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  • Must we decolonise #Open_Access? Perspectives from Francophone Africa

    A long read featuring the recent work of Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou and Florence Piron, on how a truly open and inclusive ‘Open Access’ movement must include those at the periphery

    I recently watched the recording of the fantastic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion session at OpenCon, and I was struck by the general theme of how ‘openness’ isn’t necessarily the force for equality that we perhaps think it is, and how issues of power, exploitation, and hierarchy means that it should be understood differently according to the context in which it is applied. In the session, Denisse Albornoz used the expression of ‘situated openness’ to describe how our Northern conception of openness should not be forced on anyone or any group – it needs to be understood first in individual contexts of historical injustices and post-colonial power structures.

    What stood out for me most in this session, however, (because it related most to my work) was Cameroonian Thomas Mboa’s presentation, which talked about the ‘neo-colonial face of open access’. The presentation employed some very striking critical terms such as ‘cognitive injustice’ and ‘epistemic alienation’ to Open Access.

    I’ve always known that the Open Access movement was far from perfect, but at least it’s moving global science publishing in the right direction, right? Can working towards free access and sharing of research really be ‘neo-colonial’ and lead to ‘alienation’ for users of research in the Global South? And if this really is the case, how can we ‘decolonise’ open access?

    Thomas didn’t get much time to expand on some of the themes he presented, so I got in contact to see if he had covered these ideas elsewhere, and fortunately he has, through his participation in ‘Projet SOHA’ . This is a research-action project that’s been working on open science, empowerment and cognitive justice in French-speaking Africa and Haiti from 2015-17. He provided me with links to four publications written in French by himself and his colleagues from the project – Florence Piron (Université Laval, Quebec, Canada), Antonin Benoît Diouf (Senegal), and Marie Sophie Dibounje Madiba (Cameroon), and many others.

    These articles are a goldmine of provocative ideas and perspectives on Open Access from the Global South, which should challenge all of us in the English-speaking academic publishing community. Therefore, I decided to share some excerpts and extended quotes from these articles below, in amongst some general comments from my (admittedly limited) experience of working with researchers in the Global South.

    The quotes are taken from the following book and articles, which I recommend reading in full (these are easily translatable using the free tool Google Translate Web, which correctly translated around 95% of the text).

    Chapter 2 – ‘Les injustices cognitives en Afrique subsaharienne : réflexions sur les causes et les moyens de lutte’ – Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou (2016), in Piron, Dibounje Madiba et Regulus 2016 (below)
    Justice cognitive, libre accès et savoirs locaux – Collective book edited by Florence Piron, Marie Sophie Dibounje Madiba and Samuel Regulus (2016) (CC-BY) https://scienceetbiencommun.pressbooks.pub/justicecognitive1
    Qui sait ? Le libre accès en Afrique et en Haïti – Florence Piron (2017) (CC-BY) (Soon to be published in English in Forthcoming Open Divide. Critical Studies of Open Access (Herb & Schöpfel ed), Litwinbooks
    Le libre accès vu d’Afrique francophone subsaharienne – Florence Piron, Antonin Benoît Diouf, Marie Sophie Dibounje Madiba, Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou, Zoé Aubierge Ouangré, Djossè Roméo Tessy, Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert, Anderson Pierre and Zakari Lire (2017) (CC-BY-NC-SA)
    Une autre science est possible. Récit d’une utopie concrète dans la Francophonie (le projet SOHA) – Revue Possibles, 2016 (CC-BY)

    Piron et al’s (2017) article starts with a stinging critique of those of us in our Northern scholarly publishing community cliques, and our never-ending open access debates over technicalities:

    “… there are many debates in this community, including on the place of open licenses in open access (is an article really in open access if it is not freely reusable in addition to being freely accessible?), on the legitimacy of the fees charged to authors by certain journals choosing open access, on the quality and evaluation of open access journals, on the very format of the journal as the main vehicle for the dissemination of scientific articles or on the type of documents to be included in institutional or thematic open archives (only peer-reviewed articles or any document related to scientific work?).

    Viewed from Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa, these debates may seem very strange, if not incomprehensible. Above all, they appear very localized: they are debates of rich countries, of countries of the North, where basic questions such as the regular payment of a reasonable salary to academics, the existence of public funding for research, access to the web, electricity, well-stocked libraries and comfortable and safe workplaces have long been settled.” Piron et al. (2017)

    … and their critique gets more and more scathing from here for the Open Access movement. OA advocates – tighten your seatbelts – you are not going to find this a comfortable ride.

    “… a conception of open access that is limited to the legal and technical questions of the accessibility of science without thinking about the relationship between center and periphery can become a source of epistemic alienation and neocolonialism in the South”. Piron et al. (2017)

    “Is open access the solution to the documented shortcomings of these African universities and, in doing so, a crucial means of getting scientific research off the ground? I would like to show that this is not the case, and to suggest that open access can instead become a neo-colonial tool by reinforcing the cognitive injustices that prevent African researchers from fully deploying their research capacities in the service of the community and sustainable local development of their country.” Piron (2017)

    Ouch. To understand these concepts of ‘cognitive injustice’ and ‘epistemic alienation’, it helps to understand this ‘world system’ and the power relationship between the centre and the periphery. This is based on Wallerstein’s (1996) model, which Thomas featured in his OpenCon slides:

    “… a world-system whose market unit is the scientific publication circulating between many instances of high economic value, including universities, research centers, science policies, journals and an oligopoly of for-profit scientific publishers (Larivière, Haustein, and Mongeon, 2015).” Piron et al. (2017)

    “… we believe that science, far from being universal, has been historically globalized. Inspiring us, like Keim (2010) and a few others (Polanco, 1990), from Wallerstein’s (1996) theory, we consider that it constitutes a world-system whose market unit is the scientific publication. Produced mainly in the North, this merchandise obeys standards and practices that are defined by the ‘center’ of the system, namely the main commercial scientific publishers (Larivière, Haustein, & Mongeon, 2015), and their university partners are the US and British universities dominating the so-called world rankings. The semi-periphery is constituted by all the other countries of the North or emerging from the South which revolve around this center, adopting the English language in science and conforming to the model LMD (license, master, doctorate) imposed since the Bologna process to all the universities of the world with the aim of “normalizing” and standardizing the functioning of this world-system. The periphery then refers to all the countries that are excluded from this system, which produce no or very few scientific publications or whose research work is invisible, but to whom the LMD model has also been imposed (Charlier, Croché, & Ndoye 2009, Hountondji 2001)”. Piron et al. (2017)

    So, the continuing bias and global focus towards the powerful ‘center’ of the world-system leads to the epistemic alienation of those on the periphery, manifesting in a ‘spiritual colonisation’:

    “… this attitude that drives us to want to think about local problems with Western perspective is a colonial legacy to which many African citizens hang like a ball.” Mboa (2016).

    So where does Open Access fit in with this world-system?

    “… if open access is to facilitate and accelerate the access of scientists from the South to Northern science without looking into the visibility of knowledge of the South, it helps to redouble their alienation epistemic without contributing to their emancipation. Indeed, by making the work of the center of the world-system of science even more accessible, open access maximizes their impact on the periphery and reinforces their use as a theoretical reference or as a normative model, to the detriment of local epistemologies.” Piron et al. (2017)

    Rethinking Northern perspectives

    This should be an eye-opening analysis for those of us who assumed that access to research knowledge in the North could only be a good thing for the South. Perhaps we need to examine the arrogance behind our narrow worldview, and consider more deeply the power at the heart of such a one-way knowledge exchange. Many of us might find this difficult, as:

    “The idea that open access may have the effects of neocolonialism is incomprehensible to people blind to epistemological diversity, who reduce the proclaimed universalism of Western science to the impoverished model of the standards imposed by the Web of Science model. For these people, the invisibility of a publication in their numerical reference space (located in the center of the world-system) is equivalent to its non-existence. The idea that valid and relevant knowledge can exist in another form and independently of the world-system that fascinates them is unthinkable.” Piron et al. (2017)

    Having spent a little time at scholarly publishing events in the Global North, I can attest that the mindset described above is common. There are kind thoughts (and a few breadcrumbs thrown in the form of grants and fellowships) towards those on the periphery, but it is very much in the mindset of helping those from the Global South ‘catch up’. Our mindset is very much as Piron describes here:

    “If one sticks to the positivist view that “science” is universal – even if its “essence” is symbolized by the American magazine Science – then indeed African science, that is to say in Africa, is late, and we need to help it develop so that it looks more and more like the North”. Piron (2017)

    And whilst in the North we may have a lot of respect for different cultural perspectives, genuine reciprocal exchanges of research knowledge are rare. We are supremely confident that our highly-developed scientific publishing model deserves to be at the centre of our system. This can lead to selective blindness about the rigorousness of our science and our indexed journals, in spite of the steady drip drip drip of reports of biased peer review, data fraud and other ethical violations in ‘high-impact’ Northern journals, exposed in places like retraction watch.

    North/South research collaborations are rarely equitable – southern partners often complain of being used as data-gatherers rather than intellectual equals and partners in research projects, even when the research is being carried out in their own country.

    “These [Northern] partners inevitably guide the problems and the methodological and epistemological choices of African researchers towards the only model they know and value, the one born at the center of the world-system of science – without questioning whether this model is relevant to Africa and its challenges”. Piron et al (2017).

    These issues of inequity in collaborative relationships and publication practices seem inextricably linked, which is not surprising when the ultimate end goal of research is publishing papers in Northern journals, rather than actually solving Southern development challenges.

    “In this context, open access may appear as a neocolonial tool, as it facilitates access by Southern researchers to Northern science without ensuring reciprocity. In doing so, it redoubles the epistemic alienation of these researchers instead of contributing to the emancipation of the knowledge created in the universities of the South by releasing them from their extraversion. Indeed, by making the work produced in the center of the world-system even more accessible, free access maximizes their impact on the periphery and reinforces their use as a theoretical reference or as a normative model, to the detriment of local epistemologies, which generates situations absurd as, for example, the use of a theoretical framework related to wage labor in the Paris region to analyze the work of women in northern Mali” Piron (2017)

    “The resulting consequences are, in particular, the teachers of the Southern countries who quote and read only writers from the North and impose them on their students and the libraries of our universities who do everything to subscribe to Western scholarly journals while they do not deal with our problems. (Mboa Nkoudou, 2016 )”

    This is also a striking example:

    “It is very sad to note that geographers in Ouagadougou are more familiar with European work on the Sahel than those at the Higher Institute of Sahel in Maroua, Cameroon.” Piron (2017)

    The lack of equity in research knowledge exchange and collaboration is also caused by another one-way North to South flow: funding. Research in the South is often dependent on foreign funding. Big Northern donors and funders therefore set the standards and agendas in research, and in how the entire research funding system works. Southern partners rarely get to set the agenda, and researchers rarely get to develop the research questions that guide the research. They have to learn to jump through administrative hoops to become credible in the eyes of the Northern donor (for more information see ‘Who drives research in developing countries?‘).

    Southern institutions are also compelled, via league tables such as the World Unviersity Rankings, to play the same game as institutions in the North. Institutions are ranked against each other according to criteria set in the North, one of which is citations (of course, only citations between journals in the Web of Science or Scopus, which is overwhelmingly Northern). And so to stay ‘competitive’, Southern institutions need their researchers to publish in Northern journals with Northern language and agendas.
    Northern agendas and local innovation

    Whilst it is tempting to think that the issues and criticism described above is mostly a problem for the social sciences and humanities, there are also real issues in the ‘hard’ sciences – perhaps not so much in their epistemological foundations – but in very practical issues of Northern research agendas. For example, Northern research, being based in Europe and the US, is overwhelmingly biased towards white people, in diversity of leadership, diversity of researchers, and most importantly in the whiteness of clinical trial subjects. This is problematic because different ethnic populations have different genetic makeups and differences due to geography, that mean they respond differently to treatments (see here, here and here). Are African and Asian researchers informed of this when they read research from so-called ‘international’ journals?

    Furthermore, these Northern agendas can also mean that research focuses on drugs, equipment and treatments that are simply not suitable for developing country contexts. I was reminded of a discussion comment recently made by a Pakistani surgeon on the Northern bias of systematic reviews:

    “There is a definite bias in this approach as almost all of the guidelines and systematic reviews are based on the research carried out in high income countries and the findings and the recommendations have little relevance to the patients, health care system and many a time serve no purpose to the millions of patients based in low resourced countries. e.g. I routinely used Phenol blocks for spasticity management for my patients which were abandoned two decades ago in the West. Results are great, and the patients can afford this Rs 200 phenol instead of Rs 15,000 Botox vial. But, unfortunately, I am unable to locate a single systematic review on the efficacy of phenol as all published research in the last decade was only on the use of Botox in the management of spasticity.” Farooq Rathore (HIFA mailing list, 2016).

    Similarly, I’ve read research papers from the South that report on innovative approaches to medical treatments and other problems that utilise lower-cost equipment and methodologies (in fact, as is argued here, research in low-resource environments can often be more efficient and innovative, containing many lessons we, in the North, could learn from). This point is also made by Piron et al:

    “… the production of technical and social innovations is rich in Sub-Saharan French-speaking Africa, as evidenced by the high number of articles on this subject in the Sci-Dev magazine, specializing in science for development, or in the ecofin site, an economic information agency turned towards Africa. But these are mostly local innovations that mobilize local resources and often recycled materials to, for example, introduce electricity into a village, better irrigate fields or offer lighting after sunset. The aim of these innovations is to contribute to local development and not to the development of international markets, unlike innovations designed in the North which, while targeting the countries of the South, remain highly marketable – just think of milk powder or GMO seeds. The issue of open access to scientific publications is a very secondary issue for local innovators in such a context”. (Piron et al. 2016)

    These examples of innovation aside, there are many cases where the ‘epistemic alienation’ described above leads to ‘the exclusion or contempt of local knowledge’ (Mboa, 2016), even amongst researchers in the global South.

    “In fact, Western culture abundantly relayed in the media and textbooks is shown to be superior to other cultures. This situation is pushing Africans to multiply their efforts to reach the ideal of life of the “white”. This situation seems to block their ability to think locally, or even to be reactive. Thus, faced with a given situation specific to the African context, many are those who first draw on the resources of Western thinking to propose elements of answers.” Mboa (2016)

    Free and open access as ‘showcasing products’

    The Research4Life (R4L) programme also comes in for criticism from Piron et al. which will come as a shock to Northern publishing people who often use the ‘… but they’ve got Research4Life’ line when faced with evidence of global research inequalities.

    “… while pretending to charitably provide university libraries in the Global South with free access to pre-defined packages of paid journals from the North, this program, set up by for-profit scientific publishers, maintains the dependence of these libraries, limits their understanding of the true network of open access publications and, above all, improves the market for the products sold by these publishers.” Piron et al (2017)

    “… this program encourages the continued reliance of these libraries on an external program, designed in the North and showcasing Northern products, while it may disappear as soon as this philanthropic desire is exhausted or as soon as trading partners will not find any more benefits.”

    Whilst I still think R4L is a great initiative (I know many researchers in the Global South who are very appreciative of the programme), it’s difficult to disagree with the conclusion that:

    ‘… this program mainly improves the opportunities of Northern publishers without contributing to the sustainable empowerment of university libraries in the South … this charity seems very hypocritical, let alone arbitrary, since it can stop at any time.” Piron (2017)

    Of course, the same could be said of Article Processing Charge (APC) waivers for developing country authors. Waivers are currently offered by the majority of journals from the big publishers (provided according to the same HINARI list of countries provided by Research4Life), although sometimes you have to dig deep into the terms and conditions pages to find them. Waivers are good for publishers to showcase their corporate social responsibility and provide diversity of authorship. However, they are unsustainable – this charity is unlikely to last forever, especially as they rely on the pool of Southern authors being relatively limited. It should also be noted that developing countries with the most active, growing researcher communities such as Nigeria, South Africa and India do not qualify for either R4L access or APC waivers.

    Speaking of APCs, something I observe regularly amongst Southern researchers is a confusion over the ‘Gold’ OA author-pays model, and this too is noted:

    “In northern countries, many researchers, especially in STEM (Björk and Solomon, 2012) [ 7 ], believe (wrongly) that open access now means “publication fees charged to authors” … this commercial innovation appears to be paying off, as these costs appear to be natural to researchers.” Piron (2017)

    This also appears to be paying off in the Global South – authors seem resigned to pay some kind of charge to publish, and it is common to have to point out to authors that over two-thirds of OA journals and 99% of subscription journals do not charge to publish (although, the rise of ‘predatory’ journals may have magnified this misunderstanding that pay-to-publish is the norm).

