country:australia

  • 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.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/view-from-nowhere.php
    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • #Globalisation is dead and we need to invent a new world order - Open Future
    https://www.economist.com/open-future/2019/06/28/globalisation-is-dead-and-we-need-to-invent-a-new-world-order

    The Economist : Describe what comes after globalisation—what does the world you foresee look like?

    Mr O’Sullivan : Globalisation is already behind us. We should say goodbye to it and set our minds on the emerging multipolar world. This will be dominated by at least three large regions: America, the European Union and a China-centric Asia. They will increasingly take very different approaches to economic policy, liberty, warfare, technology and society. Mid-sized countries like Russia, Britain, Australia and Japan will struggle to find their place in the world, while new coalitions will emerge, such as a “Hanseatic League 2.0” of small, advanced states like those of Scandinavia and the Baltics. Institutions of the 20th century—the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation—will appear increasingly defunct.

    The Economist : What killed globalisation?

    Michael O’Sullivan : At least two things have put paid to globalisation. First, global economic growth has slowed, and as a result, the growth has become more “financialised”: debt has increased and there has been more “monetary activism”—that is, central banks pumping money into the economy by buying assets, such as bonds and in some cases even equities—to sustain the international expansion. Second, the side effects, or rather the perceived side-effects, of globalisation are more apparent: wealth inequality, the dominance of multinationals and the dispersion of global supply chains, which have all become hot political issues.

    • global economic growth has slowed, and as a result, the growth has become more “financialised”: debt has increased and there has been more “monetary activism”—that is, central banks pumping money into the economy by buying assets, such as bonds and in some cases even equities—to sustain the international expansion.

      #capitalisme_inversé (cf. La Grande Dévalorisation de Trenkle et Lohoff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

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

  • Rasmea Odeh Breaking the Silence in Berlin: #RasmeaSpricht #RasmeaSpeaks
    https://samidoun.net/2019/03/rasmea-odeh-breaking-the-silence-in-berlin-rasmeaspricht-rasmeaspeaks

    29 March 2019 - On Wednesday evening, 27 March, Rasmea Odeh‘s voice and words were heard in Berlin, Germany, despite a harsh, repressive campaign that included yet another ban on her speaking in person issued by Berlin’s Senator for the Interior. The successful event at be’kech in Berlin’s Wedding district brought crowds to the space despite a large police presence; the space was so crowded that many people stayed outside to watch the event through glass windows.

    The evening marked a significant achievement for Rasmea Odeh and all those defending the right to organize and advocate for Palestine in Berlin. Despite all attempts to prevent it from taking place, Rasmea’s voice was heard in Berlin and celebrated by people of conscience.
    Photo: Public-solidarity

    Once again, as was the case on 15 March, when Rasmea was to join Palestinian poet and former prisoner Dareen Tatour for an evening of solidarity and celebration of Palestinian women’s struggle, the venue itself was subject to harassment and threats. Another media smear campaign was launched against Rasmea along with attempts to demand that she once again be prohibited from speaking.

    On Wednesday afternoon, only hours before the event, Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel, an SPD politician who had earlier declared that speaking “against the state of Israel” crossed a “red line” that justified the violation of freedom of speech, once again banned Odeh from delivering a public speech at the event. However, organizers presented a video from Odeh, ensuring that her message and her story would be able to be heard by supporters in person and everyone around the world who supports her and the struggle for justice in Palestine.
    Photo: Salim Salim, Arabi21

    Once again, several vans of police filled the area (although a smaller presence than that surrounding the 15 March event). They searched the crowd for Rasmea, but left partway through the event after it was clear that she was not attending in person. A claimed counter-demonstration by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations was not immediately visible, but there may have been several participants at the corner of the street.

    The moderator of the evening opened the event with a stirring call against the silencing of oppressed and marginalized people, especially Palestinian women. She noted the growing support received by the event and the campaign to defend Odeh by a number of organizations, including the Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte, which sent a statement to the organization. The event was supported by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Berlin Muslim Feminists, Bündnis gegen Rassismus, HIRAK (Palestinian Youth Mobilization, Berlin), The Coalition Berlin, Bloque Latinoamericano Berlin, Brot und Rosen international socialist women’s organiation, Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation – Klasse Gegen Klasse, Berlin Against Pinkwashing, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace), RefrACTa Kollektiv Brasilien-Berlin, BDS Berlin and the Kali feminist collective.

    The event also included a speech by a Palestinian student on behalf of HIRAK, emphasizing that this week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Just this week, Israel has been shelling Gaza, causing further destruction after taking hundreds of lives in the past year as Palestinians participated in collective, popular protests for their right to return and break the siege. She urged people to get involved in struggles here in Berlin, including Palestinian community organizing, the solidarity movement and the BDS campaign.

    The organizers next showed a video from 2013 in which Rasmea speaks about her life as a Palestinian woman. The video was made when she received the 2013 Outstanding Community Leader award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance:

    The screening was followed by a 20-minute video presentation – the main speech of the night – in which Rasmea discussed her situation in Berlin as well as presenting more broadly on Palestinian women, Palestinian prisoners and the continuing struggle for liberation. Full video coming shortly!

    As Rasmea spoke, including discussing her personal experience of torture, people in the packed room were silent, watching and listening closely to the Arabic speech and the subtitles in German and English. The conclusion of her speech was met with loud and prolonged applause and cheers as the event’s moderator noted that “this is what they did not want you to hear.”

    The event continued with a cultural evening featuring anti-colonial poetry by Wind Ma, a silent theater sketch by Maher Draidi of Almadina Theater, a musical performance of songs and guitar by Nicolás Miquea and a closing dabkeh performance by the Yafa Dabkeh Troupe. The event concluded with a stirring moment as people chanted together, “Viva, viva Palestina! Free, free Palestine!”

    Rasmea Odeh, born in 1947, is a lifelong struggler for Palestine and a well-known feminist organizer and activist. After surviving torture and sexual assault under interrogation by occupation forces and serving 10 years in Israeli prison, she came to the United States, where she organized over 800 women in Chicago in the Arab Women’s Committee, a project of the Arab American Action Network. In 2013, she was targeted by the FBI and U.S. immigration authorities and accused of lying about her time in Israeli prison, despite the fact that it was publicly known; she even testified before a Special Committee of the United Nations about her experience under torture and imprisonment. After a years-long court battle that won widespread grassroots support, she was deported to Jordan in 2017. She was one of the initial signatories of the call for the International Women’s Strike.
    Photo: Public-solidarity

    After she was invited to speak in Berlin on 15 March, the U.S. ambassador (with ties to the German far right) Richard Grenell, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, charged with fighting Palestine solidarity and the BDS movement internationally, and the Israeli ambassador in Germany launched calls to censor her. Media propaganda falsely labeled her an “anti-Semite,” when she is in reality a longtime anti-racist struggler who developed strong connections with other oppressed communities, particularly the Black liberation movement. In the U.S., Angela Davis and Jewish Voice for Peace were among her supporters. In this context, Berlin politicians yielded to the demands of Trump and Netanyahu, and when Rasmea arrived at the event location, she was given a sheaf of papers. Her Schengen visa was ordered cancelled and she was directed to leave the country; she was banned from speaking at the event.

    Most of the allegations in the documents simply restated attacks by pro-apartheid media publications, including labeling the BDS campaign “anti-Semitic”. The German authorities also claimed that allowing Rasmea to speak and retain her visa would “damage the relationship between Germany and Israel.” Thus, Rasmea Odeh’s voice, experience and analysis was ordered suppressed and silenced through the joint complicity of the German, U.S. and Israeli governments.

    Rasmea is committed to fighting back in court. Her lawyer, Nadija Samour, said that “cancelling a visa based on what has happened so far in the past is a completely new concept from a legal point of view.” However, she and her supporters are aware that this is not simply a legal question but a clear political battle that requires support from the broadest number of people in Germany and internationally.

    Supporters of Rasmea in the United States, including the US Palestinian Community Network, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Rasmea Defense Committee and many other groups have worked to support the growing campaign in Germany, and more organizations have been adding their voices to express support for Rasmea. By cancelling her Schengen visa, German officials are not only attempting to silence Rasmea’s speech in Berlin but to prevent her from traveling elsewhere in Europe to speak about her experiences and her views – thus denying people across the continent the opportunity to hear from a leading transnational feminist and Palestinian organizer.

    Rasmea was ordered silenced based on a desire to stop her from sharing her words and her experience, telling her story and presenting her analysis. The U.S. government is apparently committed to chasing Rasmea around the world in order to persecute her wherever she goes; meanwhile, the Israeli state continues its intensive attack on people’s right to support Palestine everywhere in the world, which has included the promotion of anti-BDS laws and falsely labeling Palestinian human rights defenders and solidarity groups as “terrorists.” The German state and Berlin authorities also chose to join this campaign, issuing two separate bans in less than two weeks against Rasmea Odeh to prevent her from delivering a live speech about her experiences, her involvement in women’s organizing and her view of Palestine.

    In many ways, Rasmea’s case does not stand alone; in Germany, it comes alongside the Humboldt 3 case and the prosecution of activists for speaking up against war crimes, attempts to block Palestine events from taking place in any location and far-right campaigns particularly targeting migrant communities. It also comes alongside the pursuit of anti-BDS laws in the US, the use of “anti-terror” frameworks to criminalize Palestinian community work and the use of visa denial to suppress political and cultural expression, such as in Australia’s recent denial of a visa to Palestinian American poet Remi Kanazi.

    In a particularly disturbing media article containing propaganda against Kanazi, pro-apartheid groups demand that Kanazi is barred for, among other things, supporting Rasmea and other Palestinian political prisoners. They also use the recent far-right, white-supremacist massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a justification for banning him, despite the fact that this was an attack targeting Muslims, linked to racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda, based on white supremacy, and which took the lives of a number of Palestinians specifically. It is clear that there is a global attack, backed by Erdan and the Israeli government, aimed at all Palestinians and supporters of Palestine – and especially aiming to isolate Palestinian prisoners from the international movements that continue to defend their rights.

    The campaign to defend Rasmea Odeh is not ending with this event – instead, it marks a strong beginning of a resurgent movement against the silencing of Palestinian women and for justice in Palestine. It also made it clear that Palestinian women, on the frontlines of struggle from inside Israeli prisons, to the Great Return March in Gaza to organizing for justice in Berlin, will not be silenced. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people and organizations around the world to get involved and join this campaign by following the Facebook page, Rasmea spricht (Rasmea will speak) and sending statements of solidarity to samidoun@samidoun.net.

    #Palestine #femmes #résistance #zionisme #Allemagne

  • The United Nations backs seed sovereignty in landmark small-scale farmers’ rights declaration

    On Dec. 17, the United Nations General Assembly took a quiet but historic vote, approving the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas by a vote of 121-8 with 52 abstentions. The declaration, the product of some 17 years of diplomatic work led by the international peasant alliance La Via Campesina, formally extends human rights protections to farmers whose “seed sovereignty” is threatened by government and corporate practices.

    “As peasants we need the protection and respect for our values and for our role in society in achieving food sovereignty,” said #Via_Campesina coordinator Elizabeth Mpofu after the vote. Most developing countries voted in favor of the resolution, while many developed country representatives abstained. The only “no” votes came from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Israel and Sweden.

    “To have an internationally recognized instrument at the highest level of governance that was written by and for peasants from every continent is a tremendous achievement,” said Jessie MacInnis of Canada’s National Farmers Union. The challenge, of course, is to mobilize small-scale farmers to claim those rights, which are threatened by efforts to impose rich-country crop breeding regulations onto less developed countries, where the vast majority of food is grown by peasant farmers using seeds they save and exchange.
    Seed sovereignty in Zambia

    The loss of seed diversity is a national problem in Zambia. “We found a lot of erosion of local seed varieties,” Juliet Nangamba, program director for the Community Technology Development Trust, told me in her Lusaka office. She is working with the regional Seed Knowledge Initiative (SKI) to identify farmer seed systems and prevent the disappearance of local varieties. “Even crops that were common just 10 years ago are gone.” Most have been displaced by maize, which is heavily subsidized by the government. She’s from Southern Province, and she said their survey found very little presence of finger millet, a nutritious, drought-tolerant grain far better adapted to the region’s growing conditions.

    Farmers are taking action. Mary Tembo welcomed us to her farm near Chongwe in rural Zambia. Trained several years ago by Kasisi Agricultural Training Center in organic agriculture, Tembo is part of the SKI network, which is growing out native crops so seed is available to local farmers. Tembo pulled some chairs into the shade of a mango tree to escape the near-100-degree Fahrenheit heat, an unseasonable reminder of Southern Africa’s changing climate. Rains were late, as they had been several of the last few years. Farmers had prepared their land for planting but were waiting for a rainy season they could believe in.

    Tembo didn’t seem worried. She still had some of her land in government-sponsored hybrid maize and chemical fertilizer, especially when she was lucky enough to get a government subsidy. But most of her land was in diverse native crops, chemical free for 10 years.

    “I see improvements from organic,” she explained, as Kasisi’s Austin Chalala translated for me from the local Nyanja language. “It takes more work, but we are now used to it.” The work involves more careful management of a diverse range of crops planted in ways that conserve and rebuild the soil: crop rotations; intercropping; conservation farming with minimal plowing; and the regular incorporation of crop residues and composted manure to build soil fertility. She has six pigs, seven goats, and 25 chickens, which she says gives her enough manure for the farm.

