• Dr Zoë Hyde sur Twitter : “I recently went to two Christmas parties. Not a single person was wearing a mask. And it was okay, because there’s no epidemic where I live. Western Australia has managed to sustain zero COVID for nearly 2 years. Eliminating #COVID-19 was always possible. The world chose not to.” / Twitter

    #choix #lamentable
    « #communauté_internationale »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Last vestiges of privacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Incentives for photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ’Rights are simply irrelevant’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • « Où sont les Ghandi palestiniens ? » Dans le viseur de la « #communauté_internationale »

    Finnish Christian charity cuts ties with Palestinian NGO accused by Israel of aiding militants

    Asked by Reuters for evidence backing its accusations that the organisations funnelled money to PFLP, an Israeli official said such documentation was classified.

    #sionisme #complicité #crimes

  • Alice Froussard
    @alicefrsd 2:09 PM · 22 oct. 2021·

    Le ministère de la défense israélien vient de donner le statut d’organisations terroristes à 6 ONG de défense des droits humains palestiniennes : Al Haq, Addameer, UAwC, Defense for children, Bisan, Union of Palestinian Women Commitees. Que des ONG cruciales (et les plus connues)

    C’est aussi un énorme coup porté à la société civile palestinienne. Ces ONG dénoncent à la fois les conditions des prisonniers palestiniens en Israël, la corruption de l’Autorité Palestinienne, le manque d’accès a la justice, les violations des droits de l’homme en tout genre.

    Cette stratégie n’est pas nouvelle : les groupes de pression israéliens ciblent souvent les sources de financement de ces ONG en prétendant de manière douteuse qu’elles ont des liens avec des « terroristes ». Comment ces ONG vont pouvoir être financées avec cette classification ?

    A noter : ces organisations sont un support essentiel pour nous, journalistes, ainsi que pour toutes les organisations de défense des droits de l’homme (
    @amnesty, @hrw) ou encore l’ONU. Quelles justifications ? A part une volonté de décrédibiliser ces sources ?


  • Snipers Fatally Attack Protesters in Beirut as Lebanon Reels from Devastating Economic Collapse | Democracy Now!

    Lebanon or the Lebanese government and this political class would not be able to sustain itself without the financial assistance of countries like France and others. This political class, that is now preparing itself for elections next year, would not be able to finance these elections and bribe people, bribe people, you know, with the basic goods and services, had it not been for the financial assistance of the international community.

    #Liban #complicité
    « #communauté_internationale »

  • Gorges Corm : « Paris a été́ complice de la #corruption généralisée au #Liban » | Afrique Asie

    Le Liban a souvent frôlé le précipice sans pour autant sombrer, gardez-vous tout de même des motifs d’espoir dans le marasme actuel ?

    Mon optimisme demeure tempéré́ dans un contexte de normalisation entre l’État d’Israël et les monarchies de la péninsule Arabique. Les stratèges israéliens travaillent de longue date sur une implosion, un détricotage du Liban, considéré comme un ennemi existentiel en raison de cette même coexistence entre les différentes communautés religieuses. Sur le plan intérieur, la classe politique libanaise discréditée a largement bénéficié́ de l’apparition du Covid-19, qui a abouti à un arrêt des grandes manifestations hostiles à ce système politique sclérosé́. Aider les ONG libanaises, c’est très bien mais ce n’est pas cela qui sortira le pays de l’ornière de manière durable.

    Actuellement, il faut suivre les projets chinois et russes au Liban : comme celui de remettre en état les raffineries du pays ou encore un gazoduc en provenance du Qatar qui pourrait permettre au pays un meilleur approvisionnement énergétique. Le problème, c’est que les bailleurs de fonds internationaux conditionnent leur aide à une disparition ou un affaiblissement considérable du Hezbollah, accusé d’être inféodé à l’Iran. Mais c’est une hypothèse totalement irréaliste. C’est ce parti qui a libéré́ le sud du Liban de trente ans d’occupation israélienne.

  • With Its Collapse, Lebanon Joins a Bleak Club of Arab Countries - DAWN

    Lebanon, like so many other Arab societies today, is now in an unfamiliar new zone where life for most of its citizens is a daily struggle for things as basic as food; no breakthroughs are on the horizon. The rest of the world, to most Lebanese, seems not to care, or in some cases even supports some of the sectarian leaders in the ruling oligarchy responsible for Lebanon’s collapse.

    #Liban « #communauté_internationale » #malfaisance-inc

  • As Lebanon Collapses, Riad Salameh Faces Questions - The New York Times

    Et bien sûr, la partie essentielle ce n’est pas le #MSM qu’est le NYT qui nous la dit :

    Nicholas Noe sur Twitter : “Most troubling part-the piece actively obfuscates your key pt by repeatedly stressing Native culpability Only: He “built an empire inside central bank & used it to make himself essential to rich & powerful players across Lebanon’s political spectrum.” What’s missing? We all know…2/2” / Twitter

    Gregg Carlstrom sur Twitter : “Salameh turned the central bank into a patronage network and bought off Lebanese elites. But he also did all of this with the assent of Western powers that defended him for many years and didn’t bother to scrutinize him at all.” / Twitter


  • Proche-Orient : face à l’escalade de la #violence, la #communauté_internationale appelle au calme

    Le chef de la ligue arabe a lui aussi dénoncé des frappes israéliennes sans discrimination et irresponsables, tenant Israël pour responsable de la « dangereuse escalade » du conflit.


    L’Organisation de la coopération islamique (OCI) a elle condamné mardi 11 mai « dans les termes les plus forts les attaques répétées des autorités d’occupation israéliennes contre le peuple palestinien », a déclaré l’organe panislamique basé dans la ville saoudienne de Djeddah.


  • Israel cuts fuel, Gaza goes dark | The Electronic Intifada

    The Gaza Strip’s only power plant shut down on Tuesday after Israel stopped the transfer of fuel to the territory.

    The halting of fuel transfers is among a series of collective punishment measures Israel has imposed on Gaza.

    Israel has claimed the measures are a response to incendiary balloons released from Gaza. The launching of such balloons by some Palestinians is, in reality, a symbolic effort to draw attention to the deteriorating situation in Gaza, long subject to an Israeli siege.

