass Serbien aufgrund seiner Intention, die südslawischen Siedlungsgebiete zu einem gemeinsamen souveränen Staat zusammenzuführen, zu einer ernsthaften Gefahr deutscher und österreichischer Imperialpolitik in Südosteuropa wurde. Dies sollte verhindert werden.

    So begann der Erste Weltkrieg als Einhegungskrieg der Donaumonarchie und Deutschlands gegen das allzu selbstständige Serbien, das allerdings als Sieger aus dem Krieg hervorging und einen südslawischen Staat (»Königreich der Serben, Kroaten und Slowenen«, später Königreich Jugoslawien) konstituieren konnte. Deutschland hingegen musste seinen imperialistischen Anspruch zunächst aufgeben.

    Auch im Zweiten Weltkrieg blieb Großdeutschland seiner imperialistischen Politik gegenüber dem Balkan treu: Es zerschlug den jugoslawischen Staat und konnte dabei auf die Unterstützung regionaler Nationalisten setzen. Insbesondere slowenische (Domobrancen), kroatische (Ustascha) und bosnisch-muslimische (13. Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS »Handschar«) Provinznationalisten sowie die albanische Minderheit bewiesen dabei große Kollaborationsfreude. Das Vorhaben Hitlerdeutschlands, Jugoslawien endgültig zu zerstören, scheiterte aber. Titos Partisanen befreiten nahezu selbstständig ihr Land, Jugoslawien wurde ein sozialistisch-föderativer Staat und genoss als blockfreies Land weltweit hohes Ansehen. Deutschland hingegen musste eine Zwangspause als imperialistische Macht einlegen.

    Die Veränderungen in Osteuropa in den Jahren 1989–91 berührten auch Jugoslawien. Während die BRD im Zuge des Anschlusses der DDR ihre volle Souveränität wiedererlangte, gewannen in Jugoslawien die Provinznationalisten zunehmend die Oberhand – mit Unterstützung der wiedererwachenden Hegemonialmacht Deutschland. Bonn setzte sich unter missbräuchlicher Verwendung des Selbstbestimmungsrechts an die Spitze der internationalen Sezessionsbefürworter.

    Die Normenhierarchie staatlicher Souveränität und territorialer Integrität wurde zugunsten eines reaktionär-sezessionistischen Selbstbestimmungsrechtsverständnisses verkehrt. Dieses hat aber nichts mit dem emanzipatorisch-antikolonialen Selbstbestimmungsrecht der UN-Charta zu tun. Während die UN-Charta das Selbstbestimmungsrecht als Grundlage staatlicher Souveränität, nämlich frei von äußerer Intervention, betrachtet, stellt die deutsche Interpretation einen Gegensatz zwischen staatlicher Souveränität und Selbstbestimmungsrecht dar, also ein primitives Sezessionsrecht.

    Deutschlands interventionistischer Vorstoß war damit die erste und gleichzeitig erfolgreiche außenpolitische Machtprobe. Dabei verwendete die neue deutsche Außenpolitik nicht einmal diplomatische Floskeln, um ihren imperialistischen Anspruch gegenüber Serbien zu formulieren. »Serbien muss in die Knie gezwungen werden«, polterte 1992 der damalige Bundesaußenminister Klaus Kinkel.

    Der Besuch von Außenminister Guido Westerwelle in Belgrad 2010 verdeutlichte nicht weniger, wer Herr und wer Knecht ist. In kolonialer Selbstgefälligkeit erklärte er: »Die Unabhängigkeit des Kosovo ist Realität.« Terroristen der »Kosovo-Befreiungsarmee« (UCK) war es mit militärischer Unterstützung der NATO gelungen, einen Teil serbischen Staatsgebietes gewaltsam herauszubrechen und weltweit den ersten Mafiastaat zu gründen.

    Als es Ende Juli/Anfang August 2010 an der »Verwaltungsgrenze« zwischen Zentralserbien und seiner Provinz Kosovo zum Widerstand aufgebrachter Serben kam, warnte Westerwelle Belgrad: »Hier geht es um den Frieden in Europa.« Zynisch ergänzte er: Die Zeit gewaltsamer Auseinandersetzungen, die Zeit von Kriegen und Konflikten entlang ethnischer Linien in Europa, müsse zu Ende sein. »Wir sind der Überzeugung, dass die Landkarte in dieser Region gezeichnet ist.«

    Nachdem Deutschland die Landkarte des Balkans nach eigenen Vorstellungen und in Absprache mit den USA verändert hatte, soll nun Ruhe herrschen, d. h. die Ergebnisse westlicher und regional-sezessionistischer Gewaltpolitik sollen akzeptiert werden. Wenn Serbien dies nicht will, bleibt es der Brandstifter auf dem Balkan. Als Belgrad und Pristina 2018 den Gedanken eines Gebietsaustauschs zwecks Befriedung des Konflikts ins Spiel brachten, senkte Berlin seinen Daumen.

    Für dieses das Völkerrecht negierende und selbstherrliche »ordnungspolitische Verständnis« steht die neue Wortkreation »regelbasierte internationale Ordnung«, die die Charta der Vereinten Nationen stillschweigend ersetzen soll. Gemeint ist damit die vom Westen gestaltete imperiale Ordnung.

    Deutschlands antiserbische und antijugoslawische Politik stellt eine Konstante deutscher Außenpolitik dar. Seit der Zerschlagung Jugoslawiens bestimmen Deutschland, Österreich und die USA das Schicksal der postjugoslawischen Staaten. Anstelle ihrer erhofften Unabhängigkeit steht eine nur formale Souveränität.

    Alexander S. Neu ist Obmann der Linksfraktion im Verteidigungsausschuss des Bundestages und war im Jahr 2000 als Mitarbeiter der OSZE im Kosovo.

    Uminterpretation der Ereignisse von 1999 auf internationalem Parkett

    Im Jahr 2008 proklamierten die Albaner der serbischen Provinz Kosovo die Unabhängigkeit von Serbien. Belgrad sieht sich außer Stande, diesem illegalen Schritt durch Ausübung seiner Hoheitsgewalt zwecks Verteidigung seiner territorialen Integrität und Souveränität entgegenzutreten, da die US-geführte NATO seit 1999 auf diesem Gebiet Serbiens präsent ist und die Unabhängigkeit des Kosovo de facto militärisch absichert. Zwar verfügt die NATO über ein Mandat des UN-Sicherheitsrates in Form der Resolution 1244 zur Stabilisierung der Sicherheitslage – jedoch nicht zur militärischen Absicherung einer illegalen Sezession.

    Die Sicherheitsratsresolution 1244 diente dazu, den völkerrechtswidrigen Angriffskrieg der NATO gegen die damalige Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien zu beenden. Hierzu wurde die NATO nach Beendigung ihres Luftkrieges zynischerweise durch den Sicherheitsrat vom Aggressor zur offiziellen und »unparteiischen Friedenskraft« KFOR in diesem Teil Serbiens geadelt, woraus die NATO wiederum eine Scheinlegalität für ihre vorangegangene Aggression ableitete.

    Die Alternative zu der Resolution, die ein UNO-­NATO-Protektorat etablierte, wäre indes ein reines NATO-Protektorat gewesen, so die damalige Befürchtung. Genau diese Entwicklung aber wollten Russland, China und Serbien verhindern, indem sie die UNO in der Rolle als internationalen Verantwortungsträger zur Lösung des Konflikts sehen wollten, um so eine von der NATO forcierte Sezession auszuschließen.

    Der deutsche KFOR-Anteil gehörte mit bis zu 6.400 Soldatinnen und Soldaten zu den größten Truppenstellern. Deutschland kontrollierte militärisch bis Ende 2018 den Südwesten des Kosovo. Dieses Kontingent ist nun aufgelöst. Die Bundeswehr ist noch mit etwa 70 Soldatinnen und Soldaten in Pristina präsent. (asn)

    #Allemagne #Yougoslavie #Serbie #Autriche #OTAN #guerre #histoire


  • 02.03.2019: »Schulen und Unis werden zu Zertifizierungsdiscountern« (Tageszeitung junge Welt)
    https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/350192.lernen-schulen-und-unis-werden-zu-zertifizierungsdiscountern.html

    Je mehr Eicheln in den Laubwäldern Nordamerikas an den Bäumen wachsen, desto größer gerät die Population an Streifenhörnchen, wodurch wiederum mehr Zecken auftreten, denen die Nager als Wirt dienen. Diese skizzierte Korrelation war 2009 Gegenstand der Abiturprüfung im Leistungskurs Biologie in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Sie haben die Aufgabe Neuntklässlern vorgelegt. Mit welchem Ergebnis?

    Wie vermutet, waren fast alle Neuntklässler in der Lage, die Zentralabiturarbeit ohne größere Probleme zu bearbeiten, teilweise mit guten Noten. Die Erklärung dafür ist einfach: In dem ausführlichen Begleitmaterial waren nahezu alle geforderten Lösungen zu finden. Derartige Aufgabenstellungen verlangen vom Schüler insbesondere Lesekompetenz, während das früher einmal selbständig nachzuweisende Fachwissen deutlich in den Hintergrund gedrängt wird oder in einigen Bundesländern nicht einmal mehr abgefragt werden darf. Mittlerweile haben nahezu alle Bundesländer auf diese Aufgabenformate umgestellt.

    Was schließen Sie daraus ?

    Seit der Jahrtausendwende hat sich eine Abwärtsspirale in der Nivellierung der Ansprüche entwickelt, bei der sich die Bundesländer gegenseitig über- bzw. unterbieten. Unsere neuesten Vergleichsuntersuchungen zeigen, dass die Länder, die die höchsten Abiturientenquoten von bis zu knapp 60 Prozent eines Jahrgangs generieren, auch den größten fachlichen Niedergang in ihren Zentralabiturarbeiten aufweisen. Jedenfalls ist es für niemanden nachzuvollziehen, dass Schüler aus Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin oder Nordrhein-Westfalen viel schlauer sind als jene in Bayern, wo 2016 die Abiturientenquote knapp über 30 Prozent lag. Die Zunahme der Einserabschlüsse sowie der mit der Traumnote 1,0 ist ebenfalls inflationär. Aber eine Bildungsexpansion, die Quantität mit Qualität verwechselt, steht auf tönernen Füßen. Dies betrifft auch die Hochschulen, die mit Ausnahme des Fachbereichs Jura dem gleichen Konzept unterliegen. Mit mehr als 30.000 Dissertationen pro Jahr – ein immer größerer Anteil davon auf mehr als bedenklichem Niveau – machen wir uns ebenfalls international lächerlich.

    2016 erschien von Ihnen »Vom Streifenhörnchen zum Nadelstreifen – Das deutsche Bildungswesen im Kompetenztaumel«. Wenn »Kompetenzen« den Weg in die Chefetage ebnen: Was gibt es daran auszusetzen?

    Der Titel ist natürlich Satire und entstammt dem Manager-Magazin, das seinerzeit über diese Untersuchung berichtete. Kompetenz ist zu einem wahren Containerbegriff mutiert, in den jeder das hineinsteckt, was ihm wichtig erscheint. Kompetenzen können also alles, vieles, wenig oder auch nichts sein, selbst Inkompetenz ist eine Kompetenz. Die Kompensation von Inkompetenz ist mittlerweile in Politik und Gesellschaft die wichtigste Kompetenz, um Karriere zu machen. Ein Hinterfragen muss man nicht fürchten, weil Wissen und Fakten auf einem immer größer werdenden Bildungsfriedhof beerdigt wurden.

    Im Sommer 2017 tagte auf Ihre Initiative hin die bundesweit erste »Inkompetenzkonferenz«, was seinerzeit die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung klagen ließ: »Die neoliberale Ideologie hat zu einer radikalen Veränderung von Schule und Hochschule geführt. Denn wenn Erkenntnis durch Kompetenz ersetzt wird, bleibt von der Bildung nichts mehr übrig.« Ist die Lage wirklich so ernst?

    Die Umstellung von Bildung und Wissen auf Kompetenzorientierung bedeutet ja, dass nur noch das zählt, was im Rahmen der Globalisierung ökonomisch Vorteile bieten könnte. Wir leben also in einer Zeit der immer weiter forcierten Entschlackung eines ehemals breit angesetzten Bildungsverständnisses. Bildung und Wissen spielen nur noch eine untergeordnete oder gleich gar keine Rolle mehr. Die Ökonomisierung der Bildung führt zu ihrem Niedergang. Die OECD (Organisation für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, jW) macht daraus gar keinen Hehl. Für reines Wissen oder die Kenntnis von Fakten bezahlt einen heute niemand mehr, heißt es aus Paris. Statt dessen lautet das neue Credo: Google weiß alles.

    Die OECD war es auch, die die Leistungsstudie PISA erfunden hat. Die Vorlage der für Deutschland ziemlich mäßigen Ergebnisse im Dezember 2001 hatte in den Folgejahren allerhand »Reformen« nach sich gezogen. Inwieweit hat PISA zu dem von Ihnen beklagten Niveauverfall beigetragen?

    PISA war der Bahnbrecher für den heute auf allen Feldern gängigen Vermessungswahn, für den irrwitzigen Glauben, Bildungsleistungen ließen sich in Zahlenkolonnen pressen, um daraus Tabellen nach dem Vorbild der Fußballbundesliga zu machen. Mit dem klassischen Bildungsbegriff, mit Aufklärung, Selbstbestimmung, Mündigkeit und Vernunft hat das nichts mehr gemein. Letztlich wurde mit PISA das bis dahin nicht ökonomisch ausgerichtete deutsche Bildungssystem mit freundlicher Unterstützung der OECD in Schutt und Asche gelegt, um es an das angloamerikanische Modell anzuschließen.

    Ist PISA und was daraus folgte für Sie Teil eines neoliberalen Masterplans oder nur Begleiterscheinung einer immer stärker durchökonomisierten Gesellschaft?

    Selbstverständlich verfolgen die Strippenzieher der OECD oder der Bertelsmann-Stiftung einen solchen Plan. Darüber lassen ihre Schriften keinen Zweifel aufkommen. Gerade die deutsche Bildungspolitik setzt derartige Konzepte, die natürlich auch die EU übernommen hat, in vorauseilendem Gehorsam um, und kein deutscher Bildungspolitiker hat die Stirn, sich der Entwicklung zu widersetzen. Einigen dürfte nicht einmal bewusst sein, in welchem Fahrwasser sie sich bewegen. Das trifft auch und gerade auf Teile der Reformpädagogik oder vielmehr der unentwegten Reformer zu, die die Schulen in einem bis zur Jahrtausendwende nie gekannten Eifer mit immer neuen Kursänderungen an den Rand der Verzweiflung getrieben haben.

    Woran denken Sie dabei?