    She was most proud of her seeds. She disappeared into the darkness of her small home. I was surprised when she emerged with a large fertilizer bag. She untied the top of the bag and began to pull out her stores of homegrown organic seeds. She laughed when I explained my surprise. She laid them out before us, a dazzling array: finger millet; orange maize; Bambara nuts; cowpea; sorghum; soybeans; mung beans; three kinds of groundnuts; popcorn; common beans. All had been saved from her previous harvest. The contribution of chemical fertilizer to these crops was, clearly, just the bag.

    She explained that some would be sold for seed. There is a growing market for these common crops that have all but disappeared with the government’s obsessive promotion of maize. Some she would share with the 50 other farmer members of the local SKI network. And some she and her family happily would consume. Crop diversity is certainly good for the soil, she said, but it’s even better for the body.
    Peasant rights crucial to climate adaptation

    We visited three other Kasisi-trained farmers. All sang the praises of organic production and its diversity of native crops. All said their diets had improved dramatically, and they are much more food-secure than when they planted only maize. Diverse crops are the perfect hedge against a fickle climate. If the maize fails, as it has in recent years, other crops survive to feed farmers’ families, providing a broader range of nutrients. Many traditional crops are more drought-tolerant than maize.

    Another farmer we visited already had planted, optimistically, before the rains arrived. She showed us her fields, dry and with few shoots emerging. With her toe, she cleared some dirt from one furrow to reveal small green leaves, alive in the dry heat. “Millet,” she said proudly. With a range of crops, she said, “the farmer can never go wrong.”

    I found the same determination in Malawi, where the new Farm-Saved Seed Network (FASSNet) is building awareness and working with government on a “Farmers’ Rights” bill to complement a controversial Seed Bill, which deals only with commercial seeds. A parallel process is advancing legislation on the right to food and nutrition. Both efforts should get a shot in the arm with the U.N.’s Peasants’ Rights declaration.

    The declaration gives such farmers a potentially powerful international tool to defend themselves from the onslaught of policies and initiatives, led by multinational seed companies, to replace native seeds with commercial varieties, the kind farmers have to buy every year.

    Kasisi’s Chalala told me that narrative is fierce in Zambia, with government representatives telling farmers such as Tembo that because her seeds are not certified by the government, they should be referred to only as “grain.”

    Eroding protection from GMOs

    As if to illustrate the ongoing threats to farm-saved seed, that same week in Zambia controversy erupted over two actions by the government’s National Biosafety Board to weaken the country’s proud and clear stance against the use of genetically modified crops. The board quietly had granted approval for a supermarket chain to import and sell three products with GMOs, a move promptly criticized by the Zambian National Farmers Union.

    Then it was revealed that the board secretly was drawing up regulations for the future planting of GM crops in the country, again in defiance of the government’s approved policies. The Zambian Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity quickly denounced the initiative.

    The U.N. declaration makes such actions a violation of peasants’ rights. Now the task is to put that new tool in farmers’ hands. “As with other rights, the vision and potential of the Peasant Rights Declaration will only be realized if people organize to claim these rights and to implement them in national and local institutions,” argued University of Pittsburgh sociologists Jackie Smith and Caitlin Schroering in Common Dreams. “Human rights don’t ‘trickle down’ — they rise up!”

    https://www.greenbiz.com/article/united-nations-backs-seed-sovereignty-landmark-small-scale-farmers-rights-
    #ONU #semences #déclaration #souveraineté #souveraineté_semencière (?) #agriculture #paysannerie #Zambie #OGM #climat #changement_climatique
    ping @odilon

  • Australia Is Undermining the Freedom of Its Press – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/06/19/australia-is-undermining-the-freedom-of-its-press


    Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Neil Gaughan speaks to the media in Canberra on June 6.
    STRINGER/GETTY IMAGES

    A raid on the national broadcaster is a sign of how the recently reelected conservative government intends to rule.

    In early June, a police raid on the headquarters of Australia’s national broadcaster shined an unexpected spotlight on the state of press freedom in the country. Seen from afar, Australia is one of the standout parliamentary democracies in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a vociferous promoter of democratic values abroad and not the kind of place where you’d imagine police striding into the offices of the national broadcaster with warrants to sift through the confidential emails of respected journalists. Yet this is exactly what unfolded.

    The raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) was a response to a seven-part series published in 2017 about alleged war crimes committed by Australia’s special operations forces in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013. A high-quality investigative series, the ABC’s reporting was expansive and well-sourced. It married the firsthand testimony of a special operator who saw soldiers “acting in a manner that [had] no regard for the value of human life” with key findings from classified defense documents. Among other unsavory activities, the leaked documents catalogued limb amputations, prisoner executions, and the killing of children by Australian troops.

  • Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps

    If you were paying close attention last week, you might have spotted a pattern in the news. Peeking out from behind the breathless coverage of the Trump family’s tuxedoed trip to London was a spate of deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody: Johana Medina Léon, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker; an unnamed 33-year-old Salvadoran man; and a 40-year-old woman from Honduras.

    Photos from a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso showed people herded so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe. Memos surfaced by journalist Ken Klippenstein revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s failure to provide medical care was responsible for suicides and other deaths of detainees. These followed another report that showed that thousands of detainees are being brutally held in isolation cells just for being transgender or mentally ill.

    Also last week, the Trump administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors — which were likened to “summer camps” by a senior ICE official last year. And there was the revelation that months after being torn from their parents’ arms, 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. In the last year, at least seven migrant children have died in federal custody.

    Preventing mass outrage at a system like this takes work. Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration. But most of all, authorities prevail when the places where people are being tortured and left to die stay hidden, misleadingly named and far from prying eyes.

    There’s a name for that kind of system. They’re called concentration camps. You might balk at my use of the term. That’s good — it’s something to be balked at.

    The goal of concentration camps has always been to be ignored. The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and interned in a French camp, wrote a few years afterward about the different levels of concentration camps. Extermination camps were the most extreme; others were just about getting “undesirable elements … out of the way.” All had one thing in common: “The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead.”

    Euphemisms play a big role in that forgetting. The term “concentration camp” is itself a euphemism. It was invented by a Spanish official to paper over his relocation of millions of rural families into squalid garrison towns where they would starve during Cuba’s 1895 independence war. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese Americans into prisons during World War II, he initially called them concentration camps. Americans ended up using more benign names, like “Manzanar Relocation Center.”

    Even the Nazis’ camps started out small, housing criminals, Communists and opponents of the regime. It took five years to begin the mass detention of Jews. It took eight, and the outbreak of a world war, for the first extermination camps to open. Even then, the Nazis had to keep lying to distract attention, claiming Jews were merely being resettled to remote work sites. That’s what the famous signs — Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Sets You Free” — were about.

    Subterfuge doesn’t always work. A year ago, Americans accidentally became aware that the Trump administration had adopted (and lied about) a policy of ripping families apart at the border. The flurry of attention was thanks to the viral conflation of two separate but related stories: the family-separation order and bureaucrats’ admission that they’d been unable to locate thousands of migrant children who’d been placed with sponsors after crossing the border alone.

    Trump shoved that easily down the memory hole. He dragged his heels a bit, then agreed to a new policy: throwing whole families into camps together. Political reporters posed irrelevant questions, like whether President Obama had been just as bad, and what it meant for the midterms. Then they moved on.

    It is important to note that Trump’s aides have built this system of racist terror on something that has existed for a long time. Several camps opened under Obama, and as president he deported millions of people.

    But Trump’s game is different. It certainly isn’t about negotiating immigration reform with Congress. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.

    As a Republican National Committee report noted in 2013: “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become.” The Trump administration’s attempt to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census was also just revealed to have been a plot to disadvantage political opponents and boost “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” all along.

    That’s why this isn’t just a crisis facing immigrants. When a leader puts people in camps to stay in power, history shows that he doesn’t usually stop with the first group he detains.

    There are now at least 48,000 people detained in ICE facilities, which a former official told BuzzFeed News “could swell indefinitely.” Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended more than 144,000 people on the Southwest border last month. (The New York Times dutifully reported this as evidence of a “dramatic surge in border crossings,” rather than what it was: The administration using its own surge of arrests to justify the rest of its policies.)

    If we call them what they are — a growing system of American concentration camps — we will be more likely to give them the attention they deserve. We need to know their names: Port Isabel, Dilley, Adelanto, Hutto and on and on. With constant, unrelenting attention, it is possible we might alleviate the plight of the people inside, and stop the crisis from getting worse. Maybe people won’t be able to disappear so easily into the iceboxes. Maybe it will be harder for authorities to lie about children’s deaths.

    Maybe Trump’s concentration camps will be the first thing we think of when we see him scowling on TV.

    The only other option is to leave it up to those in power to decide what’s next. That’s a calculated risk. As Andrea Pitzer, author of “One Long Night,” one of the most comprehensive books on the history of concentration camps, recently noted: “Every country has said their camps are humane and will be different. Trump is instinctively an authoritarian. He’ll take them as far as he’s allowed to.”

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-katz-immigrant-concentration-camps-20190609-story.html
    #terminologie #vocabulaire #mots #camps #camps_de_concentration #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #USA #Etats-Unis
    #cpa_camps

    • ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System

      On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

      At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations.

      The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States.

      So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity.

      On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections.

      In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

      Conditions for detainees have not been improving. At the end of May, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general found nearly 900 migrants at a Texas shelter built for a capacity of 125 people. On June 11, a university professor spotted at least 100 men behind chain-link fences near the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Those detainees reported sitting outside for weeks in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees. Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration lawyer, described going into one facility and finding “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches… Another young child had to be restrained by his mother because he kept running full-speed into metal lockers. He was covered in bruises.”

      If deciding what to do about the growing numbers of adults and children seeking refuge in the US relies on complex humanitarian policies and international laws, in which most Americans don’t take a deep interest, a simpler question also presents itself: What exactly are these camps that the Trump administration has opened, and where is this program of mass detention headed?

      Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

      Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

      Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

      Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising, despite his predecessor’s written refusal “as the representative of a civilized nation, to be the first to give the example of cruelty and intransigence” that such detention would represent. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said. “The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.” Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

      Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war. Two weeks later, US Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point on the windward side of the entrance to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. After a grim, week-long fight, the Marines took the hill. It became a naval base, and the United States has never left that patch of land.

      As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system. Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

      Meanwhile, in southern Africa in 1900, the British had opened their own camps during their battle with descendants of Dutch settlers in the second Boer War. British soldiers filled tent cities with Boer women and children, and the military authorities called them refugee camps. Future Prime Minister David Lloyd George took offense at that name, noting in Parliament: “There is no greater delusion in the mind of any man than to apply the term ‘refugee’ to these camps. They are not refugee camps. They are camps of concentration.” Contemporary observers compared them to the Cuban camps, and criticized their deliberate cruelty. The Bishop of Hereford wrote to The Times of London in 1901, asking: “Are we reduced to such a depth of impotence that our Government can do nothing to stop such a holocaust of child-life?”

      Maggoty meat rations and polluted water supplies joined outbreaks of contagious diseases amid crowded and unhealthy conditions in the Boer camps. More than 27,000 detainees are thought to have died there, nearly 80 percent of them children. The British had opened camps for black Africans as well, in which at least 14,000 detainees died—the real number is probably much higher. Aside from protests made by some missionaries, the deaths of indigenous black Africans did not inspire much public outrage. Much of the history of the suffering in these camps has been lost.

      These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

      Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. The Daily Mail denounced aliens left at liberty once they had registered with their local police department, demanding, “Does signing his name take the malice out of a man?” The Scottish Field was more direct, asking, “Do Germans have souls?” That these civilian detainees were no threat to Britain did not keep them from being demonized, shouted at, and spat upon as they were paraded past hostile crowds in cities like London.

      Though a small number of people were shot in riots in these camps, and hunger became a serious issue as the conflict dragged on, World War I internment would present a new, non-lethal face for the camps, normalizing detention. Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

      Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

      In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

      However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory.

      It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001.

      In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell.

      This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways.

      I visited Guantánamo twice in 2015, sitting in the courtroom for pretrial hearings and touring the medical facility, the library, and all the old abandoned detention sites, as well as newly built ones, open to the media—from the kennel-style cages of Camp X-Ray rotting to ruin in the damp heat to the modern jailhouse facilities of Camp 6. Seeing all this in person made clear to me how vast the architecture of detention had become, how entrenched it was, and how hard it would be to close.

      Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

      Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo. The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

      What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

      Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.

      When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away.

      The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

      President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.

      The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.

      Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

      The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

      https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/06/21/some-suburb-of-hell-americas-new-concentration-camp-system

    • #Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez engage le bras de fer avec la politique migratoire de Donald Trump

      L’élue de New York a qualifié les camps de rétention pour migrants érigés à la frontière sud des Etats-Unis de « camps de concentration ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/06/19/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-engage-le-bras-de-fer-avec-la-politique-migratoire-

  • Trump Administration Considered Tariffs on Australia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/02/business/trump-australia-tariffs.html

    Some of President Trump’s top trade advisers had urged the tariffs as a response to a surge of Australian aluminum flowing onto the American market over the past year. But officials at the Defense and State Departments told Mr. Trump the move would alienate a top ally and could come at significant cost to the United States.

    The administration ultimately agreed not to take any action, at least temporarily.