    Although incendiary balloons caused several fires in Israel, “no injuries or damage have been reported,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

    #necropolitics #Gaza #Israel #électricité #énergie

    • Pour rappel : les punitions collections et l’intimidation des populations civiles relèvent du crime de guerre :

      Traités, États parties et Commentaires - Convention de Genève (IV) sur les personnes civiles, 1949 - 33 - Responsabilité individuelle. Peines collectives. Pillage. Représailles

      ARTICLE 33 [ Link ] . - Aucune personne protégée ne peut être punie pour une infraction qu’elle n’a pas commise personnellement. Les peines collectives, de même que toute mesure d’intimidation ou de terrorisme, sont interdites.

      Le pillage est interdit.

      Les mesures de représailles à l’égard des personnes protégées et de leurs biens sont interdites.

    • Israeli Military Bombs Three Sites in the Gaza Strip
      Aug 21, 2020 – IMEMC News

      The Israeli occupation army, at dawn Thursday, shelled three sites in the besieged Gaza Strip, with no reported casualties, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

      Local sources said the Israeli artillery bombed what the army describes as an observation post east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Similar posts were also bombed to the east of Juhor ad-Dik and al-Bureij refugee camp in the central coastal enclave.

      The Israeli occupation closed border crossings, banned fishing long the coast, and blocked fuel shipments, causing the power plant to shut down. Israel’s use of collective punishment against the 2 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, after a number of youths launched incendiary balloons sparking fires in Israeli areas.

      The occupying power has heavily fired missiles and shelled many sites of the Gaza Strip, in the most recent escalation by the Israeli military, has been ongoing since August 3, 2020, and has continued in short intervals of 1-3 days between rounds of bombing.


      Israel Continues Heavy Bombardment of the Gaza Strip
      Aug 21, 2020 - Ali Salam

      Israeli combat helicopters, late Thursday night struck a site west of Khan Younis city in the southern enclave with at least six missiles, the Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

      Israeli warplanes, early Friday morning, bombed several sites across the besieged Gaza Strip, according to WAFA correspondent.

      He said that Israeli military jets fired three missiles at a site west of Gaza city, in the central Strip, causing heavy destruction to the site as well as to nearby homes.

      Meanwhile, Israeli tanks fired artillery shells against farmlands to the east of Gaza city.

      The Israeli Air Force also fired two missiles and struck a site near Beit Lahia town in the north, causing major damage to the site and to adjacent houses.

      One Palestinian farmer was moderately injured during the assault on farmlands, located east of Khan Younis, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

      The condition of the wounded man was not known at the time of this report.

      Local sources said that Israel’s pre-dawn bombardment focused on the area surrounding Khan Younis, while other airstrikes hit the central Strip, near Gaza City, as well as Beit Lahia in the north.

      Sources added that Palestinian resistance groups responded to the attack by firing rockets towards Israeli settlements, 3 of which were intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

      For nearly two weeks now, Israel has been bombarding and shelling the coastal enclave, as well as tightening the already strict siege. The Israeli military is using excessive force on a population with no army, no navy, and no air-force.

  • L’OMS dans le maelstrom du covid-19

    Au moment où la crise du coronavirus conduit à exacerber les concurrences interétatiques et à encourager le repli sur eux-mêmes des États-Nations, quel rôle peuvent jouer les #Nations_unies, à travers l’Organisation mondiale de la santé ?

    #International #santé #communauté_internationale #Entretiens_écrits #coopération_internationale

  • Karim Makdisi sur Twitter : “The “International Support Group for Lebanon” just released quite an intrusive statement that distracts from the productive part by insisting on repeating the aggressive UN Revolution #1559 language. #Lebanon #un” / Twitter

    Le soit-disant « groupe de soutien pour le Liban » commence à afficher clairement ses objectifs:

    1) mise en place de politiques néolibérales :

    Karim Makdisi sur Twitter : “The Support Group calls on the new Lebanese Government to implement “reforms” but does not mention the words “equitable” or “just” which is precisely what the Lebanese people are demanding. Not “reforms” but reforms that are equitable, progressive and just.” / Twitter

    2) Fin de toute résistance aux agressions de l’état sioniste:

    Karim Makdisi sur Twitter : “And here is their demand regarding how Lebanon must align its foreign policy and how it must designate as legitimate or not. Sovereignty you say? 🤔” / Twitter

    #Liban « #communauté_internationale »

  • Remi Brulin sur Twitter : "January 1, #1982: Lebanon. A packed stadium. Bombs have been positioned where the PLO leaders will be seated. Bigger bombs are outside, ready to target panicked survivors This is #Olympia_2. One crazy operation in the Greatest “Terrorist” Campaign You Never Heard About

    #THREAD" / Twitter

    #Liban #sionisme #terrorisme #massacre #civils #victimes_civiles #impunité #silence #complicité « #communauté_internationale »
    #mensonges #propagandes #chutzpah #sans_vergogne #vitrine_de_la_jungle

  • Le #Liban en crise : la fin d’une #illusion

    Bercés pendant plus de vingt ans par l’illusion d’une livre stable et d’un secteur bancaire florissant, en déconnexion totale avec les fondamentaux économiques, les Libanais réalisent, à leurs propres dépens, qu’ils ont été floués par des responsables qui ne le sont pas. Malgré les assurances officielles sur le maintien du taux de change et l’absence de contrôle de capitaux, leurs revenus en livres libanaises sont en train de perdre de la valeur, leurs économies en dollars ne sont plus accessibles et personne ne semble vouloir gérer les conséquences de cette crise.

    Les premiers signes d’un assèchement de liquidités en dollars sont pourtant apparus bien avant le soulèvement du 17 octobre et la démission du gouvernement. Dès fin août, les importateurs se sont vu refuser par leurs banques l’ouverture de lignes de crédit en devises pour payer leurs fournisseurs. Avec un contrôle des changes qui ne dit pas son nom, ils se sont tournés vers le marché parallèle, sur lequel la livre a commencé à se déprécier. Très vite, les entreprises ont été contraintes d’augmenter leur prix ou de réduire leurs importations, sans qu’un responsable ne prenne la peine d’expliquer ce qui se passe à des citoyens paniqués à l’idée de voir la livre à nouveau flotter.