    It may be tempting to think of these inequalities as an unfortunate historical accident, and that our attempts to help the Global South ‘catch up’ are just a little clumsy and patronising. However, Piron argues that this is no mere accident, but the result of colonial exploitation that still resonates in existing power structures today:

    “Open access is then easily seen as a means of catching up, at least filling gaps in libraries and often outdated teaching […] Africa is considered as lagging behind the modern world, which would explain its underdevelopment, to summarize this sadly hegemonic conception of north-south relations. By charity, Northern countries then feel obliged to help, which feeds the entire industry surrounding development aid [….] this model of delay, violently imposed by the West on the rest of the world through colonization, has been used to justify the economic and cognitive exploitation (Connell, 2014) of colonized continents without which modernity could not have prospered.” Piron (2017)

    To build the path or take the path?

    Of course, the authors do admit that access to Northern research has a role to play in the Global South, provided the access is situated in local contexts:

    “… African science should be an African knowledge, rooted in African contexts, that uses African epistemologies to answer African questions, while also using other knowledge from all over the world, including Western ones, if they are relevant locally.” Piron (2017)

    However, the practical reality of Open Access for Southern researchers is often overstated. There is a crucial distinction between making content ‘open’ and providing the means to access that content. As Piron et al. 2017 say:

    “To put a publication in open access: is it, to build the path (technical or legal) that leads to it, or is it to make it possible for people to take this path? This distinction is crucial to understand the difference in meaning of open access between the center and the periphery of the world-system of science, although only an awareness of the conditions of scientific research in the Southern countries makes it possible to visualize it, to perceive it.”

    This crucial difference between availability and accessibility has also been explained by Anne Powell on Scholarly Kitchen. There are many complex barriers to ‘free’ and ‘open’ content actually being accessed and used. The most obvious of these barriers is internet connectivity, but librarian training, language and digital literacy also feature significantly:

    “Finding relevant open access articles on the web requires digital skills that, as we have seen, are rare among Haitian and African students for whom the web sometimes comes via Facebook … Remember that it is almost always when they arrive at university that these students first touch a computer. The catching up is fast, but many reflexes acquired since the primary school in the countries of the North must be developed before even being able to imagine that there are open access scientific texts on the web to make up for the lack of documents in the libraries. In the words of the Haitian student Anderson Pierre, “a large part of the students do not know the existence of these resources or do not have the digital skills to access and exploit them in order to advance their research project”. Piron (2017)

    Barriers to local knowledge exchange

    Unfortunately, this is made even more difficult by resistance and misunderstanding of the internet and digital tools from senior leadership in Africa:

    “Social representations of the web, science and copyright also come into play, especially among older academics, a phenomenon that undermines the appropriation of digital technologies at the basis of open access in universities.” Piron et al. (2017)

    “To this idea that knowledge resides only in printed books is added a representation of the web which also has an impact on the local resistance to open access: our fieldwork has allowed us to understand that, for many African senior academics, the web is incompatible with science because it contains only documents or sites that are of low quality, frivolous or entertaining. These people infer that science in open access on the web is of lower quality than printed science and are very surprised when they learn that most of the journals of the world-system of science exist only in dematerialized format. … Unfortunately, these resistances slow down the digitization and the web dissemination of African scientific works, perpetuating these absurd situations where the researchers of the same field in neighboring universities do not know what each other is doing”. Piron et al. (2017)

    This complaint about in-country communication from researchers in the South can be common, but there are signs that open access can make a difference – as an example, in Sri Lanka, I’ve spoken to researchers who say that communicating research findings within the country has always been a problem, but the online portal Sri Lanka Journals Online (currently 77 open access Sri Lankan journals) has started to improve this situation. This project was many years in the making, and has involved training journal editors and librarians in loading online content and improving editorial practices for open access. The same, of course, could be said for African Journals Online, which has potential to facilitate sharing on a larger scale.

    Arguably, some forms of institutional resistance to openness in the Global South have a neocolonial influence – universities have largely borrowed and even intensified the Northern ‘publish or perish’ mantra which focuses the academic rewards system almost entirely on journal publications, often in northern-indexed journals, rather than on impact on real world development.

    “The system of higher education and research in force in many African countries remains a remnant of colonization, perpetuated by the reproduction, year after year, of the same ideals and principles. This reproduction is assured not by the old colonizers but by our own political leaders who are perpetuating a system structured according to a classical partitioning that slows down any possible communication between researchers within the country or with the outside world, even worse between the university and the immediate environment. For the ruling class, the changes taking place in the world and the society’s needs seem to have no direct link to the university.” Mboa (2016)

    Mboa calls this partitioning between researchers and outsiders as “a tight border between society and science”:

    “African researchers are so attached to the ideal of neutrality of science and concern of its ‘purity’ that they consider contacts with ordinary citizens as ‘risks’ or threats and that they prefer to evolve in their ‘ivory tower’. On the other hand, ordinary citizens feel so diminished compared to researchers that to talk to them about their eventual involvement in research is a taboo subject …” Mboa (2016)

    Uncolonising openness

    So what is the answer to all these problems? Is it in building the skills of researchers and institutions or a complete change of philosophy?

    “The colonial origin of African science (Mvé-Ondo, 2005) is certainly no stranger to this present subjugation of African science to northern research projects, nor to its tendency to imitate Western science without effort. Contextualization, particularly in the quasi-colonial structuring of sub-Saharan African universities (Fredua-Kwarteng, 2015) and in maintaining the use of a colonial language in university education. Considering this institutionalized epistemic alienation as yet another cognitive injustice, Mvé-Ondo wonders “how to move from a westernization of science to a truly shared science” (p.49) and calls for “epistemological mutation”, “rebirth”, modernizing “African science at the crossroads of local knowledge and northern science – perhaps echoing the call of Fanon (1962/2002) for a “new thinking” in the Third World countries, detached from European model, decolonized.” Piron et al. (2017)

    For this to happen, open access must be about more than just access – but something much more holistic and equitable:

    “Can decentralized, decolonised open access then contribute to creating more cognitive justice in global scientific production? Our answer is clear: yes, provided that it is not limited to the question of access for scientific and non-scientific readers to scientific publications. It must include the concern for origin, creation, local publishing and the desire to ensure equity between the accessibility of the publications of the center of the world system and that of knowledge from the periphery. It thus proposes to replace the normative universalism of globalized science with an inclusive universalism, open to the ecology of knowledges and capable of building an authentic knowledge commons (Gruson-Daniel, 2015; Le Crosnier, 2015), hospitable for the knowledge of the North and the South”. Piron et al. (2017)

    Mboa sees the solution to this multifaceted problem in ‘open science’:

    “[Cognitive injustice comes via] … endogenous causes (citizens and African leaders) and by exogenous causes (capitalism, colonization, the West). The knowledge of these causes allowed me to propose ways to prevent our downfall. Among these means, I convened open science as a tool available to our leaders and citizens for advancing cognitive justice. For although the causes are endogenous and exogenous, I believe that a wound heals from the inside outwards.” Mboa (2016).

    Mboa explains how open science approaches can overcome some of these problems in this book chapter, but here he provides a short summary of the advantages of open science for African research:

    “It’s a science that rejects the ivory tower and the separation between scientists and the rest of the population of the country. In short, it’s a science released from control by a universal capitalist standard, by hierarchical authority and by pre-established scientific classes. From this perspective, open science offers the following advantages:

    it brings science closer to society;
    it promotes fair and sustainable development;
    it allows the expression of minority and / or marginalized groups, as well as their knowledge;
    it promotes original, local and useful research in the country;
    it facilitates access to a variety of scientific and technical information;
    it is abundant, recent and up to date;
    it develops digital skills;
    it facilitates collaborative work;
    it gives a better visibility to research work.

    By aiming to benefit from these advantages, researchers and African students fight cognitive injustice. For this, open access science relies on open access, free licenses, free computing, and citizen science.” Mboa (2016).

    But in order for open science to succeed, digital literacy must be rapidly improved to empower students and researchers in the South:

    “Promoting inclusive access therefore requires engaging at the same time in a decolonial critique of the relationship between the center and the periphery and urging universities in the South to develop the digital literacy of their student or teacher members.” Piron et al. (2017)

    It also requires improving production of scientific works (‘grey’ literature, as well as peer-reviewed papers) in the South for a two-way North/South conversation:

    “Then, we propose to rethink the usual definition of open access to add the mandate to enhance the visibility of scientific work produced in universities in the South and thus contribute to greater cognitive justice in global scientific production.” Piron (2017)

    And providing open access needs to be understood in context:

    “… if we integrate the concern for the enhancement of the knowledge produced in the periphery and the awareness of all that hinders the creation of this knowledge, then open access can become a tool of cognitive justice at the service of the construction of an inclusive universalism peculiar to a just open science.” Piron, Diouf, Madiba (2017)

    In summary then, we need to rethink the way that the global North seeks to support the South – a realignment of this relationship from mere access to empowerment through sustainable capacity building:

    “Africa’s scientific development aid, if it is needed, should therefore be oriented much less towards immediate access to Northern publications and more to local development of tools and the strengthening of the digital skills of academics and librarians. These tools and skills would enable them not only to take advantage of open access databases, but also to digitize and put open access local scientific works in open archives, journals or research centers.” Piron (2017)

    So what next?

    Even if you disagree with many the above ideas, I hope that this has provided many of you with some food for thought. Open Access must surely be about more than just knowledge flow from North to South (or, for that matter the academy to the public, or well-funded researchers to poorly funded researchers). Those on the periphery must also be given a significant voice and a place at the table. For this to happen, many researchers (and their equivalents outside academia) need training and support in digital skills; some institutional barriers also need to be removed or overcome; and of course a few cherished, long-held ideas must be seriously challenged.

    “These injustices denote anything that diminishes the capacity of academics in these countries to deploy the full potential of their intellectual talents, their knowledge and their capacity for scientific research to serve their country’s sustainable local development”. Piron et al., (2016).

    What do you think…?

    http://journalologik.uk/?p=149
    #édition_scientifique #OA #open_access #Afrique #Afrique_francophone #décolonisation #post-colonialisme

  • Beyond the Hype of Lab-Grown Diamonds
    https://earther.gizmodo.com/beyond-the-hype-of-lab-grown-diamonds-1834890351

    Billions of years ago when the world was still young, treasure began forming deep underground. As the edges of Earth’s tectonic plates plunged down into the upper mantle, bits of carbon, some likely hailing from long-dead life forms were melted and compressed into rigid lattices. Over millions of years, those lattices grew into the most durable, dazzling gems the planet had ever cooked up. And every so often, for reasons scientists still don’t fully understand, an eruption would send a stash of these stones rocketing to the surface inside a bubbly magma known as kimberlite.

    There, the diamonds would remain, nestled in the kimberlite volcanoes that delivered them from their fiery home, until humans evolved, learned of their existence, and began to dig them up.

    The epic origin of Earth’s diamonds has helped fuel a powerful marketing mythology around them: that they are objects of otherworldly strength and beauty; fitting symbols of eternal love. But while “diamonds are forever” may be the catchiest advertising slogan ever to bear some geologic truth, the supply of these stones in the Earth’s crust, in places we can readily reach them, is far from everlasting. And the scars we’ve inflicted on the land and ourselves in order to mine diamonds has cast a shadow that still lingers over the industry.

    Some diamond seekers, however, say we don’t need to scour the Earth any longer, because science now offers an alternative: diamonds grown in labs. These gems aren’t simulants or synthetic substitutes; they are optically, chemically, and physically identical to their Earth-mined counterparts. They’re also cheaper, and in theory, limitless. The arrival of lab-grown diamonds has rocked the jewelry world to its core and prompted fierce pushback from diamond miners. Claims abound on both sides.

    Growers often say that their diamonds are sustainable and ethical; miners and their industry allies counter that only gems plucked from the Earth can be considered “real” or “precious.” Some of these assertions are subjective, others are supported only by sparse, self-reported, or industry-backed data. But that’s not stopping everyone from making them.

    This is a fight over image, and when it comes to diamonds, image is everything.
    A variety of cut, polished Ada Diamonds created in a lab, including smaller melee stones and large center stones. 22.94 carats total. (2.60 ct. pear, 2.01 ct. asscher, 2.23 ct. cushion, 3.01 ct. radiant, 1.74 ct. princess, 2.11 ct. emerald, 3.11 ct. heart, 3.00 ct. oval, 3.13 ct. round.)
    Image: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    Same, but different

    The dream of lab-grown diamond dates back over a century. In 1911, science fiction author H.G. Wells described what would essentially become one of the key methods for making diamond—recreating the conditions inside Earth’s mantle on its surface—in his short story The Diamond Maker. As the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) notes, there were a handful of dubious attempts to create diamonds in labs in the late 19th and early 20th century, but the first commercial diamond production wouldn’t emerge until the mid-1950s, when scientists with General Electric worked out a method for creating small, brown stones. Others, including De Beers, soon developed their own methods for synthesizing the gems, and use of the lab-created diamond in industrial applications, from cutting tools to high power electronics, took off.

    According to the GIA’s James Shigley, the first experimental production of gem-quality diamond occurred in 1970. Yet by the early 2000s, gem-quality stones were still small, and often tinted yellow with impurities. It was only in the last five or so years that methods for growing diamonds advanced to the point that producers began churning out large, colorless stones consistently. That’s when the jewelry sector began to take a real interest.

    Today, that sector is taking off. The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA), a trade group formed in 2016 by a dozen lab diamond growers and sellers, now has about 50 members, according to IGDA secretary general Dick Garard. When the IGDA first formed, lab-grown diamonds were estimated to represent about 1 percent of a $14 billion rough diamond market. This year, industry analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates they account for 2-3 percent of the market.

    He expects that share will only continue to grow as factories in China that already produce millions of carats a year for industrial purposes start to see an opportunity in jewelry.
    “I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not.”

    “This year some [factories] will come up from 100,000 gem-quality diamonds to one to two million,” Zimnisky said. “They already have the infrastructure and equipment in place” and are in the process of upgrading it. (About 150 million carats of diamonds were mined last year, according to a global analysis of the industry conducted by Bain & Company.)

    Production ramp-up aside, 2018 saw some other major developments across the industry. In the summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reversed decades of guidance when it expanded the definition of a diamond to include those created in labs and dropped ‘synthetic’ as a recommended descriptor for lab-grown stones. The decision came on the heels of the world’s top diamond producer, De Beers, announcing the launch of its own lab-grown diamond line, Lightbox, after having once vowed never to sell man-made stones as jewelry.

    “I would say shock,” Lightbox Chief Marketing Officer Sally Morrison told Earther when asked how the jewelry world responded to the company’s launch.

    While the majority of lab-grown diamonds on the market today are what’s known as melee (less than 0.18 carats), the tech for producing the biggest, most dazzling diamonds continues to improve. In 2016, lab-grown diamond company MiaDonna announced its partners had grown a 6.28 carat gem-quality diamond, claimed to be the largest created in the U.S. to that point. In 2017, a lab in Augsburg University, Germany that grows diamonds for industrial and scientific research applications produced what is thought to be the largest lab-grown diamond ever—a 155 carat behemoth that stretches nearly 4 inches across. Not gem quality, perhaps, but still impressive.

    “If you compare it with the Queen’s diamond, hers is four times heavier, it’s clearer” physicist Matthias Schreck, who leads the group that grew that beast of a jewel, told me. “But in area, our diamond is bigger. We were very proud of this.”

    Diamonds can be created in one of two ways: Similar to how they form inside the Earth, or similar to how scientists speculate they might form in outer space.

    The older, Earth-inspired method is known as “high temperature high pressure” (HPHT), and that’s exactly what it sounds like. A carbon source, like graphite, is placed in a giant, mechanical press where, in the presence of a catalyst, it’s subjected to temperatures of around 1,600 degrees Celsius and pressures of 5-6 Gigapascals in order to form diamond. (If you’re curious what that sort of pressure feels like, the GIA describes it as similar to the force exerted if you tried to balance a commercial jet on your fingertip.)

    The newer method, called chemical vapor deposition (CVD), is more akin to how diamonds might form in interstellar gas clouds (for which we have indirect, spectroscopic evidence, according to Shigley). A hydrocarbon gas, like methane, is pumped into a low-pressure reactor vessel alongside hydrogen. While maintaining near-vacuum conditions, the gases are heated very hot—typically 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius, according to Lightbox CEO Steve Coe—causing carbon atoms to break free of their molecular bonds. Under the right conditions, those liberated bits of carbon will settle out onto a substrate—typically a flat, square plate of a synthetic diamond produced with the HPHT method—forming layer upon layer of diamond.

    “It’s like snow falling on a table on your back porch,” Jason Payne, the founder and CEO of lab-grown diamond jewelry company Ada Diamonds, told me.

    Scientists have been forging gem-quality diamonds with HPHT for longer, but today, CVD has become the method of choice for those selling larger bridal stones. That’s in part because it’s easier to control impurities and make diamonds with very high clarity, according to Coe. Still, each method has its advantages—Payne said that HPHT is faster and the diamonds typically have better color (which is to say, less of it)—and some companies, like Ada, purchase stones grown in both ways.

