• Think ’sanctions’ will trouble China? Then you’re stuck in the politics of the past

    Wed 6 Jan 2021 by Ai Weiwei - The Trump administration has floated the idea of sanctioning Chinese officials and members of the Communist party of China. Before we ask whether this is a good idea, let’s ask how Sino-US relations got to this stage.

    The US cold war with the Soviet Union was over ideology, but today’s standoff with China is different. The Chinese state has no ideology, no religion, no moral agenda. It continues wearing socialist garb but only as a face-saving pretence. It has, in fact, become a state-capitalist dictatorship. What the world sees today is a contest between the US system of free-market capitalism and Chinese state capitalism. How should we read this chessboard?

    The US and China are entering a new cold war. Where does that leave the rest of us?
    Timothy Garton Ash
    Timothy Garton Ash
    Read more

    The post-Mao dictatorship in China has lived by the principle of “repress at home and be open to the world”. It has imported knowhow from abroad. There are an estimated 360,000 Chinese students currently enrolled who have come through America’s open door. Over 40 years, at least a million have returned to China and fed their new technical knowledge into the existing authoritarian structures that have built the dictatorship. It might be the most momentous personnel transfer in history.

    When I applied to study in the US in the 1980s, I filled out a questionnaire that asked if I had ever been a member of the Communist party. The point of the question was presumably to avoid ideological risks. But it is beyond doubt that the Chinese students coming in with me included many party members who were headed to some of the US’s finest schools, often with scholarships. Americans generally assumed that these students would feel the appeal of liberal values, which they would then take back to China. What happened more often, though, was that Chinese students were quick to see the cultural differences between the two countries, and to draw the very logical conclusion that American values are fine for America but would never work in the Chinese system.

    If those US hopes for the exportation of values had panned out, much of China would have been won over by now. But what has actually happened? Returnees are now leaders in much of Chinese business and industry, but anti-American expression in China is as strong today as it has been since the Mao era.

    Washington bears much of the responsibility for what has happened. In the years after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, administrations of both parties touted the absurd theory that the best plan was to let China get rich and then watch as freedom and democracy evolved as byproducts of capitalist development.

    But did capitalist competition, that ravenous machine that can chew up anything, change China? The regime’s politics did not change a whit. What did change was the US, whose business leaders now approached the Chinese dictatorship with obsequious smiles. Here, after all, was an exciting new business partner: master of a realm in which there were virtually no labour rights or health and safety regulations, no frustrating delays because of squabbles between political parties, no criticism from free media, and no danger of judgment by independent courts. For European and US companies doing manufacture for export, it was a dream come true.

    Money rained down on parts of China, it is true. But the price was to mortgage the country’s future. Society fell into a moral swamp, devoid of humanity and difficult to escape. Meanwhile, the west made their adjustments. They stopped talking about liberal values and gave a pass to the dictatorship, in which Deng Xiaoping’s advice of “don’t confront” and Jiang Zemin’s of “lie low and make big bucks” made fast economic growth possible.

    European and American business thrived in the early stages of the China boom. They sat in a sedan chair carried up the mountain by their Chinese partners. And a fine journey it was – crisp air, bright sun – as they reached the mountain’s midpoint. But then the chair-carriers laid down their poles and began demanding a shift. They, too, sought the top position. The signal from the political centre in China changed from “don’t pick fights” to “go for it”. Now what could the western capitalists do? Walk back down the mountain? They hardly knew the way.

    Covid-19 has jolted the US into semi-awareness of the crisis it faces. The disease has become a political issue for its two major political parties to tussle over, but the real crisis is that the western system itself has been challenged. The US model appears to others as a bureaucratic jumble of competing interests that lacks long-term vision and historical aspiration, that omits ideals, that runs on short-term pragmatism, and that in the end is hostage to corporate capital.

    Are sanctions the way to go? A foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing recently remarked words to the effect that the US and China are so economically interlocked that they would amount to self-sanctions. The US, moreover, would be no match for China in its ability to endure suffering. And there he was correct: in dictatorships, sacrifices are not borne by the rulers. In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.” A few years later Mao had nuclear weapons and was not afraid of anyone.

