• U.A.E. Splits With U.S. Over Blame for Oil Tanker Attack in May - Bloomberg

    A U.S. Navy vessel guards the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman.
    Photographer: Mumen Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

    The United Arab Emirates appeared to distance itself from U.S. claims that pinned attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on Iran.

    Honestly we can’t point the blame at any country because we don’t have evidence,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.

    While an investigation by the U.A.E., Norway and Saudi Arabia concluded that a “state actor” was most likely behind the incident in May, no nation was singled out. Still, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said that Iran was almost certainly responsible.

  • Russia Squeezing Embattled Venezuela for Tax-Free Gas Expansion - Bloomberg

    Photographer: Wil Riera/Bloomberg

    • Venezuela offers Rosneft path to amplify natural gas dominance
    • Expropriation clause gives Moscow-based company a hedge

    Russia’s state-controlled oil giant, Rosneft PJSC, is extracting concessions from crisis-ridden Venezuela to enter the offshore natural gas market on the cheap, a potential headache for the U.S. and Europe.

    An accord signed by both Russia and Venezuela earlier this month will give Rosneft tax breaks to produce and export gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields off Venezuela’s east coast. The document, which also includes a “fair market price” in the event of an expropriation, makes changes to a bilateral agreement reached in 2009, according to a filing by the Russian government.

    The deal underscores how Russia is both propping up and gaining from the Nicolas Maduro regime at a time when the U.S. is sanctioning Maduro and China has cut its support. Venezuelan gas could eventually offer Russia new entry points into both Asia and Europe.

    China is backing away in terms of its financial exposure,” Andrew Stanley, an associate fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a telephone interview. “Whereas the Russians, over the past few years, they’ve gone in the opposite direction, they’ve kind of doubled down and seen this as an opportunistic plan.

    Since 2014, Rosneft has loaned about $6.5 billion to Venezuela in exchange for oil, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, has been repaying the loans by delivering barrels to Rosneft, and had an outstanding debt of about $1.8 billion in the first quarter, according to a company presentation.

    As a result of the changes signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rosneft and its suppliers will be exempt from value added and import taxes to develop the two gas fields, which are near to where Exxon Mobil Corp. is rushing to extract oil in neighboring Guyana. The agreement was filed online by the Russian legal information website, which publishes orders by the president and applied international treaties.

  • Russian biologist plans more CRISPR-edited babies

    Je n’ai pas réussi à extraire une simple partie de ce texte, tant l’ensemble me semble complètement hors-jeu. Je partage l’avis de l’auteur de l’article : la folie et l’hubris scientifiques se serrent la main dans le dos de l’humanité. Choisir de surcroit des femmes en difficulté (HIV positive) est bien dans la lignée machiste d’une science qui impose plus qu’elle ne propose.

    La guerre internationale à la réputation, la course à « être le premier » (ici le masculin s’impose), la science sans conscience ne peuvent que provoquer ce genre de dérives. Il faudra réfléchir à une « slow science » et à un réel partage des découvertes, qui permettrait de prendre le temps du recul, et qui pourrait associer la société civile (ici au sens de celle qui n’est pas engagée dans la guerre des sciences).

    The proposal follows a Chinese scientist who claimed to have created twins from edited embryos last year.
    David Cyranoski

    Denis Rebrikov

    Molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov is planning controversial gene-editing experiments in HIV-positive women.

    A Russian scientist says he is planning to produce gene-edited babies, an act that would make him only the second person known to have done this. It would also fly in the face of the scientific consensus that such experiments should be banned until an international ethical framework has agreed on the circumstances and safety measures that would justify them.

    Molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov has told Nature he is considering implanting gene-edited embryos into women, possibly before the end of the year if he can get approval by then. Chinese scientist He Jiankui prompted an international outcry when he announced last November that he had made the world’s first gene-edited babies — twin girls.

    The experiment will target the same gene, called CCR5, that He did, but Rebrikov claims his technique will offer greater benefits, pose fewer risks and be more ethically justifiable and acceptable to the public. Rebrikov plans to disable the gene, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter cells, in embryos that will be implanted into HIV-positive mothers, reducing the risk of them passing on the virus to the baby in utero. By contrast, He modified the gene in embryos created from fathers with HIV, which many geneticists said provided little clinical benefit because the risk of a father passing on HIV to his children is minimal.

    Rebrikov heads a genome-editing laboratory at Russia’s largest fertility clinic, the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Moscow and is a researcher at the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, also in Moscow.

    According to Rebrikov he already has an agreement with an HIV centre in the city to recruit women infected with HIV who want to take part in the experiment.

    But scientists and bioethicists contacted by Nature are troubled by Rebrikov’s plans.

    “The technology is not ready,” says Jennifer Doudna, a University of California Berkeley molecular biologist who pioneered the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing system that Rebrikov plans to use. “It is not surprising, but it is very disappointing and unsettling.”

    Alta Charo, a researcher in bioethics and law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says Rebrikov’s plans are not an ethical use of the technology. “It is irresponsible to proceed with this protocol at this time,” adds Charo, who sits on a World Health Organization committee that is formulating ethical governance policies for human genome editing.
    Rules and regulations

    Implanting gene-edited embryos is banned in many countries. Russia has a law that prohibits genetic engineering in most circumstances, but it is unclear whether or how the rules would be enforced in relation to gene editing in an embryo. And Russia’s regulations on assisted reproduction do not explicitly refer to gene editing, according to a 2017 analysis of such regulations in a range of countries. (The law in China is also ambiguous: in 2003, the health ministry banned genetically modifying human embryos for reproduction but the ban carried no penalties and He’s legal status was and still is not clear).

    Rebrikov expects the health ministry to clarify the rules on the clinical use of gene-editing of embryos in the next nine months. Rebrikov says he feels a sense of urgency to help women with HIV, and is tempted to proceed with his experiments even before Russia hashes out regulations.

    To reduce the chance he would be punished for the experiments, Rebrikov plans to first seek approval from three government agencies, including the health ministry. That could take anywhere from one month to two years, he says.

    Konstantin Severinov, a molecular geneticist who recently helped the government design a funding program for gene-editing research, says such approvals might be difficult. Russia’s powerful Orthodox church opposes gene editing, says Severinov, who splits his time between Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology near Moscow.

    Before any scientist attempts to implant gene-edited embryos into women there needs to be a transparent, open debate about the scientific feasibility and ethical permissibility, says geneticist George Daley at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who also heard about Rebrikov’s plans from Nature.

    One reason that gene-edited embryos have created a huge global debate is that, if allowed to grow into babies, the edits can be passed on to future generations — a far-reaching intervention known as altering the germ line. Researchers agree that the technology might, one day, help to eliminate genetic diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia and cystic fibrosis, but much more testing is needed before it is used in the alteration of human beings.

    In the wake of He’s announcement, many scientists renewed calls for an international moratorium on germline editing. Although that has yet to happen, the World Health Organization, the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society and other prominent organizations have all discussed how to stop unethical and dangerous uses — often defined as ones that pose unnecessary or excessive risk — of genome editing in humans.
    HIV-positive mothers

    Although He was widely criticized for conducting his experiments using sperm from HIV-positive fathers, his argument was that he just wanted to protect people against ever getting the infection. But scientists and ethicists countered that there are other ways to decrease the risk of infection, such as contraceptives. There are also reasonable alternatives, such as drugs, for preventing maternal transmission of HIV, says Charo.

    Rebrikov agrees, and so plans to implant embryos only into a subset of HIV-positive mothers who do not respond to standard anti-HIV drugs. Their risk of transmitting the infection to the child is higher. If editing successfully disables the CCR5 gene, that risk would be greatly reduced, Rebrikov says. “This is a clinical situation which calls for this type of therapy,” he says.

    Most scientists say there is no justification for editing the CCR5 gene in embryos, even so, because the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. Even if the therapy goes as planned, and both copies of the CCR5 gene in cells are disabled, there is still a chance that such babies could become infected with HIV. The cell-surface protein encoded by CCR5 is thought to be the gateway for some 90% of HIV infections, but getting rid of it won’t affect other routes of HIV infection. There are still many unknowns about the safety of gene editing in embryos, says Gaetan Burgio at the Australian National University in Canberra. And what are the benefits of editing this gene, he asks. “I don’t see them.”
    Hitting the target

    There are also concerns about the safety of gene editing in embryos more generally. Rebrikov claims that his experiment — which, like He’s, will use the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing tool — will be safe.

    One big concern with He’s experiment — and with gene-editing in embryos more generally — is that CRISPR-Cas9 can cause unintended ‘off-target’ mutations away from the target gene, and that these could be dangerous if they, for instance, switched off a tumour-suppressor gene. But Rebrikov says that he is developing a technique that can ensure that there are no ‘off-target’ mutations; he plans to post preliminary findings online within a month, possibly on bioRxiv or in a peer-reviewed journal.

    Scientists contacted by Nature were sceptical that such assurances could be made about off-target mutations, or about another known challenge of using CRISPR-Cas 9 — so-called ‘on-target mutations’, in which the correct gene is edited, but not in the way intended.

    Rebrikov writes, in a paper published last year in the Bulletin of the RSMU, of which he is the editor in chief, that his technique disables both copies of the CCR5 gene (by deleting a section of 32 bases) more than 50% of the time. He says publishing in this journal was not a conflict of interest because reviewers and editors are blinded to a paper’s authors.

    But Doudna is sceptical of those results. “The data I have seen say it’s not that easy to control the way the DNA repair works.” Burgio, too, thinks that the edits probably led to other deletions or insertions that are difficult to detect, as is often the case with gene editing.

    Misplaced edits could mean that the gene isn’t properly disabled, and so the cell is still accessible to HIV, or that the mutated gene could function in a completely different and unpredictable way. “It can be a real mess,” says Burgio.

    What’s more, the unmutated CCR5 has many functions that are not yet well understood, but which offer some benefits, say scientists critical of Rebrikov’s plans. For instance, it seems to offer some protection against major complications following infection by the West Nile virus or influenza. “We know a lot about its [CCR5’s] role in HIV entry [to cells], but we don’t know much about its other effects,” says Burgio. A study published last week also suggested that people without a working copy of CCR5 might have a shortened lifespan.

    Rebrikov understands that if he proceeds with his experiment before Russia’s updated regulations are in place, he might be considered a second He Jiankui. But he says he would only do so if he’s sure of the safety of the procedure. “I think I’m crazy enough to do it,” he says.

    Nature 570, 145-146 (2019)
    doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01770-x

  • U.S. and Russia trade blame over near collision in East Asian waters - Reuters

    Russia and the United States blamed each other for a near collision between their warships in East Asian waters on Friday with both countries accusing one another of dangerous and unprofessional behavior.

    Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington would lodge a formal diplomatic protest to Russia, while a senior Russian parliamentarian said such episodes could easily escalate tensions, which he said were already balanced “on a razor’s edge”.

    Russia’s Pacific Fleet said that the USS Chancellorsville, a guided-missile cruiser, had come within just 50 meters (165 feet) of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov which was forced to take emergency action to avoid a collision, Russian news agencies reported.

    They cited a Russian Pacific Fleet statement as saying the incident took place in the early hours of Friday morning in the eastern part of the East China Sea at a time when a group of Russian warships was on a parallel course with a U.S. naval strike group.

    The U.S guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov coming within 50 meters of the ship,” the statement said.

    A protest over the international radio frequency was made to the commanders of the American ship who were warned about the unacceptable nature of such actions,” it said.

    The U.S. Navy rejected that version of events, saying the behavior of the Russian ship had been “unsafe and unprofessional”.

    While operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer ... made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville,” U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman Commander Clayton Doss said.

    This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision.

    He described a Russian assertion that the U.S. ship had acted dangerously as “propaganda”. The Russian destroyer came within 50 to 100 feet of the Chancellorsville, he said, putting the safety of its crew and the ship at risk.

    Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Shanahan said Washington would formally protest.

    We’ll have military-to-military conversations with the Russians, and of course we’ll demarche them, but to me safety at the end of the day is the most important (part),” he told reporters outside the Pentagon.

    It will not deter us from conducting our operations.

    The incident comes days after Washington and Moscow sparred over an allegedly unsafe spy plane intercept by a Russian fighter jet near Syria.

    Alexei Pushkov, a senior Russian parliamentarian, said the near naval miss and other incidents like it were dangerous.

    We’re balancing on a razor’s edge,” he wrote on social media.

    Pour les Russes, ça s’est passé à l’est de la #Mer_de_Chine_orientale, pour les États-Uniens en #mer_des_Philippines



    • Vues de l’hélicoptère de l’USS Chancellorsville :

      sur le site de la Marine états-unienne, ainsi que le communiqué.
      7th Fleet Statement on Unsafe Maneuver by Russian Destroyer
      /submit/display.asp ?story_id=109833

      PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) — At approximately 11:45 am on June 7, 2019 while operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer (UDALOY I DD 572) made an unsafe maneuver against guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), closing to approximately 50-100 feet putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk. 

      While USS Chancellorsville was recovering its helicopter on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship DD572 maneuvered from behind and to the right of Chancellorsville accelerated and closed to an unsafe distance of approximately 50-100 feet. This unsafe action forced USS Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision. 
      We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional and not in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), “Rules of the Road,” and internationally recognized maritime customs.

