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  • Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? - The New York Times

    Jewish communities stand more divided than ever on whether to embrace or denounce Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

    By Amy Chozick and Hannah Seligson
    Nov. 17, 2018

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/ivanka-trump-jared-kushner.html

    On election night in Beverly Hills, Jason Blum, the hot shot horror-movie producer, was accepting an award at the Israel Film Festival. The polls in a string of midterm contests were closing, and Mr. Blum, a vocal critic of President Trump, was talking about how much was at stake.

    “The past two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country,” Mr. Blum said.

    That’s when the crowd of mostly Jewish producers and power brokers started to chant, “We like Trump!” An Israeli man stepped onto the stage to try to pull Mr. Blum away from the microphone as the crowd at the Saban Theater Steve Tisch Cinema Center cheered.

    “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse,” Mr. Blum said, as security rushed the stage to help him. “Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
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    In the weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in one of the most horrific acts of anti-Semitism in years, debates about the president’s role in stoking extremism have roiled American Jews — and forced an uncomfortable reckoning between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his daughter and son-in-law’s Jewish faith.
    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
    Credit
    Doug Mills/The New York Times

    Image

    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    Rabbis and Jewish leaders have raged on Twitter and in op-eds, in sermons and over shabbat dinners, over how to reconcile the paradox of Jared Kushner, the descendant of Holocaust survivors, and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism to marry Mr. Kushner.

    To some Jews, the couple serves as a bulwark pushing the Trump administration toward pro-Israel policies, most notably the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. To many others, they are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, allowing Mr. Trump to brush aside criticism that his words have fueled the uptick in violent attacks against Jews.

    “For Jews who are deeply opposed to Donald Trump and truly believe he is an anti-Semite, it’s deeply problematic that he’s got a Jewish son-in-law and daughter. How can that be?” said Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.
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    Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump serve as senior advisers in the White House. At a time when Judaism is under assault — the F.B.I. said this week that anti-Semitic attacks have increased in each of the last three years — they are unabashedly Orthodox, observing shabbat each week, walking to an Orthodox Chabad shul near their Kalorama home in Washington, D.C., dropping their children off at Jewish day school and hanging mezuzas on the doors of their West Wing offices.

    After the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Kushner played a key role in Mr. Trump (eventually) decrying “the scourge of anti-Semitism.” And Mr. Kushner helped arrange the president’s visit to the Squirrel Hill synagogue, including inviting Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States to accompany them. There, in Pittsburgh, thousands marched to protest what one organizer described as the insult of the Mr. Trump’s visit.
    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.
    Credit
    Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

    Image

    Arabella Kushner lights the menorah as her parents look on during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House in 2017.CreditOlivier Douliery/Getty Images
    The White House has referenced Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump’s religion to dismiss accusations that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened anti-Semites. “The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters.

    Using the couple in this way has unnerved many Jews who oppose the president and say Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump violated the sacred, if sometimes unspoken, communal code that mandates Jews take care of each other during times of struggle. “I’m more offended by Jared than I am by President Trump,” said Eric Reimer, a lawyer in New York who was on Mr. Kushner’s trivia team at The Frisch School, a modern Orthodox yeshiva in New Jersey that they both attended.

    “We, as Jews, are forced to grapple with the fact that Jared and his wife are Jewish, but Jared is participating in acts of Chillul Hashem,” said Mr. Reimer, using the Hebrew term for when a Jew behaves immorally while in the presence of others.
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    For Mr. Reimer, who hasn’t spoken to Mr. Kushner since high school, one of those incidents was the administration’s Muslim ban, which prompted members of the Frisch community to sign an open letter to Mr. Kushner imploring him “to exercise the influence and access you have to annals of power to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate as millions of our co-religionists.”

    Leah Pisar, president of the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based group that works to counter Holocaust denial, and whose late father, Samuel Pisar, escaped Auschwitz and advised John F. Kennedy, said she found it “inconceivable that Jared could stay affiliated with the administration after Pittsburgh” and called Mr. Kushner the president’s “fig leaf.”

    Those kinds of accusations are anathema to other Jews, particularly a subset of Orthodox Jews who accused liberal Jews of politicizing the Pittsburgh attack and who say that any policies that would weaken Israel are the ultimate act of anti-Semitism.
    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

    Image

    Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    “Jared and Ivanka are one of us as traditional Jews who care deeply about Israel,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York publicist whose children attend the Ramaz School, the same Upper East Side yeshiva where Mr. Kushner’s eldest daughter Arabella was once enrolled. “I look at them as part of our extended family.”

    Even some Jews who dislike Mr. Trump’s policies and recoil at his political style may feel a reluctance to criticize the country’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish couple, grappling with the age-old question that has haunted the Jewish psyche for generations: Yes, but is it good for the Jews?
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    To that end, even as liberal New York Jews suggest the couple would be snubbed when they eventually return to the city, many in the Orthodox community would likely embrace them. “They certainly won’t be banned, but I don’t think most synagogues would give them an aliyah,” said Ethan Tucker, a rabbi and president of the Hadar yeshiva in New York, referring to the relatively limited honor of being called to make a blessing before and after the reading of the Torah. (Mr. Tucker is also the stepson of Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party ticket in the U.S.) “I don’t think people generally honor people they feel were accomplices to politics and policies they abhor,” Mr. Tucker said.

    Haskel Lookstein, who serves as rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, the modern Orthodox synagogue on the Upper East Side that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump attended, wrote in an open letter to Mr. Trump that he was “deeply troubled” by the president saying “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” in response to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va.

    When reached last week to comment about the president’s daughter and son-in-law days after the Pittsburgh attack, Mr. Lookstein said simply, “I love them and that’s one of the reasons I don’t talk about them.”

    Talk to enough Jews about Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, and you begin to realize that the couple has become a sort of Rorschach test, with defenders and detractors seeing what they want to see as it relates to larger rifts about Jewish identity.

    “It’s not about Jared and Ivanka,” said Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “People look at them through the prism of their own worldviews.”
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    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
    Credit
    Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

    Image

    From left to right on front row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.CreditSebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
    Those worldviews are rapidly changing. One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.
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    As Jews retreat from membership to reform synagogues, historically made up of political liberals who were at the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights and other progressive issues, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group with which Mr. Kushner is affiliated, has become a rapidly-growing Jewish movement. The growth of Chabad correlates with fierce divisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a small but growing contingent of American Jews who prioritize Israel above any other political or social issue.

    Mr. Kushner, in particular, has become a sort of proxy for these larger schisms about faith and Israel, according to Jewish experts. “There is a great deal of anxiety around the coming of the Orthodox,” said Dr. Sarna, the Brandeis professor. “Jared in every way — his Orthodoxy, his Chabad ties, his views on Israel — symbolizes those changes.”

