• Afghans go hungry as U.S. and Taliban officials blame each other

    Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis has been building for decades, driven not just by persistent poverty and too little rain, but also by generations of war and an economy almost entirely dependent on international support. Still, it was the Biden administration’s decision to halt aid in response to the Taliban takeover that put the country on the brink of catastrophe.

    “Not another cent will go to a future government of #Afghanistan that doesn’t uphold basic human rights,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters after the fall of Kabul in August. It was a “knee-jerk” response, in the recent words of one U.S. official involved in those policy discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about them.

    The State Department’s refusal to recognize the Taliban also made it impossible for the country’s new rulers to access billions of dollars in foreign assets. Parallel moves by the World Bank and the European Union brought Afghanistan’s economy crashing down.

    As winter approached and humanitarian groups warned of famine, the Biden administration came under increasing pressure to prevent a catastrophe. In recent months, the United States and others began to funnel money through the United Nations and groups that bypass Taliban leadership. Yet these hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid are a small fraction of the billions that once kept the country afloat.

    The economic isolation of Afghanistan has done little to moderate the Taliban’s hard-line rule. But the consequences have been devastating for the Afghan people, especially the poor.

    Bon résumé de ce que font les #sanctions économiques.

  • In Mariupol, a website for the missing reveals Ukraine war’s toll

    A 76-year-old woman, last seen in her basement, is shown smiling in front of a bed of tulips. A missing teenager who may have fled with neighbors is pictured in a dress holding a bouquet. Then there is the elderly couple whose house burned down in the fighting. And a mother-son duo not heard from in a month.

    These are just a few of the hundreds of notices users have posted over the past week to a new website aimed at tracking the missing residents of Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian port city Russian forces have besieged for much of the war.

    The site, Mariupol Life, was the brainchild of computer programmer and Mariupol native Dmitry Cherepanov, who was forced to flee the city in March after days of shelling cut off the electricity and water supply. Cherepanov, 45, wanted to use his skills to help people find information about their missing loved ones, he said this week via Telegram.

    His growing database is easy to use: It includes names, addresses, birth dates and sometimes last-known locations of missing individuals. Users can follow a missing person’s profile for updates or send direct messages or comments to others who have posted. But it also has offered a window into the sheer scale of the human tragedy in Mariupol, where untold numbers of people have been killed or have disappeared.

    According to Ukrainian officials, up to 20,000 civilians may have been killed in Mariupol since the start of the invasion — in a city where the prewar population numbered about 450,000. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory over Mariupol this week, despite the presence of a contingent of Ukrainian fighters holed up in a sprawling steelworks at the edge of the city.

    Control over Mariupol would give Russia a crucial land bridge between Russian territory and the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

    The city was once a thriving seaside hub and center of iron and steel production. Now it is not clear how many residents have fled or gone missing. In the week since Cherepanov launched Mariupol Life, it has logged more than 12,000 visits and now has more than 1,000 entries for missing people. There are an additional 1,000 posts for those who were evacuated, including some residents who were forced to leave for Russia.

    In one post, 62-year-old Marchuk Alexander Yosipovich is shown wearing some type of military uniform. His photograph is accompanied by a brief, painful note:

    “I’m looking for my father. Needs humanitarian aid. Food, water.”

    Another includes an image of a bespectacled woman sitting on a bench. She is 70 years old and has been missing since March 21.

    “I’m looking for mom,” the post says. “She was wearing a light jacket, white hat, moving poorly after a stroke.”

    Cherepanov has posted his own entries, including one for a friend who went missing when he left home to fetch water. For him, the mounting losses have become deeply personal. Just hours after he posted this week, Cherepanov received information that his friend had been killed.

    “I lost everything that I loved, everything that was dear to me in Mariupol, where I was born and lived for 45 years of my life,” he said.

    Cherepanov’s house, the block he lived on, the grand, red-roofed theater where hundreds took shelter and the retro computer museum he built were all destroyed, he said.

    But even amid the darkness, Mariupol Life has provided some light.

    On a post seeking information about a family who disappeared after their house caught fire, a new comment appeared.

    “Get in touch,” the commenter said. “Everyone is alive.”


    #missing #Mariupol #Ukraine #guerre #recherche #connexion #mise_en_relation #site_web #plateforme

  • Why Covax, the best hope for vaccinating the world, was doomed to fall short - The Washington Post

    Un très bel exemple de ce qu’est une « fausse bonne idée » : insérer le besoin de communs (modifier les règles de propriété intellectuelle de façon à permettre la fabrication de vaccins partout) dans le cadre des logiques de marché (en l’occurrence des pools d’achat auprès d’entreprises... dont l’intérêt premier n’est pas de vendre en pool, avec un pool financé par des Etats dont l’intérêt premier n’est pas de vacciner le monde, mais chez eux).
    A lire et méditer pour contrer toutes celles et ceux qui pensent qu’on peut utiliser les mécanisme de marché pour défendre l’interêt général (par exemple avec les notions de « services écosystémiques » et autres fariboles).

    It was, many experts thought, a noble and necessary effort.

    The goal: to combat a deadly coronavirus that in early 2020 was already spreading around the world.

    The idea: to coax wealthy and poor countries to pool their money to place advance orders for vaccine doses. Participating countries would then share doses equitably to protect their most vulnerable people first.

    But just months into the effort, it should have been clear it was doomed to fall short.

    The initiative’s backers badly misjudged the desperation and myopia of wealthier countries, which raced to manufacturers to snatch up doses for their own people. Covax — as the program became known — was also too slow to adapt its model even as countries declined to participate and infections and deaths soared, according to more than two dozen international health officials, diplomats and other top experts.

    Clemens Auer, an Austrian politician who served as the European Union’s chief vaccine negotiator, put it bluntly: “We told them right away this wouldn’t fly.”

    Two years into the pandemic, the world has seen more than 470 million confirmed covid-19 cases and at least 6 million deaths. Many wealthy nations are trying to move on, preoccupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine or domestic economic problems such as inflation. Efforts to prepare for the next pandemic have faltered.

    But just two months after the omicron variant led to an enormous global wave of coronavirus cases, case numbers have again risen sharply in East Asia and Western Europe.

    Unlike many national governments, those behind Covax saw the risk presented by the coronavirus early. But the initiative has fallen well short of its aims. More than a third of the world is yet to have a vaccine dose. That has left a huge gap between rich and poor countries. Experts say the lack of vaccinations in poor countries is not only inequitable but also dangerous, exposing the world to a greater likelihood that more-virulent variants will emerge.

    And the challenges for Covax continue. Covax has raised $11 billion in total, well short of the $18 billion it initially said it needs. Falling short of funding targets for the spring could cost 1.25 million lives, backers say.

    “We are right now basically out of money,” said Seth Berkley, head of the Vaccine Alliance, or Gavi, one of the main organizations behind Covax, during a fundraising call in January.

    The takeaway: The world cannot count on mere goodwill and cooperation to propel responsible public health measures in the future.

