city:washington

  • The Gnawing Anxiety of Having an Algorithm as a Boss - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-26/the-gnawing-anxiety-of-having-an-algorithm-as-a-boss

    I recently got the internet in my apartment fixed, and my technician had an unusual request. I’d get an automated call after he left asking me how satisfied I was with the service, he explained, and he wanted me to rate him 9 out of 10. I asked why, and he said there was a glitch with the system that recorded any 10 rating as a 1, and it was important for him to keep his rating up.

    Since then, a couple of people have told me that technicians working for the company have been making this exact request for at least two years. A representative for Spectrum, my internet provider, said they were worrying over nothing. The company had moved away from the 10-point rating system, he said, adding that customer feedback isn’t “tied to individual technicians’ compensation.”

    But even if the Spectrum glitch exists only in the lore of cable repairmen, the anxiety it’s causing them is telling. Increasingly, workers are impacted by automated decision-making systems, which also affects people who read the news, or apply for loans, or shop in stores. It only makes sense that they’d try to bend those systems to their advantage.

    There exist at least two separate academic papers with the title “Folk Theories of Social Feeds,” detailing how Facebook users divine what its algorithm wants, then try to use those theories to their advantage.

    People with algorithms for bosses have particular incentive to push back. Last month, a local television station in Washington covered Uber drivers who conspire to turn off their apps simultaneously in order to trick its system into raising prices.

    Alex Rosenblat, the author of Uberland, told me that these acts of digital disobedience are essentially futile in the long run. Technology centralizes power and information in a way that overwhelms mere humans. “You might think you’re manipulating the system,” she says, but in reality “you’re working really hard to keep up with a system that is constantly experimenting on you.”

    Compared to pricing algorithms, customer ratings of the type that worried my repairman should be fairly straightforward. Presumably it’s just a matter of gathering data and calculating an average. But online ratings are a questionable way to judge people even if the data they’re based on are pristine—and they probably aren’t. Academics have shown that customer ratings reflect racial biases. Complaints about a product or service can be interpreted as commentary about the person who provided it, rather than the service itself. And companies like Uber require drivers to maintain such high ratings that, in effect, any review that isn’t maximally ecstatic is a request for punitive measures.

    #Travail #Surveillance #Algorithme #Stress #Société_contrôle

  • Oups ? Soros & Koch vs. interventionnisme US...
    https://www.dedefensa.org/article/oups-soros-koch-vs-interventionnisme-us

    Oups ? Soros & Koch vs. interventionnisme US...

    Difficile à penser, à croire, à commenter, voire à hésiter et à mâchouiller en attendant... Caitline Johnstoneelle-même n’en revient pas et hésite zn toute ingénuité ironique à se prononcer. Il reste qu’il y a bien un article du Boston Globe qui nous informe que Soros (ploutocrate nettement de gauche, pro-guerre) et un des frères Koch (Charles, l’un des deux ploutocrates nettement de droite, pro-guerres) se sont associés ($500 000 de chaque côté) pour fonder le Quincy Institute à Washington, dont la ligne politique est de faire cesser les “guerres sans fin” que mènent les USA partout dans le monde. On s’affiche purement anti-interventionniste, de quoi ravir Tulsi Gabbard.

    Diverses réactions tweetées, dans tous les sens, mais avec une bonne dose (...)

  • Barak Ravid sur Twitter : “WATCH: U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman takes a 10 pounds hammer and breaks open a tunnel which runs under the Palestinian village of #Silwan to the old city of #Jerusalem. This happens at a settlers organisation event with Sara Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson at his side” / Twitter
    https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/1145362268022067200

    https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1145362068507430912/pu/vid/640x360/A_akO0XpJxkZ-Rl-.mp4?tag=10

    Des officiels américains à un évènement lié aux colons israéliens à Jérusalem-Est - L’Orient-Le Jour
    https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1176973/des-officiels-americains-a-un-evenement-lie-aux-colons-israeliens-a-j

    Deux responsables américains ont assisté dimanche à l’inauguration à Jérusalem-Est d’un site archéologique organisée par une association ultranationaliste israélienne, une présence qui rompt une nouvelle fois avec la pratique diplomatique s’agissant de la colonisation et du secteur palestinien de la ville occupé par Israël.

    Jason Greenblatt, conseiller du président américain Donald Trump, et David Friedman, ambassadeur en Israël, ont assisté en compagnie de responsables israéliens à une cérémonie dévoilant le résultat de travaux archéologiques à Silwan, quartier palestinien de Jérusalem-Est. Silwan, situé en contrebas des murailles de la Vieille ville, est le théâtre de tensions permanentes entre les résidents palestiniens et des colons juifs de plus en plus nombreux.

    Les travaux archéologiques, portant sur une route souterraine utilisée il y a environ 2.000 ans pour le pèlerinage vers le Second Temple juif, ont été entrepris par l’association Elad, dont le but avoué est de renforcer la présence juive à Jérusalem-Est.

    [...]

    Les Palestiniens accusent Israël et la fondation Elad de chercher à les chasser de Jérusalem.

    [...]

    L’ONG israélienne Emek Shaveh, qui lutte contre l’usage de l’archéologie au service de la colonisation, a également critiqué la présence d’officiels américains à la cérémonie. Elle dénonce un « acte politique qui se rapproche le plus d’une reconnaissance américaine de la souveraineté israélienne » sur toute la Vieille ville de Jérusalem.

    Israël considère Jérusalem comme sa capitale « unifiée et indivisible ». Mais la communauté internationale ne reconnaît pas l’annexion en 1967 de la partie orientale occupée de la ville, dont les Palestiniens veulent faire la capitale de l’Etat auquel ils aspirent.

    Le président Donald Trump a rompu en décembre 2017 avec des décennies de consensus diplomatique en reconnaissant Jérusalem comme la capitale d’Israël, poussant les Palestiniens à couper tout contact formel avec Washington.

    L’ambassadeur américain en Israël David Friedman est un fervent soutien des colonies israéliennes dans les Territoires palestiniens, considérées comme illégales par la communauté internationale.

    #sionisme #etats-unis

    • Editorial Settlers From the White House
      Haaretz Editorial
      Jun 30, 2019 11:20 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/settlers-from-the-white-house-1.7424748

      The event held Sunday in a tunnel under the main street of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls, would have been impossible only a few years ago. Two of the U.S. administration’s most senior diplomats, Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, were there alongside Israeli ministers at the inauguration of the Path of the Pilgrims – a tunnel excavated by the right-wing Elad organization with generous help from the state.

      The tunnel, which according to Elad exposed a street from the Second Temple period that brought pilgrims from the Shiloah pool to the Temple Mount, is a central project in the organization’s efforts to Judaize Silwan and its environs by way of archaeology and tourism. When the tunnel opens to the public, presumably in a few months, it will become a major tourist attraction.

      The participation of American diplomats at an event sponsored by a right-wing group in East Jerusalem constitutes de facto recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem’s historic basin. If anyone had any doubts about that, Friedman made clear in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that, “The City of David is an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel.” Giving it up, even in the context of a peace agreement, he said, “would be akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty.”

      This recognition doesn’t just put the American administration on the extreme right of the Israeli political map – thus undercutting the claim that American can be an unbiased broker between Israel and the Palestinians – but it also ignores the complicated reality in Silwan, East Jerusalem and the entire region. The tunnel, which was excavated using controversial methods from a scientific standpoint, harnesses archaeology to politics while ignoring the nuances of Jerusalem’s ancient past.

      But the main problem is that excavating under the street blatantly ignores what’s happening at street level. In Silwan alone there are 20,000 Palestinians without citizenship or civil rights, who justifiably feel that this archaeological project is aimed at forcing them out of their neighborhood. Surrounding Silwan are another 300,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, also without rights.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfbMcYhJY6Q


      Anyone having even a passing familiarity with the Palestinian people knows that there’s no chance of arriving at any kind of agreement that will end the occupation so long as Israel continues to control East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Thus, by mere words and an event dripping with sweetness and smiles, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has sentenced Israelis to a life of constant conflict, or to an apartheid state in which there are two types of residents, those with rights and those without them.

  • Trump’s Iran policy is deepening mistrust in North Korea, experts say
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/trump-s-iran-policy-deepening-mistrust-north-korea-experts-say-n1021901

    “From the North Koreans’ perspective, the Americans just can’t be trusted — full stop,” said Tom Plant, director of the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank.

    “It is so bizarre to say this, but there’s just not the stability of policy in Washington that there is in Pyongyang,” Plant said. “They will always be worrying about how certain they could be that a deal made with one president would be honored by another.”

    #etats-unis

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/08/tian-j08.html

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • The New York Times and its Uyghur “activist” - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/09/uygh-m09.html

    9 May 2019 - The New York Times has furnished a case study of the way in which it functions as the conduit for the utterly hypocritical “human rights” campaigns fashioned by the CIA and the State Department to prosecute the predatory interests of US imperialism.

    While turning a blind eye to the gross abuses of democratic rights by allies such as Saudi Arabia, the US has brazenly used “human rights” for decades as the pretext for wars, diplomatic intrigues and regime-change. The media is completely integrated into these operations.

    Another “human rights” campaign is now underway. The New York Times is part of the mounting chorus of condemnation of China over its treatment of the Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghur minority in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

    In an article on May 4 entitled “In push for trade deal, Trump administration shelves sanctions over China’s crackdown on Uyghurs,” the New York Times joined in criticism of the White House, particularly by the Democrats, for failing to impose punitive measures on Beijing.

    The strident denunciations of China involve unsubstantiated allegations that it is detaining millions of Uyghurs without charge or trial in what Beijing terms vocational training camps.

    The New York Times reported, without qualification, the lurid claims of US officials, such as Assistant Secretary of Defence Randall Schriver, who last Friday condemned “the mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps” and boosted the commonly cited figure of up to a million to “up to three million” in detention. No evidence has been presented for either claim.

    The repression of the Uyghurs is completely bound up with the far broader oppression of the working class by the Chinese capitalist elites and the Chinese Communist Party regime that defends their interests. The US campaign on the Uyghurs, however, has nothing to do with securing the democratic rights of workers, but is aimed at stirring up reactionary separatist sentiment.

    The US has longstanding ties to right-wing separatist organisations based on Chinese minorities—Tibetans as well as the Uyghurs—that it helped create, fund and in some cases arm. As the US, first under President Obama and now Trump, has escalated its diplomatic, economic and military confrontation with China, the “human rights” of Uyghurs has been increasingly brought to the fore.

    Washington’s aim, at the very least, is to foment separatist opposition in Xinjiang, which is a crucial source of Chinese energy and raw materials as well as being pivotal to its key Belt and Road Initiative to integrate China more closely with Eurasia. Such unrest would not only weaken China but could lead to a bloody war and the fracturing of the country. Uyghur separatists, who trained in the US network of Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, openly told Radio Free Asia last year of their intention to return to China to wage an armed insurgency.

    The New York Times is completely in tune with the aims behind these intrigues—a fact that is confirmed by its promotion of Uyghur “activist” Rushan Abbas.

    Last weekend’s article highlighted Abbas as the organiser of a tiny demonstration in Washington to “pressure Treasury Department officials to take action against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang abuses.” She told the newspaper that the Uyghur issue should be included as part of the current US-China trade talks, and declared: “They are facing indoctrination, brainwashing and the elimination of their values as Muslims.”

    An article “Uyghur Americans speak against China’s internment camps” on October 18 last year cited her remarks at the right-wing think tank, the Hudson Institute, where she “spoke out” about the detention of her aunt and sister. As reported in the article: “I hope the Chinese ambassador here reads this,” she said, wiping away tears. “I will not stop. I will be everywhere and speak on this at every event from now on.”

    Presented with a tearful woman speaking about her family members, very few readers would have the slightest inkling of Abbas’s background, about which the New York Times quite deliberately says nothing. Abbas is a highly connected political operator with long standing ties to the Pentagon, the State Department and US intelligence agencies at the highest level as well as top Republican Party politicians. She is a key figure in the Uyghur organisations that the US has supported and funded.

    Currently, Abbas is Director of Business Development in ISI Consultants, which offers to assist “US companies to grow their businesses in Middle East and African markets.” Her credentials, according to the company website, include “over 15 years of experience in global business development, strategic business analysis, business consultancy and government affairs throughout the Middle East, Africa, CIS regions, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and Latin America.”

    The website also notes: “She also has extensive experience working with US government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various US intelligence agencies.” As “an active campaigner for human rights,” she “works closely with members of the US Senate, Congressional Committees, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the US Department of State and several other US government departments and agencies.”

    This brief summary makes clear that Abbas is well connected in the highest levels of the state apparatus and in political circles. It also underscores the very close ties between the Uyghur organisations, in which she and her family members are prominent, and the US intelligence and security agencies.

    A more extensive article and interview with Abbas appeared in the May 2019 edition of the magazine Bitter Winter, which is published by the Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions. The magazine focuses on “religious liberty and human rights in China” and is part of a conservative, right-wing network in Europe and the United States. The journalist who interviewed Abbas, Marco Respinti, is a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Centre for Cultural Renewal, and a board member of the Centre for European Renewal—both conservative think tanks.

    The article explains that Abbas was a student activist at Xinjiang University during the 1989 protests by students and workers against the oppressive Beijing regime, but left China prior to the brutal June 4 military crackdown that killed thousands in the capital and throughout the country. At the university, she collaborated with Dolkun Isa and “has worked closely with him ever since.”

    Dolkun Isa is currently president of the World Uyghur Congress, established in 2004 as an umbrella group for a plethora of Uyghur organisations. It receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy—which is one of the fronts used by the CIA and the US State Department for fomenting opposition to Washington’s rivals, including so-called colour revolutions, around the world.

    Isa was the subject of an Interpol red notice after China accused him of having connections to the armed separatist group, the East Turkestan Liberation Organisation, a claim he denied. East Turkestan is the name given to Xinjiang by Uyghur separatists to denote its historic connections to Turkey. None of the Western countries in which he traveled moved to detain him and the red notice was subsequently removed, no doubt under pressure from Washington.

    Bitter Winter explained that after moving to the US, Abbas cofounded the first Uyghur organisation in the United States in 1993—the California-based Tengritagh Overseas Students and Scholars Association. She also played a key role in the formation of the Uyghur American Association in 1998, which receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Last year its Uyghur Human Rights Project was awarded two NED grants totaling $320,000. Her brother Rishat Abbas was the association’s first vice-chairman and is currently the honorary chairman of the Uyghur Academy based in Turkey.

    When the US Congress funded a Uyghur language service for the Washington-based Radio Free Asia, Abbas became its first reporter and news anchor, broadcasting daily to China. Radio Free Asia, like its counterpart Radio Free Europe, began its existence in the 1950s as a CIA conduit for anti-communist propaganda. It was later transferred to the US Information Agency, then the US State Department and before being incorporated as an “independent,” government-funded body. Its essential purpose as a vehicle for US disinformation and lies has not changed, however.

