#Big_Brother Goes Digital | by Simon Head | The New York Review of Books
#Big_Brother Goes Digital | by Simon Head | The New York Review of Books
Orientalism : An Exchange | by Edward W. Said | The New York Review of Books
Lewis’s verbosity scarcely conceals both the ideological underpinnings of his position and his extraordinary capacity for getting everything wrong. Of course, these are familiar attributes of the Orientalists’ breed, some of whom have at least had the courage to be honest in their active denigration of Islamic, as well as other non-European peoples. Not Lewis. He proceeds in his usual mode by suppressing or distorting the truth and by innuendo, methods to which he adds that veneer of omniscient tranquil authority which he supposes is the way scholars talk. The fact is that the present political moment allows him to deliver ahistorical and willful political assertions in the form of scholarly argument, a practice thoroughly in keeping with the least creditable aspects of old-fashioned colonialist Orientalism.
A Mighty Wind | by Max Rodenbeck | The New York Review of Books
Of the BJP’s 285 incoming members of parliament in 2014, Vaishnav observes, a third had been charged in ongoing criminal cases and a fifth were facing prosecution for jailable offenses, up to and including rape and murder. More shockingly, a ten-year database of state and national elections compiled by Vaishnav showed that candidates with criminal cases were three times more likely to win than others . This suggests that they are more skilled either at buying or intimidating voters or at persuading them that they are better placed to “get things done” than law-abiding rivals.
Raised by Wolves | by Tim Flannery | The New York Review of Books
Distinguishing a dog from a wolf is not always straightforward, and because several US states have laws prohibiting the keeping of wolves or wolf/dog hybrids, expert testimony is often called upon to determine whether an animal is a dog or wolf. Pierotti has been called as a witness eighteen times; having kept wolf/dog hybrids and studied both wolves and dogs extensively, his testimony is highly valued. In many cases, he has been able to demonstrate that the canid in question has no admixture of wolf genes. But as he points out, there is a larger question here, for the laws assume that wolves are more dangerous than dogs, when in fact the reverse is true. In the US between 1979 and 1996, more than three hundred people were killed by 406 dogs, and only fifteen of these instances involved purported wolf/dog crosses, some of which, according to Pierotti, are “highly questionable.” The situation with purebred wolves is even more clear-cut, for there is not a single example of a wolf in nature killing a human in the entire history of North America.
Controlling the Chief | by Charlie Savage | The New York Review of Books
In short, Trump’s generals—some still in uniform, some now civilians—are clearly trying to mitigate turmoil and curb potential dangers. That may be at once reassuring and disturbing. In the United States, the armed forces are supposed to be apolitical. While the nation should be grateful in these troubled times that the military as an institution has remained loyal to constitutional values, Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served on the National Security Council under Obama, wrote in an essay in Lawfare that the military’s very act of contradicting or distancing itself from the president, even subtly, “goes against the grain of our democratic system and should engender at least fleeting discomfort among even the most virulent administration critics.” Thus, even if it is a good thing for now that the line between “civil and military affairs in American society” is getting a bit blurred, in the long run, Price warned, “that line must again become inviolable when our political class returns to its senses.” Or as Mullen, in a speech in October at the US Naval Institute, put it:
“How did we get here to a point where we are depending on retired generals for the stability of our system? And what happens if that bulwark breaks, first of all? I have been in too many countries globally where the generals, if you will, gave great comfort to their citizens. That is not the United States of America.”
It’s the Kultur, Stupid
“The reason we are inundated by culturally alien [kulturfremden] peoples such as Arabs, Sinti and Roma etc. is the systematic destruction of civil society as a possible counterweight to the enemies-of-the-constitution by whom we are ruled. These pigs are nothing other than puppets of the victor powers of the Second World War….” Thus begins a 2013 personal e-mail from Alice Weidel, who in this autumn’s pivotal German election was one of two designated “leading candidates” of the Alternative für Deutschland (hereafter AfD or the Alternative). The chief “pig” and “puppet” was, of course, Angela Merkel. Despite the publication of this leaked e-mail two weeks before election day, adding to other widely publicized evidence of AfD leaders’ xenophobic, right-wing nationalist views, one in eight German voters gave the Alternative their support. It is now the second-largest opposition party in the Bundestag, with ninety-two MPs.