    Da wären zum Beispiel: eine Flüchtlingsintegration ohne Plan, eine Inklusion ohne Finanzierung, die grundlose Verkürzung der Schulzeit, die Verordnung einer »neuen Lernkultur« zur Aktivierung der »selbständigen Lernaktivität« der Schüler, für die wissenschaftlich belastbare Daten völlig fehlen, der naive Glaube an die Förderung aller Schüler nach ihren individuellen Fähigkeiten bei immer größer werdender Heterogenität selbst am Gymnasium. Dazu kommen ein völlig sinnfreies Schreiben nach Gehör, der schleichende Abschied von der vergleichenden Notengebung und die Einserinflation. All das und vieles mehr hat nicht nur eine Spur der Verwüstung hinterlassen, sondern auch zu einer Nivellierung selbst grundlegender Ansprüche geführt.

    Das ist merkwürdig: Sie halten das Leistungsprinzip hoch und beklagen gleichzeitig die zunehmende Ökonomisierung der Gesellschaft, bei der der Leistungsgedanke ja eine zentrale Rolle spielt. Wie passt das zusammen?

    Entschuldigung! Wohin hat denn die Bildungsexpansion um jeden Preis geführt? Zu einer bisher nie gekannten Inflation vormals hochwertiger Abschlüsse – etwa das Abitur oder das Diplom – bei gleichzeitiger teils dramatischer Absenkung des Niveaus. Diejenigen Deutschen, die es sich leisten können, schicken ihre Kinder bei fehlendem 1,0-Abischnitt zu horrenden Kosten zum Medizinstudium ins Ausland, während Normalsterbliche um eine Handvoll Studienplätze wetteifern und die allermeisten sich von ihrem Traumberuf verabschieden müssen. Zusätzlich werden die Wartezeiten der im Ausland Studierenden voll auf ein späteres Weiterstudium in Deutschland anerkannt, die hier gebliebenen schauen in die Röhre. Was daran gerecht sein soll, kann ich beim besten Willen nicht erkennen.

    Aber erst seit PISA wird in Deutschland überhaupt diskutiert, dass Bildungserfolg zuvorderst eine Frage der sozialen Herkunft ist.
    prof_dr_hans_peter_klein_1.jpg
    privat

    Aber hat sich durch die Diskussion etwas geändert? Nein. Heute schon und künftig immer mehr sind Netzwerke und gute Beziehungen der entscheidende Faktor, um Karriere und Geld zu machen. Und worin besteht der Fortschritt, wenn es ein Arbeiterkind mehr an die Uni schafft, um dann mit einem minderwertigen Bachelor einen Job zu bekommen, für den früher eine einfache Berufsausbildung genügte. Ich überspitze sicherlich, aber gerade der politischen Linken muss klar sein, dass es bald auch hierzulande immer mehr private Schulen und Hochschulen für die Kinder reicher Eltern und allenfalls die Allerbesten aus ärmeren Schichten geben wird – und dass dies eine Reaktion auf den allgemeinen Niveauverfall des staatlichen Bildungswesens ist. Das heißt: Mit der Bildungsexpansion auf Teufel komm raus arbeiten ihre Verfechter gegen die Interessen ihrer eigenen Klientel. Gerade von der Linken hätte ich mir größere Unterstützung im Kampf gegen die Ökonomisierung, nicht nur im Bildungswesen, erhofft. Statt dessen macht sie sich zum Trittbrettfahrer einer Politik, deren Gleichmacherei auf einem unteren gemeinsamen Nenner die Absenkung grundlegender Bildungsansprüche erst möglich gemacht hat.

    War das deutsche Bildungssystem der Vor-PISA-Ära also besser als sein Ruf?

    Das deutsche Bildungswesen war bis zur Jahrtausendwende weltweit anerkannt. Erst der mit PISA ausgebrochene Vermessungswahn hat das vormals eher an dem Allgemeinbildungsgedanken eines Wilhelm von Humboldt ausgerichtete System geradezu pulverisiert. Aber ist dadurch ein Schüler besser geworden? Nein. Vom vielen Wiegen wird die Sau nicht fetter, weiß schon der Volksmund. Nehmen wir die Hochschulen: Das im Zuge der Bologna-Reform eingeführte angloamerikanische Bachelor-Master-System konnte die hochfliegenden Erwartungen bis heute nicht erfüllen. Statt dessen hat ein verschultes Studium mit ständigem Abprüfen auswendig gelernter Power-Point-Foliensätze eine bis dahin unbekannte Form des Bulimielernens hervorgebracht. Heutzutage absolvieren die meisten ihr Studium nach dem Motto »Augen zu und durch«.

    Tragisch erscheint rückblickend, dass sich selbst fortschrittliche Kräfte wie die Gewerkschaften vor den PISA-Karren haben spannen lassen. Beseelt von der Hoffnung, so könnte das gegliederte deutsche Schulsystem geknackt werden.

    Bildung war, ist und bleibt eine streitbares Feld, und das ist auch gut so. Es gab auch früher alle möglichen Reformbestrebungen, die aber wegen Uneinigkeit und fehlenden Mehrheiten meist nicht umgesetzt wurden. Seit dem Jahr 2000 bricht sich aber ein anderes, völlig undemokratisches System, das des »Educational Government«, Bahn. Dadurch werden die für eine Demokratie eigentlich selbstverständlichen Diskurse von vornherein ausgeschaltet. Federführend sind vor allem Institutionen ohne echte demokratische Legitimierung, die mit ihrer Lobbymacht große Teile der Bildungspolitik vor sich her treiben. Eigentlich darf die OECD nur Hinweise oder Empfehlungen aussprechen, aber den einzelnen Mitgliedsstaaten keine Vorschriften machen. Trotzdem tanzen alle nach ihrer Pfeife. Dass die Gewerkschaften dies im Blick haben, vermute ich eher nicht, oder sie nehmen es billigend in Kauf.

    Nun fordert die Bertelsmann-Stiftung seit geraumer Zeit auch immer wieder die Einstellung massenhaft neuer Lehrer, Erzieherinnen, mehr Kitaplätze und bessere Ganztagsschulen. Was haben Sie dagegen?

    Insider wissen, dass die Bertelsmann-Stiftung die treibende Kraft hinter der Ökonomisierung, hinter »Educational Government« und der Privatisierung des Bildungswesens nach neoliberalem Muster ist. Selbstverständlich kann man das in der Öffentlichkeit nicht so äußern, da geht man subtiler zu Werke. Letztlich bewegen wir uns auf ein angloamerikanisches System der Zweiteilung der Bevölkerung auch im Bildungswesen zu: Ein Billigabitur für fast alle und Eliteschulen und -unis für die gut Betuchten, wie man das in Frankreich, England und den USA schon lange kennt.

    Die bekannteste PISA-Lektion, nämlich die, Kinder »länger gemeinsam lernen« zu lassen, wurde hierzulande nicht umgesetzt. Man hat wohl die Hauptschulen abgeschafft, aber das Gymnasium nicht angetastet. Bleibt die »Schule für alle« nur ein schöner Traum?

    Der »schöne Traum« ist in Teilen bereits wahr geworden. Das wegen seines Status nicht abzuschaffende Gymnasium ist doch mittlerweile eine Art Volksschule für alle. Die Politik folgt dem Elternwunsch, und in der Konsequenz sinkt das schulische Niveau weiter ab. Warum auch sollte eine gemeinsame Schule mit gemeinsamen Klassen für alle automatisch zu besseren Ergebnissen für alle führen? Das funktioniert in keinem anderen Lebensbereich, nicht im Sport, nicht in der Musik und nicht in der Kunst. Fast in allen Einheitsschulsystemen besuchen Schüler mit zunehmendem Alter wie selbstverständlich unterschiedliche Kurse mit unterschiedlichen Anforderungen. In einer High School in den USA werden alle Fächer in einem meist vierstufigen Kurssystem erteilt, in denen jeder Schüler nach Fähigkeiten und Leistung eingeteilt wird. Diese Entwicklung beginnt schon in den vorgeschalteten Middle Schools, die dann entsprechend schon Junior High Schools genannt werden.

    Der neuseeländische Pädagoge John Hattie hat mit »Visible Learning«, seiner bahnbrechenden Metaanalyse zur Unterrichtsforschung, den Beweis geliefert: Beim Lernerfolg von Schülern spielen Strukturen praktisch keine Rolle, »das Lehrerhandeln macht den Unterschied«. Es braucht also vor allem mehr Geld für mehr gute Lehrkräfte, die ihr Handwerk verstehen. Und was machen wir in Deutschland? In einem Beitrag der Zeit kam kürzlich ein Schulleiter damit zu Wort, dass ein Lehrer, der seine fachliche Kompetenz als wesentlich erachte, keine Chance mehr auf eine Einstellung hätte. Vielmehr komme es auch am Gymnasium auf das Umsteuern von Bildungsbiographien an. Da fehlen mir die Worte.

    Was haben Sie dagegen, Kinder individuell, das heißt ihren Stärken und Schwächen entsprechend, zu fördern?

    Selbstverständlich sollten alle Kinder entsprechend ihren Fähigkeiten gefördert werden. Bei Klassengrößen von 25 und mehr Schülern, bei Migrantenanteilen von mithin weit über 50 Prozent, ist das aber unmöglich. Warum stellt man nicht homogenere Lerngruppen zusammen, wie dies auch in anderen Ländern mit Einheitsschulen der Fall ist. An US-High-Schools schließt der in Mathematik weniger begabte Schüler auf Regular-Niveau ab, der leistungsstärkste auf dem höchsten Advanced-Placement-Level, das College-Niveau beinhaltet. Noch vor der Jahrtausendwende hatten wir in den Leistungskursen der Sekundarstufe II ein ähnliches oder gar höheres Niveau, weil dort die Wissenschaftlichkeit des Unterrichts in allen Lehrplänen ausdrücklich gefordert wurde. Heutzutage hat man sich in nahezu allen abiturvergebenden Schulformen davon verabschiedet.

    Im März erscheint Ihr neues Buch »Abitur und Bachelor für alle – wie ein Land seine Zukunft verspielt«. Wie sehr hat die 1999 eingeleitete Bologna-Studienstrukturreform die Hochschulen gezeichnet?

    Wegen einer gigantischen Werbemaschinerie fluten immer mehr Studierwillige ohne grundlegende Studierfähigkeit die Hochschulen, an Wissenschaft und Forschung Interessierte befinden sich mittlerweile in der deutlichen Minderheit. Die Mehrheit erwartet eine Ausbildung auf akademischem Niveau und verspricht sich dadurch entsprechend gut bezahlte Jobs für die Zukunft. Damit einher geht ein massiver Substanzverlust beim berufsbildenden dualen System, weil immer weniger Jugendliche eine Lehre machen wollen. Und das, obwohl gut bezahlte Fachkräfte händeringend gesucht werden. Der grassierende Akademisierungswahn hat zu mittlerweile über 19.000 Studiengängen geführt, von denen die meisten Mickymaus-Studiengänge ohne jede Nachhaltigkeit sind und den Absolventen eher die Zukunft verbauen.

    Sofern sie überhaupt zu Ende studieren …

    Wobei, Studienabbrecher soll es demnächst besser nicht mehr geben. Der rheinland-pfälzische Wissenschaftsminister Konrad Wolf stellte kürzlich wegen des Anstiegs der hohen Abbrecherzahlen einen »Handlungsauftrag an die Politik« fest. Die Rahmenbedingungen an den Hochschulen müssten so gestaltet werden, »dass es Studierenden möglich ist, ihren Studienverlauf entsprechend ihrer Qualifikationen und Fähigkeiten erfolgreich abzuschließen«. Das spricht Bände: Man macht Deutschlands Schulen und Hochschulen zu Zertifizierungsdiscountern und glaubt, mit einer weiteren Absenkung der Ansprüche auf unterstem Level soziale Gerechtigkeit erzwingen zu können. Den Preis für diese Entwicklung wird die zukünftige Generation zu zahlen haben. Und der dürfte keinesfalls gering sein.

    #Allemagne #éducation #néolibéralisme #Abitur #baccalauréat



  • Snowden Joins Calls For Google To End Censored Chinese Search Project
    https://www.dailydot.com/debug/snowden-google-censored-china

    Mikael Thalen— Dec 11 2018 - Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has joined numerous human rights groups in condemning Google over its plan to launch a censored search engine in China.

    In an open letter published Monday, Snowden and more than 60 organizations including Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Human Rights Watch, called on the tech giant to cease its work on the secretive “Dragonfly” project.

    “Facilitating Chinese authorities’ access to personal data, as described in media reports, would be particularly reckless,” the letter states. “If such features were launched, there is a real risk that Google would directly assist the Chinese government in arresting or imprisoning people simply for expressing their views online, making the company complicit in human rights violations.”

    First revealed last August by the Intercept, the search app, made in an attempt by Google to re-enter the Chinese market, would not only surveil users but blacklist results for search queries such as “student protest” and “Nobel Prize” at the behest of Beijing.

    “New details leaked to the media strongly suggest that if Google launches such a product it would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China,” the letter adds.

    Describing the project as “reckless,” the letter also warns that deploying Dragonfly would likely “set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

    Monday’s statement comes just weeks after more than 600 Google employees signed a similar letter demanding the company cancel Dragonfly’s development.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who was confronted about Dragonfly during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee Monday, has repeatedly alleged that there are no plans “right now” to launch the project.

    A leaked meeting transcript from July, however, revealed Google’s search chief Ben Gomes had said the company intended to launch Dragonfly somewhere between January and April of 2019.

    #Chine #surveillance #Google


  • Behind China’s Corruption Crackdown: Whistleblowers
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/riskmap/2015/02/12/behind-chinas-corruption-crackdown-whistleblowers/#5e02f2532e89

    By Kent D. Kedl

    SHANGHAI – A top concern for most multinational companies doing business in China the last year has been the Chinese government’s dogged crackdown against corruption. Ask CEOs in China what wakes them at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat and their answer is simple: the dreaded “dawn raid.” What is less widely known is the outsized role that whistleblowers have played. Almost every major fraud or corruption crisis faced by multinational companies in the past year kicked off because of a whistleblower allegation. According to Chinese officials, four out of every five anti-corruption investigations are initiated by whistleblowers. Often these are former and disgruntled employees, suppliers, distributors, consumers, scammers and competitors—some complaints are legitimate, others not.

    Whistleblower complaints in China have historically been an internal matter; any reports were logged with senior management and subject to internal investigations. But there has been a significant trend toward reporting—or threatening to report—directly to Chinese regulators. Whistleblowers are discovering the power of involving regulatory authorities in China to help them achieve their objectives, which range from reporting and rectifying a genuine integrity and governance issue, to extortive attempts to extract monetary or other concessions from management, or simply to take revenge following disputes. In the new, turbo-charged China environment for regulatory oversight, such whistleblowers represent a significant source of risk for multinational corporations.

    Several market dynamics have converged to create this perfect storm of opportunity for whistleblowers in China. They include an uptick in regulatory enforcement, a slowing economy and new pressures on investigators.