    The measure would open yet another front in a global trade war that has pitted the United States against allies like Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan, and deepened divisions with countries like China. It would also be the end of a reprieve for the only country to be fully exempted from the start from steel and aluminum tariffs that Mr. Trump imposed last year.

    #guerre_commerciale #etats-unis

  • UK: Johnson ordered to face accusations that he lied to the public ...
    https://diasp.eu/p/9129729

    UK: Johnson ordered to face accusations that he lied to the public

    Source: National Public Radio [US state media]

    “A British court is ordering Boris Johnson to face accusations that while holding public office, he lied in order to sway voter opinion on Brexit. The case was brought by a ‘private prosecutor’ who says Johnson abused the public’s trust while holding official posts. Johnson has quickly emerged as a front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who is resigning next month. But with today’s ruling, he must also face charges of misconduct in public office. The case was brought by Marcus Ball — who has raised more than $300,000 to fund his effort. Ball says Johnson is guilty of ‘misleading the public by endorsing and making statements about the cost of European Union (...)

    • – lien propre :

      http://rationalreview.com/archives/337859

      – article relié :
      https://www.npr.org/2019/05/29/727832275/boris-johnson-is-ordered-to-face-accusations-that-he-lied-to-the-public

      #UK #EU #UE #Europe #Brexit

      A British court is ordering Boris Johnson to face accusations that while holding on Brexit. The case was brought by a “private prosecutor” who says Johnson abused the public’s trust while holding official posts.

      Johnson has quickly emerged as a front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who is resigning next month. But with today’s ruling, he must also face charges of misconduct in public office. The case was brought by Marcus Ball — who has raised more than $300,000 to fund his effort.

      Ball says Johnson is guilty of “misleading the public by endorsing and making statements about the cost of European Union Membership, which he knew to be false.”

      Johnson is currently a member of Parliament. He resigned as the U.K’s foreign secretary last summer, in a protest against May’s plans to leave the European Union. He has also served as London’s mayor.

      Johnson has repeatedly made the false claim that Britain paid £350 million each week to be in the European Union. The claim was famously touted on a Vote Leave campaign bus during the run-up to the Brexit vote.

      In 2017, the head of the U.K.’s Statistics Authority sent Johnson a letter expressing his disappointment and telling Johnson it was “a clear misuse of official statistics” to say leaving the EU would free up £350 million (more than $440 million) weekly to spend on national healthcare.

      In 2018, Johnson acknowledged that the figure was inaccurate — but he said it was “grossly underestimated.”

      On his crowdfunding page, Ball stresses that he’s not trying to stop Brexit from happening. Instead, he’s targeting what he sees as the real threat facing society: lying, particularly the falsehoods that flow from those in power.

      “Lying in politics is the biggest problem. It is far more important than Brexit and certainly a great deal older,” Ball wrote. “Historically speaking, lying in politics has assisted in starting wars, misleading voters and destroying public trust in the systems of democracy and government.”

      He added, “When politicians lie, democracy dies.”

      Ball says he wants to set a precedent by making it illegal for an elected official to lie about financial matters. If he’s successful, he says, the case could have a wide ripple effect.

      “Because of how the English common law works, it’s possible that such a precedent could be internationally persuasive by influencing the law in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and India.”

      In Britain’s legal system, private prosecutions can be started by any person or company with the time and money to do so.

      As the London-based law firm Edmonds Marshall McMahon (which was once involved in Ball’s case) states, “Other than the fact the prosecution is brought by a private individual or company, for all other purposes they proceed in exactly the same way as if the prosecution had been brought by the Crown.”

  • Spies with that ? Police can snoop on McDonald’s and Westfield wifi customers
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/28/spies-with-that-police-can-snoop-on-mcdonalds-and-westfield-wifi-custom

    Documents reveal rushed encryption legislation allows police to compel wifi providers to turn over information about users People accessing the internet at McDonald’s and Westfield in Australia could be targeted for surveillance by police under new encryption legislation, according to the home affairs department. A briefing by the department, obtained under freedom of information, reveals that police can use new powers to compel a broad range of companies including social media giants, (...)

    #McDonald's #Facebook #GoogleSearch #cryptage #WiFi #surveillance #web #Westfield

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/aec376894417749d113f606bff707feb1e6325ae/0_12_2000_1200/master/2000.jpg

  • Global Report on Internal Displacement #2019

    KEY FINDINGS

    Internal displacement is a global challenge, but it is also heavily concentrated in a few countries and triggered by few events. 28 million new internal displacements associated with conflict and disasters across 148 countries and territories were recorded in 2018, with nine countries each accounting for more than a million.

    41.3 million people were estimated to be living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence in 55 countries as of the end of the year, the highest figure ever recorded. Three-quarters, or 30.9 million people, were located in only ten countries.

    Protracted crises, communal violence and unresolved governance challenges were the main factors behind 10.8 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence. Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Syria accounted for more than half of the global figure.

    Newly emerging crises forced millions to flee, from Cameroon’s anglophone conflict to waves of violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region and unprecedented conflict in Ethiopia. Displacement also continued despite peace efforts in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Colombia.

    Many IDPs remain unaccounted for. Figures for DRC, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen are considered underestimates, and data is scarce for Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Russia, Turkey and Venezuela. This prevents an accurate assessment of the true scale of internal displacement in these countries. ||Estimating returns continues to be a major challenge.

    Large numbers of people reportedly returned to their areas of origin in Ethiopia, Iraq and Nigeria, to conditions which were not conducive to long-lasting reintegration. ||Urban conflict triggered large waves of displacement and has created obstacles to durable solutions. Airstrikes and shelling forced many thousands to flee in Hodeida in Yemen, Tripoli in Libya and Dara’a in Syria. In Mosul in Iraq and Marawi in the Philippines, widespread destruction and unexploded ordnance continued to prevent people from returning home.

    Heightened vulnerability and exposure to sudden-onset hazards, particularly storms, resulted in 17.2 million disaster displacements in 144 countries and territories. The number of people displaced by slow-onset disasters worldwide remains unknown as only drought-related displacement is captured in some countries, and only partially.

    The devastating power of extreme events highlighted again the impacts of climate change across the globe. Wildfires were a particularly visible expression of this in 2018, from the US and Australia to Greece and elsewhere in southern Europe, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, causing severe damage and preventing swift returns.

    Global risk of being displaced by floods is staggeringly high and concentrated in towns and cities: more than 17 million people are at risk of being displaced by floods each year. Of these, more than 80 per cent live in urban and peri-urban areas.

    An overlap of conflict and disasters repeatedly displaced people in a number of countries. Drought and conflict triggered similar numbers of displacements in Afghanistan, and extended rainy seasons displaced millions of people in areas of Nigeria and Somalia already affected by conflict. Most of the people displaced by disasters in Iraq and Syria were IDPs living in camps that were flooded.

    Promising policy developments in several regions show increased attention to displacement risk. Niger became the first country to domesticate the Kampala Convention by adopting a law on internal displacement, and Kosovo recognised the importance of supporting returning refugees and IDPs, updating its policy to that end. Vanuatu produced a policy on disaster and climate-related displacement, and Fiji showed foresight in adopting new guidelines on resettlement in the context of climate change impacts.

    https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-report-internal-displacement-2019-grid-2019-0
    #IDPs #déplacés_internes #migrations #asile #statistiques #chiffres

    ping @reka @karine4

  • Uber strike: Drivers around the world turn off app ahead of IPO - CNN
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/08/tech/uber-strike/index.html

    Uber drivers around the world are logging out of the company’s app to protest its compensation policies ahead of a blockbuster public offering.

    Strikes are scheduled for Wednesday in major US cities, as well as parts of the United Kingdom, Australia and South America. The message from participants: Uber needs to offer its drivers job security and higher wages.
    Uber is expected to go public Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. The debut could raise roughly $10 billion for the ride-hailing company.
    Uber and its rival Lyft (LYFT) have long argued their drivers are independent contractors. That status means workers in many countries don’t get the same rights as employees.

    “Drivers are at the heart of our service — we can’t succeed without them,” Uber said in a statement.

    “Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers,” it added.
    The strike action kicked off in London at 7 a.m. local time and will last until 4 p.m., according to James Farrar, a spokesperson for the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which advocates for people working in the gig economy.

    Uber and Lyft drivers strike for better pay

    The union wants UK drivers and customers to avoid the Uber app during the protest. It expects thousands of drivers to participate, based on the numbers that have joined its private drivers’ branch, Farrar said.

    One driver on strike in London, Muhumed Ali, said he wants Uber to boost fares and take a smaller cut of sales.

    “The drivers are the ones who are running the business,” said Ali, who’s been driving for Uber for four years and says it’s his primary source of income. “We are collecting pennies.”

    Backing from politicians in Britain’s Labour Party, including opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, could help encourage customers to stay away, according to Farrar.

    Uber cannot be allowed to get away with huge payouts for their CEOs while refusing to pay drivers a decent wage and respect their rights at work. Stand with these workers on strike today, across the UK and the world, asking you not to use Uber between 7am and 4pm. #UberShutDown
    — Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 8, 2019

    Other cities are expected to join the protests. Drivers are pushing for better treatment and improved conditions, but the specific demands vary by organizing group.

    Uber drivers protest outside the Uber offices in London.
    In San Diego and Los Angeles, drivers are slated to cease working for 24 hours. In Atlanta, workers plan to log off for 12 hours. And in New York City, a two-hour strike was planned for the morning commute.
    In addition to powering off their apps, drivers will hold rallies held in strategic locations such as outside local Uber offices.
    In the United Kingdom, protests are scheduled to take place outside Uber offices in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow.

    Independent Workers Union of Great Britain
    https://iwgb.org.uk

    #Uber #Streik #London #USA

  • No Friend but the Mountains. The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee

    In 2013, Kurdish journalist #Behrouz_Boochani sought asylum in Australia but was instead illegally imprisoned in the country’s most notorious detention centre on Manus Island. He has been there ever since. This book is the result.

    Behrouz Boochani spent nearly five years typing passages of this book one text at a time from a secret mobile phone in prison. Compiled and translated from Farsi, they form an incredible story of how escaping political persecution in Iran, he ended up trapped as a stateless person. This vivid, gripping portrait of his years of incarceration and exile shines devastating light on the fates of so many people as borders close around the world.

    No Friend but the Mountains is both a brave act of witness and a moving testament to the humanity of all people, in the most extreme of circumstances.


    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781529028485?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIncGnxfz84QIVFOd3Ch3PVAXdEA
    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Nauru #Australie #réfugiés_kurdes #Kurdistan #livre #témoignage

    Une chose m’intrigue... pourquoi la #montagne dans le titre?

    • Australia’s Shame

      Let us suppose that I am the heir of an enormous estate. Stories about my generosity abound. And let us suppose that you are a young man, ambitious but in trouble with the authorities in your native land. You make a momentous decision: you will set out on a voyage across the ocean that will bring you to my doorstep, where you will say, I am here—feed me, give me a home, let me make a new life!

      Unbeknown to you, however, I have grown tired of strangers arriving on my doorstep saying I am here, take me in—so tired, so exasperated that I say to myself: Enough! No longer will I allow my generosity to be exploited! Therefore, instead of welcoming you and taking you in, I consign you to a desert island and broadcast a message to the world: Behold the fate of those who presume upon my generosity by arriving on my doorstep unannounced!

      This is, more or less, what happened to Behrouz Boochani. Targeted by the Iranian regime for his advocacy of Kurdish independence, Boochani fled the country in 2013, found his way to Indonesia, and was rescued at the last minute from the unseaworthy boat in which he was trying to reach Australia. Instead of being given a home, he was flown to one of the prisons in the remote Pacific run by the Commonwealth of Australia, where he remains to this day.

      Boochani is not alone. Thousands of asylum-seekers have suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Australians. The point of the fable of the rich man and the supplicant is the following: Is it worse to treat thousands of people with exemplary inhumanity than to treat a single man in such a way? If it is indeed worse, how much worse is it? Thousands of times? Or does the calculus of numbers falter when it comes to matters of good and evil?

      Whatever the answer, the argument against Australia’s treatment of asylum-seekers can be made as trenchantly on the basis of a single case as on that of a thousand, and Boochani has provided exactly that case. Under atrocious conditions he has managed to write and publish a record of his experiences (experiences yet to be concluded), a record that will certainly leave his jailers gnashing their teeth.

      Given the fact that the foundational event of the Commonwealth of Australia was the arrival on the island continent’s east coast of a fleet of uninvited vessels captained by James Cook; given further that since the end of World War II Australia has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them from Europe but many from Asia and Africa too, it is hard to comprehend the dogged hostility of the Australian public to the latest wave of refugees fleeing strife in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Indian subcontinent, and northeast Africa. To call their hostility racist or xenophobic explains little. Its roots lie further back in time, suggests the historian Jane Haggis:

      The sense of victimhood, of being exiled—unwelcome at home, by virtue of being a convict, an ill-paid worker or an economically precarious tenant farmer…and of having struggled too hard to earn the land…meant Australia never totally embraced the discourse of humanitarianism and of human rights that came to define one sense of the Western self during the twentieth century…. The sense of exile, of expulsion from Europe to the bottom of the world, of being victims rather than members of God’s elect, [shapes] Australia and Australians’ historic sense of themselves as a national community [and] feeds a hyper-vigilance to maintain…“First World privilege.”