    • Les images aériennes sont impressionnantes et montrent bien qu’on est passé tout près d’une collision. Ce dont ne rendent absolument pas compte les vidéos tournées de la passerelle du Chancellorsville où l’on ne voit que les deux navires en route parallèle. On jurerait presque qu’ils sont en manœuvre de ravitaillement à la mer…

      Les sillages montrent sans ambiguïté que c’est le navire russe qui a manœuvré in extremis. Tout le reste est difficile à interpréter.

      • d’après les É.-U., le Chancellorsville récupère son hélicoptère. Or d’après les images celui-ci est déjà à une distance certaine sur l’avant du navire. On pourrait imaginer qu’il a interrompu son approche (forcément par l’arrière) au vu de l’incertitude de la situation tactique, en ce cas je ne connais pas la procédure de dégagement, certainement une reprise d’altitude, mais dans quelle direction relative au navire ? Ça me paraît étonnant que l’hélico puisse se retrouver aussi loin sur l’avant aussi rapidement.

      Quant à l’application des règles de route du #RIPAM, elle ne me paraît pas aussi évidente que certains commentateurs l’affirment.
      • certes le russe est sur le tribord de l’états-unien, ce qui normalement oblige ce dernier à laisser le passage, mais,…
      • s’il est en route aviation pour l’appontement de son hélico (cf. premier point, douteux) il est alors en manœuvrabilité restreinte et il doit en arborer à son mat la marque (1 boule, 1 icône, 1 boule superposées .
      • on peut aussi se poser la question de l’angle entre les deux sillages. S’il fait moins de 67,5° (de nuit, le russe ne verrait que le feu de poupe, pas le feu de tribord), alors le navire russe est en situation de dépassement et c’est à lui de manœuvrer. Dans le cas contraire, c’est à l’américain. _A priori
      , on est autour des 45°, mais la projection de l’angle due à la perspective vue de l’hélico rend l’évaluation malaisée.
      • enfin, il est aussi difficile de juger si le Chancellorsville bat effectivement en arrière toute. L’absence de sillage sur la deuxième image, alors que sur la première on en perçoit un léger, ainsi que l’écume sur l’arrière du bateau vont dans ce sens, mais des nuages commencent à s’interposer. Par ailleurs, sur les vidéos on ne perçoit pas vraiment de changement de la vitesse relative entre les deux bateaux.

      Au vu de tout ça, il me semble bien que l’Admiral Vinogradov est effectivement navire rattrapant et que la manœuvre qu’il effectue est extrêmement tardive…

  • Statistiques de la conférence de presse des organisations syriennes et de la défense civile aujourd’hui sur les résultats de la récente campagne sur les zones libérées, #Idlib :
    - 600 victimes
    - 5 marchés populaires ciblés
    - 22 installations médicales ont été détruites
    - La fermeture de 55 établissements médicaux
    - Utilisation de chlore à Canibiet
    - 80 enfants tués
    - 50 écoles ciblées
    - 45 000 enfants sont sortis de l’éducation
    Déplacés 307 000 plus de 50 000 familles
    - 27 mosquées détruits
    - Destruction de 9 fours de production du pain
    - Brûler des cultures avec du Phosphore

    #guerre #conflit #victimes #statistiques #chiffres #phosphore #armes_chimiques Canibiet #destruction #écoles #enfants #déscolarisation #morts #décès

    Reçu d’un ami réfugié syrien qui vit à Grenoble, via whatsapp, le 01.06.2019

    • Stop the carnage: doctors call for an end to Syria hospital airstrikes

      Dozens of prominent doctors have called for urgent action to halt the bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian planes that has targeted more than 20 hospitals in Syria’s north-west, putting many out of action and leaving millions of people without proper healthcare.

      Coordinates for many of those hit had been shared with the regime and its Russian backers by the United Nations in an effort to protect civilians. The Syrian opposition were promised war planes would avoid identified sites on bombing raids; instead they have endured more than a month of fierce attacks.

      Since late April, in defiance of a truce brokered by Moscow and Ankara last year, regular airstrikes on opposition-held territory in northern Idlib province have killed hundreds of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more, rights groups say.

      They have also destroyed key parts of the healthcare system, says a letter from doctors around the world published in the Observer. “We are appalled by the deliberate and systematic targeting of healthcare facilities and medical staff,” they warned. “Their [the medical staff’s] job is to save lives, they must not lose their own in the process.”

      Signatories include Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist who won the Nobel peace prize last year, Peter Agre, a physician who won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2003, MP and doctor Sarah Wollaston, and Terence English, former president of the Royal College of Surgeons, as well as David Nott, a surgeon who works in war zones, and Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian exile, doctor and founder of a medical charity. They urged the UN to investigate the targeting of listed hospitals and asked the international community to put pressure on Russia and Syria to stop targeting medical centres and reverse funding cuts to surviving hospitals and clinics that are now overwhelmed by refugees.

      One paediatrician, Abdulkader Razouk, described to the Observer how he and his colleagues evacuated an entire hospital including dialysis patients, mothers in labour and premature babies in incubators, as airstrikes began in their town, at least 12 miles from the frontline. “After the airstrikes, but before the direct attack, we knew the hospital would be targeted,” he said in a phone interview about the Tarmala hospital, which was eventually hit on 10 May. “Only a few medical staff stayed to provide emergency response.”
      Letters: The BBC’s wish for a finger in every pie
      Read more

      The airstrike destroyed more than half the hospital and much of its equipment from beds and generators to the operating theatres, emergency services and pharmacy. Staff went back briefly to hunt through the rubble for any supplies that survived the onslaught but the building is now abandoned. “It would be impossible to rebuild and reopen now,” Razouk said. “The airstrikes are continuing and still targeting the hospital until this moment, even though it’s empty.”

      The May bombing was not the first attack on the hospital. That came in 2015, first with the Syrian military’s wildly inaccurate barrel bombs, and later by Russian missiles, that destroyed a residential building next door but spared the clinic itself. In 2018 there was a direct hit on the clinic but then it was able to reopen after repairs.

      However the damage after the latest attack was so severe that it is beyond repair, and anyway most of the civilians it served have fled, Razouk said.

      “This was the worst attack, it has been very tough, there is no possibility whatsoever to continue work there,” he said. “Life can’t return to this area, especially under these brutal attacks. There are no people, not even animals, there’s nothing left in there, it’s like a doomed land. There is no hope to go back.”

      He and other staff are opening a new temporary hospital near the Turkish border, where most of the residents of Tarmala have fled and are now living in refugee camps. It will have some of the neonatal incubators and dialysis machines evacuated before the strike, but there is a desperate need for more supplies.

      Around 80 medical facilities – including clinics and hospitals – have been shut because of damage in attacks or because of fear they will be targeted, said Mohamad Katoub from the Syrian American Medical Society. The huge number of refugees displaced by attacks has left those that are still operating overwhelmed.

      “The tactic of attacking health and other civilian infrastructure in Syria is not new, displacement is not new, these are all chronic issues. But this is the biggest displacement ever, and it is much further beyond our capacity as NGOs to respond,” he said.

      Turkey, which backs Idlib’s rebel groups, is already home to 3.6 million Syrians and faces the dilemma of whether or not to absorb any of the newly displaced. A group were reportedly planning a protest march to the border at the weekend.

      The de-escalation deal brokered last autumn saved Idlib and the surrounding countryside from an impending government assault. At the time, aid agencies warned that a military campaign would put the lives of 3 million civilians at risk, and trigger the worst humanitarian crisis of an already protracted and bloody war.

      But the agreement has unravelled since January, when the hardline Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) wrested control of the area from more moderate rebels.

      Damascus and Moscow have said the HTS takeover legitimises the current campaign against Idlib as they are targeting terrorists not covered by the ceasefire deal.

      Many civilians in Idlib now feel they have been caught between the harsh rule of HTS and the intensified regime assault, and say that life has all but ground to a halt.

      “I was studying at Idlib university but I’ve had to stop going. So has my sister,” said 22-year-old Raja al-Assaad, from Ma’arat al-Nu’maan, which has been under heavy attack.

      “Some people have left to try to go to Turkey but the truth is that there is nowhere to go. Nowhere in Idlib is safe. And in my town we already have lots of people who have been displaced from lots of other areas of Syria.”

      “All normal life has shut down and there is nothing for us to do except wait for death.”

    • Russie/Syrie : Nouveau recours à des #armes interdites

      Ces attaques qui aggravent les souffrances des civils violent les normes du #droit_international.

      Les forces armées russes et syriennes ont utilisé de manière indiscriminée des armes interdites en vertu du droit international contre des zones civiles dans le nord-ouest de la Syrie au cours des dernières semaines, a déclaré Human Rights Watch aujourd’hui. Selon les Nations Unies, cette région est actuellement habitée par environ trois millions de civils, dont au moins la moitié sont des personnes déplacées ayant fui d’autres régions du pays.

      Depuis le 26 avril 2019, l’alliance militaire russo-syrienne a mené quotidiennement des centaines d’attaques contre des groupes antigouvernementaux dans les gouvernorats d’Idlib, de #Hama et d’#Alep,, tuant environ 200 civils, dont 20 enfants. L’alliance a utilisé contre des zones civiles densement peuplées des armes à sous-munitions et des armes incendiaires, pourtant interdites selon le droit international, ainsi que des barils d’explosifs (« #barrel_bombs ») largués sur ces zones, d’après des secouristes, des témoins et des informations disponibles via des sources en accès libre. Le 17 mai, le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies a tenu une deuxième réunion d’urgence au sujet de la situation dans le nord-ouest de la Syrie, sans pour autant élaborer une stratégie précise pour protéger les civils qui y résident.

      « L’alliance militaire russo-syrienne utilise de manière indiscriminée contre des civils piégés une panoplie d’armes pourtant interdites par le droit international », a déclaré Lama Fakih, directrice par intérim de la division Moyen-Orient à Human Rights Watch. « Entretemps, la Russie exploite sa présence au Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies pour se protéger et pour protéger son allié à Damas, et pour poursuivre ces exactions contre des civils. »

      Les armes à sous-munitions peuvent être lancées depuis le sol par des systèmes d’artillerie, des roquettes et des projectiles, ou bien larguées depuis le ciel. Elles explosent généralement dans l’air, dispersant plusieurs petites bombes, ou sous-munitions, au-dessus d’une vaste zone. De nombreuses sous-munitions n’explosent toutefois pas lors de l’impact initial, ce qui laisse au sol de dangereux fragments explosifs qui, à l’instar des mines terrestres, peuvent mutiler et tuer, des années après.

      Les armes incendiaires, qui produisent de la chaleur et du feu par le bais de la réaction chimique d’une substance inflammable, provoquent des brûlures atroces et sont capables de détruire des maisons et d’autres structures civiles.

      La Convention de 2008 sur les armes à sous-munitions interdit l’utilisation d’armes à sous-munitions, tandis que le Protocole III de la Convention sur les armes classiques interdit certaines utilisations des armes incendiaires. La Russie et la Syrie ne font pas partie des 120 pays ayant adhéré à la Convention sur les armes à sous-munitions, mais la Russie est un État partie au Protocole sur les armes incendiaires.

    • La battaglia per Idlib

      Dal 26 aprile le forze del governo siriano, sostenute dall’assistenza militare russa, hanno intensificato un’offensiva a Idlib, nella provincia nord-occidentale della Siria, l’ultima roccaforte dell’opposizione armata al presidente Assad. A Idlib vivono quasi tre milioni di persone, metà delle quali sfollate internamente. Per questo gli accordi di Astana firmati proprio dalla Russia, insieme a Turchia e Iran, indicavano Idlib come una zona di de-escalation delle violenze. Un accordo però che non sembra più aver valore. Ieri la Russia ha bloccato una dichiarazione del Consiglio di sicurezza dell’ONU, con la quale il consiglio voleva lanciare un allarme per l’intensificarsi del intorno alla provincia di Idlib, con l’intento di scongiurare un disastro umanitario.

      Anche nel conflitto libico i civili sono quelli a pagare il prezzo più alto. Attualmente in Libia ci sono oltre 1 milione di persone bisognose di assistenza umanitaria e protezione. Non solo migranti e rifugiati, ma anche sfollati libici che vivono in condizioni di estrema marginalità sociale, senza accesso a cure e servizi essenziali e martoriati dal conflitto in corso. La campagna #Oltrelefrontiere ” promossa da CIR vuole migliorare il livello di protezione di migranti, rifugiati e sfollati interni, fornendo assistenza umanitaria e promuovendo la ricerca di soluzioni durature, per contribuire alla progressiva normalizzazione delle loro condizioni di vita.

  • ‘How do they sleep?’ Roger Waters calls out US, UK & France over ‘faked’ Douma chemical attack — RT World News

    Citing newly leaked OPCW documents casting doubt on the April 2018 ‘chemical attack’ that triggered a bombing of Syria, rock star Roger Waters is calling out everyone who believed in the ‘murderous fairytale’ of the White Helmets.

    US, UK and France launched air strikes against Syria in April last year, after an alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma, northeast of Damascus. The claims came from the White Helmets, a self-styled ‘civil defense’ organization backed by Western governments and embedded with the Islamist militants in Syria.

    “The White Helmets probably murdered 34 women and children to dress the scene that sorry day in Douma,” Waters posted on his Facebook page on Thursday, next to a video of his April 2018 concert in Barcelona in which he challenged the group as “a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for the jihadists and terrorists.”