    In a particularly revealing passage, Bitter Winter explained: “From 2002–2003, Ms. Abbas supported Operation Enduring Freedom as a language specialist at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” In the course of the interview with the magazine, Abbas attempted to explain away her involvement with the notorious prison camp by saying that she was simply acting on behalf of 22 Uyghurs who were wrongfully detained and ultimately released—after being imprisoned for between four to 11 years!

    Given the denunciations of Chinese detention camps, one might expect that Abbas would have something critical to say about Guantanamo Bay, where inmates are held indefinitely without charge or trial and in many cases tortured. However, she makes no criticism of the prison or its procedures, nor for that matter of Operation Enduring Freedom—the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that resulted in the deaths of a million civilians.

    It is clear why. Abbas is plugged into to the very top levels of the US state apparatus and political establishment in Washington. Her stints with Radio Free Asia and at Guantanamo Bay are undoubtedly not the only times that she has been directly on the payroll.

    As Bitter Winter continued: “She has frequently briefed members of the US Congress and officials at the State Department on the human rights situation of the Uyghur people, and their history and culture, and arranged testimonies before Congressional committees and Human Rights Commissions.

    “She provided her expertise to other federal and military agencies as well, and in 2007 she assisted during a meeting between then-President George W. Bush and Rebiya Kadeer, the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs, in Prague. Later that year she also briefed then First Lady Laura Bush in the White House on the Human Rights situation in Xinjiang.”

    It should be noted, Rebiya Kadeer is the “the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs,” only in the eyes of the CIA and the US State Department who have assiduously promoted her, and of the US-funded Uyghur organisations. She was one of the wealthiest businesswomen in China who attended the National People’s Congress before her husband left for the US and began broadcasting for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. She subsequently fled China to the US and has served as president both of the World Uyghur Congress and the American Uyghur Association.

    The fact that Russan Abbas is repeatedly being featured in the New York Times is an indication that she is also being groomed to play a leading role in the mounting US propaganda offensive against China over the persecution of the Uyghurs. It is also a telling indictment of the New York Times which opens its pages to her without informing its readers of her background. Like Abbas, the paper of record is also plugged into the state apparatus and its intelligence agencies.

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

    新疆維吾爾自治區 / 新疆维吾尔自治区, Xīnjiāng Wéiwú’ěr zìzhìqū, englisch Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

  • The Museum of the Palestinian People: ’We want our story told not just once, not as an event, but over and over again’
    Bridey Heing - June 24, 2019

    https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/art/the-museum-of-the-palestinian-people-we-want-our-story-told-not-just-onc

    The Museum of the Palestinian People opened its doors in Washington, DC, earlier this month. The museum is a first in the city and is dedicated to telling the stories of the people of Palestine, fostering a conversation about what it means to be Palestinian and nurturing a better understanding of an identity that remains highly politicised and largely obscured in the West.

    “It’s a museum where people get introduced to the Palestinian story and Palestinians as a people, not as a news item,” says Nizar Farsakh, chairman of the museum. Farsakh, who has advised Palestinian leaders, became involved with the project after meeting with founder and director Bshara Nassar. (...)

  • Bahrain debacle marks crash of Trump team’s campaign to diss Palestinians into submission

    Kushner’s Peace for Prosperity includes Utopian projects funded by non-existent money as part of peace deal that won’t happen
    Chemi Shalev
    Jun 25, 2019 9:12 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bahrain-debacle-marks-crash-of-trump-team-s-campaign-to-dis-palest

    The unveiling of the U.S. administration’s long-awaited production of Peace for Prosperity, premiering in Bahrain on Tuesday, garnered mixed reviews, to say the least. Barak Ravid of Axios and Israel’s Channel 13 described it as “impressive, detailed and ambitious – perhaps overly ambitious.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer offered a slightly different take: “I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing,” he said.

    The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful “fruits of peace” that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.

    But the main problem with Peace for Prosperity isn’t its outlandishly unrealistic proposals – such as the $5 billion superhighway between the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel will never agree to; or its occasional condescending and Orientalist attitude towards Palestinian society - their great hummus could attract millions of tourists; or even its offer to manage and foster Palestinian institutions and civil society in a way that can be viewed either as implicit state-building or as imposing foreign control on a future Palestinian government.

    >> Read more: ’There is no purely economic solution to the Palestinian economy’s problems’ ■ Trump’s Bahrain conference - not what you imagined ■ Kushner’s deal holds some surprises, but it’s more vision than blueprint ■ The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan

    The Palestinians would have been suspicious in any case, even if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were President. They have always been wary of the term “economic peace”, especially when detached from the real nitty-gritty of resolving their dispute with Israel. Nonetheless, if the President was anyone other than Trump, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would have more or less emulated Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction: Somber nodding of the head, then a non-committal reaction to Peace for Prosperity, followed by effusive but general praise for our lord and savior Donald Trump. Israelis and Palestinians would have attended the Bahrain conference, while doing their best to suppress their inner guffaws.

    If it was anyone by Trump and his peace team - which often doubles as Netanyahu’s cheerleading squad – the Palestinians might have allowed themselves to believe that A. A comprehensive peace plan isn’t just a mirage and is indeed forthcoming. B. The deal won’t be tilted so far in favor of Israel that it will be declared stillborn on arrival and C. That it isn’t a ruse meant to cast Palestinians as congenital rejectionists and to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of “parts of the West Bank”, as Ambassador David Friedman put it when he pronounced Trump’s imperial edict conceding territory to Israel, which even Palestinian minimalists claim as their own, in advance of any actual talks.

    But because the plan bears Trump’s signature, it was received in most world capitals with shrugs, as yet another manifestation of the U.S. administration’s preposterous handling of foreign policy – see North Korea, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela et al. Israel, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to regurgitate the cliché about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
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    For Palestinians and their supporters, however, Kushner’s bid was but the latest in the Trump team’s never-ending stream of slights, slanders and slaps in their collective faces. In Palestinian eyes, the economic bonanza isn’t a CBM – confidence building measure – but a con job and insult rolled into one. It dangles dollars in front of Palestinian noses, implying they can be bought, and it sets up a chain of events at the end of which Jason Greenblatt will inevitably accuse them on Twitter of being hysterical and dishonest while praising Netanyahu’s bold leadership and pioneering vision. They’ve been there, and done that.

    This has been the Trump approach from the outset: Uncontained admiration for Israel and its leader coupled with unhidden disdain for Palestinian leaders and contempt for their “unrealistic” dreams. Trump’s peace team swears by Israel’s security needs as if they were part of the bible or U.S. Constitution; the ongoing 52-year military occupation of millions of Palestinians, on the other hand, seems to have escaped their attention.

    For the first ten months of Trump’s tenure, the Palestinians put up with his administration’s unequivocal pledges of allegiance to Israel as well as the White House’s departure from past custom and continuing refusal to criticize any of its actions – not to mention the appointment of a peace team comprised exclusively of right-wing Netanyahu groupies, which Palestinians initially thought was surely a practical joke.

    Trump’s announcement in December 2017 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there was both game-changer and deal-breaker as far as the Palestinians were concerned. While Netanyahu and most of Israel were celebrating Donald the Daring and the long-awaited recognition of their eternal capital, Palestinians realized they were facing a President radically different from any of his predecessors - one willing to break the rules in Israel’s favor and to grant his bestie Bibi tangible victories, before, during and after elections - without asking for anything in return.

    The Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration ever since, embarrassing Friedman, Greenblatt, Kushner and ultimately Trump in the process. They, in response, have increasingly vented their anger and frustrations at the Palestinians, and not just in words and Tweets alone: The administration shut down the PLO’s office in Washington, declared Jerusalem “off the table” and indicated that the refugee issue should follow it, cut aid to UNRWA and is endeavoring to dismantle it altogether and slashed assistance to Palestinian humanitarian organizations.

    In March 2018, in a move strongly supported by Israel and vigorously endorsed by Evangelicals and other right wing supporters, Trump signed the Congressionally approved Taylor Force Act that prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to pay monthly stipends to the families of what the Act describes as “terrorists”. Palestinians, who, to many people’s regret, regard such terrorists as heroes and martyrs, noted that the passage of the Taylor Force Act embarrassed Israel and spurred it to legislate its own way to withholding Palestinian tax money for the very same reason.

    Throughout the process, Trump and his peace team have lectured the Palestinians as a teacher reprimands an obstinate child. The Palestinians need to face reality, to lower their expectations, to land back on earth, Kushner and colleagues insist. Not only will they never realize their dreams and aspirations, they should also forget their core demand for an independent state free of outside control and not confide inside Israeli-controlled gates. Israelis are worthy of such independence, the Palestinians are told, but you are not.

    Trump approach is a product, first and foremost, of his own inexperience, arrogance and unwillingness to learn anything from a past in which he wasn’t in charge. It is fed by anti-Palestinian prejudices prevalent in his peace team as well as his advisers and most of his political supporters. Trump and his underlings basically adhere to the arguably racist tenet encapsulated in the Israeli saying “The Arabs understand only force.” The more you pressure them, the greater the chance they will succumb.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.AFP

    At this point at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Bahrain, by any measure, is a humiliating bust. As Trump and his aides contemplate the reasons for their abject failure they are likely to blame stubborn Palestinians who don’t know what’s good for them, along with radical Muslims, perfidious Europeans, idiot liberals and all the other usual suspects.

    In a better world, they would take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and possibly have an epiphany. They can make an immediate adjustment that will cost them nothing but possibly achieve dramatic results. Instead of incessantly rebuking, reproaching, reprimanding, threatening and intimidating the Palestinians in a way that garners cheers from Christian messianics and Jewish zealots, they could try and treat them, as Aretha Franklin sang, with just a little respect. And perhaps, if it isn’t asking too much, take down their fawning for Netanyahu a notch or two.

    It might not be enough to reconcile irreconcilable differences or to make peace, but it will signal that Trump is finally getting serious about his claim to be the peacemaker the world has been waiting for. Alternatively, the Palestinians will continue to frustrate his designs and pray to Allah for his quick departure.

  • The CIA tried to recruit at an American Library Association convention — and the librarians fought back – Alternet.org
    https://www.alternet.org/2019/06/the-cia-tried-to-recruit-at-an-american-library-association-convention-and

    A group of librarians demanded the American Library Association abide by its values on Friday as they staged a protest of the CIA’s presence and recruitment at the professional organization’s annual conference.

    At the convention, which is taking place June 20-25 in Washington, D.C., the CIA is among the hundreds of exhibitors.

    Being an exhibitor at one of its gatherings, the American Library Association (ALA) says, “provides the best and most comprehensive opportunity to reach decision makers in the library field.”

    The protesters say the CIA’s track record provides ample evidence it should not be provided that opportunity.

    “The CIA is recruiting at #alaac19,” said organizer and Library Freedom Project founder Alison Macrina on Twitter. “Everything they stand for is a violation of the values of librarianship, so we protested.”

    The protesters laid out their motivation in a statement they handed out at the action. According to the Library Journal, the statement said, in part:

    The CIA has participated for decades in the violent overthrow of governments while propping up dictators all over the world. The CIA believes in absolute secrecy for itself, but total surveillance for all others. The CIA makes use of ultra-secretive ‘black sites’ to conduct torture and extrajudicial detention. We need not list their entire history to show that library workers should not be associated with them, that the CIA’s actions are incompatible with the values of librarianship.

    “In an era where democracy is in jeopardy, where the government and its agencies are under the control of a dangerous white supremacist regime,” the statement added, “library workers must take a stand against undemocratic forces — particularly those as powerful as the CIA.”

    That language builds on and mirrors a call from an open letter released last year.

    Authored by Macrina and Dustin Fife and entitled “No Legitimization Through Association: the CIA should not be exhibiting at ALA,” the letter was published right after the ALA’s 2018 annual conference, when the CIA was also an exhibitor.

    “We refuse to lend credence to the CIA through association and we ask our fellow library workers to join us,” it said. “We should not allow them space to recruit library workers to become intelligence analysts, which was the focus of their booth.”

    “Library workers are powerful,” the statement added. “We have a strong reputation in our local communities and across the world as being steadfast stewards of democracy, intellectual freedom, equity, and social justice. We attempt to honor these values through our collections, programs, and services and we recognize that our libraries need continuous examination in a systemically unjust society. Those values should extend to all that we do. A more democratic world is possible, and we believe that library workers can be at the forefront of this charge.”

    At this year’s event, during a Saturday membership meeting, a resolution calling for a ban on CIA recruitment at all ALA conferences and meetings failed over objections that the CIA’s free speech would be violated.

    Macrina says that’s “a facile argument.”

    The conference, Macrina told Common Dreams, “is a ticketed, private space. We abide by a code of conduct there. It is absolutely reasonable for us to decide who gets to be in such a space. If the KKK wanted to exhibit, I believe we’d reject them. This is not a First Amendment issue.”

    #Bibliothèques #CIA #ALA #American_Library_Association #First_amendment

  • Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/06/24/liu-cixins-war-of-the-worlds

    As the standoff has intensified, Liu has become wary of touting the geopolitical underpinnings of his work. In November, when I accompanied him on a trip to Washington, D.C.—he was picking up the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation’s Award for Imagination in Service to Society—he briskly dismissed the idea that fiction could serve as commentary on history or on current affairs. “The whole point is to escape the real world!” he said. Still, the kind of reader he attracts suggests otherwise: Chinese tech entrepreneurs discuss the Hobbesian vision of the trilogy as a metaphor for cutthroat competition in the corporate world; other fans include Barack Obama, who met Liu in Beijing two years ago, and Mark Zuckerberg. Liu’s international career has become a source of national pride. In 2015, China’s then Vice-President, Li Yuanchao, invited Liu to Zhongnanhai—an off-limits complex of government accommodation sometimes compared to the Kremlin—to discuss the books and showed Liu his own copies, which were dense with highlights and annotations.

    Liu’s tomes—they tend to be tomes—have been translated into more than twenty languages, and the trilogy has sold some eight million copies worldwide. He has won China’s highest honor for science-fiction writing, the Galaxy Award, nine times, and in 2015 he became the first Asian writer to win the Hugo Award, the most prestigious international science-fiction prize. In China, one of his stories has been a set text in the gao kao—the notoriously competitive college-entrance exams that determine the fate of ten million pupils annually; another has appeared in the national seventh-grade-curriculum textbook. When a reporter recently challenged Liu to answer the middle-school questions about the “meaning” and the “central themes” of his story, he didn’t get a single one right. “I’m a writer,” he told me, with a shrug. “I don’t begin with some conceit in mind. I’m just trying to tell a good story.”

