country:united states

  • Russian firm linked to election meddling sues Facebook over ban
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/20/russian-firm-election-meddling-sues-facebook

    Federal Agency of News says it’s legitimate and is seeking an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account A Russian company whose accountant was charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to meddle in US elections has sued Facebook, claiming it is a legitimate news outlet and its Facebook account should be restored. The Federal Agency of News LLC, known as FAN, and its sole shareholder, Evgeniy Zubarev, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the northern district of (...)

    #Facebook #élections #manipulation #censure #procès

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/01d47ee02406d1a2f2650c9fc6877b8a8f5719dc/0_56_3500_2100/master/3500.jpg


  • Donald Trump’s endless lying is meant to undermine free thought and democracy — and lead us into fascism | Alternet
    https://www.alternet.org/donald-trumps-endless-lying-meant-undermine-free-thought-and-democracy-and

    In an age when speed overcomes thought, a culture of immediacy blots out any vestige of historical memory and markets replace social categories, language loses its critical moorings and becomes what Chris Hedges has called “a gift to demagogues and the corporations that saturate the landscape with manipulated images and the idiom of mass culture.”

    No longer a vehicle for critique, doubt or possibility, language in the age of Donald Trump upholds the cultural and political workstations of ignorance and paves the way for a formative culture ripe with the death-saturated practices and protocols of fascist politics. As a species of neoliberal fascism eradicates social bonds and democratic communal relations, vulgarity parades as political wisdom and moral cowardice becomes a mark of pride. In a neoliberal age that has a high threshold of disappearance, the sins of a Vichy-inspired history have returned and are deeply rooted in a Republican Party that is as criminogenic as it is morally irresponsible and politically corrupt.

    Trump thrives on promoting social divisions and often references violence as a means of addressing them.

    The language of compassion, community and vulnerability is erased from government media sites, as is any reference to climate change. References to compassion, the grammar of ethics, justice and democracy wither as the institutions that enable and promote them are defunded, corporatized or privatized. The language of egoism, self-interest, hyper-masculinity and a vapid individualism erase any reference to social bonds, public commitments, the public good and the commons. Even worse, under the blitz of a rhetoric of bigotry, hatred and dehumanization, the ability to translate private issues into lager systemic and public concerns is diminished. The language of fascism is now reinforced by a culture of immediacy, stupidity, ignorance and civic illiteracy, and as such promotes a culture in which the only obligation of citizenship is consumption and the only emotion worth investing in is unbridled anger largely directed at Blacks, undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and the oppositional media.

    The endless lying is about more than diversion or a perpetual motion machine of absurdist theater. It is also about creating a mediascape where morality disappears and a criminogenic culture of thuggery, corruption, white supremacy and violence flourishes — and democracy dies. History seems to be repeating itself in a script in which language collapses into an ecosystem of falsehoods, militarism and racism.

    Jason Stanley, in his book, “How Fascism Works,” argues that the 10 pillars of a fascist politics are alive and well in the United States. The pillars he points to are the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety and appeals to the heartland.

    In an age when civic literacy and holding the powerful accountable for their action are dismissed as “fake news,” ignorance becomes a breeding ground not just for hate but also for a culture that represses historical memory, shreds any understanding of the importance of shared values, refuses to make tolerance a non-negotiable element of civic dialogue and allows the powerful to poison everyday discourse.

    The threads of a general political and ideological crisis run deep in American history. With each tweet and policy decision, Trump pushes the United States closer to a full-fledged fascist state. His words sting, but his policies can kill people. Trump’s endless racist taunts, dehumanizing expressions of misogyny, relentless attacks on all provisions of the social state and ongoing contempt for the rule of law serve to normalize a creeping fascist politics. Moreover, his criminogenic disdain for any viable sense of civic and moral responsibility gives new meaning to an ethos of a selfishness and a culture of cruelty, if not terror, that has run amok in the United States.

    Under Trump, violence defines the political sphere, if not politics itself, and has become a mythic force in which all meaning, desire, relations and actions are framed with a friend/enemy divide. This is the worldview of the demagogue, and points alarmingly to a resurgence of a fascist ideology updated for the 21st century. Trump’s rhetoric of hate resembles the Nazi obsession with the discourse of elimination, ritualistic acts aimed at purging critical thought and undermining informed judgment. This is the discourse of barbarians, and a petri dish for nourishing the virus of a fascist politics.

    Of course, Trump is not simply some eccentric clown who happened to be elected by a body of angry and desperate sleepwalking voters. He is symptomatic of a savage form of neoliberalism that over the past 40 years has promoted a war against the welfare state, the most vulnerable and those deemed excess while punishing everyone else with austerity policies that also made the financial elite richer and major corporations more powerful.

    The debris of violent shootings, racism, religious intolerance, the fog of celebrity culture and the destruction of civic culture has cast an apocalyptic shadow over the future of both democracy and the United States. Trump represents a ghost of the past, and we should be terrified of the way it emboldens and resonates with what is happening both in the United States and in other countries such as Brazil, Poland, Turkey and Hungary.

    Une charge précise et bienvenue par un auteur que je ne connaissais pas

    Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is https://www.henryagiroux.com .


  • Going Through the Back Door : Will UAE Sideline Renewed Iran Sanctions ?
    https://insidearabia.com/uae-sideline-renewed-iran-sanctions

    Les Emirats et leur petite cuisine avec l’Iran : pas de raison deu cela cesse, y compris avec les sanctions US.

    In June 2018, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in a report entitled, “Tracing Sanctions Evasion Through Dubai’s Luxury Real Estate Market,” revealed that Dubai is used by seven individuals sanctioned by the US and the EU as well as their respective networks who bought 81 luxury properties in the UAE as part of an extensive “money laundering scheme” worth millions.

    The report stated:

    “Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has become a favorable destination for these funds due in part to its high-end luxury real estate market and lax regulatory environment prizing secrecy and anonymity. While the UAE has taken steps to address this issue, its response thus far has failed to fully confront the underlying drivers enabling the manipulation of its real estate market. The permissive nature of this environment has global security implications far beyond the UAE. In an interconnected global economy with low barriers impeding the movement of funds, a single point of weakness in the regulatory system can empower a range of illicit actors. Our research shows that lax regulatory and enforcement environments –in Dubai, but also in other financial centers – have attracted criminal capital from around the world and offered a pathway into the international financial system for illicit actors and funds.”