Xenophobic right-wing nationalism—in Germany of all places? The very fact that observers express surprise indicates how much Germany has changed since 1945. These days, we expect more of Germany than of ourselves. For, seen from one point of view, this is just Germany partaking in the populist normality of our time, as manifested in the Brexit vote in Britain, Marine le Pen’s Front National in France, Geert Wilders’s blond beastliness in the Netherlands, the right-wing nationalist-populist government in Poland, and Trumpery in the US.
War of All Against All
In Arab mythology, the al-Sada bird, or death owl, emerges from the body of a murdered man and shrieks until someone takes revenge. “Today there are undoubtedly tens of thousands of al-Sada birds crying out for revenge all over Syrian skies,” writes Yassin al-Haj Saleh in “The Destiny of the Syrian Revolution,” one of ten essays in his collection The Impossible Revolution. Extreme violence, including the incarceration and torture of teenagers, characterized the Syrian regime’s response to the street protests that erupted in 2011. As the uprising morphed into civil war, rebels also jailed their enemies, adopting methods of abuse and killing they had learned in the regime’s prisons. Malevolent spirits, or jinn, hover. Nearly half a million Syrians are believed to have lost their lives in six years of conflict.
Saleh, one of the country’s best-known dissident intellectuals, now lives in Berlin and has battled to distance himself from the ghouls who haunt Syria’s ruined cities. “Where is cool-headed, clear thinking to be found, in a world of al-Sada, jinn, and ghosts?” he asks. One might say it is to be found in the pages of his book, where he examines the origins of the violence, delves into the ideology of the Ba’ath Party that has ruled the country since 1963, methodically dissects the phases of the revolution, and charts the lurch into sectarianism. Only in the introduction does he write about his own life, which is a shame, because his experience helps us understand why the revolution in Syria failed.
When Dissent Became Treason
As our newspapers and TV screens overflow with choleric attacks by President Trump on the media, immigrants, and anyone who criticizes him, it makes us wonder: What would it be like if nothing restrained him from his obvious wish to silence, deport, or jail such enemies? For a chilling answer, we need only roll back the clock one hundred years, to the moment when the United States entered not just a world war, but a three-year period of unparalleled censorship, mass imprisonment, and anti-immigrant terror.
When Woodrow Wilson went before Congress on April 2, 1917, and asked it to declare war against Germany, the country, as it is today, was riven by discord. Even though millions of people from the perennially bellicose Theodore Roosevelt on down were eager for war, President Wilson was not sure he could count on the loyalty of some nine million German-Americans, or of the 4.5 million Irish-Americans who might be reluctant to fight as allies of Britain. Also, hundreds of officials elected to state and local office belonged to the Socialist Party, which strongly opposed American participation in this or any other war. And tens of thousands of Americans were “Wobblies,” members of the militant Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and the only battle they wanted to fight was that of labor against capital.
The moment the United States entered the war in Europe, a second, less noticed war began at home. Staffed by federal agents, local police, and civilian vigilantes, it had three main targets: anyone who might be a German sympathizer, left-wing newspapers and magazines, and labor activists. The war against the last two groups would continue for a year and a half after World War I ended.
“The crucial question concerning capital punishment is not whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit, but rather whether we deserve to kill.”
A Presumption of Guilt
“Late one night several years ago, I got out of my car on a dark midtown Atlanta street when a man standing fifteen feet away pointed a gun at me and threatened to “blow my head off.” I’d been parked outside my new apartment in a racially mixed but mostly white neighborhood that I didn’t consider a high-crime area. As the man repeated the threat, I suppressed my first instinct to run and fearfully raised my hands in helpless submission. I begged the man not to shoot me, repeating over and over again, “It’s all right, it’s okay.”
The man was a uniformed police officer. As a criminal defense attorney, I knew that my survival required careful, strategic thinking. I had to stay calm. I’d just returned home from my law office in a car filled with legal papers, but I knew the officer holding the gun had not stopped me because he thought I was a young professional. Since I was a young, bearded black man dressed casually in jeans, most people would not assume I was a lawyer with a Harvard Law School degree. To the officer threatening to shoot me I looked like someone dangerous and guilty.
I had been sitting in my beat-up Honda Civic for over a quarter of an hour listening to music that could not be heard outside the vehicle. There was a Sly and the Family Stone retrospective playing on a local radio station that had so engaged me I couldn’t turn the radio off. It had been a long day at work. A neighbor must have been alarmed by the sight of a black man sitting in his car and called the police. My getting out of my car to explain to the police officer that this was my home and nothing criminal was taking place prompted him to pull his weapon.