    Waters added he hopes that those in the media and the governments in Paris, London and Washington that bought into the White Helmets’ “callous and murderous fairytale are suitably haunted by the indelible images of those lost innocent Syrian lives.”

    Internal OPCW documents leaked earlier this week cast doubt on the organization’s final report about the Douma incident, which claimed chlorine was ‘likely’ used against civilians. Syrian and Russian soldiers that liberated the town from militants found chlorine containers and a laboratory for producing chemical weapons. Moscow has suggested that the OPCW hedged its report because it did not want to contradict the US narrative.

    #syrie #propagande

    • Intéressant : Brian Whitaker a publié un assez gros point sur cette « fuite ». Leaked document revives controversy over Syria chemical attacks

      A leaked document which contradicts key findings of an official investigation into chemical weapons in Syria has surfaced on the internet. Described as an “engineering assessment” and marked “draft for internal review”, it appears to have been written by an employee of the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — the international body charged with the investigation.

      In April 2018 dozens of people were reportedly killed by a chemical attack in Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus, and western powers responded with airstrikes directed against the Assad regime.

      In March this year, after a lengthy investigation, the OPCW issued a report which found “reasonable grounds” for believing a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon in Douma and suggested the chemical involved was chlorine gas, delivered by cylinders dropped from the air.

      Although the investigators’ brief did not allow them to apportion blame, use of air-dropped cylinders implied the regime was responsible, since rebel fighters in Syria had no aircraft.

      The 15-page leaked document takes the opposite view and says it is more likely that the two cylinders in question had been “manually placed” in the spot where they were found, rather than being dropped from the air. The implication of this is that Syrian rebels had planted them to create the false appearance of a chemical attack by the regime.

      Whitaker, sur ce sujet, s’est régulièrement illustré par une dénonciation virulente de ce qu’il appelle les « truthers » sur la Syrie. Encore très récemment :

    • Après, personnellement, le fait de conclure directement à l’analyse opposée (« les casques blancs ont fait le coup ») sur la foi d’un seul rapport minoritaire non retenu dans le rapport final, ça me semble excessivement prématuré.

  • Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism

    I’ve come back to check on a baby. Just after dusk I’m in a car lumbering down a muddy road in the rain, past rows of shackled elephants, their trunks swaying. I was here five hours before, when the sun was high and hot and tourists were on elephants’ backs.

    Walking now, I can barely see the path in the glow of my phone’s flashlight. When the wooden fence post of the stall stops me short, I point my light down and follow a current of rainwater across the concrete floor until it washes up against three large, gray feet. A fourth foot hovers above the surface, tethered tightly by a short chain and choked by a ring of metal spikes. When the elephant tires and puts her foot down, the spikes press deeper into her ankle.

    Meena is four years and two months old, still a toddler as elephants go. Khammon Kongkhaw, her mahout, or caretaker, told me earlier that Meena wears the spiked chain because she tends to kick. Kongkhaw has been responsible for Meena here at Maetaman Elephant Adventure, near Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, since she was 11 months old. He said he keeps her on the spiked shackle only during the day and takes it off at night. But it’s night now.

    I ask Jin Laoshen, the Maetaman staffer accompanying me on this nighttime visit, why her chain is still on. He says he doesn’t know.

    Maetaman is one of many animal attractions in and around tourist-swarmed Chiang Mai. People spill out of tour buses and clamber onto the trunks of elephants that, at the prodding of their mahouts’ bullhooks (long poles with a sharp metal hook), hoist them in the air while cameras snap. Visitors thrust bananas toward elephants’ trunks. They watch as mahouts goad their elephants—some of the most intelligent animals on the planet—to throw darts or kick oversize soccer balls while music blares.

    Meena is one of Maetaman’s 10 show elephants. To be precise, she’s a painter. Twice a day, in front of throngs of chattering tourists, Kongkhaw puts a paintbrush in the tip of her trunk and presses a steel nail to her face to direct her brushstrokes as she drags primary colors across paper. Often he guides her to paint a wild elephant in the savanna. Her paintings are then sold to tourists.

    Meena’s life is set to follow the same trajectory as many of the roughly 3,800 captive elephants in Thailand and thousands more throughout Southeast Asia. She’ll perform in shows until she’s about 10. After that, she’ll become a riding elephant. Tourists will sit on a bench strapped to her back, and she’ll give several rides a day. When Meena is too old or sick to give rides—maybe at 55, maybe at 75—she’ll die. If she’s lucky, she’ll get a few years of retirement. She’ll spend most of her life on a chain in a stall.

    Wildlife attractions such as Maetaman lure people from around the world to be with animals like Meena, and they make up a lucrative segment of the booming global travel industry. Twice as many trips are being taken abroad as 15 years ago, a jump driven partly by Chinese tourists, who spend far more on international travel than any other nationality.

    Wildlife tourism isn’t new, but social media is setting the industry ablaze, turning encounters with exotic animals into photo-driven bucket-list toppers. Activities once publicized mostly in guidebooks now are shared instantly with multitudes of people by selfie-taking backpackers, tour-bus travelers, and social media “influencers” through a tap on their phone screens. Nearly all millennials (23- to 38-year-olds) use social media while traveling. Their selfies—of swims with dolphins, encounters with tigers, rides on elephants, and more—are viral advertising for attractions that tout up-close experiences with animals.

    For all the visibility social media provides, it doesn’t show what happens beyond the view of the camera lens. People who feel joy and exhilaration from getting close to wild animals usually are unaware that many of the animals at such attractions live a lot like Meena, or worse.

    Photographer Kirsten Luce and I set out to look behind the curtain of the thriving wildlife tourism industry, to see how animals at various attractions—including some that emphasize their humane care of animals—are treated once the selfie-taking crowds have gone.

    After leaving Maetaman, we take a five-minute car ride up a winding hill to a property announced by a wooden plaque as “Elephant EcoValley: where elephants are in good hands.” There are no elephant rides here. No paint shows or other performances. Visitors can stroll through an open-air museum and learn about Thailand’s national animal. They can make herbal treats for the elephants and paper from elephant dung. They can watch elephants in a grassy, tree-ringed field.

    EcoValley’s guest book is filled with praise from Australians, Danes, Americans—tourists who often shun elephant camps such as Maetaman because the rides and shows make them uneasy. Here, they can see unchained elephants and leave feeling good about supporting what they believe is an ethical establishment. What many don’t know is that EcoValley’s seemingly carefree elephants are brought here for the day from nearby Maetaman—and that the two attractions are actually a single business.

    Meena was brought here once, but she tried to run into the forest. Another young elephant, Mei, comes sometimes, but today she’s at Maetaman, playing the harmonica in the shows. When she’s not doing that, or spending the day at EcoValley, she’s chained near Meena in one of Maetaman’s elephant stalls.

    Meena Kalamapijit owns Maetaman as well as EcoValley, which she opened in November 2017 to cater to Westerners. She says her 56 elephants are well cared for and that giving rides and performing allow them to have necessary exercise. And, she says, Meena the elephant’s behavior has gotten better since her mahout started using the spiked chain.
    Read MoreWildlife Watch
    Why we’re shining a light on wildlife tourism
    Poaching is sending the shy, elusive pangolin to its doom
    How to do wildlife tourism right

    We sit with Kalamapijit on a balcony outside her office, and she explains that when Westerners, especially Americans, stopped coming to Maetaman, she eliminated one of the daily shows to allot time for visitors to watch elephants bathe in the river that runs through the camp.

    “Westerners enjoy bathing because it looks happy and natural,” she says. “But a Chinese tour agency called me and said, ‘Why are you cutting the show? Our customers love to see it, and they don’t care about bathing at all.’ ” Providing separate options is good for business, Kalamapijit says.

    Around the world Kirsten and I watched tourists watching captive animals. In Thailand we also saw American men bear-hug tigers in Chiang Mai and Chinese brides in wedding gowns ride young elephants in the aqua surf on the island of Phuket. We watched polar bears in wire muzzles ballroom dancing across the ice under a big top in Russia and teenage boys on the Amazon River snapping selfies with baby sloths.

    Most tourists who enjoy these encounters don’t know that the adult tigers may be declawed, drugged, or both. Or that there are always cubs for tourists to snuggle with because the cats are speed bred and the cubs are taken from their mothers just days after birth. Or that the elephants give rides and perform tricks without harming people only because they’ve been “broken” as babies and taught to fear the bullhook. Or that the Amazonian sloths taken illegally from the jungle often die within weeks of being put in captivity.

    As we traveled to performance pits and holding pens on three continents and in the Hawaiian Islands, asking questions about how animals are treated and getting answers that didn’t always add up, it became clear how methodically and systematically animal suffering is concealed.

    The wildlife tourism industry caters to people’s love of animals but often seeks to maximize profits by exploiting animals from birth to death. The industry’s economy depends largely on people believing that the animals they’re paying to watch or ride or feed are having fun too.

    It succeeds partly because tourists—in unfamiliar settings and eager to have a positive experience—typically don’t consider the possibility that they’re helping to hurt animals. Social media adds to the confusion: Oblivious endorsements from friends and trendsetters legitimize attractions before a traveler ever gets near an animal.

    There has been some recognition of social media’s role in the problem. In December 2017, after a National Geographic investigative report on harmful wildlife tourism in Amazonian Brazil and Peru, Instagram introduced a feature: Users who click or search one of dozens of hashtags, such as #slothselfie and #tigercubselfie, now get a pop-up warning that the content they’re viewing may be harmful to animals.

    Everyone finds Olga Barantseva on Instagram. “Photographer from Russia. Photographing dreams,” her bio reads. She meets clients for woodland photo shoots with captive wild animals just outside Moscow.

    For her 18th birthday, Sasha Belova treated herself to a session with Barantseva—and a pack of wolves. “It was my dream,” she says as she fidgets with her hair, which had been styled that morning. “Wolves are wild and dangerous.” The wolves are kept in small cages at a petting zoo when not participating in photo shoots.

    The Kravtsov family hired Barantseva to take their first professional family photos—all five family members, shivering and smiling in the birch forest, joined by a bear named Stepan.

    Barantseva has been photographing people and wild animals together for six years. She “woke up as a star,” she says, in 2015, when a couple of international media outlets found her online. Her audience has exploded to more than 80,000 followers worldwide. “I want to show harmony between people and animals,” she says.

    On a raw fall day, under a crown of golden birch leaves on a hill that overlooks a frigid lake, two-and-a-half-year-old Alexander Levin, dressed in a hooded bumblebee sweater, timidly holds Stepan’s paw.

    The bear’s owners, Yury and Svetlana Panteleenko, ply their star with food—tuna fish mixed with oatmeal—to get him to approach the boy. Snap: It looks like a tender friendship. The owners toss grapes to Stepan to get him to open his mouth wide. Snap: The bear looks as if he’s smiling.

    The Panteleenkos constantly move Stepan, adjusting his paws, feeding him, and positioning Alexander as Barantseva, pink-haired, bundled in jeans and a parka, captures each moment. Snap: A photo goes to her Instagram feed. A boy and a bear in golden Russian woods—a picture straight out of a fairy tale. It’s a contemporary twist on a long-standing Russian tradition of exploiting bears for entertainment.

    Another day in the same forest, Kirsten and I join 12 young women who have nearly identical Instagram accounts replete with dreamy photos of models caressing owls and wolves and foxes. Armed with fancy cameras but as yet modest numbers of followers, they all want the audience Barantseva has. Each has paid the Panteleenkos $760 to take identical shots of models with the ultimate prize: a bear in the woods.

    Stepan is 26 years old, elderly for a brown bear, and can hardly walk. The Panteleenkos say they bought him from a small zoo when he was three months old. They say the bear’s work—a constant stream of photo shoots and movies—provides money to keep him fed.

    A video on Svetlana Panteleenko’s Instagram account proclaims: “Love along with some great food can make anyone a teddy :-)”

    And just like that, social media takes a single instance of local animal tourism and broadcasts it to the world.

    When the documentary film Blackfish was released in 2013, it drew a swift and decisive reaction from the American public. Through the story of Tilikum, a distressed killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, the film detailed the miserable life orcas can face in captivity. Hundreds of thousands of outraged viewers signed petitions. Companies with partnership deals, such as Southwest Airlines, severed ties with SeaWorld. Attendance at SeaWorld’s water parks slipped; its stock nose-dived.

    James Regan says what he saw in Blackfish upset him. Regan, honeymooning in Hawaii with his wife, Katie, is from England, where the country’s last marine mammal park closed permanently in 1993. I meet him at Dolphin Quest Oahu, an upscale swim-with-dolphins business on the grounds of the beachfront Kahala Hotel & Resort, just east of Honolulu. The Regans paid $225 each to swim for 30 minutes in a small group with a bottlenose dolphin. One of two Dolphin Quest locations in Hawaii, the facility houses six dolphins.

    Bottlenose dolphins are the backbone of an industry that spans the globe. Swim-with-dolphins operations rely on captive-bred and wild-caught dolphins that live—and interact with tourists—in pools. The popularity of these photo-friendly attractions reflects the disconnect around dolphin experiences: People in the West increasingly shun shows that feature animals performing tricks, but many see swimming with captive dolphins as a vacation rite of passage.