    The west needs to reconsider its systems, its political and cultural prospects, and rediscover its humanitarianism. These challenges are not only political, they are intellectual. It is time to abandon the old thinking and the vocabulary that controls it. Without new vocabulary, new thinking cannot be born. In the current struggle in Hong Kong, for example, the theory is simple and the faith is pure. The new political generation in Hong Kong deserves careful respect from the west, and new vocabulary to talk about it.

    “Sanctions” is a cold war term that names an old policy. If the US can’t think beyond them, the primacy of its position in this changing world will disappear.

    Ai Weiwei is an artist and activist. This article was translated from Chinese by Perry Link

    #Chine #USA #sanctions

  • We need to have an honest public discussion on how to produce our food. Individually, we must stop eating animal products. Collectively, we must transform the global food system and work toward ending animal agriculture and rewilding much of the world. Oddly, many people who would never challenge the reality of climate change refuse to acknowledge the role meat-eating plays in endangering public health. Eating meat, it seems, is a socially acceptable form of science denial.
    Yet meat consumption continues to rise. Now, just as experts predicted, eating animals is coming back to bite us.

  • Companies are now writing reports tailored for AI readers – and it should worry us, John Naughton, The Guardian, 5 Dec. 2020

    A recent study suggests lengthy, complex corporate filings are increasingly read by, and written for, machines
    ‘A good deal of research in AI now goes into assessing how good computers are at extracting actionable meaning from a tsunami of data.’

  • Control shift: why newspaper hacks are switching to Substack | Digital media | The Guardian

    Control shift: why newspaper hacks are switching to Substack
    John Naughton
    John Naughton

    An online platform where journalists sell content directly to subscribers is luring eminent voices away from traditional media
    glenn greenwald working in his study in rio de janeiro
    A new way of reaching people: the writer Glenn Greenwald, who has 1.5 million Twitter followers, has moved to Substack. Photograph: Léo Corrêa/AP

    Sat 26 Dec 2020 16.00 GMT

    Way back in March, at the beginning of the first lockdown, I fell to wondering what a columnist, academic and blogger under house arrest might usefully do for the duration of his imprisonment. My eye fell on my blog, Memex 1.1, which has been a harmless presence on the web since the mid-1990s and a source of puzzlement to journalistic and academic colleagues alike. The hacks unanimously shared Dr Johnson’s view that “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money”, while my academic colleagues thought it peculiar to waste one’s energy writing anything that would not figure in scholarly citation indices. The idea that one might maintain a blog simply because one enjoyed doing it never crossed their minds.

    So there it was, with a modest readership, which occasionally spiked as it caught some brief wave of attention. Given that many people were going to be locked down like me, I wondered if the regularity of receiving the blog as an email every morning might be welcome. The thought came from observing how Dave Winer’s wonderful blog, Scripting News, drew an even wider readership after he offered it as a daily email to subscribers. So I began looking for an easy way of doing something similar.

    The obvious solution would be an email list service like Mailchimp, but that looked like hard work, so I opted for Substack, which made it really easy. My blog would be published and available on the web every day as usual, but every night the day’s version would be neatly packaged into an email and delivered at 7am the following morning to anyone who had subscribed. The only change I made was to include a daily five-minute audio diary – something I’d never done before.

    It was such an obvious thing to do. But the results were surprising – and often gratifying. Two things in particular stood out. The first was that the level of reader “engagement” (the holy grail of surveillance capitalists) dramatically increased. People were reading the email version more intensively than its online counterpart: I could see that, because Substack told me which links had been most popular; and they signalled their reactions by “liking” things or by emailing me directly, pointing out errors or making suggestions about how a particular topic could be expanded or extended.

    The biggest surprise, though, was how popular the audio diary was: it was consistently the most clicked-on link. And slowly, it dawned on me that audio seems to reach parts of the human psyche that other media cannot. Because the email was coming from a mailing-list server, some subscribers’ spam filters would occasionally block it, and on several occasions I received alarmed emails from readers who wondered if I had succumbed to Covid. But there was clearly something about the regularity of hearing a familiar voice every morning that was important.