    #Emirats #Iran


  • Facebook and Google’s Targeted Advertising Is Ruining the Internet and Breaking the World

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xwjden/targeted-advertising-is-ruining-the-internet-and-breaking-the-worl

    In copying the traditional media’s advertising-based business model, internet companies neglected to adopt a crucial rule: the separation between business operations and editorial decisions. Though the rule was far from universally respected, 20th century journalism’s code of ethics prohibited financial considerations from influencing news coverage. This ethical screen allowed American capitalism to subsidize the press, which in turn helped keep the government and companies honest: checks and balances at work.

    This all fell apart with targeted advertising, which stole journalism’s lunch money and used it to sustain platforms whose driving logic isn’t to educate, to inform, or to hold the powerful to account, but to keep people “engaged.” This logic of “engagement” is motivated by the twin needs to collect more data and show more ads, and manifests itself in algorithms that value popularity over quality. In less than 20 years, Silicon Valley has replaced editorial judgment with mathematical measures of popularity, destabilized the democratic systems of checks and balances by hobbling the Fourth Estate, and hammered nail after nail into the coffin of privacy.

    (...) Targeted advertising provides tools for political advertisers and propagandists to micro-segment audiences in ways that inhibit a common understanding of reality. This creates a perfect storm for authoritarian populists like Rodrigo Duterte, Donald Trump, and Jairo Bolsanaro to seize power, with dire consequences for human rights. Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott, authors of the “Digital Deceit” report series, note that “ we have permitted technologies that deliver information based on relevance and the desire to maximize attention capture to replace the normative function of editors and newsrooms .”

    For decades, thinkers like Hannah Arendt, Karl Polanyi, and many others have repeatedly warned us that fascism is the direct consequence of subordinating human needs to the needs of the market. Having willfully ignored the lessons of history, we have allowed corporate greed to transform our media ecosystem into one that structurally favors authoritarian populism. Saving democracy requires more than reforming internet companies, of course, and the exact recipe for success varies by country. In the United States, we need to reverse 30 years of media deregulation, exponentially increase public support for public interest media, and address the structural inequalities in our electoral system that give power to a party that less than half the electorate supports.

    #surveillance_capitalism #media_deregulation #authoritarian_populism


  • Beheaded, shot and stoned to death: 368 trans people killed this year
    https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/beheaded-gunned-down-and-stoned-to-death-368-trans-people-killed-this-y

    The Trans Day of Remembrance update has seen an increase of 43 cases compared to last year’s update, and 73 cases compared to 2016.

    Brazil (167 murders) and Mexico (71), once again, lead the list of the most reported killings of trans women and men.

    The United States has seen 28 trans people killed, an increase from last year’s 25.

    Other killings have been reported in Pakistan, Colombia, France, the UK, and elsewhere around the world.

    Lien vers un site qui propose des données chiffrées sur la #transphobie, “Trans murder monitoring” et “Legal and social mapping”.

    https://transrespect.org/en
    https://transrespect.org/en/research/legal-social-mapping
    https://transrespect.org/en/research/trans-murder-monitoring


  • AAP Comes Out Strong Against Spanking
    https://jezebel.com/stop-hitting-your-kids-1830226596?

    Those many years of research have shown corporal punishment to be ineffective long-term. In fact, recent research has suggested that spanking might actually encourage “bad behavior.” Research has also linked corporal punishment “to an increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children.” Among those negative outcomes: “reduced gray matter volume in an area of the prefrontal cortex that is believed to play a crucial role in social cognition,” as the New York Times reports.

    Spanking rates have certainly gone down over the years, but a 2013 Harris Poll found that a stunning 67 percent of parents had spanked their children. A 2014 General Social Survey found that seven in 10 adults in the United States believed that a “good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child,” as the Times reports.

    The prevalence of spanking might be one of the biggest hurdles going forward, thanks to the old “I was spanked and I turned out alright” defense. But the AAP isn’t having any of that. The statement suggests that pediatricians advise parents “that although many children who were spanked become happy, healthy adults, current evidence suggests that spanking is not necessary and may result in long-term harm.”

    #enfants #punitions_corporelles #violence cc @touti


  • Airbnb to remove listings in Jewish West Bank settlements - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/airbnb-to-remove-listings-in-jewish-west-bank-settlements-1.6662443

    Home-renting company Airbnb Inc said on Monday that it had decided to remove its listings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, enclaves that most world powers consider illegal for taking up land where Palestinians seek statehood. In response, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin instructed the ministry to restrict the company’s operations across the country.
    A statement on Airbnb’s website said: “We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” 
    It did not say when the decision, which according to Airbnb affects some 200 listings, would take effect. 
    Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan called on Airbnb hosts harmed by the decision to file lawsuits against the company in accordance with Israel’s anti-boycott law and said he’ll turn to senior U.S. officials to check if the company’s decision violated the anti-boycott laws “that exist in over 25 states.”
    He said that “national conflicts exist throughout the world and Airbnb will need to explain why they chose a racist political stance against some Israeli citizens.”

    The Yesha Council of settlements said in response that “a company that has no qualms about renting apartments in dictatorships around the world and in places that have no relationship with human rights is singling out Israel. This can only be a result of anti-Semitism or surrendering to terrorism – or both.”

    Levin demanded Airbnb cancel its “discrimantory” decision, saying it was a “shameful and miserable decision.”
    Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Airbnb should have included East Jerusalem and should have said settlements “are illegal and constitute war crimes.” He added: “We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation.”