    “They are right to say that the [Covax] model would work — if we were organized differently as a world,” said Andrea Taylor, a researcher at the Duke Global Health Institute. “It clearly didn’t work and doesn’t work in the world in which we do live.”
    Coronavirus vaccine doses donated by the United States through Covax, in Honduras in August 2021. (Gustavo Amador/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
    Made in Switzerland

    The idea for what would become Covax arose in conversation between two towering figures in global health, over drinks at the Hard Rock Hotel bar in Davos in January 2020.

    The encounter between Richard Hatchett, who runs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, and Berkley, the head of Gavi, unfolded at a moment when others were downplaying the risks posed by the coronavirus, which had just begun to draw attention.

    Then-President Donald Trump, gathered with other elites in the Swiss town for the World Economic Forum, was telling Americans everything was going to be “just fine.” But Hatchett and Berkley were almost certain that wasn’t true.

    The conversation “didn’t seem like just a hypothetical party game,” said Hatchett, who worked on pandemic preparedness in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

    They agreed that the most powerful tool to fight the coronavirus would be vaccination. Their solution, which Hatchett outlined in a white paper published that March: pooled purchases.

    By acting together to buy doses, Hatchett wrote, rich and poor countries alike could benefit. Covax could not only ensure that doses were allocated fairly, but also help to give countries more leverage with manufacturers to reduce costs — and circumvent an inefficient system in which drug companies would have to hold complicated negotiations with multiple governments.

    The creators of Covax were emphatic that countries should buy doses rather than seek donated ones. They did not want Covax to become a charity, which they saw as an unsustainable model. And they had another, even more radical stipulation: Doses would be doled out evenly, so that participating countries could reach roughly 20 percent immunization around the same time and vaccinate their most vulnerable first.

    Without a cooperative model, Hatchett recalls thinking, “rich countries are going to buy up all the vaccines,” as they had during an influenza outbreak in 2010.

    Gavi had helped poorer countries negotiate en masse before, for diphtheria vaccine doses and others, with success. But the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t just another outbreak contained to poor or remote areas, but one that hit hard and fast in some of the wealthiest countries. That changed everything.
    Workers prepare coronavirus vaccine shipments at a Pfizer manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., in December 2020. (Morry Gash/AP)
    Lack of leadership

    In the early months, the alliance came together swiftly with the support of the World Health Organization. But it was missing what had proved instrumental in fighting other global scourges — leadership from a powerful country.

    The United States played that role in the effort to control HIV/AIDS in Africa. The George W. Bush administration spearheaded the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which devoted billions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.

    The success of PEPFAR “was driven by leadership at the head of state level, which is absolutely essential,” said Mark Dybul, who helped create the initiative.

    Hatchett said the idea of an equivalent effort to fight covid met with “no receptivity from the Trump administration,” which eventually pulled funding from the WHO and opposed Covax. No other wealthy country stepped in to fill the void.

    Covax’s missteps also hobbled the effort. A report by Doctors Without Borders found that the alliance held key early meetings that excluded officials from the developing world, but included McKinsey & Co., a U.S. consulting firm with close ties to pharmaceutical companies.

    Discussions were “heavy on the donors,” said a participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the topic freely, referring to wealthy nations and nonprofits such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds Gavi and the CEPI. The lack of full engagement with poorer countries became a problem later, as governments struggled with deliveries and complained of poor communication from Covax.

    Even governments that supported Covax began to cut deals with manufacturers to amass huge stockpiles for themselves, draining the number of doses available globally. Canada, a vocal backer of Covax, had secured enough doses to cover 300 percent of its population by October 2020.

    The European Union ultimately decided to give money to Covax but not to buy doses through it. Auer, the E.U. negotiator, said the proposal to vaccinate roughly 20 percent of each country’s population first and the inability to choose which type of vaccine to receive were nonstarters.

    And then there were the financial issues. Gavi, the organization negotiating with vaccine makers for lowest-price guarantees on behalf of Covax, was unable to finalize deals until it secured funding. That meant Covax was at the back of the line for purchases, competing with deep-pursed governments.

    Developing counties trying to secure doses on the free market found in some cases that Covax itself was in the way.

    “I remember trying to get access to AstraZeneca. I was calling England, trying to get doses,” Ghanaian Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia said in an interview. “And we’re told no, developing countries have to go through this special facility called Covax.”
    Killing the messenger

    In what would become another, but largely unforeseen, stumble, Covax snubbed messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, a new technology used by the U.S. drug companies Pfizer and Moderna, because of “limited resources,” according to Hatchett.

    In an internal document distributed to member states in November 2020, shared with The Post by a Covax partner, the organization said that mRNA vaccines cost as much as 10 times more per dose than traditional vaccines and warned that they would face additional hurdles for authorization.

    Despite their price, mRNA vaccines received emergency-use authorization quickly and have since become the most sought-after thanks to their effectiveness.

    “They basically bad-mouthed mRNA and said we shouldn’t even bother,” said one official in a government that backs Covax, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. “That turned out to be a big mistake.”
    Health-care workers at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi prepare for the launch the country’s coronavirus vaccination program in March 2021. (Ben Curtis/AP)

    Instead, Covax focused on cheaper — and ultimately less effective or otherwise problematic — vaccines. By the start of 2021, the alliance cut enormous deals with AstraZeneca and Novavax for vaccines made using older technology. The Serum Institute of India, a huge vaccine producer, was set to make 1.1 billion doses.

    But Novavax did not receive WHO emergency-use approval until the final days of 2021, while AstraZeneca faced production issues. As India battled a wave of cases amid the rise of the deadly delta variant, the country slammed the door on vaccine exports. Between June and October, Covax was not able to deliver any doses made by Serum.

    Those weren’t the only supply issues. Covax signed a deal with the U.S. manufacturer Johnson & Johnson for 200 million doses of the company’s single-shot vaccine in May 2021 that arrived almost six months later, while some wealthy countries received deliveries in the interim. J&J later paused manufacturing of its coronavirus vaccine without telling Covax.

    Vaccine makers may have broken “contractual obligations” to Covax, a document released by a WHO committee in December suggested. “We’ve had delays with manufacturers, all of them,” Berkley said in an interview, suggesting they put wealthy countries that could pay top dollar ahead of Covax.

    But many governments waiting for doses have blamed Covax, not its suppliers. In August, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said Covax was “just a scam” that had overpromised and underdelivered. African countries turned to a new procurement plan formed by the African Union, as did countries in Latin America under the Pan American Health Organization.

    “Covax has disappointed Africa,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS.

    In recent months, Covax’s supply issues have begun to improve. But with countries including Israel and Chile already administering fourth doses and as Pfizer and Moderna promise new, variant-specific vaccines, the availability of doses remains a shifting equation.

    “Time and time again in this pandemic, people have said that supply constraints are in the rearview window,” said Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations. “And time and time again, they’ve been wrong.”
    Donated, then destroyed

    Even as the alliance was watching its original model collapse, in the summer of 2020 it spurned an early offer of extra doses expected to be left over from the European Union’s vaccination drive, said Auer, the E.U. negotiator.

    The response, by his telling, was prideful: “We don’t take what you, the rich European Union, is not using.”

    Over the next year, Covax had to concede that it would need to begin accepting donations after all — despite legitimate concerns about taking free doses rejected by wealthy countries rather than purchased in partnership. Roughly 60 percent of doses administered by Covax in 2021 were donated. But it was late to the realization that it needed to accept donated doses, experts say.