    However they’re made, lab-grown diamonds have the same exceptional hardness, stiffness, and thermal conductivity as their Earth-mined counterparts. Cut, they can dazzle with the same brilliance and fire—a technical term to describe how well the diamond scatters light like a prism. The GIA even grades them according to the same 4Cs—cut, clarity, color, and carat—that gemologists use to assess diamonds formed in the Earth, although it uses a slightly different terminology to report the color and clarity grades for lab-grown stones.

    They’re so similar, in fact, that lab-grown diamond entering the larger diamond supply without any disclosures has become a major concern across the jewelry industry, particularly when it comes to melee stones from Asia. It’s something major retailers are now investing thousands of dollars in sophisticated detection equipment to suss out by searching for minute differences in, say, their crystal shape or for impurities like nitrogen (much less common in lab-grown diamond, according to Shigley).

    Those differences may be a lifeline for retailers hoping to weed out lab-grown diamonds, but for companies focused on them, they can become another selling point. The lack of nitrogen in diamonds produced with the CVD method, for instance, gives them an exceptional chemical purity that allows them to be classified as type IIa; a rare and coveted breed that accounts for just 2 percent of those found in nature. Meanwhile, the ability to control everything about the growth process allows companies like Lightbox to adjust the formula and produce incredibly rare blue and pink diamonds as part of their standard product line. (In fact, these colored gemstones have made up over half of the company’s sales since launch, according to Coe.)

    And while lab-grown diamonds boast the same sparkle as their Earthly counterparts, they do so at a significant discount. Zimnisky said that today, your typical one carat, medium quality diamond grown in a lab will sell for about $3,600, compared with $6,100 for its Earth-mined counterpart—a discount of about 40 percent. Two years ago, that discount was only 18 percent. And while the price drop has “slightly tapered off” as Zimnisky put it, he expects it will fall further thanks in part to the aforementioned ramp up in Chinese production, as well as technological improvements. (The market is also shifting in response to Lightbox, which De Beers is using to position lab-grown diamonds as mass produced items for fashion jewelry, and which is selling its stones, ungraded, at the controversial low price of $800 per carat—a discount of nearly 90 percent.)

    Zimnisky said that if the price falls too fast, it could devalue lab-grown diamonds in the eyes of consumers. But for now, at least, paying less seems to be a selling point. A 2018 consumer research survey by MVI Marketing found that most of those polled would choose a larger lab-grown diamond over a smaller mined diamond of the same price.

    “The thing [consumers] seem most compelled by is the ability to trade up in size and quality at the same price,” Garard of IGDA said.

    Still, for buyers and sellers alike, price is only part of the story. Many in the lab-grown diamond world market their product as an ethical or eco-friendly alternative to mined diamonds.

    But those sales pitches aren’t without controversy.
    A variety of lab-grown diamond products arrayed on a desk at Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. The stone in the upper left gets its blue color from boron. Diamonds tinted yellow (top center) usually get their color from small amounts of nitrogen.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    Dazzling promises

    As Anna-Mieke Anderson tells it, she didn’t enter the diamond world to become a corporate tycoon. She did it to try and fix a mistake.

    In 1999, Anderson purchased herself a diamond. Some years later, in 2005, her father asked her where it came from. Nonplussed, she told him it came from the jewelry store. But that wasn’t what he was asking: He wanted to know where it really came from.

    “I actually had no idea,” Anderson told Earther. “That led me to do a mountain of research.”

    That research eventually led Anderson to conclude that she had likely bought a diamond mined under horrific conditions. She couldn’t be sure, because the certificate of purchase included no place of origin. But around the time of her purchase, civil wars funded by diamond mining were raging across Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, fueling “widespread devastation” as Global Witness put it in 2006. At the height of the diamond wars in the late ‘90s, the watchdog group estimates that as many as 15 percent of diamonds entering the market were conflict diamonds. Even those that weren’t actively fueling a war were often being mined in dirty, hazardous conditions; sometimes by children.

    “I couldn’t believe I’d bought into this,” Anderson said.

    To try and set things right, Anderson began sponsoring a boy living in a Liberian community impacted by the blood diamond trade. The experience was so eye-opening, she says, that she eventually felt compelled to sponsor more children. Selling conflict-free jewelry seemed like a fitting way to raise money to do so, but after a great deal more research, Anderson decided she couldn’t in good faith consider any diamond pulled from the Earth to be truly conflict-free in either the humanitarian or environmental sense. While diamond miners were, by the early 2000s, getting their gems certified “conflict free” according to the UN-backed Kimberley Process, the certification scheme’s definition of a conflict diamond—one sold by rebel groups to finance armed conflicts against governments—felt far too narrow.

    “That [conflict definition] eliminates anything to do with the environment, or eliminates a child mining it, or someone who was a slave, or beaten, or raped,” Anderson said.

    And so she started looking into science, and in 2007, launching MiaDonna as one of the world’s first lab-grown diamond jewelry companies. The business has been activism-oriented from the get-go, with at least five percent of its annual earnings—and more than 20 percent for the last three years—going into The Greener Diamond, Anderson’s charity foundation which has funded a wide range of projects, from training former child soldiers in Sierra Leone to grow food to sponsoring kids orphaned by the West African Ebola outbreak.

    MiaDonna isn’t the only company that positions itself as an ethical alternative to the traditional diamond industry. Brilliant Earth, which sells what it says are carefully-sourced mined and lab-created diamonds, also donates a small portion of its profits to supporting mining communities. Other lab-grown diamond companies market themselves as “ethical,” “conflict-free,” or “world positive.” Payne of Ada Diamonds sees, in lab-grown diamonds, not just shiny baubles, but a potential to improve medicine, clean up pollution, and advance society in countless other ways—and he thinks the growing interest in lab-grown diamond jewelry will help propel us toward that future.

    Others, however, say black-and-white characterizations when it comes to social impact of mined diamonds versus lab-grown stones are unfair. “I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not,” Estelle Levin-Nally, founder and CEO of Levin Sources, which advocates for better governance in the mining sector, told Earther. “I think it’s always about your politics. And ethics are subjective.”

    Saleem Ali, an environmental researcher at the University of Delaware who serves on the board of the Diamonds and Development Initiative, agrees. He says the mining industry has, on the whole, worked hard to turn itself around since the height of the diamond wars and that governance is “much better today” than it used to be. Human rights watchdog Global Witness also says that “significant progress” has been made to curb the conflict diamond trade, although as Alice Harle, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness told Earther via email, diamonds do still fuel conflict, particularly in the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe.

    Most industry observers seems to agree that the Kimberley Process is outdated and inadequate, and that more work is needed to stamp out other abuses, including child labor and forced labor, in the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector. Today, large-scale mining operations don’t tend to see these kinds of problems, according to Julianne Kippenberg, associate director for children’s rights at Human Rights Watch, but she notes that there may be other community impacts surrounding land rights and forced resettlement.

    The flip side, Ali and Levin-Nally say, is that well-regulated mining operations can be an important source of economic development and livelihood. Ali cites Botswana and Russia as prime examples of places where large-scale mining operations have become “major contributors to the economy.” Dmitry Amelkin, head of strategic projects and analytics for Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa, echoed that sentiment in an email to Earther, noting that diamonds transformed Botswana “from one of the poorest [countries] in the world to a middle-income country” with revenues from mining representing almost a third of its GDP.

    In May, a report commissioned by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), a trade organization representing the world’s largest diamond mining companies, estimated that worldwide, its members generate nearly $4 billion in direct revenue for employees and contractors, along with another $6.8 billion in benefits via “local procurement of goods and services.” DPA CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr said this was a story diamond miners need to do a better job telling.

    “The industry has undergone such changes since the Blood Diamond movie,” he said, referring to the blockbuster 2006 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio that drew global attention to the problem of conflict diamonds. “And yet people’s’ perceptions haven’t evolved. I think the main reason is we have not had a voice, we haven’t communicated.”

    But conflict and human rights abuses aren’t the only issues that have plagued the diamond industry. There’s also the lasting environmental impact of the mining itself. In the case of large-scale commercial mines, this typically entails using heavy machinery and explosives to bore deep into those kimberlite tubes in search of precious stones.

    Some, like Maya Koplyova, a geologist at the University of British Columbia who studies diamonds and the rocks they’re found in, see this as far better than many other forms of mining. “The environmental footprint is the fThere’s also the question of just how representative the report’s energy consumption estimates for lab-grown diamonds are. While he wouldn’t offer a specific number, Coe said that De Beers’ Group diamond manufacturer Element Six—arguably the most advanced laboratory-grown diamond company in the world—has “substantially lower” per carat energy requirements than the headline figures found inside the new report. When asked why this was not included, Rick Lord, ESG analyst at Trucost, the S&P global group that conducted the analysis, said it chose to focus on energy estimates in the public record, but that after private consultation with Element Six it did not believe their data would “materially alter” the emissions estimates in the study.

    Finally, it’s important to consider the source of the carbon emissions. While the new report states that about 40 percent of the emissions associated with mining a diamond come from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment, emissions associated with growing a diamond come mainly from electric power. Today, about 68 percent of lab-grown diamonds hail from China, Singapore, and India combined according to Zimnisky, where the power is drawn from largely fossil fuel-powered grids. But there is, at least, an opportunity to switch to renewables and drive that carbon footprint way down.
    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption.”

    And some companies do seem to be trying to do that. Anderson of MiaDonna says the company only sources its diamonds from facilities in the U.S., and that it’s increasingly trying to work with producers that use renewable energy. Lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry grows its stones inside plasma reactors running “as hot as the outer layer of the sun,” per its website, and while it wouldn’t offer any specific numbers, that presumably uses more energy than your typical operation running at lower temperatures. However, company spokesperson Ye-Hui Goldenson said its Washington State ‘megacarat factory’ was cited near a well-maintained hydropower source so that the diamonds could be produced with renewable energy. The company offsets other fossil fuel-driven parts of its operation by purchasing carbon credits.

    Lightbox’s diamonds currently come from Element Six’s UK-based facilities. The company is, however, building a $94-million facility near Portland, Oregon, that’s expected to come online by 2020. Coe said he estimates about 45 percent of its power will come from renewable sources.

    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption,” Coe said. “That’s something we’re focused on in Lightbox.”

    In spite of that, Lightbox is somewhat notable among lab-grown diamond jewelry brands in that, in the words of Morrison, it is “not claiming this to be an eco-friendly product.”

    “While it is true that we don’t dig holes in the ground, the energy consumption is not insignificant,” Morrison told Earther. “And I think we felt very uncomfortable promoting on that.”
    Various diamonds created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    The real real

    The fight over how lab-grown diamonds can and should market themselves is still heating up.

    On March 26, the FTC sent letters to eight lab-grown and diamond simulant companies warning them against making unsubstantiated assertions about the environmental benefits of their products—its first real enforcement action after updating its jewelry guides last year. The letters, first obtained by JCK news director Rob Bates under a Freedom of Information Act request, also warned companies that their advertising could falsely imply the products are mined diamonds, illustrating that, even though the agency now says a lab-grown diamond is a diamond, the specific origin remains critically important. A letter to Diamond Foundry, for instance, notes that the company has at times advertised its stones as “above-ground real” without the qualification of “laboratory-made.” It’s easy to see how a consumer might miss the implication.

    But in a sense, that’s what all of this is: A fight over what’s real.
    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in. They are a type of diamond.”

    Another letter, sent to FTC attorney Reenah Kim by the nonprofit trade organization Jewelers Vigilance Committee on April 2, makes it clear that many in the industry still believe that’s a term that should be reserved exclusively for gems formed inside the Earth. The letter, obtained by Earther under FOIA, urges the agency to continue restricting the use of the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” and “semi-precious” to Earth-mined diamonds and gemstones. Even the use of such terms in conjunction with “laboratory grown,” the letter argues, “will create even more confusion in an already confused and evolving marketplace.”

    JVC President Tiffany Stevens told Earther that the letter was a response to a footnote in an explanatory document about the FTC’s recent jewelry guide changes, which suggested the agency was considering removing a clause about real, precious, natural and genuine only being acceptable modifiers for gems mined from the Earth.

    “We felt that given the current commercial environment, that we didn’t think it was a good time to take that next step,” Stevens told Earther. As Stevens put it, the changes the FTC recently made, including expanding the definition of diamond and tweaking the descriptors companies can use to label laboratory-grown diamonds as such, have already been “wildly misinterpreted” by some lab-grown diamond sellers that are no longer making the “necessary disclosures.”

    Asked whether the JVC thinks lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, Stevens demurred.

    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in,” she said. “They are a type of diamond.”

    Change is afoot in the diamond world. Mined diamond production may have already peaked, according to the 2018 Bain & Company report. Lab diamonds are here to stay, although where they’re going isn’t entirely clear. Zimnisky expects that in a few years—as Lightbox’s new facility comes online and mass production of lab diamonds continues to ramp up overseas—the price industry-wide will fall to about 80 percent less than a mined diamond. At that point, he wonders whether lab-grown diamonds will start to lose their sparkle.

    Payne isn’t too worried about a price slide, which he says is happening across the diamond industry and which he expects will be “linear, not exponential” on the lab-grown side. He points out that lab-grown diamond market is still limited by supply, and that the largest lab-grown gems remain quite rare. Payne and Zimnisky both see the lab-grown diamond market bifurcating into cheaper, mass-produced gems and premium-quality stones sold by those that can maintain a strong brand. A sense that they’re selling something authentic and, well, real.

    “So much has to do with consumer psychology,” Zimnisky said.

    Some will only ever see diamonds as authentic if they formed inside the Earth. They’re drawn, as Kathryn Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth put it, to “the history and romanticism” of diamonds; to a feeling that’s sparked by holding a piece of our ancient world. To an essence more than a function.

    Others, like Anderson, see lab-grown diamonds as the natural (to use a loaded word) evolution of diamond. “We’re actually running out of [mined] diamonds,” she said. “There is an end in sight.” Payne agreed, describing what he sees as a “looming death spiral” for diamond mining.

    Mined diamonds will never go away. We’ve been digging them up since antiquity, and they never seem to lose their sparkle. But most major mines are being exhausted. And with technology making it easier to grow diamonds just as they are getting more difficult to extract from the Earth, the lab-grown diamond industry’s grandstanding about its future doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable.

    There’s a reason why, as Payne said, “the mining industry as a whole is still quite scared of this product.” ootprint of digging the hole in the ground and crushing [the rock],” Koplyova said, noting that there’s no need to add strong acids or heavy metals like arsenic (used in gold mining) to liberate the gems.

    Still, those holes can be enormous. The Mir Mine, a now-abandoned open pit mine in Eastern Siberia, is so large—reportedly stretching 3,900 feet across and 1,700 feet deep—that the Russian government has declared it a no-fly zone owing to the pit’s ability to create dangerous air currents. It’s visible from space.

    While companies will often rehabilitate other land to offset the impact of mines, kimberlite mining itself typically leaves “a permanent dent in the earth’s surface,” as a 2014 report by market research company Frost & Sullivan put it.

    “It’s a huge impact as far as I’m concerned,” said Kevin Krajick, senior editor for science news at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who wrote a book on the discovery of diamonds in far northern Canada. Krajick noted that in remote mines, like those of the far north, it’s not just the physical hole to consider, but all the development required to reach a previously-untouched area, including roads and airstrips, roaring jets and diesel-powered trucks.

    Diamonds grown in factories clearly have a smaller physical footprint. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, they also use less water and create less waste. It’s for these reasons that Ali thinks diamond mining “will never be able to compete” with lab-grown diamonds from an environmental perspective.

    “The mining industry should not even by trying to do that,” he said.

    Of course, this is capitalism, so try to compete is exactly what the DPA is now doing. That same recent report that touted the mining industry’s economic benefits also asserts that mined diamonds have a carbon footprint three times lower than that of lab-grown diamonds, on average. The numbers behind that conclusion, however, don’t tell the full story.

    Growing diamonds does take considerable energy. The exact amount can vary greatly, however, depending on the specific nature of the growth process. These are details manufacturers are typically loathe to disclose, but Payne of Ada Diamonds says he estimates the most efficient players in the game today use about 250 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity per cut, polished carat of diamond; roughly what a U.S. household consumes in 9 days. Other estimates run higher. Citing unnamed sources, industry publication JCK Online reported that a modern HPHT run can use up to 700 kWh per carat, while CVD production can clock in north of 1,000 kWh per carat.

    Pulling these and several other public-record estimates, along with information on where in the world today’s lab diamonds are being grown and the energy mix powering the producer nations’ electric grids, the DPA-commissioned study estimated that your typical lab-grown diamond results in some 511 kg of carbon emissions per cut, polished carat. Using information provided by mining companies on fuel and electricity consumption, along with other greenhouse gas sources on the mine site, it found that the average mined carat was responsible for just 160 kg of carbon emissions.