    Katie Regan has wanted to swim with dolphins since she was a child. Her husband laughs and says of Dolphin Quest, “They paint a lovely picture. When you’re in America, everyone is smiling.” But he appreciates that the facility is at their hotel, so they can watch the dolphins being fed and cared for. He brings up Blackfish again.

    Katie protests: “Stop making my dream a horrible thing!”

    Rae Stone, president of Dolphin Quest and a marine mammal veterinarian, says the company donates money to conservation projects and educates visitors about perils that marine mammals face in the wild. By paying for this entertainment, she says, visitors are helping captive dolphins’ wild cousins.

    Stone notes that Dolphin Quest is certified “humane” by American Humane, an animal welfare nonprofit. (The Walt Disney Company, National Geographic’s majority owner, offers dolphin encounters on some vacation excursions and at an attraction in Epcot, one of its Orlando parks. Disney says it follows the animal welfare standards of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a nonprofit that accredits more than 230 facilities worldwide.)

    It’s a vigorous debate: whether even places with high standards, veterinarians on staff, and features such as pools filled with filtered ocean water can be truly humane for marine mammals.

    Dolphin Quest’s Stone says yes.

    Critics, including the Humane Society of the United States, which does not endorse keeping dolphins in captivity, say no. They argue that these animals have evolved to swim great distances and live in complex social groups—conditions that can’t be replicated in the confines of a pool. This helps explain why the National Aquarium, in Baltimore, announced in 2016 that its dolphins will be retired to a seaside sanctuary by 2020.

    Some U.S. attractions breed their own dolphins because the nation has restricted dolphin catching in the wild since 1972. But elsewhere, dolphins are still being taken from the wild and turned into performers.

    In China, which has no national laws on captive-animal welfare, dolphinariums with wild-caught animals are a booming business: There are now 78 marine mammal parks, and 26 more are under construction.

    To have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see rare Black Sea dolphins, people in the landlocked town of Kaluga, a hundred miles from Moscow, don’t have to leave their city. In the parking lot of the Torgoviy Kvartal shopping mall, next to a hardware store, is a white inflatable pop-up aquarium: the Moscow Traveling Dolphinarium. It looks like a children’s bouncy castle that’s been drained of its color.

    Inside the puffy dome, parents buy their kids dolphin-shaped trinkets: fuzzy dolls and Mylar balloons, paper dolphin hats, and drinks in plastic dolphin tumblers. Families take their seats around a small pool. The venue is so intimate that even the cheapest seats, at nine dollars apiece, are within splashing distance.

    “My kids are jumping for joy,” says a woman named Anya, motioning toward her two giddy boys, bouncing in their seats.

    In the middle of the jubilant atmosphere, in water that seems much too shallow and much too murky, two dolphins swim listlessly in circles.

    Russia is one of only a few countries (Indonesia is another) where traveling oceanariums exist. Dolphins and beluga whales, which need to be immersed in water to stay alive, are put in tubs on trucks and carted from city to city in a loop that usually ends when they die. These traveling shows are aboveboard: Russia has no laws that regulate how marine mammals should be treated in captivity.

    The shows are the domestic arm of a brisk Russian global trade in dolphins and small whales. Black Sea bottlenose dolphins can’t be caught legally without a permit, but Russian fishermen can catch belugas and orcas under legal quotas in the name of science and education. Some belugas are sold legally to aquariums around the country. Russia now allows only a dozen or so orcas to be caught each year for scientific and educational purposes, and since April 2018, the government has cracked down on exporting them. But government investigators believe that Russian orcas—which can sell for millions—are being caught illegally for export to China.

    Captive orcas, which can grow to 20 feet long and more than 10,000 pounds, are too big for the traveling shows that typically feature dolphins and belugas. When I contacted the owners of the Moscow Traveling Dolphinarium and another operation, the White Whale Show, in separate telephone calls to ask where their dolphins and belugas come from, both men, Sergey Kuznetsov and Oleg Belesikov, hung up on me.

    Russia’s dozen or so traveling oceanariums are touted as a way to bring native wild animals to people who might never see the ocean.

    “Who else if not us?” says Mikhail Olyoshin, a staffer at one traveling oceanarium. And on this day in Kaluga, as the dolphins perform tricks to American pop songs and lie on platforms for several minutes for photo ops, parents and children express the same sentiment: Imagine, dolphins, up close, in my hometown. The ocean on delivery.

    Owners and operators of wildlife tourism attractions, from high-end facilities such as Dolphin Quest in Hawaii to low-end monkey shows in Thailand, say their animals live longer in captivity than wild counterparts because they’re safe from predators and environmental hazards. Show operators proudly emphasize that the animals under their care are with them for life. They’re family.

    Alla Azovtseva, a longtime dolphin trainer in Russia, shakes her head.

    “I don’t see any sense in this work. My conscience bites me. I look at my animals and want to cry,” says Azovtseva, who drives a red van with dolphins airbrushed on the side. At the moment, she’s training pilot whales to perform tricks at Moscow’s Moskvarium, one of Europe’s largest aquariums (not connected to the traveling dolphin shows). On her day off, we meet at a café near Red Square.

    She says she fell in love with dolphins in the late 1980s when she read a book by John Lilly, the American neuroscientist who broke open our understanding of the animals’ intelligence. She has spent 30 years training marine mammals to do tricks. But along the way she’s grown heartsick from forcing highly intelligent, social creatures to live isolated, barren lives in small tanks.

    “I would compare the dolphin situation with making a physicist sweep the street,” she says. “When they’re not engaged in performance or training, they just hang in the water facing down. It’s the deepest depression.”

    What people don’t know about many aquarium shows in Russia, Azovtseva says, is that the animals often die soon after being put in captivity, especially those in traveling shows. And Azovtseva—making clear she’s referring to the industry at large in Russia and not the Moskvarium—says she knows many aquariums quietly and illegally replace their animals with new ones.

    It’s been illegal to catch Black Sea dolphins in the wild for entertainment purposes since 2003, but according to Azovtseva, aquarium owners who want to increase their dolphin numbers quickly and cheaply buy dolphins poached there. Because these dolphins are acquired illegally, they’re missing the microchips that captive cetaceans in Russia are usually tagged with as a form of required identification.

    Some aquariums get around that, she says, by cutting out dead dolphins’ microchips and implanting them into replacement dolphins.

    “People are people,” Azovtseva says. “Once they see an opportunity, they exploit.” She says she can’t go on doing her work in the industry and that she’s decided to speak out because she wants people to know the truth about the origins and treatment of many of the marine mammals they love watching. We exchange a look—we both know what her words likely mean for her livelihood.

    “I don’t care if I’m fired,” she says defiantly. “When a person has nothing to lose, she becomes really brave.”

    I’m sitting on the edge of an infinity pool on the hilly Thai side of Thailand’s border with Myanmar, at a resort where rooms average more than a thousand dollars a night.

    Out past the pool, elephants roam in a lush valley. Sitting next to me is 20-year-old Stephanie van Houten. She’s Dutch and French, Tokyo born and raised, and a student at the University of Michigan. Her cosmopolitan background and pretty face make for a perfect cocktail of aspiration—she’s exactly the kind of Instagrammer who makes it as an influencer. That is, someone who has a large enough following to attract sponsors to underwrite posts and, in turn, travel, wardrobes, and bank accounts. In 2018, brands—fashion, travel, tech, and more—spent an estimated $1.6 billion on social media advertising by influencers.

    Van Houten has been here, at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, before. This time, in a fairly standard influencer-brand arrangement, she’ll have a picnic with elephants and post about it to her growing legion of more than 25,000 Instagram followers. In exchange, she gets hundreds of dollars off the nightly rate.

    At Anantara the fields are green, and during the day at least, many of the resort’s 22 elephants are tethered on ropes more than a hundred feet long so they can move around and socialize. Nevertheless, they’re expected to let guests touch them and do yoga beside them.

    After van Houten’s elephant picnic, I watch her edit the day’s hundreds of photos. She selects an image with her favorite elephant, Bo. She likes it, she says, because she felt a connection with Bo and thinks that will come across. She posts it at 9:30 p.m.—the time she estimates the largest number of her followers will be online. She includes a long caption, summing it up as “my love story with this incredible creature,” and the hashtag #stopelephantriding. Immediately, likes from followers stream in—more than a thousand, as well as comments with heart-eyed emoji.

    Anantara is out of reach for anyone but the wealthy—or prominent influencers. Anyone else seeking a similar experience might do a Google search for, say, “Thailand elephant sanctuary.”

    As tourist demand for ethical experiences with animals has grown, affordable establishments, often calling themselves “sanctuaries,” have cropped up purporting to offer humane, up-close elephant encounters. Bathing with elephants—tourists give them a mud bath, splash them in a river, or both—has become very popular. Many facilities portray baths as a benign alternative to elephant riding and performances. But elephants getting baths, like those that give rides and do tricks, will have been broken to some extent to make them obedient. And as long as bathing remains popular, places that offer it will need obedient elephants to keep their businesses going. 

    In Ban Ta Klang, a tiny town in eastern Thailand, modest homes dot the crimson earth. In front of each is a wide, bamboo platform for sitting, sleeping, and watching television.

    But the first thing I notice is the elephants. Some homes have one, others as many as five. Elephants stand under tarps or sheet metal roofs or trees. Some are together, mothers and babies, but most are alone. Nearly all the elephants wear ankle chains or hobbles—cuffs binding their front legs together. Dogs and chickens weave among the elephants’ legs, sending up puffs of red dust.

    Ban Ta Klang—known as Elephant Village—is ground zero in Thailand for training and trading captive elephants.

    “House elephants,” Sri Somboon says, gesturing as he turns down his TV. Next to his outdoor platform, a two-month-old baby elephant runs around his mother. Somboon points across the road to the third elephant in his charge, a three-year-old male tethered to a tree. He’s wrenching his head back and forth and thrashing his trunk around. It looks as if he’s going out of his mind.

    He’s in the middle of his training, Somboon says, and is getting good at painting. He’s already been sold, and when his training is finished, he’ll start working at a tourist camp down south.

    Ban Ta Klang and the surrounding area, part of Surin Province, claim to be the source of more than half of Thailand’s 3,800 captive elephants. Long before the flood of tourists, it was the center of the elephant trade; the animals were caught in the wild and tamed for use transporting logs. Now, every November, hundreds of elephants from here are displayed, bought, and sold in the province’s main town, Surin.

    One evening I sit with Jakkrawan Homhual and Wanchai Sala-ngam. Both 33, they’ve been best friends since childhood. About half the people in Ban Ta Klang who care for elephants, including Homhual, don’t own them. They’re paid a modest salary by a rich owner to breed and train baby elephants for entertainment. As night falls, thousands of termites swarm us, attracted to the single bulb hanging above the bamboo platform. Our conversation turns to elephant training.

    Phajaan is the traditional—and brutal—days- or weeks-long process of breaking a young elephant’s spirit. It has long been used in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia to tame wild elephants, which still account for many of the country’s captives. Under phajaan, elephants are bound with ropes, confined in tight wooden structures, starved, and beaten repeatedly with bullhooks, nails, and hammers until their will is crushed. The extent to which phajaan persists in its harshest form is unclear. Since 2012, the government has been cracking down on the illegal import of elephants taken from the forests of neighboring Myanmar, Thailand’s main source of wild-caught animals.

    I ask the men how baby elephants born in captivity are broken and trained.

    When a baby is about two years old, they say, mahouts tie its mother to a tree and slowly drag the baby away. Once separated, the baby is confined. Using a bullhook on its ear, they teach the baby to move: left, right, turn, stop. To teach an elephant to sit, Sala-ngam says, “we tie up the front legs. One mahout will use a bullhook at the back. The other will pull a rope on the front legs.” He adds: “To train the elephant, you need to use the bullhook so the elephant will know.”

    Humans identify suffering in other humans by universal signs: People sob, wince, cry out, put voice to their hurt. Animals have no universal language for pain. Many animals don’t have tear ducts. More creatures still—prey animals, for example—instinctively mask symptoms of pain, lest they appear weak to predators. Recognizing that a nonhuman animal is in pain is difficult, often impossible.

    But we know that animals feel pain. All mammals have a similar neuroanatomy. Birds, reptiles, and amphibians all have pain receptors. As recently as a decade ago, scientists had collected more evidence that fish feel pain than they had for neonatal infants. A four-year-old human child with spikes pressing into his flesh would express pain by screaming. A four-year-old elephant just stands there in the rain, her leg jerking in the air.

    Of all the silently suffering animals I saw in pools and pens around the world, two in particular haunt me: an elephant and a tiger.

    They lived in the same facility, Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo, about 15 miles south of Bangkok. The elephant, Gluay Hom, four years old, was kept under a stadium. The aging tiger, Khai Khem, 22, spent his days on a short chain in a photo studio. Both had irrefutable signs of suffering: The emaciated elephant had a bent, swollen leg hanging in the air and a large, bleeding sore at his temple. His eyes were rolled back in his head. The tiger had a dental abscess so severe that the infection was eating through the bottom of his jaw.

    When I contacted the owner of the facility, Uthen Youngprapakorn, to ask about these animals, he said the fact that they hadn’t died proved that the facility was caring for them properly. He then threatened a lawsuit.