    Mr. Kushner is the scion of wealthy real-estate developers and his family has donated millions of dollars to the Jewish community, including through a foundation that gives to settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Kushner influenced the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy, to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and to shutter a Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a better supporter of Israel than Donald Trump and Jared plays a role in that,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kushner is currently working on a Middle East peace plan expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

    Haim Saban, an entertainment magnate and pro-Israel Democrat, is optimistic about Mr. Kushner’s efforts. He said in an interview from his hotel in Israel that although he disagrees with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, “Jared and by extension the president understand the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel on multiple levels — security, intelligence, but most of all, shared values.”
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    That embrace has only exacerbated tensions with secular Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and oppose Mr. Trump. According to a 2018 survey by the American Jewish Committee, 41 percent of Jews said they strongly disagree with Mr. Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations and 71 percent had an overall unfavorable opinion of Mr. Trump. (In response to questions for this story, a White House press aide referred reporters to an Ami magazine poll of 263 Orthodox Jews in the tristate area published in August. Eighty-two percent said they would vote for President Trump in 2020.)

    “To wave a flag and say ‘Oh, he’s obviously pro-Jewish because he moved the embassy’ just absolutely ignores what we know to be a deeply alarming rise of anti-Semitism and all sorts of dog-whistling and enabling of the alt-right,” said Andy Bachman, a prominent progressive rabbi in New York.
    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.
    Credit
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

    Image

    President Trump praying at the Western Wall.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    In September, Mr. Kushner and his top advisers, Jason D. Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, hosted a private dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Over a kosher meal, Mr. Kushner, aware of concerns within the Jewish community that Israel policy had become an overly partisan issue, fielded the advice of a range of Jewish leaders, including hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer and Mr. Saban, to craft his Middle East peace plan. “He called and said ’I’ll bring 10 Republicans and you bring 10 Democrats,’” Mr. Saban said.

    The undertaking will only bring more kvetching about Mr. Kushner. Indeed, some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent Jewish supporters have already expressed their displeasure at any deal that would require Israel to give up land.

    “I’m not happy with Jared promoting a peace deal that’s sending a message that we’re ready to ignore the horrors of the Palestinian regime,” said Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America and a friend of Republican megadonor Sheldon G. Adelson.

    “But …” Mr. Klein added, as if self-aware of how other Jews will view his position, “I am a fanatical, pro-Israel Zionist.”
    Amy Chozick is a New York-based writer-at-large and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, writing about the personalities and power struggles in business, politics and media.


  • Brazil’s new foreign minister believes climate change is a Marxist plot | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/15/brazil-foreign-minister-ernesto-araujo-climate-change-marxist-plot


    Ernesto Araujo, right, has been nominated by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, left, to be Brazil’s top diplomat. His appointment could undermine Brazil’s leading role on climate change.
    Photograph: Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

    Ernesto Araújo has called climate science ‘dogma’ and bemoaned the ‘criminalisation’ of red meat, oil and heterosexual sex

    Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has chosen a new foreign minister who believes climate change is part of a plot by “ cultural Marxists ” to stifle western economies and promote the growth of China.

    Ernesto Araújo – until recently a mid-ranking official who blogs about the “criminalisation” of red meat, oil and heterosexual sex – will become the top diplomat of South America’s biggest nation, representing 200 million people and the greatest and most biodiverse forest on Earth, the Amazon.

    His appointment, confirmed by Bolsonaro on Wednesday, is likely to send a chill through the global climate movement.


  • Europe Should Let Italy Win – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/14/europe-should-let-italy-win


    Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini attends a press conference at the Italian Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, on Oct. 23.
    Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

    #barbichette

    The current standoff between the Italian government and the European Commission in Brussels—in which Italy is pushing for greater spending resulting in a larger deficit, which the commission claims violates its rules—seems at first glance like a replay of the game of chicken that drove the Greek debt crisis in 2015. Then, like now, debt and politics were intimately intertwined, with an indebted nation trying by any means necessary to gain leverage on the eurozone institutions that have a say over its economy. On the one hand, Italy has been emphasizing its geopolitical importance, arguing that it has a critical role to play in maintaining Libya’s stability. On the other, it is sending a subtle message that, if placed under pressure, it has the power to blow up the eurozone.

    Who will flinch first? The answer will likely turn on two differences that distinguish the current case from that of Greece. […]
    […]
    It is not difficult to see how a compromise might be found in which Italy and Europe could agree on infrastructure investment financed through deficit spending, but the escalation of the political conflict means that as time passes any productive outcome becomes less and less likely. The European Union must find a solution before the politics become completely poisonous.

    On the face of it, the budget dispute, which turns on Italy’s proposal for a 2.4 percent deficit, looks puzzling. Isn’t 2.4 percent less than 3 percent, the (admittedly overly simple) deficit to GDP ratio rule stipulated in the EU’s Maastricht Treaty and its Stability and Growth Pact? In truth, the dispute is fundamentally about the link between fiscal positions and growth.
    […]
    The problem is that everyone knows that Italy’s bootstraps narrative doesn’t fully describe its motives. The importance of the budget for the Italian government goes far beyond its numbers: Its basic purpose is political. The fiscal package represents not only an overall stimulus for the Italian economy but also an attempt to tie together the two quite disparate parties in the government coalition. […]
    There is also a very obvious national, not to say nationalist, element. This is a budget designed to defy Europe and to make the point that in a democracy people should, in voting for their government, have a say over their tax rates and their fiscal regime. The budget also includes some savings, in part from reduced spending on the housing and management of migrants.


  • How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/10/how-colonial-violence-came-home-the-ugly-truth-of-the-first-world-war

    How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war

    The Harlem Hellfighters

    View of African American troops of the 369th Infantry, formerly the 15th Regiment New York Guard, and organized by Colonel Haywood, who were among the most highly decorated upon its return home, 1918. They were also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images) Photograph: Interim Archives/Getty

    The Great War is often depicted as an unexpected catastrophe. But for millions who had been living under imperialist rule, terror and degradation were nothing new. By Pankaj Mishra

    Fri 10 Nov 2017 06.00 GMT
    Last modified on Thu 30 Nov 2017 19.44 GMT

    ‘Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.

    Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.

    #congo #belgique #pgm #première_guerre_mondiale 1914-1918


  • A Nobel Prize-winning physicist sold his medal for $765,000 to pay ...
    https://diasp.eu/p/7807944

    A Nobel Prize-winning physicist sold his medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills

    Only in America. Article word count: 307

    HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18142147 Posted by pseudolus (karma: 1229) Post stats: Points: 116 - Comments: 108 - 2018-10-04T18:05:04Z

    #HackerNews #765000 #bills #for #his #medal #medical #nobel #pay #physicist #prize-winning #sold

    Article content:

    Physicist Leon Lederman sold his 2012 Nobel Prize medal to pay mounting health care bills. Amy Sussman/Getty Images for World Science Festival

    Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in 1988 for his pioneering physics research.

    But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away Wednesday, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills. The University of Chicago professor (...)