    And while donations have saved Covax from truly disastrous shortfalls in supply, many of the fears about them have come true.

    Sultani Matendechero, head of the Kenya National Public Health Institute, said he now receives vaccine doses with “very short expiry dates” donated by wealthy nations. While Kenya is able to use these doses, Matendechero said, others cannot.

    Internal documents shared with The Post by a Covax partner show that in October and November 2021, roughly 1 in 5 AstraZeneca doses donated by wealthy nations through Covax ended up being rejected by the receiving government, more than half of the time because they were close to expiration.

    In a statement to The Post, UNICEF, which handles logistics for Covax, said that 80 million doses were rejected by countries in December, mostly because of short shelf life and “limited capacity on the ground.” Three million of these doses, almost all donated, had to be destroyed.

    Kate O’Brien, the WHO vaccine director, argued that compared with national programs, Covax wastage has been “extremely low.” The monitoring group Airfinity estimated in January that 240 million vaccine doses could expire in wealthy nations alone by mid-March. A UNICEF official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Covax candidly, said some recipients had also become pickier about what they would accept.

    Less effective vaccines made with an inactivated version of the virus, such as those available from the Chinese Covax suppliers Sinopharm and Sinovac, are “lower down the pecking order,” they said.

    Yap Boum, a regional representative for the medical research body Epicenter in Cameroon, said the donation of doses of vaccines linked to side effects, such as AstraZeneca, had deepened vaccine hesitancy.

    “The message being sent is a lack of respect,” Boum said. “I send you what I no longer want and I’m doing it as if I’m protecting you.”
    Omicron broke through our vaccines. How can we adapt?
    Coronavirus cases spiked globally in the first weeks of 2022, despite record-high vaccination rates. Here’s how the omicron variant took off. (Jackie Lay, John Farrell/The Washington Post)
    The next pandemic

    Many wealthy countries are lifting coronavirus restrictions, in large part because of the remarkable effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness and death. Across high- and middle-income countries, the speed of the development and rollout of vaccines during the pandemic was unprecedented.

    But according to an analysis published last month by the Center for Global Development, the picture was sharply different in the low-income countries that needed Covax the most.

    Oxfam in March released an estimate suggesting that the toll of covid has been four times higher in lower-income countries than in rich ones.

    And Covax is still scrounging for the money to meet its promises. According to Gavi documents, as of the beginning of March, the initiative had raised only $195 million of the $5.2 billion it asked for in a fundraising round in January. The organization’s backers say that they need the money not because of immediate supply concerns, but to aid with delivery and to establish a “pandemic pool” of 600 million doses for future surges.

    Countries have the money, but they also have other priorities. The Biden administration in March asked Congress to authorize $5 billion to bolster global vaccination efforts, half the amount requested in response to the Ukraine crisis.

    Despite appeals from the White House, that money was stripped out of the funding package for virus aid after disputes of how to pay for it. Even if it eventually goes through, only some of it will go to Covax.

    Even if Covax can get the money, experts and officials have begun to agree that the alliance’s overall approach won’t be enough in the long term.

    “This drip, drip, drip of donations through Covax will never solve the problem of the pandemic,” said Byanyima, with UNAIDS. “The pandemic is winning.”

    Covax’s emphasis on pooled purchasing came at the expense of a focus on increasing supply, some argue. The organization’s backers have faced criticism for not putting their weight behind intellectual property waivers, which major backers including Bill Gates have dismissed. Many experts say technology sharing could have accelerated efforts to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in the developing world.

    Purchasing doses, or distributing donated ones, rather than ramping up production is “like ordering takeout to solve a famine,” said James Krellenstein, co-founder of PrEP4All, an HIV-care nonprofit.

    Some governments, including the European Union, South Africa, India and the United States, recently reached a compromise on the proposal, but advocacy groups have largely been disappointed with the result, with Washington-based Knowledge Ecology International calling it a “limited and narrow agreement” that would be welcomed by big drug companies.

    Across Latin America and Africa, numerous vaccine-manufacturing efforts are underway, some with the support of a WHO-backed mRNA vaccine technology-transfer hub in South Africa. A big question is whether they can succeed without sustained support from wealthy nations and pharmaceutical companies.

    At “some point, donation mechanisms just delay access,” said Colombian Health Minister Fernando Ruiz. His country is shifting to bilateral vaccine agreements and starting projects to develop its own vaccines.

    Almost everyone agrees there is one major problem that needs to be fixed: paltry funding.

    The WHO is seeking increased, reliable backing from governments. The United States has proposed a different plan: a $10 billion fund for pandemic preparedness, potentially housed at the World Bank — to the outrage of allies who think it would undermine existing structures, including the WHO.

    “We discovered the limits of what could be accomplished,” said Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Gates Foundation, “with the leadership we were in, with the structures that we were in.”
    Coronavirus: What you need to read

    The latest: A surge in infections in Western Europe, fueled by the subvariant of omicron known as BA.2, has experts and health authorities on alert for another wave of the pandemic in the United States. See the latest coronavirus numbers and how the omicron variant has spread across the world.

    At-home tests: Here’s how to use at-home covid tests, where to find them and how they differ from PCR tests.

    Mask guidance: The CDC has eased mask recommendations for the vast majority of the country. The change followed a relaxation of restrictions by most Democratic governors responding to nosediving case counts and public pressure.

    For the latest news, sign up for our free newsletter.
    Image without a caption
    By Adam Taylor
    Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

  • Iran nuclear talks are halted after new Russian demands related to Ukraine - The Washington Post

    A small number of outstanding differences still to be settled between Iran and the United States may also have contributed to the deadlock, diplomats said. They include how far the United States will go in removing terrorism designations from organizations such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, guarantees regarding the lifting of U.S. sanctions and the details of a prisoner exchange, which could bring freedom for U.S. and other Western detainees held in Iranian jails.

  • Et voilà... le #mur en #Pologne prend forme...

    The construction of Poland’s border wall started a week ago.

    More and more heavy equipment is now arriving to the border.

    The wall will be 5.5m high and 200km long.

    As the Polish Army will be working on it around the clock, it will be completed as early as June.


    #murs #barrières_frontalières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières


    voir aussi :
    La #Pologne érigera une clôture en barbelés à sa frontière avec le #Bélarus

    • Poland builds a border wall, even as it welcomes Ukrainian refugees

      Her impulse was to welcome people in desperation, so Maria Ancipiuk made sure her border town was ready. As immigrants mostly from the Middle East started streaming into Poland last year from Belarus, she lobbied the mayor to offer up two empty town-owned apartments for anybody who might need them. Volunteers changed the wallpaper and renovated the flooring. Ancipiuk bought a refrigerator and a television.

      Five months later, though, the apartments are empty.

      Rather than being welcomed into Polish homes, the vast majority of people crossing from Belarus are being detained or pushed back by Polish authorities.

      That stance, in effect just to the north of Poland’s border with Ukraine, means two different groups seeking the same thing — refuge — are arriving to find what amounts to two different versions of Europe.

      Along one segment of Poland’s border, where 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled, border agents help carry duffel bags, push wheelchairs, hold tired children and escort to safety refugees who’ve been granted automatic European Union residency for up to three years.