    Regulatory oversight and enforcement began to increase in 2013 and shows no sign of down. Regulators that were quite passive in the past will maintain their more active and aggressive stance, and multinationals are on their collective radars. China’s political leadership has provided a mandate for regulator activity and we will continue to see high levels of enforcement, particularly in the key sectors of healthcare, automotive and consumer products, with likely increasing enforcement in energy, telecoms, infrastructure and real estate.

    The slowdown in the Chinese economy means two things. First, companies are not hiring aggressively and employees find it harder to seek alternative employment. Second, companies are restructuring commercial agreements with distributors and suppliers who are feeling the squeeze on their own business. The combined effect is that both employees and third parties have additional incentive to leverage information of potentially unethical or illegal activity. Threatening to blow the whistle to regulatory authorities is an often-successful way for them to retain their positions, even if they are themselves complicit in the activity they are threatening to report.
    YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

    Meanwhile, Chinese regulators are under pressure to deliver results. Pressure to resolve a case with a finding against a foreign company may come from the whistleblower, the media or their own peers; regardless of the legitimacy or accuracy of the claims being made. Within agencies, investigators have additional pressure and targets from their bosses. They will often confront the company with allegations taken verbatim from a whistleblower letter, typically without performing much (if any) due diligence on an allegation’s veracity.

    It often unfolds like this. A company is approached by a mid-level regulator with vague allegations of “impropriety.” The company might be told that “we have information that one of your distributors is taking bribes” and will be asked to investigate itself and report back to the authorities on the findings. The company will not be shown any specific evidence nor will it be given any legal basis for the regulator’s suspicion – but will often be threatened with legal or administrative action if it doesn’t cooperate (fines, loss of license, employee detentions, etc.). In many cases, regulators return the results of a company’s own investigation with additional “guidance” on other areas to examine, until the company presents the desired investigative findings and evidence: this is often what is meant by “cooperating with the authorities.”

    So what can companies do to limit their own risk of a regulatory investigation? It starts with thinking through the processes they use to accept and process whistleblower allegations. Getting ahead of any allegations and proactively correcting any perceived wrongdoing can help to stave off a visit from the regulators. Best practice in China includes four items:

    Understanding the regulators: Nearly every company’s stakeholder map in China has changed drastically in the past two years, so it is critical to take a fresh look at the broad spectrum of regulators against a given business and identify which regulators would be legitimately interested in what parts of the business. For example, a company that relies heavily on third-party distributors to sell to customers will be vulnerable to allegations of bribery and corruption, which would be investigated by local Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) offices to investigate. Companies with a fragmented business structure and many sales offices in China may get called out on not paying the proper amount in local taxes, resulting in a State Administration of Tax (SAT) visit. For each type of allegation, a company can identify which regulator might be interested and how active they are in each province where the company operates. From there, a company can begin to understand what the regulators look for and how they operate, and get ahead of any allegations of wrongdoing.
    Create a feedback loop to in-country management: Whistleblower allegations should be handled by a neutral party, not by the operation against whom the allegations are leveled. However, this does not mean a multinational company should keep its China management team in the dark about allegations of wrongdoing in China. In-country managers need basic information in order to monitor the risk of whistleblowers reporting to local regulators. Too often, an office in China will be dealing with a regulator but have no idea that an allegation along similar lines was made to their head office whistleblower hotline a few weeks earlier. Tracking allegations over geography and time is also essential. Companies who log and track the details of whistleblower complaints often see patterns that can be dealt with; ahead of any regulator getting involved.
    Investigate outside the four walls: All whistleblower allegations should be thoroughly investigated; a simple “audit” will not suffice. Looking outside of their own books and records allows companies to trace allegations back to activities of third-parties and other outsiders. Any confirmatory evidence of conflicts of interest or collusion will not be found within a company’s four walls.
    Don’t give in to extortion: Companies that receive an extortive threat to report information to a regulator must resist the temptation to immediately concede to any demands. It may seem like an effective short term solution, but there is a very high risk that it comes back to cause bigger problems in future. It is critical that multinational companies cooperate with Chinese regulators and one’s “attitude” will be important to reaching a conclusion; however, there are many ways to be “cooperative” and companies should consider all scenarios before responding.

    Kent Kedl is the Shanghai-based Managing Director for Greater China and North Asia at Control Risks, the global risk consultancy.

    #Chine #politique #corruption #tireurs_d_alarme


  • The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/magazine/the-mystery-of-the-exiled-billionaire-whistleblower.html

    From a penthouse on Central Park, Guo Wengui has exposed a phenomenal web of corruption in China’s ruling elite — if, that is, he’s telling the truth.

    By Lauren Hilgers, Jan. 10, 2018

    阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版

    On a recent Saturday afternoon, an exiled Chinese billionaire named Guo Wengui was holding forth in his New York apartment, sipping tea while an assistant lingered quietly just outside the door, slipping in occasionally to keep Guo’s glass cup perfectly full. The tycoon’s Twitter account had been suspended again — it was the fifth or sixth time, by Guo’s count — and he blamed the Communist Party of China. “It’s not normal!” he said, about this cycle of blocking and reinstating. “But it doesn’t matter. I don’t need anyone.”

    Guo’s New York apartment is a 9,000-square-foot residence along Central Park that he bought for $67.5 million in 2015. He sat in a Victorian-style chair, his back to a pair of west-facing windows, the sunset casting craggy shadows. A black-and-white painting of an angry-looking monkey hung on the wall to Guo’s right, a hat bearing a star-and-wreath Soviet insignia on its head and a cigarette hanging from its lips. Guo had arrived dressed entirely in black, except for two silver stripes on each lapel. “I have the best houses,” he told me. Guo had picked his apartment for its location, its three sprawling balconies and the meticulously tiled floor in the entryway. He has the best apartment in London, he said; the biggest apartment in Hong Kong. His yacht is docked along the Hudson River. He is comfortable and, anyway, Guo likes to say that as a Buddhist, he wants for nothing. If it were down to his own needs alone, he would have kept his profile low. But he has a higher purpose. He is going to save China.

    Guo pitches himself as a former insider, a man who knows the secrets of a government that tightly controls the flow of information. A man who, in 2017, did the unthinkable — tearing open the veil of secrecy that has long surrounded China’s political elite, lobbing accusations about corruption, extramarital affairs and murder plots over Facebook and Twitter. His YouTube videos and tweets have drawn in farmers and shopkeepers, democracy activists, writers and businesspeople. In China, people have been arrested for chatting about Guo online and distributing T-shirts with one of his slogans printed on the front (“This is only the beginning!”). In New York, Guo has split a community of dissidents and democracy activists down the middle. Some support him. Others believe that Guo himself is a government spy.

    Nothing in Guo’s story is as straightforward as he would like it to seem. Guo is 47 years old, or 48, or 49. Although he has captured the attention of publications like The Guardian, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the articles that have run about him have offered only hazy details about his life. This is because his biography varies so widely from one source to the next. Maybe his name isn’t even Guo Wengui. It could be Guo Wugui. There are reports that in Hong Kong, Guo occasionally goes by the name Guo Haoyun.

    When pressed, Guo claims a record of unblemished integrity in his business dealings, both in real estate and in finance (when it comes to his personal life, he strikes a more careful balance between virility and dedication to his family). “I never took a square of land from the government,” he said. “I didn’t take a penny of investment from the banks.” If you accept favors, he said, people will try to exploit your weaknesses. So, Guo claims, he opted to take no money and have no weaknesses.

    Yet when Guo left China in 2014, he fled in anticipation of corruption charges. A former business partner had been detained just days before, and his political patron would be detained a few days afterward. In 2015, articles about corruption in Guo’s business dealings — stories that he claims are largely fabrications — started appearing in the media. He was accused of defrauding business partners and colluding with corrupt officials. To hear Guo tell it, his political and business opponents used a national corruption campaign as a cover for a personal vendetta.

    Whatever prompted Guo to take action, his campaign came during an important year for China’s president, Xi Jinping. In October, the Communist Party of China (C.P.C.) convened its 19th National Congress, a twice-a-decade event that sets the contours of political power for the next five years. The country is in the throes of a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign, and Xi has overseen a crackdown on dissidents and human rights activists while increasing investment in censorship and surveillance. Guo has become a thorn in China’s side at the precise moment the country is working to expand its influence, and its censorship program, overseas.

    In November 2017, the Tiananmen Square activist Wang Dan warned of the growing influence of the C.P.C. on university campuses in the United States. His own attempts to hold “China salons” on college campuses had largely been blocked by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association — a group with ties to China’s government. Around the same time, the academic publisher Springer Nature agreed to block access to hundreds of articles on its Chinese site, cutting off access to articles on Tibet, Taiwan and China’s political elite. Reports emerged last year that China is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars quarterly to purchase ads on Facebook (a service that is blocked within China’s borders). In Australia, concerns about China’s growing influence led to a ban on foreign political donations.

    “That’s why I’m telling the United States they should really be careful,” Guo said. China’s influence is spreading, he says, and he believes his own efforts to change China will have global consequences. “Like in an American movie,” he told me with unflinching self-confidence. “In the last minutes, we will save the world.”

    Propaganda, censorship and rewritten histories have long been specialties of authoritarian nations. The aim, as famously explained by the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, is to confuse: to breed a combination of cynicism and gullibility. Propaganda can leave people in doubt of all news sources, suspicious of their neighbors, picking and choosing at random what pieces of information to believe. Without a political reality grounded in facts, people are left unmoored, building their world on whatever foundation — imaginary or otherwise — they might choose.

    The tight grip that the C.P.C. keeps on information may be nothing new, but China’s leadership has been working hard to update the way it censors and broadcasts. People in China distrusted print and television media long before U.S. politicians started throwing around accusations of “fake news.” In 2016, President Xi Jinping was explicit about the arrangement, informing the country’s media that it should be “surnamed Party.” Likewise, while the West has only recently begun to grapple with government-sponsored commenters on social media, China’s government has been manipulating online conversations for over a decade.

    “They create all kinds of confusion,” said Ha Jin, the National Book Award-winning American novelist born in China’s Liaoning Province, and a vocal supporter of Guo. “You don’t know what information you have and whether it’s right. You don’t know who are the informers, who are the agents.”

    Online, the C.P.C. controls information by blocking websites, monitoring content and employing an army of commenters widely known as the 50-cent party. The name was used as early as 2004, when a municipal government in Hunan Province hired a number of online commenters, offering a stipend of 600 yuan, or about $72. Since then, the 50-cent party has spread. In 2016, researchers from Harvard, Stanford and the University of California-San Diego estimated that these paid commenters generated 448 million social-media comments annually. The posts, researchers found, were conflict averse, cheerleading for the party rather than defending it. Their aim seemed not to be engaging in argument but rather distracting the public and redirecting attention from sensitive issues.

    In early 2017, Guo issued his first salvos against China’s ruling elite through more traditional channels. He contacted a handful of Chinese-language media outlets based in the United States. He gave interviews to the Long Island-based publication Mingjing News and to Voice of America — a live event that was cut short by producers, leading to speculation that V.O.A. had caved to Chinese government pressure. He called The New York Times and spoke with reporters at The Wall Street Journal. It did not take long, however, before the billionaire turned to direct appeals through social media. The accusations he made were explosive — he attacked Wang Qishan, Xi Jinping’s corruption czar, and Meng Jianzhu, the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, another prominent player in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. He talked about Wang’s mistresses, his business interests and conflicts within the party.

    In one YouTube video, released on Aug. 4, Guo addressed the tension between Wang and another anti-corruption official named Zhang Huawei. He recounted having dinner with Zhang when “he called Wang Qishan’s secretary and gave him orders,” Guo said. “Think about what Wang had to suffer in silence back then. They slept with the same women, and Zhang knew everything about Wang.” In addition, Guo said, Zhang knew about Wang’s corrupt business dealings. When Zhang Huawei was placed under official investigation in April, Guo claimed, it was a result of a grudge.

    “Everyone in China is a slave,” Guo said in the video. “With the exception of the nobility.”

    To those who believe Guo’s claims, they expose a depth of corruption that would surprise even the most jaded opponent of the C.P.C. “The corruption is on such a scale,” Ha Jin said. “Who could imagine that the czar of anti-corruption would himself be corrupt? It is extraordinary.”

    Retaliation came quickly. A barrage of counteraccusations began pouring out against Guo, most published in the pages of the state-run Chinese media. Warrants for his arrest were issued on charges of corruption, bribery and even rape. China asked Interpol to issue a red notice calling for Guo’s arrest and extradition. He was running out of money, it was reported. In September, Guo recorded a video during which he received what he said was a phone call from his fifth brother: Two of Guo’s former employees had been detained, and their family members were threatening suicide. “My Twitter followers are so important they are like heaven to me,” Guo said. But, he declared, he could not ignore the well-being of his family and his employees. “I cannot finish the show as I had planned,” he said. Later, Guo told his followers in a video that he was planning to divorce his wife, in order to shield her from the backlash against him.

    Guo quickly resumed posting videos and encouraging his followers. His accusations continued to accumulate throughout 2017, and he recently started his own YouTube channel (and has yet to divorce his wife). His YouTube videos are released according to no particular schedule, sometimes several days in a row, some weeks not at all. He has developed a casual, talkative style. In some, Guo is running on a treadmill or still sweating after a workout. He has demonstrated cooking techniques and played with a tiny, fluffy dog, a gift from his daughter. He invites his viewers into a world of luxury and offers them a mix of secrets, gossip and insider knowledge.

    Wang Qishan, Guo has claimed, is hiding the money he secretly earned in the Hainan-based conglomerate HNA Group, a company with an estimated $35 billion worth of investments in the United States. (HNA Group denies any ties to Wang and is suing Guo.) He accused Wang of carrying on an affair with the actress Fan Bingbing. (Fan is reportedly suing Guo for defamation.) He told stories of petty arguments among officials and claimed that Chinese officials sabotaged Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in 2014 en route to Beijing, in order to cover up an organ-harvesting scheme. Most of Guo’s accusations have proved nearly impossible to verify.

    “This guy is just covered in question marks,” said Minxin Pei, a professor at Claremont McKenna who specializes in Chinese governance.

    The questions that cover Guo have posed a problem for both the United States government and the Western journalists who, in trying to write about him, have found themselves buffeted by the currents of propaganda, misinformation and the tight-lipped code of the C.P.C. elite. His claims have also divided a group of exiled dissidents and democracy activists — people who might seem like Guo’s natural allies. For the most part, the democracy activists who flee China have been chased from their country for protesting the government or promoting human rights, not because of corruption charges. They tell stories of personal persecution, not insider tales of bribery, sex and money. And perhaps as a consequence, few exiled activists command as large an audience as Guo. “I will believe him,” Ha Jin said, “until one of his serious accusations is proved to be false.”