    It was founded in 2018 and backed by the big venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. As of July this year it had around 100,000 people paying various sums for at least one of the newsletters on its books. Its sudden prominence may be a portent of significant changes in our media, as traditional journalistic outlets decline and most of those that thrive online tend to be driven by clickbait. Given that, Substack offers a new option for journalists.

    Suppose you have 1,000 paid subscribers, each paying $5 a month. That’s an annual income of $60,000, less the 10% that Substack levies. Then imagine you’re Glenn Greenwald, who has 1.5m Twitter followers and has just moved to Substack. Even if only a fraction of them sign up, well… do the maths. Lots of other prominent journalists and writers have – for example Andrew Sullivan and Zeynep Tufekci, to name just two I know: they have seen a way of being liberated from the demands of editorial gatekeepers or advertising-led clickbait while getting paid. “If you charge $10 a month or $5 a month, or $50 a year – if you can get 1,000 or 2,000 people to pay for that,” one of Substack’s founders told Buzzfeed, “you’ve suddenly got enough to go as an individual.”

    #Blog #Newsletter #Substrack #Néo_journalisme #Editorialistes

  • Companies are now writing reports tailored for AI readers – and it should worry us

    A recent study suggests lengthy, complex corporate filings are increasingly read by, and written for, machines My eye was caught by the title of a working paper published by the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER) : How to Talk When a Machine Is Listening : Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI. So I clicked and downloaded, as one does. And then started to read. The paper is an analysis of the 10-K and 10-Q filings that American public companies are obliged to file with the (...)

    #algorithme #manipulation #technologisme


  • The Covid vaccine will benefit humanity – we should all own the patent | Owen Jones | Opinion | The Guardian
    The pharmaceutical industry has long made exorbitant profits by free-riding on research carried out by the public sector

    Hooray for Pfizer! As news of a vaccine potentially offering 90% protection against Covid-19 offers a life raft for lockdown-weary humanity, perhaps those home-drawn posters on people’s windows thanking the NHS will soon be applauding big pharma instead.

    The hope of a successful vaccine to liberate us from protracted economic misery should be embraced – but we should be sparing with the bunting for the pharmaceutical industry. If you want a particularly egregious case study of “socialism for the rich”, or of private businesses dependent on public sector research and innovation to make colossal profits, look no further than big pharma.

    Pfizer and its German biotech partner, BioNTech, stand to make an astonishing £9.8bn next year from a coronavirus vaccine. Suggestions that pharmaceutical companies should not profit from the world’s most severe crisis since the second world war were dismissed in July as “radical” by Pfizer’s CEO; and, perhaps, many will overlook such profiteering amidst the wave of gratitude. But Pfizer’s claim to “have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone” does not stand up to scrutiny: big pharma is reliant on public-sector munificence.

    The Pfizer/BioNTech experimental vaccine itself uses a spike protein technology reportedly developed by the US government: without the state, this vaccine would probably not have been developed so speedily. While nearly 10,000 human lives are lost across the world each day to the pandemic, Pfizer’s CEO cashing in on the vaccine news by selling $5.6m in shares should cause more than discomfort. (A spokesperson told Axios that “the sale was part of a predetermined plan created in August”.)

    “Essentially, pharmaceutical companies are global monopolies, which are given the right to charge whatever the market is willing to tolerate for the new medicines they produce,” says Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now, which is calling for patents on the Pfizer vaccine to be suspended. Patents award them exclusive rights to make and sell their drugs for 20 years, preventing the supply of cheaper, generic versions. Here is a sector not driven by curing illness but rather by shareholder profits: for example, recent research found that revenue from soaring insulin prices has been splashed on shareholders rather than research and development. When startup companies spring up developing innovative new drugs, big pharma buys them up and even shuts down the development of such novel treatments in order to stifle competition.