      On another segment of that border, Poland is trying to stop what it describes as “illegal” immigrants by using drones, infrared cameras and helicopters. It has dispatched 13,000 soldiers and border guards to patrol the forested boundary, while sealing off the area — under an emergency decree — to journalists and human rights groups. It is hurrying to finish a $380 million 116-mile steel wall that the government says will be “impenetrable.”

      “I cannot stand the contrast,” said Ancipiuk, a 65-year-old town councilor and grandmother of six who now furtively provides aid to immigrants trying to move through the Polish forest at night. “Ukrainians are considered war refugees and Yemenis are considered migrants. Why? What is the difference?”

      Poland’s approach is in line with the broader E.U. policy of forcefully deterring undocumented immigration — including from parts of the world where there are few legal options for reaching this continent. The E.U. has been funding the Libyan coast guard to thwart immigrants from crossing the Mediterranean to Italy. In Greece, security forces have been accused by immigrants and by Turkey of repelling would-be asylum seekers back into Turkish waters. And when Poland vowed to block people trying to cross from Belarus — a crisis orchestrated by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who lured people to his country with the promise of access to Europe — E.U. leaders said Poland was justifiably responding to a “hybrid attack.”

      Months later, though, Poland’s national human rights institution says the country is not living up to European ideals — and is also violating international law.

      It is illegal for security authorities to expel foreign nationals without giving them a chance to claim asylum. Yet humanitarian groups have documented Polish border guards tracking down people in the woods and driving them back to the Belarusian border, a practice that Poland’s parliament has effectively legalized. Poland so thoroughly patrols the border that some immigrants say they’ve been pushed back to Belarus more than a half-dozen times. The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner said one person who returned to Belarus had given birth only hours earlier.

      Poland has garnered much praise for its willingness to accept so many refugees in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the war also leaves Poland in a position where it is sending people back to a country that is serving as a staging ground for missiles launched into Ukraine.

      “Poland should not be sending anybody back,” said Hanna Machinska, Poland’s deputy commissioner for human rights. “Belarus is not a safe country. There is no question about it.”

      Belarus has one of the world’s most repressive governments, and its approach to immigrants is also harsh: Though it invited thousands of people, it appears to have no interest in hosting them; hundreds spent the winter in a warehouse, and when the facility was recently shuttered, the immigrants were taken to the Polish border and given instructions to leave.

      For those crossing from Belarus who are fortunate enough not to be pushed back, the next stop is generally a closed detention center, including one where people are kept in rooms with 24 beds. Poland permits only a small subset to move into alternative facilities — like the homes Ancipiuk had prepared in Michalowo. Since January, as the overall flow from Belarus started to decline, the number of lucky few has been zero.

      In mid-March, Ancipiuk received a call from a regional official, notifying her of funding incentives for towns that would host Ukrainians.

      She asked if there were similar incentives for hosting people who’d crossed from Belarus.

      “There was a bit of consternation on the line,” Ancipiuk said.

      She never heard back with an answer but took the silence as a no. Her town is now offering the two apartments to refugees from Ukraine as well.

      At Poland’s border agency headquarters in Warsaw, Lt. Anna Michalska said her country is responding as any should: by defending order and its own laws. Lukashenko had precipitated the emergency in a place where undocumented border-crossings had once been “practically zero,” she said, and she argued that the people who’d taken the offer to go to Belarus had the time and luxury to plan their journey. They booked tourist visas. Unlike Ukrainians, she said, they are not looking “for the first place to be safe.”

      What they tend to want above all, she said, is a life in Germany.

      She denied the widely documented accusation that Poland is pushing back people who request asylum. Most people don’t want to apply for protection, she said, knowing such a request triggers a mandatory stay in the country. She said there is no legal problem in returning people to Belarus.

      “I don’t have information that there is war in Belarus,” she said. “We’re not a taxi service from Belarus to Berlin.”

      So Poland is building its wall. The border agency granted two Washington Post journalists access to the restricted zone, providing them a meeting point five miles from Belarus, where a border guard van was waiting. In the exclusion zone, police worked checkpoints, and the road through villages and small farms was all but empty, aside from military vehicles. The border guards described a daily tension: immigrants who launch stones at security authorities, smugglers who run routes to and from Germany, activists who communicate with the immigrants and “incentivize” them to cross.

      Then the van stopped at the wall.

      It is partially completed, composed of 18-foot-high planks of vertical steel beams, with tiny spaces in between. The spaces provide visibility to the other side, and from afar, the wall has the look of a translucent silver strip running along the horizon, covering a territory where this year there have been more than 3,500 attempts to cross.

      “Everything is going according to plan,” said Katarzyna Zdanowicz, a border guard spokeswoman who was on the tour. She said the wall would be completed in June.

      She said the border guard over the past months has improved “a lot” in its efficiency in stopping people. While waiting for the wall to be completed, the agency has strung razor wire across the border, plowed new roads and purchased tear gas canisters.

      As part of the tour, Zdanowicz walked over to a green-painted Toyota SUV, parked in a field, where two agents were patrolling the border with high-resolution cameras.

      “We’re trying to show that this is not the way to come,” she said.

      In villages near the border, some residents — sympathetic to the plight of immigrants — have taken to turning on green lights in their homes, a signal that they have a safe place to stay for someone on the run. Michalska, the border official in Warsaw, said it is permissible to provide housing for somebody coming from Belarus — on the condition that the host immediately alerts the border guards.

      “Otherwise,” she said, “you’re offering help for an illegal stay in Poland.”

      Activists and human rights officials say Poland is treating the immigrants coming through Belarus as universally undeserving of protection in Europe, when that is not always the case. Some come from countries, such as Cameroon, whose citizens rarely win asylum in Europe. But others come from countries such as Yemen, ravaged by war, or Syria, where towns have been decimated by Russian airstrikes.

      For Ibrahim Al Maghribi, 27, a Syrian, seeing Poland’s response to Ukraine has made him feel all the more confounded about the inequities.

      After being displaced from his home outside Damascus, all he wanted was safety and a “decent life,” he said in an interview conducted over WhatsApp, because he said he could be more articulate with written English.

      To get that life, he booked a tour package to Belarus, where he was chauffeured by members of the Belarusian military to a spot along the Polish border they said was easy to cross. After walking miles overnight in the Polish forest, he was arrested by Polish border guards, who told him “this is not your land.” He was returned to Belarus, which denied him reentry as well, leaving him stuck briefly between two borders, before trying to enter Poland again. This time, he and some friends successfully reached the car of a smuggler and eventually wound up in Germany — a trip that cost him $5,000, paid to tour guides and drivers, as well as several nights of exhaustion and sleeplessness.

      “It’s a horrible feeling to feel that you came from another planet,” said Al Maghribi, who is now applying for asylum and living in a public housing complex in Rieden, Germany. The same Polish authorities who welcome Ukrainians wouldn’t even “offer us a glass of water,” he said.

      One consequence of Poland’s approach is that immigration along the Belarusian border has been pushed nearly out of view. Poland denied a request to visit the closed centers holding asylum seekers.

      Activists say they have had to become more cautious after Poland last month arrested four volunteers on charges of organizing illegal immigration.