    Pei, the professor, warns not to take any of Guo’s accusations at face value. The reaction from the C.P.C. has been so extreme, however, that Pei believes Guo must know something. “He must mean something to the government,” he said. “They must be really bothered by this billionaire.” In May, Chinese officials visited Guo on visas that did not allow them to conduct official business, causing a confrontation with the F.B.I. A few weeks later, according to The Washington Times, China’s calls for Guo’s extradition led to a White House showdown, during which Jeff Sessions threatened to resign if Guo was sent back to China.

    Guo has a history of cultivating relationships with the politically influential, and the trend has continued in New York. He famously bought 5,000 copies of a book by Cherie Blair, Tony Blair’s wife. (“It was to give to my employees,” Guo told me. “I often gave my employees books to read.”) Guo has also cultivated a special relationship with Steve Bannon, whom he says he has met with a handful of times, although the two have no financial relationship. Not long after one of their meetings, Bannon appeared on Breitbart Radio and called China “an enemy of incalculable power.”

    Despite Guo’s high-powered supporters and his army of online followers, one important mark of believability has continued to elude him. Western news organizations have struggled to find evidence that would corroborate Guo’s claims. When his claims appear in print, they are carefully hedged — delivered with none of his signature charm and bombast. “Why do you need more evidence?” Guo complained in his apartment. “I can give them evidence, no problem. But while they’re out spending time investigating, I’m waiting around to get killed!”

    The details of Guo’s life may be impossible to verify, but the broad strokes confirm a picture of a man whose fortunes have risen and fallen with the political climate in China. To hear Guo tell it, he was born in Jilin Province, in a mining town where his parents were sent during the Cultural Revolution. “There were foreigners there,” Guo says in a video recorded on what he claims is his birthday. (Guo was born on Feb. 2, or May 10, or sometime in June.) “They had the most advanced machinery. People wore popular clothing.” Guo, as a result, was not ignorant of the world. He was, however, extremely poor. “Sometimes we didn’t even have firewood,” he says. “So we burned the wet twigs from the mountains — the smoke was so thick.” Guo emphasizes this history: He came from hardship. He pulled himself up.

    The story continues into Guo’s pre-teenage years, when he moved back to his hometown in Shandong Province. He met his wife and married her when he was only 15, she 14. They moved to Heilongjiang, where they started a small manufacturing operation, taking advantage of the early days of China’s economic rise, and then to Henan. Guo got his start in real estate in a city called Zhengzhou, where he founded the Zhengzhou Yuda Property Company and built the tallest building the city had seen so far, the Yuda International Trade Center. According to Guo, he was only 25 when he made this first deal.

    The string of businesses and properties that Guo developed provide some of the confirmable scaffolding of his life. No one disputes that Guo went on to start both the Beijing Morgan Investment Company and Beijing Zenith Holdings. Morgan Investment was responsible for building a cluster of office towers called the Pangu Plaza, the tallest of which has a wavy top that loosely resembles a dragon, or perhaps a precarious cone of soft-serve ice cream. Guo is in agreement with the Chinese media that in buying the property for Pangu Plaza, he clashed with the deputy mayor of Beijing. The dispute ended when Guo turned in a lengthy sex tape capturing the deputy mayor in bed with his mistress.

    There are other details in Guo’s biography, however, that vary from one source to the next. Guo says that he never took government loans; Caixin, a Beijing-based publication, quoted “sources close to the matter” in a 2015 article claiming that Guo took out 28 loans totaling 588 million yuan, or about $89 million. Guo, according to Caixin, eventually defaulted. At some point in this story — the timeline varies — Guo became friends with the vice minister of China’s Ministry of State Security, Ma Jian. The M.S.S. is China’s answer to the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. combined. It spies on civilians and foreigners alike, conducting operations domestically and internationally, amassing information on diplomats, businessmen and even the members of the C.P.C. Describing Ma, Guo leans back in his chair and mimes smoking a cigarette. “Ma Jian! He was fat and his skin was tan.” According to Guo, Ma sat like this during their first meeting, listening to Guo’s side of a dispute. Then Ma told him to trust the country. “Trust the law,” he told Guo. “We will treat you fairly.” The older master of spycraft and the young businessman struck up a friendship that would become a cornerstone in Guo’s claims of insider knowledge, and also possibly the reason for the businessman’s downfall in China.

    Following the construction of Pangu Plaza in Beijing, Guo’s life story becomes increasingly hard to parse. He started a securities business with a man named Li You. After a falling-out, Li was detained by the authorities. Guo’s company accused Li and his company of insider trading. According to the 2015 article in Caixin, Li then penned a letter to the authorities accusing Guo of “wrongdoing.”

    As this dispute was going on, China’s anti-​corruption operation was building a case against Ma Jian. In Guo’s telling, Ma had long been rumored to be collecting intelligence on China’s leaders. As the anti-corruption campaign gained speed and officials like Wang Qishan gained power, Ma’s well of intelligence started to look like a threat. It was Guo’s relationship with Ma, the tycoon maintains, that made officials nervous. Ma was detained by the authorities in January 2015, shortly after Guo fled the country. Soon after Ma’s detention, accounts began appearing in China’s state-run media claiming that Ma had six Beijing villas, six mistresses and at least two illegitimate sons. In a 2015 article that ran in the party-run newspaper The China Daily, the writer added another detail: “The investigation also found that Ma had acted as an umbrella for the business ventures of Guo Wengui, a tycoon from Henan Province.”

    In the mix of spies, corrupt business dealings, mistresses and sex scandals, Guo has one more unbelievable story to tell about his past. It is one reason, he says, that he was mentally prepared to confront the leaders of the Communist Party. It happened nearly 29 years ago, in the aftermath of the crackdown on Tiananmen Square. According to Guo, he had donated money to the students protesting in the square, and so a group of local police officers came to find him at his home. An overzealous officer fired off a shot at Guo’s wife — at which point Guo’s younger brother jumped in front of the bullet, suffering a fatal wound. “That was when I started my plan,” he said. “If your brother had been killed in front of your eyes, would you just forget it?” Never mind the fact that it would take 28 years for him to take any public stand against the party that caused his brother’s death. Never mind that the leadership had changed. “I’m not saying everyone in the Communist Party is bad,” he said. “The system is bad. So what I need to oppose is the system.”

    On an unusually warm Saturday afternoon in Flushing, Queens, a group of around 30 of Guo’s supporters gathered for a barbecue in Kissena Park. They laid out a spread of vegetables and skewers of shrimp and squid. Some children toddled through the crowd, chewing on hot dogs and rolling around an unopened can of Coke. The adults fussed with a loudspeaker and a banner that featured the name that Guo goes by in English, Miles Kwok. “Miles Kwok, NY loves U,” it said, a heart standing in for the word “loves.” “Democracy, Justice, Liberty for China.” Someone else had carried in a life-size cutout of the billionaire.

    The revelers decided to hold the event in the park partly for the available grills but also partly because the square in front of Guo’s penthouse had turned dangerous. A few weeks earlier, some older women had been out supporting Guo when a group of Chinese men holding flags and banners showed up. At one point, the men wrapped the women in a protest banner and hit them. The park was a safer option. And the protesters had learned from Guo — it wasn’t a live audience they were hoping for. The group would be filming the protest and posting it on social media. Halfway through, Guo would call in on someone’s cellphone, and the crowd would cheer.

    Despite this show of support, Guo’s claims have divided China’s exiled dissidents to such an extent that on a single day near the end of September, two dueling meetings of pro-democracy activists were held in New York, one supporting Guo, the other casting doubt on his motivations. (“They are jealous of me,” Guo said of his detractors. “They think: Why is he so handsome? Why are so many people listening to him?”) Some of Guo’s claims are verifiably untrue — he claimed in an interview with Vice that he paid $82 million for his apartment — and others seem comically aggrandized. (Guo says he never wears the same pair of underwear twice.) But the repercussions he is facing are real.

    In December, Guo’s brother was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for destroying accounting records. The lawsuits filed against Guo for defamation are piling up, and Guo has claimed to be amassing a “war chest” of $150 million to cover his legal expenses. In September, a new set of claims against Guo were made in a 49-page document circulated by a former business rival. For Ha Jin, Guo’s significance runs deeper than his soap-opera tales of scandal and corruption. “The grand propaganda scheme is to suppress and control all the voices,” Jin said. “Now everybody knows that you can create your own voice. You can have your own show. That fact alone is historical.” In the future, Jin predicts, there will be more rebels like Guo. “There is something very primitive about this, realizing that this is a man, a regular citizen who can confront state power.”

    Ho Pin, the founder of Long Island’s Mingjing News, echoed Jin. Mingjing’s reporters felt that covering Guo was imperative, no matter the haziness of the information. “In China, the political elite that Guo was attacking had platforms of their own,” Ho said. “They have the opportunity, the power and the ability to use all the government’s apparatus to refute and oppose Guo Wengui. So our most important job is to allow Guo Wengui’s insider knowledge reach the fair, open-minded people in China.” Still, people like Pei urge caution when dealing with Guo’s claims. Even Guo’s escape raises questions. Few others have slipped through the net of China’s anti-corruption drive. “How could he get so lucky?” Pei asked. “He must have been tipped off long before.”

    At the barbecue, a supporter named Ye Rong tucked one of his children under his arm and acknowledged that Guo’s past life is riddled with holes. There was always the possibility that Guo used to be a thug, but Ye didn’t think it mattered. The rules of the conflict had been set by the Communist Party. “You need all kinds of people to oppose the Chinese government,” Ye said. “We need intellectuals; we also need thugs.”

    Guo, of course, has his own opinions about his legacy. He warned of dark times for Americans and for the world, if he doesn’t succeed in his mission to change China. “I am trying to help,” he told me. “I am not joking with you.” He continued: “I will change China within the next three years. If I don’t change it, I won’t be able to survive.”
    Correction: Jan. 12, 2018

    An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of the province where the Chinese government hired online commenters in 2004. It is Hunan Province, not Henan.

    #Chine #politique #corruption #tireurs_d_alarme


  • An Interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski: Writing about Suffering
    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jii/4750978.0006.107/--interview-with-ryszard-kapuscinski-writing-about-suffering?rgn=mai

    Wolfe:

    Were you trained as a journalist? Kapuscinski: No, never. I started in journalism in 1950 — I was 18, just finishing secondary school, and the newspaper people came to ask me to work. I learned journalism through practice.

    Wolfe: How would you describe your genre?

    Kapuscinski: It’s very difficult to describe. We have such a mixture now, such a fusion of different genres… in the American tradition you would call it New Journalism. This implies writing about the facts, the real facts of life, but using the techniques of fiction writing. There is a certain difference in my case, because I’m trying to put more elements of the essay into my writing… My writing is a combination of three elements. The first is travel: not travel like a tourist, but travel as exploration, as concentration, as a purpose. The second is reading literature on the subject: books, articles, scholarship. The third is reflection, which comes from travel and reading. My books are created from a combination of these three elements.

    Wolfe:When did the idea of Aesopian writing enter into the genre, the idea of putting layers into official texts?

    Kapuscinski: Well, this is not a new thing — it was a nineteenth-century Russian tradition. As for us, we were trying to use all the available possibilities, because there wasn’t any underground. Underground literature only began in the 70s, when technical developments made it possible. Before that, we were involved in a game with the censors. That was our struggle. The Emperor is considered to be an Aesopian book in Poland and the Soviet Union. Of course it’s not about Ethiopia or Haile Selassie — rather, it’s about the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The First Secretary at the time was named Gierek, and he was very much the emperor with his court, and everybody read the book as being about him and the Central Committee.

    Wolfe: But you didn’t write explicitly about the Central Committee.

    Kapuscinski: No, but of course the authorities knew what it was about, and so it had a very small circulation, and it was forbidden to turn it into a film or a play. Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it.

    Cohen: The other day we were discussing the crisis of readership, and wondering whether people were still capable of doing the double reading, of taking apart a text that has been written in a complicated way.

    Kapuscinski: The limitation of sources under the Communists had a very political effect on reading. People had just one book, and nothing else — no television or other diversions — so they just read the same book very carefully several times. Readership was high, and very attentive. It was people’s only source of knowledge about the world. You have to understand that the tradition of Russian literature — and Russians are great readers — is also an eastern tradition of learning poetry and prose by heart. This is the most intimate relationship between literature and its readers: they treat the text as a part of themselves, as a possession. This art of reading, reading the text behind the text, is missing now.

    Cohen: When did you first arrive on the African continent?

    Kapuscinski:My first trip to Africa came when the first countries south of the Sahara became independent, in 1958. Ghana was the first African country I visited. I wrote a series of reports about Nkumrah and Lumumba. My second trip was just two years later, when I went to cover the events surrounding the independence of the Congo. At that time, I was not allowed to go to Kinshasa — it was Leopoldville at that time — but I crossed the Sudan-Congo border illegally with a Czech journalist friend, since there was nobody patrolling it. And I went to Kisangani, which was called Stanleyville then.

    Cohen: Were you in Leopoldville during the actual transfer[1]?

    Kapuscinski:No, afterwards. It was a moment of terrible international tension. I remember the atmosphere of danger: there was the expectation that the Congo might begin a new world war. I say this today and people just smile. But that’s why everybody was so nervous: Russians were going there, Americans were going there, the French, the United Nations… I remember one moment at the airport in Kisangani, thinking that Soviet planes were coming — all the journalists were there, and we all expected it to happen.

    Cohen: At that time, in the early 1960s, there weren’t more than three regular American journalists covering Africa.

    Kapuscinski:There were very few, because most correspondents came from the former colonial powers — there were British, French, and a lot of Italians, because there were a lot of Italian communities there. And of course there were a lot of Russians.

    Wolfe: Was there competition among this handful of people?

    Kapuscinski: No, we all cooperated, all of us, East and West, regardless of country, because the working conditions were really terrible. We had to. We always moved in groups from one coup d’état to another, from one war to another… So if there was a coup d’état of leftist orientation in some country I took my Western colleagues with me and said ‘look, let them come in,’ and if there was one of rightist orientation they took me, saying ‘no, he’s okay, give him a visa please, he’s going with us, he’s our friend,’ and so on. I didn’t compete with the New York Times, for example, because the Polish press agency is a small piece of cake, not important. And because conditions were so hard. For example, to send the news out, there was no e-mail, nothing: telex was the only means, but telex was very rare in Africa. So if somebody was flying to Europe, we gave him correspondence, to send after he arrived. I remember that during the period leading up to independence in Angola in 1975, I was the only correspondent there at all for three months. I was in my hotel room when somebody knocked on my door - I opened it, and a man said, ‘I’m the New York Times correspondent.’ The official independence celebration was going to be held over four or five days, and a group of journalists from all over the world was allowed to fly in, because Angola was closed otherwise. So he said, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m the new man here, and I heard you’ve been here longer, and I have to write something from Angola, and this is the article I have to send to the New York Times. Could you kindly read it and correct things which are not real?’ And he brought a bottle of whiskey. And whiskey was something which was absolutely marvelous, because there was nothing: no cigarettes, no food, nothing…The difference at that time, in comparison with today, was that this was a group of highly specialized people. They were real Africanists, and not only from experience. If you read articles from that time in Le Monde, in the Times, you’ll find that the authors really had background, a knowledge of the subject. It was a very highly qualified sort of journalism — we were all great specialists.