    Airbnb came under Palestinian criticism for such listings, which some find misleading for failing to mention the property is on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians.
    The Palestinians say that by contributing to the settlement economy, Airbnb, like other companies doing business in the West Bank, helps perpetuate Israel’s settlement enterprise. 
    “There are conflicting views regarding whether companies should be doing business in the occupied territories that are the subject of historical disputes between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Airbnb statement said. 
    The statement continued: “In the past, we made clear that we would operate in this area as allowed by law. We did this because we believe that people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people together in as many places as possible around the world. Since then, we spent considerable time speaking to various experts. We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective.”
    Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat and a representative of Yesha, described the Airbnb decision as contrary to its mission, as stated on the website, of “help(ing) to bring people together in as many places as possible around the world”. 
    Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and began building settlements soon after.
    While Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the settler population in east Jerusalem and the West Bank has ballooned to almost 600,000. The Palestinians claim these areas as parts of a future state, a position that has wide global support.
    Airbnb said that as part of their decision-making framework, they “evaluate whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering” and “determine whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.”
    The Associated Press contributed to this report

    #BDS


  • A Haven for Money in the Middle East, Dubai Is Losing Its Shine - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-18/a-haven-for-money-in-the-middle-east-dubai-is-losing-its-shine

    There’s a deeper problem. Dubai prospered as a kind of Switzerland in the Gulf, a place to do business walled off from the often violent rivalries of the Middle East, says Jim Krane, author of the 2009 book “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism.’’

    Now the state that Dubai is part of, the United Arab Emirates, has become an active player in those conflicts, fighting in civil wars from Libya to Yemen and joining the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

    “It’s a situation that Dubai finds itself in mostly through no fault of its own,’’ says Krane. “You can go to war with your neighbors, or you can trade with them. It’s really hard to do both.’’
    ‘Unpleasant Surprise’

    Stories of Qatari citizens being ordered to leave the U.A.E. shocked businesses that serviced the region from headquarters in Dubai. American executives were especially concerned about the prospect of being forced to pick sides, says Barbara Leaf, who was U.S. ambassador in the U.A.E. until March.

    “It has cast a shadow,’’ she says. “It was a very unpleasant surprise when U.A.E.-based companies found out they could no longer fly or ship goods directly to Doha.’’ The dispute rumbles on, even though the U.S. is applying renewed pressure for a settlement.

    #émirats


  • With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the U.S. Change Policy? - FPIF
    https://fpif.org/with-nearly-400000-dead-in-south-sudan-will-the-u-s-change-policy

    The United States has also taken sides in the war. The Obama administration supported President Kiir, helping him acquire arms from Uganda, a close U.S. ally in the region. “Uganda got a wink from us,” a former senior official has acknowledged.

    To keep the weapons flowing, the Obama administration spent years blocking calls for an arms embargo.

    [...]

    Jon Temin, who worked for the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff during the final years of the Obama administration, has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s choices. In a recent report published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Temin argued that some of the worst violence could have been avoided if the Obama administration had implemented an arms embargo early in the conflict and refrained from siding so consistently with President Kiir.

    “The United States, at multiple stages, failed to step back and broadly reassess policy,” Temin reported.

    [...]

    More recently, the Trump administration has started paying some attention. The White House has posted statements to its website criticizing South Sudanese leaders and threatening to withhold assistance. Administration officials coordinated a recent vote at the United Nations Security Council to finally impose an arms embargo on the country.

    In other ways, however, the Trump administration has continued many of the policies of the Obama administration. It has not called much attention to the crisis. With the exception of the arms embargo, which could always be evaded with more winks to Uganda, it has done very little to step back, reassess policy, and change course.

    The United States could “lose leverage” in South Sudan “if it becomes antagonistic toward the government,” U.S. diplomat Gordon Buay warned earlier this year.

    #etats-unis #sud-Soudan


  • BBC - Future - The mystery viruses far worse than flu
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181101-the-mystery-viruses-far-worse-than-flu

    However, perhaps the most enigmatic viruses of all are those which infect other animals. The ‘zoonotic’ pathogens include all the big names, from HIV to Nipah, having caused nearly every pandemic in human history. Just like the recent avian flu outbreak, the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, began in birds.

    Enter the virus hunters – scientists like Olival who travel the globe, looking for the source of the next pandemic. During the first phase of the US government’s disease surveillance program, from 2009-2014, “we found about a thousand new viruses”, he says. What is the undiscovered pool of viruses? “Oh, we estimate that it could be in the millions. There are probably millions of viruses out there that infect other mammals and could potentially infect people.”

    #virus #pandémie


  • Coin ETFs are Coming.
    https://hackernoon.com/coin-etfs-are-coming-cf9816e7ff7?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    An advice passed on from the inhabitants of Wall Street’s pantheon: invest in (American) index funds. But why?These funds are popularly recognized as safer means to invest without having much knowledge of investments because they give you the ability to invest in every company in an index. One buy and you can put your money behind every company on a major index rather than betting on the success of one company or even a few companies. One company in an index may fail, maybe even a 100 companies in a index may fail, but any well-established index fund does very well because it holds shares of many hundreds or even thousands of companies.Given the US stock market, over time, keeps going up at an average of 10% per year, that’s a bit better than the 0.00001% my bank offers. Index funds (...)

    #cryptocurrency-etf #cryptocurrency #etf #exchange-traded-funds #coint-etf


  • How to Develop a Grocery Delivery App like Big Basket?
    https://hackernoon.com/how-to-develop-a-grocery-delivery-app-like-big-basket-8bbcb749791c?sourc

    Grocery delivery applications are becoming widely popular at present. The customer has switched themselves from the traditional system opining “No more trolley picking, I want it to be delivered at my home”. For a matter of fact, almost 48% of people are buying grocery through online or application medium in which almost one-fifth people are aged 25 to 34. Surely, it is picking an up-trend and the main and simple reason for its growth is the convenience of buying and accessibility to over a wide range of products which might otherwise not be available at your nearest store. We will have a look at a few of the consumer behavior trend that has infused a positive growth into it.Online grocery shopping sales in the United States from 2012 to 2021=> Major sales of the delivery companies (...)

    #grocery-delivery #guides-and-tutorials #mobile-app-development #online-grocery-shopping #app-development


  • Alcohol Is Killing More People Per Year Than The Opioid Crisis, And Most Deaths Are Young Women
    https://www.newsweek.com/alcohol-killing-more-people-year-opioid-crisis-and-most-deaths-are-young-1

    lcohol is killing more adults in the U.S. than the opioid epidemic according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The opioid epidemic kills an average of 72,000 people per year, while alcohol kills 88,000. In those 88,000 deaths are 2.5 million years of potential life lost, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The surge of alcohol related deaths is new. In ten years, the number of deaths by alcohol have increased 35 percent according the new report shared by USA Today on Friday. The statistics are based on findings from 2007 to 2017.