    Take two particularly horrifying examples of this broken pharmaceutical industry. While millions of Africans were dying in the HIV/Aids pandemic, big pharma attempted to block cash-strapped governments importing cheaper versions of life-saving drugs. Here’s another: the rise of infections resistant to antibiotics is an emergency perhaps even comparable to the climate crisis. Yet pharmaceutical companies have failed to invest in developing new drugs – shockingly, there has been no new class of antibiotic developed for nearly four decades – because it simply isn’t profitable. This colossal failure led the government’s former “superbug tsar” Jim O’Neill to suggest nationalised drug companies might be the only answer.

  • Vietnam is not pitting economic growth against public health as it fights Covid | Tran Le Thuy | Opinion | The Guardian, 20 Oct 2020

    My country seemed to have all the ingredients for a coronavirus disaster, so what has it done right ?

    On the evening of 7 March 2020, I received an email from the manager of the office building where I work in central Hanoi. It said the father of Nguyen Hong Nhung https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/style/fashion-coronavirus-patient.html, the 17th Covid-19 patient in the country and first in the city, had dined on the third floor of the building the night before. Although he had twice tested negative for the virus, the building managers had reported his presence to the authorities. Seven staff who had been in contact with him were isolated and the building was immediately cleaned with disinfectant spray.

    To date, Vietnam (population: 95 million) has recorded 35 deaths from the novel coronavirus. My office building’s response was typical of the aggressive contact-tracing strategy the country adopted from the beginning of the pandemic. During the first phase, the government managed to cut off all the virus transmission routes promptly and comprehensively. Every infected person was hospitalised. People in contact with them were traced to the fourth layer and isolated. Their homes and neighbourhoods were put under local lockdown and sanitised by the army. The country has effectively been acting as if this were biological warfare.

    Vietnam had all the ingredients for a Covid-19 disaster. It has a 1,300km (800-mile) border with China, with lots of informal trade via secret mountain trails, and an under-developed healthcare system (albeit a well functioning one). So, beyond contact-tracing, why has Vietnam been so good at dealing with the pandemic?

    The central reason is perhaps the way the government has depoliticised the pandemic, treating it purely as a health crisis, allowing for effective governance. There was no political motive for government officials to hide information, as they don’t face being reprimanded if there are positive cases in their authority area that are not due to their mistakes. I haven’t heard about any religious opposition to the government’s strategy either. With the head of Hanoi centre for disease control being arrested https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/hanoi-cdc-chief-arrested-for-graft-in-coronavirus-test-kit-purchase-408 for suspected corruption in relation to the purchase of testing kits, and small traders getting fines for price-gouging face-masks, the government has also been clear that public health cannot be entangled with commercial interests.

    The second reason is Vietnam knows China well – it learned from the Sars outbreak in 2003 that the Chinese authorities might downplay it. In January, when Wuhan announced the first death, Vietnam tightened its border and airport control of Chinese visitors. This wasn’t an easy decision, given that cross-border trade with China accounts for a significant part of the Vietnamese economy. When the first Covid cases were announced in Vietnam – a father and son from China – it took precautionary measures above and beyond World Health Organization recommendations, including health declaration and temperature screening at every border entry point and stopping flights to and from Wuhan. Preparations for a pandemic were implemented a week before https://blogs.worldbank.org/health/containing-coronavirus-covid-19-lessons-vietnam the outbreak was officially a public health emergency of international concern, and more than a month before WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

    The government also decided to embrace freedom of information on Covid-related matters. Although the Vietnamese media is state-owned, featuring ideological control similar to that of China, they are free to report about the pandemic. When a member of the central theoretical council of the central committee, the brain of the Communist party of Vietnam, contracted the virus on a trip to the UK, and risked infecting the minister of planning and investment who was on the same flight as him, his whereabouts were published http://cand.com.vn/y-te/Benh-nhan-thu-21-nhiem-COVID-19-o-Viet-Nam-ngoi-cung-chuyen-bay-voi-co-gai- for contact tracing. This was another lesson learned from the experience of Sars.

    The motto for the first phase was that if we stay alive, the question of wealth and the economy can come later. Ordinary people did suffer, such as the gig economy workers: whenever I order a Grabcar (a south-east Asian version of Uber) these days, the vehicle that arrives is always newer and more expensive that what I’m used to; as a driver explained, those who used to pick me up in their cheaper cars have had to sell them to stay afloat, leaving only those with deeper pockets left in the market.