    Ce n’est que le 29 septembre, après une grève des stations d’essence, que la Banque du Liban a émis une circulaire visant à fournir aux importateurs de carburant, de médicaments et de farine 85 % des devises nécessaires pour couvrir leur besoin, à charge pour eux, et pour les consommateurs, d’assumer le coût de la dépréciation de la livre sur les 15 % restants. Le Conseil des ministres, lui, était occupé à réfléchir à un moyen d’augmenter ses propres entrées de devises, trouvant la fameuse taxe WhatsApp, qui a mis le feu aux poudres.

    La gestion de la crise post-soulèvement a été aussi désastreuse qu’avant. Face à la ruée bancaire, les banques n’ont rien trouvé de mieux à faire que de fermer. Lorsqu’elles ont rouvert, deux semaines plus tard, les conditions avaient drastiquement changé. Abaissement des plafonds de crédit, gel des facilités, limites sur les retraits et, surtout, interdiction des transferts à l’étranger. L’étau s’est resserré, mais les exceptions restent possibles selon le niveau de liquidités de l’établissement et l’influence du client. Les banques sont ainsi devenues l’autorité de régulation de l’activité économique, décidant quelle entreprise pourra maintenir son activité et quelle autre devra fermer.

    Le pouvoir politique, plus que jamais aux abonnés absents, confie à #Riad_Salamé la tâche de rassurer la population. Sans succès. Niant l’existence d’un contrôle des capitaux de facto et minimisant l’importance du marché parallèle, il s’est contenté d’appeler les #banques à être moins “conservatrices” dans la gestion de leurs liquidités en dollars, qu’il a pourtant passé des années à aspirer.

    Dans un contexte marqué par la guerre en Syrie, les sanctions américaines contre le Hezbollah, les blocages politiques, la hausse des déficits publics, la détérioration de la notation souveraine, la Banque du Liban a réussi à stabiliser la livre et préserver le pouvoir d’achat des Libanais, s’est-il félicité alors que ces Libanais manifestaient au même moment devant la BDL pour dénoncer leurs conditions de vie. « La Banque centrale n’est pas celle qui dépense, c’est celle qui finance », s’est-il justifié. Comme si un créancier, qui finance à tout prix un agent qu’il sait insolvable, n’avait pas sa part de responsabilité. Surtout si cela s’est fait au détriment de la santé du secteur bancaire et de l’économie dans son ensemble.

    Comment en est-on arrivé là ?
    La politique de la BDL n’est pas la seule responsable de la crise actuelle. Mais en maintenant, à un prix très élevé, l’illusion d’une livre stable, elle a permis au Liban de vivre au-dessus de ses moyens, accumulant des dettes publiques et privées, qui représentent désormais plus de 365 % de son PIB (si on inclut la dette de la BDL envers les banques), et dont plus de la moitié est libellée en #dollars. Le problème n’est pas tant l’argent emprunté aux déposants que ce qui en a été fait. Au lieu d’investir dans des infrastructures ou des projets de développement pour renforcer l’économie, et doper les exportations pouvant générer les devises qu’il faudra un jour rembourser, l’État s’est endetté pour couvrir des dépenses courantes : les salaires de la fonction publique, devenue l’un des principaux canaux de recrutement clientéliste, le paiement des intérêts de la dette, bénéficiant aux déposants et à des banques dont 40 % sont affiliées à des hommes politiques , et le déficit de l’EDL, dont la pérennité ne peut que témoigner de l’#incompétence des pouvoirs publics.

    Quant aux crédits privés, ils ont financé essentiellement le secteur immobilier et la consommation, donc les importations.

    Pour faire simple, les politiques budgétaires et monétaires menées ces vingt dernières années ont consisté à s’endetter toujours plus, tout en se privant des moyens de les rembourser.

    L’objectif au départ était d’attirer les capitaux nécessaires pour financer la reconstruction et le redémarrage de l’économie après 15 ans de guerre civile.

    Au début des années 1990, le secteur bancaire s’est mis à financer le Trésor à des taux très élevés, leur permettant d’offrir des rémunérations attractives à leurs clients au Liban et à l’étranger. En collectant des dépôts en dollars, les banques renforçaient à leur tour les réserves de change de la BDL, lui donnant les moyens de défendre la livre. Mais le régime confessionnel mis en place après les accords de Taëf, basé sur le #clientélisme et la #corruption, a très vite montré ses limites. Les représentants des différentes communautés puisaient allègrement dans les caisses de l’État pour financer leurs intérêts tout en étant incapables de s’entendre sur la moindre politique économique, alors que le pays en avait grandement besoin, vu l’impact des taux d’intérêt élevés à la fois sur l’économie réelle et les finances publiques.

    Quelques années plus tard, alors que la dette publique commençait déjà à déraper, l’État s’est mis à s’endetter directement en dollars, avec l’aide de la BDL, qui s’est engagée à maintenir le taux de change autour de 1 500 livres pour un dollar. Cette stabilité permettait aux détenteurs de capitaux de générer des revenus substantiels, en jouant sur le différentiel de taux entre la livre et le dollar sans s’exposer au risque de change, et d’assurer un financement à moindre coût à l’Etat, au détriment de la compétitivité de l’économie et des secteurs productifs.

    L’accroissement des déficits de l’État et celui de la balance des biens et des services, année après année, témoignaient des déséquilibres structurels et de l’incapacité des pouvoirs publics à y faire face.

    À trois reprises, le Liban s’est retrouvé au bord du gouffre, en 2001, 2004 et 2007, et à chaque fois la communauté internationale a volé à son secours en échange de promesses de réformes structurelles, que la classe politique n’a jamais tenues. Ces bouffées d’oxygène permettaient néanmoins de restaurer la confiance et de relancer les entrées de capitaux.

    Tant que la balance des paiements était excédentaire, la BDL accumulait des réserves de change, la livre restait stable, et le Liban continuait à s’endetter. Le système était d’autant plus efficace que le chômage et la détérioration des conditions de vie poussaient les Libanais à émigrer, et donc envoyer des fonds de l’étranger.

    Mais l’abondance des flux dans la région est fondamentalement liée aux prix du #pétrole. La flambée du brut durant les années 2007-2010 s’est ainsi traduite par des afflux record de capitaux qui, faute d’avoir été canalisés vers les secteurs productifs, ont créé une bulle immobilière.