    Most affected by the rising alcohol epidemic are young women. Among women, deaths rose 67 percent, while for men, the percentage rose only 27 percent.

    Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related risks because they typically weigh less than men, and can feel the effects of alcohol faster, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism. The complications that most affect women who drink excessively are Liver Damage, Heart Disease, Breast Cancer and complications with pregnancy.

    #Addiction #Opioides #Alcool


  • Cheap Words | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/cheap-words

    Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business.

    Recently, Amazon even started creating its own “content”—publishing books. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.S. history. Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.

    According to Marcus, Amazon executives considered publishing people “antediluvian losers with rotary phones and inventory systems designed in 1968 and warehouses full of crap.” Publishers kept no data on customers, making their bets on books a matter of instinct rather than metrics. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. There was “a general feeling that the New York publishing business was just this cloistered, Gilded Age antique just barely getting by in a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of commerce, but when Amazon waded into this they would show publishing how it was done.”

    During the 1999 holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. “These were not incipient best-sellers,” Marcus writes. “They were creatures from the black lagoon of the remainder table”—Christmas recipes and the like, selected with no apparent thought. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Weathervane fell into an oblivion so complete that there’s no trace of it on the Internet. (Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it.) Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again.

    Around this time, a group called the “personalization team,” or P13N, started to replace editorial suggestions for readers with algorithms that used customers’ history to make recommendations for future purchases. At Amazon, “personalization” meant data analytics and statistical probability. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. Tim Appelo, the entertainment editor at the time, said, “You could be the Platonic ideal of the reviewer, and you would not beat even those rather crude early algorithms.” Amazon’s departments competed with one another almost as fiercely as they did with other companies. According to Brad Stone, a trash-talking sign was hung on a wall in the P13N office: “people forget that john henry died in the end.” Machines defeated human beings.

    In December, 1999, at the height of the dot-com mania, Time named Bezos its Person of the Year. “Amazon isn’t about technology or even commerce,” the breathless cover article announced. “Amazon is, like every other site on the Web, a content play.” Yet this was the moment, Marcus said, when “content” people were “on the way out.” Although the writers and the editors made the site more interesting, and easier to navigate, they didn’t bring more customers.

    The fact that Amazon once devoted significant space on its site to editorial judgments—to thinking and writing—would be an obscure footnote if not for certain turns in the company’s more recent history. According to one insider, around 2008—when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business. Authors started to be considered among the company’s most important customers. By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. These difficulties offended Bezos’s ideal of “seamless” commerce. “The company despises friction in the marketplace,” the Amazon insider said. “It’s easier for us to sell books and make books happen if we do it our way and not deal with others. It’s a tech-industry thing: ‘We think we can do it better.’ ” If you could control the content, you controlled everything.

    Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers. Amazon demanded ever-larger co-op fees and better shipping terms; publishers knew that they would stop being favored by the site’s recommendation algorithms if they didn’t comply. Eventually, they all did. (Few customers realize that the results generated by Amazon’s search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.)

    In late 2007, at a press conference in New York, Bezos unveiled the Kindle, a simple, lightweight device that—in a crucial improvement over previous e-readers—could store as many as two hundred books, downloaded from Amazon’s 3G network. Bezos announced that the price of best-sellers and new titles would be nine-ninety-nine, regardless of length or quality—a figure that Bezos, inspired by Apple’s sale of songs on iTunes for ninety-nine cents, basically pulled out of thin air. Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. “We didn’t want to let that cat out of the bag,” Steele said.

    The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. Bookstores that depended on hardcover sales—from Barnes & Noble and Borders (which liquidated its business in 2011) to Rainy Day Books in Kansas City—glimpsed their possible doom. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, 2008, which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs.

    By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim. Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition.

    Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Apple wanted a deal with each of the Big Six houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) that would allow the publishers to set the retail price of titles on iBooks, with Apple taking a thirty-per-cent commission on each sale. This was known as the “agency model,” and, in some ways, it offered the publishers a worse deal than selling wholesale to Amazon. But it gave publishers control over pricing and a way to challenge Amazon’s grip on the market. Apple’s terms included the provision that it could match the price of any rival, which induced the publishers to impose the agency model on all digital retailers, including Amazon.

    Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. (Random House was the holdout.) Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. In an e-mail to a friend, Sargent wrote, “Am on my way out to Seattle to get my ass kicked by Amazon.”

    Sargent’s gesture didn’t seem to matter much to the Amazon executives, who were used to imposing their own terms. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication. The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. The next day, Amazon removed the buy buttons from Macmillan’s print and digital titles on its site, only to restore them a week later, under heavy criticism. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents.

    Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. Eventually, all the publishers settled with the government. (Macmillan was the last, after Sargent learned that potential damages could far exceed the equity value of the company.) Macmillan was obliged to pay twenty million dollars, and Penguin seventy-five million—enormous sums in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins.

    Apple fought the charges, and the case went to trial last June. Grandinetti, Sargent, and others testified in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. As proof of collusion, the government presented evidence of e-mails, phone calls, and dinners among the Big Six publishers during their negotiations with Apple. Sargent and other executives acknowledged that they wanted higher prices for e-books, but they argued that the evidence showed them only to be competitors in an incestuous business, not conspirators. On July 10th, Judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor.

    Apple, facing up to eight hundred and forty million dollars in damages, has appealed. As Apple and the publishers see it, the ruling ignored the context of the case: when the key events occurred, Amazon effectively had a monopoly in digital books and was selling them so cheaply that it resembled predatory pricing—a barrier to entry for potential competitors. Since then, Amazon’s share of the e-book market has dropped, levelling off at about sixty-five per cent, with the rest going largely to Apple and to Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. In other words, before the feds stepped in, the agency model introduced competition to the market. But the court’s decision reflected a trend in legal thinking among liberals and conservatives alike, going back to the seventies, that looks at antitrust cases from the perspective of consumers, not producers: what matters is lowering prices, even if that goal comes at the expense of competition.