    But now the government has shifted its anti-Covid strategy towards the economy. The tactics for the second wave are more sophisticated. Contact tracing is still prompt and aggressive but lockdown and isolation are more selective; international flights have been opened for foreign workers, such as engineers from South Korea’s LG, who are needed to keep the economy functioning.

    For now it looks like Vietnam has seen off the threat of a second wave. There will be challenges ahead – the shops and hotels in the most fancy streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City remain empty, and South Korea, one of Vietnam’s biggest investors, is pushing for it to shorten the time for compulsory isolation for foreign workers. But given that Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world currently experiencing positive GDP growth, the supposed trade-off between the economy and public health, which countries around the world are negotiating, looks to be something of a false choice.

    • Tran Le Thuy is director of Centre for the Media and Development Initiatives in Hanoi

    rapatriements :
    politique de santé

    #covid-19 #Vietnam #santé_publique

  • How the link between racism and Covid is being ignored | Ciaran Thapar | Opinion | The Guardian

    Powerful people like to point out that Covid-19 does not discriminate. Indeed, the rain, too, does not discriminate against those it falls on. But one’s ability to stay dry beneath a downpour is dependent on the availability of an umbrella. Similarly, our access to security in a pandemic depends on the safety net of the state. Umbrellas can be shared or withheld. Those without one can be listened to – or ignored. I’m a youth worker, and throughout 2020 I have mentored young people from black African and Caribbean, and south Asian origins who mostly live in population-dense social housing. More often than not, their parents worked on the frontline throughout the national lockdown – carers, bus drivers, NHS receptionists, cleaners – or have pre-existing health conditions. As part of a book I’m writing, I have also interviewed many community members, including pastors, rappers and youth club managers, who fall into these same demographic groups.
    In doing this, I’ve detected a melancholic harmony among these voices – an awareness that, while the virus is affecting everyone, everywhere, it is affecting particular people disproportionately. It has been reported widely that race is a metric that can illuminate this disparity. In the summer, for example, 36% of critically ill Covid-19 patients were from an ethnic minority group, despite representing only 13% of the general population. This disproportionality can be subtly inferred from the anecdotes I’ve heard: grandparents died, uncles were denied operations, friends were misdiagnosed. My impression that race is relevant to the clarity of this picture is, of course, in some way explained by the relative multiculturalism of the capital, where I live. But still. The Racial Disparity Unit (RDU), led by the equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, recently published its first quarterly report addressing the repeatedly proven high impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities in the UK. It made 13 recommendations for action, including the mandatory recording of ethnicity as part of the death certification process, the monitoring of how policies affect people from ethnic minorities and the forging of culturally sensitive communications with relevant communities about the virus. All of them have been accepted by the prime minister. At a glance, this appears positive. The devil, however, is in the detail.
    Structural racism led to worse Covid impact on BAME groups – report
    The report explains the disproportionality faced by black and Asian groups – particularly African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani men – by focusing on factors such as people’s occupations, where they live and pre-existing health conditions. In other words, it acknowledges that non-white people are dying at a higher rate and puts this down to the fact that they tend to live in particular circumstances such as overcrowded households, or work in jobs that have greater exposure to the public.


  • Covid-19 is still worsening health inequality. Why hasn’t anything been done? | Gurch Randhawa | Opinion | The Guardian