    Woodford: Professor Piotr Michalowski[2] says that when he was growing up in Poland, people lived through your reports in a very special way: they were like a big, exotic outlet, given the state of world politics. People of all ranks and stations followed these adventures. When you went back, did regular Poles, non-educated people, also want you to tell them about what it was like to see these things?

    Kapuscinski:Yes, very much so. They were very interested in what I was writing. This was a unique source of information, and Africa held incomparably greater interest for them at that time than it does now. People were really interested in what was going on because of the international context of the Cold War.

    Wolfe: What did the Poles know about Africa?

    Kapuscinski: They had very limited knowledge. This was very typical of the European understanding of Africa, which is full of stereotypes and biases. Nevertheless, there was a certain fascination with Africa. Maybe it has something to do with our literature: we have Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, for example, and Conrad is considered in Poland as a Polish writer. The similarity between Africa and Poland - and this is an argument I have always had with people in Africa - is that we were also a colonized country. We were a colony for 130 years. We lost independence at the end of the 18th century, and only regained it in 1918, after the First World War. We were divided between three colonial powers - Russia, Prussia, and Austria. There’s a certain similarity of experience. I’ve often quarreled with African friends about this. I’ve asked, ‘How long were you colonized?’ “Eighty years,” they’ve answered, and I’ve responded, ‘We were colonized 50 years longer, so what can you say about colonialism? I’ll tell you what colonial experience is.’ And they’re shocked. But though there is a similarity of experience, the common people are not conscious of this.

    Wolfe: At the end of the Copernicus Lecture, you said that you wrote Imperium because it was important to bring a Polish way of seeing things to your topic. How did you come to a sense that there was a Polish way of seeing things? Did it emerge from your experiences in Africa, or in relationship to Russia?

    Kapuscinski: It developed in relation to Russia in particular. Our history, the history of Polish-Russian relations, is very tragic, very harrowing. There has been a lot of suffering on our side, because Stalin killed all our intelligentsia. It wasn’t just that he killed 100,000 people, it was that he purposely killed the 100,000 who were our only intelligentsia… When I started writing Imperium, I had a problem with my conscience, because if I wrote strictly from the point of view of this Polish experience, the book would be completely unacceptable and incomprehensible to the Western reader…So I had to put aside our Polish experience, and to find an angle, an objective way of writing about Russia.

    Wolfe: Isn’t there something inherently difficult in writing about suffering? How does one go back and forth between a sense of causation in daily suffering on the one hand, and an understanding of the purges as a social phenomenon, on the other? How does one attempt to understand the cultural propensity of Russians to suffer?

    Kapuscinski: There is a fundamental difference between the Polish experience of the state and the Russian experience. In the Polish experience, the state was always a foreign power. So, to hate the state, to be disobedient to the state, was a patriotic act. In the Russian experience, although the Russian state is oppressive, it is their state, it is part of their fabric, and so the relation between Russian citizens and their state is much more complicated. There are several reasons why Russians view the oppressive state positively. First of all, in Russian culture, in the Russian Orthodox religion, there is an understanding of authority as something sent by God. This makes the state part of the sacred… So if the state is oppressive, then it is oppressive, but you can’t revolt against it. The cult of authority is very strong in Russian society.

    Wolfe: But what is the difference between Soviet suffering and something like the battle of the Marne, the insanity of World War I and trench warfare?

    Kapuscinski: It’s different. In the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions. But the Soviet case is different, because there you had systematic murder, like in the Holocaust. Ten or 12 million Ukrainian peasants were purposely killed by Stalin, by starvation, in the Ukrainian hunger of 1932-3…It was a very systematic plan… In modern Russia, you have no official, formal assessment of this past. Nobody in any Russian document has said that the policy of the Soviet government was criminal, that it was terrible. No one has ever said this.

    Woodford: But what about Khrushchev in 1956?

    Kapuscinski: I’m speaking about the present. Official Russian state doctrine and foreign policy doesn’t mention the Bolshevik policy of expansion. It doesn’t condemn it. If you ask liberal Russians - academics, politicians - if Russia is dangerous to us, to Europe, to the world, they say: ‘No, it’s not dangerous, we’re too weak, we have an economic crisis, difficulties with foreign trade, our army is in a state of anarchy…’ That is the answer. They are not saying: ‘We will never, ever repeat our crimes of expansionism, of constant war.’ No, they say: ‘We are not dangerous to you, because right now we are weak.’

    Cohen:

    When Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia, he was asked whether the state would take responsibility for the deaths, the oppression, the confiscations of the previous governments of Czechoslovakia, and he said ‘yes.’ The same questions were asked in South Africa of the Mandela government. And I think Poland is now struggling with how much responsibility the government will have to take for the past. But the Russian official response has been that Stalin can be blamed for everything.

    Kapuscinski:This is a very crucial point: there is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past.

    Polish-born journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski worked as an African correspondent for various Polish periodicals and press agencies from 1958 to 1980. In his book Imperium (Granta Books, 1994), he turns a journalist’s eye onto the Russian state, and the effects of authoritarianism on everyday Russian life. Kapuscinski delivered his November, 1997 Copernicus lecture: "The Russian Puzzle: Why I Wrote Imperium at the Center for Russian and East European Studies. During his visit, he spoke with David Cohen (International Institute); John Woodford (Executive Editor of Michigan Today ); and Thomas Wolfe (Communications). The following is an excerpted transcript of their conversation.

    Sei Sekou Mobutu seized control of the Congo in 1965. After the evolution, the name of the capital was changed from Leopoldville to Kinshasa, and in 1971 the country was renamed Zaire, instead of the Congo. return to text

    Piotr Michalowski is the George D. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and Languages at the Unversity of Michigan.

    Kapuscinski, more magical than real

    What’s the truth about Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski
    https://www.newstatesman.com/africa/2007/02/wrong-kapuscinski-african

    https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryszard_Kapu%C5%9Bci%C5%84ski

    #presse #littérature #reportage


  • Meet Francis Malofiy, the Philadelphia Lawyer Who Sued Led Zeppelin
    https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/02/11/francis-malofiy-led-zeppelin

    Francis Malofiy may be the most hated man in the Philadelphia legal community. He may also be on the cusp of getting the last laugh on rock’s golden gods.

    #droit_d_auteur #musique #plagiat

    • @sandburg Voillà

      Meet Francis Malofiy, the Philadelphia Lawyer Who Sued Led Zeppelin
      https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/02/11/francis-malofiy-led-zeppelin

      People Laughed When This Philly Lawyer Sued Led Zeppelin. Nobody’s Laughing Now.

      Francis Malofiy may be the most hated man in the Philadelphia legal community. He may also be on the cusp of getting the last laugh on rock’s golden gods.

      By Jonathan Valania· 2/11/2019


      Philadelphia-area attorney Francis Malofiy. Photograph by Bryan Sheffield.

      The fact that Philadelphia barrister Francis Alexander Malofiy, Esquire, is suing Led Zeppelin over the authorship of “Stairway to Heaven” is, by any objective measure, only the fourth most interesting thing about him. Unfortunately for the reader, and the purposes of this story, the first, second and third most interesting things about Malofiy are bound and gagged in nondisclosure agreements, those legalistic dungeons where the First Amendment goes to die. So let’s start with number four and work our way backward.

      At the risk of stating the obvious, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let the record show that “Stairway to Heaven” is arguably the most famous song in all of rock-and-roll, perhaps in all of popular music. It’s also one of the most lucrative — it’s estimated that the song has netted north of $500 million in sales and royalties since its 1971 release. Malofiy’s lawsuit, cheekily printed in the same druidic font used for the liner notes of the album Led Zeppelin IV, alleges that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant — Zep’s elegantly wasted guitarist/producer/central songwriter and leonine, leather-lunged lead singer, respectively — stole the iconic descending acoustic-guitar arpeggios of the first two minutes of “Stairway” from “Taurus,” a song with a strikingly similar chord pattern by a long-forgotten ’60s band called Spirit. At the conclusion of a stormy, headline-grabbing trial in 2016 that peaked with testimony from Page and Plant, the jury decided in Zep’s favor.

      When the copyright infringement suit was first filed in Philadelphia by Malofiy (pronounced “MAL-uh-fee”) on behalf of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust — which represents the estate of Randy “California” Wolfe, the now-deceased member of Spirit who wrote “Taurus” — people laughed. Mostly at Malofiy. The breathless wall-to-wall media coverage the trial garnered often painted him as a loose-cannon legal beagle, one part Charlie Sheen, one part Johnnie Cochran. “Everybody kind of dismissed me as this brash young lawyer who didn’t really understand copyright law,” he says, well into the wee hours one night back in December, sitting behind a desk stacked four feet high with legal files in the dank, subterranean bunker that is his office.

      Hidden behind an unmarked door on the basement floor of a nondescript office building in Media, the law firm of Francis Alexander LLC is a pretty punk-rock operation. The neighbors are an anger management counselor and a medical marijuana dispensary. “I think of us as pirates sinking big ships,” Malofiy, who’s 41, brags. Given the sheer number of death threats he says he’s received from apoplectic Zep fans, the fact that mysterious cars seem to follow him in the night, and his claim to have found GPS trackers stuck to the bottom of his car, the precise location of his offices remains a closely guarded secret. Failing that, he has a license to carry, and most days, he leaves the house packing a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson.

      While most lawyers are sleeping, Malofiy is working through the night to defeat them, often until sunrise, fueled by an ever-present bottle of grape-flavored Fast Twitch as he chain-chews Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and huffs a never-ending string of Marlboro menthols. We’ve been talking on the record for going on eight hours, and Malofiy shows no signs of fading; in fact, he’s just announced the arrival of his third wind.

      He has a pretty good ‘fuck you’ attitude that comes from an inner confidence. He might have had a little too much early on,” attorney Jim Beasley Jr. says of Malofiy. “If you piss the judge off with your pirate act, the judge can make it difficult for you. Sometimes you could avoid all that by not swinging your pirate sword around.

      Talk turns to the distinctly pro-Zep tenor of the media coverage of the “Stairway” trial. “I was a punch line for jokes,” he says, spitting his gum into a yellow Post-it and banking it into the trash for, like, the 42nd time. Nobody’s laughing now, least of all Page and Plant. Nor, for that matter, is Usher. Back in October, at the conclusion of a dogged seven-year legal battle marked by a bruising string of dismissals and sanctions, Malofiy won a $44 million verdict — one of the largest in Pennsylvania in 2018 — for a Philadelphia songwriter named Daniel Marino who sued his co-writers after being cut out of the songwriting credits and royalties for the song “Bad Girl” from the R&B heartthrob’s 2004 breakout album, Confessions, which sold more than 10 million copies.

      Also, in late September of last year, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Malofiy’s appeal of the 2016 “Stairway to Heaven” verdict and ordered a new trial on the grounds that the court “abused its discretion” when the judge refused to allow Malofiy to play a recording of “Taurus” for the jury. (Members were only allowed to hear an acoustic-guitar rendition played from sheet music.) The retrial is expected to begin in the next year, and Page and Plant, along with bassist John Paul Jones, are again anticipated to take the stand. Copyright experts say Led Zeppelin — which has a long history of ripping off the ancient riffs and carnal incantations of wizened Delta bluesmen and only giving credit when caught — should be worried.

      Malofiy, who calls Zep “the greatest cover band in all of history,” will go to trial armed with reams of expert testimony pinpointing the damning similarities between the two songs — not just the nearly identical and atypical chord pattern, but the shared melodic figurations, choice of key and distinctive voicings. He’ll also show the jury that Page and Plant had ample opportunity to hear “Taurus” when Zep opened for Spirit on their first American tour in 1968, two years before they wrote and recorded “Stairway.”

      “Most big companies rely on the concept of wearing you down, forcing you to do so much work it literally drives you broke,” says Glen Kulik, a heavy-hitter L.A.-based copyright lawyer who signed on as Malofiy’s local counsel when the Zep case was moved to federal court in California. “If you have any chance of standing up to them, it’s going to require an incredible amount of persistence, confidence, and quite a bit of skill as well, and Francis has all those things in spades.” And Kulik would know, having successfully argued a landmark copyright infringement case before the Supreme Court in 2014 that paved the way for the Zeppelin suit.


      Francis Malofiy. Photograph by Bryan Sheffield.

      Ultimately, Malofiy doesn’t have to prove Led Zeppelin stole Spirit’s song; he just has to convince a jury that’s what happened. Assuming the trial goes forward — and that this time, he’s allowed to play recordings of both songs for the jury — there will be blood. Because contrary to his hard-won rep as a bull in the china shop of civil litigation, Malofiy possesses a switchblade-sharp legal mind, an inexhaustible work ethic, and a relentless, rock-ribbed resolve to absorb more punches than his opponents can throw. He’s a ruthlessly effective courtroom tactician with a collection of six-, seven- and eight-figure verdicts, not to mention the scalps of opposing counsel who underestimated his prowess. “I don’t plink pigeons; I hunt lions and tigers and bears,” he says. The big game he’s targeted in the past decade include deep-pocketed transnational corporations like Volvo (an epic seven-year case that ended in an undisclosed settlement) and Hertz (against whom he won a $100,000 verdict).

      In the arena of civil litigation, where the odds are increasingly stacked against plaintiffs, Malofiy claims to have never lost a jury trial, and that appears to be true. “I have lost twice — in the Zeppelin case and a lawsuit against Volvo — but got both decisions reversed on appeals,” he says, unsheathing a fresh stick of Wrigley’s. “Now, the same people that were asking me for years why I’m doing it are asking me how I did it.”

      If Malofiy prevails in the coming “Stairway” retrial, he’ll completely shatter the Tolkien-esque legend of the song’s immaculate conception — that it was birthed nearly in toto during a mystical retreat at a remote Welsh mountain cottage called Bron-yr-aur, to which many a starry-eyed Zep disciple has made a pilgrimage once upon a midnight clear when the forests echo with laughter. It will be like proving that da Vinci didn’t paint the Mona Lisa, that Michelangelo didn’t sculpt David. Barring a last-minute settlement, many legal and copyright experts predict that Malofiy may well emerge victorious, and credit for the most famous rock song in the world will pass from the self-appointed Golden Gods of Led Zeppelin to some obscure, long-forgotten (and not even very good) West Coast psych band, along with tens of millions in royalties, effectively rewriting the sacred history of rock-and-roll. And the man who will have pulled off this fairly miraculous feat of judicial jujitsu is the enfant terrible of Philadelphia jurisprudence.