      Hostility to refugees is clearly to be seen in the positions taken by both main political parties, which respond to protests against the way they treat refugees with the mantra “We will put the people smugglers out of business, we will end the drownings at sea,” refusing bluntly to address what is unique about their common policy: that people are to be punished for seeking asylum, and that the punishment will be and is meant to be as harsh as possible, visible for all the world to see.

      Poll after poll attests that a majority of Australians back stringent border controls. Fed by the right-wing media, the public has swallowed the argument that there is an orderly immigration queue that boat people could have joined but chose not to; further, that most boat people are not genuine refugees but “economic migrants”—as if fleeing persecution and seeking a better life elsewhere were mutually exclusive motives.

      Under the uniquely complex, quota-based system that Australia follows for dealing with humanitarian cases, there is indeed an orderly queue for applicants waiting to be processed in camps overseas supervised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and the system for processing these humanitarian cases does indeed function smoothly if somewhat slowly, though when we bear in mind that, by the latest count, there are 70 million persons displaced from their homes worldwide, Australia’s quota of about 12,500 humanitarian acceptances per year is modest, well short of Canada’s (28,000). As for the argument that boat people are trying to jump the queue, the fact is that—until the policy changed so that arriving by boat effectively nullified any future application for asylum—the actions of asylum-seekers who arrived on Australian shores without papers and were subsequently found to be “genuine” had no effect on the quota for acceptances from the camps. Simply stated, boat people have never been part of any queue.

      Most of those who head for Australia’s back door do so via Indonesia, where they spend as little time as they can: Indonesia routinely arrests sans-papiers and sends them back to their country of origin. At the height of the boat traffic to Australia in 2009–2011, some five thousand people a year were setting sail from ports in southern Indonesia, in leaky boats provided by smugglers. No official figures are available for deaths at sea, but Monash University’s Australian Border Deaths database estimates a total of some two thousand since the year 2000, with a spike of over four hundred in 2012.

      The preventive measures undertaken by the Australian navy to head off asylum-seekers are shrouded in secrecy; therefore we do not know how many of them have persisted in embarking for Australia since a harsh new policy of interning and processing them offshore was put into practice in 2013, but there is every reason to believe that the number has fallen drastically. It would appear that when the navy intercepts a refugee vessel, it immediately transfers the occupants to a disposable boat with a minimum of fuel, tows it back into Indonesian waters, and casts it off.

      Australia’s treatment of refugees is constrained by a number of treaties. First among these is the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified in 1954 though with a number of reservations. This convention confirms the right (already enunciated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948) of any victim of persecution to seek and enjoy asylum. It also binds signatories not to return asylum-seekers to the countries from which they have fled, a requirement known as non-refoulement.

      While adhering to non-refoulement, Australia has over the years exploited two lacunae in the convention, namely that it does not confer on an asylum-seeker the legal right to enter the country where asylum is sought, and that it does not oblige the country where asylum is sought to grant asylum. Successive Australian administrations have therefore taken the position—validated by Australian courts—that a person who enters Australian territorial waters without the requisite papers is in Australia illegally, whether or not that person has come to seek asylum.

      The question of asylum was repeatedly debated in the United Nations in the 1960s and 1970s. Australia voted alongside its allies the United States and the United Kingdom in favor of the right of asylum, while consistently reserving its position on the actual admission of asylum-seekers. In 1977 it spelled out that position: Australia “will wish to retain its discretion to determine ultimately who can enter Australian territory and under what conditions they remain.”

      Christmas Island, a sparsely populated island south of Java, was incorporated into Australia in 1958 despite being some nine hundred miles from the Australian mainland. It is to Christmas Island that most boat people seeking Australian asylum steer. To forestall them, the Australian parliament legislated in 2001 that for the purposes of the Refugee Convention, Christmas Island will be deemed to be not part of Australia. Once a refugee vessel has entered the waters of Christmas Island, its occupants are thus both illegally in Australia and also not yet in Australia. The Australian navy is empowered to detain such “illegal non-citizens” and remove them to a location outside Australia, where they may be held indefinitely, without recourse to judicial review.

      Because Australia does not have a bill of rights, challenges to its refugee policies on the basis of international law have tended to fail in the nation’s courts. They have succeeded only when it has been proved that provisions of the country’s Migration Act have not been met. However, such court rulings have typically been followed by appropriate adjustments to the Migration Act.

      As if this were not enough, the government legislated in 2014 to strike from the Migration Act almost all references to the 1951 Refugee Convention. The revised act states that “it is irrelevant whether Australia has any non-refoulement obligations in respect of an unlawful non-citizen,” i.e., an asylum-seeker. The legality of Australia’s asylum policy is thus, in the eyes of the government and, it would appear, of the courts as well, ironclad.

      Australia is a vast, sparsely populated continent. Since it became an independent nation in 1901, it has had to manage two contending forces: a need to increase its population and a fear that its way of life might be undermined or swamped or corroded (the metaphors are legion) if too many strangers are allowed in.

      In the early years, the latter fear expressed itself in frankly racial terms. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, the cornerstone of the policy commonly known as White Australia, was aimed in the first place at blocking immigration from Asia. A generation later the focus shifted to European Jews. When he came to power in 1933, Hitler declared that the only future for Germany’s Jews lay in emigration. But like other Western countries, Australia refused mass Jewish immigration. At an international conference held in Évian in 1938 to discuss the fate of Europe’s Jews, the leader of the Australian delegation made his country’s position clear: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of large-scale foreign migration.”

      The truth is that Australia did have a racial problem, and had had one ever since British colonists established themselves on the continent. The problem was that the colonists held themselves to be intrinsically (in the language of the day, racially) superior to Aboriginal Australians, and did not regard this conviction as a problem. Their unproblematic racism—a problem that was not a problem—easily extended itself to Jews, who might be white but were not the right shade of white.

      The Évian conference confirmed that the traditional countries of settlement—the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina—would continue to the end to resist large-scale Jewish immigration. By the time the doors out of Europe closed in 1939, Australia had accepted some 10,000 Jewish refugees, a respectable quota by comparison with other Western countries, but minuscule in the larger picture.

      World War II, the redrawing of boundaries that followed it, and the flight of populations left millions of Europeans displaced. The 1948 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention of 1951 were intended to address the problem of these displaced persons (DPs). Between 1947 and 1952 Australia took in some 170,000 European refugees. At first the government gave priority to candidates who fit the physical stereotype of the white Australian, for instance people from the Baltic lands. But as the DP camps emptied, and as public opinion softened, migrants began to be accepted from Greece, Italy, Croatia, and other Southern European countries. Refugees from Communist regimes were looked on favorably: Czech dissidents fleeing the Russians in 1968; Vietnamese boat people after the fall of Saigon in 1975; Chinese students after the massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Gradually a nation began to emerge that was no longer quite so Anglo-Celtic in its ethnicity.

      Since the 1990s, however, refugee policy has again hardened, and has been complicated by the rise of Islamist terrorism. On August 26, 2001, shortly before the attack on the Twin Towers, a Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, picked up 438 passengers (mostly Afghan Hazaras) from a foundering boat and anchored near Christmas Island. The Tampa was soon boarded by Australian commandos, while the Australian prime minister announced that backdoor asylum-seekers would from then on be processed not on the mainland but in offshore facilities run by Australia in yet-to-be-decided third countries. After September 11, the refugees on the Tampa suddenly became Muslim boat people, and as Muslims became suspected terrorists. From then on, in the politics of the right, asylum-seekers have been tarred with the brush of terrorism. From that date too, broad support for the doctrine of human rights began to wane, not only in Australia but in Western democracies in general—witness Guantánamo.

      The practice of offshore processing announced in 2001 was maintained until the number of boat arrivals had dwindled to such an extent that the camps could be closed. However, soon after this was done, in 2004, boats began to arrive again. Why? Because refugees had simply been biding their time, waiting for Australia to relax its guard? Or because as the civil war in Sri Lanka intensified, thousands of Tamils were fleeing for their lives? Which was the determining factor: the pull of Australia or the push of world events?

      As the number of boat arrivals grew, the authorities became more and more nervous. Australia had to be made a less attractive destination. A panel of experts recommended what it called a “circuit breaker”: the resumption of offshore processing together with an end to compassionate border control.

      Agreements were concluded in 2013 with Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the tiny island state of Nauru. The old camps would be reopened. These two countries would process the protection claims of people arriving in Australia by boat and would resettle them either on their own territory or in a third country. Australia could then argue that it was not responsible for the ultimate fate of the asylum-seekers, even though the camps would be financed and run by the Australian government through private contractors.

      Manus Island belongs to an archipelago that forms part of PNG. It lies 650 miles north of the Australian mainland; the entire archipelago has a population of about 60,000. Between 2013 and 2016, when the PNG Supreme Court ruled that imprisoning asylum-seekers had been illegal from the start, several thousand people passed through the camps on Manus. However, when in 2017 the PNG police tried to close the camps, most of the occupants—some six hundred men—refused to leave, claiming to fear for their safety. Water and electricity were cut off, and a siege commenced that is vividly described in Boochani’s book. After a month, resistance crumbled, and the detainees were moved into compounds elsewhere on the island, where they have freedom of movement though, without papers, they cannot leave PNG.

      Nauru, nearly two thousand miles from Australia, is one of the world’s smallest nation-states, with a mere 11,000 inhabitants. Since its deposits of rock phosphate gave out a decade or two ago, its economic viability has depended on money-laundering and on the largesse of foreign patrons. On Nauru, prisoners have been held in what are called “open facilities.” However, since the island is tiny (eight square miles), the advantage is slight.

      The UNHCR has been extremely critical of Australia’s offshore policies. In 2017 it concluded that PNG and Nauru were intrinsically unsuitable as resettlement homes, given “the impossibility of local integration.” In other words, Papuans and Nauruans do not want refugees living among them, and refugees do not want to live in PNG or Nauru. New Zealand has offered to take 150 of the inmates, but Australia has vetoed this offer on the grounds that former detainees might make their way from New Zealand to Australia, thereby weakening the deterrent power of Australian policy.

      The operation of the camps was shrouded from the beginning under a blanket of secrecy. Inmates were to be known not by name but by number; circulating photographs of them was forbidden. For information on life in the camps, we have to rely on prisoners like Boochani and on those Australian doctors and social workers who have defied legislation that made it a criminal offense to report what they had witnessed.

      On the basis of such evidence, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Manus and Nauru are not just processing centers but punishment camps where detainees—“clients” in the jargon of the bureaucracy—serve indeterminate or even indefinite sentences for the offense of trying to enter Australia without papers. The attitude of the Australian guards (“client service officers”), many of them veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, seems to be unremitting hostility, fueled by suspicions that among their clientele are Islamic terrorists masquerading as refugees. The local populations, Nauruan or Papuan, also seem to regard the refugees with an unfriendly eye. In 2014 the Manus camp was invaded by Papuan police and civilians who assaulted the inmates, killing one of them.

      In the first year and a half after the agreement with Nauru and PNG, over three thousand people, including hundreds of children, were consigned to offshore detention. A pediatrician visiting the island camps reported a range of troubled behavior among children there: bed-wetting, nightmares, defiant behavior, separation anxiety, withdrawal, regression in speech, mutism, stuttering. Australia’s human rights commissioner concluded that the camps were too violent and unsafe to house children. The entire practice of putting children behind razor wire was damned by a UN special rapporteur. In the face of public disquiet, the Australian authorities began to remove children and their parents to the mainland. By February 2019 the last of them had either been resettled in the US or brought to Australia on an explicitly temporary basis.

      Refugee policy was not an issue in the recent elections for the Australian federal parliament, which were won and lost on arcane issues in the tax code. News that Australian voters had returned to power the same set of jailers responsible for their misery provoked a spate of self-harm and suicide attempts among the remaining detainees. An Indian who tried to set himself alight was treated for burns, then charged with attempting suicide. Boochani reports that most of the refugees left on Manus have fallen into a state of despair and no longer leave their rooms. To date, fourteen prisoners, most of them in their twenties, have died on Nauru and Manus, some by their own hand. They died because the camps were unhealthy, dangerous, and destructive not only of their psychic stability but of their very humanity.

      For years there has been a drumbeat of protest from within Australia against the demonization of asylum-seekers. One appeal came from Tim Winton, among Australia’s most widely read writers:

      Prime Minister, turn us back from this path to brutality. Restore us to our best selves. Turn back from piling trauma upon the traumatised. It grinds innocent people to despair and self-harm and suicide. It ruins the lives of children. It shames us. And it poisons the future. Give these people back their faces, their humanity. Do not avert your gaze and don’t hide them from us.

      Not everyone shares Winton’s sentiments. After being shown a poster targeting aspiring asylum-seekers that showed a boat in rough waters with the caption “NO WAY. YOU WILL NOT MAKE AUSTRALIA HOME,” President Trump tweeted, “Much can be learned!” Australia’s practices of imprisoning refugees and turning back boats have been applauded by the European right and in some quarters mimicked.

      At the peak of the influx of boat people, Manus housed 1,353 prisoners and Nauru 1,233. For Nauru, the camp business has been particularly lucrative. For each detainee it houses on behalf of Australia, Nauru earns about US$1,400 a year in visa fees. Holding a prisoner offshore costs Australia about US$38,000 per year. If the same prisoner were brought to the Australian mainland while his or her claim was being processed, the cost would fall to US$7,000. Persisting with the offshore camps has clearly been a point of honor with the Australians, no matter what the expense.