    À l’inverse, lorsque les prix du pétrole sont retombés, à partir de 2011, les flux vers le Liban ont commencé à se tarir, le marché immobilier s’est écroulé, malgré les tentatives de la BDL de soutenir la demande à travers des prêts subventionnés.

    La baisse des entrées de capitaux était d’autant plus problématique que l’économie libanaise subissait de plein fouet les conséquences de la guerre en Syrie, et l’afflux de plus d’un million de réfugiés. La classe politique, empêtrée dans ses contradictions et ses alignements géopolitiques, a été incapable d’amortir l’impact du choc, ni sur les finances publiques ni sur l’économie. La crise syrienne s’est traduite par une aggravation des déficits jumeaux, et donc des besoins de financements, au moment où les liquidités se faisaient plus rares. La balance des paiements a alors basculé dans le rouge, générant des pressions sur le taux de change.

    En l’absence d’une prise de conscience politique, en 2016, les réserves de change ont atteint un seuil critique, qui minait la confiance dans la livre et menaçait le modèle de financement. À ce stade, le coût social d’une dévaluation était déjà devenu trop lourd au vu de la dépendance du pays aux importations et la dollarisation de la dette privée.
    La BDL a alors accéléré la fuite en avant, avec sa fameuse #ingénierie_financière, qui lui a permis de doper ses réserves en offrant aux banques des rendements mirobolants en échange de leurs liquidités en dollars. Des rendements qui leur permettaient à leur tour d’attirer de nouveaux dépôts. Une partie des profits générés a aussi permis de renforcer la capitalisation du secteur dans un contexte économique de plus en plus difficile. Après la “démission” de Saad Hariri en 2017, ces ingénieries ont repris de plus belle, dans une course désespérée aux dollars, devenus d’autant plus nécessaires que l’État a été privé de son accès aux marchés internationaux suite à la dégradation de sa note souveraine. La BDL devant désormais puiser dans ses réserves, déjà sous pression, pour rembourser aussi les #eurobonds.

    En 2018, le Liban s’est encore tourné vers la #communauté_internationale, mais n’étant pas en mesure d’assurer les conditions politiques associées au soutien des pays du Golfe, les aides européennes et institutionnelles ont été promises sous forme de financement de projets d’infrastructures, conditionnées à des réformes ambitieuses. Mais encore une fois la classe politique a été incapable de tenir ses engagements. Au lieu de baisser le déficit public de 1 % du PIB comme promis, celui-ci est passé, élections obligent, de 9 à 11 % du PIB. Quant aux réformes structurelles, y compris les plus urgentes comme celles de l’#électricité, elles sont restées otages des #marchandages politiques et affairistes dont la classe politique s’est fait une spécialité.

    Le peu de confiance qui subsistait encore dans le système s’est évaporée et l’hémorragie a commencé, malgré les ingénieries persistantes et leurs promesses alléchantes. Sur les neuf premiers mois de l’année, les dépôts du secteur bancaire étaient déjà en baisse (intérêts compris) d’environ 4 milliards de dollars en rythme annuel, à 170,3 milliards de dollars à fin septembre, avec un taux de dollarisation de 72,9 %. Dans une étude publiée le 19 novembre, l’Association des grandes banques et institutions financières mondiales (Institute of International Finance, ou IIF en anglais) chiffre à 10 milliards de dollars les retraits de dépôts depuis août, dont 5 milliards auraient été transférés à l’étranger.

    Ayant placé quasiment toutes leurs liquidités auprès de la BDL, en gardant 9,8 milliards de dollars environ à l’étranger, les banques ont choisi de rationner les dollars, au cas par cas.

    Selon les estimations d’un rapport de Bank of America Merrill Lynch publié le 25 novembre, les banques détiennent 84,3 milliards de dollars auprès de la BDL, dont 19,8 milliards de réserves obligatoires rémunérées au taux Libor 3 mois, 22,7 milliards en certificats de dépôts rémunérés à 6,6 % et 41,8 milliards de dépôts à 5,94 % (ce qui représente une charge d’intérêts pour la BDL de 4,6 milliards de dollars par an). Mais ces placements ont des maturités plus longues que celle des dépôts bancaires en dollars, notamment ceux des non-résidents. Le prêteur de dernier recours, la Banque centrale, n’ayant elle-même que 30 milliards de dollars de réserves liquides leur a alors proposé des prêts en dollars à un taux de 20 %, à condition que l’argent ne sorte pas du Liban, instituant ainsi un contrôle des capitaux informel. Cette mesure, imposée de manière totalement discrétionnaire, permet aux banques et à la BDL de gagner du temps au prix d’une forte contraction de l’économie.

    Et maintenant on va où ?
    Toujours selon Bank of America Merrill Lynch, les réserves de la BDL ont fondu de 900 millions de dollars en seulement une semaine d’ouverture des banques en novembre. Même si ce rythme est réduit de moitié, avec un strict contrôle des capitaux, dans l’état actuel des choses, les réserves s’épuiseront durant l’année 2020. Si la demande de dollars se réduit de deux tiers, la BDL terminera l’année avec un peu plus de 7 milliards de dollars. Or ces réserves sont cruciales. Dans un scénario catastrophe, si rien n’est fait d’ici à quelques mois, l’évaporation des réserves provoquera non seulement une dévaluation socialement dévastatrice, mais aussi un défaut de paiement sur la dette en dollars de l’État et de la BDL. Étant donné la forte exposition des banques au secteur public, et particulièrement à la BDL, un taux de récupération de 20 % sur la valeur nominale de la dette en dollars induira un besoin de recapitalisation du secteur de 80 milliards de dollars, avec un haircut potentiel de 50 % sur tous les dépôts, ou près de 99 % si on ne vise que les dépôts de plus d’un million de dollars. Dans ce scénario il n’y aura pas d’arbitrages possibles.

    En refusant de réglementer le contrôle des capitaux, les acteurs du système continuent de vouloir penser que cette crise, comme les autres, passera avec quelques ingénieries, des réformes cosmétiques, un peu d’#austérité et des capitaux du Golfe, persistant à faire porter au Liban une politique dont il n’a pas les moyens. Certains préconisent de vendre les actifs de l’État, existants ou futurs (le gaz) qui, dans la configuration actuelle de crise et de corruption généralisée, risqueront d’être bradés au bénéfice de proches du pouvoir. La crise de confiance semble toutefois plus profonde, et il est peu probable que le secteur bancaire puisse à court terme de nouveau attirer les flux de dépôts nécessaires pour maintenir le pays à flots. Dans son rapport Bank of America Merrill Lynch estime que le Liban aura besoin d’au moins 8 milliards de dollars par an, sur les trois prochaines années, pour assurer ses besoins de financements.