    The trilogy’s success has been credited with establishing sci-fi, once marginalized in China, as a mainstream taste. Liu believes that this trend signals a deeper shift in the Chinese mind-set—that technological advances have spurred a new excitement about the possibilities of cosmic exploration. The trilogy commands a huge following among aerospace engineers and cosmologists; one scientist wrote an explanatory guide, “The Physics of Three Body.” Some years ago, China’s aerospace agency asked Liu, whose first career was as a computer engineer in the hydropower industry, to address technicians and engineers about ways that “sci-fi thinking” could be harnessed to produce more imaginative approaches to scientific problems. More recently, he was invited to inspect a colossal new radio dish, one of whose purposes is to detect extraterrestrial communications. Its engineers had been sending Liu updates on the project and effusive expressions of admiration.
    “We’re looking for someone who can be very naughty when left alone, and your name kept popping up in our database.”

    Earlier this year, soon after a Chinese lunar rover achieved the unprecedented feat of landing on the dark side of the moon, an adaptation of Liu’s short story “The Wandering Earth” earned nearly half a billion dollars in its first ten days of release, eventually becoming China’s second-highest-grossing film ever. A headline in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, jubilantly summed up the mood: “Only the Chinese Can Save the Planet!”

    Liu was born in 1963 in Beijing, where his father was a manager at the Coal Mine Design Institute and his mother was an elementary-school teacher. His father’s family came from the plains of Henan Province, in the Yellow River Basin, a region that suffered particularly dire calamities in the twentieth century. After the Japanese invaded China, in 1937—interrupting a civil war between Nationalists and Communists that had been raging for a decade—Henan became a vital strategic point in the Nationalist government’s attempt to prevent them from sweeping south. Chinese forces breached dikes on the Yellow River to halt the Japanese advance, but the resulting flood destroyed thousands of villages and killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also ruined vast areas of farmland; the next harvest was a fraction of the expected yield. In 1942-43, after the government failed to respond to the shortage, some two million people starved to death.

    When the civil war resumed, after the Second World War, both sides conscripted men. Liu’s paternal grandparents had two sons and no ideological allegiance to either side, and, in the hope of preserving the family line, they took a chilling but pragmatic gamble. One son joined the Nationalists and the other, Liu’s father, joined the Communists. He rose to the rank of company commander in the Eighth Route Army, and, after the Communist victory, he began his career in Beijing. To this day, Liu doesn’t know what became of his uncle.

    Je comprends mieux, Lui a lu un de mes livres d’enfance préféré.

    Meanwhile, his father had turned him on to speculative fiction, giving him a copy of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” To the young Liu, reading Verne’s book was like walking through a door to another world. “Everything in it was described with such authority and scrupulous attention to detail that I thought it had to be real,” Liu told me.

    The great flourishing of science fiction in the West at the end of the nineteenth century occurred alongside unprecedented technological progress and the proliferation of the popular press—transformations that were fundamental to the development of the genre. As the British Empire expanded and the United States began to assert its power around the world, British and American writers invented tales of space travel as seen through a lens of imperial appropriation, in which technological superiority brought about territorial conquest. Extraterrestrials were often a proxy for human beings of different creeds or races.

    Types are central to the way Liu thinks of people; he has a knack for quickly sketching the various classes that make up Chinese society. A scientist is described as “nothing more than a typical intellectual of the period: cautious, timid, seeking only to protect himself.” Another character, “a typical political cadre of the time,” had “an extremely keen sense for politics and saw everything through an ideological lens.” This characteristic endows his fiction with a sociopolitical specificity that has the texture of reality. At the same time, it doesn’t allow for much emotional complexity, and Liu has been criticized for peopling his books with characters who seem like cardboard cutouts installed in magnificent dioramas. Liu readily admits to the charge. “I did not begin writing for love of literature,” he told me. “I did so for love of science.”

    August Cole, a co-author of “Ghost Fleet,” a techno-thriller about a war between the U.S. and China, told me that, for him, Liu’s work was crucial to understanding contemporary China, “because it synthesizes multiple angles of looking at the country, from the anthropological to the political to the social.” Although physics furnishes the novels’ premises, it is politics that drives the plots. At every turn, the characters are forced to make brutal calculations in which moral absolutism is pitted against the greater good. In their pursuit of survival, men and women employ Machiavellian game theory and adopt a bleak consequentialism. In Liu’s fictional universe, idealism is fatal and kindness an exorbitant luxury. As one general says in the trilogy, “In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.” Indeed, it is usually when people do not play by the rules of Realpolitik that the most lives are lost.

    #Science_fiction #Liu_Cixin

  • No Palestinians, no Israelis, maybe even no journalists: What’s left of Kushner’s Bahrain summit - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    The White House’s initial sense of euphoria about Arab participation at its economic workshop on June 25 has eroded, much to the (unspoken) relief of Jerusalem
    Amir Tibon and Noa Landau (Washington) Jun 18, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-no-palestinians-no-israelis-no-journalists-what-s-left-of-kushner-

    WASHINGTON - With just a week to go before the Bahrain conference convenes to discuss the economic chapter of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, things are looking increasingly gloomy for the U.S. team led by Jared Kushner.

    The White House had surprised journalists in Washington and Israel on an otherwise boring Sunday last month when it announced that the workshop would take place in the Gulf state on June 25-26. That announcement created a temporary sense of momentum behind the so-called deal of the century, and the small team working on the plan viewed Bahrain’s sponsorship of the event as a major achievement.

    But there have been a series of setbacks since then. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the conference and has succeeded in convincing Palestinian business leaders not to attend as well. Russia and China — two of the most important economic players in the new Middle East — aren’t expected to attend, while Arab countries such as Iraq and Lebanon have also announced they won’t be participating.

  • The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/08/28/the-u-s-is-wrong-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-arab-world-is-suffering-for-it/?noredirect=on

    Texte intégral de l’article:
    By Jamal Khashoggi

    August 28, 2018
    During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.
    That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.
    The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world. The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In turn, this will mean the continuation of the causes behind revolution, extremism and refugees — all of which have affected the security of Europe and the rest of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis have changed the political mood in the West and brought the extreme right to prominence there.
    There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.
    Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, explains the problem in this way: “The Arab regimes’ war on the Brotherhood does not target the movement alone, but rather targets those who practice politics, who demand freedom and accountability, and all who have a popular base in society.” A quick look at the political degradation that has taken place in Egypt since the military’s return to power confirms what Ghabra says. President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s regime has cracked down on the Islamists and arrested some 60,000 of them. Now it has extended its heavy hand against both secular and military figures, even those who supported him in the coup. In today’s Egypt, political life is totally dead.
    It is wrong to dwell on political Islam, conservatism and identity issues when the choice is between having a free society tolerant of all viewpoints and having an oppressive regime. Five years of Sissi’s rule in Egypt makes this point clear.
    There are efforts here in Washington, encouraged by some Arab states that do not support freedom and democracy, to persuade Congress to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. If they succeed, the designation will weaken the fragile steps toward democracy and political reform that have already been curbed in the Arab world. It will also push backward the Arab countries that have made progress in creating a tolerant environment and allowing political participation by various components of society, including the Islamists.
    Islamists today participate in the parliaments of various Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Morocco. This has led to the emergence of Islamic democracy, such as the Ennahda movement in Tunisia, and the maturing of democratic transformation in the other countries.
    The coup in Egypt led to the loss of a precious opportunity for Egypt and the entire Arab world. If the democratic process had continued there, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political practices could have matured and become more inclusive, and the unimaginable peaceful rotation of power could have become a reality and a precedent to be followed.
    The Trump administration always says it wants to correct Obama’s mistakes. It should add his mishandling of Arab democracy to its list. Obama erred when he wasted the precious opportunity that could have changed the history of the Arab world, and when he caved to pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as from members of his own administration. They all missed the big picture and were governed by their intolerant hatred for any form of political Islam, a hatred that has destroyed Arabs’ choice for democracy and good governance.

    #démocratie #Islam #pays-arabes #Egypte #Sissi #Morsi #Révolutions-arabes #Trump #Etats-Unis #coup-d'état

  • Spy used AI-generated face to connect with targets
    https://mamot.fr/system/media_attachments/files/004/862/107/original/0f2b67672f8aa011.mp4

    Last month I my attention was drawn to something suspicious: A fake LinkedIn profile connecting to Washington think tank types and senior US officials.

    Even weirder: Her face itself appeared to be fake.

    https://apnews.com/bc2f19097a4c4fffaa00de6770b8a60d

    via https://social.tcit.fr/@manhack/102274512502562853

  • Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect - Iran - Haaretz.com

    Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect
    U.S. officials rushed to point to Tehran, but somehow the world’s leading intelligence services failed to discover who is actually behind the strike. And even if they knew, what could be done without risking all-out war?
    Zvi Bar’el | Jun. 14, 2019 | 8:36 AM | 3
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-oman-attack-iran-is-the-immediate-but-unlikely-suspect-1.7368134


    A unnamed senior U.S. Defense Department official was quick to tell CBS that Iran was “apparently” behind the Thursday attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, followed by State Secretary Mike Pompeo who later told reported that it was his government’s assessment. There’s nothing new about that, but neither is it a decisive proof.

    Who, then, struck the tankers? Whom does this strike serve and what can be done against such attacks?

    In all previous attacks in the Gulf in recent weeks Iran was naturally taken to be the immediate suspect. After all, Iran had threatened that if it could now sell its oil in the Gulf, other countries would not be able to ship oil through it; Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, and in any case it’s in the sights of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But this explanation is too easy.

    The Iranian regime is in the thrones of a major diplomatic struggle to persuade Europe and its allies, Russia and China, not to take the path of pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. At the same time, Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.

    Iran has announced it would scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal by expanding its low-level uranium enrichment and not transferring the remainder of its enriched uranium and heavy water to another country, as the agreement requires. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports reveal that it has indeed stepped up enrichment, but not in a way that could support a military nuclear program.

    It seems that alongside its diplomatic efforts, Iran prefers to threaten to harm the nuclear deal itself, responding to Washington with the same token, rather than escalate the situation to a military clash.

    Other possible suspects are the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to pound Saudi targets with medium-range missiles, as was the case last week with strikes on the Abha and Jizan airports, near the Yemeni border, which wounded 26 people. The Houthis have also fired missiles at Riyadh and hit targets in the Gulf. In response, Saudi Arabia launched a massive missile strike on Houthi-controlled areas in northern Yemen.

    The strike on the oil tankers may have been a response to the response, but if this is the case, it goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretexts for a military clash in the Gulf. The question, therefore, is whether Iran has full control over all the actions the Houthis take, and whether the aid it gives them commits them fully to its policies, or whether they see assaults on Saudi targets as a separate, local battle, cut off from Iran’s considerations.

    The Houthis have claimed responsibility for some of their actions in Saudi territory in the past, and at times even took the trouble of explaining the reasons behind this assault or the other. But not this time.

    Yemen also hosts large Al-Qaida cells and Islamic State outposts, with both groups having a running account with Saudi Arabia and apparently the capabilities to carry out strikes on vessels moving through the Gulf.

    In the absence of confirmed and reliable information on the source of the fire, we may meanwhile discount the possibility of a Saudi or American provocation at which Iran has hinted, but such things have happened before. However, we may also wonder why some of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world are having so much trouble discovering who actually carried out these attacks.

    Thwarting such attacks with no precise intelligence is an almost impossible task, but even if the identity of those responsible for it is known, the question of how to respond to the threat would still arise.

    If it turns out that Iran initiated or even carried out these attacks, American and Saudi military forces could attack its Revolutionary Guards’ marine bases along the Gulf coast, block Iranian shipping in the Gulf and persuade European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal, claiming that continuing relations with Iran would mean supporting terrorism in general, and maritime terrorism in particular.

    The concern is that such a military response would lead Iran to escalate its own and openly strike American and Saudi targets in the name of self-defense and protecting its sovereignty. In that case, a large-scale war would be inevitable. But there’s no certainty that U.S. President Donald Trump, who wants to extricate his forces from military involvement in the Middle East, truly seeks such a conflict, which could suck more and more American forces into this sensitive arena.

    An escape route from this scenario would require intensive mediation efforts between Iran and the United States, but therein lies one major difficulty – finding an authoritative mediator that could pressure both parties. Russia or China are not suitable candidates, and ties between Washington and the European Union are acrimonious.

    It seems that all sides would be satisfied if they could place responsibility for the attacks on the Houthis or other terror groups. That is not to say that the United States or Saudi Arabia have any magic solutions when it comes to the Houthis; far from it. The war in Yemen has been going on for five years now with no military resolution, and increased bombardment of concentrations of Houthi forces could only expand their efforts to show their strength. But the United States would pay none of the diplomatic or military price for assaults on the Houthis it would for a forceful violent response against Iran itself.

    If sporadic, small-scale attacks raise such complex dilemmas, one can perhaps dream of an all-out war with Iran, but it is enough to look at the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan to grow extremely cautious of the trajectory in which such dreams become a nightmare that lasts for decades.❞
    #Oman #Iran
    https://seenthis.net/messages/786937

    • UPDATE 1-"Flying objects" damaged Japanese tanker during attack in Gulf of Oman
      Junko Fujita – June 14, 2019
      (Adds comments from company president)
      By Junko Fujita
      https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-tanker-japan-damage/update-1-flying-objects-damaged-japanese-tanker-during-attack-in-gulf-of-om

      TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Two “flying objects” damaged a Japanese tanker owned by Kokuka Sangyo Co in an attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, but there was no damage to the cargo of methanol, the company president said on Friday.

      The Kokuka Courageous is now sailing toward the port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, with the crew having returned to the ship after evacuating because of the incident, Kokuka President Yutaka Katada told a press conference. It was being escorted by the U.S. Navy, he said.

      “The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

      Katada said there was no possibility that the ship, carrying 25,000 tons of methanol, was hit by a torpedo.

      The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.

      The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military ship in the vicinity on Thursday night Japan time, Katada said.

      Katada said he did not believe Kokuka Courageous was targetted because it was owned by a Japanese firm. The tanker is registered in Panama and was flying a Panamanian flag, he said.

      “Unless very carefully examined, it would be hard to tell the tanker was operated or owned by Japanese,” he said. (...)

  • U.S. and Russia trade blame over near collision in East Asian waters - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-navy-incident-idUSKCN1T80LR
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QeNcKRkvDY

    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


    WP


    WP

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


      et

      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…

  • Venezuela : qu’y a-t-il derrière les déclarations de M. Pompeo critiquant la désunion de l’opposition ?
    • celle-ci est réelle, mais…
    • les É.-U. ont aussi commis leur lot d’erreurs. Rappel : M. Pompeo avant d’être nommé secrétaire d’état fin avril 2018, s’est occupé du cas du Venezuela au poste précédent, directeur de la CIA depuis janvier 2017
    • Leopoldo López, ne supportant pas la mise en avant de Juan Guaidó, est très probablement à l’origine de la tentative de coup d’état du 30 avril, anticipant sans prévenir personne [et sans doute pas Guaidó lui-même] sur les grands rassemblements prévus pour le lendemain
    • l’opposition commence à craindre que les É.-U. ne fassent affaire directement avec les militaires, la laissant hors du coup.