    With Amazon’s patented 1-Click shopping, which already knows your address and credit-card information, there’s just you and the buy button; transactions are as quick and thoughtless as scratching an itch. “It’s sort of a masturbatory culture,” the marketing executive said. If you pay seventy-nine dollars annually to become an Amazon Prime member, a box with the Amazon smile appears at your door two days after you click, with free shipping. Amazon’s next frontier is same-day delivery: first in certain American cities, then throughout the U.S., then the world. In December, the company patented “anticipatory shipping,” which will use your shopping data to put items that you don’t yet know you want to buy, but will soon enough, on a truck or in a warehouse near you.

    Amazon employs or subcontracts tens of thousands of warehouse workers, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers describe the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to eleven miles per shift around a million-square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as thirty-three seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress expert said, “The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.” The company says that its warehouse jobs are “similar to jobs in many other industries.”

    When I spoke with Grandinetti, he expressed sympathy for publishers faced with upheaval. “The move to people reading digitally and buying books digitally is the single biggest change that any of us in the book business will experience in our time,” he said. “Because the change is particularly big in size, and because we happen to be a leader in making it, a lot of that fear gets projected onto us.” Bezos also argues that Amazon’s role is simply to usher in inevitable change. After giving “60 Minutes” a first glimpse of Amazon drone delivery, Bezos told Charlie Rose, “Amazon is not happening to bookselling. The future is happening to bookselling.”

    In Grandinetti’s view, the Kindle “has helped the book business make a more orderly transition to a mixed print and digital world than perhaps any other medium.” Compared with people who work in music, movies, and newspapers, he said, authors are well positioned to thrive. The old print world of scarcity—with a limited number of publishers and editors selecting which manuscripts to publish, and a limited number of bookstores selecting which titles to carry—is yielding to a world of digital abundance. Grandinetti told me that, in these new circumstances, a publisher’s job “is to build a megaphone.”

    After the Kindle came out, the company established Amazon Publishing, which is now a profitable empire of digital works: in addition to Kindle Singles, it has mystery, thriller, romance, and Christian lines; it publishes translations and reprints; it has a self-service fan-fiction platform; and it offers an extremely popular self-publishing platform. Authors become Amazon partners, earning up to seventy per cent in royalties, as opposed to the fifteen per cent that authors typically make on hardcovers. Bezos touts the biggest successes, such as Theresa Ragan, whose self-published thrillers and romances have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. But one survey found that half of all self-published authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.

    Every year, Fine distributes grants of twenty-five thousand dollars, on average, to dozens of hard-up literary organizations. Beneficiaries include the pen American Center, the Loft Literary Center, in Minneapolis, and the magazine Poets & Writers. “For Amazon, it’s the cost of doing business, like criminal penalties for banks,” the arts manager said, suggesting that the money keeps potential critics quiet. Like liberal Democrats taking Wall Street campaign contributions, the nonprofits don’t advertise the grants. When the Best Translated Book Award received money from Amazon, Dennis Johnson, of Melville House, which had received the prize that year, announced that his firm would no longer compete for it. “Every translator in America wrote me saying I was a son of a bitch,” Johnson said. A few nonprofit heads privately told him, “I wanted to speak out, but I might have taken four thousand dollars from them, too.” A year later, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, Fine shook Johnson’s hand, saying, “I just wanted to thank you—that was the best publicity we could have had.” (Fine denies this.)

    By producing its own original work, Amazon can sell more devices and sign up more Prime members—a major source of revenue. While the company was building the Kindle, it started a digital store for streaming music and videos, and, around the same time it launched Amazon Publishing, it created Amazon Studios.

    The division pursued an unusual way of producing television series, using its strength in data collection. Amazon invited writers to submit scripts on its Web site—“an open platform for content creators,” as Bill Carr, the vice-president for digital music and video, put it. Five thousand scripts poured in, and Amazon chose to develop fourteen into pilots. Last spring, Amazon put the pilots on its site, where customers could review them and answer a detailed questionnaire. (“Please rate the following aspects of this show: The humor, the characters . . . ”) More than a million customers watched. Engineers also developed software, called Amazon Storyteller, which scriptwriters can use to create a “storyboard animatic”—a cartoon rendition of a script’s plot—allowing pilots to be visualized without the expense of filming. The difficulty, according to Carr, is to “get the right feedback and the right data, and, of the many, many data points that I can collect from customers, which ones can tell you, ‘This is the one’?”

    Bezos applying his “take no prisoners” pragmatism to the Post: “There are conflicts of interest with Amazon’s many contracts with the government, and he’s got so many policy issues going, like sales tax.” One ex-employee who worked closely with Bezos warned, “At Amazon, drawing a distinction between content people and business people is a foreign concept.”

    Perhaps buying the Post was meant to be a good civic deed. Bezos has a family foundation, but he has hardly involved himself in philanthropy. In 2010, Charlie Rose asked him what he thought of Bill Gates’s challenge to other billionaires to give away most of their wealth. Bezos didn’t answer. Instead, he launched into a monologue on the virtue of markets in solving social problems, and somehow ended up touting the Kindle.

    Bezos bought a newspaper for much the same reason that he has invested money in a project for commercial space travel: the intellectual challenge. With the Post, the challenge is to turn around a money-losing enterprise in a damaged industry, and perhaps to show a way for newspapers to thrive again.

    Lately, digital titles have levelled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to—they are too busy doing other things with their devices—but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich. “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value,” Johnson said. “It’s a widget.”

    There are two ways to think about this. Amazon believes that its approach encourages ever more people to tell their stories to ever more people, and turns writers into entrepreneurs; the price per unit might be cheap, but the higher number of units sold, and the accompanying royalties, will make authors wealthier. Jane Friedman, of Open Road, is unfazed by the prospect that Amazon might destroy the old model of publishing. “They are practicing the American Dream—competition is good!” she told me. Publishers, meanwhile, “have been banks for authors. Advances have been very high.” In Friedman’s view, selling digital books at low prices will democratize reading: “What do you want as an author—to sell books to as few people as possible for as much as possible, or for as little as possible to as many readers as possible?”