    One limitation here is that the carbon footprint estimate for mining focused only on diamond production, not the years of work entailed in developing a mine. As Ali noted, developing a mine can take a lot of energy, particularly for those sited in remote locales where equipment needs to be hauled long distances by trucks or aircraft.

    There’s also the question of just how representative the report’s energy consumption estimates for lab-grown diamonds are. While he wouldn’t offer a specific number, Coe said that De Beers’ Group diamond manufacturer Element Six—arguably the most advanced laboratory-grown diamond company in the world—has “substantially lower” per carat energy requirements than the headline figures found inside the new report. When asked why this was not included, Rick Lord, ESG analyst at Trucost, the S&P global group that conducted the analysis, said it chose to focus on energy estimates in the public record, but that after private consultation with Element Six it did not believe their data would “materially alter” the emissions estimates in the study.

    Finally, it’s important to consider the source of the carbon emissions. While the new report states that about 40 percent of the emissions associated with mining a diamond come from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment, emissions associated with growing a diamond come mainly from electric power. Today, about 68 percent of lab-grown diamonds hail from China, Singapore, and India combined according to Zimnisky, where the power is drawn from largely fossil fuel-powered grids. But there is, at least, an opportunity to switch to renewables and drive that carbon footprint way down.
    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption.”

    And some companies do seem to be trying to do that. Anderson of MiaDonna says the company only sources its diamonds from facilities in the U.S., and that it’s increasingly trying to work with producers that use renewable energy. Lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry grows its stones inside plasma reactors running “as hot as the outer layer of the sun,” per its website, and while it wouldn’t offer any specific numbers, that presumably uses more energy than your typical operation running at lower temperatures. However, company spokesperson Ye-Hui Goldenson said its Washington State ‘megacarat factory’ was cited near a well-maintained hydropower source so that the diamonds could be produced with renewable energy. The company offsets other fossil fuel-driven parts of its operation by purchasing carbon credits.

    Lightbox’s diamonds currently come from Element Six’s UK-based facilities. The company is, however, building a $94-million facility near Portland, Oregon, that’s expected to come online by 2020. Coe said he estimates about 45 percent of its power will come from renewable sources.

    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption,” Coe said. “That’s something we’re focused on in Lightbox.”

    In spite of that, Lightbox is somewhat notable among lab-grown diamond jewelry brands in that, in the words of Morrison, it is “not claiming this to be an eco-friendly product.”

    “While it is true that we don’t dig holes in the ground, the energy consumption is not insignificant,” Morrison told Earther. “And I think we felt very uncomfortable promoting on that.”
    Various diamonds created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    The real real

    The fight over how lab-grown diamonds can and should market themselves is still heating up.

    On March 26, the FTC sent letters to eight lab-grown and diamond simulant companies warning them against making unsubstantiated assertions about the environmental benefits of their products—its first real enforcement action after updating its jewelry guides last year. The letters, first obtained by JCK news director Rob Bates under a Freedom of Information Act request, also warned companies that their advertising could falsely imply the products are mined diamonds, illustrating that, even though the agency now says a lab-grown diamond is a diamond, the specific origin remains critically important. A letter to Diamond Foundry, for instance, notes that the company has at times advertised its stones as “above-ground real” without the qualification of “laboratory-made.” It’s easy to see how a consumer might miss the implication.

    But in a sense, that’s what all of this is: A fight over what’s real.
    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in. They are a type of diamond.”

    Another letter, sent to FTC attorney Reenah Kim by the nonprofit trade organization Jewelers Vigilance Committee on April 2, makes it clear that many in the industry still believe that’s a term that should be reserved exclusively for gems formed inside the Earth. The letter, obtained by Earther under FOIA, urges the agency to continue restricting the use of the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” and “semi-precious” to Earth-mined diamonds and gemstones. Even the use of such terms in conjunction with “laboratory grown,” the letter argues, “will create even more confusion in an already confused and evolving marketplace.”

    JVC President Tiffany Stevens told Earther that the letter was a response to a footnote in an explanatory document about the FTC’s recent jewelry guide changes, which suggested the agency was considering removing a clause about real, precious, natural and genuine only being acceptable modifiers for gems mined from the Earth.

    “We felt that given the current commercial environment, that we didn’t think it was a good time to take that next step,” Stevens told Earther. As Stevens put it, the changes the FTC recently made, including expanding the definition of diamond and tweaking the descriptors companies can use to label laboratory-grown diamonds as such, have already been “wildly misinterpreted” by some lab-grown diamond sellers that are no longer making the “necessary disclosures.”

    Asked whether the JVC thinks lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, Stevens demurred.

    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in,” she said. “They are a type of diamond.”

    Change is afoot in the diamond world. Mined diamond production may have already peaked, according to the 2018 Bain & Company report. Lab diamonds are here to stay, although where they’re going isn’t entirely clear. Zimnisky expects that in a few years—as Lightbox’s new facility comes online and mass production of lab diamonds continues to ramp up overseas—the price industry-wide will fall to about 80 percent less than a mined diamond. At that point, he wonders whether lab-grown diamonds will start to lose their sparkle.

    Payne isn’t too worried about a price slide, which he says is happening across the diamond industry and which he expects will be “linear, not exponential” on the lab-grown side. He points out that lab-grown diamond market is still limited by supply, and that the largest lab-grown gems remain quite rare. Payne and Zimnisky both see the lab-grown diamond market bifurcating into cheaper, mass-produced gems and premium-quality stones sold by those that can maintain a strong brand. A sense that they’re selling something authentic and, well, real.

    “So much has to do with consumer psychology,” Zimnisky said.

    Some will only ever see diamonds as authentic if they formed inside the Earth. They’re drawn, as Kathryn Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth put it, to “the history and romanticism” of diamonds; to a feeling that’s sparked by holding a piece of our ancient world. To an essence more than a function.

    Others, like Anderson, see lab-grown diamonds as the natural (to use a loaded word) evolution of diamond. “We’re actually running out of [mined] diamonds,” she said. “There is an end in sight.” Payne agreed, describing what he sees as a “looming death spiral” for diamond mining.

    Mined diamonds will never go away. We’ve been digging them up since antiquity, and they never seem to lose their sparkle. But most major mines are being exhausted. And with technology making it easier to grow diamonds just as they are getting more difficult to extract from the Earth, the lab-grown diamond industry’s grandstanding about its future doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable.

    There’s a reason why, as Payne said, “the mining industry as a whole is still quite scared of this product.”

    #dimants #Afrique #technologie #capitalisme

  • Why a #hipster, #vegan, #green_tech economy is #not_sustainable | Canada | #Al_Jazeera
    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/hipster-vegan-green-tech-economy-sustainable-190605105120654.html

    morceaux choisis:

    The illusion of ’#sustainable_development'

    When capitalism teams up with growth-oriented efficiency improvements, one result is the fabulous #hipsterised “green tech” enclaves we see emerging in cities around the world, including #Montreal.

    In recent years, veganism has also been sucked into the #profit-making “green” economy. Its rising popularity is indeed quite mind-boggling. What was traditionally seen as a subversive and anti-establishment form of resistance to the global food industry and its horrific abuse of animals has increasingly become a “cash cow”.

    In the process, the implicit socio-economic violence behind #gentrification will be invariably “greenwashed” and presented as development that would make the area more “sustainable”, “beautiful” and “modern”.

    Unfortunately, creation by destruction is what #capitalism does best, and its damaging practices are anything but green. This #market-driven#sustainable” vision of economic activity, #ecological-conscious diets and “hipness” within modern capitalism reinforce inequality and still hurt the environment.

    On a global scale, capitalism is most certainly not “cool”… it is literally #burning_our_planet. An aloof, detached, apolitical coolness which centres on individuality and imagery is simply not going to cut it any more.
    Such lifestyles may appear marginally efficient, but they are, by and large, a convenient by-product of shifting social and ecological costs to those less privileged both locally and global

  • BBC - Capital - The city in the shadow of an ageing nuclear reactor
    http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190527-the-city-in-the-shadow-of-an-ageing-nuclear-reactor

    Metsamor has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear power plants because of its location in an earthquake zone.

    It sits just 35km (22 miles) from Armenia’s bustling capital, Yerevan, with distant views of snowy Mount Ararat across the border in Turkey.

    The plant was constructed around the same time as Chernobyl in the 1970s. At the time the Metsamor reactor provided energy for the growing needs of a vast Soviet Union, which once had ambitious plans to generate 60% of its electricity from nuclear power by 2000.

    #nucléaire #arménie #ex-urss #soviétisme #metsamor

  • Chinese Surveillance Complex Advancing in Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • #E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of #Pollution Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/climate/epa-air-pollution-deaths.html

    The Obama administration had sought to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Power Plan by pushing utilities to switch away from coal and instead use natural gas or renewable energy to generate electricity. The Obama plan would also have what is known as a co-benefit: levels of fine particulate matter would fall.

    The Trump administration has moved to repeal the Obama-era plan and replace it with the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which would slightly improve the efficiency of coal plants. It would also allow older coal plants to remain in operation longer and result in an increase of particulate matter.

    #microparticules #santé_publique #intérêts_privés #états-unis #porte_tournante #

  • Shade, by Sam Bloch
    https://placesjournal.org/article/shade-an-urban-design-mandate

    “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” [Mike] Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer (…)

    All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”

    #ombre #bien_public #urbanisme

    (un essai remarquable)

    • Il y a quelques années les 40km de Castelnaudary à Limoux se faisaient à l’ombre de grands platanes, rasés depuis peu. (cf l’image de mon pseudo) Certes les platanes ne rentreront plus dans les voitures, mais rouler sous 40° sans ombre avec le soleil dans la gueule, c’est tout aussi dangereux. Évidemment il n’y a pas eu de replantation.

  • Carne da cannone. In Libia i profughi dei campi sono arruolati a forza e mandati a combattere

    Arruolati di forza, vestiti con vecchie divise, armati con fucili di scarto e spediti a combattere le milizie del generale #Haftar che stanno assediando Tripoli. I profughi di Libia, dopo essere stati trasformati in “merce” preziosa dai trafficanti, con la complicità e il supporto del’Italia e dall’Europa, sono diventati anche carne da cannone.

    Secondo fonti ufficiali dell’Unhcr e di Al Jazeera, il centro di detenzione di Qaser Ben Gashir, è stato trasformato in una caserma di arruolamento. “Ci viene riferito – ha affermato l’inviato dell’agenzia Onu per i rifugiati, Vincent Cochetel – che ad alcuni migranti sono state fornite divise militari e gli è stati promesso la libertà in cambio dell’arruolamento”. Nel solo centro di Qaser Ben Gashir, secondo una stima dell’Unhcr, sono detenuti, per o più arbitrariamente, perlomeno 6 mila profughi tra uomini e donne, tra i quali almeno 600 bambini.

    Sempre secondo l’Unhcr, tale pratica di arruolamento pressoché forzato – è facile intuire che non si può dire facilmente no al proprio carceriere! – sarebbe stata messa in pratica perlomeno in altri tre centri di detenzione del Paese. L’avanzata delle truppe del generale Haftar ha fatto perdere la testa alle milizie fedeli al Governo di accordo nazionale guidato da Fayez al Serraj, che hanno deciso di giocarsi la carta della disperazione, mandando i migranti – che non possono certo definirsi militari sufficientemente addestrati – incontro ad una morte certa in battaglia. Carne da cannone, appunto.

    I messaggi WhatsUp che arrivano dai centri di detenzione sono terrificanti e testimoniano una situazione di panico totale che ha investito tanto i carcerieri quanto gli stessi profughi. “Ci danno armi di cui non conosciamo neppure come si chiamano e come si usano – si legge su un messaggio riportato dall’Irish Time – e ci ordinano di andare a combattere”. “Ci volevano caricare in una camionetta piena di armi. Gli abbiamo detto di no, che preferivamo essere riportato in cella ma non loro non hanno voluto”.

    La situazione sta precipitando verso una strage annunciata. Nella maggioranza dei centri l’elettricità è già stata tolta da giorni. Acque e cibo non ne arrivano più. Cure mediche non ne avevano neppure prima. I richiedenti asilo sono alla disperazione. Al Jazeera porta la notizia che ad Qaser Ben Gashir, qualche giorno fa, un bambino è morto per semplice denutrizione. Quello che succede nei campi più lontani dalla capitale, lo possiamo solo immaginare. E con l’avanzare del conflitto, si riduce anche la possibilità di intervento e di denuncia dell’Unhcr o delle associazioni umanitarie che ancora resistono nel Paese come Medici Senza Frontiere.

    Proprio Craig Kenzie, il coordinatore per la Libia di Medici Senza Frontiere, lancia un appello perché i detenuti vengano immediatamente evacuati dalle zone di guerra e che le persone che fuggono e che vengono intercettate in mare non vengano riportate in quell’Inferno. Ma per il nostro Governo, quelle sponde continuano ad essere considerate “sicure”.

    https://dossierlibia.lasciatecientrare.it/carne-da-cannone-in-libia-i-profughi-dei-campi-sono-a
    #Libye #asile #migrations #réfugiés #armées #enrôlement_militaire #enrôlement #conflit #soldats #milices #Tripoli

    • ’We are in a fire’: Libya’s detained refugees trapped by conflict

      Detainees at detention centre on the outskirts of Tripoli live in fear amid intense clashes for control of the capital.

      Refugees and migrants trapped on the front line of fierce fighting in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, are pleading to be rescued from the war-torn country while being “surrounded by heavy weapons and militants”.

      Hit by food and water shortages, detainees at the #Qasr_bin_Ghashir detention centre on the southern outskirts of Tripoli, told Al Jazeera they were “abandoned” on Saturday by fleeing guards, who allegedly told the estimated 728 people being held at the facility to fend for themselves.

      The refugees and migrants used hidden phones to communicate and requested that their names not be published.

      “[There are] no words to describe the fear of the women and children,” an Eritrean male detainee said on Saturday.

      “We are afraid of [the] noise... fired from the air and the weapons. I feel that we are abandoned to our fate.”
      Fighting rages on Tripoli outskirts

      Tripoli’s southern outskirts have been engulfed by fighting since renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s eastern forces launched an assault on the capital earlier this month in a bid to wrestle control of the city from Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

      The showdown threatens to further destabilise war-wracked Libya, which splintered into a patchwork of rival power bases following the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

      At least 121 people have been killed and 561 wounded since Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) started its offensive on April 4, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

      Both sides have repeatedly carried out air raids and accuse each other of targeting civilians.

      The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), for its part, estimates more than 15,000 people have been displaced so far, with a “significant number” of others stuck in live conflict zones.

      Amid the fighting, refugees and migrants locked up in detention centres throughout the capital, many of whom fled war and persecution in countries including Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, are warning that their lives are at risk.

      “We find ourselves in a fire,” a 15-year-old detainee at Qasr bin Ghashir told Al Jazeera.
      Electricity outage, water shortages

      Others held at the centre described the abject conditions they were subject to, including a week-long stint without electricity and working water pumps.

      One detainee in her 30s, who alleged the centre’s manager assaulted her, also said they had gone more than a week until Saturday with “no food, [and] no water”, adding the situation “was not good” and saying women are particularly vulnerable now.

      This is the third time since August that detainees in Qasr bin Ghashir have been in the middle of clashes, she said.

      Elsewhere in the capital, refugees and migrants held at the #Abu_Salim detention centre also said they could “hear the noise of weapons” and needed protection.

      “At this time, we want quick evacuation,” said one detainee at Abu Salim, which sits about 20km north of Qasr bin Ghashir.

      “We’ve stayed years with much torture and suffering, we don’t have any resistance for anything. We are (under) deep pressure and stressed … People are very angry and afraid.”
      ’Take us from Libya, please’

      Tripoli’s detention centres are formally under the control of the GNA’s Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), though many are actually run by militias.

      The majority of the approximately 6,000 people held in the facilities were intercepted on the Mediterranean Sea and brought back to the North African country after trying to reach Europe as part of a two-year agreement under which which the European Union supports the Libyan coastguard with funds, ships and training, in return for carrying out interceptions and rescues.

      In a statement to Al Jazeera, an EU spokesperson said the bloc’s authorities were “closely monitoring the situation in Libya” from a “political, security and humanitarian point of view” though they could not comment on Qasr bin Ghashir specifically.

      DCIM, for its part, did not respond to a request for comment.

      The UN, however, continues to reiterate that Libya is not a safe country for refugees and migrants to return.

      Amid the ongoing conflict, the organisation’s human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warned last week of the need to “ensure protection of extremely vulnerable civilians”, including refugees and migrants who may be living “under significant peril”.

      Bachelet also called for authorities to ensure that prisons and detention centres are not abandoned, and for all parties to guarantee that the treatment of detainees is in line with international law.