      Malofiy hates wearing a suit and tie. Outside the courtroom, he dresses like a rock star masquerading as a lawyer: a crushable black trilby perched at a jaunty angle atop a blue bandana, a collarless black and orange leather Harley jacket, and a pair of beat-to-fuck brown Wesco boots, unlaced. “I’m always in jeans and boots when I meet new clients,” he says. “I warn them up front: ‘If you want a fancy lawyer in a suit, you should go elsewhere.’”

      The barrier to entry for new clients at Francis Alexander LLC is steep, because Malofiy doesn’t take on new cases so much as he adopts new causes. A case has to register on a deeply personal level if he’s going to eat, sleep, and fight to the death for it for the next five to seven years.

      “Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to advocate zealously for their clients,” says attorney Max Kennerly, who’s worked with Malofiy on a number of cases. “But frankly, in this business, a lot of lawyers play the odds and just do a ‘good enough’ job on a bunch of cases. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose. Francis really throws himself into his cases.”

      After 10 years of struggle, things finally seem to be breaking Malofiy’s way. Fat checks from cases settled long ago are rolling in, alleviating some fairly crippling cash-flow issues, and big cases just keep falling out of the sky — more than his two-lawyer outfit can field. They need to staff up, stat. Malofiy wants to hire some young bucks fresh out of law school — preferably Temple — as force multipliers in his quest to hold the powerful accountable on behalf of the powerless. “Most kids in law school right now will never see the inside of a courtroom,” he says. “Law schools don’t want to teach you how to change the system; they want to load you up with debt so you have to go do grunt work for some corporate law firm that specializes in maintaining the status quo.”


      Francis Malofiy. Photograph by Bryan Sheffield.

      Malofiy doesn’t have a website. He doesn’t do social media. He doesn’t trawl the watering holes of the rich and powerful. He doesn’t even have a business card. Thanks to the notoriety and name recognition that came with the Zeppelin trial, new clients chase him. He just got off the phone with a Brooklyn puppet maker who wants him to sue the band Fall Out Boy for alleged misuse of two llamas — Frosty and Royal Tea — that it created. Right now, he’s on a conference call with a trio of British songwriters who want Malofiy to sue the Weeknd for allegedly lifting a key section of their song “I Need to Love” for a track called “A Lonely Night” on his 2016 Starboy album, which has sold more than three million copies to date.

      “Why are you guys calling me?” he asks.

      “We’re looking for an honest person fighting for ordinary working people,” says Billy Smith, one of the Brit songwriters in question. Malofiy clearly likes the sound of that. After thinking it over for a few moments, he tells them he’ll take their case and gives them his standard new-client spiel. “I can’t promise we’ll win, but I can promise I won’t turn yellow when things turn bad. I won’t put my tail between my legs and run,” he says. “If there is any bad news, you will hear it from me first.”

      His teeth have been bothering him for days, and near the end of the call, one of his dental caps comes loose. He spits it out, and it skitters across his desk before he traps it under his palm. Most lawyers would be mortified. Malofiy thinks it’s hilarious. “I got teeth like you people,” he says to the Brits. Everybody laughs.

      Many people mistake Malofiy’s unconventionality as a design flaw when it’s actually a feature. “I think that’s an incredibly important part of what makes him so good as an attorney,” says A.J. Fluehr, 33, Malofiy’s right-hand man, co-counsel and, though eight years his boss’s junior, voice of reason. “Because he’s so unorthodox, I believe it causes a lot of other attorneys to underestimate him and think, ‘Oh, he’s not serious; he doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ All of sudden, there’s a massively serious case against them.”

      Even some of the defense lawyers who’ve done battle with Malofiy begrudgingly acknowledge his chops. “I’ve known Francis for four years now. He is difficult to deal with but a fierce advocate for his clients and his cause,” says Rudolph “Skip” DiMassa, a partner at Duane Morris. “Calling him ‘abrasive’ would be putting it mildly. But he wears it like a badge of honor that he is not like all the other lawyers in town.”

      When I read that and similar assessments from other lawyers back to Malofiy, he chalks them up to blowback for the heresy of Robin Hooding a corrupt status quo. “I have a target on my back because I sue big corporations, politicians, big law firms. Hell, I sued DA Seth Williams,” he says one night at the Irish Pub, as he’s nursing a screwdriver he’ll chase with a root beer. “When you start stepping on toes and suing the wrong people and get a few million shifted from those who have it to those who don’t — that’s where the change happens; that’s where you make a difference. And there is a price you have to pay for that.”

      According to family lore, Francis Malofiy’s maternal grandfather was murdered by Nazis in occupied Greece; his great-grandmother had to cut the body down from a tree and carry it home on the back of a mule. Concurrently, his paternal grandfather was murdered by Nazis in Ukraine, while his father and grandmother were frog-marched to camps in Germany. Some things can never be forgotten or forgiven. That’s why Malofiy is always kicking against the pricks. A slight child, he was often bullied at school, and after a brief experiment with turning the other cheek, he started fighting back. Hard. He recalls the day that a bully was picking on a girl half his size; young Francis cold-cocked him and threw him into a closet door. The kid had to be taken out on a stretcher. After that, the bullies moved on to easier prey. “I was always fighting for the little guy, even back then,” he says.

      In the third grade, friends turned him on to Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, indelibly imprinting the spandexed bikers-and-strippers aesthetic of ’80s hair-metal onto his psyche. He started channeling the energy he once put into beating back bullies into beating the drums. One day in the sixth grade, he came home to tell his dad about a band all the kids were into: “The Led Zeppelins.”

      “He said, ‘No, son, it’s just Led Zeppelin.’”

      “No, I’m pretty sure it’s the Led Zeppelins.”

      So his father, who’d seen the band at the Electric Factory, drove Francis to the record store at the Granite Run Mall, where the clerks set him straight. His father bought the four-cassette Zep box set that had just come out. On the way home, Malofiy heard “Whole Lotta Love” for the first time, and before the song even ended, it was official: Led Zeppelin was his favorite band. When he was in high school, his drum teacher gently broke the news that Zep didn’t exactly, um, write all their own music — that key parts of their iconic songs had been cherry-picked from old, obscure blues recordings. “I said, ‘C’mon, don’t talk shit about Jimmy Page!’” Malofiy recalls. Then his teacher played him the Willie Dixon-penned Muddy Waters track “You Need Love” — which is what “Whole Lotta Love” was called before Zep hijacked the lyrics and the riff and Frankensteined them into the gloriously scuzzy heavy-metal Viking porno movie for the ears we’ve come to know and love. It was hard for Francis to process, and even harder when he was tipped to the uncanny similarity between Spirit’s “Taurus” and “Stairway.” Still, the spell Zep cast over him remained unbroken.


      Francis Malofiy. Photograph by Bryan Sheffield.

      As a young teenager, he built go-karts, dirt bikes and small-block Chevys. To make spending money for guitars and records, he started buying beater cars, fixing them up, and flipping them for quadruple what he paid for them. He almost didn’t graduate from high school because he’d played hooky too many times, to go fishing or work on cars or play guitar. When he finally got his high-school diploma, he raced home from school to show his mother in his Chevy S-10 lowrider. Tearing ass on the backcountry roads of Media, he blew past a cop who immediately lit up his cherry top and gave pursuit. Soon, one cop car became two, then three, until there were five cars tailing him.

      Much to his parents’ dismay, his run-ins with the law became common. They were never for anything all that serious, just the usual teen-rebel monkeyshines: fighting, speeding, the occasional high-speed car chase. He got a big wake-up call in 1998 when his beloved Uncle Nick — a.k.a. Nicholas “The Greek” Vasiliades — was handed a life sentence for running a high-volume meth lab in a warehouse in Manayunk that supplied the drug networks of the Pagans and the Mafia, as well as for his 50-gun arsenal of illegal weaponry. Malofiy was devastated. “I was going down a bad path,” he says. “My uncle pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re smart enough to do it the right way. You need to step away.’”

      Malofiy took the warning to heart and focused on getting a college education, graduating from Penn State in 2000 with a degree in finance. After college, he went back home to Media and his true loves: cars, girls and heavy metal. With a revolving cast of musicians, he formed multiple go-nowhere suburban hard-rock bands with cringe-y names like Prada G and Sluts ’n Slayers. Unimpressed, his parents urged him to enroll in law school. Eventually he relented, forging this pact: He would go to law school if he: a) could do whatever he wanted with the unfinished basement of his parents’ home (i.e., build a high-end recording-studio-cum-man-cave tricked out with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom); and b) nobody hassled him about having long hair, rocking out and chasing girls. Deal. Malofiy took the LSATs and scored just south of 160 — hardly off the charts, but good enough to get into Temple, where he found himself drawn to copyright law.

      He graduated from law school in December of 2007 and took the bar exam the following July. On the night of August 16, 2008, he stopped into the Liberty Bar at 22nd and Market with his then-girlfriend. It was crowded, but they found a table in the back. After ordering drinks, they started getting static from a group of three young men in ball caps and white t-shirts. “Three drunken jerkoffs, white privilege out the ass,” says Malofiy. According to Malofiy’s testimony, the trio mocked his bandana and called him “cunt,” “pussy” and a “dirty spic.” (It was summer; Malofiy was tan.) According to Malofiy, at some point the men apologized and the situation seemed defused, but then one of them grabbed Malofiy’s girlfriend’s ass. “I said, ‘That’s it. Follow me out,’ and made for the door,” Malofiy says, but he was blocked by a member of the group. As they stood chest-to-chest, Malofiy says, the man struck him twice. Finally, Malofiy, who boxed in college, unloaded with a right cross that landed squarely on the guy’s left cheekbone, shattering the glass still clenched in Malofiy’s fist.

      The man suffered a deep gash in his cheek that would require 150 stitches and reconstructive surgery. Malofiy nearly severed the tendons in his thumb. Bleeding profusely, he had his girlfriend drive him to the emergency room at Penn Presby to get stitched up and then to Central Detectives to file a criminal complaint.

      Two months later, in October, notice came in the mail that he had passed the bar. His mother was ecstatic and insisted on driving him to the Pittsburgh office of the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania immediately to obtain his law license rather than wait two weeks for the formal ceremony. When they got home the next day, Malofiy got a call from Central Detectives, who said they had a “body warrant” for his arrest on aggravated assault and related charges stemming from the Liberty Bar fight. The next day, he turned himself in and spent a night in jail awaiting a bail hearing. Had he not gone to Pittsburgh at his mother’s behest, it’s unlikely he’d have gotten his law license with a felony arrest on his record.

      Malofiy’s first case as a newly minted lawyer would involve defending a client staring down decades in prison if convicted: himself. Heeding the maxim that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client, Malofiy hired Sam Stretton, one of the most respected criminal defense attorneys in the city. Malofiy took the stand and delivered an impassioned defense of his actions. “He had already hit me twice, blocked my exit-way,” he testified. “I was scared for my safety and my girlfriend’s safety, and his friends had just yelled ‘Fight!’ and came up to me with fists drawn. I thought I had no other option.” The jury found him not guilty on all charges.

      “Welcome to Hogwarts,” Malofiy jokes as he shows me around the vast oak and stained-glass room that houses the law library at the Beasley Firm, possibly the most fearsome and feared personal-injury law firm in the city, where he worked, in an of-counsel capacity, from 2012 to 2014.

      Fresh out of law school and still wet behind the ears, Malofiy showed up one day in search of mentoring. Granted an audience with Jim Beasley Jr., one of the most successful plaintiff’s attorney in the city, Malofiy ended up with a promise of rent-free office space, the phone extension 666, and a commitment to help finance some of the highly ambitious cases he was mounting — a product-liability suit against Volvo, and a breach-of-contract suit, against a marble manufacturer that had screwed his client out of an ownership share, that resulted in a $4.2 million verdict — not to mention the Usher case. “Jim was like, ‘I keep getting calls from defense lawyers saying That kid’s the fucking devil, so you must be doing something right,’” Malofiy recalls.

      During Malofiy’s tenure at Beasley, he took out a controversial full-page ad in this magazine that depicted him crashing through a courtroom in a hot rod, looking every bit James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Many members of Philadelphia’s uptight, buttoned-down legal community thought it was disrespectful. “Everyone was outraged, but I thought it was funny,” says Beasley. “He has a pretty good ‘fuck you’ attitude that comes from an inner confidence. He might have had a little too much of that early on, but I think he’s throttled back a bit. So many of a judge’s decisions are ties and jump-balls that are not reversible, and if you piss the judge off with your pirate act, the judge can make it difficult for you. Sometimes you could avoid all that by not swinging your pirate sword around.”

      Malofiy has learned this the hard way. In 2015, a three-judge panel voted to suspend his license to practice law in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for improper conduct in the Usher case — despite the fact that the special prosecutor recommended what amounted to a slap on the wrist: a reprimand.

      “It’s highly unusual that they would disregard the disciplinary recommendations of the special prosecutor after he has heard the facts,” says Stretton. The matter is currently on appeal before the Third Circuit.

      At Malofiy’s insistence, I’ve been tailing him for the better part of a month: from a big-dollar NDA’d settlement in a judge’s quarters, to a Port Richmond dive bar called Chuckles, to a Bucks County gun shop where he plunked down $1,729 for a handsome Benelli shotgun (a gift for his right-hand man Fluehr), to a back-alley strip bar in Center City and the disused factory under the Commodore Barry Bridge that he’s purchased and plans to renovate into office space, living quarters and a beer garden. I watched him hide his $82,000 Land Rover from the repo man (“It’s all a misunderstanding”) and then, days later, saw a pile of white letter-size envelopes stacked on his desk, each containing what looked to be thousands in cash. What I have come to learn is this: When you write about lawyers, there is so much you can’t write about lawyers.

      Malofiy slowly, methodically and unflinchingly parceled out the most personal details of his backstory — the good, the bad and the ugly — as I incrementally earned his trust. But always on his timetable, not mine. It could be exasperating, but by the end, I discovered the method to his madness: He’d been pacing his revelations as he would a trial presentation. And now we’re reaching the crescendo of his closing argument — the big reveal.


      Francis Malofiy. Photograph by Bryan Sheffield.

      It’s a few clicks shy of midnight at Malofiy’s house in Media on a Sunday night shortly before Christmas. In the morning, he’s jetting off to an auction in London to bid on the Helios recording console that captured “Stairway to Heaven” for the ages. (Malofiy, true to form, won’t confirm that he won or lost the auction.) Though he’s been locked in a nasty four-year legal fight with Led Zeppelin, they’re still his favorite band.