      In the last days of the Obama administration, it was announced that the United States would accept up to 1,250 refugees from Manus and Nauru. When President Trump took office in January 2017, the then Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called to pay his respects and apprise the new incumbent of the agreement. President Trump was understandably baffled. Why could Australia not house the refugees itself? Turnbull replied:

      The only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

      As Turnbull artlessly reveals, there is something arbitrary in welcoming people who have papers while treating people without papers not only badly but with spectacular heartlessness. Commentators have pointed to the contrived quality of the distinction and hinted at a motive behind it: that the sans-papiers are being offered up to the xenophobes and nativists to vent their rage on, while government and business are left free to run an orderly system of importing skilled migrants.

      With evident reluctance, President Trump has honored the deal made by the Obama administration. As of April 2019, over five hundred refugees had been resettled in the US, with further departures expected, while 265 applications had been rejected on character grounds. According to Boochani’s recent count, there are still 370 asylum-seekers on Manus, seventy of whom had been accepted by the US and are ready to leave. Sixty men on Nauru have been accepted, leaving about two hundred on the island. The prisoners rejected by the US provide Australia with a legal headache. It cannot send them back to their countries of origin without violating its non-refoulement obligations, yet if no third country will accept them, they will find themselves in indefinite detention, in violation of international human rights law.

      As a youngster, Behrouz Boochani tells us, he wanted to join the Kurdish guerrillas in their war of liberation but was not brave enough to take the final step: “To this very day I don’t know if I have a peace-loving spirit or if I was just frightened.” Instead he turned to a career in writing.

      About the journalism that got him into trouble with the authorities and his subsequent flight from Iran he has little to say. At Tehran airport he masquerades as a casual tourist, carrying nothing but a few changes of clothes and a book of poetry. In Indonesia he spends a miserable forty days hiding from the police, waiting for a place on a boat. The boat that he boards is barely seaworthy: he and his fellow fugitives spend most of their time bailing out water. They are picked up by an Indonesian fishing vessel, transferred to a British freighter, then finally arrested by the Australian navy and flown to Manus Island.

      Boochani understands at once that he and his companions have become hostages, to be used “to strike fear into others, to scare people so they won’t come to Australia.” His first impression of his new home is that it is “beautiful…nothing like the island hell that [the Australians] tried to scare us with.” Then, as he steps off the plane, he is hit by the suffocating humidity and stifling heat. Mosquitoes buzz everywhere.

      No Friend But the Mountains provides a wholly engrossing account of the first four years that Boochani spent on Manus, up to the time when the prison camp was closed and the prisoners resettled elsewhere on the island. Just as absorbing is his analysis of the system that reigns in the camp, a system imposed by the Australian authorities but autonomous in the sense that it holds the jailers as well as the prisoners in its grip.

      The aim of the system is to break the will of the prisoners and make them accept refoulement. It works by fostering animosities among them, eroding solidarity and leaving them feeling isolated. The simplest of means are used to create paranoia. The electricity running the fans that provide relief from the insufferable heat is switched on and off for no reason. There is drinking water, but it is always lukewarm. Occasionally chilled fruit juice appears, but according to no detectable schedule. With nothing else to do, prisoners become obsessed with finding patterns in these random events: “A twisted system governs the prison, a deranged logic that confines the mind of the prisoner, an extremely oppressive form of governance that the prisoner internalises.”

      New rules and regulations are introduced from week to week, for which no one will accept responsibility: “No person who is a part of the system can ever provide an answer—neither the officers nor the other employees…. All they can say is, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just following orders.’” The daily routine includes four body-checks. The eyes of the Australian guards who carry out the searches are “cold, barbaric, hateful.”

      Boochani’s fellow prisoners come from all over the world: Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Kurdistan. Having to live in close proximity with strangers becomes a torment. He withdraws further and further into himself.

      Moral standards deteriorate on all sides. Now and then the mango trees that surround the camp drop their fruit within the perimeter. Even Kurds, normally renowned for their hospitality, pounce on the fruit and devour it without sharing.

      The toilets become a place of refuge where a prisoner can be by himself and scream his lungs out. But they also become a place of self-harm and suicide. Boochani records a terrifying episode as the prisoners witness guards removing the body of a man who had slit his wrists with a razor. Among the onlookers he detects a pulsating excitement: “Their responses reveal an attraction to the thrills of a night of blood…. The scene is like a festival: a festival of blood, a festival of the dead.” For some prisoners, self-harm becomes “a kind of cultural practice,” a way of gaining respect. “The faces of those who have self-harmed show peace, a profound peace akin to ecstasy, akin to euphoria.”

      Boochani’s narrative reaches a climax when in October 2017 the PNG authorities try to close down the prison camp. Two weeks of nonviolent protest culminate in bloody warfare. Boochani is thrilled by the militancy of his comrades: “For the first time the prisoners did not feel oppressed by the fences. For the first time the rules and regulations meant nothing…. A bond of brotherhood emerged among the prisoners in this fierce movement, performed in the theatre of war for all to see.”

      A prefatory note to the book informs us that strict measures have been taken to conceal the identities of detainees. The characters “are not individuals who are disguised…. Their identities are entirely manufactured. They are composite characters.” Boochani’s wish to protect his fellow detainees from reprisal is understandable, but it is nonetheless a pity that we are given no reliable facts about them. Was Boochani an exception, for example, in having a university education? And what led these people to undertake the perilous voyage to Australia, of all places?

      Boochani is clearly a loner. Oppressed by the meaningless clamor of prison life, he longs “to isolate [himself] and create that which is poetic and visionary.” He flirts with the idea of himself as a poet-prophet, but it is not clear what he might be prophesying. By his own confession, he is not a brave man, yet it is clear that in those desperate days at sea he behaved with great courage. His motive for seeking asylum in Australia remains unexplored. As autobiography, No Friend is not the summing up of a life but a work in progress, the absorbing record of a life-transforming episode whose effects on his inner self the writer is still trying to plumb.

      It is significant that the medium Boochani chooses for his story is a mixed one: analytic prose on the one hand, traditional Kurdish folk-ballad on the other. He writes:

      The amazement and horror felt during the nights on Manus has the power to thrust everyone back into their long distant pasts. These nights uncover many years of tears deep in our hearts and open old wounds…they draw out the bitter truth; they force the prisoners to self-prosecute. Prisoners are driven to crying tears of bitter sorrow.

      Getting No Friend But the Mountains off the island and into the hands of readers in Australia was an achievement in itself. The text was typed in Farsi on a cell phone that Boochani kept hidden in his mattress, and then surreptitiously dispatched, one text message at a time, to a collaborator in the outside world.

      Boochani’s translator, Omid Tofighian, provides an afterword containing useful information about the genesis of the book and Boochani’s place in the Iranian and Kurdish literary traditions. It is as though, to save himself from the madness of the camp, Boochani had to draw upon not only his innate creativity, not only his immersion in Kafka and Beckett, but also submerged memories of “the cold mountains of Kurdistan” and the songs of resistance sung there. (Here the title of the book becomes relevant.)

      If we approach No Friend as if it were a conventional refugee narrative or refugee memoir, Tofighian tells us, we misread it profoundly:

      In contrast to the thriving “refugee industry” that promotes stories to provide exposure and information and attempts to create empathy…Behrouz recounts stories in order to produce new knowledge and to construct a philosophy that unpacks and exposes systematic torture and the border-industrial complex. His intention has always been to hold a mirror up to the system, dismantle it, and produce a historical record to honour those who have been killed and everyone who is still suffering.

      As for Tofighian’s own contribution, “translation [is] for me…a duty to history and a strategy for positioning the issue of indefinite detention of refugees deep within Australia’s collective memory.”

      Tofighian contrasts the greater island of Australia with the lesser island of Manus:

      One island kills vision, creativity and knowledge—it imprisons thought. The other island fosters vision, creativity and knowledge—it is a land where the mind is free. The first island is the settler-colonial state called Australia, and the prisoners are the settlers. The second island contains Manus Prison, and knowledge resides there with the incarcerated refugees.

      This is a bold and persuasive claim: that through their experience on the island the prisoners have absorbed an understanding of how power works in the world, whereas their jailers remain locked in complacent ignorance. The claim rests on an extended conception of what knowledge can consist in: knowledge can be absorbed directly into the suffering body and thence transfigure the self. The prisoners know more than the jailers do, even if they do not have words for what they know. As Boochani puts it, the prisoners

      have modified their perception and understanding of life, transformed their interpretation of existence…. They have changed so much—they have transfigured into different beings…. This has occurred for everyone…. They have become distinctly creative humans, they have unprecedented creative capacities…. This is incredible, it is phenomenal to witness.

      Tofighian’s afterword upends the image of the translator as the humble, invisible helpmeet of the author. Not only does he present himself, along with two other Iranian colleagues, as a full collaborator in the project, but he also—somewhat hectoringly—gives instructions on how to approach the book: not as an affecting record of suffering and tribulation but as a “decolonial intervention,” “a decolonial text, representing a decolonial way of thinking and doing,” written to spur us “to resist the colonial mindset that is driving Australia’s detention regime.” Boochani supports this mode of reading when he identifies himself less as a writer than as a political scientist who has chosen to employ the language of literature.

      The question is, how novel and how valuable is Boochani’s analysis of what he calls the “intersecting social systems of domination and oppression” that reinforce each other in the prison? That people who run prisons try to break down the solidarity of prison populations by encouraging mistrust of all by all and diverting the inmates’ attention to trivia is hardly news. What has not been done before, claims Tofighian, is to connect the warped psychic regime of the prison with “Australian colonial history and fundamental factors plaguing contemporary Australian society, culture and politics.”

      This is, to my mind, an empty claim. The book contains no analysis at all of contemporary Australia, a country that Boochani—and who can blame him?—wishes never to set foot in. No doubt the Australian guards at the camp detested the prisoners and wished them ill; but that is true of many prison guards vis-à-vis many prisoners. What is more of a mystery is why so many Australians wish refugees ill. To answer this question one needs to know a great deal more about Australian history, the tensions within Australian society, and the maneuverings of Australia’s political parties than Boochani, isolated on his island, has been able to inquire into.

      In May 1994, during the first session of the parliament of the newly liberated South Africa, Nelson Mandela read into the record a poem written in 1960 by the Afrikaans writer Ingrid Jonker (1933–1965). The poem mourns the death of a child shot by police during a protest meeting and foretells his resurrection. Mandela read the poem as a gesture of reconciliation with white Afrikaners, who were dubious about how welcome they would be in the new South Africa. “She was both an Afrikaner and an African,” Mandela said of Jonker.

      There is an aspect of Jonker’s poem that few of the parliamentarians listening to Mandela, or indeed Mandela himself, chose to take seriously. The poem ends with the lines: “The child, become a man, treks through the whole of Africa. The child, become a giant, travels across the entire world, without a pass.” The pass to which Jonker refers is the hated internal passport that black Africans were required to carry, without which apartheid as an administrative system would have collapsed. The meeting at which the child was killed was held to protest against having to carry passes; now, in 1994, the reborn child strides unstoppably across the world, disdaining a pass. Not only does Jonker’s poem look forward to the defeat of apartheid; it also looks forward to a day when the borders of the nation-state will crumble before the march of a free people.

      The new government headed by Mandela never for a minute considered abolishing or even questioning the nation’s borders, as defined years earlier by the erstwhile colonial power, Britain. Liberated or not, any child who treks through Africa without a pass will be stopped when he arrives at the South African frontier.

      Despite its teetering economy, South Africa remains attractive to migrants. Of the 58 million people residing within its borders, some three million are immigrants of various degrees of legality, half of them from Zimbabwe. To obtain a visa that entitles him or her to work in South Africa, a Zimbabwean needs a passport, a letter from an employer, an address in South Africa, and proof of funds. Most find these requirements impossible to meet. As for getting accepted as a refugee, this is complicated by the reluctance of the South African government to concede that political repression exists in Zimbabwe. Thus, papers or no papers, Zimbabweans have for years been crossing South Africa’s inadequately monitored northern border unannounced, at a rate of some seven hundred a day.

      Immigration is a burning issue in South Africa. Politicians blame foreign migrants for high crime rates, for overrunning the cities, for exploiting the social welfare system, for taking jobs from the locals. In 2008 there were outbursts of mass violence against foreigners that left scores dead. The South African authorities have responded to the challenge of undocumented migration with sporadic roundups and mass deportations. The exercise has been largely futile. Most of those expelled promptly turn around and come back.

      I mention the case of South Africa, not untypical in the postcolonial world, to illustrate what can happen when—unlike Australia—a country lacks the will and/or the means to close its borders to less affluent neighbors. Zimbabweans and other African migrants who find their way to South Africa reside there only precariously. They are at the receiving end of resentment and sometimes of violence from the locals. They are ill advised to appeal to the police for protection. On the other hand, they have yet to find themselves dispatched to a godforsaken island as punishment for entering the country through the back door.

      Cross-border migration is a fact of life in today’s world, and numbers will only increase as the earth heats up, former pastures turn to desert, and islands are swallowed by the sea. There are messy but humane—or at least human—ways of reacting to this world-historical phenomenon, just as there are neat but inhuman ways.

      https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/09/26/australias-shame
      –-----

      Et un peu plus sur le lien avec la montagne...