    Un atterrissage en douceur est-il encore possible ? Difficile à dire tant l’opacité règne sur la situation financière réelle de l’État libanais et sa Banque centrale.

    Cela dépendra sans doute de la capacité du Liban à mobiliser des financements rapides, et les négocier au mieux. Que ce soit avec l’aide du Fonds monétaire international ou autres, un ajustement paraît incontournable, mais son coût doit être équitablement réparti, avec une approche économique et sociale, et pas seulement financière.

    La baisse des taux d’intérêt sur les dépôts décidée récemment par la Banque du Liban, par exemple, peut être considérée comme injuste pour les nombreux épargnants, notamment les retraités, qui vivent de ces revenus. Qui arbitre ? Sur quelle base ? Quel projet d’avenir pourrait justifier ces sacrifices ? Avec un gouvernement crédible, compétent et efficace, c’est-à-dire à l’opposé de ceux qu’on a connu ces trente dernières années, la chute serait certainement moins douloureuse.

    Mais pour le moment, la BDL est seule aux commandes, et son gouverneur a assuré qu’il n’y aura ni haircut sur les dépôts ni dévaluation, mais il a dit aussi que la livre était stable et qu’il n’y avait pas de contrôle de capitaux. On est donc en droit de douter.

  • Davos du désert : malgré les critiques, les milieux d’affaires se jettent dans les bras de MBS | Middle East Eye édition française

    Alors que l’édition de l’an dernier – organisée une quinzaine de jours après le meurtre du journaliste Jamal Khashoggi dans lequel l’implication des Saoudiens a été détaillée par une enquête de l’ONU – avait été largement boycottée, la FII affiche cette année sur son site les noms de ses prestigieux partenaires. Parmi eux : Samsung, le Crédit suisse, Roland Berger (un des cabinets européens de conseil en stratégie les plus connus), Huawei, KPMG, Mastercard, etc.

    #arabie_saoudite « #communauté_internationale »

  • L’ONU déplore une « multitude de crimes de guerre » commis au Yémen

    Des corps recouverts de plastique reposent sur le sol au milieu des décombres d’un centre de détention détruit par des frappes aériennes saoudiennes le 1er septembre 2019 à Dhamar, dans le sud-ouest du Yémen.

    « Personne n’a les mains propres dans ce conflit. » Des experts des Nations unies (ONU) sur le Yémen ont fait état, dans un rapport publié mardi 3 septembre, de la « multitude de crimes de guerre » qui auraient été commis par les diverses parties depuis le début du conflit.

    Ce groupe d’experts, créé par le Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations unies en 2017, a identifié, dans la mesure du possible, les « personnes susceptibles d’être responsables de crimes internationaux et a transmis ces noms », qui restent confidentiels, à la haut-commissaire aux droits de l’homme, Michelle Bachelet. Un bon nombre des violations « peut entraîner la condamnation de personnes pour crimes de guerre si un tribunal indépendant et compétent en est saisi », ont-ils expliqué dans un communiqué.
    Une coalition menée par l’Arabie saoudite intervient au Yémen depuis 2015 pour soutenir les forces progouvernementales contre les rebelles houthistes, qui se sont emparés de vastes zones de l’ouest et du nord du pays, dont la capitale, Sanaa. « Cinq ans après le début du conflit, les violations contre les civils yéménites se poursuivent sans relâche, avec un mépris total pour le sort de la population et une absence d’action internationale pour responsabiliser les parties au conflit », a déclaré Kamel Jendoubi, président du groupe d’experts.

    Les experts de l’ONU demandent aussi à la communauté internationale de s’abstenir de fournir des armes susceptibles d’être utilisées dans le conflit, avertissant que la « légalité des transferts d’armes par la France, le Royaume-Uni, les Etats-Unis et d’autres Etats reste discutable ». « Les Etats peuvent être tenus responsables de l’aide ou de l’assistance qu’ils fournissent pour la commission de violations du droit international si les conditions de complicité sont remplies », insiste le rapport.

    Le rapport sera présenté le 10 septembre devant le Conseil des droits de l’homme lors de sa prochaine session (du 9 au 27 septembre). Le groupe d’experts souhaite que le Conseil renforce son mandat en matière de lutte contre l’impunité en lui demandant de rassembler les éléments de preuve relatifs aux violations présumées face à l’actuelle « absence généralisée de responsabilité ».

  • Accord gazier. La #Jordanie plie devant Israël

    Ce que l’étiquette « #modéré » gratifiée par la « #communauté_internationale » signifie concrètement (entre autres révélations de l’article) :

    Ce qui signifie concrètement faire de la Jordanie une tête de pont pour l’exportation vers d’autres pays arabes du #gaz importé d’Israël, gaz qui peut venir par ailleurs de sources autres que le champ Léviathan. Ce gaz ainsi mélangé au gaz égyptien ou tout autre gaz que la Jordanie importe du marché mondial via le port GNL ne permettra pas de distinguer la source ou de séparer les flux. Israël est ainsi introduit organiquement en tant que puissance énergétique régionale et exportateur de gaz, par des moyens détournés et occultes, vers les autres pays arabes susceptibles d’utiliser le gazoduc arabe et de s’y raccorder.

  • View from Nowhere. Is it the press’s job to create a community that transcends borders?

    A few years ago, on a plane somewhere between Singapore and Dubai, I read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). I was traveling to report on the global market for passports—how the ultrawealthy can legally buy citizenship or residence virtually anywhere they like, even as 10 million stateless people languish, unrecognized by any country. In the process, I was trying to wrap my head around why national identity meant so much to so many, yet so little to my passport-peddling sources. Their world was the very image of Steve Bannon’s globalist nightmare: where you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many passports.