  • IMF’s New Chief Economist Is a Great Choice
    https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/view/articles/2018-10-01/gita-gopinath-is-the-right-choice-for-imf-chief-economist


    New thinking at the IMF.
    Photographer: Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

    Having followed Gita Gopinath’s work closely for several years, I am delighted the International Monetary Fund appointed her to head its influential research department as chief economist.

    Gopinath, a professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, brings expertise, insights and cognitive diversity to the IMF. Her appointment comes at an important time, as the fund seeks to evolve its thinking and practices to better reflect realities on the ground, particularly the two-way causal relationship between macroeconomic and financial issues.


  • Iran’s Tanker Fleet Gives Oil-Export Lifeline as Sanctions Loom - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-24/iran-s-tanker-fleet-gives-oil-export-lifeline-as-sanctions-loom


    An Iranian tanker docking at Kharg Island
    Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

    Iran’s own fleet of tankers may provide a lifeline for its crude and condensate exports that’ll be slashed as U.S. sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation take hold.

    As Iran’s customers give in to mounting U.S. pressure, shipments from the OPEC member may drop to under 1 million barrels a day by mid-2019, down from a daily 2.5 million this year, according to industry consultant FGE. Still, the Middle East nation’s cargoes to China in the past few weeks show how changing vessel ownership and contract terms may help it sustain flows to buyers.


  • Trump, Iran and the New Guns of August - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-07-24/trump-iran-and-the-new-guns-of-august


    Deadly pests.
    Photographer : Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

    Saudi Arabia, under the dynamic leadership of young, capable Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, is determined to stop further Persian encroachment into the Arab world. The two nations share long coastlines of the Gulf, where they have fought for centuries. And the key to the entire area is the narrow sea entrance: the 30-mile wide Strait of Hormuz.
    […]
    Unfortunately, the Iranians are far more ideological than Kim Jong Un. Kim is a gangster leader who will respond to monetary incentives; the ayatollahs are religious zealots, many of whom are willing to die to defy the Great Satan.

    Analyse géopolitique tout en finesse par James Stavridis, SACEUR de 2009 à 2013…

    On s’inquiète beaucoup pour Ormuz, mais c’est Bab el-Mandeb et Hodeidah qui chauffent en ce moment.


  • ‘Any way possible’
    https://africasacountry.com/2018/06/any-way-possible

    A Kenyan football fan reflects on a lifetime of World Cup finals.

    Image credit Laurence Griffiths via Getty Images.

    1986 World Cup Finals I was only 4 years old during the 1986 World Cup finals. I don’t have many memories of this particular World Cup except my dad and my uncle’s animated conversations about the infamous “hand of god” goal by Maradona. My father, a very idealistic young university graduate, had moved with my mother to a rural high school in western Kenya, where he taught history to high school students. My mother taught English. They brought a 14-inch black and white television that would turn our house into a major community sports center during World Cup finals. I would later learn from my father that ours was the only (...)


  • Behind the Messy, Expensive Split Between Facebook and WhatsApp’s Founders

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/behind-the-messy-expensive-split-between-facebook-and-whatsapps-founders-152820

    After a long dispute over how to produce more revenue with ads and data, the messaging app’s creators are walking away leaving about $1.3 billion on the table​
    By Kirsten Grind and
    Deepa Seetharaman
    June 5, 2018 10:24 a.m. ET

    How ugly was the breakup between Facebook Inc. FB 0.49% and the two founders of WhatsApp, its biggest acquisition? The creators of the popular messaging service are walking away leaving about $1.3 billion on the table.

    The expensive exit caps a long-simmering dispute about how to wring more revenue out of WhatsApp, according to people familiar with the matter. Facebook has remained committed to its ad-based business model amid criticism, even as Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has had to defend the company before American and European lawmakers.

    The WhatsApp duo of Jan Koum and Brian Acton had persistent disagreements in recent years with Mr. Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who grew impatient for a greater return on the company’s 2014 blockbuster $22 billion purchase of the messaging app, according to the people.

    Many of the disputes with Facebook involved how to manage data privacy while also making money from WhatsApp’s large user base, including through the targeted ads that WhatsApp’s founders had long opposed. In the past couple of years especially, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg pushed the WhatsApp founders to be more flexible on those issues and move faster on other plans to generate revenue, the people say.

    Once, after Mr. Koum said he “didn’t have enough people” to implement a project, Mr. Zuckerberg dismissed him with, “I have all the people you need,” according to one person familiar with the conversation.
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified about privacy issues and the use of user data before a Senate committee in April.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified about privacy issues and the use of user data before a Senate committee in April. Photo: Alex Brandon/Press Pool

    WhatsApp was an incongruous fit within Facebook from the beginning. Messrs. Acton and Koum are true believers on privacy issues and have shown disdain for the potential commercial applications of the service.

    Facebook, on the other hand, has built a sprawling, lucrative advertising business that shows ads to users based on data gathered about their activities. Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have touted how an advertising-supported product makes it free for consumers and helps bridge the digital divide.

    When Facebook bought WhatsApp, it never publicly addressed how the divergent philosophies would coexist. But Mr. Zuckerberg told stock analysts that he and Mr. Koum agreed that advertising wasn’t the right way to make money from messaging apps. Mr. Zuckerberg also said he promised the co-founders the autonomy to build their own products. The sale to Facebook made the app founders both multibillionaires.

    Over time, each side grew frustrated with the other, according to people in both camps. Mr. Koum announced April 30 he would leave, and Mr. Acton resigned last September.
    Big Bet
    Facebook paid substantially more for WhatsApp than any other deal.

    Facebook’s five largest deals*

    WhatsApp (2014)

    $21.94 billion

    Oculus VR (2014)

    $2.30 billion

    Instagram (2012)

    $736 million

    Microsoft† (2012)

    $550 million

    Onavo (2013)

    $120 million

    *price at close of deal †approximately 615 AOL patents and patent applications

    Source: Dealogic

    The WhatsApp co-founders didn’t confront Mr. Zuckerberg at their departures about their disagreements over where to take the business, but had concluded they were fighting a losing battle and wanted to preserve their relationship with the Facebook executive, people familiar with the matter said. One person familiar with the relationships described the environment as “very passive-aggressive.”

    Small cultural disagreements between the two staffs also popped up, involving issues such as noise around the office and the size of WhatsApp’s desks and bathrooms, that took on greater significance as the split between the parent company and its acquisition persisted.

    The discord broke into public view in a March tweet by Mr. Acton. During the height of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, in which the research firm was accused of misusing Facebook user data to aid the Trump campaign, Mr. Acton posted that he planned to delete his Facebook account.

    Within Facebook, some executives were surprised to see Mr. Acton publicly bash the company since he didn’t seem to leave on bad terms, according to people familiar with the matter. When Mr. Acton later visited Facebook’s headquarters, David Marcus, an executive who ran Facebook’s other chat app, Messenger, confronted his former colleague. “That was low class,” Mr. Marcus said, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Acton shrugged it off. Mr. Marcus declined to comment.
    Staff at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Small cultural disagreements between Facebook and WhatsApp staffs, involving issues such as noise, size of desks and bathrooms, created friction.