      It is as though, to save himself from the madness of the camp, Boochani had to draw upon not only his innate creativity, not only his immersion in Kafka and Beckett, but also submerged memories of “the cold mountains of Kurdistan” and the songs of resistance sung there. (Here the title of the book becomes relevant.)

  • The only way to rein in big tech is to treat them as a public service
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/23/big-tech-google-facebook-unions-public-ownership

    The drive for profit is behind many of the ills of Google, Facebook et al. Unions and public ownership are the only way to solve this After years of praising their virtues, governments across the world are belatedly waking up to the problems posed by big tech. From India and Australia to France and America – and now the UK, with its report from the Digital Competition Expert Panel – politicians have been reckoning with how to mitigate the harms of the world’s largest technology platforms. And (...)

    #Google #Microsoft #Amazon #Facebook #algorithme #domination #bénéfices #concurrence #BigData (...)

    ##GAFAM
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/219b3c919d10378646c10ae07ed73f57decd9d9f/0_281_5616_3370/master/5616.jpg

  • China wants ’tranquillity’, navy chief says ahead of new warships reveal - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-military-anniversary-idUSKCN1RY0WB


    Chinese navy personnel attend an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in Qingdao, China, April 22, 2019.
    REUTERS/Jason Lee

    President Xi Jinping is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan, which has rattled nerves in the region.

    The navy has been a key beneficiary of the modernization plan, with China looking to project power far from its shores and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.

    Last month, Beijing unveiled a target of 7.5 percent rise in defense spending for this year, a slower rate than last year but still outpacing its economic growth target.

    Tuesday’s parade in the waters off the eastern city of Qingdao will feature 32 vessels and 39 aircraft, some of which will not have been unveiled before, as well as warships from 13 foreign countries including India, Australia and Vietnam.
    […]
    Military officers accompanying reporters in Qingdao have been at pains to point out China has no hostile intent with the naval parade and it is not a show of force but a sign of a genuine desire for global maritime cooperation.

    • La parade navale a eu lieu dans une brume épaisse.
      Présage funeste pour l’empereur, maître du temps et des éléments ?…
      (si vous n’aimez pas la musique martiale, coupez le son !)

      An overview of the Chinese Navy parade in 120 seconds - YouTube
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxzEyX2fzzk

      A naval parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s Navy was held on April 23 near Qingdao City. The PLA Navy sent 32 vessels and 39 warplanes into six groups and 10 echelons for President Xi’s inspection.

      RT en espagnol, reprenant les images (et le son…) de la vidéo officielle

      Gran desfile naval en la clausura del 70.º aniversario de la Armada china - YouTube
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzJh2xWs-Jc

      Un gran desfile naval ha protagonizado el final de las celebraciones en la ciudad china de Qingdao dedicadas al 70.º aniversario de la fundación de la Armada del país asiático. Además, China exhibió su nuevo portaviones llamado ’Liaoning’ por primera vez. El evento contó con la presencia de 60 delegaciones internacionales.

  • Quand l’essence européenne alimente l’Australie en fin d’hiver. Plus de 20000 km de voyage, les pays exportateurs étant l’Estonie et la Lettonie…
    Au cœur de ce business, le trader #Trafigura.

    The 16,000-Mile Gasoline Cargoes Revealing Dysfunctional Trade - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-04/the-16-000-mile-gasoline-cargoes-revealing-dysfunctional-trade


    Australia is increasingly taking Europe’s end-of-season gasoline.
    Bloomberg LP, Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

    • Traders sending more and more European gasoline to Australia
    • Shipments show challenge for country to cover own fuel needs

    Summer is coming to Europe and that can only mean one thing. It must be time to send the continent’s excess gasoline halfway across the planet.

    At least 400,000 metric tons of gasoline have been shipped or booked for delivery to Australia from northwest Europe since the start of this year, according to shipping data compiled by Bloomberg. Over 10,000 tons of marine fuel will probably be consumed to transport these cargoes just on one leg of the journey, more than some refineries produce in a day.

    While the precise motives for the trades are unlikely to become known, such cargoes could make sense because of the onset of Europe’s summer, which means switching to gasoline that’s more suited to warmer temperatures. That requires any excess stockpiles of winter-grade product to be cleared. Nonetheless, the cargoes also highlight the challenges Australia faces to supply itself or source alternative inventories more locally.
    […]
    European flows to Australia accelerated last year, having halted since 2012. Estonia and Latvia — two Baltic states — delivered cargoes for the first time in at least seven years in 2018, according to data from ITC Trade Map, a venture between the WTO and the United Nations.

    Commodities trader Trafigura Group Ltd. was the main charterer for the 400,000 tons sailing or booked for delivery so far in 2019. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

  • UNHRC adopts resolution to strengthen UN presence in Palestine
    March 22, 2019 4:14 P.M.
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782955

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a draft resolution to strengthen the UN presence in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory, on Friday afternoon.

    The UNHRC requested “the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

    The Council requested the deployment of “personnel and expertise necessary to monitor and document the ongoing violations of international law” in the occupied territories.

    It condemned Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters, including children, journalists and health workers, in Gaza.

    The resolution was adopted with 23 states in favor, 8 against, and 15 abstentions.

    The votes against the resolution were given by Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Hungary, and Ukraine.

    #ONU

  • Global inequality: Do we really live in a one-hump world?

    There is a powerful infographic that has been circulating on social media for a couple of years now. It illustrates a dramatic transformation from a “two hump world” in 1975 to a “one hump world” today. It was created by Hans Rosling and Gapminder, and has been reproduced and circulated by Max Roser and Our World in Data. Take a look:

    It is an astonishing image. In his post on inequality, Roser uses this graph to conclude: “The poorer countries have caught up, and world income inequality has declined.” Hans Rosling went further, saying that thinking about the world in terms of North and South is no longer a useful lens, as the South has caught up to the North. Bill Gates has used the graph to claim that “the world is no longer separated between the West and the Rest.” Steven Pinker leveraged it for the same purpose in his book Enlightenment Now. And Duncan Green recently wrote that income inequality is no longer about a divide between nations or regions of the world, but rather between social groups within the global population as a whole.

    Indeed, the graph gives the impression that all of the world’s people are basically in the same income bubble: whether you’re in Europe, Asia or the Americas, we’re all in the same hump, with a smooth, normal distribution. Clearly globalization has abolished that old colonial divide between North and South, and has worked nicely in favour of the majority of the world’s population. Right?

    Well, not quite. In fact, this impression is exactly the opposite of what is actually happening in the world.

    There are a few things about this graph that we need to keep in mind:

    First of all, the x axis is laid out on a logarithmic scale. This has the effect of cramming the incomes of the rich into the same visual space as the incomes of the poor. If laid out on a linear scale, we would see that in reality the bulk of the world’s population is pressed way over to the left, while a long tail of rich people whips out to the right, with people in the global North capturing virtually all of the income above $30 per day. It’s a very different picture indeed.

    Second, the income figures are adjusted for PPP. Comparing the incomes of rich people and poor people in PPP terms is problematic because PPP is known to overstate the purchasing power of the poor vis-a-vis the rich (basically because the poor consume a range of goods that are under-represented in PPP calculations, as economists like Ha-Joon Chang and Sanjay Reddy have pointed out). This approach may work for measuring something like poverty, or access to consumption, but it doesn’t make sense to use it for assessing the distribution of income generated by the global economy each year. For this, we need to use constant dollars.

    Third, the countries in the graph are grouped by world region: Europe, Asia and the Pacific, North and South America, Africa. The problem with this grouping is that it tells us nothing about “North and South”. Global North countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan are included in Asia and Pacific, while the Americas include the US and Canada right alongside Haiti and Belize. If we want to know whether the North-South divide still exists, we need a grouping that will actually serve that end.

    So what happens if we look at the data differently? Divide the world’s countries between global South and global North, use constant dollars instead of PPP, and set it out on a linear axis rather than a logarithmic one. Here’s what it looks like. The circle sizes represent population, and the x axis is average income (graphics developed by Huzaifa Zoomkawala; click through for more detail):

    Suddenly the story changes completely. We see that while per capita income has indeed increased in the global South, the global North has captured the vast majority of new income generated by global growth since 1960. As a result, the income gap between the average person in the North and the average person in the South has nearly quadrupled in size, going from $9,000 in 1960 to $35,000 today.

    In other words, there has been no “catch up”, no “convergence”. On the contrary, what’s happening is divergence, big time.

    This is not to say that Rosling and Roser’s hump graphs are wrong. They tell us important things about how world demographics have changed. But they certainly cannot be used to conclude that poor countries have “caught up”, or that the North-South divide no longer exists, or that income inequality between nations doesn’t matter anymore. Indeed, quite the opposite is true.

    Why is this happening? Because, as I explain in The Divide, the global economy has been organized to facilitate the North’s access to cheap labour, raw materials, and captive markets in the South - today just as during the colonial period. Sure, some important things have obviously changed. But the countries of the North still control a vastly disproportionate share of voting power in the World Bank and the IMF, the institutions that control the rules of the global economy. They control a disproportionate share of bargaining power in the World Trade Organization. They wield leverage over the economic policy of poorer countries through debt. They control the majority of the world’s secrecy jurisdictions, which enable multinational companies to extract untaxed profits out of the South. They retain the ability to topple foreign governments whose economic policies they don’t like, and occupy countries they consider to be strategic in terms of resources and geography.

    These geopolitical power imbalances sustain and reproduce a global class divide that has worsened since the end of colonialism. This injustice is conveniently elided by the one-hump graph, which offers a misleadingly rosy narrative about what has happened over the past half century.

    https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/3/17/two-hump-world

    #inégalités #monde #statistiques #visualisation #chiffres #évolution
    ping @reka

  • IBM World Wire: Worth the Hype OR Simply PayPal on #blockchain
    https://hackernoon.com/ibm-world-wire-worth-the-hype-or-simply-paypal-on-blockchain-8c5bc2c42f9

    (Source: Albello)As IBM announced its “Blockchain” based solution — World Wire, an international payments solution based on Stellar, a few thousand people groaned in disappointment. You see, Stellar is not a Blockchain, it is a Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT). In simple terms, if the transactions are not put in “Blocks”, it is not a Blockchain.Maybe the guys at IBM overlooked this small detail while coming out with an intermediary-centric solution “based on trust”. Take a look at the introductory video and try to count the number of times Trust and Centralization rear their heads.What is IBM World Wire?Basically, IBM has built a global online banking protocol that sits between two transacting banks. If A in Australia wants to send money to Z in Zimbabwe, the current system is slow and (...)

    #stellar-asset-stablecoin #ibm-world-wire #clearance-and-settlement #paypal-on-blockchain

  • Which countries have the most immigrants?

    The proportion of immigrants varies considerably from one country to another. In some, it exceeds half the population, while in others it is below 0.1%. Which countries have the most immigrants? Where do they come from? How are they distributed across the world? We provide here an overview of the number and share of immigrants in different countries around the world.

    According to the United Nations, the United States has the highest number of immigrants (foreign-born individuals), with 48 million in 2015, five times more than in Saudi Arabia (11 million) and six times more than in Canada (7.6 million) (figure below). However, in proportion to their population size, these two countries have significantly more immigrants: 34% and 21%, respectively, versus 15% in the United States.

    Looking at the ratio of immigrants to the total population (figure below), countries with a high proportion of immigrants can be divided into five groups:

    The first group comprises countries that are sparsely populated but have abundant oil resources, where immigrants sometimes outnumber the native-born population. In 2015, the world’s highest proportions of immigrants were found in this group: United Arab Emirates (87%), Kuwait (73%), Qatar (68%), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, where the proportion ranges from 34% to 51%.

    The second group consists of very small territories, microstates, often with special tax rules: Macao (57%), Monaco (55%), and Singapore (46%).

    The third group is made up of nations formerly designated as “new countries”, which cover vast territories but are still sparsely populated: Australia (28%) and Canada (21%).

    The fourth group, which is similar to the third in terms of mode of development, is that of Western industrial democracies, in which the proportion of immigrants generally ranges from 9% to 17%: Austria (17%), Sweden (16%), United States (15%), United Kingdom (13%), Spain (13%), Germany (12%), France (12%), the Netherlands (12%), Belgium (11%), and Italy (10%).

    The fifth group includes the so-called “countries of first asylum”, which receive massive flows of refugees due to conflicts in a neighbouring country. For example, at the end of 2015, more than one million Syrian and Iraqi refugees were living in Lebanon, representing the equivalent of 20% of its population, and around 400,000 refugees from Sudan were living in Chad (3% of its population).

    Small countries have higher proportions of immigrants

    With 29% immigrants, Switzerland is ahead of the United States, while the proportion in Luxembourg is even higher (46%). Both the attractiveness and size of the country play a role. The smaller the country, the higher its probable proportion of foreign-born residents. Conversely, the larger the country, the smaller this proportion is likely to be. In 2015, India had 0.4% of immigrants and China 0.07%.

    However, if each Chinese province were an independent country – a dozen provinces have more than 50 million inhabitants, and three of them (Guangdong, Shandong, and Henan) have about 100 million – the proportion of immigrants would be much higher, given that migration from province to province, which has increased in scale over recent years, would be counted as international and not internal migration. Conversely, if the European Union formed a single country, the share of immigrants would decrease considerably, since citizens of one EU country living in another would no longer be counted. The relative scale of the two types of migration – internal and international – is thus strongly linked to the way the territory is divided into separate nations.