    ¿Qué hay detrás de la frustración de EE UU con la oposición a Maduro ? – El Nacional / BBC Mundo
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/bbc-mundo/que-hay-detras-frustracion-con-oposicion-maduro_284613

    El jefe de la diplomacia de EE UU, Mike Pompeo, indicó en una grabación secreta que mantener unidos a los opositores venezolanos es “diabólicamente difícil”. Pero algunos creen que esto disimula los propios errores de Washington
    […]
    El creciente descontento de EE UU con la oposición venezolana ya era un secreto a voces en Washington. Pero ahora es más evidente que nunca.

    Sin embargo, algunos creen que detrás de esta frustración del gobierno de Donald Trump hay equivocaciones en su propia estrategia hacia Venezuela.

    «Es injusto que Pompeo lance este tipo de críticas a la oposición (venezolana) cuando los mayores errores los cometieron los encargados de formular la política de EE UU», dice Roger Noriega, que fue subsecretario de Estado para América Latina durante el gobierno de George W. Bush, a BBC Mundo.
    […]
    [Pompeo] Apuntó que los intereses en conflicto de los enemigos y rivales de Maduro impidieron su derrocamiento en el fallido levantamiento opositor del 30 de abril.

    «(Maduro) No confía nada en los venezolanos. No lo culpo. No debería. Todos estaban conspirando contra él. Lamentablemente, todos estaban conspirando para sí mismos», indicó Pompeo.

    Aunque dijo confiar en que Maduro se verá obligado a abandonar el poder, aclaró que desconoce cuándo ocurrirá esa partida que calificó como «necesaria pero completamente insuficiente» para lograr un cambio en Venezuela.

    Pompeo dijo que confiaba en que Maduro finalmente se vea obligado a retirarse, pero «no podría decirte el momento».

    En sectores de la administración Trump empieza a cundir la impaciencia porque sus esfuerzos no están generando de momento el cambio de gobierno deseado por Washington.
    […]
    La oposición venezolana ha evitado por ahora responder en público los comentarios de Pompeo, que de hecho suponen un revés de su principal aliado.

    «Las palabras de Pompeo nos dolieron porque parece que la culpa de que Maduro haya resistido es nuestra falta de unidad, y eso no es cierto», dijo al corresponsal de BBC Mundo en Venezuela, Guillermo Olmo, un diputado opositor venezolano que no quiso ser identificado.

    «Nos preocupa que, visto que Maduro resiste, se busque una solución con los militares y se nos deje a nosotros fuera», señala el diputado.

    Desde que en enero Guaidó se proclamara presidente, los líderes opositores han mostrado públicamente su apoyo a la estrategia que lidera el joven político.

    Sin embargo, hay recelos por el papel de Leopoldo López, mentor de Guaidó y protagonista en el intento de levantamiento del 30 de abril.

    Ese día fue liberado por miembros del servicio de inteligencia (Sebin) del arresto domiciliario en el que llevaba varios años tras haber sido condenado en 2014.

    «Lo del 30 de abril fue algo que Leopoldo López hizo por su cuenta y riesgo, sin comunicarlo, y ahora ha hecho que el problema de unidad sea real», afirmó la fuente de la oposición.

    «Estamos unidos en torno a Guaidó. El suyo es el liderazgo del momento, pero Leopoldo sigue tratando de influir y eso está poniendo las cosas más difíciles», agregó.

  • American Oil Keeps Flowing to China Despite Mounting Trade War - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-06/american-oil-keeps-flowing-to-china-despite-mounting-trade-war

    • U.S. shipments to Asian nation seen increasing in May and June
    • Tankers headed to China haven’t rerouted even as tension rises

    Washington’s escalating trade war with Beijing hasn’t choked off the flow of American oil to China.

    At least six million barrels of U.S. crude set off for Chinese refineries in May, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. In June, American shipments to the Asian nation are expected to reach at least 4 million barrels, according to shipping reports and data from Kpler. The volumes are a marked increase from April, when China took just one supertanker of U.S crude, about two million barrels.

    U.S. oil may just be too cheap to pass up. West Texas Intermediate crude is selling for almost $9 per barrel less than the global benchmark Brent, down from around $6 in April. While global supply risks have boosted the price of Brent, growing American production has kept WTI weak, making it more appealing to international buyers.

    Clearly the trade war is a consideration,” but the WTI discount to Brent is attractive, said Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. Purchases made now could be sold later for a higher price — something Chinese companies started doing soon after the trade war began last year.

    The three tankers that initially set sail for China in May have not signaled a destination change, even as trade tension ramps up. Meanwhile, a fourth ship headed for Singapore rerouted to Rizhao, China. One of the China-bound tankers, a very large crude carrier (VLCC), received its supply at the Louisiana Offshore Oil port in May, ship tracking data show. More could be headed to China from LOOP, America’s only facility that can fully load a VLCC.

  • Pour John Bolton, ce sont des “ mines iraniennes ” qui ont sauvagement attaqué les navires à l’ancre devant Fujairah. À son habitude, sans la moindre preuve…

    Top U.S. security adviser: Iranian mines likely caused UAE tanker blasts - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-emirates-bolton-idUSKCN1SZ0JO


    A damaged Andrea Victory ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019.
    REUTERS/Satish Kumar

    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.
    […]
    I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” Bolton said without providing evidence. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know.

    He declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation into the attacks in which the United States, France, Norway and Saudi Arabia are taking part, but said those other countries and ship owners involved could do so.

    #whithout_providing_any_evidence

  • How New York could respond to the taxi medallion lending crisis | CSNY
    https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/policy/infrastructure/how-new-york-could-respond-to-taxi-medallion-lending-crisis.html

    Experts and lawmakers weigh in on easing the pain of burdened medallion owners and preventing predatory lending in the future.
    By ANNIE MCDONOUGH
    MAY 22, 2019

    After a two-part New York Times investigation into predatory lending practices for taxi medallions delineated how industry leaders and government agencies participated in, encouraged or ignored risky lending, calls for action sprang forth – sometimes from the very same officials or agencies that had been asleep at the switch.

    Various deceptive or exploitative lending practices contributed to the rise and precipitous fall of taxi medallions in New York City. Medallions worth $200,000 in 2002 rose to more than $1 million in 2014, before crashing to less than $200,000. The bubble was inflated by loans made without down payments, requirements that loans had to be paid back in three years or extended with inflated interest rates, and interest-only loans that required borrowers to forfeit legal rights and give up much of their income. Borrowers – typically low-income, immigrant drivers – were left in the lurch when the bubble burst, an event that the taxi industry has long blamed primarily on the rise of app-based ride hail services like Uber and Lyft. While the rise of app-based ride hail did contribute to the now-ailing taxi industry, the revelations in the Times show government officials – including the Taxi and Limousine Commission which acted as a “cheerleader” for medallion sales – ignored the warning signs.

    Since Sunday, when the first Times story was published, New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced an inquiry into the business and lending practices that “may have created” the crisis, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a joint probe by the TLC, Department of Finance and Department of Consumer Affairs into the brokers who helped arrange the loans, Sen. Chuck Schumer called for an investigation into the credit unions involved in the lending, and members of the New York City Council and state Legislature, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, have called for hearings and legislation to resolve the issue.

    The various proposals raised thus far are unlikely to fully address the damage caused to many medallion owners, some experts say. The Times investigation found that since 2016, more than 950 taxi drivers have filed for bankruptcy, with thousands more still suffering under the crippling loans. This is combined with a string of taxi and other professional drivers who have committed suicide in the past year and a half.

    Some of the solutions offered have focused on preventing the kind of reckless lending practices exhibited for taxi medallions. Stringer called on state lawmakers to close a loophole that allows lenders to classify their loans as business deals – as opposed to consumer loans, which have more protections for borrowers. A bill introduced last week by state Sen. Jessica Ramos would also establish a program to assist medallion owners who are unable to obtain financing, refinancing or restructuring of an existing loan through a loan loss reserve. State Sen. James Sanders and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, who chair the state Legislature’s committees on banks, declined to comment.

    But classifying loans for medallions as consumer loans might not be appropriate, said Bruce Schaller, a transportation expert and former deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Transportation. “I think the difficult question with the individual drivers is that they are in business, they are planning to make money off of their increase in medallion prices. Should they have the same protections as someone who is taking out a mortgage on a house, who is presumed to be very vulnerable?” he asked. “That may well be the case, but (drivers) are also in a business in a way that the prospective homeowner isn’t.”

    The TLC told the Times that it is the responsibility of bank examiners to control lending practices, while the state Department of Financial Services said that it supervised some of the banks involved, but often deferred to federal inspectors. “The TLC is gravely concerned that unsound lending practices have hurt taxi drivers and has raised these concerns publicly,” Acting Commissioner Bill Heinzen said in an emailed statement. “Banks and credit unions are regulated by federal agencies that have substantial oversight powers that the TLC does not have. The TLC has taken steps within our regulatory power to help owners and drivers by easing regulatory burdens and working with City Council to limit the number of for-hire vehicles on the road. We have pushed banks to restructure loan balances and payment amounts to reflect actual trip revenue.”

    Seth Stein, a spokesman for de Blasio, also mentioned interest in preventing risky lending practices. “We are deeply concerned about predatory lending in the medallion business,” Stein wrote in an email. “While TLC has no direct regulatory oversight over lenders – that is squarely under the purview of federal regulators – we continue to look for every means of helping owners and drivers make ends meet. We’ve discontinued medallion sales, secured a cap on app-based for-hire-vehicles, and we strongly urge federal regulators to do more as well.”

    But remedies at the federal level may not be realistic, according to David King, a professor of urban planning at Arizona State University, with a speciality in transportation and land use planning. “There doesn’t seem to be any appetite for what would be reasonable lending standards. Reasonable standards that would include verifiable collateral or values that were based on something other than made-up dollar amounts,” King said, adding that he doesn’t see those changes being made under the current administration. “The housing bubble of 11 years ago, I think that was a sufficiently national concern that has inspired some movement from Washington. Whereas I think something like an asset bubble in New York, just like an asset bubble in one region, isn’t going to be enough to spur federal legislation.”

    Schaller said that while lending regulation fixes could be beneficial for preventing this kind of crisis in other industries, there’s action that can be taken now by the city to alleviate some pain. “The real question is, if the city now decides that they were part of the fraud, then they should refund the money,” he said. “It’s one thing to close a loophole, it’s another thing to decide that you need to make restitution.”

    City Councilman Mark Levine, who has been working on legislation along those lines for nearly a year, agreed that the city needs to take responsibility. “There has been a lot of attention to the whole industry of lenders and brokers who push these loans on the drivers in ways that were not transparent and really deceived them, and may very well constitute some sort of legal fraud,” he said. “But the city itself also bears responsibility for this, because we were selling medallions with the goal of bringing in revenue to the city and we were promoting them and pumping them up in ways that I think masks the true risks that drivers were taking on. And, most egregiously, we had a round of sales in 2014 when it was abundantly clear that we were headed for a price drop, because by that point app-based competitors had emerged and there were other challenges.”

    Levine’s vision for immediately helping those drivers still suffering under unsustainable loans would involve the city acquiring the loans from lenders who either cannot or will not be flexible with borrowers, and then forgiving the debts. Though the bill hasn’t been introduced yet, the idea is to partially finance the buy-back by placing a surcharge on app-based ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft. Levine’s office is still working on confirming that the City Council would have the authority to levy that kind of surcharge. If it doesn’t, they would encourage that action be taken in Albany.

    But, as the Times’ investigation into the issue has revealed, much of the damage to drivers and medallion owners has already been done – including to the hundreds of medallion owners who have declared bankruptcy. “If someone paid $800,000 for a medallion loan and paid part of that off, and has had their house repossessed, now Mark Levine is saying, ‘well, we’ll just refund whatever’s left dangling out there,’” Schaller said. “If I were on the losing end of that bargain, I’d say I want my $800,000 back.”

    The idea of a buy-back, Levine admitted, is not a perfect solution, but it’s one he said can help the thousands of medallion owners stuck right now. “It would not address that kind of horrible, horrible hardship,” he said, referring to those owners who have forfeited assets and sustained other losses.

    If there’s any upside to the stories relayed in the Times about medallion owners financially devastated by bad loans and the failing taxi industry, it may be that it’s a call to action – even if it’s coming too late for some. “It’s had a dramatic impact on the interest in the Council about finding solutions,” Levine said of the heavy punch packed by the Times’ investigation. “It gives new impetus to this effort, which is good, because it’s complicated, and it’s going to require a political push to make it happen. The revelations in this article made that more likely.”

    Annie McDonough is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • As Thousands of Taxi Drivers Were Trapped in Loans, Top Officials Counted the Money - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/nyregion/taxi-medallions.html

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    At a cramped desk on the 22nd floor of a downtown Manhattan office building, Gary Roth spotted a looming disaster.

    An urban planner with two master’s degrees, Mr. Roth had a new job in 2010 analyzing taxi policy for the New York City government. But almost immediately, he noticed something disturbing: The price of a taxi medallion — the permit that lets a driver own a cab — had soared to nearly $700,000 from $200,000. In order to buy medallions, drivers were taking out loans they could not afford.

    Mr. Roth compiled his concerns in a report, and he and several colleagues warned that if the city did not take action, the loans would become unsustainable and the market could collapse.

    They were not the only ones worried about taxi medallions. In Albany, state inspectors gave a presentation to top officials showing that medallion owners were not making enough money to support their loans. And in Washington, D.C., federal examiners repeatedly noted that banks were increasing profits by steering cabbies into risky loans.

    They were all ignored.

    Medallion prices rose above $1 million before crashing in late 2014, wiping out the futures of thousands of immigrant drivers and creating a crisis that has continued to ravage the industry today. Despite years of warning signs, at least seven government agencies did little to stop the collapse, The New York Times found.

    Instead, eager to profit off medallions or blinded by the taxi industry’s political connections, the agencies that were supposed to police the industry helped a small group of bankers and brokers to reshape it into their own moneymaking machine, according to internal records and interviews with more than 50 former government employees.

    For more than a decade, the agencies reduced oversight of the taxi trade, exempted it from regulations, subsidized its operations and promoted its practices, records and interviews showed.

    Their actions turned one of the best-known symbols of New York — its signature yellow cabs — into a financial trap for thousands of immigrant drivers. More than 950 have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records, and many more struggle to stay afloat.