    Staff at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Small cultural disagreements between Facebook and WhatsApp staffs, involving issues such as noise, size of desks and bathrooms, created friction. Photo: Kim Kulish/Corbis/Getty Images

    The posts also prompted an angry call from Ms. Sandberg to Mr. Koum, who assured her that Mr. Acton didn’t mean any harm, according to a person familiar with the call.

    When Mr. Acton departed Facebook, he forfeited about $900 million in potential stock awards, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Koum is expected to officially depart in mid-August, in which case he would leave behind more than two million unvested shares worth about $400 million at Facebook’s current stock price. Both men would have received all their remaining shares had they stayed until this November, when their contracts end.

    The amount the two executives are leaving in unvested shares hasn’t been reported, nor have the full extent of the details around their disagreements with Facebook over the years.

    “Jan has done an amazing job building WhatsApp. He has been a tireless advocate for privacy and encryption,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in May at the company’s developer conference about Mr. Koum’s departure. He added he was proud that Facebook helped WhatsApp launch end-to-end encryption a couple of years after the acquisition.

    In many ways, Facebook and WhatsApp couldn’t have been more different. Facebook from its beginning in 2004 leveraged access to user information to sell targeted advertising that would be displayed as people browsed their news feeds. That business model has been hugely successful, driving Facebook’s market value past half a trillion dollars, with advertising accounting for 97% of the firm’s revenue.
    A sign in WhatsApp’s offices at Facebook headquarters. Some Facebook employees mocked WhatsApp with chants of ‘Welcome to WhatsApp—Shut up!’

    A sign in WhatsApp’s offices at Facebook headquarters. Some Facebook employees mocked WhatsApp with chants of ‘Welcome to WhatsApp—Shut up!’

    It is also the antithesis of what WhatsApp professed to stand for. Mr. Koum, a San Jose State University dropout, grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine, where the government could track communication, and talked frequently about his commitment to privacy.

    Mr. Koum, 42, and Mr. Acton, 46, became friends while working as engineers at Yahoo Inc., one of the first big tech companies to embrace digital advertising. The experience was jarring for both men, who came to regard display ads as garish, ruining the user experience and allowing advertisers to collect all kinds of data on unsuspecting individuals.

    WhatsApp, which launched in 2009, was designed to be simple and secure. Messages were immediately deleted from its servers once sent. It charged some users 99 cents annually after one free year and carried no ads. In a 2012 blog post the co-founders wrote, “We wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse” and called ads “insults to your intelligence.”

    Text MeWorld-wide monthly active users for popularmessaging apps, in billions.Source: the companiesNote: *Across four main markets; iMessage, Google Hangoutsand Signal don’t disclose number of users.

    WhatsAppFacebookMessengerWeChatTelegramLine*00.511.52

    The men are also close personal friends, bonding over ultimate Frisbee, despite political differences. Mr. Koum, unlike Mr. Acton, has publicly expressed support for Donald Trump.

    When Facebook bought WhatsApp in February 2014, the messaging service was growing rapidly and had already amassed 450 million monthly users, making it more popular than Twitter Inc., which had 240 million monthly users at the time and was valued at $30 billion. WhatsApp currently has 1.5 billion users.

    The deal still ranks as the largest-ever purchase of a company backed by venture capital, and it was almost 10 times costlier than Facebook’s next most expensive acquisition.

    Mr. Zuckerberg assured Messrs. Koum and Acton at the time that he wouldn’t place advertising in the messaging service, according to a person familiar with the matter. Messrs. Koum and Acton also negotiated an unusual clause in their contracts that said if Facebook insisted on making any “additional monetization initiatives” such as advertising in the app, it could give the executives “good reason” to leave and cause an acceleration of stock awards that hadn’t vested, according to a nonpublic portion of the companies’ merger agreement reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The provision only kicks in if a co-founder is still employed by Facebook when the company launches advertising or another moneymaking strategy.

    Mr. Acton initiated the clause in his contract allowing for early vesting of his shares. But Facebook’s legal team threatened a fight, so Mr. Acton, already worth more than $3 billion, left it alone, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Some analysts in the tech community said a clash was inevitable. Nate Elliott, principal of Nineteen Insights, a research and advisory firm focused on digital marketing and social media, said the WhatsApp founders are “pretty naive” for believing that Facebook wouldn’t ultimately find some way to make money from the deal, such as with advertising. “Facebook is a business, not a charity,” he said.

    At the time of the sale, WhatsApp was profitable with fee revenue, although it is unclear by how much. Facebook doesn’t break out financial information for WhatsApp.
    David Marcus, vice president of messaging products for Facebook, spoke during the company’s F8 Developers Conference in San Jose on May 1.

    David Marcus, vice president of messaging products for Facebook, spoke during the company’s F8 Developers Conference in San Jose on May 1. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

    Facebook’s hands-off stance changed around 2016. WhatsApp topped one billion monthly users, and it had eliminated its 99 cent fee. Facebook told investors it would stop increasing the number of ads in Facebook’s news feed, resulting in slower advertising-revenue growth. This put pressure on Facebook’s other properties—including WhatsApp—to make money.

    That August, WhatsApp announced it would start sharing phone numbers and other user data with Facebook, straying from its earlier promise to be built “around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible.”

    With Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg pushing to integrate it into the larger company, WhatsApp moved its offices in January 2017 from Mountain View, Calif., to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters about 20 minutes away. Facebook tried to make it welcoming, decorating the Building 10 office in WhatsApp’s green color scheme.

    WhatsApp’s roughly 200 employees at the time remained mostly segregated from the rest of Facebook. Some of the employees were turned off by Facebook’s campus, a bustling collection of restaurants, ice cream shops and services built to mirror Disneyland.

    Some Facebook staffers considered the WhatsApp unit a mystery and sometimes poked fun at it. After WhatsApp employees hung up posters over the walls instructing hallway passersby to “please keep noise to a minimum,” some Facebook employees mocked them with chants of “Welcome to WhatsApp—Shut up!” according to people familiar with the matter.

    Some employees even took issue with WhatsApp’s desks, which were a holdover from the Mountain View location and larger than the standard desks in the Facebook offices. WhatsApp also negotiated for nicer bathrooms, with doors that reach the floor. WhatsApp conference rooms were off-limits to other Facebook employees.

    “These little ticky-tacky things add up in a company that prides itself on egalitarianism,” said one Facebook employee.

    Mr. Koum chafed at the constraints of working at a big company, sometimes quibbling with Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives over small details such as the chairs Facebook wanted WhatsApp to purchase, a person familiar with the matter said.

    In response to the pressure from above to make money, Messrs. Koum and Acton proposed several ideas to bring in more revenue. One, known as “re-engagement messaging,” would let advertisers contact only users who had already been their customers. Last year, WhatsApp said it would charge companies for some future features that connect them with customers over the app.