Having drawn his weapon, the officer and his partner justified their threat of lethal force by dramatizing their fears and suspicions about me. They threw me on the back of my car, searched it illegally, and kept me on the street for fifteen humiliating minutes while neighbors gathered to view the dangerous criminal in their midst. When no crime was discovered and nothing incriminating turned up in a computerized background check on me, I was told by the two officers to consider myself lucky. While this was said as a taunt, they were right: I was lucky.”
Will #Ukraine Ever Change ?
Denis Voronenkov, a former member of the Russian parliament, was walking out of the Premier Palace Hotel in Kiev on March 23 when he was killed in a hail of bullets. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately blamed the Russian state for his murder. Voronenkov, a former supporter of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine who was accused of corruption in Russia and then fled to Kiev last year, had been a controversial figure. After his defection, he was given Ukrainian citizenship, denounced Putin and his policies, and, perhaps crucially, testified against Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former president, who had fled to Russia when he was driven from power during the Maidan revolution of 2014.
#Trump : The New Deportation Threat
During a visit to Detroit in March, John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, took some time to explain President Trump’s deportation plans to wary community leaders and immigrant advocates. After several tense meetings, he came out to speak to the press. “We’ve got to do something,” Kelly said, with a note of frustration. “We’re almost at a crisis right now because you have 11 million people in America that are below the radar. Most of them are not bad people to say the least. Some of them are. We’re after the ones, the worst of the worst, if you will. But I can’t ignore the law.”
Can We Bring Back the Passenger Pigeon?
The recovery of the first complete #Neanderthal genome was announced in 2013. The #de-extinction of a Neanderthal looks to be, from a technical point of view, relatively easy compared with the de-extinction of the passenger pigeon. Yet the very prospect of such an attempt brings into sharp focus all of the moral, ethical, social, and environmental dilemmas inherent in the new technology—and indeed in de-extinction science itself.
[...] Typically, the technology has arrived in advance of the wisdom to use it judiciously.
The black box warning on philanthrocapitalism - Jocalyn Clark & Linsey McGoey | The Lancet
On Sept 21, 2016, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced plans to invest US$3 billion in a mission to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases” by 2100, part of an earlier promise to donate 99% of their stock in Facebook, a company Zuckerberg founded. It is the latest example in a growing number of pledges by billionaires to give away their wealth for social causes rather than pass it down to descendants.
Opinion: Charities and Taxpayers Deserve More From Donor-Advised Funds - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
What all of these organizations have in common is that they offer donors the ability to make what appear like outright donations to charity. Behind the scenes, what is happening, in essence, is that DAF sponsors make a side agreement with the donors to hold these funds and let the contributor have control over the money.
How to Cover the One Percent | by Michael Massing | The New York Review of Books
much of today’s philanthropy is aimed at “intellectual capture”—at winning the public over to a particular ideology or viewpoint. In addition to foundations, the ultrarich are working through advocacy groups, research institutes, paid spokesmen, and—perhaps most significant of all—think tanks. These once-staid organizations have become pivotal battlegrounds in the war of ideas, and moneyed interests are increasingly trying to shape their research—a good subject for a new website.
Sick But Not Sick
For those who have never had a psychosomatic symptom, and doubt that emotion can dramatically alter physiology, O’Sullivan cleverly invokes a universal experience:
How easily we accept…different facets of laughter. It is a physical display of emotion, its mechanism is ill-understood, it is not always under our voluntary control, it affects our whole body, it stops our breathing and speeds up our heart, it serves a purpose, it releases tension and communicates feelings. Laughter is the ultimate psychosomatic symptom.
Our mind can forcefully speak through our body not only in distress, but in joy.
In the Depths of the Net
(Sue Halpern, Oct 2015)
The same article also appeared here a week later, accessible in full (without an account):
It turns out that even without resorting to intensive detective work, Tor’s anonymity can be penetrated. In a paper published online, Paul Syverson, one of Tor’s original developers at the Naval Research Laboratory, along with four colleagues, demonstrated that users who regularly browsed the internet with Tor could be easily identified. “Our analysis,” they wrote,
“shows that 80 per cent of all types of users may be deanonymised ... within six months [and] roughly 100 per cent of users in some common locations are deanonymised within three months.”
More recently, security experts have devised a simple way to distinguish Tor users by their particular style of typing. Add to these a new search engine called Memex, designed specifically to troll the dark net, developed by the Defence Department’s research arm, DARPA. It already has successfully unmasked human traffickers working in secret.