    Anderson didn’t address the sale of citizenship, which only took off in earnest in the past decade; he did argue that nations, nationalism, and nationality are about as organic as Cheez Whiz. The idea of a nation, he writes, is a capitalist chimera. It is a collective sense of identity processed, shelf-stabilized, and packaged before being disseminated, for a considerable profit, to a mass audience in the form of printed books, news, and stories. He calls this “print-capitalism.”

    Per Anderson, after the printing press was invented, nearly 600 years ago, enterprising booksellers began publishing the Bible in local vernacular languages (as opposed to the elitist Latin), “set[ting] the stage for the modern nation” by allowing ordinary citizens to participate in the same conversations as the upper classes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the proliferation (and popularity) of daily newspapers further collapsed time and space, creating an “extraordinary mass ceremony” of reading the same things at the same moment.

    “An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000–odd fellow Americans,” Anderson wrote. “He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time.” But with the knowledge that others are reading the same news, “he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity.”

    Should the press be playing a role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together?

    Of course, national presses enabled more explicit efforts by the state itself to shape identity. After the US entered World War I, for instance, President Woodrow Wilson set out to make Americans more patriotic through his US Committee on Public Information. Its efforts included roping influential mainstream journalists into advocating American-style democracy by presenting US involvement in the war in a positive light, or simply by referring to Germans as “Huns.” The committee also monitored papers produced by minorities to make sure they supported the war effort not as Indians, Italians, or Greeks, but as Americans. Five Irish-American papers were banned, and the German-American press, reacting to negative stereotypes, encouraged readers to buy US bonds to support the war effort.

    The US media played an analogous role in selling the public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But ever since then, in the digital economy, its influence on the national consciousness has waned. Imagined Communities was published seven years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty-two years before Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a couple of decades before the internet upended print-capitalism as the world knew it (one of Anderson’s footnotes is telling, if quaint: “We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing”).

    Since Trump—a self-described nationalist—became a real contender for the US presidency, many news organizations have taken to looking inward: consider the running obsession with the president’s tweets, for instance, or the nonstop White House palace intrigue (which the president invites readily).

    Meanwhile, the unprofitability of local and regional papers has contributed to the erosion of civics, which, down the line, makes it easier for billionaires to opt out of old “imagined communities” and join new ones based on class and wealth, not citizenship. And given the challenges humanity faces—climate change, mass migration, corporate hegemony, and our relationships to new technologies—even if national papers did make everyone feel like they shared the same narrative, a renewed sense of national pride would prove impotent in fighting world-historic threats that know no borders.

    Should the press, then, be playing an analogous role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together? If it was so important in shaping national identity, can it do so on a global scale?

    Like my passport-buying subjects, I am what Theresa May, the former British prime minister, might call a “citizen of nowhere.” I was born in one place to parents from another, grew up in a third, and have lived and traveled all over. That informs my perspective: I want deeply for there to be a truly cosmopolitan press corps, untethered from national allegiances, regional biases, class divisions, and the remnants of colonial exploitation. I know that’s utopian; the international working class is hardly a lucrative demographic against which publishers can sell ads. But we seem to be living in a time of considerable upheaval and opportunity. Just as the decline of religiously and imperially organized societies paved the way for national alternatives, then perhaps today there is a chance to transcend countries’ boundaries, too.

    Does the US media help create a sense of national identity? If nationalism means putting the interests of one nation—and what its citizens are interested in—before more universal concerns, then yes. Most journalists working for American papers, websites, and TV write in English with a national audience (or regional time zone) in mind, which affects how we pitch, source, frame, and illustrate a story—which, in turn, influences our readers, their country’s politics, and, down the line, the world. But a news peg isn’t an ideological form of nationalism so much as a practical or methodological one. The US press feeds off of more pernicious nationalisms, too: Donald Trump’s false theory about Barack Obama being “secretly” Kenyan, disseminated by the likes of Fox and The Daily Caller, comes to mind.

    That isn’t to say that global news outlets don’t exist in the US. When coaxing subscribers, the Financial Times, whose front page often includes references to a dozen different countries, openly appeals to their cosmopolitanism. “Be a global citizen. Become an FT Subscriber,” read a recent banner ad, alongside a collage featuring the American, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and European Union flags (though stories like the recent “beginner’s guide to buying a private island” might tell us something about what kind of global citizen they’re appealing to).

    “I don’t think we try to shape anyone’s identity at all,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s managing editor for the US, says. “We recognize two things: that the world is more interconnected today than it’s ever been, and that these connections are complex and quite opaque. We think it’s critical to try to illuminate them.”

    For Tett, who has a PhD in social anthropology, money serves as a “neutral, technocratic” starting point through which to understand—and tie together—the world. “Most newspapers today tend to start with an interest in politics or events, and that inevitably leads you to succumb to tribalism, however hard you try [not to],” Tett explains. “If you look at the world through money—how is money going around the world, who’s making and losing it and why?—out of that you lead to political, cultural, foreign-policy stories.”

    Tett’s comments again brought to mind Imagined Communities: Anderson notes that, in 18th-century Caracas, newspapers “began essentially as appendages of the market,” providing commercial news about ships coming in, commodity prices, and colonial appointments, as well as a proto–Vows section for the upper crust to hate-read in their carriages. “The newspaper of Caracas quite naturally, and even apolitically, created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged,” he wrote. “In time, of course, it was only to be expected that political elements would enter in.”

    Yesterday’s aristocracy is today’s passport-buying, globe-trotting one percent. The passport brokers I got to know also pitched clients with the very same promise of “global citizenship” (it sounds less louche than “buy a new passport”)—by taking out ads in the Financial Times. Theirs is exactly the kind of neoliberal “globalism” that nationalist politicians like Trump have won elections denouncing (often hypocritically) as wanting “the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” Isn’t upper-crust glibness about borders, boundaries, and the value of national citizenship part of what helped give us this reactionary nativism in the first place?

    “I suspect what’s been going on with Brexit and maybe Trump and other populist movements [is that] people. . . see ‘global’ as a threat to local communities and businesses rather than something to be welcomed,” Tett says. “But if you’re an FT reader, you see it as benign or descriptive.”

    Among the largest news organizations in the world is Reuters, with more than 3,000 journalists and photographers in 120 countries. It is part of Thomson Reuters, a truly global firm. Reuters does not take its mandate lightly: a friend who works there recently sent me a job posting for an editor in Gdynia, which, Google clarified for me, is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland.