    The answer seems self-evident, but there is a more skeptical view. Several editors, agents, and authors told me that the money for serious fiction and nonfiction has eroded dramatically in recent years; advances on mid-list titles—books that are expected to sell modestly but whose quality gives them a strong chance of enduring—have declined by a quarter.

    #Amazon


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

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

    By Amy Chozick and Hannah Seligson
    Nov. 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • #Fridtjof_Nansen, WWI, and the Beginning of the Modern Refugee Regime

    This week–on November 11–marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. In terms of refugee law, the Great War is usually eclipsed by WWII, which gave rise to the Refugee Convention (in 1951). The Convention forms the basis for our international and domestic humanitarian law up until today.

    But the First World War was also foundational to our current refugee regime, and so it’s too bad that WWI developments in refugee law get short shrift. Upwards of 10 million people were displaced by the War and the subsequent rise of the Soviet Union. Many would never return home and would permanently resettle in other countries. This mass movement of civilians led to political, cultural, and social changes, and predictably, to a backlash against refugees (as a security, economic, and health threat) that sounds all-too familiar today.

    Probably the most prominent figure in post-WWI refugee resettlement was a Norwegian wunderkind named Fridtjof Nansen. Mr. Nansen was born in 1861. He was a record-breaking skater and skier. He studied zoology in university, and went on to become a world famous artic explorer. In 1888, he led the first expedition to cross Greenland, and in 1895, he came within 4 degrees of the North Pole, the furthest north anyone had traveled to date. After his career in the Artic, he turned to science, where he made important contributions to the fields of neurology and oceanography. Mr. Nansen served as a diplomat and advocated for separation of Norway and Sweden (which had been united since 1814). Norway became independent in 1905.

    Norway was neutral during the First World War, and during those years, Mr. Nansen was involved in organizing his nation’s defense. In 1917, he was dispatched to Washington, where he negotiated a deal to help alleviate a severe food shortage in his country.

    After World War I, Mr. Nansen successfully helped advocate for Norway’s involvement in the League of Nations, and he served as a delegate to that body. He became involved in the repatriation of prisoners of war, and between 1920 and 1922, led the effort to resettle over 400,000 POWs in 30 different countries. In 1921, Mr. Nansen became the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees and helped resettle two million Russians displaced by the revolution. At the same time, he was working to relieve a massive famine in Russia, but had trouble securing international aid (due largely to suspicion of the new Marxist government). He also assisted Armenian refugees after the genocide there, and devised a controversial population exchange between Turkey and Greece, which resolved a Greek refugee crisis, but also resulted in the expulsion (with compensation) of Turks from Greece.

    Mr. Nansen created the “Nansen” passports in 1922, a document that allowed stateless people to travel legally across borders. By WWII, 52 nations recognized the passport as a legal travel document. Nansen passports were originally created to help refugees from the Russian civil war, but over 20 years, they were used by more than 450,000 individuals from various countries (including a number of well-known figures, such as Marc Chagall, Aristotle Onassis, G.I. Gurdjiieff, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and Igor Stravinsky). The passports served as a foundation for a clearly-defined legal status for refugees, and some scholars consider the creation of the Nansen passports as the beginning of international refugee law.

    In 1922, Mr. Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cited “his work for the repatriation of the prisoners of war, his work for the Russian refugees, his work to bring succour to the millions of Russians afflicted by famine, and finally his present work for the refugees in Asia Minor and Thrace.”

    Mr. Nansen continued his involvement in the League of Nations through the 1920s, and he flirted with Norwegian politics, though he seems to have no major ambitions in that direction. In 1926, Mr. Nansen came up with a legal definition for refugees from Russia and Armenia, and his definition was adopted by several dozen nations. This marked the first time that the term “refugee” was defined in international law, and it helped set the stage for later legal developments in the area of refugee protection.

    Fridtjof Nansen died on May 3, 1930. After his death, a fellow delegate from the League of Nations eulogized, “Every good cause had his support. He was a fearless peacemaker, a friend of justice, an advocate always for the weak and suffering.”

    Even after his death, Mr. Nansen’s work continued. The League of Nations established the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which helped resettle tens of thousands of refugees during the inter-War years. The Nansen Office was also instrumental in establishing the Refugee Convention of 1933 (now, largely forgotten), the first international, multilateral treaty offering legal protection to refugees and granting them certain civic and economic rights. The 1933 Convention also established the principle of “non-refoulement,” the idea that nations cannot return individuals to countries where they face persecution. To this day, non-refoulement is a key concept of international (and U.S.) refugee law. For all this work, the Nansen Office was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938.

    Fridtjof Nansen’s legacy lives on in many ways. There are geographic features named after him in the Artic, Antarctic, and various places around the globe. In space, there is a crater on the moon named in his honor, as well as an asteroid. The oldest ski club in the United States is named for Mr. Nansen, and there is a species of fish that bears his name (Nansenia). A museum in Armenia documents his scientific and humanitarian achievements. And each year, the United Nations bestows the Nansen Refugee Award on an individual or organization that has assisted refugees, displaced or stateless people. For me, though, Mr. Nansen’s most enduring achievement is his pioneering work to help establish international refugee law, a legal regime which protects us all.


    http://www.asylumist.com/2018/11/13/fridtjof-nansen-wwi-and-the-beginning-of-the-modern-refugee-regime
    #Nansen #asile #réfugiés #histoire


  • Venezuela’s Decline From Oil Powerhouse to Poorhouse
    https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-venezuela-oil

    Oil is at the center of the Venezuelan economy. It accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export revenues and bankrolls the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.

    Even with global prices rising above $80 a barrel last month, the nation’s output is sliding. The U.S. shale producers boosted supply by 23 percent in the past year, while in Venezuela, owner of the world’s largest oil reserves, civil unrest and an economic collapse caused production to fall by 37 percent.