      In an apparent move to safeguard the refugees and migrants being held near the capital, Libyan authorities attempted last week to move detainees at Qasr bin Ghashir to another detention centre in #Zintan, nearly 170km southwest of Tripoli.

      But those being held in Qasr bin Ghashir refused to leave, arguing the solution is not a move elsewhere in Libya but rather a rescue from the country altogether.

      “All Libya [is a] war zone,” an Eritrean detainee told Al Jazeera.

      “Take us from Libya, please. Where is humanity and where is human rights,” the detainee asked.

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/fire-libya-detained-refugees-trapped-conflict-190414150247858.html

      700+ refugees & migrants - including more than 150 women & children - are trapped in a detention centre on the front lines, amid renewed clashes in Tripoli. The below photos, taken today, show where a jet was downed right beside them.


      https://twitter.com/sallyhayd/status/1117501460290392064

    • ESCLUSIVO TPI: “Senza cibo né acqua, pestati a sangue dai soldati”: la guerra in Libia vista dai migranti rinchiusi nei centri di detenzione

      “I rifugiati detenuti in Libia stanno subendo le più drammatiche conseguenze della guerra civile esplosa nel paese”.

      È la denuncia a TPI di Giulia Tranchina, avvocato che, a Londra, si occupa di rifugiati per lo studio legale Wilson Solicitor.

      Tranchina è in contatto con i migranti rinchiusi nei centri di detenzione libici e, da tempo, denuncia abusi e torture perpetrate ai loro danni.

      L’esplosione della guerra ha reso le condizioni di vita delle migliaia di rifugiati presenti nei centri governativi ancora più disumane.

      La gestione dei centri è stata bocciata anche dagli organismi internazionali in diversi rapporti, ignorati dai governi europei e anche da quello italiano, rapporti dove si evidenzia la violazione sistematica delle convenzioni internazionali, le condizioni sanitarie agghiaccianti e continue torture.

      https://www.tpi.it/2019/04/13/guerra-libia-migranti-centri-di-detenzione
      #guerre_civile

    • The humanitarian fallout from Libya’s newest war

      The Libyan capital of Tripoli is shuddering under an offensive by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, with the city’s already precarious basic services in danger of breaking down completely and aid agencies struggling to cope with a growing emergency.

      In the worst and most sustained fighting the country has seen since the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, the Haftar-led Libyan National Army, or LNA, surged into the city – controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA – on 4 April.

      Fighting continues across a string of southern suburbs, with airstrikes and rocket and artillery fire from both sides hammering front lines and civilians alike.

      “It is terrible; they use big guns at night, the children can’t sleep,” said one resident of the capital, who declined to give her name for publication. “The shots land everywhere.”

      The violence has displaced thousands of people and trapped hundreds of migrants and refugees in detention centres. Some analysts also think it has wrecked years of diplomacy, including attempts by the UN to try to build political consensus in Libya, where various militias support the two major rivals for power: the Tripoli-based GNA and the Haftar-backed House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

      “Detained migrants and refugees, including women and children, are particularly vulnerable.”

      “Pandora’s box has been opened,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a research fellow at Clingendael Institute think tank in The Hague. “The military operation [to capture Tripoli] has inflicted irreversible damage upon a modus vivendi and a large set of political dialogues that has required four years of diplomatic work.”
      Civilians in the line of fire

      Media reports and eyewitnesses in the city said residents face agonising decisions about when to go out, and risk the indiscriminate fire, in search of food and other essentials from the few shops that are open.

      One resident said those in Tripoli face the dilemma of whether to stay in their homes or leave, with no clear idea of what part of the city will be targeted next.

      The fighting is reportedly most intense in the southern suburbs, which until two weeks ago included some of the most tranquil and luxurious homes in the city. Now these districts are a rubble-strewn battleground, made worse by the ever-changing positions of LNA forces and militias that support the GNA.

      This battle comes to a city already struggling with chaos and militia violence, with residents having known little peace since the NATO-backed revolt eight years ago.

      “Since 2011, Libyans have faced one issue after another: shortages of cooking gas, electricity, water, lack of medicines, infrastructure in ruin and neglect,” said one woman who lives in an eastern suburb of Tripoli. “Little is seen at community level, where money disappears into pockets [of officials]. Hospitals are unsanitary and barely function. Education is a shambles of poor schools and stressed teachers.”
      Aid agencies scrambling

      Only a handful of aid agencies have a presence in Tripoli, where local services are now badly stretched.

      The World Health Organisation reported on 14 April that the death toll was 147 and 614 people had been wounded, cautioning that the latter figure may be higher as some overworked hospitals have stopped counting the numbers treated.

      “We are still working on keeping the medical supplies going,” a WHO spokesperson said. “We are sending out additional surgical staff to support hospitals coping with large caseloads of wounded, for example anaesthetists.”

      The UN’s emergency coordination body, OCHA, said that 16,000 people had been forced to flee by the fighting, 2,000 on 13 April alone when fighting intensified across the front line with a series of eight airstrikes. OCHA says the past few years of conflict have left at least 823,000 people, including 248,000 children, “in dire need of humanitarian assistance”.

      UNICEF appealed for $4.7 million to provide emergency assistance to the half a million children and their families it estimates live in and around Tripoli.
      Migrants and refugees

      Some of the worst off are more than 1,500 migrants trapped in a string of detention centres in the capital and nearby. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said over the weekend it was trying to organise the evacuation of refugees from a migrant camp close to the front lines. “We are in contact with refugees in Qaser Ben Gashir and so far they remain safe from information received,” the agency said in a tweet.

      At least one media report said migrants and refugees at the centre felt they had been abandoned and feared for their lives.

      UNHCR estimates there are some 670,000 migrants and refugees in Libya, including more than 6,000 in detention centres.

      In its appeal, UNICEF said it was alarmed by reports that some migrant detention centres have been all but abandoned, with the migrants unable to get food and water. “The breakdown in the food supply line has resulted in a deterioration of the food security in detention centres,” the agency said. “Detained migrants and refugees, including women and children, are particularly vulnerable, especially those in detention centres located in the vicinity of the fighting.”

      Many migrants continue to hope to find a boat to Europe, but that task has been made harder by the EU’s March decision to scale down the rescue part of Operation Sophia, its Mediterranean anti-smuggling mission.

      “The breakdown in the food supply line has resulted in a deterioration of the food security in detention centres.”

      Search-and-rescue missions run by nongovernmental organisations have had to slow down and sometimes shutter their operations as European governments refuse them permission to dock. On Monday, Malta said it would not allow the crew of a ship that had been carrying 64 people rescued off the coast of Libya to disembark on its shores. The ship was stranded for two weeks as European governments argued over what to do with the migrants, who will now be split between four countries.

      Eugenio Cusumano, an international security expert specialising in migration research at Lieden University in the Netherlands, said a new surge of migrants and refugees may now be heading across the sea in a desperate attempt to escape the fighting. He said they will find few rescue craft, adding: “If the situation in Libya deteriorates there will be a need for offshore patrol assets.”
      Failed diplomacy

      Haftar’s LNA says its objective is to liberate the city from militia control, while the GNA has accused its rival of war crimes and called for prosecutions.

      International diplomatic efforts to end the fighting appear to have floundered. Haftar launched his offensive on the day that UN Secretary-General António Guterres was visiting Tripoli – a visit designed to bolster long-delayed, UN-chaired talks with the various parties in the country, which were due to be held this week.

      The UN had hoped the discussions, known as the National Conference, might pave the way for elections later this year, but they ended up being cancelled due to the upsurge in fighting.

      Guterres tried to de-escalate the situation by holding emergency talks with the GNA in Tripoli and flying east to see Haftar in Benghazi. But as foreign powers reportedly line up behind different sides, his calls for a ceasefire – along with condemnation from the UN Security Council and the EU – have so far been rebuffed.


      https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2019/04/15/humanitarian-fallout-libya-s-newest-war

    • Detained refugees in Libya moved to safety in second UNHCR relocation

      UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today relocated another 150 refugees who were detained in the #Abu_Selim detention centre in south Tripoli to UNHCR’s #Gathering_and_Departure_Facility (#GDF) in the centre of Libya’s capital, safe from hostilities.

      The Abu Selim detention centre is one of several in Libya that has been impacted by hostilities since clashes erupted in the capital almost a fortnight ago.

      Refugees at the centre told UNHCR that they were petrified and traumatised by the fighting, fearing for their lives.

      UNHCR staff who were present and organizing the relocation today reported that clashes were around 10 kilometres away from the centre and were clearly audible.

      While UNHCR intended to relocate more refugees, due to a rapid escalation of fighting in the area this was not possible. UNHCR hopes to resume this life-saving effort as soon as conditions on the ground allow.

      “It is a race against time to move people out of harm’s way. Conflict and deteriorating security conditions hamper how much we can do,” said UNHCR’s Assistant Chief of Mission in Libya, Lucie Gagne.

      “We urgently need solutions for people trapped in Libya, including humanitarian evacuations to transfer those most vulnerable out of the country.”

      Refugees who were relocated today were among those most vulnerable and in need and included women and children. The relocation was conducted with the support of UNHCR’s partner, International Medical Corps and the Libyan Ministry of Interior.

      This relocation is the second UNHCR-organized transfer since the recent escalation of the conflict in Libya.

      Last week UNHCR relocated more than 150 refugees from the Ain Zara detention centre also in south Tripoli to the GDF, bringing the total number of refugees currently hosted at the GDF to more than 400.

      After today’s relocation, there remain more than 2,700 refugees and migrants detained and trapped in areas where clashes are ongoing. In addition to those remaining at Abu Selim, other detention centres impacted and in proximity to hostilities include the Qasr Bin Ghasheer, Al Sabaa and Tajoura centres.

      Current conditions in the country continue to underscore the fact that Libya is a dangerous place for refugees and migrants, and that those rescued and intercepted at sea should not be returned there. UNHCR has repeatedly called for an end to detention for refugees and migrants.

      https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2019/4/5cb60a984/detained-refugees-libya-moved-safety-second-unhcr-relocation.html

    • Libye : l’ONU a évacué 150 réfugiés supplémentaires d’un camp de détention

      L’ONU a annoncé mardi avoir évacué 150 réfugiés supplémentaires d’une centre de détention à Tripoli touché par des combats, ajoutant ne pas avoir été en mesure d’en déplacer d’autres en raison de l’intensification des affrontements.

      La Haut-commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) a précisé avoir évacué ces réfugiés, parmi lesquels des femmes et des enfants, du centre de détention Abou Sélim, dans le sud de la capitale libyenne, vers son Centre de rassemblement et de départ dans le centre-ville.

      Cette opération a été effectuée au milieu de violents combats entre les forces du maréchal Khalifa Haftar et celles du Gouvernement d’union nationale (GNA) libyen.

      « C’est une course contre la montre pour mettre les gens à l’abri », a déclaré la cheffe adjointe de la mission du HCR en Libye, Lucie Gagne, dans un communiqué. « Le conflit et la détérioration des conditions de sécurité entravent nos capacités », a-t-elle regretté.

      Au moins 174 personnes ont été tuées et 758 autres blessés dans la bataille pour le contrôle de Tripoli, a annoncé mardi l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS).

      Abu Sélim est l’un des centres de détention qui ont été touchés par les combats. Le HCR, qui avait déjà évacué la semaine dernière plus de 150 migrants de centre de détention d’Ain Zara, a indiqué qu’il voulait en évacuer d’autres mardi mais qu’il ne n’avait pu le faire en raison d’une aggravation rapide des combats dans cette zone.

      Les réfugiés évacués mardi étaient « traumatisés » par les combats, a rapporté le HCR, ajoutant que des combats avaient lieu à seulement une dizaine de km.

      « Il nous faut d’urgence des solutions pour les gens piégés en Libye, y compris des évacuations humanitaires pour transférer les plus vulnérables hors du pays », a déclaré Mme Gagne.

      Selon le HCR, plus de 400 personnes se trouvent désormais dans son centre de rassemblement et de départ, mais plus de 2.700 réfugiés sont encore détenus et bloqués dans des zones de combats.

      La Libye « est un endroit dangereux pour les réfugiés et les migrants », a souligné le HCR. « Ceux qui sont secourus et interceptés en mer ne devraient pas être renvoyés là-bas ».

      https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1166761/libye-lonu-a-evacue-150-refugies-supplementaires-dun-camp-de-detentio

    • Footage shows refugees hiding as Libyan militia attack detention centre

      At least two people reportedly killed in shooting at Qasr bin Ghashir facility near Tripoli.

      Young refugees held in a detention centre in Libya have described being shot at indiscriminately by militias advancing on Tripoli, in an attack that reportedly left at least two people dead and up to 20 injured.

      Phone footage smuggled out of the camp and passed to the Guardian highlights the deepening humanitarian crisis in the centres set up to prevent refugees and migrants from making the sea crossing from the north African coast to Europe.

      The footage shows people cowering in terror in the corners of a hangar while gunshots can be heard and others who appear to have been wounded lying on makeshift stretchers.

      The shooting on Tuesday at the Qasr bin Ghashir detention centre, 12 miles (20km) south of Tripoli, is thought to be the first time a militia has raided such a building and opened fire.

      Witnesses said men, women and children were praying together when soldiers they believe to be part of the forces of the military strongman Khalifa Haftar, which are advancing on the Libyan capital to try to bring down the UN-backed government, stormed into the detention centre and demanded people hand over their phones.

      When the occupants refused, the soldiers began shooting, according to the accounts. Phones are the only link to the outside world for many in the detention centres.

      Amnesty International has called for a war crimes investigation into the incident. “This incident demonstrates the urgent need for all refugees and migrants to be immediately released from these horrific detention centres,” said the organisation’s spokeswoman, Magdalena Mughrabi.

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said a review of the video evidence by its medical doctors had concluded the injuries were consistent with gunshot wounds. “These observations are further supported by numerous accounts from refugees and migrants who witnessed the event and reported being brutally and indiscriminately attacked with the use of firearms,” a statement said.

      The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it evacuated 325 people from the detention centre after the incident. A statement suggested guns were fired into air and 12 people “endured physical attacks” that required hospital treatment, but none sustained bullet wounds.

      “The dangers for refugees and migrants in Tripoli have never been greater than they are at present,” said Matthew Brook, the refugee agency’s deputy mission chief in Libya. “It is vital that refugees in danger can be released and evacuated to safety.”

      The Guardian has previously revealed there is a network of 26 Libyan detention centres where an estimated 6,000 refugees are held. Children have described being starved, beaten and abused by Libyan police and camp guards. The UK contributes funding to humanitarian assistance provided in the centres by NGOs and the International Organization for Migration.

      Qasr bin Ghashir is on the frontline of the escalating battle in Libya between rival military forces. Child refugees in the camp started sending SOS messages earlier this month, saying: “The war is started. We are in a bad situation.”

      In WhatsApp messages sent to the Guardian on Tuesday, some of the child refugees said: “Until now, no anyone came here to help us. Not any organisations. Please, please, please, a lot of blood going out from people. Please, we are in dangerous conditions, please world, please, we are in danger.”

      Many of the children and young people in the detention centres have fled persecution in Eritrea and cannot return. Many have also tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy, but have been pushed back by the Libyan coastguard, which receives EU funding.

      Giulia Tranchina, an immigration solicitor in London, has been raising the alarm for months about the plight of refugees in the centres. “I have been in touch with seven refugees in Qasr Bin Gashir since last September,. Many are sick and starving,” she said.

      “All of them tried to escape across the Mediterranean to Italy, but were pushed back to the detention centre by the Libyan coastguard. Some were previously imprisoned by traffickers in Libya for one to two years. Many have been recognised by UNHCR as genuine refugees.”

      Tranchina took a statement from a man who escaped from the centre after the militia started shooting. “We were praying in the hangar. The women joined us for prayer. The guards came in and told us to hand over our phones,” he said.

      “When we refused, they started shooting. I saw gunshot wounds to the head and neck, I think that without immediate medical treatment, those people would die.

      “I’m now in a corrugated iron shack in Tripoli with a few others who escaped, including three women with young children. Many were left behind and we have heard that they have been locked in.”

      A UK government spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of violence at the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention centre, and call on all parties to allow civilians, including refugees and migrants, to be evacuated to safety.”

      • Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières and other NGOs are suing the French government to stop the donation of six boats to Libya’s navy, saying they will be used to send migrants back to detention centres. EU support to the Libyan coastguard, which is part of the navy, has enabled it to intercept migrants and asylum seekers bound for Europe. The legal action seeks a suspension on the boat donation, saying it violates an EU embargo on the supply of military equipment to Libya.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/libya-detention-centre-attack-footage-refugees-hiding-shooting

    • From Bad to Worse for Migrants Trapped in Detention in Libya

      Footage (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/libya-detention-centre-attack-footage-refugees-hiding-shooting) revealed to the Guardian shows the panic of migrants and refugees trapped in the detention facility Qasr bin Ghashir close to Tripoli under indiscriminate fire from advancing militia. According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR more than 3,300 people trapped in detention centres close to the escalating fighting are at risk and the agency is working to evacuate migrants from the “immediate danger”.