      Even the number of immigrant deaths in Poland is disputed; the government says nine have died since the middle of last year, while activists put the number at more than two dozen. Among the unknowns is what happens to immigrants who are pushed back and don’t return — including two Kurdish families, both with infants, who were repelled several times after crossing into Poland and recently fell out of communication with activists.

      “We can’t reach them,” said Monika Matus, an activist working with one of the main border activist groups. “This is the reason I’m having a hard time sleeping at night.”

      Even at the height of the crisis, in November, the volume of people crossing was about 700 per day — compared with tens of thousands of Ukrainians. Now, the number arriving from Belarus has dropped even further; some days, as many as 130 try to cross, according to Polish government data. Other days, it’s only a few dozen. The decrease stems in part from pressure on international airlines and tour groups to discontinue the immigrant pipeline to Belarus. Some of those crossing now enter Belarus not directly but via Russia. Activists who used to be overwhelmed by middle-of-the-night SOS calls now go some days without a single alert.

      For Poland, it’s a sign that its tactics are working.

      For activists, it’s a sign that Poland’s response has been disproportionate.

      “We’re spending so much money to create a fortress,” said Tomasz Thun-Janowski, a volunteer for the humanitarian aid group Fundacja Ocalenie, “when helping them would cost a fraction.”


  • India’s Corbevax vaccine was developed at Texas Children’s Hospital. It expects nothing in return. - The Washington Post

    For some vaccine developers, the coronavirus pandemic has had a silver lining in billions of dollars in profits. But a new vaccine rolling out soon in India is taking the opposite approach: Its developers are getting zilch.

    “We’re not trying to make money,” said Peter Hotez of the Texas Children’s Hospital’s Center for Vaccine Development. “We just want to see people get vaccinated.”

    On Tuesday, the Indian government granted emergency approval to a vaccine manufactured by the Hyderabad-based company Biological E. This “second generation” coronavirus vaccine was developed by Hotez and his longtime collaborator Maria Elena Bottazzi. It was then licensed to Biological E. through a commercialization team at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where both developers also work.

    Biological E. has ambitious plans to produce more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine in 2022. Hotez and Bottazzi won’t personally get a penny from it, but their employer Baylor College will get a fee.

  • Israel must deal with settler violence sooner rather than later
    Haaretz Editorial | Nov. 15, 2021 |

    For decades, the pattern of Israeli violence toward Palestinians in the West Bank has been one of “private rampages,” the declared goal of which was to expel Palestinians from their public and private spaces, thereby gradually gaining control of yet another dunam, another spring or another cistern.

    A B’Tselem report calculates how much land was closed off to Palestinians through systematic violence just by residents of five illegal outposts and one settlement in five different parts of the West Bank that were surveyed. It amounted to 28,000 dunams (7,000 acres).

    Long-time settler leader Ze’ev Hever estimates that the approximately 150 outposts and individual farms have succeeded in gaining control of about 200,000 dunams across the West Bank – more than twice the built-up areas of all the settlements combined.

    The sanctity of this mission is evidenced by the fact that attacks on Palestinians justify violating the religious prohibitions of Jewish holidays and Shabbat. They include cutting down and burning olive trees, torching mosques, vandalizing cars, grazing sheep in Palestinian pastures and orchards, stealing harvests, using drones to spy on Palestinians and attacking farmers and shepherds with dogs, stones and even live fire.

    The helplessness of the forces of law and order in the face of this settler violence and the culture of the outposts proves that this is not just a case of bureaucratic failure. If the political and legal establishment wanted to, it could find ways to put an end to this Jewish terror. The reason for this official helplessness is simple. The B’Tselem report explains: The government and the settlers share a common goal of wresting control of as much Palestinian territory in the West Bank as possible and pushing the Palestinians into densely populated, non-contiguous enclaves.

    Israel does this by fictitiously declaring areas live-fire zones or nature reserves; prohibiting Palestinian building, urban development and connections to water and electricity in Area C; destroying buildings and cisterns; and cutting off water supplies.

    Many Palestinian communities continue to live on their land despite the difficult conditions that Israel has imposed on them. Armed attacks by settlers, protected by the army and granted immunity by the legal system, have succeeded where official actions have failed: Often Palestinians can no longer reach their land and even abandon their homes. The settlers are flexing their muscles more than ever.

    Greater determination and a greater sense of urgency are needed both by Israelis and the international community to curb the growing number of expropriations and deportations that the settlers are undertaking in cooperation with the Israeli establishment. The indifference of Israeli civil society is tantamount to consent, and it will pay for it dearly.

    The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.


  • Lebanon’s crisis: Exodus of doctors and nurses amid medical meltdown - The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization estimated in September that nearly 40 percent of Lebanon’s doctors and 30 percent of nurses had departed since October 2019. The majority of the nurses who left did so this year, according to Lebanon’s Order of Nurses.


  • Israel escalates surveillance of Palestinians with facial recognition program in West Bank
    By Elizabeth Dwoskin - 8 novembre 2021 - The Washington Post

    HEBRON, West Bank — The Israeli military has been conducting a broad surveillance effort in the occupied West Bank to monitor Palestinians by integrating facial recognition with a growing network of cameras and smartphones, according to descriptions of the program by recent Israeli soldiers.

    The surveillance initiative, rolled out over the past two years, involves in part a smartphone technology called Blue Wolf that captures photos of Palestinians’ faces and matches them to a database of images so extensive that one former soldier described it as the army’s secret “Facebook for Palestinians.” The phone app flashes in different colors to alert soldiers if a person is to be detained, arrested or left alone.

    To build the database used by Blue Wolf, soldiers competed last year in photographing Palestinians, including children and the elderly, with prizes for the most pictures collected by each unit. The total number of people photographed is unclear but, at a minimum, ran well into the thousands.

    The surveillance program was described in interviews conducted by The Post with two former Israeli soldiers and in separate accounts that they and four other recently discharged soldiers gave to the Israeli advocacy group Breaking the Silence and were later shared with The Post. Much of the program has not been previously reported. While the Israeli military has acknowledged the existence of the initiative in an online brochure, the interviews with former soldiers offer the first public description of the program’s scope and operations.

    In addition to Blue Wolf, the Israeli military has installed face-scanning cameras in the divided city of Hebron to help soldiers at checkpoints identify Palestinians even before they present their I.D. cards. A wider network of closed-circuit television cameras, dubbed “Hebron Smart City,” provides real-time monitoring of the city’s population and, one former soldier said, can sometimes see into private homes.

    The former soldiers who were interviewed for this article and who spoke with Breaking the Silence, an advocacy group composed of Israeli army veterans that opposes the occupation, discussed the surveillance program on the condition of anonymity for fear of social and professional repercussions. The group says it plans to publish its research.

    They said they were told by the military that the efforts were a powerful augmentation of its capabilities to defend Israel against terrorists. But the program also demonstrates how surveillance technologies that are hotly debated in Western democracies are already being used behind the scenes in places where people have fewer freedoms.

    “I wouldn’t feel comfortable if they used it in the mall in [my hometown], let’s put it that way,” said a recently discharged Israeli soldier who served in an intelligence unit. “People worry about fingerprinting, but this is that several times over.” She told The Post that she was motivated to speak out because the surveillance system in Hebron was a “total violation of privacy of an entire people.”