    Reuters journalists cover everything from club sports to international tax evasion. They’re outsourcing quick hits about corporate earnings to Bangalore, assembling teams on multiple continents to tackle a big investigation, shedding or shuffling staff under corporate reorganizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “more than half our business is serving financial customers,” Stephen Adler, the editor in chief, tells me. “That has little to do with what country you’re from. It’s about information: a central-bank action in Europe or Japan may be just as important as everything else.”

    Institutionally, “it’s really important and useful that we don’t have one national HQ,” Adler adds. “That’s the difference between a global news organization and one with a foreign desk. For us, nothing is foreign.” That approach won Reuters this year’s international Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar (two of the reporters were imprisoned as a result, and since freed); it also comes through especially sharply in daily financial stories: comprehensive, if dry, compendiums of who-what-where-when-why that recognize the global impact of national stories, and vice versa. A recent roundup of stock movements included references to the US Fed, China trade talks, Brexit, monetary policy around the world, and the price of gold.

    Adler has led the newsroom since 2011, and a lot has changed in the world. (I worked at Reuters between 2011 and 2013, first as Adler’s researcher and later as a reporter; Adler is the chair of CJR’s board.) Shortly after Trump’s election, Adler wrote a memo affirming the organization’s commitment to being fair, honest, and resourceful. He now feels more strongly than ever about judiciously avoiding biases—including national ones. “Our ideology and discipline around putting personal feelings and nationality aside has been really helpful, because when you think about how powerful local feelings are—revolutions, the Arab Spring—we want you writing objectively and dispassionately.”

    The delivery of stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter.

    Whether global stories can push communities to develop transnationally in a meaningful way is a harder question to answer; it seems to impugn our collective aptitude for reacting to problems of a global nature in a rational way. Reuters’s decision not to fetishize Trump hasn’t led to a drop-off in US coverage—its reporters have been especially strong on immigration and trade policy, not to mention the effects of the new administration on the global economy—but its stories aren’t exactly clickbait, which means ordinary Americans might not encounter them at the top of their feed. In other words, having a global perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to more eyeballs.

    What’s more, Reuters doesn’t solve the audience-class problem: whether readers are getting dispatches in partner newspapers like The New York Times or through the organization’s Eikon terminal, they tend to be the sort of person “who does transnational business, travels a good deal, is connected through work and media, has friends in different places, cares about what’s going on in different places,” Adler says. “That’s a pretty large cohort of people who have reason to care what’s going on in other places.”

    There are ways to unite readers without centering coverage on money or the markets. For a generation of readers around the world, the common ground is technology: the internet. “We didn’t pick our audience,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, tells me over the phone. “Our audience picked us.” He defines his readers as a cohort aged 18–35 “who are on the internet and who broadly care about human rights, global politics, and feminism and gay rights in particular.”

    To serve them, BuzzFeed recently published a damning investigative report into the World Wildlife Fund’s arming of militias in natural reserves; a (not uncontroversial) series on Trump’s business dealings abroad; early exposés of China’s detention of Uighur citizens; and reports on child abuse in Australia. Climate—“the central challenge for every newsroom in the world”—has been harder to pin down. “We don’t feel anyone has cracked it. But the shift from abstract scientific [stories] to coverage of fires in California, it’s a huge change—it makes it more concrete,” Smith says. (My husband is a reporter for BuzzFeed.)

    The delivery of these stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter. “The global political financial elites have had a common language ever since it was French,” Smith says. “There is now a universal language of internet culture, [and] that. . . is how our stuff translates so well between cultures and audiences.” This isn’t a form of digital Esperanto, Smith insists; the point isn’t to flatten the differences between countries or regions so much as to serve as a “container” in which people from different regions, interest groups, and cultures can consume media through references they all understand.

    BuzzFeed might not be setting out to shape its readers’ identities (I certainly can’t claim to feel a special bond with other people who found out they were Phoebes from the quiz “Your Sushi Order Will Reveal Which ‘Friends’ Character You’re Most Like”). An audience defined by its youth and its media consumption habits can be difficult to keep up with: platforms come and go, and young people don’t stay young forever. But if Anderson’s thesis still carries water, there must be something to speaking this language across cultures, space, and time. Call it “Web vernacular.”

    In 2013, during one of the many recent and lengthy US government shutdowns, Joshua Keating, a journalist at Slate, began a series, “If It Happened There,” that imagined how the American media would view the shutdown if it were occurring in another country. “The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city,” Keating opens. “Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. . . .But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink.”

    It goes on; you get the idea. Keating’s series, which was inspired by his having to read “many, many headlines from around the world” while working at Foreign Policy, is a clever journalistic illustration of what sociologists call “methodological nationalism”: the bias that gets inadvertently baked into work and words. In the Middle East, it’s sectarian or ethnic strife; in the Midwest, it’s a trigger-happy cop and a kid in a hoodie.

    His send-ups hit a nerve. “It was huge—it was by far the most popular thing I’ve done at Slate,” Keating says. “I don’t think that it was a shocking realization to anyone that this kind of language can be a problem, but sometimes pointing it out can be helpful. If the series did anything, it made people stop and be conscious of how. . . our inherent biases and perspectives will inform how we cover the world.”

    Curiously, living under an openly nationalist administration has changed the way America—or at the very least, a significant part of the American press corps—sees itself. The press is a de facto opposition party, not because it tries to be, but because the administration paints it that way. And that gives reporters the experience of working in a place much more hostile than the US without setting foot outside the country.

    Keating has “semi-retired” the series as a result of the broad awareness among American reporters that it is, in fact, happening here. “It didn’t feel too novel to say [Trump was] acting like a foreign dictator,” he says. “That was what the real news coverage was doing.”

    Keating, who traveled to Somaliland, Kurdistan, and Abkhazia to report his book Invisible Countries (2018), still thinks the fastest and most effective way to form an international perspective is to live abroad. At the same time, not being bound to a strong national identity “can make it hard to understand particular concerns of the people you’re writing about,” he says. It might be obvious, but there is no one perfect way to be internationally minded.