      Fighting is intensifying between Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to Khalifa Haftar and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) around the capital Tripoli. There have been reports on deaths and forced enlistment among migrants and refugees trapped in detention centres, which are overseen by the Libyan Department for Combating Illegal Migration but often run by militias.

      Amid the intense fighting the EU-backed Libyan coastguard continues to intercept and return people trying to cross the Mediteranean. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 113 people were returned to the Western part of the country this week. In a Tweet the UN Agency states: “we reiterate that Libya is not a safe port and that arbitrary detention must end.”

      Former UNHCR official, Jeff Crisp, calls it: “…extraordinary that the UN has not made a direct appeal to the EU to suspend the support it is giving to the Libyan coastguard”, and further states that: “Europe has the option of doing nothing and that is what it will most likely do.”

      UNHCR has evacuated 500 people to the Agencies Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli and an additional 163 to the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger. However, with both mechanisms “approaching full capacity” the Agency urges direct evacuations out of Libya. On April 29, 146 refugees were evacuated from Libya to Italy in a joint operation between UNHCR and Italian and Libyan authorities.

      https://www.ecre.org/from-bad-to-worse-for-migrants-trapped-in-detention-in-libya

    • Libia, la denuncia di Msf: «Tremila migranti bloccati vicino ai combattimenti, devono essere evacuati»

      A due mesi dall’inizio dei combattimenti tra i militari del generale Khalifa Haftar e le milizie fedeli al governo di Tripoli di Fayez al-Sarraj, i capimissione di Medici Senza Frontiere per la Libia hanno incontrato la stampa a Roma per fare il punto della situazione. «I combattimenti hanno interessato centomila persone, di queste tremila sono migranti e rifugiati bloccati nei centri di detenzione che sorgono nelle aree del conflitto - ha spiegato Sam Turner -. Per questo chiediamo la loro immediata evacuazione. Solo portandoli via da quelle aree si possono salvare delle vite».

      https://video.repubblica.it/dossier/migranti-2019/libia-la-denuncia-di-msf-tremila-migranti-bloccati-vicino-ai-combattimenti-devono-essere-evacuati/336337/336934?ref=twhv

    • Libia, attacco aereo al centro migranti. 60 morti. Salvini: «E’ un crimine di Haftar, il mondo deve reagire»

      Il bombardamento è stato effettuato dalle forze del generale Khalifa Haftar, sostenute dalla Francia e dagli Emirati. Per l’inviato Onu si tratta di crimine di guerra. Il Consiglio di sicurezza dell’Onu si riunisce domani per una sessione d’urgenza.

      Decine di migranti sono stati uccisi nel bombardamento che ieri notte un aereo dell’aviazione del generale Khalifa Haftar ha compiuto contro un centro per migranti adiacente alla base militare di #Dhaman, nell’area di #Tajoura. La base di Dhaman è uno dei depositi in cui le milizie di Misurata e quelle fedeli al governo del presidente Fayez al-Serraj hanno concentrato le loro riserve di munizioni e di veicoli utilizzati per la difesa di Tripoli, sotto attacco dal 4 aprile dalle milizie del generale della Cirenaica.

      https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2019/07/03/news/libia_bombardato_centro_detenzione_migranti_decine_di_morti-230198952/?ref=RHPPTP-BH-I230202229-C12-P1-S1.12-T1

    • Le HCR et l’OIM condamnent l’attaque contre Tajoura et demandent une enquête immédiate sur les responsables

      Le nombre effroyable de blessés et de victimes, suite à l’attaque aérienne de mardi soir à l’est de Tripoli contre le centre de détention de Tajoura, fait écho aux vives préoccupations exprimées par le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, et l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), concernant la sécurité des personnes dans les centres de détention. Ce tout dernier épisode de violence rend également compte du danger évoqué par l’OIM et le HCR concernant les retours de migrants et de réfugiés en Libye après leur interception ou leur sauvetage en mer Méditerranée.

      Nos deux organisations condamnent fermement cette attaque ainsi que toute attaque contre la vie des civils. Nous demandons également que la détention des migrants et des réfugiés cesse immédiatement. Nous appelons à ce que leur protection soit garantie en Libye.

      Cette attaque mérite davantage qu’une simple condamnation. Selon le HCR et l’OIM, une enquête complète et indépendante est nécessaire pour déterminer comment cela s’est produit et qui en est responsable, ainsi que pour traduire les responsables en justice. La localisation de ces centres de détention à Tripoli est bien connue des combattants, qui savent également que les personnes détenues à Tajoura sont des civils.

      Au moins 600 réfugiés et migrants, dont des femmes et des enfants, se trouvaient au centre de détention de Tajoura. La frappe aérienne a causé des dizaines de morts et de blessés. Nous nous attendons de ce fait que le nombre final de victimes soit beaucoup plus élevé.

      Si l’on inclut les victimes de Tajoura, environ 3300 migrants et réfugiés sont toujours détenus arbitrairement à Tripoli et en périphérie de la ville dans des conditions abjectes et inhumaines. De plus, les migrants et les réfugiés sont confrontés à des risques croissants à mesure que les affrontements s’intensifient à proximité. Ces centres doivent être fermés.

      Nous faisons tout notre possible pour leur venir en aide. L’OIM et le HCR ont déployé des équipes médicales. Par ailleurs, une équipe interinstitutions plus large des Nations Unies attend l’autorisation de se rendre sur place. Nous rappelons à toutes les parties à ce conflit que les civils ne doivent pas être pris pour cible et qu’ils doivent être protégés en vertu à la fois du droit international relatif aux réfugiés et du droit international relatif aux droits de l’homme.

      Le conflit en cours dans la capitale libyenne a déjà forcé près de 100 000 Libyens à fuir leur foyer. Le HCR et ses partenaires, dont l’OIM, ont transféré plus de 1500 réfugiés depuis des centres de détention proches des zones de combat vers des zones plus sûres. Par ailleurs, des opérations de l’OIM pour le retour volontaire à titre humanitaire ont facilité le départ de plus de 5000 personnes vulnérables vers 30 pays d’origine en Afrique et en Asie.

      L’OIM et le HCR exhortent l’ensemble du système des Nations Unies à condamner cette attaque et à faire cesser le recours à la détention en Libye. De plus, nous appelons instamment la communauté internationale à mettre en place des couloirs humanitaires pour les migrants et les réfugiés qui doivent être évacués depuis la Libye. Dans l’intérêt de tous en Libye, nous espérons que les États influents redoubleront d’efforts pour coopérer afin de mettre d’urgence un terme à cet effroyable conflit.

      https://www.unhcr.org/fr/news/press/2019/7/5d1ca1f06/hcr-loim-condamnent-lattaque-contre-tajoura-demandent-enquete-immediate.html

    • Affamés, torturés, disparus : l’impitoyable piège refermé sur les migrants bloqués en Libye

      Malnutrition, enlèvements, travail forcé, torture : des ONG présentes en Libye dénoncent les conditions de détention des migrants piégés dans ce pays, conséquence selon elles de la politique migratoire des pays européens conclue avec les Libyens.

      Le point, minuscule dans l’immensité de la mer, est ballotté avec violence : mi-mai, un migrant qui tentait de quitter la Libye dans une embarcation de fortune a préféré risquer sa vie en plongeant en haute mer en voyant arriver les garde-côtes libyens, pour nager vers un navire commercial, selon une vidéo mise en ligne par l’ONG allemande Sea-Watch et tournée par son avion de recherche. L’image illustre le désespoir criant de migrants, en grande majorité originaires d’Afrique et de pays troublés comme le Soudan, l’Érythrée, la Somalie, prêts à tout pour ne pas être à nouveau enfermés arbitrairement dans un centre de détention dans ce pays livré au conflit et aux milices.

      Des vidéos insoutenables filmées notamment dans des prisons clandestines aux mains de trafiquants d’êtres humains, compilées par une journaliste irlandaise et diffusées en février par Channel 4, donnent une idée des sévices de certains tortionnaires perpétrés pour rançonner les familles des migrants. Allongé nu par terre, une arme pointée sur lui, un migrant râle de douleur alors qu’un homme lui brûle les pieds avec un chalumeau. Un autre, le tee-shirt ensanglanté, est suspendu au plafond, un pistolet braqué sur la tête. Un troisième, attaché avec des cordes, une brique de béton lui écrasant dos et bras, est fouetté sur la plante des pieds, selon ces vidéos.

      Le mauvais traitement des migrants a atteint un paroxysme dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi quand plus de 40 ont été tués et 70 blessés dans un raid aérien contre un centre pour migrants de Tajoura (près de Tripoli), attribué aux forces de Khalifa Haftar engagées dans une offensive sur la capitale libyenne. Un drame « prévisible » depuis des semaines, déplorent des acteurs humanitaires. Depuis janvier, plus de 2.300 personnes ont été ramenées et placées dans des centres de détention, selon l’ONU.

      « Plus d’un millier de personnes ont été ramenées par les gardes-côtes libyens soutenus par l’Union européenne depuis le début du conflit en avril 2019. A terre, ces personnes sont ensuite transférées dans des centres de détention comme celui de Tajoura… », a ce réagi mercredi auprès de l’AFP Julien Raickman, chef de mission de l’ONG Médecins sans frontières (MSF) en Libye. Selon les derniers chiffres de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), au moins 5.200 personnes sont actuellement dans des centres de détention en Libye. Aucun chiffre n’est disponible pour celles détenues dans des centres illégaux aux mains de trafiquants.

      L’UE apporte un soutien aux gardes-côtes libyens pour qu’ils freinent les arrivées sur les côtes italiennes. En 2017, elle a validé un accord conclu entre l’Italie et Tripoli pour former et équiper les garde-côtes libyens. Depuis le nombre d’arrivées en Europe via la mer Méditerranée a chuté de manière spectaculaire.
      « Les morts s’empilent »

      Fin mai, dans une prise de parole publique inédite, dix ONG internationales intervenant en Libye dans des conditions compliquées – dont Danish Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Première Urgence Internationale (PUI) – ont brisé le silence. Elles ont exhorté l’UE et ses Etats membres à « revoir en urgence » leurs politiques migratoires qui nourrissent selon elles un « système de criminalisation », soulignant que les migrants, « y compris les femmes et les enfants, sont sujets à des détentions arbitraires et illimitées » en Libye dans des conditions « abominables ».

      « Arrêtez de renvoyer les migrants en Libye  ! La situation est instable, elle n’est pas sous contrôle ; ils n’y sont en aucun cas protégés ni par un cadre législatif ni pour les raisons sécuritaires que l’on connaît », a réagi ce mercredi à l’AFP Benjamin Gaudin, chef de mission de l’ONG PUI en Libye. Cette ONG intervient dans six centres de détention dans lesquels elle est une des seules organisations à prodiguer des soins de santé.

      La « catastrophe ne se situe pas seulement en Méditerranée mais également sur le sol libyen ; quand ces migrants parviennent jusqu’aux côtes libyennes, ils ont déjà vécu l’enfer », a-t-il témoigné récemment auprès de l’AFP, dans une rare interview à un média. Dans certains de ces centres officiels, « les conditions sont terribles », estime M. Gaudin. « Les migrants vivent parfois entassés les uns sur les autres, dans des conditions sanitaires terribles avec de gros problèmes d’accès à l’eau – parfois il n’y a pas d’eau potable du tout. Ils ne reçoivent pas de nourriture en quantité suffisante ; dans certains centres, il n’y a absolument rien pour les protéger du froid ou de la chaleur. Certains n’ont pas de cours extérieures, les migrants n’y voient jamais la lumière du jour », décrit-il.
      Human Rights Watch, qui a eu accès à plusieurs centres de détention en 2018 et à une centaine de migrants, va plus loin dans un rapport de 2019 – qui accumule les témoignages de « traitements cruels et dégradants » : l’organisation accuse la « coopération de l’UE avec la Libye sur les migrations de contribuer à un cycle d’abus extrêmes ».

      « Les morts s’empilent dans les centres de détention libyens – emportés par une épidémie de tuberculose à Zintan, victimes d’un bombardement à Tajoura. La présence d’une poignée d’acteurs humanitaires sur place ne saurait assurer des conditions acceptables dans ces centres », a déploré M. Raickman de MSF. « Les personnes qui y sont détenues, majoritairement des réfugiés, continuent de mourir de maladies, de faim, sont victimes de violences en tout genre, de viols, soumises à l’arbitraire des milices. Elles se retrouvent prises au piège des combats en cours », a-t-il dénoncé.

      Signe d’une situation considérée comme de plus en plus critique, la Commissaire aux droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe a exhorté le 18 juin les pays européens à suspendre leur coopération avec les gardes-côtes libyens, estimant que les personnes récupérées « sont systématiquement placées en détention et en conséquence soumises à la torture, à des violences sexuelles, à des extorsions ». L’ONU elle même a dénoncé le 7 juin des conditions « épouvantables » dans ces centres. « Environ 22 personnes sont décédées des suites de la tuberculose et d’autres maladies dans le centre de détention de Zintan depuis septembre », a dénoncé Rupert Colville, un porte-parole du Haut-Commissariat de l’ONU aux droits de l’Homme.

      MSF, qui a démarré récemment des activités médicales dans les centres de Zintan et Gharyan, a décrit une « catastrophe sanitaire », soulignant que les personnes enfermées dans ces deux centres « viennent principalement d’Érythrée et de Somalie et ont survécu à des expériences terrifiantes » durant leur exil. Or, selon les ONG et le HCR, la très grande majorité des milliers de personnes détenues dans les centres sont des réfugiés, qui pourraient avoir droit à ce statut et à un accueil dans un pays développé, mais ne peuvent le faire auprès de l’Etat libyen. Ils le font auprès du HCR en Libye, dans des conditions très difficiles.
      « Enfermés depuis un an »

      « Les évacuations hors de Libye vers des pays tiers ou pays de transit sont aujourd’hui extrêmement limitées, notamment parce qu’il manque des places d’accueil dans des pays sûrs qui pourraient accorder l’asile », relève M. Raickman. « Il y a un fort sentiment de désespoir face à cette impasse ; dans des centres où nous intervenons dans la région de Misrata et Khoms, des gens sont enfermés depuis un an. » Interrogée par l’AFP, la Commission européenne défend son bilan et son « engagement » financier sur cette question, soulignant avoir « mobilisé » depuis 2014 pas moins de 338 millions d’euros dans des programmes liés à la migration en Libye.

      « Nous sommes extrêmement préoccupés par la détérioration de la situation sur le terrain », a récemment déclaré à l’AFP une porte-parole de la Commission européenne, Natasha Bertaud. « Des critiques ont été formulées sur notre engagement avec la Libye, nous en sommes conscients et nous échangeons régulièrement avec les ONG sur ce sujet », a-t-elle ajouté. « Mais si nous ne nous étions pas engagés avec l’OIM, le HCR et l’Union africaine, nous n’aurions jamais eu cet impact : ces 16 derniers mois, nous avons pu sortir 38.000 personnes hors de ces terribles centres de détention et hors de Libye, et les raccompagner chez eux avec des programmes de retour volontaire, tout cela financé par l’Union européenne », a-t-elle affirmé. « Parmi les personnes qui ont besoin de protection – originaires d’Érythrée ou du Soudan par exemple – nous avons récemment évacué environ 2.700 personnes de Libye vers le Niger (…) et organisé la réinstallation réussie dans l’UE de 1.400 personnes ayant eu besoin de protection internationale », plaide-t-elle.

      La porte-parole rappelle que la Commission a « à maintes reprises ces derniers mois exhorté ses États membres à trouver une solution sur des zones de désembarquement, ce qui mettrait fin à ce qui passe actuellement : à chaque fois qu’un bateau d’ONG secoure des gens et qu’il y a une opposition sur le sujet entre Malte et l’Italie, c’est la Commission qui doit appeler près de 28 capitales européennes pour trouver des lieux pour ces personnes puissent débarquer : ce n’est pas viable ! ».