    Israel’s use of surveillance and facial-recognition appear to be among the most elaborate deployments of such technology by a country seeking to control a subject population, according to experts with the digital civil rights organization AccessNow.

    In response to questions about the surveillance program, the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, said that “routine security operations” were “part of the fight against terrorism and the efforts to improve the quality of life for the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria.” (Judea and Samaria is the official Israeli name for the West Bank.)

    “Naturally, we cannot comment on the IDF’s operational capabilities in this context,” the statement added.

    Official use of facial recognition technology has been banned by at least a dozen U.S. cities, including Boston and San Francisco, according to the advocacy group the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. And this month the European Parliament called for a ban on police use of facial recognition in public places.

    But a study this summer by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 20 federal agencies said they use facial recognition systems, with six law enforcement agencies reporting that the technology helped identify people suspected of law-breaking during civil unrest. And the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a trade group that represents technology companies, took issue with the proposed European ban, saying it would undermine efforts by law enforcement to “effectively respond to crime and terrorism.”

    Inside Israel, a proposal by law enforcement officials to introduce facial recognition cameras in public spaces has drawn substantial opposition, and the government agency in charge of protecting privacy has come out against the proposal. But Israel applies different standards in the occupied territories.

    “While developed countries around the world impose restrictions on photography, facial recognition and surveillance, the situation described [in Hebron] constitutes a severe violation of basic rights, such as the right to privacy, as soldiers are incentivized to collect as many photos of Palestinian men, women, and children as possible in a sort of competition,” said Roni Pelli, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, after being told about the surveillance effort. She said the “military must immediately desist.”

    Amro, seen in Hebron on Oct. 13, says Israel has ulterior motives for its surveillance of Palestinians. “They want to make our lives so hard so that we will just leave on our own, so more settlers can move in,” he said. (Kobi Wolf/for The Washington Post)_

    Last vestiges of privacy

    Yaser Abu Markhyah, a 49-year-old Palestinian father of four, said his family has lived in Hebron for five generations and has learned to cope with checkpoints, restrictions on movement and frequent questioning by soldiers after Israel captured the city during the Six-Day War in 1967. But, more recently, he said, surveillance has been stripping people of the last vestiges of their privacy.

    “We no longer feel comfortable socializing because cameras are always filming us,” said Abu Markhyah. He said he no longer lets his children play outside in front of the house, and relatives who live in less-monitored neighborhoods avoid visiting him.

    Hebron has long been a flashpoint for violence, with an enclave of hardline, heavily protected Israeli settlers near the Old City surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and security divided between the Israeli military and the Palestinian administration.

    In his quarter of Hebron, close to the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site that is sacred to Muslims and Jews alike, surveillance cameras have been mounted about every 300 feet, including on the roofs of homes. And he said the real-time monitoring appears to be increasing. A few months ago, he said, his 6-year-old daughter dropped a teaspoon from the family’s roof deck, and although the street seemed empty, soldiers came to his home soon after and said he was going to be cited for throwing stones.

    Issa Amro, a neighbor and activist who runs the group Friends of Hebron, pointed to several empty houses on his block. He said Palestinian families had moved out because of restrictions and surveillance.

    “They want to make our lives so hard so that we will just leave on our own, so more settlers can move in,” Amro said.

    “The cameras,” he said, “only have one eye — to see Palestinians. From the moment you leave your house to the moment you get home, you are on camera.”

    Incentives for photos

    The Blue Wolf initiative combines a smartphone app with a database of personal information accessible via mobile devices, according to six former soldiers who were interviewed by The Post and Breaking the Silence.

    One of them told The Post that this database is a pared-down version of another, vast database, called Wolf Pack, which contains profiles of virtually every Palestinian in the West Bank, including photographs of the individuals, their family histories, education and a security rating for each person. This recent soldier was personally familiar with Wolf Pack, which is accessible only on desktop computers in more secure environments. (While this former soldier described the data base as “Facebook for Palestinians,” it is not connected to Facebook.)

    Another former soldier told The Post that his unit, which patrolled the streets of Hebron in 2020, was tasked with collecting as many photographs of Palestinians as possible in a given week using an old army-issued smartphone, taking the pictures during daily missions that often lasted eight hours. The soldiers uploaded the photos via the Blue Wolf app installed on the phones.

    This former soldier said Palestinian children tended to pose for the photographs, while elderly people — and particularly older women — often would resist. He described the experience of forcing people to be photographed against their will as traumatic for him.

    The photos taken by each unit would number in the hundreds each week, with one former soldier saying the unit was expected to take at least 1,500. Army units across the West Bank would compete for prizes, such as a night off, given to those who took the most photographs, former soldiers said.

    Often, when a soldier takes someone’s photograph, the app registers a match for an existing profile in the Blue Wolf system. The app then flashes yellow, red or green to indicate whether the person should be detained, arrested immediately or allowed to pass, according to five soldiers and a screenshot of the system obtained by The Post.

    The big push to build out the Blue Wolf database with images has slowed in recent months, but troops continue to use Blue Wolf to identify Palestinians, one former soldier said.

    A separate smartphone app, called White Wolf, has been developed for use by Jewish settlers in the West Bank, a former soldier told Breaking the Silence. Although settlers are not allowed detain people, security volunteers can use White Wolf to scan a Palestinian’s identification card before that person enters a settlement, for example, to work in construction. The military in 2019 acknowledged existence of White Wolf in a right-wing Israeli publication.

    ’Rights are simply irrelevant’

    The Israeli military, in the only known instance, referred to the Blue Wolf technology in June in an online brochure inviting soldiers to be part of “a new platoon” that “will turn you into a Blue Wolf.” The brochure said that the “advanced technology” featured “smart cameras with sophisticated analytics” and “censors that can detect and alert suspicious activity in real-time and the movement of wanted people.”

    The military also has mentioned “Hebron Smart City” in a 2020 article on the army’s website. The article, which showed a group of female soldiers called “scouts” in front of computer monitors and wearing virtual-reality goggles, described the initiative as a “major milestone” and a “breakthrough” technology for security in the West Bank. The article said “a new system of cameras and radars had been installed throughout the city” that can document “everything that happens around it” and “recognize any movement or unfamiliar noise.”

    In 2019, Microsoft invested in an Israeli facial recognition start-up called AnyVision, which NBC and the Israeli business publication the Marker reported was working with the army to build a network of smart security cameras using face-scanning technology throughout the West Bank. (Microsoft said it pulled out of its investment in AnyVision during fighting in May between Israel and the Hamas militant group in Gaza.)

    Also in 2019, the Israeli military announced the introduction of a public facial-recognition program, powered by AnyVision, at major checkpoints where Palestinians cross into Israel from the West Bank. The program uses kiosks to scan IDs and faces, similar to airport kiosks used at airports to screen travelers entering the United States. The Israeli system is used to check whether a Palestinian has a permit to enter Israel, for example to work or to visit relatives, and to keep track of who is entering the country, according to news reports. This check is obligatory for Palestinians, as is the check at American airports for foreigners.