    The first wave of Covid-19 threw the UK’s existing health inequalities into stark relief. Black people were most likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19, and people from a Bangladeshi background were twice as likely to die from the virus compared with white British people. The Public Health England (PHE) review has only confirmed what we all knew anecdotally: Covid-19 hit the black and minority ethnic (BAME) population very hard, both in the community and among healthcare staff.
    Now infection rates are creeping up again, and weekly data shows ethnic minority communities are once again being disproportionately affected by the virus. And yet nothing appears to have been done to reinforce their protection: there is silence from the government as to how and when it will implement PHE’s review recommendations.
    We need urgent action to tackle the structural inequalities affecting these communities. If we fail, we risk sleepwalking into a nightmare version of Groundhog Day, witnessing another significant and disproportionate rise of Covid-19 related deaths among ethnic minority communities.
    Health inequality goes back a long way. We’ve known for a long time that some BAME doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants in the NHS receive poorer treatment than their colleagues. This is a well-documented phenomenon backed by decades of research. During the first wave, ethnic minority staff had worse access to PPE, more trying shift patterns and greater exposure to Covid-19 patients. The recent surveys of staff by the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing lend credence to the fact that BAME staff continue to suffer from a lack of PPE. Too little was done to combat this in the years before the virus struck, and now we’re seeing the consequences of this neglect.
    It is not just failed policy initiatives we have an abundance of, it’s laws too. In theory the UK has some of the most progressive laws on equality in the world. We have the Equality Act 2010, the public sector equality duty and equality impact tools, but none were evident in the government’s Covid-19 action plan, published in March. Had they been applied, the government may well have taken a more sophisticated and tailored approach towards public health, rather than the “protect the NHS” position that was adopted.
    The original government action plan didn’t appear to focus very much on preventing people getting the virus. The government response of “people will get ill, we need to protect NHS” translated into political messages of “take it on the chin”, and “we need herd immunity”. It was a medical approach, not a public health approach, and it ignored existing inequalities and specific community sensitivities. Inevitably those on lower incomes, in more crowded housing and with long-term health issues suffered the most. This explains the high and disproportionate death toll in many ethnic minority communities.


  • We need to rethink social media before it’s too late. We’ve accepted a Faustian bargain

    A business model that alters the way we think, act, and live our lives has us heading toward dystopia When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, a symbol of external, omnipotent oppression. But in all likelihood, dystopian technology will not strong-arm us. Instead, we’ll unwittingly submit ourselves to a devil’s bargain : freely trade our subconscious preferences for memes, our social (...)

    #Google #Facebook #Instagram #Twitter #YouTube #algorithme #émotions #addiction #bénéfices #comportement #microtargeting #profiling #santé #SocialNetwork (...)

    ##santé ##surveillance

  • The Guardian view on India’s strongman: in denial about a Covid crisis | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian

    The pandemic is not Mr Modi’s fault, but he owns his government’s dysfunctional response. He imposed a draconian lockdown in late March with no warning and no planning. The prime minister seemed to revel in the drama of a primetime announcement and its muscular message. But the national shutdown, which ended in June, destroyed millions of people’s livelihoods. Many of the most affected sit on the bottom rungs of Indian society, who were forced with no notice to leave cities for distant villages. Although the national lockdown has been lifted, local versions continue in many states.
    One way of dealing with the economic crisis would be to boost India’s job guarantee scheme. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is designed to offer any citizen in rural India 100 days of work with (admittedly low) minimum wages provided by the government. The world’s largest public works programme kept India’s vast countryside economy afloat after the 2008 global financial crash. Yet Mr Modi resists wholesale adoption of the scheme and adequately financing it. Experts warn NREGA’s funding will run dry this month. Mr Modi appears unable to reconcile his dislike of a programme (it was introduced by his Congress opponents) with its obvious utility. Broadening and deepening the scheme – so that it could expand naturally to accommodate anyone who demands work at a living wage – would provide a timely fiscal stimulus to keep people in work when the urban economy cannot soak up labour.Mr Modi’s short-sightedness will cost India dear. The country’s second Covid wave may strike harder than the first. Initially its major cities, which have the best hospitals, were hit by the virus. Now cases are taking off in rural areas, which have poor medical facilities. With tax revenue a fraction of normal levels, regional governments struggle to provide more than symbolic care or relief. This has been exacerbated by the central government’s refusal to send states the money it owes to them. The cash trail is deliberately obscured and Mr Modi should come clean about Covid spending to dispel concerns about corruption.
    Rather than rebuild India’s social fabric, Mr Modi wants to build a panopticon. Critics of his government’s woeful performance have already been muzzled or locked up. A cold war with China blows dangerously hot in the Himalayas. To buttress support Mr Modi stokes Hindu nationalism. The temple ceremony is a way of stirring the emotions of Mr Modi’s fanatical supporters. It also reveals the depths of his denial about India’s Covid crisis.