      Malofiy called to insist that I come to his house tonight. “Why? What for?” I demanded. He said he wanted to show me something I could only see there. I begged off, explaining that this article was due in the morning and I already had more than I could use. But he insisted, promising it would be worth my while. He doesn’t disappoint. He tells me to open the freezer. There’s a bottle of Tito’s vodka, an ice tray, and half a lemon on a plate with a yellow plastic knife. “That’s the lemon Robert Plant squeezed into his tea when we deposed him in London back in 2016,” he claims. This is deeply ironic and, if you’re acquainted with the role lemons play in Plant’s legend, cosmically hilarious. One of Led Zeppelin’s most infamous tracks is “The Lemon Song,” a sultry blooze ramble from 1969’s deathless Led Zeppelin II stitched together from pieces of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues.” (Zep settled a 1972 copyright suit over the Howlin’ Wolf portion of the song.) In the fifth verse, Plant sings:

      Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg
      The way you squeeze my lemon, ah
      I’m gonna fall right out of bed

      By swiping that lemon rind at the deposition, Malofiy stole Robert Plant’s metaphoric penis the way Prometheus stole fire from the gods. Zep famously invoked the mythic “Hammer of the Gods” from Norse legend. For Jimmy Page, that hammer was his guitar, but for Plant it was his, um, mighty lemon tree.

      Incredible though it may seem, Malofiy says he’s kept the lemon on ice for the past three years and had it in his briefcase like a talisman when he gave oral arguments for what proved to be his successful appeal of the 2016 “Stairway” verdict. He has every intention of taking it to the retrial that will, barring unforeseen developments, commence in the next year.

      “Robert Plant is always going on about his lemon, and at the deposition he made a big deal out of slicing it up and squeezing it into his tea and then sucking on the rind,” he says with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin. “Jimmy Page famously dabbled in black magic and was always going on about Aleister Crowley, and I said to myself, ‘If they are going to use black magic to try to beat me on technicalities — well, two can play at that game.’”

      Published as “The Devil’s Advocate” in the February 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.


  • Windows-Zwangsmigration: Strafanzeige gegen niedersächsische Landesregierung | heise online
    https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Windows-Zwangsmigration-Strafanzeige-gegen-niedersaechsische-Landesregierung-4

    15.02.2019 - Von Mirko Dölle - Aufgrund der im Koalitionsvertrag in Niedersachsen beschlossenen Umstellung der Finanzverwaltung von Linux auf Windows wurde nun Strafanzeige erstattet.

    Die im Koalitionsvertrag von SPD und CDU politisch festgelegte Zwangsmigration der Niedersächsischen Landesverwaltung von OpenSuse Linux auf Microsoft Windows könnte ein juristisches Nachspiel haben. „Das Thema würde ich gerne noch mal aufgreifen und einer juristischen Prüfung unterziehen lassen“, erklärte Axel Braun, Geschäftsführer des Düsseldorfer Beratungsunternehmens Axxite, gegenüber heise online. Er hat bei der Staatsanwaltschaft Hannover nach eigenen Angaben Strafanzeige erstattet und Strafantrag gestellt, sein Schreiben sollte am heutigen Freitag bei der Behörde eingehen.

    Braun wirft dem niedersächsischen Ministerpräsidenten Stephan Weil, Finanzminister Reinhold Hilbers und den Mitgliedern der Koalition aus SPD und CDU im niedersächsischen Landtag die „Bildung einer kriminellen Vereinigung mit dem Ziel des Landesverrats, Verstoß gegen die Datenschutzgrundverordnung (DSGVO)“ sowie die „Verschwendung von Steuermitteln“ vor.
    Linux-Zwangsausstieg

    Der Hintergrund ist, dass die niedersächsischen Finanzbehörden – dazu zählen sämtliche Finanzämter – seit Einführung von Computern nur Unix oder Linux als Betriebssystem verwendet haben. Damit soll nach Willen der Koalition nun Schluss sein und Microsoft Windows auf den rund 12.000 PCs der Finanzverwaltung installiert werden – die Umsetzung soll noch 2019 beginnen. Braun wirft der Koalition vor, diese Migration „ohne technische oder funktionale Notwendigkeit beschlossen“ zu haben, eine „Risiko- und Kostenabschätzung hat ebenfalls nicht stattgefunden“. Dies hatten die Antworten der Landesregierung auf eine kleine Anfrage dreier Landtagsabgeordneter der Grünen-Fraktion im Niedersächsischen Landtag enthüllt.

    In seiner Anzeige stützt sich Braun auch auf die Recherchen von heise online und c’t aus dem Jahr 2018 sowie auf einen Bericht des Bayerischen Landesamts für Datenschutzaufsicht: Darin bemängeln die Prüfer, dass sie Windows das verschlüsselte Nachhausetelefonieren nicht gänzlich abgewöhnen konnten. Braun ist der Ansicht, dass bis zur Offenlegung, welche Daten Windows mit Microsoft verschlüsselt austauscht, von einem Verstoß gegen die DSGVO ausgegangen werden muss – weshalb er in seiner Strafanzeige auch diesen Vorwurf erhebt.

    Braun macht sich bezüglich der Chancen seiner Anzeige allerdings keine Illusionen: „Mein Anwalt glaubt nicht, dass sich die Staatsanwaltschaft damit beschäftigt oder dass ich Antwort bekomme.“ Sein Ziel sei, auf den Missstand hinzuweisen.

    #Allemagne #Microsoft #administrations


  • I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich. - Vox
    https://www.vox.com/2015/7/16/8961799/housekeeper-job-clients

    One was the Porn House, for all the issues of Hustler in the nightstand and for the bottle of lube that sometimes sat in front of the alarm clock, illuminated by the red numbers. I had to change the sheets, of course, but I never picked any socks up off the floor. There was always something cooking in the crock pot; sometimes I’d walk in and the whole house smelled of caramelizing ham.

    The wife left notes addressed to “Cleaner” under a magnet on the fridge that said We’re staying together for the cat. She slept in the spare bedroom.

    Next to the Porn House was the Sad House. They shared a driveway, and both had large garages and living rooms facing the ocean.

    I did both houses every other Wednesday, but didn’t go to the Sad House much. The owner spent a lot of time in the hospital, and so his house stayed clean, except for dust that settled on the kitchen counters and the dining room table.

    His wife had died some years earlier — I guessed in the late ’80s — but every trinket she’d collected remained on the windowsills, and her to-do lists remained tacked to the cork board by the desk in the kitchen.

    “Get new hose.”

    “Fix crack in sidewalk.”

    “New latch for gate.”

    The bathroom had two sinks. Hers still had a hair dryer plugged in and hung on a hook. His side had a cup with a comb and whatever medication he took in the morning and at night — it was different every time.

    Across from the sink was a wicker shelf. It had a picture of their eldest son on top of a mountain. He had a green bandana and a beard, and gave a peace sign; the photo was framed with that poem you see on bereavement cards: “Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep.” That’s how it starts. I copied it down to give to a friend who’d just lost her dog.

    Beside the photo were two little boxes, one made from a heavy clay, the other some kind of dark pewter. His wife’s picture leaned behind the clay box. I opened them once. They had ashes, and tags and statements from the funeral home. I wondered if it comforted him to have them there, behind him, while he combed his hair.

    The money my clients spent startled me. One house had a receipt for a throw blanket more expensive than my car. I vacuumed children’s bedrooms bigger than my apartment. Rob’s House — my picky Friday client who adored me — had $3,000 worth of television and stereo equipment just in the living room. The TV was always on. My Christmas card from him and his wife contained a $100 bonus, the highest the company had ever seen. That was around when the prescription bottles multiplied by the bathroom sink and Rob’s skin took on a yellow tone.

    Usually I never met my clients. I saw the lady from the Porn House after cleaning one time, at the store. She had on green hospital scrubs under a long red coat. Her short brown hair stuck out on one side, and she smoothed it while inspecting the steaks on clearance. I stood about 10 feet away from her, trying not to stare, holding cough syrup and juice for my daughter. She had no idea who I was. I knew she’d just gotten over a long sinus infection, and spat large wads of snot in the shower.

    I saw the lady who used the testosterone cream at a restaurant. Her date was tall, in good shape, with fluffy blond hair. She had on high heels and too much makeup. They smiled at each other, but didn’t hold hands. He’d left an overnight bag at her house that week while the kids were at their dad’s. It had lube and one of those egg vibrators in it. I stood across from them at the bar, waiting for a friend, thinking how sad it must be to lose something like your libido.
    “The money my clients spent startled me. One house had a receipt for a throw blanket more expensive than my car.”

    After a while, I got used to the loneliness these houses held. I got used to Cigarette Lady, whose husband went out of town a lot. She kept cartons of cigarettes in a freezer in the garage. They were the long, skinny types; I don’t remember the brand. A pantry off the kitchen had fat-free soups, crackers, and fat-free salad dressings. The refrigerator contained not much more than water and lettuce. A toilet in the upstairs bathroom off the kitchen always had crusted vomit under the rim.

    #USA #nantis #culture

    • Holy judgmental, Batman !

      Je vois pas vraiment en quoi les riches sont différents dans cet article. Des couples séparés sous le même toit, des gens sur-médicamentés, ça se trouve partout. La différence c’est que la plupart des gens n’ont pas de personnes qui viennent travailler chez eux et en profitent pour les épier et les juger.

      Elle aurait écrit ça avec des gens dans le besoin, on aurait crié au poverty porn.

    • Mai non @koantig , c’est intéressant parce qu’on nous vend toujours le fait d’avoir beaucoup d’argent comme gage de bonheur alors que c’est un mensonge inventé pour nous faire marcher. Ce sont les églises pentecôtistes autant que les extrémistes néolibérauux qui nous présentent les riches comme les gens qui font avancer la société parce que l’argent les anoblit.

      La fonction utile de l’article se trouve alors justement dans ce que tu constates : ces nantis ne sont pas de la race des Übermensch mais des êtres humains qui souffrent autant que tout le monde de l’alinéation par le système qui les nourrit si bien. Il y a une raison pourquoi on envoie ses gamins dans des écoles privées en Suisse. C’est là qu’ils apprennent la conscience de classe et la discipline nécessaire pour pouvoir jouir sans remords de l’exploitation et du mépris pour des gens comme toi et moi.

      Contrairement aux membres des familles nobles et riches depuis des siècles ces nouveaux riches étatsuniens sont souvent des gens assez peu cultivés et trop ordinaires pour jouer le jeu d’une manière convaincante. Les familles dont parle l’auteure n’ont pas encore réussi à se pérenniser et se trouvent en plein combat pour y réussir. Dans bien des cas ceci ne marchera pas à souhait et ils le savent pertinemment. C’est une situation assez difficile á supporter et pathogène en conséquence. Voilà la signification du titre.

      Ce genre d’article a nécessairement un côté Bling Ring mais ce qui compte c’est sa qualité documentaire et littéraire. Il n’est pas mal à ce niveau là.

    • Je ne peux pas parler du niveau littéraire parce que j’y connais rien mais en tout cas ça m’a pas frappé.

      Quant au niveau documentaire, c’est plutôt faible : elle s’est mis en tête de trouver des indices de problèmes (« I looked for secrets in the nightstands, for the story below the American dream. I searched for the stashes of empty wine bottles and peeked into medicine cabinets. ») et - surprise !- elle en a trouvé. Mais encore une fois, y-a-t-il une différence avec les gens moins aisés ? On n’en sait rien.

      Oh et puis franchement :

      I started to see the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy my daughter fancy electronics as a luxury. We went to the beach and looked for crabs under the rocks instead. We spent rainy Saturdays doing a 25-cent puzzle.

      « On n’a peut-être pas beaucoup d’argent mais on a du coeur, Monsieur ! A Noel, on avait juste une orange mais on était contents ! »
      Elle remplace juste le cliché « Les riches c’est des winners » par un autre : seuls les pauvres savent aimer, les riches ne sont que des robots avaricieux, idiots utiles conditionnés pour être obsédés par l’argent. Vraiment simpliste.


  • How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/06/disposable-america/563204

    Alexis C. Madrigal - Jun 21, 2018

    A straw is a simple thing. It’s a tube, a conveyance mechanism for liquid. The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.

    Over the last several months, plastic straws have come under fire from environmental activists who rightly point out that disposable plastics have created a swirling, centuries-long ecological disaster that is brutally difficult to clean up. Bags were first against the wall, but municipalities from Oakland, California, (yup) to Surfside, Florida, (huh!) have started to restrict the use of plastic straws. Of course, now there is a movement afoot among conservatives to keep those plastics flowing for freedom. Meanwhile, disability advocates have pointed out that plastic straws, in particular, are important for people with physical limitations. “To me, it’s just lame liberal activism that in the end is nothing,” one activist told The Toronto Star. “We’re really kind of vilifying people who need straws.” Other environmentalists aren’t sure that banning straws is gonna do much, and point out that banning straws is not an entirely rigorous approach to global systems change, considering that a widely cited estimate for the magnitude of the problem was, umm, created by a smart 9-year-old.

    All this to say: The straw is officially part of the culture wars, and you might be thinking, “Gah, these contentious times we live in!” But the straw has always been dragged along by the currents of history, soaking up the era, shaping not its direction, but its texture.

    The invention of American industrialism, the creation of urban life, changing gender relations, public-health reform, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things—rolled out of extrusion machines, dispensed, pushed through lids, bent, dropped into the abyss.

    You can learn a lot about this country, and the dilemmas of contemporary capitalism, by taking a straw-eyed view.

    People have probably been drinking things through cylindrical tubes for as long as Homo sapiens has been around, and maybe before. Scientists observed orangutans demonstrating a preference for a straw-like tool over similar, less functional things. Ancient versions existed, too.

    But in 19th-century America, straws were straw, rye stalks, cut and dried. An alternative did not present itself widely until 1888. That year, Marvin Stone, a Washington, D.C., gentleman, was awarded a patent for an “artificial straw”—“a cheap, durable, and unobjectionable” substitute for natural straws, Stone wrote, “commonly used for the administration of medicines, beverages, etc.”

    Workmen created these early artificial straws by winding paper around a thin cylindrical form, then covering them in paraffin. Often, they were “colored in imitation of the natural straw.” Within a decade, these straws appeared often in newspaper items and advertisements across the country.
    A typical Stone straw ad from a newspaper in 1899 (Google Books)

    Advertising for the Stone straw describes its virtues and emphasizes the faults of the natural straw. Stone’s straws were free from TASTE and ODOR (natural straws were not). Stone’s straws were SWEET, CLEAN, and PERFECT (natural straws could be cracked or musty). You only had to use one Stone straw per drink (not always the case with natural straws).

    They worked. They were cheap. They were very popular and spawned many imitators because once an artificial straw had been conceived, it just wasn’t that hard to make them, tinkering with the process just enough to route around Stone’s patent. This could be read as a story of individual genius. America likes this kind of story.

    But in 1850, long before Stone, Abijah Fessenden patented a drinking tube with a filter attached to a vessel shaped like a spyglass. Disabled people were using drinking tubes in the mid-19th century, as attested to by a patent from 1870. These were artificial, high-value straws; rye was natural and disposable. But it wasn’t until the late 1880s that someone thought to create the disposable, artificial straw.

    Why?

    Americans were primarily a rural people in the early 19th century. Cities had few restaurants until the 1830s and 1840s. Most that did exist were for very rich people. It took the emergence of a new urban life to spark the creation of the kind of eating and drinking establishment that would enshrine the straw in American culture: the soda fountain.