    Unlike the border checks, the monitoring in Hebron is happening in a Palestinian city without notification to the local populace, according to one former soldier who was involved in the program and four Palestinian residents. These checkpoint cameras also can recognize vehicles, even without registering license plates, and match them with their owners, the former soldier told The Post.

    In addition to privacy concerns, one of the main reasons that facial recognition surveillance has been restricted in some other countries is that many of these systems have exhibited widely varying accuracy, with individuals being put in jeopardy by being misidentified.

    The Israeli military did not comment on concerns raised about the use of facial-recognition technology.

    The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has said that studies showing that the technology is inaccurate have been overblown. In objecting to the proposed European ban, the group said time would be better spent developing safeguards for the appropriate use of the technology by law enforcement and performance standards for facial recognition systems used by the government.

    In the West Bank, however, this technology is merely “another instrument of oppression and subjugation of the Palestinian people,” said Avner Gvaryahu, executive director of Breaking the Silence. “Whilst surveillance and privacy are at the forefront of the global public discourse, we see here another disgraceful assumption by the Israeli government and military that when it comes to Palestinians, basic human rights are simply irrelevant.”

    By Elizabeth Dwoskin
    Lizza joined The Washington Post as Silicon Valley correspondent in 2016, becoming the paper’s eyes and ears in the region. She focuses on social media and the power of the tech industry in a democratic society. Before that, she was the Wall Street Journal’s first full-time beat reporter covering AI and the impact of algorithms on people’s lives.


  • The Amazons of Dahomey: They were the world’s only female army - The Washington Post

    After France seized what is now southern Benin in 1894, colonial officers disbanded the territory’s unique force of women warriors, opened new classrooms and made no mention in the curriculum of the Amazons. Even today, many in the country of 12 million know little about their foremother.

    “The French made sure this history wasn’t known,” said the Beninese economist Leonard Wantchekon, a professor of international affairs at Princeton University. “They said we were backward, that they needed to ‘civilize us,’ but they destroyed opportunities for women that existed nowhere else in the world.”

    Now a team of Beninese researchers is working to reshape the narrative. For the last three years, historians at the African School of Economics, a private university that Wantchekon founded near Cotonou, the capital, have been tracking down descendants of Amazons across the nation.

    They aim to glean local memories for a book that can be taught in schools — to present a three-dimensional view of the real Amazons. Only 50 of the women are thought to have survived the two-year war with France. The last died in the 1970s.

    #femmes #guerrières #amazones #colonisation #Dahomey #histoire

  • The toll of Israeli bombs on Gaza, mapped - The Washington Post

    The destruction to Gaza during the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel in May was heavy and widespread, with damage afflicting hundreds of buildings and dozens of roads, an initial United Nations analysis shows.

    The data, based on preliminary analysis of satellite imagery taken on May 28, and released by the U.N. Institute for Training and Research this week, underscores warnings from human rights groups and nongovernment organizations that Israeli bombings that the military said targeted Hamas militants severely impaired the territory’s infrastructure, and that it could take years to rebuild.
    [After Gaza bombardment, building back could take years]

    The destruction, which can be seen across the entire 25-mile strip was concentrated in the north, around Gaza City, and the southeast.

  • France’s top court says firefighters accused of raping teenager can’t be charged with rape - The Washington Post

    Rien dans la presse française ou j’ai raté un épisode ?

    France’s top court has rejected a bid to pursue rape charges against a group of firefighters accused of repeatedly raping a girl known as “Julie” during a period between her 13th and 15th birthdays.

    The men will instead be charged with sexual assault, which carries a lighter sentence than rape. Attorneys for Julie’s family plan to contest that decision and bring the case to Europe’s Court of Human Rights.

    The horrific allegations in Julie’s case have galvanized protesters who want to see France institute stricter age-of-consent laws. Julie was 13 when she suffered a seizure in school and was rescued by firefighters. After the incident, she began to have severe anxiety attacks that repeatedly required firefighters to intervene, and developed a trusting relationship with the men, which they allegedly later exploited.

    According to Julie’s family and lawyers, the firefighters got the teenager’s phone number and began sending her flirtatious messages. Over a two-year period, she was allegedly raped by 20 men. According to her mother, she made multiple suicide attempts and is now struggling with severe disability.

    • Il y a eu quelques échos. Dont j’ai saisi que si l’incrimination de viol n’a pas été retenue (pardon si mon langage juridique est un peu approximatif) celle de « corruption de mineur » (mineure en l’occurence) a elle été retenue, ce qui devrait amener à la barre du tribunal de nouveaux criminels (présumés tel bien entendu).
      Sachant que la corruption de mineure n’est pas précisément définie, on s’oriente vers un nouveau #fiasco_judiciaire :(

  • Women in Mexico are protesting femicide. Police have responded with force. - The Washington Post

    Femicide protests in Mexico City turned violent Monday after women clashed with riot police stationed outside the National Palace, the residence of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Activists say he’s failed to take rampant sexual violence seriously, even as it’s led to the deaths of 10 women a day.

    #féminicide #Mexique #femmes_en_colère

  • Macron bien accompagné.

    France and the spectral menace of ‘Islamo-leftism’ - The Washington Post

    It’s a culture war that echoes in other parts of the world, too. Illiberal, nationalist governments from Hungary to Turkey to India have taken aim at certain academic institutions and, in some instances, installed regimes of censorship. In the United States, the political right has spent years grousing against the intellectual left. Anger over “Islamo-leftism” may be an explicitly French concern, but it can already be implicitly heard in the American conversation, with scaremongering over open border invasions of refugees and the “Maoism” of “cancel culture” on university campuses now seemingly the twin pillars of far-right politics.

    Some critics likened the charge of “Islamo-leftism” to that of “Judeo-Bolshevism” a century ago. That anti-Semitic slur cast Jewish communities in Europe as dangerous, subversive fifth columns and foreshadowed the hideous genocide to come.

    The present term, at best, highlights “the difficulty of the French state to think of itself as a state within a multicultural society,” Sarah Mazouz, a sociologist at CNRS, to the Times. She added the invocation of “Islamo-leftism” was aimed at “delegitimizing” new thinking on race, gender and other subjects, “so that the debate does not take place.”

    French scholars criticized both that chilling effect the term seems to have, as well as its crass mischaracterization of the fields of academic inquiry in its crosshairs. That was already apparent in Vidal’s own rather confused rhetoric — in one interview, the minister appeared to link the presence of a Confederate-flag waving Trump supporter at the U.S. Capitol to the spread of left-wing cultural studies on American campuses.

  • Biden drops Trump’s antiabortion ‘global gag rule.’ Here’s what that means for abortion access worldwide.

    Soon after he took office as president, Donald Trump reinstated and expanded a policy known by its critics as the “global gag rule,” which bars U.S. funding for organizations abroad that perform abortions or offer information about them.

    On Thursday, a week into his term, President Biden signed a memorandum rescinding the policy. He also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to review a rule instated by Trump that cut off federal funding for domestic family planning programs involved with abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, and ordered the restoration of funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which Trump had cut in a dispute over abortion provisions.

    Thursday’s move is a “first step,” said Amanda Ussak, the international program director for Catholics for Choice. But she had hoped Biden would move even faster. “The fact that he didn’t repeal the global gag rule on Day 1 is problematic,” she said.