    None of the proposals were as lucrative as Facebook’s ad-based model. “Well, that doesn’t scale,” Ms. Sandberg told the WhatsApp executives of their proposals, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ms. Sandberg wanted the WhatsApp leadership to pursue advertising alongside other revenue models, another person familiar with her thinking said.

    Ms. Sandberg, 48, and Mr. Zuckerberg, 34, frequently brought up their purchase of the photo-streaming app Instagram as a way to persuade Messrs. Koum and Acton to allow advertising into WhatsApp. Facebook in 2012 purchased Instagram, and the app’s founders initially tried their own advertising platform rather than Facebook’s. When Instagram fell short of its revenue targets in its first few quarters, Facebook leadership pushed the founders to adopt its targeted advertising model, and the transition was relatively seamless, according to current and former employees. Today, analysts estimate that Instagram is a key driver of Facebook’s revenue, and its founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, remain with the company. The men didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    “It worked for Instagram,” Ms. Sandberg told the WhatsApp executives on at least one occasion, according to one person familiar with the matter.
    Attendees used Oculus Go VR headsets during Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference.

    Attendees used Oculus Go VR headsets during Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Other high-profile acquisitions such as developer platform Parse, ad tech platform LiveRail and virtual-reality company Oculus VR have fallen short of expectations, people familiar with those deals say.

    The senior Facebook executives appeared to grow frustrated by the WhatsApp duo’s reasons to delay plans that would help monetize the service. Mr. Zuckerberg wanted WhatsApp executives to add more “special features” to the app, whereas Messrs. Koum and Acton liked its original simplicity.

    Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg also wanted Messrs. Koum and Acton to loosen their stance on encryption to allow more “business flexibility,” according to one person familiar with the matter. One idea was to create a special channel between companies and users on WhatsApp to deal with issues such as customer-service requests, people familiar with the matter said. That setup would let companies appoint employees or bots to field inquiries from users and potentially store those messages in a decrypted state later on.

    Last summer, Facebook executives discussed plans to start placing ads in WhatsApp’s “Status” feature, which allows users to post photo- and video-montages that last 24 hours. Similar features exist across Facebook’s services, including on Instagram, but WhatsApp’s version is now the most popular with 450 million users as of May.

    Mr. Acton—described by one former WhatsApp employee as the “moral compass” of the team—decided to leave as the discussions to place ads in Status picked up. Mr. Koum, who also sat on Facebook’s board, tried to persuade him to stay longer.

    Mr. Koum remained another eight months, before announcing in a Facebook post that he is “taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate Frisbee.” Mr. Koum is worth about $9 billion, according to Forbes.

    The next day, Mr. Koum said goodbye to WhatsApp and Facebook employees at an all-hands meeting in Menlo Park. An employee asked him about WhatsApp’s plans for advertising.

    Mr. Koum responded by first alluding to his well-documented antipathy for ads, according to people familiar with his remarks. But Mr. Koum added that if ads were to happen, placing them in Status would be the least intrusive way of doing so, according to the people.

    Some people who heard the remarks interpreted them as Mr. Koum saying he had made peace with the idea of advertising in WhatsApp.

    In his absence, WhatsApp will be run by Chris Daniels, a longtime Facebook executive who is tasked with finding a business model that brings in revenue at a level to justify the app’s purchase price, without damaging the features that make it so popular.

    Among WhatsApp’s competitors is Signal, an encrypted messaging app run by a nonprofit called the Signal Foundation and dedicated to secure communication, with strict privacy controls and without advertising. Mr. Acton donated $50 million to fund the foundation and serves as its executive chairman.

    Corrections & Amplifications
    Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion monthly users. An earlier version of a chart in this article incorrectly said it had 2.13 billion users. (June 5, 2018)

    Write to Kirsten Grind at kirsten.grind@wsj.com and Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

    #Facebook #Whatsapp


  • Back pain: how to live with one of the world’s biggest health problems | Society | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/14/back-pain-how-to-live-with-one-of-the-worlds-biggest-health-problems

    This month, the Lancet published a series of three papers written by a large, international group of experts who came together to raise awareness of the extent of the problem of low back pain and the evidence for recommended treatments. The authors were scathing about the widespread use of “inappropriate tests” and “unnecessary, ineffective and harmful treatments”.

    The papers tell us low back pain is an “extremely common symptom, experienced by people of all ages”, although it peaks in mid-life and is more common in women than in men. There are 540 million people affected globally at any one time and it is the main cause of disability worldwide.

    The six-year investigation that began as an attempt to find relief from her own pain and ended up exposing an exploitative, corrupt and evidence-free $100bn industry, is fittingly described in the title of her book: Crooked.

    The camera lies … MRI scans show up disc degeneration but unfortunately most people will have some. Photograph: HadelProductions/Getty Images

    The proliferation of unnecessary and risky interventions has been far worse in the US, with its insurance-based healthcare system, than in the NHS. But the UK is far from immune. When a healthcare system functions as a marketplace, there will inevitably be incentives for certain treatments to be pursued over others, for services that can generate a surplus. It is a struggle for patients and clinicians everywhere to resist pain medication that is incredibly effective in the short term, even if it is incredibly harmful in the long term.

    “Nearly everybody gets back pain at some point in their life,” says Martin Underwood, co-author of the Lancet series, a GP and a professor at Warwick Medical School. “For most people, it’s a short-term episode that will resolve over a period of days or weeks, without the need for any specific treatment. They catch or twist or stretch something, and it’s awful, and then it gets better.” Of those who experience a new episode of back pain, under 1% will have serious causes that need specific treatment for issues such as cancer in the spine, a fracture, diseases or infection, he says. But there is another group, in which, “after the natural period of healing – normally six weeks for most things – people go on to get pain lasting months and years, which can be very disabling, even though the original cause of the pain is no longer there. We would label this as nonspecific low back pain, simply because we don’t know what is causing the pain.”

    “At best, these spine surgeons define success as a 38% improvement in pain and function,” says Ramin, “but if a hip or a knee surgeon had a 38% success rate, that physician would no longer do that surgery. And 38%? I think that’s really optimistic.” In her book, she describes the scandal of the Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, California, which carried out more than 5,000 spinal fusion surgeries. “Surgeries were being performed on large numbers of patients who were often immigrants – Spanish-speaking labourers – and being billed to workers’ compensation insurance or public health insurance. Could you do worse than butcher these Latino field workers who don’t understand what’s happening to them, but are being told they can get free medical care?”

    We like to think that this could never happen in the UK, and Underwood admits there is a huge difference between the two healthcare systems. “Most spinal surgeons in the UK will avoid operating for nonspecific low back pain because they’re aware of all these problems,” he says. “But there is still pressure from patients for something to make them better, and some people are still getting operated on. My advice for anybody is: don’t have surgery for back pain unless there is a clear, specific indication.”