  • Covid-19 has exposed the reality of Britain: poverty, insecurity and inequality | Richard Horton | Opinion | The Guardian

    he writer Elif Shafak, in her recently published essay How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division, recalls seeing signs in public parks during the pandemic asking: “When all this is over, how do you want the world to be different?” She points out that we are suffering from a widespread disillusionment about our bewildering predicament, and describes how people are feeling anxious and angry. She argues that alienation and exclusion are breeding mistrust, that communication between people and politicians is broken, and that despite the crisis we face we are nowhere near being able to answer a question about how we want the world to be.
    How do we begin to answer that question? First, we must understand the true nature of the crisis that confronts us. Our nation suffers from a political disease of historic proportions. The bonds that once held communities together are fraying. The confidence we once felt that generations after our own would have greater opportunities has ebbed away. And the beliefs we once embraced about the inherent strength and resilience of our national institutions and welfare state have been exposed as mere illusions. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the reality of contemporary Britain: the country is defined by poverty, insecurity and inequality.
    To solve this crisis, we must begin by hearing the stories and listening to the experiences of those who have borne the brunt of Covid-19, especially the families who have suffered grievous losses and those who fell ill on the frontlines of the response. Illness and death have been concentrated among the elderly, those living with chronic disease, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and those who have been working in frontline public services, from health and social care to transport, food production and distribution.
    The closure of schools has placed a particular burden on children and young people. And a shadow pandemic has harmed women and children, who have suffered rising levels of violence and domestic abuse at home. A more equal society is a safer, kinder and more prosperous society. Specific policies to meet the urgent needs of these groups can lay the foundations for economic recovery and build resilience to future crises. We must demand parental support to improve prospects for child development and policies to advance adolescent physical and mental health. We should have stronger assistance and legal protections for women and children at risk of domestic violence and abuse. And we need more interventionist disease prevention and health promotion campaigns across people’s lifetimes, prioritising cancer prevention, heart disease and severe lung disease – and recognising the role that poverty and insecurity play in determining ill health


  • Beirut explosion: The missing Lebanese link | Middle East Eye
    Article by Mayssoun Sukarieh

    Is it certain that the ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut purely accidentally and remained there purely through local incompetence and international shipping lawlessness? Or was political agency involved?

    Interesting discussion on Facebook between Reinoud Leenders and Laleh Khalili, among others.

    Before we let this getting buried by the ‘this is all to blame on global neoliberalism’ mantra. Besides, how many other cities in the world get blown up at 4.5 on the scale of Richter just because global shipping is so awfully capitalist and unruly?

    The first criticizes a neoliberal understanding of the blast that is used by Lebanese elites to divert responsability outside of Lebanon.

    Laleh Khalili answers that her argument, in the Guardian article (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/08/beirut-explosion-lawless-world-international-shipping-) linking the blast to the lawless world of international shipping has been edited by the Gardian in a way that almost absolves the local elites.

  • Palantir filed to go public. The firm’s unethical technology should horrify us

    Palantir powers Ice immigration raids, the defense sector and police surveillance. It is the big tobacco of the tech world In 2017, the Trump administration first set its sights on a target it would return to repeatedly in the coming years : immigrant children. Thousands of kids were crossing the border alone, often seeking to reunify with families living in the United States. The journey is harrowing for children, but the alternative is life in a separated family – an easy choice for most (...)

    #Palantir #DHS #ICE #algorithme #migration #racisme #BigData #enfants #frontières #surveillance (...)


  • Young Australians have long felt like citizens of the world. Covid has ended that | Brigid Delaney | Opinion | The Guardian

    It is the mark of a privileged person, in the Before Times, that they never really had to think about borders. Their passport has allowed them to go pretty much anywhere, and to come and go from their home country as they pleased. Until Covid-19 hit and borders became hard, many Australians held, at least in their minds and imagination, a sort of dual citizenship. The first citizenship was Australia, a citizen of the world was the second.
    If you came of age in or after the 1990s, reciprocal working visas, cheap flights, the opening up of the international job market and the subsequent ease of movement lulled lucky Australians into thinking that borders were irrelevant.