      Pour le porte-parole de la marine libyenne, le général Ayoub Kacem, interrogé par l’AFP, ce sont « les pays européens (qui) sabotent toute solution durable à l’immigration en Méditerranée, parce qu’ils n’acceptent pas d’accueillir une partie des migrants et se sentent non concernés ». Il appelle les Européens à « plus de sérieux » et à unifier leurs positions. « Les États européens ont une scandaleuse responsabilité dans toutes ces morts et ces souffrances », dénonce M. Raickman. « Ce qu’il faut, ce sont des actes : des évacuations d’urgence des réfugiés et migrants coincés dans des conditions extrêmement dangereuses en Libye ».

      https://www.charentelibre.fr/2019/07/03/affames-tortures-disparus-l-impitoyable-piege-referme-sur-les-migrants

    • « Mourir en mer ou sous les bombes : seule alternative pour les milliers de personnes migrantes prises au piège de l’enfer libyen ? »

      Le soir du 2 juillet, une attaque aérienne a été signalée sur le camp de détention pour migrant·e·s de #Tadjourah dans la banlieue est de la capitale libyenne. Deux jours après, le bilan s’est alourdi et fait état d’au moins 66 personnes tuées et plus de 80 blessées [1]. A une trentaine de kilomètres plus au sud de Tripoli, plusieurs migrant·e·s avaient déjà trouvé la mort fin avril dans l’attaque du camp de Qasr Bin Gashir par des groupes armés.

      Alors que les conflits font rage autour de Tripoli entre le Gouvernement d’union nationale (GNA) reconnu par l’ONU et les forces du maréchal Haftar, des milliers de personnes migrantes enfermées dans les geôles libyennes se retrouvent en première ligne : lorsqu’elles ne sont pas abandonnées à leur sort par leurs gardien·ne·s à l’approche des forces ennemies ou forcées de combattre auprès d’un camp ou de l’autre, elles sont régulièrement prises pour cibles par les combattant·e·s.

      Dans un pays où les migrant·e·s sont depuis longtemps vu·e·s comme une monnaie d’échange entre milices, et, depuis l’époque de Kadhafi, comme un levier diplomatique notamment dans le cadre de divers marchandages migratoires avec les Etats de l’Union européenne [2], les personnes migrantes constituent de fait l’un des nerfs de la guerre pour les forces en présence, bien au-delà des frontières libyennes.

      Au lendemain des bombardements du camp de Tadjourah, pendant que le GNA accusait Haftar et que les forces d’Haftar criaient au complot, les dirigeant·e·s des pays européens ont pris le parti de faire mine d’assister impuissant·e·s à ce spectacle tragique depuis l’autre bord de la Méditerranée, les un·e·s déplorant les victimes et condamnant les attaques, les autres appelant à une enquête internationale pour déterminer les coupables.

      Contre ces discours teintés d’hypocrisie, il convient de rappeler l’immense responsabilité de l’Union européenne et de ses États membres dans la situation désastreuse dans laquelle les personnes migrantes se trouvent sur le sol libyen. Lorsqu’à l’occasion de ces attaques, l’Union européenne se félicite de son rôle dans la protection des personnes migrantes en Libye et affirme la nécessité de poursuivre ses efforts [3], ne faut-il pas tout d’abord se demander si celle-ci fait autre chose qu’entériner un système de détention cruel en finançant deux organisations internationales, le HCR et l’OIM, qui accèdent pour partie à ces camps où les pires violations de droits sont commises ?

      Au-delà de son soutien implicite à ce système d’enfermement à grande échelle, l’UE n’a cessé de multiplier les stratégies pour que les personnes migrantes, tentant de fuir la Libye et ses centres de détention aux conditions inhumaines, y soient immédiatement et systématiquement renvoyées, entre le renforcement constant des capacités des garde-côtes libyens et l’organisation d’un vide humanitaire en Méditerranée par la criminalisation des ONG de secours en mer [4].

      A la date du 20 juin 2019, le HCR comptait plus de 3 000 personnes interceptées par les garde-côtes libyens depuis le début de l’année 2019, pour à peine plus de 2000 personnes arrivées en Italie [5]. Pour ces personnes interceptées et reconduites en Libye, les perspectives sont bien sombres : remises aux mains des milices, seules échapperont à la détention les heureuses élues qui sont évacuées au Niger dans l’attente d’une réinstallation hypothétique par le HCR, ou celles qui, après de fortes pressions et souvent en désespoir de cause, acceptent l’assistance au retour « volontaire » proposée par l’OIM.

      L’Union européenne a beau jeu de crier au scandale. La détention massive de migrant·e·s et la violation de leurs droits dans un pays en pleine guerre civile ne relèvent ni de la tragédie ni de la fatalité : ce sont les conséquences directes des politiques d’externalisation et de marchandages migratoires cyniques orchestrées par l’Union et ses États membres depuis de nombreuses années. Il est temps que cesse la guerre aux personnes migrantes et que la liberté de circulation soit assurée pour toutes et tous.

      http://www.migreurop.org/article2931.html
      aussi signalé par @vanderling
      https://seenthis.net/messages/791482

    • Migrants say militias in Tripoli conscripted them to clean arms

      Migrants who survived the deadly airstrike on a detention center in western Libya say they had been conscripted by a local militia to work in an adjacent weapons workshop. The detention centers are under armed groups affiliated with the Fayez al-Sarraj government in Tripoli.

      Two migrants told The Associated Press on Thursday that for months they were sent day and night to a workshop inside the Tajoura detention center, which housed hundreds of African migrants.

      A young migrant who has been held for nearly two years at Tajoura says “we clean the anti-aircraft guns. I saw a large amount of rockets and missiles too.”

      The migrants spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

      http://www.addresslibya.com/en/archives/47932

  • Powering The Revolution
    https://hackernoon.com/powering-the-revolution-cf9be710f986?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    “Eden GeoPower” is looking to shake up the renewable energy sector.Powering cryptocurrency mining operations with Eden GeoPower’s facilities.Eden GeoPower is a clean energy company developing innovative solutions to power #blockchain technology with geothermal resources. Renewal energy is and will continue to be crucial to our ever-evolving society especially as carbon emissions continue to affect climate change. At Eden GeoPower, we aim to not only offset these problems but also to power the technology of the future. Our method allows us to consume electricity on-site by targeting off-grid power consumers such as cryptocurrency miners and large data centers. Geothermal energy is one of the only renewable energy resources capable of providing a 24/7 (baseload) energy supply. Eden’s (...)

    #crypto-mining #bitcoin #climate-change #geothermal-power

  • #bitcoin’s inescapable, inconvenient truth
    https://hackernoon.com/bitcoins-inescapable-inconvenient-truth-da0f0219cda6?source=rss----3a814

    Bitcoin has a dirty secret, and the community rapidly running out of excuses for it.It’s time to start making Bitcoin environmentally sustainable.When Satoshi Nakamoto created the digital currency Bitcoin, he also decided there would never be more than 21 million coins. These coins would slowly be released over time, as a reward for those participating in the block creation process for Bitcoin’s underlying #blockchain. Satoshi described the “steady addition of a constant of amount of new coins” as “analogous to gold miners expending resources to add gold to circulation”, and noted that “in our case, it is CPU time and electricity that is expended”.Growing energy consumptionIt is unknown whether Satoshi, while writing this, ever envisioned the energy-hungry nightmare Bitcoin has become. Over the (...)

    #renewable-energy #sustainability #e-waste

  • How #blockchain is Driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    https://hackernoon.com/how-blockchain-is-driving-the-fourth-industrial-revolution-1abdc0535691?

    The “fourth industrial revolution” was described by the World Economic Forum as a new era of #technology and industry. A trinity of disruptive technologies is driving this revolution: blockchain, the internet of things, and artificial intelligenceThe first industrial revolution began in the 18th century with water and steam power, the second with electricity, and the beginning of the third with the internet, both happened in the 20th century. The past few decades we have been living in the third industrial revolution in technological development.You might be asking, when will the fourth industrial revolution begin? The answer is it already has. The World Economic Forum (WEF) concludes we have likely already entered the transition phase into a new era of economy, politics, and society. (...)

    #business #artificial-intelligence #cryptocurrency

  • How Much Longer Can Our Grid Handle #bitcoin Miners Demands ?
    https://hackernoon.com/how-much-longer-can-our-grid-handle-bitcoin-miners-demands-15b4bd60d9ba?

    “Eden GeoPower” may have the answer.Image Credit phys.org2018 emerged as an emotional rollercoaster for the crypto market. With Bitcoin prices surging as high as $11,235 and bottoming out at around $3,691, it was a year to remember for investors and miners alike. What remained a constant was crypto’s relentless energy demands. In some cases, the Bitcoin network consumed nearly as much electricity as the nation of Ireland according to a study by Dutch researcher Alex de Vries. De Vries estimates that the Bitcoin network consumes “at least 2.55 gigawatts of electricity currently, and potentially 7.67 gigawatts in the future.” So the question remains, is there a renewable energy solution to offset these extensive costs in the future of crypto mining?A look into what causes Bitcoin #mining to (...)

    #geothermal-power #cryptocurrency #renewable-energy

  • For six months, these Palestinian villages had running water. Israel put a stop to it
    For six months, Palestinian villagers living on West Bank land that Israel deems a closed firing range saw their dream of running water come true. Then the Civil Administration put an end to it

    Amira Hass Feb 22, 2019 3:25 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-doesn-t-israel-want-palestinians-to-have-running-water-1.69595

    The dream that came true, in the form of a two-inch water line, was too good to be true. For about six months, 12 Palestinian West Bank villages in the South Hebron Hills enjoyed clean running water. That was until February 13, when staff from the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police and a couple of bulldozers, arrived.

    The troops dug up the pipes, cut and sawed them apart and watched the jets of water that spurted out. About 350 cubic meters of water were wasted. Of a 20 kilometer long (12 mile) network, the Civil Administration confiscated remnants and sections of a total of about 6 kilometers of piping. They loaded them on four garbage trucks emblazoned with the name of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on them.

    The demolition work lasted six and a half hours. Construction of the water line network had taken about four months. It had been a clear act of civil rebellion in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King against one of the most brutal bans that Israel imposes on Palestinian communities in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control. It bars Palestinians from hooking into existing water infrastructure.

    The residential caves in the Masafer Yatta village region south of Hebron and the ancient cisterns used for collecting rainwater confirm the local residents’ claim that their villages have existed for decades, long before the founding of the State of Israel. In the 1970s, Israel declared some 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres) in the area Firing Range 918.

    In 1999, under the auspices of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the army expelled the residents of the villages and demolished their structures and water cisterns. The government claimed that the residents were trespassing on the firing range, even though these were their lands and they have lived in the area long before the West Bank was captured by Israel.

    When the matter was brought to the High Court of Justice, the court approved a partial return to the villages but did not allow construction or hookups to utility infrastructure. Mediation attempts failed, because the state was demanding that the residents leave their villages and live in the West Bank town of Yatta and come to graze their flocks and work their land only on a few specific days per year.

    But the residents continued to live in their homes, risking military raids and demolition action — including the demolition of public facilities such as schools, medical clinics and even toilets. They give up a lot to maintain their way of life as shepherds, but could not forgo water.

    “The rainy season has grown much shorter in recent years, to only about 45 days a year,” explained Nidal Younes, the chairman of the Masafer Yatta council of villages. “In the past, we didn’t immediately fill the cisterns with rainwater, allowing them to be washed and cleaned first. Since the amount of rain has decreased, people stored water right away. It turns out the dirty water harmed the sheep and the people.”

    Because the number of residents has increased, even in years with abundant rain, at a certain stage the cisterns ran dry and the shepherds would bring in water by tractor. They would haul a 4 cubic meter (140 square foot) tank along the area’s narrow, poor roads — which Israel does not permit to have widened and paved. “The water has become every family’s largest expense,” Younes said.

    In the village of Halawa, he pointed out Abu Ziyad, a man of about 60. “I always see him on a tractor, bringing in water or setting out to bring back water.”

    Sometimes the tractors overturn and drivers are injured. Tires quickly wear out and precious work days go to waste. “We are drowning in debt to pay for the transportation of water,” Abu Ziyad said.

    In 2017, the Civil Administration and the Israeli army closed and demolished the roads to the villages, which the council had earlier managed to widen and rebuild. That had been done to make it easier to haul water in particular, but also more generally to give the villages better access.

    The right-wing Regavim non-profit group “exposed” the great crime committed in upgrading the roads and pressured the Civil Administration and the army to rip them up. “The residents’ suffering increased,” Younes remarked. “We asked ourselves how to solve the water problem.”

    The not very surprising solution was installing pipes to carry the water from the main water line in the village of Al-Tuwani, through privately owned lands of the other villages. “I checked it out, looking to see if there was any ban on laying water lines on private land and couldn’t find one,” Younes said.

    Work done by volunteers

    The plumbing work was done by volunteers, mostly at night and without heavy machinery, almost with their bare hands. Ali Debabseh, 77, of the village of Khalet al-Daba, recalled the moment when he opened the spigot installed near his home and washed his face with running water. “I wanted to jump for joy. I was as happy as a groom before his wedding.”

    Umm Fadi of the village of Halawa also resorted to the word “joy” in describing the six months when she had a faucet near the small shack in which she lives. “The water was clean, not brown from rust or dust. I didn’t need to go as far as the cistern to draw water, didn’t need to measure every drop.”

    Now it’s more difficult to again get used to being dependent on water dispensed from tanks.

    The piping and connections and water meters were bought with a 100,000 euro ($113,000) European donation. Instead of paying 40 shekels ($11) per cubic meter for water brought in with water tanks, the residents paid only about 6 shekels for the same amount of running water. Suddenly they not only saved money, but also had more precious time.

    The water lines also could have saved European taxpayers money. A European project to help the residents remain in their homes had been up and running since 2011, providing annual funding of 120,000 euros to cover the cost of buying and transporting drinking water during the three summer months for the residents (but not their livestock).

    The cost was based on a calculation involving consumption of 750 liters per person a month, far below the World Health Organization’s recommended quantity. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 residents. The project made things much easier for such a poor community, which continued to pay out of its own pocket for the water for some 40,000 sheep and for the residents’ drinking water during the remainder of the year. Now that the Civil Administration has demolished the water lines, the European donor countries may be forced to once again pay for the high price of transporting water during the summer months, at seven times the cost.

    For its part, the Civil Administration issued a statement noting that the area is a closed military zone. “On February 13,” the statement said, “enforcement action was taken against water infrastructure that was connected to illegal structures in this area and that were built without the required permits.”

    Ismail Bahis should have been sorry that the pipes were laid last year. He and his brothers, residents of Yatta, own water tankers and were the main water suppliers to the Masafer Yatta villages. Through a system of coupons purchased with the European donation, they received 800 shekels for every shipment of 20 cubic meters of water. But Bahis said he was happy he had lost out on the work.

    “The roads to the villages of Masafer Yatta are rough and dangerous, particularly after the army closed them,” he said. “Every trip of a few kilometers took at least three and a half hours. Once I tipped over with the tanker. Another time the army confiscated my brother’s truck, claiming it was a closed military zone. We got the truck released three weeks later in return for 5,000 shekels. We always had other additional expenses replacing tires and other repairs for the truck.

    Nidal Younes recounted that the council signed a contract with another water carrier to meet the demand. But that supplier quit after three weeks. He wouldn’t agree to drive on the poor and dangerous roads.

    On February 13, Younes heard the large group of forces sent by the Civil Administration beginning to demolish the water lines near the village of Al-Fakhit. He rushed to the scene and began arguing with the soldiers and Civil Administration staff.

    Border Police arrests

    Border Police officers arrested him, handcuffed him and put him in a jeep. His colleague, the head of the Al-Tuwani council, Mohammed al-Raba’i, also approached those carrying out the demolition work to protest. “But they arrested me after I said two words. At least Nidal managed to say a lot,” he said with a smile that concealed sadness.

    Two teams carried out the demolition work, one proceeding toward the village of Jinbah, to the southeast, the second advanced in the direction of Al-Tuwani, to the northwest. They also demolished the access road leading to the village of Sha’ab al-Butum, so that even if Bahis wanted to transport water again, he would have had to make a large detour to do so.

    Younes was shocked to spot a man named Marco among the team carrying out the demolition. “I remembered him from when I was a child, from the 1980s when he was an inspector for the Civil Administration. In 1985, he supervised the demolition of houses in our village, Jinbah — twice, during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr [marking the end of the Ramadan holy month],” he said.

    “They knew him very well in all the villages in the area because he attended all the demolitions. The name Marco was a synonym for an evil spirit. Our parents who saw him demolish their homes, have died. He disappeared, and suddenly he has reappeared,” Younes remarked.

    Marco is Marco Ben-Shabbat, who has lead the Civil Administration’s supervision unit for the past 10 years. Speaking to a reporter from the Israel Hayom daily who accompanied the forces carrying out the demolition work, Ben-Shabbat said: “The [water line] project was not carried out by the individual village. The Palestinian Authority definitely put a project manager here and invested a lot of money.”

    More precisely, it was European governments that did so.

    From all of the villages where the Civil Administration destroyed water lines, the Jewish outposts of Mitzpeh Yair and Avigayil can be seen on the hilltops. Although they are unauthorized and illegal even according to lenient Israeli settlement laws, the outposts were connected almost immediately to water and electricity grids and paved roads lead to them.

    “I asked why they demolished the water lines,” Nidal Younes recalled. He said one of the Border Police officers answered him, in English, telling him it was done “to replace Arabs with Jews.”