    When I ask Underwood what works, he tells me: “Whatever you do for a patient at a time when their back is really bad, the chances are they’re going to be a lot better three weeks later. So we treat people and we see them getting better and we ascribe their improvement to the treatment we’ve given, but we know that natural improvement over time is always much larger than the positive effect you get from the treatment.” The evidence is strongest for therapist-delivered interventions such as the cognitive behavioural approach, based on the same principles as CBT, exercise treatment and physiotherapy. He has also worked on a trial that showed training physiotherapists to deliver the cognitive behavioural approach in a group, combining movement and reassurance about movement, is helpful to patients and could be delivered in the NHS at low cost.

    #Mal_de_dos #Opioides #Médecine


  • Disinformation Wars – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/25/disinformation-wars


    An activist protests in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels, on May 22.
    John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

    Russian disinformation has become a problem for European governments. In the last two years, Kremlin-backed campaigns have spread false stories alleging that French President Emmanuel Macron was backed by the “gay lobby,” fabricated a story of a Russian-German girl raped by Arab migrants, and spread a litany of conspiracy theories about the Catalan independence referendum, among other efforts.

    Europe is finally taking action. In January, Germany’s Network Enforcement Act came into effect. Designed to limit hate speech and #fake_news online, the law prompted both France and Spain to consider counterdisinformation legislation of their own. More important, in April the European Union unveiled a new strategy for tackling online disinformation. The EU plan focuses on several sensible responses: promoting media literacy, funding a third-party fact-checking service, and pushing Facebook and others to highlight news from credible media outlets, among others. Although the plan itself stops short of regulation, EU officials have not been shy about hinting that regulation may be forthcoming. Indeed, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared at an EU hearing this week, lawmakers reminded him of their regulatory power after he appeared to dodge their questions on fake news and extremist content.

    The recent European actions are important first steps. Ultimately, none of the laws or strategies that have been unveiled so far will be enough. The problem is that technology advances far more quickly than government policies.The problem is that technology advances far more quickly than government policies. The EU’s measures are still designed to target the disinformation of yesterday rather than that of tomorrow.
    […]
    For example, stories from RT and Sputnik — the Russian government’s propaganda outlets — appeared on the first page of Google searches after the March nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom and the April chemical weapons attack in Syria. Similarly, YouTube (which is owned by Google) has an algorithm that prioritizes the amount of time users spend watching content as the key metric for determining which content appears first in search results. This algorithmic preference results in false, extremist, and unreliable information appearing at the top, which in turn means that this content is viewed more often and is perceived as more reliable by users. Revenue for the SEO manipulation industry is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

    #deep_fake

    Le mot de la #Brookings_Institution sur les (gros) investissements à faire pour lutter contre la #désinformation.

    Celle des Russes, en tous cas.


  • Why the West Needs #Azerbaijan – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/28/why-the-west-needs-azerbaijan


    Teenagers from a boxing school take part in a training session in the Caspian Sea near Soviet oil rigs in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on June 27, 2015.
    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

    There are only three ways for energy and trade to flow overland between Asia and Europe: through Iran, through Russia, and through Azerbaijan. With relations between the West, Moscow, and Tehran in tatters, that leaves onlyone viable route for hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of trade: through the tiny Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan.

    When you factor in Armenia’s occupation of almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory, all that is left is a narrow 60-mile-wide chokepoint for trade. We call this trade chokepoint the " #Ganja_Gap ” — named after Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja, which sits in the middle of this narrow passage. And right now, the Russians hold enough influence over Azerbaijan’s rival neighbor Armenia to potentially reignite the bloody #Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of the late 1980s and early 1990s — giving them a dangerous opportunity to threaten the “Gap” itself.
    […]
    It is not just oil and gas pipelines that connect Europe with the heart of Asia. Fiber-optic cables linking Western Europe with the Caspian region also pass through the Ganja Gap. The second-longest European motorway, the E60, which connects Brest, France, on the Atlantic coast with Irkeshtam, Kyrgyzstan, on the Chinese border, passes through the city of Ganja, as does the east-west rail link in the South Caucasus, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. These are set to become potentially vital connections.

    The ongoing campaign in Afghanistan has also proven how important the Ganja Gap is for resupplying U.S. and NATO troops. At the peak of the war, more than one-third of U.S. nonlethal military supplies such as fuel, food, and clothing passed through the Ganja Gap either overland or in the air.


  • Putin’s War on Women – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/09/putins-war-on-women


    Women protest a bill decriminalizing domestic violence in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park in February 2017.
    Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images

    нет домашнему насилию
    заплати и колоти ?

    Non à la violence domestique
    –Cogner et payer ?_

    When Russia decriminalized domestic violence in February 2017, civil servants tasked with protecting women in the country’s far east were dismayed by the new vulnerability of their wards. Yet few officials opposed the measure. President Vladimir Putin signed off on the bill after the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, overwhelmingly approved it by a vote of 380 to 3. The new law recategorized the crime of violence against family members: Abuse that does not result in broken bones, and does not occur more than once a year, is no longer punishable by long prison sentences. The worst sanctions that abusers now face are fines of up to $530, 10- to 15-day stints in jail, or community service work. That’s if the courts side with the victim. They rarely do.


  • Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth - Facts So Romantic
    http://nautil.us/blog/-mining-in-space-could-lead-to-conflicts-on-earth

    Platinum-group metals in space may serve the same role as oil has on Earth, threatening to extend geopolitical struggles into astropolitical ones, something Trump is keen on preparing for. Yesterday he said he’s seriously weighing the idea of a “Space Force” military branch.Illustration by Maciej Frolow / Getty Images Space mining is no longer science fiction. By the 2020s, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries—for-profit space-mining companies cooperating with NASA—will be sending out swarms of tiny satellites to assess the composition of hurtling hunks of cosmic debris, identify the most lucrative ones, and harvest them. They’ve already developed prototype spacecraft to do the job. Some people—like Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Sara Seager, former NASA (...)


  • Nikki Haley’s Loyalty Test Backfires – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/30/nikki-haleys-loyalty-test-backfires


    U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelming to reject President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 21, 2017 in New York City.
    Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The U.S. ambassador’s threat to punish states for voting against the U.S. at the U.N. didn’t work out so well.

    In her first day on the job, Nikki Haley issued a stern warning to her U.N. colleagues from the lobby of U.N. headquarters: back American initiatives at Turtle Bay or face unspecified consequences. There was a new sheriff in town, Haley made clear, and she “would be taking names” of those who crossed the United States.

    The combative phrase, which Haley has used time and again to underscore Washington’s expectation of loyalty, reflects a deeply held view by President Donald Trump and his U.N. envoy that the United States is not shown the respect it deserves as the organization’s biggest financial backer. But Haley’s strategy has failed to broaden support for American positions at the U.N.