    Remember the ‘10,000 Hours’ Rule for Success? Forget About It
    “Nobody wanted to upset the industry,” said David Klahr, who from 2007 to 2016 held several management posts at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city agency that oversees cabs. “Nobody wanted to kill the golden goose.”

    New York City in particular failed the taxi industry, The Times found. Two former mayors, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, placed political allies inside the Taxi and Limousine Commission and directed it to sell medallions to help them balance budgets and fund priorities. Mayor Bill de Blasio continued the policies.

    Under Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. de Blasio, the city made more than $855 million by selling taxi medallions and collecting taxes on private sales, according to the city.

    But during that period, much like in the mortgage lending crisis, a group of industry leaders enriched themselves by artificially inflating medallion prices. They encouraged medallion buyers to borrow as much as possible and ensnared them in interest-only loans and other one-sided deals that often required them to pay hefty fees, forfeit their legal rights and give up most of their monthly incomes.

    When the medallion market collapsed, the government largely abandoned the drivers who bore the brunt of the crisis. Officials did not bail out borrowers or persuade banks to soften loan terms.

    “They sell us medallions, and they knew it wasn’t worth price. They knew,” said Wael Ghobrayal, 42, an Egyptian immigrant who bought a medallion at a city auction for $890,000 and now cannot make his loan payments and support his three children.

    “They lost nothing. I lost everything,” he said.

    The Times conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of records and built several databases to unravel the story of the downfall of the taxi industry in New York and across the United States. The investigation unearthed a collapse that was years in the making, aided almost as much by regulators as by taxi tycoons.

    Publicly, government officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft.

    In interviews with The Times, they blamed each other.

    The officials who ran the city Taxi and Limousine Commission in the run-up to the crash said it was the job of bank examiners, not the commission, to control lending practices.

    The New York Department of Financial Services said that while it supervised some of the banks involved in the taxi industry, it deferred to federal inspectors in many cases.

    The federal agency that oversaw many of the largest lenders in the industry, the National Credit Union Administration, said those lenders were meeting the needs of borrowers.

    The N.C.U.A. released a March 2019 internal audit that scolded its regulators for not aggressively enforcing rules in medallion lending. But even that audit partially absolved the government. The lenders, it said, all had boards of directors that were supposed to prevent reckless practices.

    And several officials criticized Congress, which two decades ago excepted credit unions in the taxi industry from some rules that applied to other credit unions. After that, the officials said, government agencies had to treat those lenders differently.

    Ultimately, former employees said, the regulatory system was set up to ensure that lenders were financially stable, and medallions were sold. But almost nothing protected the drivers.

    Matthew W. Daus, far right, at a hearing of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2004. CreditMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    Matthew W. Daus was an unconventional choice to regulate New York’s taxi industry. He was a lawyer from Brooklyn and a leader of a political club that backed Mr. Giuliani for mayor.

    The Giuliani administration hired him as a lawyer for the Taxi and Limousine Commission before appointing him chairman in 2001, a leadership post he kept after Mr. Bloomberg became mayor in 2002.

    The commission oversaw the drivers and fleets that owned the medallions for the city’s 12,000 cabs. It licensed all participants and decided what cabs could charge, where they could go and which type of vehicle they could use.

    And under Mr. Bloomberg, it also began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    At the time, the mayor said the growing city needed more yellow cabs. But he also was eager for revenue. He had a $3.8 billion hole in his budget.

    The sales put the taxi commission in an unusual position.

    It had a long history of being entangled with the industry. Its first chairman, appointed in 1971, was convicted of a bribery scheme involving an industry lobbyist. Four other leaders since then had worked in the business.

    It often sent staffers to conferences where companies involved in the taxi business paid for liquor, meals and tickets to shows, and at least one past member of its board had run for office in a campaign financed by the industry.

    Still, the agency had never been asked to generate so much money from the business it was supposed to be regulating.

    Former staffers said officials chose to sell medallions with the method they thought would bring in the most revenue: a series of limited auctions that required participants to submit sealed bids above ever-increasing minimums.

    Ahead of the sales, the city placed ads on television and radio, and in newspapers and newsletters, and held seminars promoting the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    “Medallions have a long history as a solid investment with steady growth,” Mr. Daus wrote in one newsletter. In addition to guaranteed employment, he wrote, “a medallion is collateral that can assist in home financing, college tuition or even ‘worry-free’ retirement.”

    At the first auctions under Mr. Bloomberg in 2004, bids topped $300,000, surprising experts.

    Some former staffers said in interviews they believed the ad campaign inappropriately inflated prices by implying medallions would make buyers rich, no matter the cost. Seven said they complained.

    The city eventually added a disclaimer to ads, saying past performance did not guarantee future results. But it kept advertising.

    During the same period, the city also posted information on its website that said that medallion prices were, on average, 13 percent higher than they really were, according to a Times data analysis.

    In several interviews, Mr. Daus defended the ad campaigns, saying they reached people who had been unable to break into the tight market. The ads were true at the time, he said. He added he had never heard internal complaints about the ads.

    In all, the city held 16 auctions between 2004 and 2014.

    “People don’t realize how organized it is,” Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, a lender to medallion buyers, said in a 2011 interview with Tearsheet Podcast. “The City of New York, more or less, is our partner because they want to see prices go as high as possible.”

    Help from a federal agency

    New York City made more than $855 million from taxi medallion sales under Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

    For decades, a niche banking system had grown up around the taxi industry, and at its center were about half a dozen nonprofit credit unions that specialized in medallion loans. But as the auctions continued, the families that ran the credit unions began to grow frustrated.

    Around them, they saw other lenders making money by issuing loans that they could not because of the rules governing credit unions. They recognized a business opportunity, and they wanted in.

    They found a receptive audience at the National Credit Union Administration.

    The N.C.U.A. was the small federal agency that regulated the nation’s credit unions. It set the rules, examined their books and insured their accounts.

    Like the city taxi commission, the N.C.U.A. had long had ties to the industry that it regulated. One judge had called it a “rogue federal agency” focused on promoting the industry.

    In 2004, its chairman was Dennis Dollar, a former Mississippi state representative who had previously worked as the chief executive of a credit union. He had just been inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame, and he had said one of his top priorities was streamlining regulation.

    Dennis Dollar, the former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, is now a consultant in the industry. 

    Under Mr. Dollar and others, the N.C.U.A. issued waivers that exempted medallion loans from longstanding rules, including a regulation requiring each loan to have a down payment of at least 20 percent. The waivers allowed the lenders to keep up with competitors and to write more profitable loans.

    Mr. Dollar, who left government to become a consultant for credit unions, said the agency was following the lead of Congress, which passed a law in 1998 exempting credit unions specializing in medallion loans from some regulations. The law signaled that those lenders needed leeway, such as the waivers, he said.

    “If we did not do so, the average cabdriver couldn’t get a medallion loan,” Mr. Dollar said.

    The federal law and the N.C.U.A. waivers were not the only benefits the industry received. The federal government also provided many medallion lenders with financial assistance and guaranteed a portion of their taxi loans, assuring that if those loans failed, they would still be partially paid, according to records and interviews.

    As lenders wrote increasingly risky loans, medallion prices neared $500,000 in 2006.

    ‘Snoozing and napping’

    Under Mr. Bloomberg, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    Another agency was also supposed to be keeping an eye on lending practices. New York State banking regulators are required to inspect all financial institutions chartered in the state. But after 2008, they were forced to focus their attention on the banks most affected by the global economic meltdown, according to former employees.

    As a result, some industry veterans said, the state stopped examining medallion loans closely.

    “The state banking department would come in, and they’d be doing the exam in one room, and the N.C.U.A. would be in another room,” said Larry Fisher, who was then the medallion lending supervisor at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders. “And you could catch the state banking department snoozing and napping and going on the internet and not doing much at all.”

    The state banking department, which is now called the New York Department of Financial Services, disputed that characterization and said it had acted consistently and appropriately.

    Former federal regulators described a similar trend at their agencies after the recession.

    Some former employees of the N.C.U.A., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that as medallion prices climbed, they tried to raise issues with loans and were told not to worry. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve Board also oversaw some lenders and did not intervene.

    A spokesman for the Federal Reserve said the agency was not a primary regulator of the taxi lending industry. The rest of the agencies declined to comment.

    “It was obvious that the loans were unusual and risky,” said Patrick Collins, a former N.C.U.A. examiner. But, he said, there was a belief inside his agency that the loans would be fine because the industry had been stable for decades.

    Meanwhile, in New York City, the taxi commission reduced oversight.

    For years, it had made medallion purchasers file forms describing how they came up with the money, including details on all loans. It also had required industry participants to submit annual disclosures on their finances, loans and conflicts of interest.

    But officials never analyzed the forms filed by buyers, and in the 2000s, they stopped requiring the annual disclosures altogether.

    “Reviewing these disclosures was an onerous lift for us,” the commission’s communications office said in a recent email.

    By 2008, the price of a medallion rose to $600,000.

    At around the same time, the commission began focusing on new priorities. It started developing the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” a model for future cabs.

    The agency’s main enforcement activities targeted drivers who cheated passengers or discriminated against people of color. “Nobody really scrutinized medallion transfers,” said Charles Tortorici, a former commission lawyer.

    A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement that during the mayor’s tenure, the city improved the industry by installing credit card machines and GPS devices, making fleets more environmentally efficient and creating green taxis for boroughs outside Manhattan.

    “The industry was always its own worst enemy, fighting every reform tooth and nail,” said the spokesman, Marc La Vorgna. “We put our energy and political capital into the reforms that most directly and immediately impacted the riding public.”

    Records show that since 2008, the taxi commission has not taken a single enforcement action against brokers, the powerful players who arrange medallion sales and loans.

    Alex Korenkov, a broker, suggested in an interview that he and other brokers took notice of the city’s hands-off approach.

    “Let’s put it this way,” he said. “If governing body does not care, then free-for-all.”

    By the time that Mr. Roth wrote his report at the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2010, it was clear that something strange was happening in the medallion market.

    Mr. Daus gave a speech that year that mentioned the unusual lending practices. During the speech, he said banks were letting medallion buyers obtain loans without any down payment. Experts have since said that should have raised red flags. But at the time, Mr. Daus seemed pleased.

    “Some of these folks were offering zero percent down,” he said. “You tell me what bank walks around asking for zero percent down on a loan? It’s just really amazing.”

    In interviews, Mr. Daus acknowledged that the practice was unusual but said the taxi commission had no authority over lending.

    Inside the commission, at least four employees raised concerns about the medallion prices and lending practices, according to the employees, who described their own unease as well as Mr. Roth’s report.

    David S. Yassky, a former city councilman who succeeded Mr. Daus as commission chairman in 2010, said in an interview that he never saw Mr. Roth’s report.

    Mr. Yassky said the medallion prices puzzled him, but he could not determine if they were inflated, in part because people were still eager to buy. Medallions may have been undervalued for decades, and the price spike could have been the market recognizing the true value, he suggested.

    Meera Joshi, who became chairwoman in 2014, said in an interview that she was worried about medallion costs and lending practices but was pushed to prioritize other responsibilities. Dominic Williams, Mr. de Blasio’s chief policy adviser, said the city focused on initiatives such as improving accessibility because no one was complaining about loans.

    Worries about the taxi industry also emerged at the National Credit Union Administration. In late 2011, as the price of some medallions reached $800,000, a group of agency examiners wrote a paper on the risks in the industry, according to a recent report by the agency’s inspector general.

    In 2012, 2013 and 2014, inspectors routinely documented instances of credit unions violating lending rules, the inspector general’s report said.

    David S. Yassky, the former chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

    The N.C.U.A. chose not to penalize medallion lenders or impose extra oversight. It did not take any wide industry action until April 2014, when it sent a letter reminding the credit unions in the taxi market to act responsibly.

    Former staffers said the agency was still focused on the fallout from the recession.

    A spokesman for the N.C.U.A. disputed that characterization and said the agency conducted appropriate enforcement.

    He added the agency took actions to ensure the credit unions remained solvent, which was its mission. He said Congress allowed the lenders to concentrate heavily on medallion loans, which left them vulnerable when Uber and Lyft arrived.

    At the New York Department of Financial Services, bank examiners noticed risky practices and interest-only loans and repeatedly wrote warnings starting in 2010, according to the state. At least one report expressed concern of a potential market bubble, the state said.

    Eventually, examiners became so concerned that they made a PowerPoint presentation and called a meeting in 2014 to show it to a dozen top officials.

    “Since 2001, individual medallion has risen 455%,” the presentation warned, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The presentation suggested state action, such as sending a letter to the industry or revoking charters from some lenders.

    The state did neither. The department had recently merged with the insurance department, and former employees said it was finding its footing.

    The department superintendent at the time, Benjamin M. Lawsky, a former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said he did not, as a rule, discuss his tenure at the department.

    In an emailed statement, the department denied it struggled after the merger and said it took action to stop the collapse of the medallion market. A department spokesman provided a long list of warnings, suggestions and guidelines that it said examiners had issued to lenders. He said that starting in 2012, the department downgraded some of its own internal ratings of the lenders.

    The list did not include any instances of the department formally penalizing a medallion lender, or making any public statement about the industry before it collapsed.

    Between 2010 and 2014, as officials at every level of government failed to rein in the risky lending practices, records show that roughly 1,500 people bought taxi medallions. Over all, including refinancings of old loans and extensions required by banks, medallion owners signed at least 10,000 loans in that time.

    Several regulators who tried to raise alarms said they believed the government stood aside because of the industry’s connections.

    Many pointed to one company — Medallion Financial, run by the Murstein family. Former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, the current governor’s father, was a paid member of its board from 1996 until he died in 2015.

    Others noted that Mr. de Blasio has long been close to the industry. When he ran for mayor in 2013, an industry lobbyist, Michael Woloz, was a top fund-raiser, records show. And Evgeny Freidman, a major fleet owner who has admitted to artificially inflating medallion prices, has said he is close to the mayor.

    Some people, including Mr. Dollar, the former N.C.U.A. chairman, said Congress excepted the taxi trade from rules because the industry was supported by former United States Senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York, who was then the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

    “The taxi industry is one of the most politically connected industries in the city,” said Fidel Del Valle, who was the chairman of the taxi commission from 1991 to 1994. He later worked as a lawyer for drivers and a consultant to an owner association run by Mr. Freidman. “It’s been that way for decades, and they’ve used that influence to push back on regulation, with a lot of success.”

    A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said Medallion Financial was not regulated by the state, so the elder Mr. Cuomo’s position on the board was irrelevant. A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said the industry’s connections did not influence the city.

    Mr. Murstein, Mr. Woloz, Mr. Freidman and Mr. D’Amato all declined to comment.

    The aftermath
    “I think city will help me,” Mohammad Hossain, who is in deep debt from a taxi medallion loan, said at his family’s home in the Bronx.