    The number of emigrants is difficult to measure

    All immigrants (in-migrants) are also emigrants (out-migrants) from their home countries. Yet the information available for counting emigrants at the level of a particular country is often of poorer quality than for the immigrants, even though, at the global level, they represent the same set of people. Countries are probably less concerned about counting their emigrants than their immigrants, given that the former, unlike the latter, are no longer residents and do not use government-funded public services or infrastructure.

    However, emigrants often contribute substantially to the economy of their home countries by sending back money and in some cases, they still have the right to vote, which is a good reason for sending countries to track their emigrant population more effectively. The statistical sources are another reason for the poor quality of data on emigrants. Migrant arrivals are better recorded than departures, and the number of emigrants is often estimated based on immigrant statistics in the different host countries.

    The number of emigrants varies considerably from one country to another. India headed the list in 2015, with nearly 16 million people born in the country but living in another (see the figure below); Mexico comes in second with more than 12 million emigrants living mainly in the United States.

    Proportionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina holds a record: there is one Bosnian living abroad for two living in the country, which means that one-third of the people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina have emigrated (figure below). Albania is in a similar situation, as well as Cape Verde, an insular country with few natural resources.

    Some countries are both immigration and emigration countries. This is the case of the United Kingdom, which had 8.4 million immigrants and 4.7 million emigrants in 2015. The United States has a considerable number of expatriates (2.9 million in 2015), but this is 17 times less in comparison to the number of immigrants (48 million at the same date).

    Until recently, some countries have been relatively closed to migration, both inward and outward. This is the case for Japan, which has few immigrants (only 1.7% of its population in 2015) and few emigrants (0.6%).
    Immigrants: less than 4% of the world population

    According to the United Nations, there were 258 million immigrants in 2017, representing only a small minority of the world population (3.4%); the vast majority of people live in their country of birth. The proportion of immigrants has only slightly increased over recent decades (30 years ago, in 1990, it was 2.9%, and 55 years ago, in 1965, it was 2.3%). It has probably changed only slightly in 100 years.

    But the distribution of immigrants is different than it was a century ago. One change is, in the words of Alfred Sauvy, the “reversal of migratory flows” between North and South, with a considerable share of international migrants now coming from Southern countries.


    #migrations_nord-sud #migrations_sud-sud #migrations_sud-nord #migrations_nord-nord #visualisation

    Today, migrants can be divided into three groups of practically equal size (figure above): migrants born in the South who live in the North (89 million in 2017, according to the United Nations); South-South migrants (97 million), who have migrated from one Southern country to another; and North-North migrants (57 million). The fourth group – those born in the North and who have migrated to the South – was dominant a century ago but is numerically much smaller today (14 million). Despite their large scale, especially in Europe, migrant flows generated since 2015 by conflicts in the Middle East have not significantly changed the global picture of international migration.

    https://theconversation.com/which-countries-have-the-most-immigrants-113074
    #statistiques #migrations #réfugiés #monde #chiffres #préjugés #afflux #invasion

    signalé par @isskein

  • The year women became eligible to vote in each country

    https://matadornetwork.com/read/year-women-became-eligible-vote-country

    La tâche rouge ...

    Suffrage happened in 1920 in the United States, three years behind Russia and Canada but 91 years ahead of Saudi Arabia, as noted by this map depicting the year women became eligible to vote in each country. Countries began joining the fray en masse by the mid-twentieth century, but the leader of the pack comes from far down under — women in New Zealand obtained voting rights in 1893. This map was uploaded to Reddit and shows the year women became eligible to vote in each country.

    A quick glance at the map tells only part of the story, however. Pay close attention to the asterisks, as the year noted for some countries signifies only limited suffrage, often only for white women or in conjunction with specific requirements such as homeownership or marriage. Belgium’s 1919 suffrage granted widows and the mothers of servicemen killed in World War I, or widows and mothers of servicemen “shot and killed by the enemy” the vote but didn’t extend the same rights to all women until 1948. Australia granted women excluding Aboriginals the right to vote in 1902. For a more complete list of exclusions, view the notes at the far bottom of the infographic.

    #droits_civiques #droit_des_femmes #droit_de_vote #démocratie #govrnance #cartographi #visuaisation #cartoexperiment #arabie_saoudite

  • The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/magazine/the-mystery-of-the-exiled-billionaire-whistleblower.html

    From a penthouse on Central Park, Guo Wengui has exposed a phenomenal web of corruption in China’s ruling elite — if, that is, he’s telling the truth.

    By Lauren Hilgers, Jan. 10, 2018

    阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版

    On a recent Saturday afternoon, an exiled Chinese billionaire named Guo Wengui was holding forth in his New York apartment, sipping tea while an assistant lingered quietly just outside the door, slipping in occasionally to keep Guo’s glass cup perfectly full. The tycoon’s Twitter account had been suspended again — it was the fifth or sixth time, by Guo’s count — and he blamed the Communist Party of China. “It’s not normal!” he said, about this cycle of blocking and reinstating. “But it doesn’t matter. I don’t need anyone.”

    Guo’s New York apartment is a 9,000-square-foot residence along Central Park that he bought for $67.5 million in 2015. He sat in a Victorian-style chair, his back to a pair of west-facing windows, the sunset casting craggy shadows. A black-and-white painting of an angry-looking monkey hung on the wall to Guo’s right, a hat bearing a star-and-wreath Soviet insignia on its head and a cigarette hanging from its lips. Guo had arrived dressed entirely in black, except for two silver stripes on each lapel. “I have the best houses,” he told me. Guo had picked his apartment for its location, its three sprawling balconies and the meticulously tiled floor in the entryway. He has the best apartment in London, he said; the biggest apartment in Hong Kong. His yacht is docked along the Hudson River. He is comfortable and, anyway, Guo likes to say that as a Buddhist, he wants for nothing. If it were down to his own needs alone, he would have kept his profile low. But he has a higher purpose. He is going to save China.

    Guo pitches himself as a former insider, a man who knows the secrets of a government that tightly controls the flow of information. A man who, in 2017, did the unthinkable — tearing open the veil of secrecy that has long surrounded China’s political elite, lobbing accusations about corruption, extramarital affairs and murder plots over Facebook and Twitter. His YouTube videos and tweets have drawn in farmers and shopkeepers, democracy activists, writers and businesspeople. In China, people have been arrested for chatting about Guo online and distributing T-shirts with one of his slogans printed on the front (“This is only the beginning!”). In New York, Guo has split a community of dissidents and democracy activists down the middle. Some support him. Others believe that Guo himself is a government spy.

    Nothing in Guo’s story is as straightforward as he would like it to seem. Guo is 47 years old, or 48, or 49. Although he has captured the attention of publications like The Guardian, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the articles that have run about him have offered only hazy details about his life. This is because his biography varies so widely from one source to the next. Maybe his name isn’t even Guo Wengui. It could be Guo Wugui. There are reports that in Hong Kong, Guo occasionally goes by the name Guo Haoyun.

    When pressed, Guo claims a record of unblemished integrity in his business dealings, both in real estate and in finance (when it comes to his personal life, he strikes a more careful balance between virility and dedication to his family). “I never took a square of land from the government,” he said. “I didn’t take a penny of investment from the banks.” If you accept favors, he said, people will try to exploit your weaknesses. So, Guo claims, he opted to take no money and have no weaknesses.

    Yet when Guo left China in 2014, he fled in anticipation of corruption charges. A former business partner had been detained just days before, and his political patron would be detained a few days afterward. In 2015, articles about corruption in Guo’s business dealings — stories that he claims are largely fabrications — started appearing in the media. He was accused of defrauding business partners and colluding with corrupt officials. To hear Guo tell it, his political and business opponents used a national corruption campaign as a cover for a personal vendetta.

    Whatever prompted Guo to take action, his campaign came during an important year for China’s president, Xi Jinping. In October, the Communist Party of China (C.P.C.) convened its 19th National Congress, a twice-a-decade event that sets the contours of political power for the next five years. The country is in the throes of a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign, and Xi has overseen a crackdown on dissidents and human rights activists while increasing investment in censorship and surveillance. Guo has become a thorn in China’s side at the precise moment the country is working to expand its influence, and its censorship program, overseas.

    In November 2017, the Tiananmen Square activist Wang Dan warned of the growing influence of the C.P.C. on university campuses in the United States. His own attempts to hold “China salons” on college campuses had largely been blocked by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association — a group with ties to China’s government. Around the same time, the academic publisher Springer Nature agreed to block access to hundreds of articles on its Chinese site, cutting off access to articles on Tibet, Taiwan and China’s political elite. Reports emerged last year that China is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars quarterly to purchase ads on Facebook (a service that is blocked within China’s borders). In Australia, concerns about China’s growing influence led to a ban on foreign political donations.

    “That’s why I’m telling the United States they should really be careful,” Guo said. China’s influence is spreading, he says, and he believes his own efforts to change China will have global consequences. “Like in an American movie,” he told me with unflinching self-confidence. “In the last minutes, we will save the world.”

    Propaganda, censorship and rewritten histories have long been specialties of authoritarian nations. The aim, as famously explained by the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, is to confuse: to breed a combination of cynicism and gullibility. Propaganda can leave people in doubt of all news sources, suspicious of their neighbors, picking and choosing at random what pieces of information to believe. Without a political reality grounded in facts, people are left unmoored, building their world on whatever foundation — imaginary or otherwise — they might choose.

    The tight grip that the C.P.C. keeps on information may be nothing new, but China’s leadership has been working hard to update the way it censors and broadcasts. People in China distrusted print and television media long before U.S. politicians started throwing around accusations of “fake news.” In 2016, President Xi Jinping was explicit about the arrangement, informing the country’s media that it should be “surnamed Party.” Likewise, while the West has only recently begun to grapple with government-sponsored commenters on social media, China’s government has been manipulating online conversations for over a decade.

    “They create all kinds of confusion,” said Ha Jin, the National Book Award-winning American novelist born in China’s Liaoning Province, and a vocal supporter of Guo. “You don’t know what information you have and whether it’s right. You don’t know who are the informers, who are the agents.”

    Online, the C.P.C. controls information by blocking websites, monitoring content and employing an army of commenters widely known as the 50-cent party. The name was used as early as 2004, when a municipal government in Hunan Province hired a number of online commenters, offering a stipend of 600 yuan, or about $72. Since then, the 50-cent party has spread. In 2016, researchers from Harvard, Stanford and the University of California-San Diego estimated that these paid commenters generated 448 million social-media comments annually. The posts, researchers found, were conflict averse, cheerleading for the party rather than defending it. Their aim seemed not to be engaging in argument but rather distracting the public and redirecting attention from sensitive issues.

    In early 2017, Guo issued his first salvos against China’s ruling elite through more traditional channels. He contacted a handful of Chinese-language media outlets based in the United States. He gave interviews to the Long Island-based publication Mingjing News and to Voice of America — a live event that was cut short by producers, leading to speculation that V.O.A. had caved to Chinese government pressure. He called The New York Times and spoke with reporters at The Wall Street Journal. It did not take long, however, before the billionaire turned to direct appeals through social media. The accusations he made were explosive — he attacked Wang Qishan, Xi Jinping’s corruption czar, and Meng Jianzhu, the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, another prominent player in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. He talked about Wang’s mistresses, his business interests and conflicts within the party.

    In one YouTube video, released on Aug. 4, Guo addressed the tension between Wang and another anti-corruption official named Zhang Huawei. He recounted having dinner with Zhang when “he called Wang Qishan’s secretary and gave him orders,” Guo said. “Think about what Wang had to suffer in silence back then. They slept with the same women, and Zhang knew everything about Wang.” In addition, Guo said, Zhang knew about Wang’s corrupt business dealings. When Zhang Huawei was placed under official investigation in April, Guo claimed, it was a result of a grudge.

    “Everyone in China is a slave,” Guo said in the video. “With the exception of the nobility.”

    To those who believe Guo’s claims, they expose a depth of corruption that would surprise even the most jaded opponent of the C.P.C. “The corruption is on such a scale,” Ha Jin said. “Who could imagine that the czar of anti-corruption would himself be corrupt? It is extraordinary.”

    Retaliation came quickly. A barrage of counteraccusations began pouring out against Guo, most published in the pages of the state-run Chinese media. Warrants for his arrest were issued on charges of corruption, bribery and even rape. China asked Interpol to issue a red notice calling for Guo’s arrest and extradition. He was running out of money, it was reported. In September, Guo recorded a video during which he received what he said was a phone call from his fifth brother: Two of Guo’s former employees had been detained, and their family members were threatening suicide. “My Twitter followers are so important they are like heaven to me,” Guo said. But, he declared, he could not ignore the well-being of his family and his employees. “I cannot finish the show as I had planned,” he said. Later, Guo told his followers in a video that he was planning to divorce his wife, in order to shield her from the backlash against him.

    Guo quickly resumed posting videos and encouraging his followers. His accusations continued to accumulate throughout 2017, and he recently started his own YouTube channel (and has yet to divorce his wife). His YouTube videos are released according to no particular schedule, sometimes several days in a row, some weeks not at all. He has developed a casual, talkative style. In some, Guo is running on a treadmill or still sweating after a workout. He has demonstrated cooking techniques and played with a tiny, fluffy dog, a gift from his daughter. He invites his viewers into a world of luxury and offers them a mix of secrets, gossip and insider knowledge.