They Have, Right Now, Another You
Advertisements show up on our #Internet browser or #Facebook page or #Gmail and we tend to think they are there because some company is trying to sell us something it believes we want based on our browsing history or what weʼve said in an #e-mail or what we were searching for on #Google. We probably donʼt think they are there because we live in a particular neighborhood, or hang out with certain kinds of people, or that we have been scored a particular and obscure way by a pointillist rendering of our lives. And most likely, we donʼt imagine we are seeing those ads because an algorithm has determined that we are losers or easy marks or members of a particular ethnic or racial group.
As OʼNeil points out, preferences and habits and zip codes and status updates are also used to create predatory ads, “ads that pinpoint people in great need and sell them false or overpriced promises.” People with poor credit may be offered payday loans; people with dead-end jobs may be offered expensive courses at for-profit colleges. The idea, OʼNeil writes, “is to locate the most #vulnerable people and then use their private #information against them. This involves finding where they suffer the most, which is known as the ‘#pain_point.
Our 86 Billion Neurons : She Showed It
Transcription en français d’une présentation orale de l’auteure sur le sujet en 2013 ici : ▻https://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain/transcript?language=fr#t-69839
Une première lettre appelant au boycott d’israel, signée par 70 personnes, a été publiée dans la prestigieuse New York Review of Books le 13 octobre dernier. Elle appelle au boycott économique des produits des colonies. Pas de boycott des produits israéliens, pas de boycott culturel ni universitaire :
L’arbre qui cache la forêt
Angela Davis, Chandler Davis, Farid Esack, Richard Falk, Ronnie Kasrils, Rashid Khalidi, Malcolm Levitt, John Pilger, Alice Rothchild, Joan Scott, Alice Walker, Roger Waters et une centaine d’autres signataires
New York Review of Books, le 20 octobre 2016
Une déclaration récemment publiée dans le New York Review of Books appelle à « un boycott économique et une non-reconnaissance politique des colonies israéliennes dans les territoires occupés » (Lettres, 13 octobre).
Nous saluons la façon dont la déclaration brise le tabou qui frappe le boycott des institutions israéliennes complices – au moins partiellement - des violations des droits humains des Palestiniens.
Défiant néanmoins le sens commun, la déclaration appelle à boycotter les colonies en laissant Israël, l’État qui a illégalement construit et entretenu ces colonies depuis des décennies, en dehors du coup.
De plus, les banques israéliennes non implantées dans les colonies mais qui financent leur construction ne devraient-elles pas être ciblées elles aussi ? C’est ce qu’ont fait l’Église Méthodiste Unie et l’important Fond de pension néerlandais PGGM.
En omettant les autres violations graves du droit international perpétrées par Israël, la déclaration ne satisfait pas au test de cohérence morale. Les réfugiés palestiniens, qui représentent la majorité des Palestiniens, n’ont-ils pas droit au respect des droits qui leur sont stipulés par l’ONU ? Les citoyens palestiniens d’Israël ne devraient-ils pas jouir de l’égalité des droits, par le rejet des dizaines de lois israéliennes qui les soumettent à la discrimination raciale ?
La société civile palestinienne a appelé au Boycott, au Désinvestissement et aux sanctions (BDS) contre toutes les entités, israéliennes ou internationales, qui se font complices de la négation des droits des Palestiniens où qu’ils soient. Comme l’a montré le boycott de l’apartheid sud africain, c’est le moyen non-violent le plus efficace pour atteindre la liberté, la justice et l’égalité pour tous.
#Panama: The Hidden Trillions
In a seminar room in Oxford, one of the reporters who worked on the Panama Papers is describing the main conclusion he drew from his months of delving into millions of leaked documents about tax evasion. “Basically, we’re the dupes in this story,” he says. “Previously, we thought that the #offshore world was a shadowy, but minor, part of our economic system. What we learned from the Panama Papers is that it is the economic system.”
[...] “The economic system is, basically, that the rich and the powerful exited long ago from the messy business of paying tax,” Harding told an audience of academics and research students. “They don’t pay tax anymore, and they haven’t paid tax for quite a long time. We pay tax, but they don’t pay tax. The burden of taxation has moved inexorably away from multinational companies and rich people to ordinary people.”
Tony Blair’s Eternal Shame: The Report
And yet in the end Tony #Blair isn’t a messiah or a madman or a monster. He’s a complete and utter mediocrity. He might have made an adequate prime minister in ordinary days, but in our strange and testing times he was hopelessly out of his depth. Now we are left with the consequences.