    New York held its final independent medallion auction in February 2014. By then, concerns about medallion prices were common in the news media and government offices, and Uber had established itself. Still, the city sold medallions to more than 150 bidders. (“It’s better than the stock market,” one ad said.)

    Forty percent of the people who bought medallions at that auction have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records.

    Mohammad Hossain, 47, from Bangladesh, who purchased a medallion for $853,000 at the auction, said he could barely make his monthly payments and was getting squeezed by his lender. “I bought medallion from the city,” he said through tears. “I think city will help me, you know. I assume that.”

    The de Blasio administration’s only major response to the crisis has been to push for a cap on ride-hail cars. The City Council at first rejected a cap in 2015 before approving it last year.

    Taxi industry veterans said the cap did not address the cause of the crisis: the lending practices.

    Richard Weinberg, a taxi commission hearing officer from 1988 to 2002 and a lawyer for drivers since then, said that when the medallion bubble began to burst, the city should have frozen prices, adjusted fares and fees and convinced banks to be flexible with drivers. That could have allowed prices to fall slowly. “That could’ve saved a lot of people,” he said.

    In an interview, Dean Fuleihan, the first deputy mayor, said the city did help taxi owners, including by reducing some fees, taxes and inspection mandates, and by talking to banks about loans. He said that if the City Council had passed the cap in 2015, it would have helped.

    “We do care about those drivers, we care about those families. We attempted throughout this period to take actions,” he said.

    Federal regulators also have not significantly helped medallion owners.

    In 2017 and 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed or merged several credit unions for “unsafe business practices” in medallion lending. It took over many of the loans, but did not soften terms, according to borrowers. Instead, it tried to get money out as quickly as possible.

    The failure of the credit unions has cost the national credit union insurance fund more than $750 million, which will hurt all credit union members.

    In August 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed Melrose in what it said was the biggest credit union liquidation in United States history. The agency barred Melrose’s general counsel from working for credit unions and brought civil charges against its former C.E.O., Alan Kaufman, saying he used company funds to help industry partners in exchange for gifts.

    The general counsel, Mitchell Reiver, declined to answer questions but said he did nothing wrong. Mr. Kaufman said in an interview that the N.C.U.A. made up the charges to distract from its role in the crisis.

    “I’m definitely a scapegoat,” Mr. Kaufman said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

    Glamour, then poverty
    After he struggled to repay his taxi medallion loan, Abel Vela left his family in New York and moved back to Peru, where living costs were cheaper. 

    During the medallion bubble, the city produced a television commercial to promote the permits. In the ad, which aired in 2004, four cabbies stood around a taxi discussing the perks of the job. One said buying a medallion was the best decision he had ever made. They all smiled. Then Mr. Daus appeared on screen to announce an auction.

    Fifteen years later, the cabbies remember the ad with scorn. Three of the four were eventually enticed to refinance their original loans under far riskier terms that left them in heavy debt.

    One of the cabbies, Abel Vela, had to leave his wife and children and return to his home country, Peru, because living costs were lower there. He is now 74 and still working to survive.

    The city aired a commercial in 2004 to promote an upcoming auction of taxi medallions. The ad featured real cab drivers, but three of them eventually took on risky loans and suffered financial blows.
    The only woman in the ad, Marie Applyrs, a Haitian immigrant, fell behind on her loan payments and filed for bankruptcy in November 2017. She lost her cab, and her home. She now lives with her children, switching from home to home every few months.

    “When the ad happened, the taxi was in vogue. I think I still have the tape somewhere. It was glamorous,” she said. “Now, I’m in the poorhouse.”

    Today, the only person from the television commercial still active in the industry is Mr. Daus. He works as a lawyer for lenders.

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    Madeline Rosenberg contributed reporting. Doris Burke contributed research. Produced by Jeffrey Furticella and Meghan Louttit.

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • First-ever private border wall built in #New_Mexico

    A private group announced Monday that it has constructed a half-mile wall along a section of the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico, in what it said was a first in the border debate.

    The 18-foot steel bollard wall is similar to the designs used by the Border Patrol, sealing off a part of the border that had been a striking gap in existing fencing, according to We Build the Wall, the group behind the new section.

    The section was also built faster and, organizers say, likely more cheaply than the government has been able to manage in recent years.

    Kris Kobach, a former secretary of state in Kansas and an informal immigration adviser to President Trump, says the New Mexico project has the president’s blessing, and says local Border Patrol agents are eager to have the assistance.

    “We’re closing a gap that’s been a big headache for them,” said Mr. Kobach, who is general counsel for We Build the Wall.


    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/may/27/first-ever-private-border-wall-built-new-mexico
    #privatisation #murs #barrières_frontalières #USA #Mexique #frontières #business #complexe_militaro-industriel
    ping @albertocampiphoto @daphne

    • The #GoFundMe Border Wall Is the Quintessential Trump-Era Grift

      In 2012, historian Rick Perlstein wrote a piece of essential reading for understanding modern conservatism, titled “The Long Con” and published by the Baffler. It ties the right’s penchant for absurd and obvious grifts to the conservative mind’s particular vulnerability to fear and lies:

      The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.

      Lying, Perlstein said, is “what makes you sound the way a conservative is supposed to sound.” The lies—about abortion factories, ACORN, immigrants, etc.—fund the grifts, and the grifts prey on the psychology that makes the lies so successful.

      Perlstein’s piece is all I could think of when I saw last night’s CNN story about the border wall GoFundMe, which seemingly has actually produced Wall. According to CNN, the group We Build the Wall says it has produced a half-mile of border wall in New Mexico. CNN was invited to watch the construction, where Kris Kobach, who is general counsel for the group, spoke “over the clanking and beeping of construction equipment.”

      #Steve_Bannon, who is naturally involved with the group, told CNN that the wall connects existing fencing and had “tough terrain” that means it was left “off the government list.” The half-mile stretch of wall cost an “estimated $6 million to $8 million to build,” CNN reported.

      CNN also quoted #Jeff_Allen, who owns the property on which the fence was built, as saying: “I have fought illegals on this property for six years. I love my country and this is a step in protecting my country.” According to MSN, Allen partnered with United Constitutional Patriots to build the wall with We Build the Wall’s funding. UCP is the same militia that was seen on video detaining immigrants and misrepresenting themselves as Border Patrol; the Phoenix New Times reported on the “apparent ties” between the UCP and We Build the Wall earlier this month.

      This story is bursting at the seams with an all-star lineup of right-wing scammers. The GoFundMe itself, of course, has been rocked by scandal: After the effort raised $20 million, just $980 million short of the billion-dollar goal, GoFundMe said in January that the funds would be returned, since creator Brian Kolfage had originally pledged that “If for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.” But Kolfage quickly figured out how to keep the gravy train going, urging those who had donated to allow their donations to be redirected to a non-profit. Ultimately, $14 million of that $20 million figure was indeed rerouted by the idiots who donated it.

      That non-profit became #We_Build_The_Wall, and like all good conservative con jobs, it has the celebs of the fever swamp attached to it. Not only #Kris_Kobach, a tenacious liar who failed at proving voter fraud is a widespread problem—but also slightly washed-up figures like Bannon, Sheriff David Clarke, Curt Schilling, and Tom Tancredo. All the stars are here!

      How much sleazier could it get? Try this: the main contractor working at the site of New Wall, according to CNN, is Tommy Fisher. The Washington Post reported last week that Trump had “personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” to give the contract for the border wall to the company owned by Fisher, a “GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News,” despite the fact that the Corps of Engineers previously said Fisher’s proposals didn’t meet their requirements.

      Of course, like all good schemes, the need for more money never ceases: On the Facebook page for the group, the announcement that Wall had been completed was accompanied with a plea for fans to “DONATE NOW to fund more walls! We have many more projects lined up!”

      So, what we have is: A tax-exempt non-profit raised $20 million by claiming it would be able to make the federal government build Wall by just giving it the money for it and then, when that didn’t happen, getting most of its donors to reroute that money; then it built a half-mile of wall on private land for as much as $8 million, which went to a firm of a Fox News star whom President Trump adores.

      Perlstein wrote in the aforementioned piece that it’s hard to “specify a break point where the money game ends and the ideological one begins,” since “the con selling 23-cent miracle cures for heart disease inches inexorably into the one selling miniscule marginal tax rates as the miracle cure for the nation itself.” The con job was sold through fear: “Conjuring up the most garishly insatiable monsters precisely in order to banish them from underneath the bed, they aim to put the target to sleep.”

      The Trump era is the inartful, gaudy, brazen peak of this phenomenon. This time, instead of selling fake stem cell cures using the language of Invading Liberals, the grifters are just straight-up selling—for real American dollars—the promise of building a big wall to keep the monsters out.

      https://splinternews.com/the-gofundme-border-wall-is-the-quintessential-trump-er-1835062340

    • Company touted by Trump to build the wall has history of fines, violations

      President Donald Trump appears to have set his sights on a North Dakota construction firm with a checkered legal record to build portions of his signature border wall.
      The family-owned company, #Fisher_Sand_&_Gravel, claims it can build the wall cheaper and faster than competitors. It was among a handful of construction firms chosen to build prototypes of the President’s border wall in 2017 and is currently constructing portions of barrier on private land along the border in New Mexico using private donations.
      It also, however, has a history of red flags including more than $1 million in fines for environmental and tax violations. A decade ago, a former co-owner of the company pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and was sentenced to prison. The company also admitted to defrauding the federal government by impeding the IRS. The former executive, who’s a brother of the current company owner, is no longer associated with it.
      More than two years into his presidency, Trump is still fighting to build and pay for his border wall, a key campaign issue. After failing to get his requests for wall funding passed by a Republican-held Congress during his first two years in office, Trump has met resistance this year from a Democratic-controlled House. His attempt to circumvent Congress through a national emergency declaration has been challenged in the courts.
      On May 24, a federal district judge blocked the administration from using Defense Department funds to construct parts of the wall. The Trump administration has since appealed the block to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals and in the interim, asked the district court to allow building to continue pending appeal. The district court denied the administration’s request.
      Despite the uncertainty, construction firms have been competing to win multimillion-dollar contracts to build portions of wall, including Fisher Sand & Gravel.

      Asked by CNN to comment on the company’s history of environmental violations and legal issues, the company said in a statement: “The questions you are asking have nothing to do with the excellent product and work that Fisher is proposing with regard to protecting America’s southern border. The issues and situations in your email were resolved years ago. None of those matters are outstanding today.”
      Catching the President’s attention
      The company was founded in North Dakota in 1952 and operates in several states across the US. It’s enjoyed public support from North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, who as a congressman invited the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018. Cramer has received campaign contributions from Fisher and his wife. A photo of the event shared by Fisher in a company newsletter shows Tommy Fisher shaking Trump’s hand.
      The Washington Post first reported the President’s interest in Fisher. According to the Post, the President has “aggressively” pushed for the Army Corps of Engineers to award a wall contract to Fisher.
      The President “immediately brought up Fisher” during a May 23 meeting in the Oval Office to discuss details of the border wall with various government officials, including that he wants it to be painted black and include French-style doors, according to the Post and confirmed by CNN.
      “The Army Corps of Engineers says about 450 miles of wall will be completed by the end of next year, and the only thing President Trump is pushing, is for the wall to be finished quickly so the American people have the safety and security they deserve,” said Hogan Gidley, White House deputy press secretary.
      A US government official familiar with the meeting tells CNN that the President has repeatedly mentioned the company in discussions he’s had about the wall with the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite.
      Fisher has recently made efforts to raise its public profile, both by upping its lobbying efforts and through repeated appearances on conservative media by its CEO, Tommy Fisher.

      In the past two years, for example, the company’s congressional lobbying expenditures jumped significantly — from $5,000 in 2017 to $75,000 in 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit that tracks lobbying expenditures.

      When asked about Fisher Sand & Gravel’s lobbying, Don Larson, one of Fisher’s registered lobbyists, said: “I am working to help decision makers in Washington become familiar with the company and its outstanding capabilities.”
      Media Blitz
      As part of a media blitz on outlets including Fox News, SiriusXM Patriot and Breitbart News, Tommy Fisher has discussed his support for the border wall and pitched his company as the one to build it. In a March 5 appearance on Fox & Friends, Fisher said that his company could build 234 miles of border wall for $4.3 billion, compared to the $5.7 billion that the Trump administration has requested from Congress.
      Fisher claimed that his firm can work five-to-10 times faster than competitors as a result of its construction process.
      The President has also touted Fisher on Fox News. In an April interview in which he was asked about Fisher by Sean Hannity, Trump said the company was “recommended strongly by a great new senator, as you know, Kevin Cramer. And they’re real. But they have been bidding and so far they haven’t been meeting the bids. I thought they would.”
      Despite the President’s interest, the company has thus far been unsuccessful in obtaining a contract to build the border wall, beyond that of a prototype.

      Earlier this year, Fisher put its name in the running for border wall contracts worth nearly $1 billion. When it lost the bid to Barnard Construction Co. and SLSCO Ltd., Fisher protested the awards over claims that the process was biased. In response, the Army Corps canceled the award. But after a review of the process, the Army Corps combined the projects and granted it to a subsidiary of Barnard Construction, according to an agency spokesperson.
      It’s unclear whether the project will proceed, given the recent decision by a federal judge to block the use of Defense Department funds to build parts of the border wall and the administration’s appeal.
      Fisher, which has a pending lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims over the solicitation process, is listed by the Defense Department as being among firms eligible to compete for future border contracts.

      It has moved forward with a private group, We Build the Wall, that is building sections of barrier on private land in New Mexico using private money raised as part of a GoFundMe campaign. Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State who is now general counsel for the group, said a half-mile stretch is nearly complete, at an estimated cost of $6 million to $8 million.

      In a statement, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said Fisher Industries has told them that the company has begun construction on private property along the border “in the approximate area of a USBP border barrier requirement that was not prioritized under current funding.”
      The spokesperson added: “It is not uncommon for vendors” to demonstrate their capabilities using “their own resources,” but the agency goes on to “encourage all interested vendors” to compete for border contracts “through established mechanisms to ensure any construction is carried out under relevant federal authorities and meets USBP operational requirements for border barrier.”
      In responses provided to CNN through Scott Sleight, an attorney working on behalf of the company, Fisher maintained that it’s “committed to working with all appropriate federal government officials and agencies to provide its expertise and experience to help secure America’s southern border.”
      The company says it has “developed a patent-pending bollard fence hanging system that [it] believes allows border fencing to be constructed faster than any contractor using common construction methods.” It also added: “Fisher has been concerned about the procurement procedures and evaluations done by the USACE to date, and hopes these issues can be remedied.”
      Relationship with Sen. Cramer
      A month after attending the 2018 State of the Union address with Cramer, Fisher and his wife, Candice each contributed the $5,400 maximum donation to Cramer’s campaign for the US Senate, Federal Election Commission records show.
      Fisher also donated to several Arizona Republicans in the 2018 election cycle, including giving the $5,400-maximum donation to Martha McSally’s campaign, records show.
      A recent video produced by Fisher Sand & Gravel demonstrating its ability to construct the wall includes a clip of Cramer at the controls of a track-hoe lifting sections of barrier wall into place, saying “this is just like XBOX, baby.” Cramer was joined at the demonstration by a handful of other Republican lawmakers from across the country.