    Alan Rusbridger—the former editor of The Guardian who oversaw the paper’s Edward Snowden coverage and is now the principal at Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University—recognizes the journalistic and even moral merits of approaching news in a non-national way: “I think of journalism as a public service, and I do think there’s a link between journalism at its best and the betterment of individual lives and societies,” he says. But he doesn’t have an easy formula for how to do that, because truly cosmopolitan journalism requires both top-down editorial philosophies—not using certain phrasings or framings that position foreigners as “others”—and bottom-up efforts by individual writers to read widely and be continuously aware of how their work might be read by people thousands of miles away.

    Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network, but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases.

    Rusbridger sees potential in collaborations across newsrooms, countries, and continents. Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network; but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases. It also wields power. “One of the reasons we reported Snowden with the Times in New York was to use global protections of human rights and free speech and be able to appeal to a global audience of readers and lawyers,” Rusbridger recalls. “We thought, ‘We’re pretty sure nation-states will come at us over this, and the only way to do it is harness ourselves to the US First Amendment not available to us anywhere else.’”

    In employing these tactics, the press positions itself in opposition to the nation-state. The same strategy could be seen behind the rollout of the Panama and Paradise Papers (not to mention the aggressive tax dodging detailed therein). “I think journalists and activists and citizens on the progressive wing of politics are thinking creatively about how global forces can work to their advantage,” Rusbridger says.

    But he thinks it all starts locally, with correspondents who have fluency in the language, culture, and politics of the places they cover, people who are members of the communities they write about. That isn’t a traditional foreign-correspondent experience (nor indeed that of UN employees, NGO workers, or other expats). The silver lining of publishing companies’ shrinking budgets might be that cost cutting pushes newsrooms to draw from local talent, rather than send established writers around. What you gain—a cosmopolitanism that works from the bottom up—can help dispel accusations of media elitism. That’s the first step to creating new imagined communities.

    Anderson’s work has inspired many an academic, but media executives? Not so much. Rob Wijnberg is an exception: he founded the (now beleaguered) Correspondent in the Netherlands in 2013 with Anderson’s ideas in mind. In fact, when we speak, he brings the name up unprompted.

    “You have to transcend this notion that you can understand the world through the national point of view,” he says. “The question is, What replacement do we have for it? Simply saying we have to transcend borders or have an international view isn’t enough, because you have to replace the imagined community you’re leaving behind with another one.”

    For Wijnberg, who was a philosophy student before he became a journalist, this meant radically reinventing the very structures of the news business: avoiding covering “current events” just because they happened, and thinking instead of what we might call eventful currents—the political, social, and economic developments that affect us all. It meant decoupling reporting from national news cycles, and getting readers to become paying “members” instead of relying on advertisements.

    This, he hoped, would help create a readership not based on wealth, class, nationality, or location, but on borderless, universal concerns. “We try to see our members. . . as part of a group or knowledge community, where the thing they share is the knowledge they have about a specific structural subject matter,” be it climate, inequality, or migration, Wijnberg says. “I think democracy and politics answers more to media than the other way around, so if you change the way media covers the world you change a lot.”

    That approach worked well in the Netherlands: his team raised 1.7 million euros in 2013, and grew to include 60,000 members. A few years later, Wijnberg and his colleagues decided to expand into the US, and with the help of NYU’s Jay Rosen, an early supporter, they made it onto Trevor Noah’s Daily Show to pitch their idea.

    The Correspondent raised more than $2.5 million from nearly 50,000 members—a great success, by any measure. But in March, things started to get hairy, with the publication abruptly pulling the plug on opening a US newsroom and announcing that staff would edit stories reported from the US from the original Amsterdam office instead. Many of the reasons behind this are mundane: visas, high rent, relocation costs. And reporters would still be reporting from, and on, the States. But supporters felt blindsided, calling the operation a scam.

    Today, Wijnberg reflects that he should have controlled the messaging better, and not promised to hire and operate from New York until he was certain that he could. He also wonders why it matters.

    “It’s not saying people who think it matters are wrong,” he explains. “But if the whole idea of this kind of geography and why it’s there is a construct, and you’re trying to think about transcending it, the very notion of Where are you based? is secondary. The whole point is not to be based anywhere.”

    Still: “The view from everywhere—the natural opposite—is just as real,” Wijnberg concedes. “You can’t be everywhere. You have to be somewhere.”

    And that’s the rub: for all of nationalism’s ills, it does instill in its subjects what Anderson calls a “deep, horizontal comradeship” that, while imagined, blossoms thanks to a confluence of forces. It can’t be replicated supranationally overnight. The challenge for a cosmopolitan journalism, then, is to dream up new forms of belonging that look forward, not backward—without discarding the imagined communities we have.

    That’s hard; so hard that it more frequently provokes a retrenchment, not an expansion, of solidarity. But it’s not impossible. And our collective futures almost certainly depend on it.

    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • Libya Is on the Brink of Civil War and a U.S. Citizen Is Responsible. Here’s What to Know

    Who are Haftar’s international backers?

    Officially, they are few and far between. Every major state condoned the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. But in reality, some “were also having parallel conversations with different actors and that enabled those actors to disregard the legal process and go with the military process,” says Elham Saudi, co-founder of London-based NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).

    Those states include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which want to curb the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya; Russia, which has treated wounded soldiers and reportedly printed money on behalf of Haftar; and France, which views him as key to stabilizing Libya and slowing the flow of migrants into Europe. Italy, which also wants to prevent migration through Libya, has fallen out with France over its tacit support of Haftar. “Nominally, of course, they’re on the same side, that of the U.N.-backed government,” says Joost Hiltermann, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group. “But in reality Italy and France are on opposite sides of this.”


    ... no state has threatened sanctions or acted to affirm the legitimacy of the internationally-backed government in Tripoli. As such, Haftar has interpreted their warnings as an amber, rather than a red light, according to International Crisis Group. For LFJL’s Saudi, the current crisis is the “natural culmination” of the international community’s inconsistency and failure to affirm the rule of law in Libya. “The international agenda has been pure carrot and no stick,” she says. “What is the incentive now to play by the rules?”


  • Once again, the UN has failed to name firms that profit from Israel’s illegal settlements - The National

    Pour la troisième fois l’#ONU diffère la publication d’une liste noire concernant les entreprises qui profitent directement de la #colonisation des territoires occupés.

    The United Nations postponed last week for the third time the publication of a blacklist of Israeli and international firms that profit directly from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

    « #communauté_internationale »