    For the rich, talented, well-connected, well-educated and those under 31, visas for Australians in places such as the UK, Canada, the US and Europe were easy enough to come by. Dubbed “gold-collar workers”, so many Australians enjoyed the fruits of participating in a global economy that by 2004, a Senate committee was set up to quantify the number of Australians that had left and to investigate how their skills and experience might one day circulate back into the Australian job market and economy. By 2018 there were estimated to be around one million Australians living and working overseas. Freedom of movement was a right that was so fundamental as to be barely considered. That is until this year, when Australia became one of the only democracies in the world that has effectively banned its citizens from leaving the country. Now an Australian citizen or permanent resident is not permitted to travel outbound unless they apply to Border Force for an exemption. The criteria is strict. For sound public health reasons, we’ve built a fortress unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes This long run of hypermobility – ruinous for the environment with all those flights but enriching for those selling their skills to the highest bidder in the global marketplace – came to a dramatic halt on 25 March. What a strange thing it is to log on to Instagram these days and see your British or European friends enjoying holidays on Greek Islands or in Portugal, while we’re locked in our own country. For sound public health reasons, we’ve built a fortress unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes. Almost no one gets in and no one gets out. So far there’s been widespread public support for such far-reaching measures. And in Australia, like New Zealand, there seems to be some antipathy towards those who are stuck overseas and trying to get back in.They had their chance in March, goes the refrain from politicians, including the prime minister and New South Wales premier. Suck it up. An Essential poll has shown last week that a majority of respondents support a hardline approach on border closures. Whether this is due to concerns about more virus getting into Australia, or latent, cultural resentments about those who leave – a new manifestation of tall poppy syndrome – it’s hard to say.


  • Greece has a deadly new migration policy – and all of Europe is to blame | Daniel Trilling | Opinion | The Guardian

    But if every country looks only to its own interests, and behaves as if asylum seekers are someone else’s problem, then you very quickly end up with a system that traps people in situations where their lives are at risk. That is the system bequeathed by Europe’s panicked response to the 2015 refugee crisis, and in recent months, partly under cover of the emergency conditions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, it has got worse. The revelation by the New York Times that Greece has secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, abandoning many of them on inflatable life rafts in the Aegean Sea, is the latest example of this disturbing trend. Since 2015, Greece has effectively been used by the rest of the EU as a buffer zone against unwanted migration, leaving thousands of refugees in unsanitary camps on islands in the Aegean and on the mainland. At the same time, a hastily arranged EU deal with Turkey saw the latter agree to act as border cop on Europe’s behalf, preventing refugees from crossing to Greece in return for financial aid and other diplomatic concessions.This spring, amid rising geopolitical tensions, Turkey decided to send thousands of migrants towards the Greek border as a way of exerting pressure on Europe. It provoked a nationalist backlash, followed by several hardline and legally questionable border control measures from Greece’s conservative New Democracy government. Earlier this year, the New York Times also reported that Greece was operating a secret detention centre at its land border with Turkey, so that it could carry out summary deportations without giving people the right to claim asylum; the latest revelations about its actions in the Aegean fit the same pattern.


  • Did you protest recently ? Your face might be in a database | Facial recognition

    In the United States, at least one in four law enforcement agencies are able to use facial recognition technology. The implications are troubling In recent weeks, millions have taken to the streets to oppose police violence and proudly say : “Black Lives Matter.” These protests will no doubt be featured in history books for many generations to come. But, as privacy researchers, we fear a darker legacy, too. We know that hundreds of thousands of photos and videos of protesters have been (...)

    #Microsoft #Clearview #NYPD #FBI #IBM #Amazon #algorithme #CCTV #drone #activisme #biométrie #militaire #facial #reconnaissance #biais #discrimination #surveillance (...)