      Cramer has been publicly critical of how the Army Corps has handled its border wall construction work, arguing that it has moved too slowly and expressing frustration over how it has dealt with Fisher. In an interview with a North Dakota TV station, Cramer said that he believes the corps “made a miscalculation in who they chose over Fisher” and that the company had been “skunked so to speak.” Cramer added that Fisher “remains a pre-qualified, high level, competitor.”

      In an interview with CNN, Cramer said that the company has come up in conversations he has had with administration officials, including the President and the head of the Army Corps, but while the senator said that he would “love if they got every inch of the project,” he added that he has “never advocated specifically for them.”
      "Every time someone comes to meet with me, whether it’s (Acting Defense Secretary) Shanahan, General Semonite, even with Donald Trump, they bring up Fisher Industries because they assume that’s my thing," Cramer said.
      “One of the things I’ve never done is said it should be Fisher,” Cramer said. “Now, I love Fisher. I’d love if they got every inch of the project. They’re my constituents, I don’t apologize for that. But my interest really is more in the bureaucratic process.”
      According to an administration official familiar with the situation, Cramer sent information about Fisher to the President’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who then passed it along to the Army Corps of Engineers for their consideration. The source tells CNN that Kushner was not familiar with the company prior to getting information about them from Cramer.
      Cramer said he does recall passing along information about the company to Kushner, but that he did not know what Kushner did with the information.
      On May 24, Cramer told a North Dakota radio station that the President has asked him to examine the process of how federal border wall projects are awarded.
      “We’re going to do an entire audit,” Cramer said. “I’ve asked for the entire bid process, and all of the bid numbers.” Cramer told CNN the President said he wanted the wall built for the “lowest, best price, and it’s also quality, and that’s what any builder should want.”
      Asked about aspects of the company’s checkered legal record, Cramer said “that level of scrutiny is important, but I would hope the same scrutiny would be put on the Corps of Engineers.”
      Environmental violations
      Though its corporate headquarters are in North Dakota, Fisher has a sizable footprint in Arizona, where it operates an asphalt company as well as a drilling and blasting company. It’s there that the company has compiled an extensive track record of environmental violations.
      From 2007 to 2017, Fisher Sand & Gravel compiled more than 1,300 air-quality violations in Maricopa County, culminating in the third highest settlement ever received by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department, according to Bob Huhn, a department spokesperson. That’s a record number of violations for any air-quality settlement in the county, Huhn said. The settlement totaled more than $1 million, though the department received slightly less than that following negotiations, Huhn said.
      Most of the violations came from an asphalt plant that the company was running in south Phoenix that has since closed. While the plant was still running, the City of Phoenix filed 469 criminal charges against the company from August to October of 2009, according to a city spokesperson.
      According to a 2010 article in the Arizona Republic, Fisher reached an agreement with Phoenix officials to close the plant in 2010. As part of the deal, fines were reduced from $1.1 million to an estimated $243,000 and all criminal charges were reduced to civil charges.
      Mary Rose Wilcox was a member of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors at the time the city and county were fighting Fisher over the asphalt plant, which was located in her district. “They tried to persuade us they were good guys since they were a family-owned company. But they were spreading noxious fumes into a residential area,” Wilcox said. “We tried to work with them, but their violations were just so blatant.”
      Michael Pops, a community activist who lived in the area around the plant, remembers fighting with Fisher for six years before the plant finally shut down. “The impact they had on this community was devastating,” Pops said, adding many low-income residents living near the asphalt plant were sickened from the fumes the plant emitted.
      The company has also racked up more than 120 violations with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from 2004 until as recently as last summer, according to the department.
      In 2011, Fisher agreed to a Consent Judgement with ADEQ over numerous air quality violations the company had committed. As part of that settlement, Fisher agreed to pay $125,000 in civil penalties, and that it would remain in compliance with state air quality standards. Within two years Fisher was found to be in violation of that agreement and was forced to pay an additional $500,000 in fines, according to the state’s attorney general’s office.
      Legal trouble
      Internally, the company has also confronted issues.
      In 2011, Fisher Sand & Gravel agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual discrimination and retaliation suit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit charged that the company violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it “subjected two women workers to egregious verbal sexual harassment by a supervisor and then fired one of them after she repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop harassing her and complained to a job superintendent.”
      The settlement required Fisher to provide anti-discrimination training to its employees in New Mexico and review its policies on sexual harassment.
      Micheal Fisher, a former co-owner of Fisher and Tommy’s brother, was sentenced to prison in 2009 for tax fraud, according to the Justice Department. Fisher pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the [Internal Revenue Service], four counts of aiding in the filing of false federal tax returns for FSG and four counts of filing false individual tax returns,” according to a Justice Department release.
      The company also admitted responsibility for defrauding the US by impeding the IRS, according to the DOJ. Citing a long standing policy of not commenting on the contracting process, the Army Corps declined to comment on whether Fisher’s history factored into its decision not to award Fisher a contract.

      https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/31/politics/fisher-sand-and-gravel-legal-history-border-wall/index.html

    • Private US-Mexico border wall ordered open by gov’t, fights back and is now closed again

      The privately funded portion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall is now fully secure and closed again after one of its gates had been ordered to remain open until disputes about waterway access could be resolved.

      “Our border wall & gate are secure again and we still have not had a single breach. I want to thank the IBWC for acting swiftly and we look forward to working with you on our future projects,” triple amputee Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage posted to Twitter on Tuesday night.

      Kolfage created We Build The Wall Inc., a nonprofit that is now backed by former Trump Administration Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The group crowd-funded more than $22 million in order to privately build a border wall and then sell it to the U.S. government for $1.

      A portion of that wall has been constructed in Texas for between $6 and $8 million. The 1-mile-long wall is located on private property near El Paso, Texas, and Sunland Park, New Mexico.

      However, the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) had ordered a 33-foot gate within the private border wall to remain open – not locked and closed – over a waterway access issue, according to BuzzFeed News. The IBCW addresses waterway issues between the U.S. and Mexico.

      “This is normally done well in advance of a construction project,” IBWC spokesperson Lori Kuczmanski said. “They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that’s not how it works.”

      BuzzFeed reported that the IBWC said the gate “had blocked officials from accessing a levee and dam, and cut off public access to a historic monument known as Monument One, the first in a series of obelisks that mark the U.S.–Mexico border from El Paso to Tijuana.”

      By Tuesday night, the IBWC said the gate would remain locked at night and issued a statement.

      “The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) will lock the privately-owned gate on federal property at night effective immediately due to security concerns,” it said.

      The statement continues:

      The USIBWC is continuing to work with We Build the Wall regarding its permit request. Until this decision, the private gate was in a locked open position. We Build the Wall, a private organization, built a gate on federal land in Sunland Park, N.M., near El Paso, Texas, without authority, and then locked the gate closed on June 6, 2019. The private gate blocks a levee road owned by the U.S. Government. After repeated requests to unlock and open the private gate, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), accompanied by two uniformed law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, removed the private lock, opened the gate, and locked the gate open pending further discussions with We Build the Wall. The gate was also opened so that USIBWC employees can conduct maintenance and operations at American Dam.

      The USIBWC did not authorize the construction of the private gate on federal property as announced on We Build the Wall’s Twitter page. The USIBWC is not charged with securing other fences or gates as reported by We Build the Wall. The international border fences are not on USIBWC property. The USIBWC did not open any other gates in the El Paso area as erroneously reported. Other gates and the border fence are controlled by other federal agencies.

      When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application.

      Before the statement had been released, Kolfage posted to Twitter.
      https://a

      mericanmilitarynews.com/2019/06/private-us-mexico-border-wall-ordered-open-by-intl-group-later-closed-locked-after-security-concerns/

  • Chinese Surveillance Complex Advancing in Latin America

    In February, 2019, in a story that went almost unnoticed in Washington, the small South American nation of #Uruguay began installing the first of 2,100 surveillance cameras, donated by the People’s Republic of China to improve control of its borders with neighboring Argentina and Brazil.

    The move highlights the significant deepening of the Uruguay-PRC relationship over the last decade, including their establishment of a “Strategic Partnership” in October 2016, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding in August 2018 for Uruguay to join China’s Belt and Road initiative (despite being about as far from the PRC as is geographically possible).

    Beyond Uruguay, the development also highlights a little-discussed but important dimension of China’s advance: its expanding global sales of surveillance and control technologies. Although the press and U.S. political leadership have given significant attention to the risks of employing Chinese telecommunications companies such as Huawei the equally serious but newer issue of expanding sales of Chinese surveillance systems has been less discussed.

    The installation of Chinese surveillance systems, acquired through PRC government donations or commercial contracts, is a growing phenomenon in Latin America and elsewhere.

    Such systems began to appear in the region more than a decade ago, including in 2007, when then mayor of Mexico City (now Mexican Foreign Minister) Miguel Ebrard returned from a trip to the PRC with a deal to install thousands of Chinese cameras to combat crime in the Mexican capital. More recent examples include ECU-911 in Ecuador, a China-built national system of surveillance and communication initially agreed to by the administration of anti-U.S. populist president Rafael Correa. The system, which has expanded to currently include 4,300 cameras and a command center manned by thousands of Ecuadorans, has been built almost completely from Chinese equipment, designed for a range of otherwise noble purposes from emergency response and combatting crime, to monitoring volcanoes. Bolivia boasts a similar Chinese built system, albeit more limited in scope, BOL-110, in addition to hundreds of surveillance cameras donated by the PRC to at least four of Bolivia’s principal cities.

    In Panama, which abandoned Taiwan to establish relations with the PRC in 2017, the government of Juan Carlos Varela has agreed to allow Huawei to install a system of cameras in the crime-ridden city of Colon and the associated free trade zone. Not by coincidence, in July 2019, Hikivision, China’s largest producer of surveillance cameras, announced plans to set up a major distribution center in Colon to support sales of its products throughout the Americas.

    In northern Argentina, near where the Chinese are developing a lithium mining operation and constructing the hemisphere’s largest array of photovoltaic cells for electricity generation, the Chinese company ZTE is installing another “911” style emergency response system with 1,200 cameras.

    In Venezuela, although not a surveillance system per se, the Chinese company ZTE has helped the regime of Nicholas Maduro implement a “fatherland identity card” linking different kinds of data on individuals through an identity card which allows the state to confer privileges (such as rationing food) as a tool for social control.

    As with sectors such as computers and telecommunications, the PRC arguably wishes to support the global export of such systems by its companies to advance technologies it recognizes as strategic for the Chinese nation, per its own official policy documents such as Made In China 2025.

    The risks arising from spreading use of Chinese surveillance equipment and architectures are multiple and significant, involving: (1) the sensitivity of the data collected on specific persons and activities, particularly when processed through technologies such as facial recognition, integrated with other data, and analyzed through artificial intelligence (AI) and other sophisticated algorithms, (2) the potential ability to surreptitiously obtain access to that data, not only through the collection devices, but at any number of points as it is communicated, stored, and analyzed, and (3) the long-term potential for such systems to contribute to the sustainment of authoritarian regimes (such as those in Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and formerly Ecuador) whose corrupt elites provide strategic access and commercial benefits to the Chinese state.

    The risk posed by such Chinese architectures is underestimated by simply focusing on the cameras and sensors themselves.

    Facial and other recognition technologies, and the ability to integrate data from different sensors and other sources such as smartphones enables those with access to the technology to follow the movement of individual human beings and events, with frightening implications. It includes the ability to potentially track key political and business elites, dissidents, or other persons of interest, flagging possible meetings between two or more, and the associated implications involving political or business meetings and the events that they may produce. Flows of goods or other activities around government buildings, factories, or other sites of interest may provide other types of information for political or commercial advantage, from winning bids to blackmailing compromised persons.

    While some may take assurance that the cameras and other components are safely guarded by benevolent governments or companies, the dispersed nature of the architectures, passing information, instructions, and analysis across great distances, means that the greatest risk is not physical access to the cameras, but the diversion of information throughout the process, particularly by those who built the components, databases and communication systems, and by those who wrote the algorithms (increasingly Chinese across the board).

    With respect to the political impact of such systems, while democratic governments may install them for noble purposes such as crimefighting and emergency response, and with limitations that respect individual privacy, authoritarian regimes who contract the Chinese for such technologies are not so limited, and have every incentive to use the technology to combat dissent and sustain themselves in power.

    The PRC, which continues to perfect it against its own population in places like Xinjiang (against the Uighur Muslims there), not only benefits commercially from selling the technology, but also benefits when allied dictatorships provide a testing ground for product development, and by using it to combat the opposition, keeping friends like Maduro in power, continuing to deliver the goods and access to Beijing.

    As with the debate over Huawei, whether or not Chinese companies are currently exploiting the surveillance and control systems they are deploying across Latin America to benefit the Chinese state, Chinese law (under which they operate) requires them to do so, if the PRC government so demands.

    The PRC record of systematic espionage, forced technology transfer, and other bad behavior should leave no one in Latin America comfortable that the PRC will not, at some point in the future, exploit such an enormous opportunity.

    https://www.newsmax.com/evanellis/china-surveillance-latin-america-cameras/2019/04/12/id/911484

    #Amérique_latine #Chine #surveillance #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Argentine #Brésil
    ping @reka

  • Washington Post, New York Times editors blast Assange indictment | TheHill
    https://thehill.com/homenews/media/445426-washington-post-new-york-times-editors-blast-assange-indictment

    « [...] government officials continue to engage in a decades-long practice of overclassifying information, often for reasons that have nothing to do with national security and a lot to do with shielding themselves from the constitutionally protected scrutiny of the press. »

  • Victoria Nuland, US midwife to Maidan-2014, denied visa to Russia — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/460124-victoria-nuland-denied-visa-russia

    Former US diplomat Victoria Nuland, best known for distributing cookies to protesters during the US-backed 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, has found out she was on a visa blacklist as she sought to enter Russia.

    The former US ambassador to NATO and assistant secretary of state for Eurasia is best known for supporting the coup that ousted the government in Kiev, and dismissing the concerns of Washington’s European allies about meddling in Ukraine (“F*** the EU”) in the same conversation she mentioned bringing then-VP Joe Biden to “midwife this thing.”