    In her first year as U.S. ambassador, the U.S. has lost support in the United Nations, with only 31 percent of States voting alongside the United States on controversial resolutions before the U.N. General Assembly, the lowest number since 2008, when states voted 25 percent of the time alongside President George W. Bush’s administration. During the final year of the Obama administration’s states voted with the United States 41 percent of the time, according to a recently published State Department report on U.N. voting practices.

    The voting outcome raises questions about the effectiveness of Washington’s use of threats to secure international backing for its policies. But Haley has not chosen to hide from that record. On the contrary, Haley has embraced it, highlighting the gap to justify the need for more punishment.

    We care more about being right than popular,” Haley said in a statement issued last week. “President Trump wants to ensure that our foreign assistance dollars – the most generous in the world – always serve American interests, and we look forward to helping him see that the American people are no longer taken for granted.


  • In one German town, 1,000 people killed themselves in 72 hours
    https://timeline.com/demmin-nazi-mass-suicide-44c6caf76727

    By April of 1945, both sides knew who was going to lose the Second World War. The Nazis could no longer hold back the enemy, and those active Allies — largely American, British, and Soviet troops — enjoyed a constellation of victories across the face of the soon-to-be defeated Third Reich. These soldiers took over towns, liberated prisoners, and in the case of the Red Army often terrorized civilians.

    In the face of this prospect, thousands of Germans chose suicide over occupation. Not only was this a preferred method among high-ranking officials like Himmler, Goebbels, and Hitler — selbstmord (meaning “self-murder” in German)—was the avenue taken by many civilians as well. And perhaps there is no example of this more stark than what happened in the German city of Demmin in the days between April 30th and May 2nd, 1945.


  • Commonwealth leaders could choose next head after Queen this week | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/17/commonwealth-leaders-choose-next-head-after-queen-this-week

    Commonwealth leaders could decide this week on who takes over from the Queen as head of the organisation, Downing Street has said.

    The news came as Theresa May prepared to address her fellow national leaders on Tuesday. The prime minister is expected to urge the Commonwealth to engage and inspire the next generation, and to pledge £212m to help a million girls get a better education.

    She also made clear the UK backed Prince Charles to be the new head of the Commonwealth. The position was passed from his grandfather to his mother but is not hereditary.

    May’s spokesman said Charles had proven a “proud supporter of the Commonwealth for four decades and has spoken passionately about the organisation’s unique diversity”.

    No 10 said: “Succession is a matter for the Commonwealth as a whole to determine. If any discussion did take place it would happen at the leaders’ retreat at Windsor on Friday. Decisions in the Commonwealth are made by consensus.

    Commonwealth leaders are gathering in London for an executive session on Thursday, before a retreat at the castle.

    The organisation’s secretary general, Patricia Scotland, said the retreat was a chance for the leaders to talk one to one without outside interference.

    On the retreat, the 53 leaders get to go away together with no agenda and just talk about all the things that they desire to talk about. That enables them to deal with some quite tricky, sensitive issues, but collectively, collegiately and as part of the family,” she said.

    Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had suggested on BBC television on Sunday that the figurehead role could go to a rotating president. “The Queen clearly is personally very committed to the Commonwealth but after her I think maybe it’s a time to say, well, actually the Commonwealth should decide who its own president is on a rotational basis.

    Queen Elizabeth, who is 91, has been the symbolic head of the Commonwealth since 1952. Charles is heir to the throne in 16 of the 53 Commonwealth member states, which are chiefly territories that used to be part of the former British empire.

    In her speech on Tuesday, May is expected to warn that a failure to engage and inspire the next generation will see the Commonwealth dismissed as “an irrelevance”. She will say she is “confident about our chances of success” in building a “bright future” for the organisation.

    In front of an audience expected to include the Microsoft founder, philanthropist and anti-malaria campaigner Bill Gates, May is expected to pledge the money towards making sure children living in developing Commonwealth countries receive 12 years of quality education. She will also call on leaders to commit to halving levels of malaria by 2023.

    • Le prince Charles prendra la succession d’Élisabeth II à la tête du Commonwealth | ICI.Radio-Canada.ca
      https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1096330/prince-charles-succession-reine-elisabeth-elizabeth-tete-commonweal


      La reine Élisabeth II et le prince Charles ont assisté à l’ouverture officielle du sommet des dirigeants du Commonwealth, jeudi, au palais de Buckingham.
      Getty Images/WPA Pool

      Aujourd’hui âgée de 92 ans, la reine Élisabeth II avait déjà exprimé le vœu de voir un jour le prince Charles lui succéder dans ce rôle, symbolique et non héréditaire. Elle avait pris la tête de l’organisation regroupant les anciennes colonies britanniques à la mort de son père, le roi George VI, en 1952.

      Les dirigeants du Commonwealth ont discuté de la question lors d’une rencontre qui s’est tenue derrière des portes closes, vendredi, au Château de Windsor.

      Cette fonction ne serait pas revenue automatiquement au prince de Galles ; certains proposaient qu’elle soit attribuée en alternance parmi les 53 leaders du Commonwealth.

      Toutefois, ces derniers se sont entendus sur la nomination du prince Charles, selon le correspondant diplomatique de la BBC, James Landale. L’annonce officielle devrait survenir à la fin de la rencontre, selon la BBC.


  • Haley: Vote With U.S. at U.N. or We’ll Cut Your Aid – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/15/haley-vote-with-u-s-at-u-n-or-well-cut-your-aid


    Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., tours a U.S.-funded supermarket in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan on May 21, 2017.
    Raad Adayleh/AFP/Getty Images

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is proposing a sweeping reassessment of U.S. foreign assistance with a view to punishing dozens of poor countries that vote against U.S. policies at the U.N., according to a confidential internal memo drafted by her staff.

    The move to make foreign aid conditional on political support follows a U.S. decision to cut tens of millions of dollars in assistance to Palestinian refugees, a cut made in retaliation for Palestine’s sponsorship of U.N. resolutions denouncing U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Haley now wants to apply a similar principle to decisions about aid to other needy countries.



  • VENITMIGLIA, IMPERIA, ITALY - 2017/12/14
    Lines from a poem by famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish is plastered on the walls of an underpass that offers shelter to well over a hundred migrants and refugees in Ventimiglia, Italy. Refugees and migrants stay here in between attempts to cross into France, which is just a few kilometres away. Italy is a country hit hard by the European refugee/migrant crisis. Unlike Greece where most of the migrants are from the war torn middle east, most of the migrants in Italy are from African nations heading to Europe for economical reasons.(Photo by John Owens/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


  • Egypt’s President Sisi Touts Megaprojects Ahead of March Vote

    – WSJ
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/egypts-president-sisi-touts-megaprojects-ahead-of-march-vote-1518431400

    By Jared Malsin
    Feb. 12, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET

    CAIRO—For decades Egypt’s presidents, like the pharaohs before them, have used vast infrastructure projects to inspire a sense of national achievement and economic might. But no modern leader has claimed to launch so many in so short a time as current President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, however meager their actual impact.