    Six months after Kirsten and I returned from Thailand, we asked Ryn Jirenuwat, our Bangkok-based Thai interpreter, to check on Gluay Hom and Khai Khem. She went to Samut Prakan and watched them for hours, sending photos and video. Gluay Hom was still alive, still standing in the same stall, leg still bent at an unnatural angle. The elephants next to him were skin and bones. Khai Khem was still chained by his neck to a hook in the floor. He just stays in his dark corner, Jirenuwat texted, and when he hears people coming, he twists on his chain and turns his back to them.

    “Like he just wants to be swallowed by the wall.”

    #tourisme #nos_ennemis_les_bêtes

  • Russia’s Payback Will Be Syria’s Reconstruction Money – Foreign Policy

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inspect a military parade during their visit to the Russian air base in Hmeimim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia on Dec. 11, 2017.

    But international donors—and Bashar al-Assad—aren’t playing along yet.
    Almost four years later, with rebels having mostly abandoned calls for regime change and losing large swaths of their enclaves, Russia has achieved most of its short- and medium-term goals in Syria. A growing number of signs suggest Moscow is now shifting focus to another objective: The Kremlin would like Syria to provide it a financial windfall.
    Russian analysts say Moscow had originally envisaged a sect-based power-sharing arrangement, modeled on Lebanon, between the Syrian government and several opposition groups as the political panacea for the conflict. But Russia could neither convince the regime nor the rebels to compromise and abandoned the plan. Now it has reduced its ambitions and is focused on using its leverage with Assad to agree on a constitutional committee whose members have been appointed by the regime, the opposition, and representatives of Syrian civil society.

    Max Suckov, a Russia analyst, said Moscow would achieve little more in terms of a political settlement. “Russia is not very hopeful about a political settlement which satisfies all Syrian actors,” he said. “I think Russia has accepted that Syria will continue to be a centralized state, but that certainly makes it difficult to convince the EU to pay for reconstruction.”

  • Upgraded Russian SPY PLANE makes maiden flight over US nuclear & military sites – report — RT World News

    A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-214ON at Ramenskoye Airport in Moscow region.
    © Wikipedia / Oleg Belyakov

    A Russian Tu-214ON spy plane has reportedly made a reconnaissance tour over the southwestern US, taking a glimpse at an array of military bases as well as nuclear and chemical weapons depots as part of the #Open_Skies treaty.

    The Drive reported, citing FlightRadar 24 tracking service data, that the newest version of the Tu-214 observation aircraft graced US skies after taking off from Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph, Missouri on Thursday.

    The flight reportedly lasted six hours and saw the surveillance aircraft fly over a series of US defense and storage facilities scattered over the territory of West Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. The plane is reported to have flown over the Kirtland Air Force Base, which hosts the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and functions as a nuclear storage site. In Colorado, the plane passed over the Pueblo Chemical Depot, one of the last two sites in the US with chemical munitions and materials.

    The flight itself had been authorized by the US under the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows its signatories to conduct short inspections of each other’s territory. The treaty was signed in 1992, but did not come into force until 2002. The US and Russia are among its 34 members.

    The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the details of the mission. Earlier, Sergey Ryzhkov, head of the Russian Center for Reduction of Nuclear Threat, announced that the Tu-214ON would be conducting surveillance from Missouri Airport between 22 April and April 27. Under the treaty, the flight has to be monitored by US specialists on board the plane.

    Washington eventually greenlighted the Tu-214ON flyover after initially refusing to certify the Russian “spy eye,” claiming that its digital surveillance equipment was more advanced than Moscow had declared and might manipulate digital data. After some back-and-forth, the US approved the plane for the flights over its territory in September last year.

    Tu-214ON is an updated version of the regular Tu-214. Its cockpit can fit two more people, which allowed the manufacturer to install more modern electronics. Its range has increased to a reported 6,500km (4,040 miles). The aircraft boasts three sensor arrays that include a digital photo camera, an infrared camera, and a TV camera complete with a sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar.

    • Il y a 2 mois, c’était en sens inverse.

      ‘Sign of good will’: US spy plane carries out 1st observation flights over Russia in 2 years — RT Russia News

      An American OC-135B taxiing to the runway

      On Thursday and Friday, a US spy plane performs observation flights over Russia as part of the Open Skies pact, the first action of the kind in months. It can be also considered a sign of “good will” from Moscow, RT was told.
      The Pentagon has confirmed that an OC-135B plane, fitted with high-resolution cameras and infrared sensors, is indeed performing the flyovers, and that Moscow is fully aware of the action. The flights are the first since November 2017, according to spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis.

      He said Russia is aware of the flight and the American spy plane has six of the country’s military observers on board to ensure the mission goes according to the treaty. The Pentagon did not expand on this, nor did the Russian military comment on it.

      Moscow “is demonstrating goodwill” quite apart from treaty obligations by allowing an American plane in its airspace despite major strains in relations, Konstantin Sivkov, a military expert and retired navy officer, told RT. The US is unlikely to stick to the treaty for very long, as accords like this are seen as unnecessary restraints in Washington, he believes.

      The Open Skies Treaty, a crucial multinational accord that allows signatories to perform mutual surveillance flights, has recently been placed in jeopardy by US lawmakers. In August of last year, Congress suspended US-Russia ties under the pact, citing alleged violations by Moscow. The latter denied all of the claims.

      Separately, Washington also curbed funding for any modifications to America’s own surveillance planes. Technical glitches on the ageing US Open Skies aircraft have left the country unable to carry out its missions over Russia. In 2017, only 13 of the 16 missions were actually flown.

      The OC-135B, specifically built for Open Skies missions in 1993, is based up the OC-135 Stratolifter cargo plane. It seats 35, including cockpit crew, aircraft maintenance staff, and foreign observers.

      Russia uses the Tu-214 ON and the Tu-154 ON derived from civilian versions of Tupolev airliners. The former was finally cleared for Open Skies flights over the US last year after months of political flip-flops and media frenzy, with numerous publications claiming Russia benefits too much from the Open Skies initiative.

    • L’article original de The Drive cité par RT

      Russia’s New Surveillance Plane Just Flew Over Two Of America’s Top Nuclear Labs - The Drive

      The route across Los Alamos National Laboratory.

      One Russia’s two Tu-214ON aircraft has conducted what appears to be its first-ever flight over the United States under the Open Skies Treaty. This agreement allows member states to conduct aerial surveillance missions, with certain limitations in hardware and in the presence of monitors from the surveilled country, over each other’s territory. Today’s sortie took the Russian plane over parts of West Texas, through New Mexico, and into Colorado, including overflights of Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and finally hitting up the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

      et photos aériennes des différentes bases et sites avec trajectoire de l’avion de reconnaissance.

    • RF-64525 is set to depart Rosecrans at around 12:30 PM on Apr. 26, 2019 for another mission over areas of Colorado and Nebraska. This could take it over a number of other strategic sites, such as Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex bunker outside Colorado Springs.

      The plane is then scheduled to head back to Russia on Apr. 27, 2019, but with Open Skies back in full swing, we could easily be seeing one of the Kremlin’s surveillance planes come back later in the year for another visit.

    • Netanyahu polishes security image in Moscow as vote approaches
      Ben Caspit April 3, 2019

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pass up no opportunity for political points as the April 9 elections approach. Today, April 4, he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, their second meeting in about six weeks. The last one took place on Feb. 27, after a long disconnect between the two leaders. This one comes only a few days before the political electoral verdict that will also decide Netanyahu’s personal fate. During this meeting, Netanyahu will also thank Putin. The Arab media reported that Russia was a third country that helped Israel to return the body of soldier Zacharia Baumel, who had been missing for 37 years. After he milked the March 25 celebration with President Donald Trump in the White House, Netanyahu is looking toward Putin, who is still venerated by many former Soviet Union citizens who moved to Israel. In this last-minute trip, Netanyahu is again trying to convey that no one can replace him in terms of international status.

      Russia helps find remains of Israeli soldier missing since 1982
      April 4, 2019 4:56 P.M. (Updated : April 5, 2019 1:03 P.M.)

    • Le Hezbollah se mure dans son silence après le « cadeau » russe fait à Netanyahu
      Jeanine JALKH | OLJ | 05/04/2019

      La remise par Moscou des restes du soldat porté disparu en 1982 n’affectera toutefois pas les relations entre le parti chiite et la Russie, estime un analyste proche du Hezb.

      Par-delà sa signification et ses effets escomptés sur les relations russo-israéliennes, la remise des restes de Zachary Baumel, commandant de char du 362e bataillon blindé porté disparu en 1982 au Liban, par la Russie à Israël, n’a suscité aucune réaction de la part du Hezbollah qui se refuse catégoriquement à commenter cette affaire. Le parti a probablement du mal à comprendre pourquoi Moscou, voire même le régime syrien, partenaire présumé de la Russie dans cette opération, aurait consenti à cet échange, sachant qu’il a de tout temps adopté la politique du donnant donnant, notamment dans le cadre d’échanges de prisonniers de guerre ou des dépouilles de combattants ou de soldats.

      Hier, la Russie a annoncé officiellement son parrainage de l’opération de recherche qui a abouti à localiser le corps du soldat, un commandant de char qui avait disparu entre le 10 et le 11 juin 1982 lors d’une bataille qui s’était déroulée à la Békaa, dans la localité de Sultan Yacoub, non loin de la frontière libano-syrienne. (...)

    • Poutine : la Syrie a aidé la Russie à récupérer la dépouille de Zachary Baumel
      Par Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel Staff et AFP 4 avril 2019

      Le président russe Vladimir Poutine a déclaré jeudi que l’armée russe, avec l’aide de la Syrie, avait participé aux efforts visant à récupérer la dépouille du sergent Zachary Baumel, qui avait été tué en 1982 lors de la Première guerre du Liban lors de la bataille de Sultan Yacoub contre l’armée syrienne.

      « Les soldats de l’armée russe ont trouvé le corps en coordination avec l’armée syrienne », a déclaré Poutine durant une conférence de presse avec le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu.

      La Syrie contredit Poutine, nie avoir aidé au rapatriement de Zachary Baumel
      Par Judah Ari Gross, Adam Rasgon et Times of Israel

      Damas soutient que "toute l’opération était l’œuvre d’Israël et de groupes terroristes," après que le Kremlin a indiqué que les troupes russes l’avaient menée avec l’armée syrienne
      « Nous n’avons pas la moindre information sur le sujet et ignorons s’il y a des restes ou pas, » ajoute le communiqué.
      Un responsable de l’organisation terroriste palestinienne du Front populaire de libération de la Palestine (FPLP) basé en Syrie a fait savoir mercredi que des insurgés ayant pris le contrôle du camp de réfugiés palestiniens de Yarmouk à Damas jusqu’à l’année dernière avaient excavé des tombes à la recherche des dépouilles de trois soldats disparus. Le FPLP l’avait déjà affirmé par le passé.

      Le ministre de l’Information syrien Imad Sara a assuré à la télévision officielle que la Russie n’était pas non plus impliquée. « Ce que nous croyons, c’est que toute l’opération a été menée par Israël et des groupes terroristes armés en Syrie. »(...)

  • Les USA poussent le Liban dans les bras de l’Iran et de la Russie : les sanctions américaines nuisent à l’économie locale – Elijah J. Magnier

    Le Liban attend la visite du secrétaire d’État des USA Mike Pompeo cette semaine, à un moment oùla carte politico-économique libanaise se redessine et oùle Liban subit sa pire crise économique de son histoire récente.

    Les raisons de la détérioration de l’économie locale s’expliquent non seulement par la corruption du leadership politique et des échelons inférieurs de l’administration du Liban, mais aussi par les sanctions des USA imposées à l’Iran. Les plus récentes sanctions sont les plus sévères de toutes. Elles toucheront durement le Liban aussi longtemps que le président Donald Trump sera au pouvoir s’il ne se plie pas à la politique et aux diktats des USA.

    Si, comme prévu, Washington déclare une guerre économique contre le Liban, les sanctions ne laisseront guère de choix au pays. Elles pourraient forcer le Liban à compter de nouveau sur l’industrie civile iranienne pour contrer la pression économique des USA et sur l’industrie militaire russe pour équiper les forces de sécurité libanaises. C’est ce qui arrivera si Pompeo continue à menacer les responsables libanais, comme ses assistants l’ont fait lors de leurs visites précédentes dans le pays. Le sempiternel message des responsables américains n’a pas changé : vous êtes avec nous ou contre nous.

    Politiquement, le Liban se divise en deux courants, l’un favorable aux USA (et à l’Arabie saoudite), l’autre en dehors de l’orbite des USA. La situation économique pourrait bien accroître la division interne jusqu’à ce que la population locale réagisse avec vigueur pour mettre fin à toute influence des USA et de ses alliés au Liban.

    Pareil scénario peut encore être évité si l’Arabie saoudite investit suffisamment de fonds pour relancer l’économie locale agonisante. Sauf que l’Arabie saoudite craint que ceux qui ne sont pas au diapason avec ses politiques et celles des USA tirent avantage de son soutien. Jusqu’à maintenant, Riyad n’a pas tellement compris la dynamique interne au Liban et ce qui est possible et impossible de réaliser dans ce pays. Le kidnapping du premier ministre Saad Hariri était l’illustration la plus éloquente de l’ignorance du jeu politique libanais par les Saoudiens. Leur manque de vision stratégique au Liban va probablement empêcher tout soutien important à son économie défaillante, ce qui pourrait causer une grande instabilité.