  • “CDU-Zerstörer” Rezo: Es kamen “Diskreditierung, Lügen, Trump-Wordings und keine inhaltliche Auseinandersetzung” | Telepolis
    https://www.heise.de/tp/features/CDU-Zerstoerer-Rezo-Es-kamen-Diskreditierung-Luegen-Trump-Wordings-und-keine-i

    Ce youtubeur prouve que les chrétiens-démocrates allemands sont coupables de tous les crimes et par leur incompétence et par la collaboration avec le crime organisé. Ce jeune homme est tellement populaire que la droite est obligée de réagir.

    Selten hat ein politisches Video in Deutschland ein so großes Echo bei Jugendlichen gefunden: Youtuber Rezo „zerstört“ die CDU.

    Les sources : https://www.youtube.com/redirect?event=video_description&v=4Y1lZQsyuSQ&q=https%3A%2F%2Fdocs.google.

    Hier sind alle Quellen vom CDU-Video. Hoffe es ist alles korrekt übertragen. Falls irgendwo ein Flüchtigkeitsfehler drin ist oder so, schreib mir gern auf den verschiedenen Socialmedia Plattformen :)

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    Zusammenfassung:
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    Q2(https://www.deutschlandinzahlen.de/tab/deutschland/finanzen/preise/immobilienpreisinde

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    [K78] https://youtu.be/dGow4VDa6V0?t=80

    [K79] https://youtu.be/S8LZECFClMo?t=177

    [K80] https://youtu.be/_vzzMaTt7aQ?t=102

    [K81] https://youtu.be/oGprPqA2vgY?t=17

    [K82]https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/braunkohlewirtschaft-bietet-nur-noch-20-000-arbeitsplaetze-a-1155782.html

    [K83] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/RWE-Aff%C3%A4re

    [K84]https://lobbypedia.de/wiki/RWE#2015:_Nebeneink.C3.BCnfte_des_NRW-Landtagsabgeordneten_Golland_.28CDU

    [K85]https://www.bundestag.de/resource/blob/505892/0a3577d00633e51547e8b148f2d58e01/wd-5-033-17-pdf-data.pdf

    [K86] https://wupperinst.org/p/wi/p/s/pd/29

    [K87]https://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/klimawandel-wir-schuetzen-die-profiteure-der-katastrophe-a-1264618.html

    [K88]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/nebeneinkuenfte-rwe-sponsert-ueber-hundert-kommunalpolitiker-a-336686.html

    [K89]https://www.ksta.de/region/rhein-erft/cdu-politiker-gregor-golland-bis-zu-120-000-euro-im-jahr-fuer-halbtagsjob-bei-r

    [K90]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/cdu-beerdigt-co2-steuer-vorschlag-aus-klimapapier-gestrichen-a-1265634.html

    [K91] https://youtu.be/OAoPkVfeTo0?t=789

    [K92] https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229

    [K93] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMZiBnbJIqw

    [K94] https://youtu.be/dGow4VDa6V0?t=243

    [K95]https://www.capital.de/wirtschaft-politik/die-wiederentdeckung-der-handlungsfaehigkeit

    [K96]https://web.archive.org/web/20160117141004/http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/finale-cop21

    [K97]https://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/energiewende-merkel-legt-sich-fest-wir-werden-2038-aus-der-braunkohle-aussteigen/23948952.html

    [K98] NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, The NOAA annual greenhouse gas index (AGGI), updated Spring 2018, http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/aggi.html

    [K99] https://youtu.be/OAoPkVfeTo0?t=972

    [L1]https://www.cdu.de/sites/default/files/media/dokumente/regierungsprogramm-2013-2017-langfassung-20130911.pdf

    [L2]https://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2014-07/bundestag-mindestlohn-entscheidung

    [L3]https://www.cdu.de/system/tdf/media/dokumente/071203-beschluss-grundsatzprogramm-6-navigierbar_1.pdf?file=1&type=field_collect

    [L4]https://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/freiwilligendienst-geplant-bundestag-beschliesst-das-ende-der-wehrpflicht/3985968.html?ticket=ST-1588365-InGS3BXc1Q4ycXsDsZeC-ap2

    [L5]https://www.cdu.de/system/tdf/media/dokumente/071203-beschluss-grundsatzprogramm-6-navigierbar_1.pdf?file=1&type=field_collect

    [L6]https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article13460039/Bundestag-beschliesst-Atomausstieg-bis-2022.html

    [L7]https://www.gew.de/aktuelles/detailseite/neuigkeiten/wie-deutschland-bei-der-bildung-abschneidet

    [L8]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/angela-merkel-falsche-versprechungen-ueberlasse-ich-schroeder-1.309069-

    [L9]https://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/bundestagswahl-2013/tid-33778/kohl-ypsilanti-merkel-die-politik-umfaller-und-ihre-dreisteten-wahlluegen-spd-

    [L10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PUR_WPj0JM

    [L11]https://www.antenne.de/nachrichten/deutschland/pkw-maut-startet-oktober-2020-in-deutschland

    [L12]https://www.pressesprecher.com/nachrichten/caspary-cdu-artikel-13-demonstranten-gekauft-402064753

    [L13]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSwQxRjFT2A&t=97s

    [L14]https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article187846390/Fridays-for-Future-Demos-Sollen-die-Schueler-bestraft-werden.html

    [L15]https://youtu.be/5VVM4ArDFhQ?t=57

    [L16]https://youtu.be/5VVM4ArDFhQ?t=256

    [L17]https://youtu.be/5VVM4ArDFhQ?t=290

    [L18]https://youtu.be/5VVM4ArDFhQ?t=302

    [L19] https://youtu.be/5VVM4ArDFhQ?t=336

    [L20] https://twitter.com/europarl_de/status/1100705082470027264?lang=de

    [L21]https://twitter.com/c_lindner/status/1104683096107114497?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E11

    [L22] https://youtu.be/OAoPkVfeTo0?t=893

    [L23] https://www.scientists4future.org/stellungnahme

    [L25] https://twitter.com/tilman_s/status/1105864836892762112

    [L26]https://youtu.be/Yd2bYRKuYfo?t=180

    [L27]https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/koalitionsbeschluss-wehrpflicht-wird-zum-1-juli-2011-ausgesetzt/3597026.html

    [L28]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WY3wQDEWt8

    [L29]https://www.fr.de/politik/verfolgte-retter-10973351.html

    [L30]https://www.n-tv.de/politik/Polizisten-fordern-Cannabis-Legalisierung-article20268395.html

    [L31]https://www.heise.de/tp/features/15-Jahre-entkriminalisierte-Drogenpolitik-in-Portugal-3224495.html

    [L32]https://www.br.de/puls/themen/welt/drogenpolitik-portugal-102.html

    [L33]https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/portugals-drogenpolitik-therapie-statt-gefaengnis.795.de.html?dram:a

    [L34]https://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/cannabis-bund-deutscher-kriminalbeamter-fordert-ende-des-verbots-a-1191381.h

    [L35]https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Caspary#/media/File:Daniel_Caspary_2019.jpg

    [L36]https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axel_Voss#/media/File:Axel_Voss_01.JPG

    [L37] https://youtu.be/9GMiDy0LZQ4?t=585

    [B1] https://www.dw.com/de/935-l%C3%BCgen-zum-irak-krieg/a-3086399

    [B2] https://www.dw.com/de/irak-krieg-am-anfang-stand-die-l%C3%BCge/a-43279424

    [B3] https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/cdu-csu-merkel-verteidigt-irak-krieg-189806.html

    [B4] https://youtu.be/lxjahxsm3GU?t=145

    [B5] https://youtu.be/lxjahxsm3GU?t=224

    [B6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EaEVIh9t5I&feature=youtu.be&t=114

    [B7] https://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/18/110/1811023.pdf

    [B8]https://daserste.ndr.de/panorama/aktuell/USA-fuehren-Drohnenkrieg-von-Deutschland-aus,ramstein146.html

    [B9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0&t=300s

    [B10]

    [B11]https://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/drohnen-basis-ramstein-bundesregierung-bestreitet-mitwissen-fotostrecke-1258

    [B12]https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2015-05/drohnenkrieg-ramstein-jemen-opfer-klage
    [B13]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/leitkolumne-ramstein-toetet-1.4378778

    [B14]https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article122884542/15-Tote-bei-Drohnenangriff-auf-Fahrzeugkonvoi.html

    [B15]https://qz.com/569779/drone-strikes-are-creating-hatred-towards-america-that-will-last-for-generations

    [B16]https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/step-back-lessons-us-foreign-policy-failed-war-terror#_idTextAnchor066

    [B17] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_terrorist_incidents

    [B18] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genfer_Konventionen#Wichtige_Bestimmungen

    [B19]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/bradley-manning-zu-35-jahren-haft-verurteilt-a-917844.html

    [B20] https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2013-10/Drohnen-Moral-Voelkerrecht/seite-2

    [B21]https://www.amnesty.de/allgemein/pressemitteilung/vereinigte-staaten-von-amerika-voelkerrechtswidrige-us-drohnenangriffe

    [B22]https://netzpolitik.org/2015/live-blog-aus-dem-geheimdienst-untersuchungsausschuss-brandon-bryant-fr

    [B23] https://youtu.be/Y0_BxzSWdKI?t=889

    [B24] https://youtu.be/VMjUR_cY8g4?t=1529

    [B25] https://youtu.be/STqv600KN3k?t=219

    [B26]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/us-drohnenkrieg-ramstein-urteil-ovg-muenster-1.4373794

    [B27] https://www.bundestag.de/parlament/plenum/abstimmung/abstimmung?id=540

    [B28] https://youtu.be/KdDULYzDBvg?t=213

    [B29]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/us-atomwaffen-in-deutschland-die-atom-eier-von-buechel-a-1251697.html

    [B30] https://yougov.de/news/2015/10/01/bevolkerung-will-keine-us-atomwaffen-deutschland

    [B31] https://youtu.be/C4RalenYhoY?t=37

    [B32]https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globale_%C3%9Cberwachungs-_und_Spionageaff%C3%A4re

    [B33]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/snowden-asyl-usa-sollen-deutschland-gedroht-haben-a-1024841.html

    [B34]https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/aktuelles/fuer-eine-welt-ohne-atomwaffen-479596

    [B35]

    [B36] http://www.ruestungsexport.info/info/BuReg_2017.pdf

    [B37] https://www.zeit.de/2018/29/waffenexporte-bundesregierung-jemen-krieg/komplettansicht

    [B38] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milit%C3%A4rintervention_im_Jemen_seit_2015

    [B39]https://www.fr.de/politik/waffenexporte-saudi-arabien-deutschland-liefert-wieder-waffen-12185951.html

    [B40]https://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2019-01/ruestung-waffenexporte-deutschland-bundesregierung-katar-raketensystem-teile

    [B41] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menschenrechte_in_Katar

    [B42] https://www.zeit.de/politik/2018-10/nachrichtenpodcast-was-jetzt-23-10-2018

    [B43] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahrain#Menschenrechte

    [B44]https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/weiter-waffen-fuer-jemen-krieg-mehr-ruestungsexporte-in-die-emirate/24156146.html

    [B45]https://www.dw.com/de/human-rights-watch-die-vae-sind-kein-toleranter-staat/a-47357520

    [B46]https://www.n-tv.de/politik/Milizen-im-Jemen-kaempfen-mit-westlichen-Waffen-article20845112.html

    [B47]http://www.ard.de/home/die-ard/presse-kontakt/pressearchiv/_Panzer_fuer_das_Kalifat____Waffen_fuer_Bahrain_/113308/index.html

    [B48]https://www.ipg-journal.de/rubriken/aussen-und-sicherheitspolitik/artikel/das-geschaeft-mit-der-ruestung-3437

    [B49 ] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-114_Hellfire

    [B50]https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/wikileaks/moderne-kriegsfuehrung-das-collateral-murder-video-1982035.html

    [B51]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/umstrittene-apache-angriffe-hoellenfeuer-aus-dem-himmel-a-724482.html

    [B52] https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-07/wikileaks-militaer-geheimvideo

    [B53] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeQM1c-XCDc

    [B54]https://www.google.com/search?q=ramstein&oq=ramstein&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l3j69i60j69i61j69i59.975j1j7

    [B55] https://youtu.be/Ses8mRjm-Ew?t=28

    [B56] https://youtu.be/Y0_BxzSWdKI?t=919

    [B57] https://youtu.be/rMHZTJQjnKc?t=112

    [B58] https://youtu.be/STqv600KN3k?t=470



    [B59] https://youtu.be/VMjUR_cY8g4?t=1468

    [B60]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/nsa-ausschuss-ehemaliger-us-drohnenpilot-zwoelfjaehrige-galten-als-legi

    [B61]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/prozess-in-koeln-us-drohnenkrieg-darf-ueber-ramstein-laufen-1.2495841

    [B62]https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/drohnenangriffe-was-in-ramstein-vor-sich-geht-1.3277427

    [B63]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/syrien-kampf-gegen-islamischer-staat-mehrere-zivilisten-in-baghus-getoetet-a

    [B64]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/syrien-luftangriff-der-us-koalition-toetet-mindestens-43-menschen-a-1239032.

    [B65]https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/04/syria-unprecedented-investigation-reveals-us-led-coalition-killed-more-than

    [B66]Experten gehen von insgesammt 7596 getöteten Zivilisten durch die Koalition aus. UN-Experten nehmen die Airwars-Zahlen sehr ernst.“ Video daneben zeigen: https://www1.wdr.de/daserste/monitor/videos/video-die-zivilen-opfer-der-anti-is-koalition-100.html

    [B67]According to Airwars, 1,472 civilians had been killed by the U.S. air campaign in Iraq and Syria in March 2017 alone https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-coalition-air-strikes-isis-russia-kill-more-civilians-march-middle

    [B68]an einem einzigen Tag: On March 17, a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Mosul killed more than 200
    civilianshttps://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-air-strike-mosul-200-civilians-killed-isis-northern-iraq-pentagon-

    [B69]Hier auch gute Übersicht: https://airwars.org/conflict/coalition-in-iraq-and-syria

    [B70] https://youtu.be/Cb485CVJKBw?t=136

    bis 2:33

    [B71]https://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2018-01/waffenexporte-ruestungsexporte-deutschland-krisengebiete-rekordhoch

    [B72]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuiqnFpptYA

    [B73]https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/trotz-exportstopp-deutsche-ruestungsgueter-fuer-400-millionen-euro-an-jemen-kriegsallianz/24153698.html

    [B74]https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/GBU-12_Paveway_II#/media/File:GBU-12_xxl.jpg
    Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=593515

    [B75]https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-114_Hellfire#/media/File:Lockheed_Martin_Longbow_Hellfire.jpg
    Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=593515

    [B76]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjSYSO7-cM0

    [B77]https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/deutschland-muss-drohneneinsaetze-der-usa-aus-ramstein-pruefen-a-1258647.htm

    [B78]https://youtu.be/HZ8YAiVWToI?t=697

    #Allemagne #CDU #politique #environnement