    As Venezuela’s oil production plunges toward 1 million barrels a day, the lowest level in seven decades, the country is running out of cash to pay for food and medicine. Salaries can’t keep up with hyperinflation, last gauged at an absurd 1.37 million percent. Living in a country where the price of food can change within hours prompted more than 1.5 million Venezuelans to flee the country in the past 4 years.
    […]
    The situation got worse in August 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump imposed financial sanctions against Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA in a bid to punish Maduro for the economic mismanagement and endemic corruption.


    […]
    Venezuela’s dwindling production has reduced the country’s influence across Latin America. Where Venezuela once provided subsidized oil to neighbors, now it needs to hoard all it produces in order to be able to pay bondholders, as well as China and Russia, which have loaned almost $69 billion in the past decade in exchange for oil.

    So far, the government’s solution was a selective default that’s estimated at $6.1 billion of international securities. Loans granted by the Chinese Development Bank and Russian oil company Rosneft Oil Co PJSC have been either renegotiated or paid with delays. A bond that PDVSA continues to pay is one secured by its interest in Citgo, its money-earning U.S. refining arm.


    Short of cash, Venezuela pays its debts to China and India with oil. With output falling, Petroleos de Venezuela SA has starved its own refineries. While U.S. refineries are running close to their maximum, the ones in Venezuela are operating at less than a quarter of capacity. The result is fuel shortages, especially in the countryside, adding to the pain of Venezuelans.


  • Tickborne diseases such as Lyme hit record highs in the U.S., CDC says
    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/tickborne-diseases-such-lyme-hit-record-highs-u-s-cdc-n935971

    The CDC said it’s not entirely clear why the number of reported cases is on the rise. “A number of factors can affect tick numbers each year, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, and host populations such as mice and other animals,” the agency said in its report on the number of new cases.

    #tiques #borrélioses #maladie_de_lyme #santé


  • Show #372: yes/yes; no/no/yes
    http://www.radiopanik.org/emissions/l-etranger/show-372-yes-yes-no-no-yes

    “The sounds of history recede, the struggles of warring ideologies abate, and what is left is the quiet “shuffling and #reshuffling” of all contents through the regulatory procedures of institutions.” - Kroker, Arthur, The Postmodern Scene (2001), p.23

    Note: this failed to pass via the Antenna twice due to... So here it is, what it should have been. Aside : rubbed against 90% of this list in person, hence...

    Playlist:

    1. Extract from Population One (film) from You Tube 2. Benedict Drew - Moron ( soundtrack for Milo Waterfields animated film 2005 ) from artists website 3. The Rebel - John Terry Adrift in the Black Sea World from ’Still Taping After All These Discs’ LP (Plamenco, USA, 2014) 4. Deep Freeze Mice - Most People Aren’t Fit to Live from ’Neuron Music’ 12" (...)

    #experimental #shuffling #weird #sound_art #experimental,reshuffling,shuffling,weird,sound_art
    http://www.radiopanik.org/media/sounds/l-etranger/show-372-yes-yes-no-no-yes_05702__1.mp3


  • Macron at Sea Shows U.S.-France Ties Run Deeper Than Trump Spat - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/macron-at-sea-shows-u-s-france-ties-run-deeper-than-trump-spat

    France’s Emmanuel Macron is heading to sea on his biggest warship a day after he suffered a tirade of abuse from Donald Trump. The trip, planned for weeks, will show France’s alliance with the U.S. goes beyond any temporary disagreement between the presidents.

    France’s sole aircraft carrier, the Charles-de-Gaulle, the world’s most powerful vessel outside the U.S. navy, puts to sea Wednesday and will sail to the Indian Ocean early next year. It is starting a joint mission with the U.S. and an American frigate will escort it on the voyage, according the Elysee presidential palace.
    […]
    The French aircraft carrier will be part of what Macron has called an “Indo-Pacific Axis” — a strategy to expand France’s participation with a group of nations that includes Japan, Australia, India and the U.S.

    The countries, which are linked by military partnerships, are working to contain China’s maritime claims, keep shipping lines open and secure for trade in a region from Somalia to the Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


  • Maersk CEO Reveals `Ironic’ Twist in U.S. Trade War With China - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/maersk-ceo-reveals-ironic-twist-in-u-s-trade-war-with-china

    The man running the world’s largest container-shipping company says he has access to data that shows Donald Trump has so far failed to wean the U.S. off Chinese imports.

    Soren Skou, the chief executive of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, says Chinese exports to the U.S. actually grew 5-10 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to China fell by 25-30 percent.

    It’s an ironic development,” Skou told reporters in Copenhagen on Wednesday. “But after Trump has turned up the volume, the U.S. has only increased their imports from China even more.

    There are two reasons behind the development, Skou said.

    Firstly, the U.S. economy is doing well so consumers there have more money to spend on imports, he said. Secondly, a lot of the really big U.S. companies are hoarding Chinese imports to buy as much as possible before tariffs kick in, he said.

    When we talk to our customers, we hear from many of them that they want to bring in a lot of goods before the end of the year,” Skou said.

    Maersk transports about a fifth of the world’s seaborne manufactured goods, so the company is in a unique position to gauge changes in global trade flows. Given Maersk’s reliance on free trade, Skou hasn’t shied away from criticizing Trump’s tariffs in the past.


  • Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/13/iran-was-closer-to-a-nuclear-bomb-than-intelligence-agencies-thought

    ecret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

    That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

    Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

    Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.
    […]
    The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.
    […]
    Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


  • The Economic Crisis Is Over. Populism Is Forever. – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/31/the-economic-crisis-is-over-populism-is-forever

    This is the phenomenon we face today in the United States, where the economy has rebounded more quickly than it has elsewhere in the West yet the forces of nationalism have not abated a whit. Donald Trump has not even campaigned on the economy or the stock market, an utterly bewildering choice by classical political standards. At first the president focused on his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which drew attention to his crusade against abortion, the great values issue of the last generation. But recently he has switched to immigration, turning the caravan of mothers and children seeking refuge from the violence and poverty of Central America into a threat to national security and identity.