    Carbon dioxide had been isolated decades before, and soda water created with predictably palate-pleasing results, but the equipment to make it was expensive and unwieldy. It wasn’t until the the gas was readily available and cheap that the soda fountain became prevalent. In the 1870s, their technical refinement met a growing market of people who wanted a cold, sweet treat in the city.

    At the same time, the Civil War had intensified American industrialization. More and more people lived in cities and worked outside the home. Cities had saloons, but they were gendered spaces. As urban women fought for greater independence, they, too, wanted places to go. Soda fountains provided a key alternative. Given the female leadership of the late-19th-century temperance movement, soda fountains were drafted onto the side. Sodas were safe and clean. They were soft drinks.

    By 1911, an industry book proclaimed the soda fountain the very height of democratic propriety. “Today everybody, men, women and children, natives and foreigners, patronize the fountain” said The Practical Soda Fountain Guide.

    Temperance and public health grew up together in the disease-ridden cities of America, where despite the modern conveniences and excitements, mortality rates were higher than in the countryside. Straws became a key part of maintaining good hygiene and public health. They became, specifically, part of the answer to the scourge of unclean drinking glasses. Cities begin requiring the use of straws in the late 1890s. A Wisconsin paper noted in 1896 that already in many cities “ordinances have been issued making the use of wrapped drinking straws essential in public eating places.”

    But the laws that regulated health went further. A Kansas doctor campaigned against the widespread use of the “common cup,” which was ... a cup, that many people drank from. Bans began in Kansas and spread.
    The Cup Campaigner

    In many cases, this cup was eventually replaced by the water fountain (or paper cups). Some factories kept the common cup, but purchased straw dispensers that allowed all to partake individually. “The spectacle of groups of able-bodied men standing around drinking water through straws and out of a common, ordinary drinking cup, prompted no end of facetious comment,” read an item in the Shelbina Democrat of October 11, 1911.

    Cup and straw both had to be clean to assure no germs would assail the children (or the able-bodied men). So even the method by which straws were dispensed became an important hygienic indicator. “In some stores, customers are permitted to choose their own straws, and this system would work very well if customers would not finger the straws,” The Practical Soda Fountain Guide lamented.

    That led to the development of the straw dispenser, which has a deep lineage. Already, in 1911, the thing existed where you individually pop a straw into reach. That’s it, right below, with the rationale written in: “Protects straws from flies, dust, and microbes.”
    The Practical Soda Fountain Guide

    To people living through the early 20th century, the straw was a creation of the new public-health regime. “Due to the ‘Yankee mania for sanitation,’ the [American] output of artificial straws has increased from 165 million in 1901 to 4 billion a year at present,” the Battle Creek Enquirer wrote in May 1924. “A manufacturer pointed out yesterday that, laid end to end, these straws would build an ant’s subway 16 times around the world at the equator.”

    Four billion straws! There were only 114 million Americans at the time, so that’s 35 straws per capita (though some were exported).

    Of course, straw making was improving through all these decades—mechanizing, scaling up—but the straw itself basically stayed the same. According to Sidney Graham—who founded the National Soda Straw Company in 1931, and who competed against Stone and other early straw manufacturers—in a 1988 history of the straw:

    Straws were uniform up until the 1930s ... They were tan in color, thin, and exactly 8.5 inches long. Then someone in the soda-bottling business started marketing eight-ounce bottles, and straws grew to 10.5 inches. Various soda fountains began mixing malted milks, and the old straws were too thin. So we started making them thicker. Still, they were all tan in color, like the original straws.

    In the interwar years, however, major changes came to straws. In 1937, for example, Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straw at his brother’s soda shop in San Francisco, leading to the design that’s prevalent today.

    But what happened to the straw industry is far more interesting than its (limited) technical advances. Three of the biggest names in the industry—Friedman’s Flexi-Straw Company; the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, which made popular white straws; and Maryland Cup Corporation—have bumped around the last 80 years like corporate Forrest Gumps.

    As it turns out, all three companies’ histories intersect with each other, as well as with structural changes to the American economy. But first, we have to talk about McDonald’s.

    Let’s start with Ray Kroc, who built the McDonald’s empire. For about 16 years, beginning in 1922, he sold cups for the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, rising to lead sales across the Midwest. “I don’t know what appealed to me so much about paper cups. Perhaps it was mostly because they were so innovative and upbeat,” Kroc recalled in his memoir, Grinding It Out. “But I sensed from the outset that paper cups were part of the way America was headed.”

    At first, selling cups was a tough job. Straws were cheap—you could get 100 for nine cents in the 1930s—but cups were many times more expensive. And besides, people could just wash glasses. Why would they need a paper cup? But America was tilting toward speed and disposability. And throwaway products were the future (“innovative and upbeat”). Soda fountains and their fast-food descendants were continuing to grow, spurring more sales of cups and straws. In the end, Kroc called the years between 1927 and 1937 “a decade of destiny for the paper-cup industry.”

    Selling all those cups brought Kroc into contact with soda fountains, and eventually he went into business selling milkshake mixers. This led him to Southern California, where he saw the first McDonald’s in operation. He bought his way into the small company and deposed the original owners. With Kroc growing the brand, McDonald’s added 90 franchises between 1955 and 1959. By 1961, Kroc was fully in control of the company, and by 1968, there were 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants.
    The first McDonald’s that Ray Kroc opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, is now a museum dedicated to the burger chain. (Reuters/Frank Polich)

    The restaurant chain became a key customer for Maryland Cup, which began as an ice-cream-cone bakery in Boston. Its first nonfood product launched under a brand that became nationally famous, Sweetheart. That product? The straw. The name derived from the original packaging, which showed “two children sharing a milkshake, each drinking from a straw and their heads forming the two curved arcs of a heart.”

    After the war, the company went into cups, and later other kinds of packaging for the growing fast-food industry. It developed new products for McDonald’s, like those old foam clamshell packages that hamburgers used to come in. It also snatched up the Flexi-Straw Company—along with all its patents and rights—in 1969. Things were going great. The founder’s son-in-law was president of the company in Baltimore; one nephew of the founder ran the McDonald’s relationship; the other ran the plastics division.

    Because the future, at that point, had become plastics! In 1950, the world produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. By the late 1960s, that production had grown more than tenfold. Every product was being tried as a plastic thing, and so naturally, the straw became a plastic thing, too. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years for paper straws to lose their cultural salience.

    While functionally, paper and plastic straws might have seemed the same, to the keen observer who is the narrator of Nicholson Baker’s dazzling 1988 novel, The Mezzanine, the plastic and paper straw were not interchangeable. Paper did not float. Plastic did: “How could the straw engineers have made so elementary a mistake, designing a straw that weighed less than the sugar-water in which it was intended to stand? Madness!”

    Baker’s narrator wonders why the big fast-food chains like McDonald’s didn’t pressure the straw engineers into fixing this weighting mistake. “[The chains] must have had whole departments dedicated to exacting concessions from Sweetheart and Marcal,” Baker writes.

    But there was a problem: lids, which had come into vogue. Plastic straws could push through the little + slits in the cap. Paper ones could not. The restaurant chains committed fully to plastic straws.

    Baker goes on to imagine the ramifications, painting a miniature portrait of the process of path-dependent technological choice, which has helped shape everything from the width of railroad tracks to the layout of your keyboard. The power players went plastic, so everyone had to go plastic. “Suddenly the paper-goods distributor was offering the small restaurants floating plastic straws and only floating plastic straws, and was saying that this was the way all the big chains were going,” Baker writes. Sometimes it all works. Other times, a small pleasure is lost, or a tiny headache is created: “In this way the quality of life, through nobody’s fault, went down an eighth of a notch.”

    I can’t prove that this was the precise series of events that took hold among straw engineers, cup distributors, and McDonald’s. Most corporate decision-making of this kind simply doesn’t stick in the nets of history. Yet these differences influence the texture of life every single day, and ever more so, as the owners of corporations become ever further removed from the products they sell. Let’s just say that the logic Baker describes, the way he imagines the development and consequences of these forgettable technologies, squares with the histories that we do know. The very straw engineers that Baker describes might well have been working in the plastics division of the Maryland Cup Corporation, owners of the Sweetheart brand.

    Baker was writing in the 1980s, when straws of all kinds had begun to proliferate, and the American economic system entered a period of intense consolidation and financialization. A key component of this new form of capitalism was the “leveraged buyout,” in which private-equity firms descended on old companies, sliced them up, took out huge amounts of debt, and sold off the various components, “unlocking value” for their investors. You might remember this was how Mitt Romney made his fortune. Matt Taibbi described the model in acerbic but not inaccurate terms: “A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place.”

    Global competition and offshoring enabled by containerized trade was responsible for some of the trouble American manufacturing encountered in the 1970s and 1980s. But the wholesale restructuring of the economy by private-equity firms to narrow the beneficiaries of business operations contributed mightily to the resentments still resounding through the country today. The straw, like everything else, was swept along for the ride.

    In the early 1980s, Maryland Cup’s family-linked executives were on the glide path to retirement. Eighty family members held about half the company’s stock. In 1983, the company had $656 million in revenue, $32 million in profits, and 10,000 employees. It was the biggest disposable-food-product manufacturer in the nation, an empire built on cups, straws, and plastic silverware. The family was ready to cash out.

    The big paper and food companies circled Maryland Cup, but it was eventually sold for $534 million to Fort Howard, a paper company that had gone public in the early ’70s, and began to aggressively expand beyond its Wisconsin base.

    The sale was a boon for Maryland Cup’s shareholders, but the company did not fare well under the new management. Following the transaction, the Baltimore Sun relates, Maryland Cup executives flew to dinner with Fort Howard’s hard-charging CEO, Paul Schierl. He brought out a flip chart, on which he’d written the company’s “old” values—“service, quality, responding to customers.” He turned the page to show the company’s “new” values—“profits, profits, profits.” It’s like a scene out of Tommy Boy, or a socialist’s fever dream.

    Fort Howard forced deep cuts on the company. Some longtime managers quit. The trappings of the family company went out the window. No more executives dressing up as Santa Claus or local charitable contributions. And while Fort Howard was cutting people, it invested in expanding the company’s factories. This was just business. Schierl literally appeared at a sales meeting in a devil’s mask.

    Maryland Cup’s struggles intensified after the wave of departures that followed the acquisition. It needed customer volume to keep its new, bigger plants running, so Fort Howard snatched up the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation in 1986 for another $332 million. Surely there would be synergies. More layoffs came.

    Two years later, the private-equity guys struck. Morgan Stanley, which had helped broker Fort Howard’s deals, swept in and snatched the company for $3.9 billion in one of those famed leveraged buyouts. The whole enterprise was swept off the public markets and into their hands.

    One of their moves was to spin out the cup business as Sweetheart Holdings—along with a boatload of debt jettisoned out of Fort Howard. Just eight years inside Fort Howard and a turn through the private-equity wringer had turned a profitable company into one that still made money on operations in 1991, but was $95 million in the red because it was so loaded up with debt.

    The company made layoffs across the country. Retirement health-care benefits were cut, leaving older employees so livid they filed a class-action lawsuit. A huge Wilmington factory closed after McDonald’s got rid of its plastic clamshell packaging for hamburgers, citing environmental concerns over plastic.

    In 1993, the company was sold again to a different investment group, American Industrial Partners. Eventually, it was sold yet again to the Solo Cup Company, makers of one-third of the materials necessary for beer pong. And finally, in 2012, Solo was itself sold to Dart Container, a family-owned packaging company that sells a vast array of straws under the Solo brand.

    Fort Howard continued on, going back public in 1995, then merging with another paper company, James River, in 1997, to become Fort James. Just three years later, an even bigger paper company, Georgia Pacific, snatched up the combined entity. In 2005, Koch Industries bought the shares of all the companies, taking the company back private. They still make straws.

    While bulk capitalism pushes hundreds of millions of plain plastic straws through the American food system, there are also thousands of variations on the straw now, from the “krazy” whirling neon kind to a new natural straw made from rye stalks advertised on Kickstarter (the entrepreneur calls them “Straw Straws”). There are old-school paper straws and newfangled compostable plastic straws. Stone Straw, founded by the inventor of the artificial straw, even survives in some form as the straw-distributing subsidiary of a Canadian manufacturing concern. Basically, there’s never been a better time to be a straw consumer.

    Meanwhile, the country has shed manufacturing jobs for decades, straws contribute their share to a dire global environmental disaster, the economy continues to concentrate wealth among the very richest, and the sodas that pass through the nation’s straws are contributing to an obesity epidemic that threatens to erase many of the public health gains that were won in the 20th century. Local governments may legislate the use of the plastic straw, but they can’t do a thing about the vast system that’s attached to the straw, which created first disposable products, then companies, and finally people.

    The straw is the opposite of special. History has flowed around and through it, like thousands of other bits of material culture. What’s happened to the straw might not even be worth comment, and certainly not essay. But if it’s not clear by now, straws, in this story, are us, inevitable vessels of the times in which we live.

    #USA #histoire #capitalisme #alimentation #plastique


  • 10-year-old writes brilliant poem about dyslexia and it goes viral / Boing Boing
    https://boingboing.net/2019/03/01/10-year-old-writes-brilliant-p.html


    https://twitter.com/Jb5Jane/status/1100809314707611648/photo/1

    As part of a class assignment, his teacher, Jane Broadis, asked the students to write a poem that could be read forwards and backwards. This one “stunned” her, so she posted it on Twitter, which has since gone viral. After you read it, read it again in the reverse direction, not like a palindrome, but line by line.

    Today in Y6 we looked at poems that could be read forwards & backwards. I was stunned by this one written by one of my 10 year olds. Please share - I would love her work to be appreciated further afield. I wonder if it could even find a publisher? pic.twitter.com/tmEQpiRrhq

    — Jane Broadis (@Jb5Jane) February 27, 2019

    Here are some reactions via Twitter:

    Made this grown man cry. I must have read it over twenty times already.

    — James Simporis (@simporis) February 27, 2019

    As the mom of a teen with severe dyslexia, who was told repeatedly in grade school that he would never succeed, please tell the author this is the most insightful and beautiful poem I’ve ever read on the subject. -proud mom to a dyslexic honor student who proved them all wrong

    — Amy Eldridge (@amy_lwb) February 28, 2019

    I am dyslexic. I thought I was stupid. I was called names because I couldn’t read like my peers. Eventually, I realized I am not dumb. I am different and I learn a different way. Hard times come but anyone with dyslexia is capable of ANYTHING. Wonderful poem from a strong kid ❣️

    — Olivia Chan. (@OliviaChan22) February 28, 2019

    Jane, I am in the process of writing a book about dyslexic children and their families! I would love to include this poem in the book!

    — Peggy Webb Hendrix (@PWebbHendrix) February 27, 2019

    #éducation