    Mais après l’arrivée de Donald Trump au pouvoir et son rejet de l’accord sur le nucléaire iranien, le gouvernement des USA a imposé les sanctions les plus dures contre l’Iran et a cessé les dons aux organismes des Nations unies qui soutiennent les réfugiés palestiniens. Les sanctions contre l’Iran ont forcé le Hezbollah à adopter un nouveau budget, dans le cadre d’un plan d’austérité de cinq ans. Ses forces ont été réduites au minimum en Syrie, les mouvements de troupes ont ralenti en conséquence et toutes les rémunérations additionnelles ont été suspendues. Le Hezbollah a réduit son budget au quart de ce qu’il était, sans toutefois suspendre les salaires mensuels de ses militants ou contractuels ni les soins médicaux, sous l’ordre de Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, le secrétaire général du Hezbollah.

    Cette nouvelle situation financière affectera l’économie libanaise à mesure que les flux de trésorerie et les devises se tariront. Les conséquences devraient se faire ressentir davantage au cours des prochains mois et il est plausible que la population locale réagisse sous le poids de l’économie défaillante.

    Les USA et l’Europe imposent des contrôles stricts sur tous les montants transférés en direction ou en provenance du Liban. Le pays est sur une liste noire financière et toutes les transactions sont passées au peigne fin. Les dons religieux provenant de l’étranger ne sont dorénavant plus possibles, car les donateurs risquent alors d’être accusés de soutenir le terrorisme par les pays occidentaux.

    Tant que Trump sera au pouvoir, le Hezbollah et l’Iran croient que la situation restera critique. Ils s’attendent aussi à ce que Trump obtienne un second mandat. Les cinq prochaines années seront difficiles pour l’économie libanaise, notamment si Pompeo est porteur de messages et de diktats auxquels le Liban ne peut se plier.

    Pompeo veut que le Liban abandonne son tracé de la frontière maritime avec Israël, ce qui mettrait en péril ses prétentions sur les blocs 8, 9 et 10 du gisement d’hydrocarbures au profit d’Israël. Cette demande ne sera pas accordée et les responsables libanais ont dit à plusieurs reprises qu’ils comptent sur les missiles de précision du Hezbollah pour empêcher Israël de s’accaparer d’eaux territoriales libanaises.

    Pompeo veut aussi que le Liban abandonne le Hezbollah et mette fin à son rôle au sein du gouvernement. Là encore, l’administration américaine semble ignorer que le Hezbollah représente presque le tiers de la population du Liban, en plus de bénéficier du soutien de plus de la moitié des chiites, des chrétiens, des sunnites et des druzes qui y vivent, qui comptent parmi eux des membres officiels des pouvoirs exécutifs et législatifs du pays. En outre, le président libanais fait partie de la coalition du Hezbollah et maintient fermement son lien avec le groupe, qu’il juge nécessaire à la stabilité du pays.

    Quelle est l’alternative alors ? Si l’Arabie saoudite s’engage, ce n’est pas un, deux ou même cinq milliards de dollars qu’il faut pour relever l’économie du Liban, mais des dizaines de milliards de dollars. Le Liban doit bénéficier aussi d’une politique de non-intervention de la part de l’administration américaine pour permettre au pays de se gouverner lui-même.

    Les Saoudiens souffrent déjà de l’intimidation que Trump exerce sur eux et leurs fonds commencent à se tarir. Si l’Arabie saoudite décide d’investir au Liban, elle cherchera à imposer des conditions pas très différentes de celles des USA. Elle se fait des illusions en voulant éliminer l’influence de l’Iran et des partisans du Hezbollah au Liban, un objectif impossible à remplir.

    Le Liban n’a pas tellement de choix. Il peut se rapprocher de l’Iran afin de réduire ses dépenses et le prix des biens, et demander à la Russie de soutenir l’armée libanaise si l’Occident refuse de le faire. La Chine se prépare à entrer dans le jeu et pourrait devenir une alternative intéressante pour le Liban, qui pourrait lui servir de plateforme pour parvenir en Syrie, puis en Irak et en Jordanie. Sinon, le Liban devra se préparer en vue de joindre la liste des pays les plus pauvres.

    Une ombre plane au-dessus du pays du cèdre, qui a déjà dû combattre pour assurer sa survie au 21e siècle. Le Hezbollah, dorénavant sous le coup des sanctions des USA et du R.‑U., est la même force qui a protégé le pays contre Daech et d’autres combattants takfiris qui menaçaient d’expulser les chrétiens du pays, d’où le conseil lancé par le président français Sarkozy au patriarche libanais qu’il vaudrait mieux que les chrétiens libanais abandonnent leurs foyers. C’est que les djihadistes takfiris et l’OTAN partageaient les mêmes objectifs au Liban. L’incapacité de l’administration américaine à diviser l’Irak et à créer un État en déliquescence en Syrie dans le cadre d’un « nouveau Moyen-Orient » a réveillé l’ours russe de sa longue hibernation. Aujourd’hui, la Russie rivalise avec les USA pour assurer l’hégémonie au Moyen-Orient, ce qui oblige Trump à tout mettre en œuvre pour tenter de briser le front antiaméricain.

    C’est une lutte sans merci où tous les coups sont permis. Les USA poussent le Liban dans un goulet d’étranglement, en ne lui donnant pas d’autre choix que de resserrer son partenariat avec l’Iran et la Russie.

    #liban #hezbollah #grand_jeu

  • Morozov’s House | izi.TRAVEL

    Siège du mouvement Proletkult

    The elegant building which looks like a Moorish castle is the house of Arseny Morozov.

    This exotic house on Vozdvizhenka was built by the architect Viktor Mazyrin for his friend Arseny Morozov who was from a family of wealthy industrialists. When they travelled together through Spain and Portugal, Arseny noted a castle he liked and he decided to build something like it for himself. And he did, only in Moscow it looked a bit out of place. It was all done in a deliberately Moorish style – the Arabic arch, the windows, the canopies and cornices, the wall-carvings, the decorative work in the form of sea shells, nautical ropes and chains.

    The people of Moscow did not like Morozov’s house at all, and even Arseny’s mother allegedly expressed her disapproval like this: “Before only I knew that you were a fool, now all of Moscow will know!” But time has gone by, and now the eccentric house is popular, it clearly adds decorative colour to Vozdvizhenka. It is now the Government Reception House of the Russian Federation.

  • C++ Russia 2019 : April 19-20, Moscow

    C++ Russia 2019 will be held in Moscow, April 19–20, 2019.

    Two days, three tracks and dozens of deep technical talks about C++: concurrency, performance, architecture, environment — all you need to make your code perfect.

    C++ R​ussia 2019: Moscow, April 19–20, 2019 by Sergey Platonov

    From the article:

    Keynote by Nicolai Josuttis and Anton Polukhin. Also at the conerence: Philip Nash, Valentin Ziegler, Ivan Čukić, Viktor Kirilov, Andrey Davydov, Alexander Granin and many others.

    C++ Russia is not only talks, but also networking with hundreds of colleagues from Russia and Europe. Due to dedicated discussion zones, all the speakers have after their talks all the questions will be answered. If you need to solve any practical issue right now — you can find Ask Expert (...)


  • Palaces for the people: five communist buildings | Art and design | The Guardian

    Cette perspective m’a toujours fasciné. Je ne sais pas pourquoi, elle m’évoque “Playtime” de Jacques tati

    Beyond the stereotype – from a workers’ club in Moscow to the mosaics and marbles of the Kiev Metro, these structures inspired by the communist project are often surprising as well as extraordinary

    Owen Hatherley

    Sat 20 Jun 2015 11.00 BST
    Last modified on Wed 29 Nov 2017 11.39 GMT

    Postcards from the past.
    Back to the USSR …

    The story of architecture under the peculiar, now long-dead system that is today called (but never called itself) communism is generally considered a story of sad decline. After the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917, there was more than a decade of experimentation, spurred both by the possibilities of the new system (land nationalisation was popular with architects) and the hopes of world revolution and a new communal society it engendered. It ended in the 1980s with the construction of cities ringed with block after block of apartments, like the housing estates of the west but bigger and more monolithic. If it began with images of technology as fantasy and liberation – such as Vladimir Tatlin’s 1919 Monument to the Third International,

    #architecture #soviétisme #urss #ex-urss

  • Don’t Believe the Russian Hype – Foreign Policy

    Moscow’s missile capabilities in the Baltic Sea region are not nearly as dangerous as they seem.
    Drawing on expertise at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, we have published a report—“Bursting the Bubble”—that takes a closer look at Russia’s A2/AD capabilities in the Baltic Sea Region. We find that Russia’s long-range missile systems, though capable, fall notably short of the Kremlin’s maximalist claims. The technological limitations of the Russian missile systems, vulnerabilities apparent from their field operations in Syria, and the range of possible countermeasures available to NATO, suggest that Russia’s no-go “bubbles” are smaller than claimed, more penetrable, and arguably also burstable.

    Claims of far-reaching Russian A2/AD capabilities are mainly based on three systems: the S-400, the Bastion anti-ship system, and the Iskander ballistic missile. But early analyses have often equated maximum range with effective range, underestimated the inherent problems of hitting moving targets at large distances, and ignored a wide range of possible countermeasures. Together, this has led to the widespread overestimation Russia’s missile capabilities.
    Finally, it is vital that nonspecialist security professionals critically examine Russian A2/AD capabilities. Exposed to a flurry of announcements in recent years about new Russian #Wunderwaffen, no one should accept Russia’s stated capabilities at face value at a time when Moscow has every incentive to exaggerate, both to gain political influence and boost export sales.

    • Bursting the Bubble? Russian A2/AD in the Baltic Sea Region: Capabilities, Countermeasures, and Implications.

      Rapportsammanfattning - Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut - FOI

      States with the ability to use a combination of sensors and long-range missiles to prevent adversaries from operating in an exclusion zone, or “bubble”, adjacent to their territory are said to possess anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This study examines Russia’s A2/AD systems and their implications for the Baltic Sea region. Much has in recent years been made of Russia’s new capabilities and the impact they might have on the ability of NATO member states to reinforce or defend the vulnerable Baltic states in case of crisis or war. On closer inspection, however, Russia’s capabilities are not quite as daunting, especially if potential countermeasures are factored in. In particular, surface-to-air missile systems currently create much smaller A2/AD bubbles than is often assumed and a number of countermeasures are possible. Experiences from Syria also raise questions about the actual capabilities of such systems in combat, relative to their nominal capabilities.

      Anti-ship and anti-land systems pose a greater threat but, here too, countermeasures are available. The dynamics of this strategic vortex affect Sweden directly and indirectly. This is one of the reasons why Sweden’s security is increasingly interlocked with that of its neighbours and of the transatlantic alliance.

  • #Trans-Siberian railway : I quit my job after an unforgettable trip across Russia — The Calvert Journal

    he Trans-Siberian railway has enticed not only travellers since it was first completed in 1904. For writers, musicians and filmmakers, the world’s longest uninterrupted single train ride promises a creative retreat on wheels. Bowie famously travelled the Vladivostok to Moscow route after finishing his Ziggy Stardust tour in Japan in 1973. Other creative minds to have traversed Russia in this way include English magical realist novelist and short story writer Angela Carter, whose journey went on to inspire her enchanting 1984 book Nights at the Circus, and more recently The Kills’s Jamie Hince locked himself on-board one of the train’s compartments to work on the band’s next record. For photographer Giulia Mangione, it had been an ambition to take the 9000 km train route from Moscow to Vladivostok since studying Russian as a student. After working on The Happy Show, her long-term photographic series on Denmark, she was looking forward to working on a travel project with a distinct beginning, middle and end.

    #photographie #russie #transports #trains #transsibérien

  • Poland defies green activists, EU with Baltic canal project | Reuters

    A general view of the harvested forest on Vistula Spit near Skowronki, Poland February 20, 2019.
    Agencja Gazeta/Michal Ryniak via REUTERS

    Poland is pressing ahead with plans to dig a waterway across a narrow strip of land that separates its main eastern coastline from the Baltic Sea despite concerns among activists and in the European Union that it could damage the environment.

    The #Vistula_Spit is a heavily wooded sandbank 55 km (34 miles) long but less than 2 km wide which encloses a coastal lagoon. Poland shares both the lagoon and the spit with the neighboring Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

    Currently, the only access to the lagoon from the Baltic Sea is a channel at the Russian end of the spit. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), deeply distrustful of Russia, says a canal is needed for both security and economic reasons.

    Critics say it is a costly vanity project that could become another environment-related flashpoint between Warsaw and Brussels after increased logging in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest led to a ruling by the EU’s top court that it was illegal.

    Defending the project, which is estimated to cost 900 million zlotys ($237 million), Poland’s minister for maritime affairs, Marek Grobarczyk, said: “The first and basic reason for the construction ... is a threat from the east.

    This is the border of the EU, NATO, and above all of Poland, and it cannot really be controlled now because ships can only enter the Vistula Lagoon with Russia’s approval,” he said, adding that work would start in the second half of 2019.

    Russia has deployed advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, while Warsaw is lobbying hard to have more NATO troops on its soil, especially since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

    However an EU official said on Friday Poland should refrain from building the canal before getting the green light from the European Commission.

    As with the Bialowieza Forest, parts of the Vistula Spit are protected under the EU Natura 2000 program.