    Biden, like the majority of U.S. Catholics, according to polls, supports abortion rights, despite the official teachings of the church. Ussak said she considers “access to reproductive rights and women’s health and autonomy … part of Catholic social justice teaching.” Biden’s view could “help reshape the narrative” around faith and abortion in some parts of the world, she said.


    et ceci donc également révoqué (pour les USA) qui date du 22 octobre dernier

    U.S. signs international declaration challenging right to abortion and upholding ‘role of the family’

    The Geneva Consensus formalizes a coalition united in opposition to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which forms the basis for the characterization of abortion and same-sex marriage as human rights under international law — a position that key U.S. allies, such as Britain and France, support.

    Azar said Thursday that the coalition is intended to “hold multilateral organizations accountable."

    In addition to the six co-sponsors, 26 countries, including Belarus, Saudi Arabia and Poland, have joined as signatories.

    [U.S. joins 19 nations, including Saudi Arabia and Russia: ‘There is no international right to an abortion’]


  • Coronavirus on U.S.-Canada border: Hyder, Alaska, children shut out of Stewart, B.C., school - The Washington Post

    The mining towns of Hyder and Stewart form one of many cross-border communities along the U.S.-Canada frontier that have been severed for months by coronavirus travel restrictions.Canada’s coronavirus performance hasn’t been perfect. But it’s done far better than the U.S. Now several such communities are pushing for local reopenings. Hyder and Stewart, which have reported no cases of covid-19, are pushing Canada to designate the region an “integrated trans-border community,” exempt from travel restrictions and quarantines. Lawmakers representing Point Roberts, Wash., and Minnesota’s Northwest Angle have asked Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to ease and clarify the rules. “This is our local traffic only that we’re advocating for,” said Jane Beaumont, a registered nurse in Stewart who grew up in Hyder and has family there. “We’re not advocating for tourism.”
    President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to close the 5,500-mile land border to nonessential traffic in March, and have extended the restrictions in monthly increments ever since. The rules were tightened in July for U.S. travelers transiting through Canada to Alaska for essential travel. The current closure lasts through Oct. 21.
    The measures are widely supported in Canada, which has fared far better against the coronavirus than the United States (though several provinces have seen cases climb in recent weeks). The restrictions have had minimal impact on trade, but they’ve hit tourism, split families and upended life in tightly knit border communities in ways big and small that some fear could be permanent. Some Canadian businesses want to let Americans back in. Most Canadians don’t. That’s particularly apparent in Hyder, Alaska’s easternmost town, home to some 60 souls, and Stewart, a comparative metropolis of more than 400. The only way in or out of Hyder is through Stewart or by float plane. Families there rely on Stewart for gas, groceries, laundry, firewood and electricity. They set their clocks to Stewart time. Their phone numbers use the B.C. area code. Each July 1, when a pandemic isn’t closing the border, the people of Hyder cross into Stewart for a Canada Day parade. Three days later, the people of Stewart head in the opposite direction for the Fourth of July. (Festivities include the “Bush Woman Classic,” an obstacle course of sorts in which female contestants must chop wood, flip a flapjack, diaper a baby doll and then apply lipstick while running 20 yards to the finish line.)
    President Barack Obama pointed to the bond between the towns as evidence of the close ties between Canada and the United States during Trudeau’s state visit in 2016.Now, each Hyder household may send one member on a three-hour visit to Stewart for essentials every seven days. Residents of Stewart may enter Hyder because there’s no U.S. immigration control, but must quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Miners who enter Hyder to work are exempt because the activity is considered essential. Support for a travel bubble is widespread. Stewart Mayor Gina McKay said she worries about her Hyder neighbors, and whether they’ll be able to adequately prepare for winter and months more of isolation.


  • Assez curieusement, l’article du Washington Post, par Liz Sly, laisse ouverte l’option d’une attaque israélienne. Beirut explosions : Scores killed and more than 3,000 injured, Health Ministry says

    The explosions coincide with mounting tensions between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, which maintains a facility at the port and has long been accused by U.S. officials of using it to smuggle weapons into the country. The incident follows a spate of mysterious blasts at Shiite militia weapon-storage sites in Iraq last year, which Iraqi and Israeli officials have said Israel was responsible for, and more recently a string of explosions at military sites and sensitive locations in Iran, which regional intelligence officials have said Israel, at least in part, was behind.


    At a news conference, President Trump called the explosion a “terrible attack” and said U.S. generals seemed to feel that it was the result of a “bomb of some kind.” But military officials said they had yet to make a solid assessment of the explosions.


    But suspicions lingered that Israel may have been involved, said a senior Lebanese army officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive. Numerous witnesses reported hearing warplanes overhead at the time, he noted.

    “There are suspicions,” the official said. “There will be no conclusion until there has been a full investigation.”

    Israeli planes and drones have been spotted flying with increasing regularity over the city in recent weeks as tensions have risen.

    • Selon de nombreux témoignages, des avions ont été entendus avant l’explosion, mais Israël dément toute implication
      OLJ / le 05 août 2020 à 11h52

      (...) Dès mardi soir, Israël avait vite réagi à ce drame, démentant toute responsabilité et proposant même son aide au Liban. « Je ne vois pas de raison de douter des informations émanant de Beyrouth (...) il s’agit d’un accident qui semble avoir été causé par un incendie », a déclaré le chef de la diplomatie israélienne Gabi Ashkenazi mardi soir à la chaîne israélienne 12. « Israël n’a rien à voir avec cet incident », a aussi commenté auprès de l’AFP une source gouvernementale requérant l’anonymat.

      Sur le terrain, sur les réseaux sociaux, ou encore sur les plateaux de télévision, de nombreux témoignages font toutefois état de survols juste avant les explosions. Mais impossible, à l’heur actuelle, d’établir un lien entre ces survols et les explosions.

      Les survols d’avions de combats israéliens sont quasi-quotidien au-dessus de tout le Liban, dans un contexte de vive tensions entre les deux pays, techniquement toujours en guerre. La tension entre les deux pays est montée d’un cran ces derniers jours, l’armée israélienne étant en état d’alerte à la frontière libanaise. (...)

  • ISIS exploits Iraq’s coronavirus lockdown to step up attacks - The Washington Post

    Islamic State militants in Iraq are exploiting the coronavirus lockdown to intensify their attacks, striking more frequently and at times with more sophistication than in recent years.

    In the northern city of Kirkuk, a suicide bomber walked calmly toward an intelligence headquarters last week before detonating his load in a fireball. Days later, ISIS militants carried out a nighttime ambush on a government-affiliated militia checkpoint north of Baghdad. More attacks near Baghdad and in Kirkuk followed.



  • Singapore’s coronavirus outbreak is spinning out of control, and migrant workers are bearing the brunt - The Washington Post

    Shekor arrived in Singapore a decade ago at age 17, one of many low-income migrant workers who have powered the city’s growth, building hospitals, subway lines and the Marina Bay Sands resort. In his years working in aluminum production and on construction sites, the Bangladeshi national has suffered various work-related injuries. The most recent, on March 18, left him with searing pain in his left hip. That was also the date that coronavirus infections in the city-state — whose early (...)

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