    Since the former general came to power following a military coup in 2013, he has decreed the expansion of Egypt’s Suez Canal, ordered a second capital city be built next to Cairo, and initiated a scheme to reclaim more than a million acres of empty desert land. In December, he approved a deal with a Russian state-owned firm to build a $21 billion nuclear plant.

    Ahead of an election in March, Mr. Sisi is now again touting his role in launching massive military-led projects. When he launched his re-electioncampaign last month, he claimed the government had completed 11,000 “national projects” in his brief tenure. That number proved hyperbolic, but even the president’s landmark infrastructure initiatives have done little to defuse the economic discontent that was a key source of political upheaval seven years ago during the Arab Spring.

    Mr. Sisi, second from right, looking last month at mockups of natural-gas-extraction facilities in the northern Suez canal city of Port Said. PHOTO: HANDOUT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
    “This is not investment money. This is political money,” said Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt at King’s College, London. “The long-term consequences of this are very negative for the economy. You think of the waste of resources at a time when the country is in desperate need.”

    Mr. Sisi’s embrace of big but dubious projects won’t cost him the election—Egypt’s security forces have jailed or otherwise sidelined his only credible opponents. But even officials involved in the initiatives say they are designed to create the appearance, rather than the reality, of an economic recovery following the turmoil of Egypt’s 2011 uprising that ended three decades of rule by President Hosni Mubarak.

    Mr. Sisi’s government unveiled the $8 billion “New Suez Canal” in 2015, hailing it as a symbol of national rebirth and Egypt’s “gift to the world.” In a lavish ceremony on the banks of the channel, jet fighters roared past rows of visiting dignitaries alongside the channel now expanded to allow two-way traffic and vastly reduce wait times. The president sailed to the event wearing full military regalia and sunglasses.

    The project’s dividends haven’t matched the hype. In 2015, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Adm. Mohab Mamish, said the expansion would more than double revenue from the channel, from about $5 billion a year then to more than $13 billion by 2023.

    Today, income from the canal remains largely unchanged from 2015 levels. Even then, the Canal Authority’s public claims were contradicted by a never-released internal government study that predicted a decidedly modest 4.8% rate of return on investment for individual Egyptians who bought certificates to finance the project, according to Ahmed Darwish, the former head of the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

    “There were many reasons for that project to be done. It’s not only about the revenue. It came at a time when the president needed to bring back confidence to the Egyptian people,” he said. “The idea of ‘yes we can’ was very important.”

    –– ADVERTISEMENT ––



  • Sanctions-Proof Oil Rig Thwarts U.S. Policy From Cuba to Russia - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-19/sanctions-proof-oil-rig-thwarts-u-s-policy-from-cuba-to-russia


    The Scarabeo 9 platform
    Photographer: Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Getty Images

    The oil rig was built mostly in China and drilled its first well in Cuba. Now it’s delivering a victory for Russia in its fight against U.S. sanctions. 

    Italian oil giant Eni SpA and Russia’s state-controlled Rosneft PJSC are using the Scarabeo 9 ultra-deepwater rig to drill in water more than 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) deep in the Black Sea. It’s the first well drilled by a western company at a Russian oil project that falls squarely under U.S. sanctions imposed on the sector in 2014.

    For Vladimir Putin, it’s a second energy-sector victory in a little over a week after the $27 billion Yamal liquefied natural gas project started shipping cargoes despite U.S. sanctions against its controlling shareholder.

    It is important not because of the size, but from a geopolitical perspective it is key,” said Alejandro Demichelis, director at boutique investment bank Hannam & Partners. “Eni and the Italians in general have been closer to Russia than they have been to the U.S., at least in terms of oil and gas. They have always been on Putin’s side to solve problems.
    […]
    The Scarabeo 9 is one of the very few units in the industry which is using a technology which is not an American one,” Saipem’s then CEO Pietro Franco Tali told investors before its maiden voyage to Cuba.


  • FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules, a milestone for Republican deregulation push - LA Times
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-net-neutrality-fcc-20171214-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter
    http://www.trbimg.com/img-5a33280f/turbine/la-fi-net-neutrality-fcc-20171214

    “As a result of today’s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new powers,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-member FCC who voted against the repeal.

    “They will have the power to block websites, the power to throttle services and the power to censor online content,” she said. “They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have a pay-for-play arrangement and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road.”
    Protestors Rally At FCC Against Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules
    Demonstrators rally outside the Federal Communication Commission building Thursday to protest the repeal of net nutrality rules. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

    The FCC’s net neutrality rules prohibited AT&T Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other broadband and wireless internet service providers from selling faster delivery of certain data, slowing speeds for specific video streams and other content, and blocking or otherwise discriminating against any legal online material.

    To enforce the rules, the FCC classified broadband as a more highly regulated utility-like service under Title 2 of federal telecommunications law.

    Telecom companies praised the repeal, while saying they are committed to the principles of net neutrality and have no plans to change their practices.

    The FCC vote “does not mark the ‘end of the Internet as we know it;’ rather it heralds in a new era of light regulation that will benefit consumers,” said David L. Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president.

    But the companies have hedged on whether they would start charging additional fees to transport video streams or other content at a higher speed through their network in a practice known as paid prioritization.

    Pai has said paid prioritization could accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles and home health monitoring, which would need reliably fast service.

    But net neutrality supporters worry telecom companies will set up toll lanes on the internet, cutting deals with some websites to deliver their content faster and squeezing out start-ups and small companies that lack the money to pay for faster service.

    #Neutralité_internet


  • In the Arctic, at Least, Diplomacy Works - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-08/in-the-arctic-at-least-diplomacy-works


    OK, you can fish.
    Photographer: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

    Amid resurgent nationalism and talk of nuclear war, it’s been a rough year for global diplomacy. So a 10-party agreement to protect the waters of the planet’s far north qualifies as a minor miracle.

    For the next 16 years, commercial fishing will be prohibited in the central Arctic, a Mediterranean-sized patch of icy ocean more than 200 nautical miles from any nation’s coastline. This will give scientists time to study whether fishing might safely be allowed there. The goal is to avoid the overfishing that has depleted fish populations in other parts of the world — pollock in the Bering Strait, for instance, or krill in the Antarctic Ocean.

    Until recently, ice made commercial fishing impossible in the central Arctic. But global warming has changed things. The ice now melts enough in summer to expose as much as 40 percent of the water. 

    The parties to the new agreement include countries with extensive Arctic coastlines (Russia, Canada), and major fishing industries (South Korea, China, Japan), as well as the United States and the European Union. They will next establish a polar research program so that scientists from around the world can survey the hundreds of species living in the central Arctic — as well as those drawn to the region’s warming waters — and learn how their food webs operate. 

    That this work will be done in international waters before any fishing trawlers arrive is unprecedented. That so many countries could reach such a sensible, ecologically sound agreement shows what people can achieve when they’re prepared to cooperate.