  • Russian state TV shows map of potential US nuclear targets | World news | The Guardian

    Russian state television has broadcast a map of the US showing military facilities Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, in a report that was unusual even by its own bellicose standards.

    The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland. A hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes, it said.

    #nucleaire #russie #etats-unis

  • Despite Putin’s Swagger, Russia Struggles to Modernize Its Navy - The New York Times

    President Vladimir Putin calls improving the Russian navy’s combat capabilities a priority.

    The unfinished husks of three guided-missile frigates that have languished for three years at a Baltic shipyard show that is easier said than done.

    Earmarked for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the frigates fell victim to sanctions imposed by Ukraine in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, prompting Kiev to ban the sale of the Ukrainian-made engines needed to propel them.

    With Moscow unable to quickly build replacement engines for the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, construction stopped. Russia is now cutting its losses and selling the three ships to India without engines.

    The navy’s problems stem largely, but not exclusively, from the Ukrainian sanctions. There are also problems, for different reasons, with new equipment for the army and air force.

    The picture that emerges is that Russia’s armed forces are not as capable or modern as its annual Red Square military parades suggest and that its ability to project conventional force is more limited too.

    • L’annonce du contrat avec l’Inde (20/11/2018) ne dit pas un mot des turbines…

      India signs contracts to purchase 4 Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates from Russia

      Russia’s Admiral Grigorovich (Project 11356) frigate at Yantar Shipyard

      India has signed contracts to purchase four Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) stealth frigates from Russia, Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation said on Tuesday, November 20.

      Contracts were signed for the construction of Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy. This is yet another important event in developing Russian-Indian military and technical cooperation,Tass- reported the Federal Service as saying.

      The agreement for four ships was first brokered in 2016.

      India’s Ministry of Defence signed a $950 million deal with Russia to purchase two Admiral Grigorovich frigates which will be built in Russia’s Baltic Coast Yantar Shipyard, Janes reported on October 29. As of last month negotiations over price and transfer of technology were still ongoing for the two ships to be built in Goa Shipyard.

      The new agreement between Russian state exporter Rosoboronexport and Goa Shipyard Limited for two ships is for $500 million, although a government official said that includes only the “_foreign content,” including material, design and assistance, Hindustan Times reported. The final cost of the two ships has yet to be determined, according to the report.

      According to the Indian defense ministry, the deal includes transfer of technology and the frigates will be outfitted with India’s BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system.

      Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates are armed with A-190 100mm artillery guns, strike missile and air defense systems, including Kalibr and Shtil complexes and torpedo tubes, according to Tass. They can perform against surface ships and submarines as well as air targets.

      The ships will be delivered to India beginning in 2026.

      BrahMos is a supersonic medium-range liquid-fuelled ramjet-powered cruise missile that can be launched from sea, land and air. It is a two-stage missile, with a solid-fueled first stage to bring it to supersonic speed. Surface-launched missiles can carry a 200-kg warhead, while the air-launched variant can carry a payload of 300 kg.

      It is manufactured in Hyderabad by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia.

  • An Inside Look at #moscow’s Vibrant #coworking Culture : SOK Kurskaya

    The spectacular rooftop working and dining area © Photo by Dmitry KabanovOver the past years the capital of Russia become home to more than a one million new residents, brought there by the city’s high paying jobs, including those offered by tech startups, telecom and media companies.Moscow’s got everything a digital nomad would want, including lots of coworking spaces. This one named SOK is bound to impress you.The people behind SOK have done their research and explored the best coworking spaces in Israel, Britain and Germany. They reached out to WeWork and Mindspace, and learned from their experiences.They used government data to define ‘areas of peak business activity’ and pick the perfect location. They hired not one, but several design studios and bureaus to bring their vision of the (...)

    #real-estate #remote-working #sok-kurskaya

  • Volte-face de la France sur le gazoduc #Nord_Stream qui s’aligne ainsi sur la politique états-unienne et risque de provoquer la fureur de l’Allemagne

    France and Germany Face Off Over Russian Pipeline – Foreign Policy

    Though Berlin badly wants it built, Paris is set to side with the EU on new rules intended to contain Moscow.

    The United States has spent years trying to derail a controversial Russian gas pipeline in Europe. France may have just found a way to kill it—and possibly strangle Paris’s newfound rapprochement with Berlin at the same time.

    This Friday in Brussels, the Council of the European Union will vote on a seemingly arcane directive meant to apply European Union market rules to energy projects that start in a third country—like the #Nord_Stream_2 #pipeline from Russia. In a surprising about-face, first reported in the German press, France has now decided to back the directive. That risks angering Germany—which really wanted to build the pipeline with Russia—and potentially dooming the $11 billion energy project, a priority for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    • La France se démarque de l’Allemagne sur le projet gazier Nord Stream 2

      Gazoduc Nord Stream 2
      Infographie Le Monde

      Paris soutient une initiative européenne susceptible de gêner l’achèvement du gazoduc entre la Russie et l’Allemagne

      Pas de changement de cap, mais certainement un changement de ton. Jusqu’à présent très discret dans le dossier sensible du gazoduc Nord Stream 2, entre la Russie et l’Allemagne, Paris a pour la première fois adopté, jeudi 7 février, une position officielle laissant apparaître son scepticisme vis-à-vis de ce projet qui divise profondément l’Europe.
      Confirmant des informations du quotidien allemand Süddeutsche Zeitung, le Quai d’Orsay a indiqué que la France s’apprêtait à soutenir, à Bruxelles, l’adoption d’une directive qui fragiliserait la structure du projet, alors même que près de 600 km de tuyaux ont déjà été posés au fond de la Baltique, soit la moitié de la distance totale.

    • version Sputnik

      Macron attaque l’Allemagne sur le gazoduc Nord Stream 2 - Sputnik France

      C’est confirmé. La France va faire faux-bond à l’Allemagne sur le Nord Stream 2. La rumeur courait que Paris soutiendrait une directive européenne mettant en péril le gazoduc que Berlin soutient. Interview de Philippe Sébille-Lopez, analyste indépendant sur les questions énergétiques et de politiques étrangères au cabinet Géopolia.

      « Nous ne voulons pas renforcer notre dépendance vis-à-vis de la Russie, nous ne voulons pas nuire aux intérêts des pays de l’UE comme la Pologne et la Slovaquie. »

      Telles seraient les explications données par une source du Süddeutsche Zeitung, au sein des « cercles gouvernementaux » français, pour justifier un retournement de position de la France vis-à-vis du Nord Stream 2.

    • À l’instant, il y a 10 minutes, dépêche Reuters, accord de dernière minute (pas d’autre précision).

      L’UE approuve de nouvelles règles sur Nord Stream 2 | Reuters

      Un projet franco-allemand de révision de la directive européenne sur le gaz, qui vise notamment à réglementer le gazoduc Nord Stream 2, a remporté le soutien des pays de l’Union européenne, a-t-on appris de sources diplomatiques.

      Cette décision devrait compliquer, sans pour autant remettre en cause, la construction de ce gazoduc conçu pour relier la Russie à l’Allemagne à travers la mer Baltique.

      Une proposition franco-allemande de dernière minute pour amender la formulation de la nouvelle réglementation a été approuvée par la plupart des autres membres de l’EU.

      La France et l’Allemagne ont toutes deux des entreprises engagées dans le projet.

      La chancelière allemande Angela Merkel a confirmé qu’un accord avait été conclu et en France, une source à l’Elysée à affirmé qu’il s’agissait d’un bon accord qui assurait la souveraineté de l’Europe en matière d’approvisionnement en énergie.

    • Faire monter la pression pour une éventuelle contre-partie ?

      Opposition éphémère de Paris au Nord Stream 2 : une simple fronde contre Berlin ? - Sputnik France

      La France est en réalité intéressée par le Nord Stream 2, c’est juste un esprit de fronde qui a poussé Paris à préconiser la modification des règles énergétiques en Europe restreignant le gazoduc, estime un expert russe.
      La France et l’Allemagne sont parvenues vendredi à un accord sur la régulation du projet du gazoduc Nord Stream 2, Paris s’alignant finalement sur la position de Berlin. L’expert russe en matière énergétique Stanislav Mitrakhovitch a donné sa vision de ce conflit à la chaîne de télévision RT.

      « Il faut comprendre que la France n’a pas planifié de s’opposer de façon fondamentale au Nord Stream 2, il s’agissait de faire preuve d’un certain esprit de fronde de Paris vis-à-vis de Berlin, lié à des processus internes dans l’UE. En principe, si l’on prend ce projet séparément, la France y est intéressée car des entreprises françaises y prennent part et l’essentiel est que la société Engie y travaille. Je pense que toute cette histoire, soulevée hier par la presse, est très probablement liée aux divergences franco-allemandes sur le thème de l’UE », a-t-il indiqué.
      Les questions de ce genre doivent, selon lui, être débattues au sein du Conseil de l’UE et être adoptées à l’unanimité ou à la majorité des voix.

      « Si l’Allemagne était contre et que certains pays, comme l’Autriche, la Hongrie ou d’autres, le soutenaient, les protestations françaises se seraient noyées… », a ajouté l’expert.

      La France et l’Allemagne sont parvenues à un compromis sur le gazoduc Nord Stream 2 qui permettra à Berlin de rester le principal négociateur avec Moscou sur ce projet, selon un projet de document cité vendredi par l’AFP. Plus tard, la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel a confirmé qu’un accord avait été conclu sur Nord Stream 2.

    • TVB, pas même un papier de cigarette entre la France et l’Allemagne dit Mme Merkel,…
      Néanmoins, ça reste dans un grand flou.

      Nord Stream 2. Accord européen sur le compromis franco-allemand pour le transport du gaz

      Selon plusieurs sources diplomatiques, le mandat donné à la présidence roumaine reflète un texte de compromis déposé par la France et l’Allemagne.

      « Il y a effectivement eu un accord qui n’a été possible que grâce à l’étroite coopération entre la France et l’Allemagne, sous la présidence roumaine de l’UE. Je vois très souvent le président français, il y a une étroite coopération, sur tous les sujets européens », a réagi la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel lors d’une conférence de presse à Berlin.

    • Nord Stream 2 : Paris se félicite que l’Allemagne ait « beaucoup évolué » | Connaissance des Énergies

      La France s’est félicitée vendredi que l’Allemagne ait « beaucoup évolué » sur le projet de gazoduc Nord Stream 2 (NS2), en acceptant de voter une directive qui va le « soumettre à un contrôle européen », a indiqué l’Elysée.

      Un compromis a été trouvé entre la France et l’Allemagne sur la directive gaz, qui donne à l’Union euroépenne (UE) le pouvoir de contrôle des grands projets d’infrastructures gazières.

      L’Allemagne a accepté le texte, la France acceptant en échange que ce soit le régulateur allemand qui soit chargé de son application à NS2, « mais sans (en) atténuer le contrôle », souligne Paris. La France espère maintenant une adoption rapide de la directive.

      « L’Allemagne comptait bloquer cette directive, mais elle a beaucoup évolué car elle a compris qu’elle n’avait pas une minorité de blocage et que la directive aurait été adoptée sans elle », a commenté la présidence française.

      « La directive pourrait amener non pas à supprimer ce projet mais à le contrôler strictement et à le reconfigurer », selon Paris, qui craint l’accroissement de la dépendance de l’UE au gaz russe.

      « Si elle est adoptée, la Commission imposera sans doute un certain nombre de garanties pour que le projet se fasse, dont des garanties de transit d’une partie du gaz par l’Ukraine et la Slovaquie. Cela va sans doute le décaler un peu », estime la présidence française.

      La directive impose en effet que Nord Stream 2 respecte le critère qui oblige à dissocier fournisseur et producteur, ce que le projet actuel avec Gazprom ne respecte pas.

      « Il y a deux solutions : soit il faut reconfigurer le projet de manière très importante, avec un très fort impact sur le délai, soit le régulateur allemand présente une demande de dérogation en démontrant que le projet renforce les règles de concurrence et la sécurité énergétique. La solution serait que du gaz continue de transiter en partie par l’Ukraine », dont les revenus liés au transit du gaz représentent jusqu’à 2% du PIB.

      A trois mois des élections européennes, « C’est aussi un message sur l’indépendance énergétique de l’UE » et sur la capacité de l’Europe à se protéger, relève l’Elysée.

      « On ne peut pas dire qu’on est pour la protection européenne des influences extérieures et en même temps ne pas prendre en compte la préoccupation de pays comme la Pologne et la Slovaquie. Sinon ils auraient été fondés à nous dire, vous les Français et les Allemands, la souveraineté européenne, c’est quand ça vous arrange. On ne veut pas entretenir de tels discours », a commenté Paris.


  • Raspoutitsa

    Dimanche le 22 juin 1941 les généraux de Hitler lancent l’opération Barbarossa , l’invasion militaire de l’Union soviétique. Le jour suivant mon grand-père rentre du travail au ministère de l’Aviation à #Wilhelmstraße et déclare : La guerre est perdue. Désormais l’enjeu est de survivre.


    Cette attaque commence sans déclaration de guerre à 3 h 30 (par 2770 avions ) et vise 66 aérodromes soviétiques. Elle a des résultats désastreux pour l’Armée rouge, puisqu’elle donne à la Luftwaffe la maîtrise absolue du ciel soviétique pendant plusieurs semaines.