    Wang Qishan, Guo has claimed, is hiding the money he secretly earned in the Hainan-based conglomerate HNA Group, a company with an estimated $35 billion worth of investments in the United States. (HNA Group denies any ties to Wang and is suing Guo.) He accused Wang of carrying on an affair with the actress Fan Bingbing. (Fan is reportedly suing Guo for defamation.) He told stories of petty arguments among officials and claimed that Chinese officials sabotaged Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in 2014 en route to Beijing, in order to cover up an organ-harvesting scheme. Most of Guo’s accusations have proved nearly impossible to verify.

    “This guy is just covered in question marks,” said Minxin Pei, a professor at Claremont McKenna who specializes in Chinese governance.

    The questions that cover Guo have posed a problem for both the United States government and the Western journalists who, in trying to write about him, have found themselves buffeted by the currents of propaganda, misinformation and the tight-lipped code of the C.P.C. elite. His claims have also divided a group of exiled dissidents and democracy activists — people who might seem like Guo’s natural allies. For the most part, the democracy activists who flee China have been chased from their country for protesting the government or promoting human rights, not because of corruption charges. They tell stories of personal persecution, not insider tales of bribery, sex and money. And perhaps as a consequence, few exiled activists command as large an audience as Guo. “I will believe him,” Ha Jin said, “until one of his serious accusations is proved to be false.”

    Pei, the professor, warns not to take any of Guo’s accusations at face value. The reaction from the C.P.C. has been so extreme, however, that Pei believes Guo must know something. “He must mean something to the government,” he said. “They must be really bothered by this billionaire.” In May, Chinese officials visited Guo on visas that did not allow them to conduct official business, causing a confrontation with the F.B.I. A few weeks later, according to The Washington Times, China’s calls for Guo’s extradition led to a White House showdown, during which Jeff Sessions threatened to resign if Guo was sent back to China.

    Guo has a history of cultivating relationships with the politically influential, and the trend has continued in New York. He famously bought 5,000 copies of a book by Cherie Blair, Tony Blair’s wife. (“It was to give to my employees,” Guo told me. “I often gave my employees books to read.”) Guo has also cultivated a special relationship with Steve Bannon, whom he says he has met with a handful of times, although the two have no financial relationship. Not long after one of their meetings, Bannon appeared on Breitbart Radio and called China “an enemy of incalculable power.”

    Despite Guo’s high-powered supporters and his army of online followers, one important mark of believability has continued to elude him. Western news organizations have struggled to find evidence that would corroborate Guo’s claims. When his claims appear in print, they are carefully hedged — delivered with none of his signature charm and bombast. “Why do you need more evidence?” Guo complained in his apartment. “I can give them evidence, no problem. But while they’re out spending time investigating, I’m waiting around to get killed!”

    The details of Guo’s life may be impossible to verify, but the broad strokes confirm a picture of a man whose fortunes have risen and fallen with the political climate in China. To hear Guo tell it, he was born in Jilin Province, in a mining town where his parents were sent during the Cultural Revolution. “There were foreigners there,” Guo says in a video recorded on what he claims is his birthday. (Guo was born on Feb. 2, or May 10, or sometime in June.) “They had the most advanced machinery. People wore popular clothing.” Guo, as a result, was not ignorant of the world. He was, however, extremely poor. “Sometimes we didn’t even have firewood,” he says. “So we burned the wet twigs from the mountains — the smoke was so thick.” Guo emphasizes this history: He came from hardship. He pulled himself up.

    The story continues into Guo’s pre-teenage years, when he moved back to his hometown in Shandong Province. He met his wife and married her when he was only 15, she 14. They moved to Heilongjiang, where they started a small manufacturing operation, taking advantage of the early days of China’s economic rise, and then to Henan. Guo got his start in real estate in a city called Zhengzhou, where he founded the Zhengzhou Yuda Property Company and built the tallest building the city had seen so far, the Yuda International Trade Center. According to Guo, he was only 25 when he made this first deal.

    The string of businesses and properties that Guo developed provide some of the confirmable scaffolding of his life. No one disputes that Guo went on to start both the Beijing Morgan Investment Company and Beijing Zenith Holdings. Morgan Investment was responsible for building a cluster of office towers called the Pangu Plaza, the tallest of which has a wavy top that loosely resembles a dragon, or perhaps a precarious cone of soft-serve ice cream. Guo is in agreement with the Chinese media that in buying the property for Pangu Plaza, he clashed with the deputy mayor of Beijing. The dispute ended when Guo turned in a lengthy sex tape capturing the deputy mayor in bed with his mistress.

    There are other details in Guo’s biography, however, that vary from one source to the next. Guo says that he never took government loans; Caixin, a Beijing-based publication, quoted “sources close to the matter” in a 2015 article claiming that Guo took out 28 loans totaling 588 million yuan, or about $89 million. Guo, according to Caixin, eventually defaulted. At some point in this story — the timeline varies — Guo became friends with the vice minister of China’s Ministry of State Security, Ma Jian. The M.S.S. is China’s answer to the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. combined. It spies on civilians and foreigners alike, conducting operations domestically and internationally, amassing information on diplomats, businessmen and even the members of the C.P.C. Describing Ma, Guo leans back in his chair and mimes smoking a cigarette. “Ma Jian! He was fat and his skin was tan.” According to Guo, Ma sat like this during their first meeting, listening to Guo’s side of a dispute. Then Ma told him to trust the country. “Trust the law,” he told Guo. “We will treat you fairly.” The older master of spycraft and the young businessman struck up a friendship that would become a cornerstone in Guo’s claims of insider knowledge, and also possibly the reason for the businessman’s downfall in China.

    Following the construction of Pangu Plaza in Beijing, Guo’s life story becomes increasingly hard to parse. He started a securities business with a man named Li You. After a falling-out, Li was detained by the authorities. Guo’s company accused Li and his company of insider trading. According to the 2015 article in Caixin, Li then penned a letter to the authorities accusing Guo of “wrongdoing.”

    As this dispute was going on, China’s anti-​corruption operation was building a case against Ma Jian. In Guo’s telling, Ma had long been rumored to be collecting intelligence on China’s leaders. As the anti-corruption campaign gained speed and officials like Wang Qishan gained power, Ma’s well of intelligence started to look like a threat. It was Guo’s relationship with Ma, the tycoon maintains, that made officials nervous. Ma was detained by the authorities in January 2015, shortly after Guo fled the country. Soon after Ma’s detention, accounts began appearing in China’s state-run media claiming that Ma had six Beijing villas, six mistresses and at least two illegitimate sons. In a 2015 article that ran in the party-run newspaper The China Daily, the writer added another detail: “The investigation also found that Ma had acted as an umbrella for the business ventures of Guo Wengui, a tycoon from Henan Province.”

    In the mix of spies, corrupt business dealings, mistresses and sex scandals, Guo has one more unbelievable story to tell about his past. It is one reason, he says, that he was mentally prepared to confront the leaders of the Communist Party. It happened nearly 29 years ago, in the aftermath of the crackdown on Tiananmen Square. According to Guo, he had donated money to the students protesting in the square, and so a group of local police officers came to find him at his home. An overzealous officer fired off a shot at Guo’s wife — at which point Guo’s younger brother jumped in front of the bullet, suffering a fatal wound. “That was when I started my plan,” he said. “If your brother had been killed in front of your eyes, would you just forget it?” Never mind the fact that it would take 28 years for him to take any public stand against the party that caused his brother’s death. Never mind that the leadership had changed. “I’m not saying everyone in the Communist Party is bad,” he said. “The system is bad. So what I need to oppose is the system.”

    On an unusually warm Saturday afternoon in Flushing, Queens, a group of around 30 of Guo’s supporters gathered for a barbecue in Kissena Park. They laid out a spread of vegetables and skewers of shrimp and squid. Some children toddled through the crowd, chewing on hot dogs and rolling around an unopened can of Coke. The adults fussed with a loudspeaker and a banner that featured the name that Guo goes by in English, Miles Kwok. “Miles Kwok, NY loves U,” it said, a heart standing in for the word “loves.” “Democracy, Justice, Liberty for China.” Someone else had carried in a life-size cutout of the billionaire.

    The revelers decided to hold the event in the park partly for the available grills but also partly because the square in front of Guo’s penthouse had turned dangerous. A few weeks earlier, some older women had been out supporting Guo when a group of Chinese men holding flags and banners showed up. At one point, the men wrapped the women in a protest banner and hit them. The park was a safer option. And the protesters had learned from Guo — it wasn’t a live audience they were hoping for. The group would be filming the protest and posting it on social media. Halfway through, Guo would call in on someone’s cellphone, and the crowd would cheer.

    Despite this show of support, Guo’s claims have divided China’s exiled dissidents to such an extent that on a single day near the end of September, two dueling meetings of pro-democracy activists were held in New York, one supporting Guo, the other casting doubt on his motivations. (“They are jealous of me,” Guo said of his detractors. “They think: Why is he so handsome? Why are so many people listening to him?”) Some of Guo’s claims are verifiably untrue — he claimed in an interview with Vice that he paid $82 million for his apartment — and others seem comically aggrandized. (Guo says he never wears the same pair of underwear twice.) But the repercussions he is facing are real.

    In December, Guo’s brother was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for destroying accounting records. The lawsuits filed against Guo for defamation are piling up, and Guo has claimed to be amassing a “war chest” of $150 million to cover his legal expenses. In September, a new set of claims against Guo were made in a 49-page document circulated by a former business rival. For Ha Jin, Guo’s significance runs deeper than his soap-opera tales of scandal and corruption. “The grand propaganda scheme is to suppress and control all the voices,” Jin said. “Now everybody knows that you can create your own voice. You can have your own show. That fact alone is historical.” In the future, Jin predicts, there will be more rebels like Guo. “There is something very primitive about this, realizing that this is a man, a regular citizen who can confront state power.”

    Ho Pin, the founder of Long Island’s Mingjing News, echoed Jin. Mingjing’s reporters felt that covering Guo was imperative, no matter the haziness of the information. “In China, the political elite that Guo was attacking had platforms of their own,” Ho said. “They have the opportunity, the power and the ability to use all the government’s apparatus to refute and oppose Guo Wengui. So our most important job is to allow Guo Wengui’s insider knowledge reach the fair, open-minded people in China.” Still, people like Pei urge caution when dealing with Guo’s claims. Even Guo’s escape raises questions. Few others have slipped through the net of China’s anti-corruption drive. “How could he get so lucky?” Pei asked. “He must have been tipped off long before.”

    At the barbecue, a supporter named Ye Rong tucked one of his children under his arm and acknowledged that Guo’s past life is riddled with holes. There was always the possibility that Guo used to be a thug, but Ye didn’t think it mattered. The rules of the conflict had been set by the Communist Party. “You need all kinds of people to oppose the Chinese government,” Ye said. “We need intellectuals; we also need thugs.”

    Guo, of course, has his own opinions about his legacy. He warned of dark times for Americans and for the world, if he doesn’t succeed in his mission to change China. “I am trying to help,” he told me. “I am not joking with you.” He continued: “I will change China within the next three years. If I don’t change it, I won’t be able to survive.”
    Correction: Jan. 12, 2018

    An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of the province where the Chinese government hired online commenters in 2004. It is Hunan Province, not Henan.

    #Chine #politique #corruption #tireurs_d_alarme

  • Eyes on the Sea: Companies Compete for Australian Maritime Surveillance Contract - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/04/world/europe/04reuters-australia-airshow-security.html

    Major global defense contractors want to sell Australia on cutting-edge technology such as high-altitude, solar-electric powered drones and optionally manned aircraft to keep an eye on the oceans.

    Airbus SE, Italy’s Leonardo SpA, Northrop Grumman Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp are among the companies that have expressed interest in providing Australia’s Department of Home Affairs with such equipment, showcased at the Australian International Airshow last week.

    The four companies said they have responded to a request for information issued late last year; the next step, after the government responds, would be to submit proposals.

    The final contracts could be worth several hundred millions dollars depending on the scope, according to two industry sources who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

    The country is looking to replace 10 Bombardier Inc Dash 8 maritime patrol turboprops that began service more than a decade ago.

    Australia has the world’s third-largest economic exclusion zone behind France and the United States, and the world’s largest maritime search and rescue region, covering about 10 percent of the Earth’s surface.

    Australia faces smuggling of people, drugs and weapons; illegal fishing; and search and rescue at sea, making it an ideal market for sophisticated aerial surveillance technology.

    What works for large merchant ships or naval formations may not work for a tiny wooden vessel moving at slow speed with no electronic signature,” said James Goldrick, a retired rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy and former border protection commander.

    The government aims to have all of the new equipment operating by 2024, the department said when it announced the request for information in late October.

    #surveillance_maritime
    #lutte_contre_l'immigration_clandestine

  • Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of #CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find - Yale E360
    https://e360.yale.edu/digest/planting-1-2-trillion-trees-could-cancel-out-a-decade-of-co2-emissions-sc

    Tree planting is becoming an increasingly popular tool to combat climate change. The United Nations’ Trillion Tree Campaign has planted nearly 15 billion trees across the globe in recent years. And Australia has announced a plan to plant a billion more by 2050 as part of its effort to meet the country’s Paris Agreement climate targets.

    #climat #arbres #causes #effets