    Steve Bannon has claimed that the American electorate is dividing between “nationalists” and “cosmopolitans.” Trump plainly agrees, and he knows his base. A 2017 survey found that “fears about immigrants and cultural displacement were more powerful factors than economic concerns in predicting support for Trump among white working-class voters.” Almost half of such voters agreed with the statement, “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country”—an echo of the title of Arlie Russell Hochschild’s study of working-class Louisiana whites, Strangers in Their Own Land. Hochschild observes that the stoical, self-reliant code of her Cajun subjects cannot be wholly reduced to racism and xenophobia, even if it contains elements of both.

    What this means for liberals is that a program of economic justice will not be enough to reach alienated whites. It means as well that a politics of identity that emphasizes the particularity of every group and subgroup, the right of each to stand apart from the straight white male default, will only further inflame the yearning for an atavistic whites-only identity. Liberals must find a national language that speaks to a national, inclusive identity. French President Emmanuel Macron has very consciously sought to position himself in the tradition of Charles de Gaulle as a patriot and the incarnation of an idea of France, though a far more up-to-date idea than de Gaulle’s 19th-century grandeur. (So far, it must be said, Macron has gained a reputation more for grandeur than for patriotism.) Perhaps the gap between the Democrats’ old New Deal base and the new race- and gender-conscious one is simply too large to be bridged.

    Liberals are inclined to regard their own values as universal and self-evident, unlike the so-called subjective ones that arise from religion or custom. The cosmopolitan cherishing of diversity is an intrinsic good, while the yen for the familiar constitutes a repudiation of reality. In fact, both are preferences, though very deep ones that sharply divide those who hold them. The globalization of people, goods, jobs, and ideas has brought out that difference in sharp relief and thus redefined the politics of the West. Liberals can’t abandon their own values, but they must acknowledge them. And they must take seriously the views of those who do not share those values.


  • Two Muslim Women Are Headed to Congress. Will They Be Heard? – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/12/two-muslim-women-are-headed-to-congress-will-they-be-heard-midterms-r

    In January 2019, Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman-elect from Minnesota’s 5th District—who wears a headscarf—will become the first veiled woman to serve in Congress. Much has changed in the past 17 years. The myth of saving Afghan women by bombing their country into oblivion has shown itself to be a devastating proposition. The Taliban are still around, and there is talk of making peace with them as the United States wearies of trying and failing to produce some sort of victory. Maloney is also around, winning her 14th term in last week’s midterm elections, even as Omar won her first. Nor will Omar be the lone Muslim: Joining her will be Rashida Tlaib, a longtime activist of Palestinian descent, who was elected in Michigan’s 13th District.


  • #Canada registers sixfold increase in US citizens seeking asylum in 2017

    Americans were the third largest group seeking asylum, spurred by fears they would be deported by the Trump administration

    Tiroude and Gislyne are Haitians by birth and migrants by necessity.

    The couple’s 18-month-old daughter, however, was born in Fort Lauderdale, and – as an American by birth – she is part of a growing number of US citizens seeking refuge in Canada.

    In 2017, some 2,550 US citizens applied for asylum in Canada – an increase of more than sixfold from 2016 and the largest such number since at least 1994, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

    Americans were the third largest contingent of asylum seekers in 2017, after Haitians and Nigerians. The vast majority are children born to Haitian parents, according to experts.
    Daughter of Haitians, 10, urges Trump to extend families’ protected status
    Read more

    “Most of the Americans applying for refugee status are the children of non-residents,” says Stéphane Handfield, a Montreal-based immigration lawyer. “They are US citizens because they were born there, but they come across the border with their parents because they don’t want to be separated.”

    Trump has repeatedly said he wants to find a way to end birthright citizenship, although legal scholars say this is impossible.

    Tiroude and Gislyne fled Haiti for Brazil in 2014, in search of work and safety after Gislyne was targeted for her advocacy.

    Two and a half years later, they headed north after Tiroude lost his job, entering the United States in November 2017 – just as the Trump government announced that it wanted 59,000 Haitians living legally in the US to leave the country.

    In May, the couple moved again – this time with a newborn baby – becoming some of the roughly 6,000 Haitian asylum seekers who fled the US for Canada last year.

    “We left because President Trump said he wanted to deport people,” said Tiroude, who, like his wife, didn’t want his last name used.

    The family flew from Florida to Plattsburgh, New York, and crossed into Canada by way of Roxham Road in Quebec, a remote section of the border which has become a well-trodden path for asylum seekers.

    Because they crossed the border “irregularly” they were quickly arrested. They claimed asylum and were eventually released to await their hearing in front of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.
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    They chose their destination largely because of a tweet by Justin Trudeau welcoming to Canada “those fleeing persecution, terror and war” – which came just as Trump made his first attempt to bar refugees from majority Muslim countries.
    Is this a Muslim ban? Trump’s executive order explained
    Read more

    Tiroude and Gislyne originally fled Haiti because Gislyne had been targeted by political rivals for her advocacy work. “If I go back to Haiti, I die. It’s that simple,” she said.

    But their odds aren’t good; last year, only about one in four Haitian asylum applicants were successful.

    They would be compelled to return to an unstable country still reeling from the 2010 earthquake and near-chronic political unrest. For their two children – their son was born in October – Haiti is a foreign country.

    “Going to Haiti as a parent is dangerous. For my kids it’s worse because they don’t know it. They won’t know how to speak Creole,” Tiroude said. “We’re very pessimistic, because they’re starting to deport people.”

    Since Trudeau’s tweet, his government’s welcome for asylum seekers has cooled notably, with Ralph Goodale, the country’s public safety minister, saying that there was no “free ticket” into Canada.

    Canada’s border agency hopes to increase deportations of failed refugee claimants by up to 35%, according to a recent investigation by the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster.

    Meanwhile, Trudeau’s Liberal government – under increasing political pressure over immigration – has dispatched officials to Haiti and Nigeria in an attempt to convince would-be asylum seekers to stay put.

    Tiroude said he was aware of the backlash against migrants, though he is facing bigger issues. His immigration hearing was recently postponed for a second time, leaving him and his family in limbo once again. “We are pessimists. We don’t know when our turn will be. We are waiting. We hope it works,” he said.


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/14/us-citizens-seeking-asylum-canada-increases-immigration-refugees
    #USA #Etats-Unis #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Haïti #réfugiés_haïtiens #réfugiés_américains