    Ce qui m’a toujours étonné c’est l’aveuglement des états-majors alors que la folie de l’opération était évidente pour chacun maîtrisant les opérations mathématiques de base. La météo russe avait déjà fait échouer Napoléon 130 ans auparavant. Pourtant l’empereur avait arrangé des coalitions avec la majorité des pays d’Europe contrairement à l’Allemagne nazie qui était en guerre contre la quasi totalité de ses voisins.

    The Treachery of the Climate : How German Meteorological Errors and the Rasputitsa Helped Defeat Hitler‘s Army at Moscow

    A German infantryman walks toward the body of a killed Soviet soldier and a burning BT-7 light tank in the southern Soviet Union in in 1941, during the early days of Operation Barbarossa.

    ... on June 22, 1941, Hitler ordered his armies to mount Operation Barbarossa, a mammoth invasion of the Soviet Union:thelast major power incontinental Europe capable of resisting the Nazis.
    Hitler blamed his generals for the failure of Operations Barbarossa and Typhoon and immediately sacked several dozen top commanders, but the Führer and his meteorologists bore the greater responsibility for the German defeat. More than any other factor, however, it was the Rasputitsa that halted the Moscow Blitzkrieg in its tracks and sabotaged the Germans‘ resupply effort. As Guderian observed that fateful fall, ―We have seriously underestimated the Russians, the extent of the country and the treachery of the climate. This is the revenge of reality.― By impeding the Nazi plan to decisively defeat the Red army before the onset of winter, the Russian Rasputitsap layed a critical role in the Nazis‘ ultimate defeat.

    The Crucial Role of the Operational Artist : A Case Study of Operation Barbarossa

    Operation Barbarossa helps one to understand that tactical success cannot prevent strategic failure if the responsible military leader, the operational artist, is not able to exercise operational art as the crucial bridge between tactical actions and the overall policy aim. The analysis of the planning and the execution phases of Operation Barbarossa is therefore relevant because it reveals the crucial function of the operational artist at the intersection of political aims and military actions and thereby calls for a new emphasis within today’s doctrinal understanding of operational art.

    Effects of Climate on Combat in European Russia

    This study was prepared by a committee of former German generals and general staff officers under the supervision of the Historical Division, EUCOM. The material, based on the personal experiences of the principal author and his associates, was written largely from memory, with some assistance from diaries, earlier studies, and documents. All the German officers involved had extensive experience on the Eastern Front during the period 1941-45. The principal author, for example [Raus], commanded in succession a panzer division, a panzer army, and an army group.

    #histoire #guerre #climat #météorologie

    • Martin van Creveld (cité dans ta dernière référence) pense que Barbarossa était perdue avant même l’attaque. Spécialiste de logistique, il constate l’impossibilité absolue de rassembler les approvisionnements nécessaires et le blocage de l’offensive avant même la raspoutitsa.

      En conclusion de cette partie (le chapitre 5), il ajoute, en plus, que de toutes façons, c’était perdu stratégiquement, mais qu’Hitler n’avait pas vraiment d’autre choix…

      Supplying War : Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton – 2nd edition | European history : general interest | Cambridge University Press

      Why did Napoleon succeed in 1805 but fail in 1812? Could the European half of World War II have been ended in 1944? These are only two of the many questions that form the subject-matter of this meticulously researched, lively book. Drawing on a very wide range of sources, van Creveld examines the specifics of war: namely, those formidable problems of movement and supply, transportation and administration, so often mentioned - but rarely explored - by the vast majority of books on military history. In doing so he casts his net far and wide, from Gustavus Adolphus to Rommel, from Marlborough to Patton, subjecting the operations of each to a thorough analysis from an unusual point of view. In this edition with a new introduction, van Creveld revisits his now-classic text, and comments in a new afterword on the role of logistics in high-tech, modern warfare.

      Un immense classique ! À lire !

    • Merci pour vos commentaires. Je m’intéresse surtout à la question « que pouvaient savoir et comprendre les Allemands des événements qui se développaient autour d’eux ».

      Les nazis s’inspiraient des succès militaires du 19ème siècle. Pendant 100 ans les armées prusses gagnaient systématiquement toutes les guerres et construitsaient l’unité nationale à travers ses victoires. Les nazis voyaient la défaite de 1918 comme un lapsus historique et envisagaient d’unifier l’Europe avec les moyens du 19ème siècle à savoir les batailles militaires.

      Pour les conservateurs parmi les Allemands cette perspective était complètement plausible. Ils ne comprenaient pas que l’ére des guerres « productives » était terminée et désormais chaque nouvelle guerre entre grandes puissances devait systématiquement finir en hécatombe sans rentabilité selon les critères anciens. Mao Tse-Toung et Ho Chi Minh ont montré que c’est pareil pour les grandes puissance quand ils s’engagent dans les guerres asymmétrques.

      Je ne suis pas sûr si Hitler avait comme unique choix l’attaque de l’Union soviétique déjà en 1941. Il aurait pu attendre un moment plus propice et en préparant le terrain. Mai c’est une question sans importance par ce que de toute manière ses décisions ne suivaient aucune règle apart celles imposées par sa volonté fanatique d’en finir avec les juifs.

      Cette guerre ne suivait aucune règle et aucun plan traditionnel et le début de l’opération Barbarossa aurait dû pousser chaque militaire intelligent à tirer la même conclusion que mon grand-père. Pourtant les Stauffenberg et Beck continuaient encore pendant deux ans à soutenir la guerre nazie et leur politique d’extermination des Unternmensch .

      Alors que savaient les Allemands même s’ils ignoraient forcément des détails et ne comprenaient pas la signification de chaque événement ? J’ai des éléments qui me font penser qu’ils savaient tout. Ils savaint surtout qu’on assassinait les habitants civils de régions entières, de préférence quand il s’agissait de juifs dépourvus de la solidarité de leurs compatriotes.

      Alors quels options avaient les Allemands et 1941, que pouvaient-ils faire ? Bien sûr il était impossible pour eux d’arrêter la machine de guerre et d’oppression, mais il restait à chacun le choix de prendre quelques petits risques et de s’entraider, de saboter le système en suivant strictement toutes ses règles et de ne rien contribuer au mal sauf sous contrainte directe.

      C’est honteux mais beaucoup d’Allemands soutenaient le régime activement et de plein gré. Les nazis c’étaient les voisin et les membres de la famille. On était ou criminel sois-même ou entouré de criminels dont les crimes étaient perçus comme des actes de bravoure chevaleresque. Ceci nous semble peu cempréhensible aujourd’hui, mais il est possible de convaincre tout un peuple à se ruer sur ses voisin pour les voler, torturer et assassiner.

      La même chose est en train de se passer là, dans cette seconde, à bien des endroits dans le monde. A nous de combattre les forces qui y poussent les peuples.

    • Pour la résistance de certains Allemands à Hitler et l’apathie des généraux allemands (et de la population), j’avais lu le bouquin de Joachim Fest, La résistance allemande à Hitler publié chez Perrin.

      Concernant le lancement de Barbarossa, Hitler voulait absolument attaquer l’URSS (l’élimination des Juifs n’était pas le premier objectif, loin de là) par idéologie ( Lebensraum (doctrine de l’espace vital), Slaves considérés comme des sous-hommes, rejet absolu du communisme), nécessité économique (blé ukrainien, pétrole caucasien) et pensait n’en faire qu’une bouchée, comme pour la France. D’ailleurs, les pertes soviétiques initiales n’ont pu que confirmer cette impression dans un premier temps et pouvait laisser penser à un effondrement du régime soviétique qui n’a finalement pas eu lieu. Enfin, le renseignement militaire allemand s’est complètement planté sur son évaluation des forces soviétiques (147 divisions le 5 août 1941 avant de se rendre compte qu’il y en avait 580 le 31 décembre).

  • Trump lifts sanctions on firms linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska | World news | The Guardian

    Trump lifts sanctions on firms linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska
    • Democrats in Congress opposed move to lift restrictions
    • Deripaska is ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin

    The Trump administration has lifted sanctions on three companies, including the aluminum giant Rusal, linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Democrats had led a push in Congress to continue the restrictions.

    Earlier this month, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to keep the sanctions on Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

    Some lawmakers from both parties have said it is inappropriate to ease sanctions on companies tied to Deripaska, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, while special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.

    Deripaska had ties with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Manafort pleaded guilty in September 2018 to attempted witness tampering and conspiring against the United States.

    Trump administration officials and many Republicans who opposed the effort to keep the sanctions in place said they worried about the impact on the global aluminum industry.

    They also said Deripaska had lowered his stakes in the companies so he no longer controlled them, a sign the sanctions were working.
    After the Treasury announcement, Rusal said Jean-Pierre Thomas had resigned as chairman and director of the company as part of the deal to lift the sanctions. Shares in Rusal jumped more than 5% in early trading in Hong Kong on Monday.

  • Toward a democratic, not Jewish, state

    A civil alternative to the right’s doctrines – one God, one people, one land and one leader – is urgently needed, and whoever has the courage and inspiration to stand at this front will win it all
    Avraham Burg
    Jan 25, 2019 1

    The spirit in the election atmosphere is the spirit of the time, the insane Netanyahu spirit. That’s the wind blowing in the sails of his fervid supporters and defining his rivals. He is asking for the voters’ confidence to do more of the same and his opponents say “Just not Bibi.”
    Haaretz Weekly Ep. 13Haaretz

    For 35 years Israel has had no opposition. We have no experience and memories of alternative thinking anymore. There is nobody to offer a different kind of hope at the end of all the despair.

    >> Read more: Meretz leader Zandberg shines as stand-up comic in celebrity roast that showcased her party’s sad reality ■ The war that will decide Israel’s future won’t involve airstrikes, tanks or missiles

    Many years ago I contended for the leadership of the Labor Party, which at the time was stuck in the mire of the national unity government. It was characterized by no governance and little unity. That is exactly where the destruction of democracy and the nationalization of the political discourse, together with its turn to ultra-nationalism, began.

    At the time I planned to take Labor out of the government, to turn it into a civil alternative to the right’s doctrines – one God, one people, one land and one leader. I was told then: Your ideas are premature. Today I’m telling us all: In a moment it will be too late. Because this is exactly what is urgently needed, even more than before.

    In this sense Avi Gabbay is absolutely right to make the public commitment he is making – not to join Netanyahu’s next government. But this is an empty commitment. It deals with title and status, not with content. To replace Netanyahuism one must present a comprehensive, complete worldview.

    The right of recent years stands on five legs: sowing of fear, Jewish supremacy, abandonment of Western values, systematic weakening of the institutions of law and divisiveness.
    Get our daily election roundup in your inbox

    After so many years of such thorough indoctrination it’s not enough to say “I won’t sit in the same government with him.” It must be self-evident – what’s needed is to “turn from evil.” But what does it mean to “do good,” what is the ideological content that will heal Israel from Netanyahu’s curse?

    The renewal of Israel must stand on a foundation of civil equality. There is no other supreme value capable of uniting the variety of our identities, with absolute commitment to a democratic way of life. To achieve it we must set up a coalition for civil equality including various parties, movements and interests, all of which have one ultimate goal: changing Israeli discourse from ethnic domination to equal citizenship for all. The coalition’s agenda should include:

    Redefining Israel from “a Jewish-democratic state” to “a constitutional democracy in which part of the Jewish people has established its sovereignty, and which belongs to all its citizens.”
    Proposing a civil constitution including complete civil equality, secularizing the public sphere, separating state from religion, a fair distribution of public resources and decent, fair “rules of the game.”
    Significantly minimizing the Law of Return and closing all the automatic fast tracks granted on the basis of (at times dubious) genetic connection to the Jewish collective.
    Changing the Israeli security concept, from the obsessive amassing of power to the constant striving for long-term political arrangements, including with the Palestinian people.
    Waiving the monopolies and privileges of Israel and the Jews between the Jordan River and the sea. Turning it into a shared space as much as possible, in which every person is entitled to the same rights and every nation has the right to self-determination and confederate partnership in every walk of life.
    Implementing a policy of affirmative action and justice to redress past iniquities to the excluded and discriminated-against populations in Israel, centering on the Arab population, until the goals of civil equality are met.

    Yes, all these things mean a painful parting from the Jewish comfort and supremacy zones. It’s a dramatic evolution from the ideas of 1948 and 1967 to a new model of society, in a world of populistic madness stretching from Washington to Ankara and from Moscow to Balfour Street in Jerusalem.

    Anyone who has the courage and inspiration to stand at this front, and is ready to pay the price, will win it all. And make all of us winners.

  • Venezuela Military Backs Maduro, as Moscow Warns U.S. Not to Intervene - The New York Times

    CARACAS, Venezuela — The leader of Venezuela’s armed forces declared loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday and said the opposition’s effort to replace him with a transitional government amounted to an attempted coup.

    The pronouncement by the defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, came a day after an opposition lawmaker proclaimed himself the country’s rightful leader during nationwide antigovernment protests and pleaded with the armed forces to abandon Mr. Maduro.

    The defense minister’s declaration was a setback for the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, whose claim to legitimacy has been backed by a number of countries, including the United States. In a further blow to the opposition, Russia warned the United States on Thursday against meddling in Venezuela, a longtime Kremlin ally.

    “Any external intervention is very dangerous,” Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, told reporters in Moscow. “We consider the attempt to usurp the top power in Venezuela as going against the foundations and principles of the international law.”