    #Financementeuropéen

    • Under Israeli Occupation, Water Is a Luxury

      Of all the methods Israel uses to expel Palestinians from their land, the deprivation of water is the most cruel. And so the Palestinians are forced to buy water that Israel stole from them
      Amira Hass
      Feb 24, 2019 9:45 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-under-israeli-occupation-water-is-a-luxury-1.6962821

      Water pipes cut by the Israeli military in the village of Khalet al-Daba, February 17, 2019. Eliyahu Hershkovitz

      When I wrote my questions and asked the spokesperson’s office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to explain the destruction of the water pipelines in the Palestinian villages southeast of Yatta, on February 13, my fingers started itching wanting to type the following question: “Tell me, aren’t you ashamed?” You may interpret it as a didactic urge, you can see it as a vestige of faith in the possibility of exerting an influence, or a crumb of hope that there’s somebody there who doesn’t automatically carry out orders and will feel a niggling doubt. But the itching in my fingers disappeared quickly.

      This is not the first time that I’m repressing my didactic urge to ask the representatives of the destroyers, and the deprivers of water, if they aren’t ashamed. After all, every day our forces carry out some brutal act of demolition or prevent construction or assist the settlers who are permeated with a sense of racial superiority, to expel shepherds and farmers from their land. The vast majority of these acts of destruction and expulsion are not reported in the Israeli media. After all, writing about them would require the hiring of another two full-time reporters.

      These acts are carried out in the name of every Israeli citizen, who also pays the taxes to fund the salaries of the officials and the army officers and the demolition contractors. When I write about one small sampling from among the many acts of destruction, I have every right as a citizen and a journalist to ask those who hand down the orders, and those who carry them out: “Tell me, can you look at yourself in the mirror?”

      But I don’t ask. Because we know the answer: They’re pleased with what they see in the mirror. Shame has disappeared from our lives. Here’s another axiom that has come down to us from Mount Sinai: The Jews have a right to water, wherever they are. Not the Palestinians. If they insist on living outside the enclaves we assigned to them in Area A, outside the crowded reservations (the city of Yatta, for example), let them bear the responsibility of becoming accustomed to living without water. It’s impossible without water? You don’t say. Then please, let the Palestinians pay for water that is carried in containers, seven times the cost of the water in the faucet.

      It’s none of our business that most of the income of these impoverished communities is spent on water. It’s none of our business that water delivery is dangerous because of the poor roads. It’s none of our business that the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration dig pits in them and pile up rocks – so that it will be truly impossible to use them to transport water for about 1,500 to 2,000 people, and another 40,000 sheep and goats. What do we care that only one road remains, a long detour that makes delivery even more expensive? After all, it’s written in the Torah: What’s good for us, we’ll deny to others.

      I confess: The fact that the pyramid that carries out the policy of depriving the Palestinians of water is now headed by a Druze (Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) made the itching in my fingers last longer. Maybe because when Abu Rokon approaches the faucet, he thinks the word “thirsty” in the same language used by the elderly Ali Dababseh from the village of Khalet al-Daba to describe life with a dry spigot and waiting for the tractor that will bring water in a container. Or because Abu Rokon first learned from his mother how to say in Arabic that he wants to drink.

      Water towers used by villages due to lack of running water in their homes. Eliyahu Hershkovitz

      But that longer itching is irrational, at least based on the test of reality. The Civil Administration and COGAT are filled with Druze soldiers and officers whose mother tongue is Arabic. They carry out the orders to implement Israel’s settler colonial policy, to expel Palestinians and to take over as much land as possible for Jews, with the same unhesitant efficiency as their colleagues whose mother tongue is Hebrew, Russian or Spanish.

      Of all the Israeli methods of removing Palestinians from their land in order to allocate it to Jews from Israel and the Diaspora, the policy of water deprivation is the cruelest. And these are the main points of this policy: Israel does not recognize the right of all the human beings living under its control to equal access to water and to quantities of water. On the contrary. It believes in the right of the Jews as lords and masters to far greater quantities of water than the Palestinians. It controls the water sources everywhere in the country, including in the West Bank. It carries out drilling in the West Bank and draws water in the occupied territory, and transfers most of it to Israel and the settlements.

      The Palestinians have wells from the Jordanian period, some of which have already dried up, and several new ones from the past 20 years, not as deep as the Israeli ones, and together they don’t yield sufficient quantities of water. The Palestinians are therefore forced to buy from Israel water that Israel is stealing from them.

      Because Israel has full administrative control over 60 percent of the area of the West Bank (among other things it decides on the master plans and approves construction permits), it also forbids the Palestinians who live there to link up to the water infrastructure. The reason for the prohibition: They have no master plan. Or that’s a firing zone. And of course firing zones were declared on Mount Sinai, and an absence of a master plan for the Palestinian is not a deliberate human omission but the act of God.

    • Pendant six mois, ces villages palestiniens ont eu de l’eau courante. Israël y a mis fin
      25 février | Amira Hass pour Haaretz |Traduction SF pour l’AURDIP
      https://www.aurdip.org/pendant-six-mois-ces-villages.html

      Pendant six mois, des villageois palestiniens vivant en Cisjordanie sur une terre qu’Israël considère comme une zone de feu fermée, ont vu leur rêve d’eau courante devenir réalité. Puis l’administration civile y a mis fin.

  • #bitcoin: The Living Room Revolution
    https://hackernoon.com/bitcoin-the-living-room-revolution-9acdf521295e?source=rss----3a8144eabf

    Bitcoin and #crypto are a massive crowd-sourced project to increase individual sovereignty over money and information, which, if successful, will transform the world we live in, forever.“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the electricity and computing power of patriots and revolutionaries.” — Thomas Jefferson (if he were alive today)It’s about LibertyMost of the world’s money is fiat money. Fiat is a dirty word. Its usage is rooted in phrases like “by Royal fiat” as in, by Royal command.While we may think that we tossed off the shackles of ‘rule by fiat’ from monarchies and dictatorships, we still comfortably refer to our money as “fiat”. It is, after all, printed on-demand by a handful of people whenever they wish. This point shouldn’t be taken lightly because the power of (...)

    #cryptocurrency #crypto-mining

  • Low prices cause redistribution of hash rate.
    https://hackernoon.com/low-prices-cause-redistribution-of-hash-rate-155959e1ee88?source=rss----

    Low Prices Can Cause Redistribution of The Hash RateThe vast portion of mining power is sourced from China.The recent slump in coin prices has led to concerns over the feasibility of mining operations. However, mining operations are still profitable in some parts of the world; the lower Bitcoin price is making way for diversification in the mining industry by enabling the growth of farms in countries with electricity prices that are lower than the energy costs in China.While a few Chinese mining facilities have been able to lock direct deals with power providers, thereby giving them access to discounted energy supplies, the average kWh rate in China stands at $0.08. Bitcoin’s current difficulty makes it difficult for most major miners, including those in China, to break-even on operating (...)

    #decentralization #hash-rate #cryptocurrency #blockchain #technology

  • Mississippians Can Code, Too
    https://hackernoon.com/mississippians-can-code-too-e6b6e0e82831?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    When I was kid, I bought a learning kit from the book fair that taught me about electricity. It showed me how to wire an LED light and make a buzzer. I tried to set a trap to alarm me when somebody came to my room. Around the same time in life, I had a teacher who said I was lousy at math. I’ve avoided anything math or science-related as much as possible ever since.Two things happened this week related to that math aversion. I started an intensive 10-week course to learn software development, with the end goal of finding an entry level job as a software developer. And towards the end of the week, another learning kit arrived in the mail to teach me about circuits and solar electricity.I had a difficult time deciding whether or not to attend the coding class. But my first week of class (...)

    #software-development #learn-to-code #literature #web-development #books

  • How Did Russian Hackers Phish America’s Power Grid?
    https://hackernoon.com/how-russian-hackers-phished-americas-power-grid-630e6ce22ebb?source=rss-

    The kill chain, the #phishing attack and the broken trust graphThe Wall Street Journal published an explosive story about how state-sponsored Russian hackers used a variety of techniques and a spider web of compromised accounts to ultimately gain access to the control infrastructure that monitors and controls the flow of electricity in the US power grid.While the attack was complex and well planned, the core strategy was simple: exploit the trust graph.Instead of attacking the high-value target directly, you first get inside lower value, less protected partners — and then use simple tactics like phishing, using existing trusted relationships to compromise your final target.In short, every business relationship is a potential vulnerability.The story is as chilling as it is fascinating. It (...)

    #cybersecurity #email #security

  • The Christmas Tree Analogy of Software Engineering
    https://hackernoon.com/the-christmas-tree-analogy-of-software-engineering-552dd7cff662?source=r

    Why does it so long to build this? Why can’t you predict (accurately) when this feature will be done? What is your team doing all day, anyway?Explaining the process of software creation is hard. People have pointed out how much art and discovery are part of it. But hear this story about a Christmas Tree…Christmas Tree, by Michelleration (flickr.com/photos/michellemc/2082631181)The scene: A family room, a wonderfully decorated Christmas Tree, a string of lights woven into its branches. Important guests are expected to arrive at six for dinner.The problem: The nearest outlet, which has not been used since last year, does not seem to function anymore. No electricity means no lights. Disappointed guests, grumbling spouses, ruined lives up ahead.5:00pm, Stakeholder: So, can you fix this within (...)

    #christmas-tree-analogy #software-development #agile #christmas-tree-software #software-engineering

  • Summary of #bitmain #lawsuit
    https://hackernoon.com/summary-of-bitmain-lawsuit-ed3a3412c965?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    Gor Gevorkyan v. Bitmain, Inc., Bitmain Technologies, Ltd. And DOES 1 to 10A lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California against Bitmain on 11/19/2018. See https://www.scribd.com/document/393971649/Bitmain-Class-ActionIn a brief summary, the Plaintiff alleged that Bitmain marketed and sold ASIC miners that were preconfigured to use the customers’ electricity to generate crypto for Bitmain’s own benefit.The Plaintiff bought his ASIC in January 2018, it was hard to configure, and it came pre-configured to operate in full power mode, at which time it mined for the benefit of Bitmain, using the Plaintiff’s electricity. The complaint alleges there are over 100 Class members and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 Million.Plaintiff’s first count is that Bitmain used unfair (...)

    #bitcoin #mining #class-action

  • How to optimize C and C++ code in 2018—Iurii Krasnoshchok
    http://isocpp.org/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=All+Posts&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fisocpp.org%2Fblog%2F2

    Are you aware?

    How to optimize C and C++ code in 2018 by Iurii Krasnoshchok

    From the article:

    We are still limited by our current hardware. There are numerous areas where it just not good enough: neural networks and virtual reality to name a few. There are plenty of devices where battery life is crucial, and we must count every single CPU tick. Even when we’re talking about clouds and microservices and lambdas, there are enormous data centers that consume vast amounts of electricity. Even boring tests routine may quietly start to take 5 hours to run. And this is tricky. Program performance doesn‘t matter, only until it does. A modern way to squeeze performance out of silicon is to make hardware more and more (...)

    #News,Articles&_Books,

    • t’as aussi Yellow Vests ailleurs.
      https://seenthis.net/messages/740447
      No homeless, pensions, maximum salary… Discover the list of claims of the “yellow vests”

      The movement sent a press release to the media and MPs with about 40 demands on Thursday.
      The claims of the “yellow vests” now officially go beyond the issue of fuel prices alone. In a lengthy statement sent to the media and members of parliament on Thursday 29 November, the movement’s delegation listed a series of demands it wanted to see implemented.

      “Deputies of France, we inform you of the people’s directives so that you can transpose them into law (…). Obey the will of the people. Enforce these instructions”, write the “yellow vests”. Delegation spokespersons are to be received on Friday at 2 p.m. by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Ecological Transition François de Rugy.

      Increase of the minimum wage to 1,300 euros net, return to retirement at age 60 or abandonment of withholding tax…. The list includes many social measures, but also measures concerning transport, such as the end of the increase in fuel taxes and the introduction of a tax on marine fuel and kerosene. Here is a non-exhaustive list of claims:

      – Zero homeless : URGENT.

      – More progressiveness in income tax, i.e. more brackets.

      – Smic at 1,300 euros net.

      – Promote small businesses in villages and town centres. Stop the construction of large commercial areas around large cities that kill small businesses and more free parking in city centres.

      – Large plan of Insulation of the dwellings to make ecology by making savings to the households.

      – Taxes: that BIG companies (MacDonald’s, Google, Amazon, Carrefour…) pay BIG and that small companies (craftsmen, very small SMEs) pay small.

      – Same social security system for all (including craftsmen and self-employed entrepreneurs). End of the RSI.

      – The pension system must remain united and therefore socialized. No point retreat.

      – End of the fuel tax increase.

      – No retirement below 1,200 euros.

      – Any elected representative will be entitled to the median salary. His transport costs will be monitored and reimbursed if justified. Entitlement to a meal ticket and a holiday voucher.

      – The salaries of all French people, as well as pensions and allowances, must be indexed to inflation.

      – Protecting French industry: prohibit relocations. Protecting our industry means protecting our know-how and our jobs.

      – End of seconded work. It is abnormal that a person working in France does not enjoy the same salary and rights. Anyone authorised to work on French territory must be on an equal footing with a French citizen and his employer must contribute at the same level as a French employer.

      – For job security: further limit the number of fixed-term contracts for large companies. We want more permanent contracts.

      – End of the CICE. Use of this money to launch a French hydrogen car industry (which is truly ecological, unlike the electric car.)

      – End of the austerity policy. We stop paying interest on the debt that is declared illegitimate and we start paying down the debt without taking money from the poor and the less poor, but by collecting the $80 billion in tax evasion.

      – That the causes of forced migration be addressed.

      – That asylum seekers are treated well. We owe them housing, security, food and education for minors. Work with the UN to ensure that reception camps are opened in many countries around the world, pending the outcome of the asylum application.

      – That rejected asylum seekers be returned to their country of origin.

      – That a real integration policy be implemented. Living in France means becoming French (French language courses, French history courses and civic education courses with a certificate at the end of the course).

      – Maximum salary set at 15,000 euros.

      – That jobs be created for the unemployed.

      – Increase in disabled benefits.

      – Limitation of rents. More affordable housing (especially for students and precarious workers).

      – Prohibition to sell property belonging to France (dam, airport…)

      – Substantial resources granted to the judiciary, police, gendarmerie and army. Whether law enforcement overtime is paid or recovered.

      – All the money earned by motorway tolls will be used for the maintenance of France’s motorways and roads as well as for road safety.

      – As the price of gas and electricity has risen since privatisation took place, we want them to become public again and prices to fall significantly.

      – Immediate end of the closure of small lines, post offices, schools and maternity hospitals.

      – Let us bring well-being to our seniors. Prohibition to make money on the elderly. White gold is over. The era of grey well-being is beginning.

      – Maximum 25 students per class from kindergarten to high school.

      – Substantial resources brought to psychiatry.

      – The popular referendum must be incorporated into the Constitution. Creation of a readable and effective website, supervised by an independent control body where people can make a legislative proposal. If this bill obtains 700,000 signatures, then this bill must be discussed, supplemented and amended by the National Assembly, which will have the obligation (one year to the day after obtaining 700,000 signatures) to submit it to the vote of all French people.

      – Return to a 7-year term of office for the President of the Republic. The election of deputies two years after the election of the President of the Republic made it possible to send a positive or negative signal to the President of the Republic regarding his policy. This helped to make the voice of the people heard.)

      – Retirement at age 60 and for all persons who have worked in a profession that wears out the body (e. g. bricklayer or boner) entitled to retirement at age 55.

      – A 6-year-old child not caring for himself, continuation of the PAJEMPLOI assistance system until the child is 10 years old.

      – Encourage the transport of goods by rail.

      – No withholding tax.

      – End of presidential lifetime benefits.

      – Prohibition to make merchants pay a tax when their customers use the credit card. Tax on marine fuel oil and kerosene.

      https://www.francetvinfo.fr/economie/transports/gilets-jaunes/zero-sdf-retraites-superieures-a-1-200-euros-salaire-maximum-a-15-000-e


      #yellow_vests

  • Hunger and survival in Venezuela

    The government continues to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis, blaming power failures on Venezuela’s proximity to the sun and suggesting people buy gold nuggets and plant medicinal herbs in their gardens to ward off poverty and disease.

    Inflation continues its dizzying ascent. It has reached an eye-watering 800,000 percent and is on target, according to the International Monetary Fund, to surge to 10 million percent next year – driving severe hunger, shortages of basic goods, and accelerating the exodus from the country.

    At least 2.3 million people are estimated to have fled Venezuela since 2015. One in 12 Venezuelans is now thought to have left the country.

    As those abroad build new lives where shelves are laden with food and medicine, many of those IRIN encountered during two weeks of reporting across Venezuela – from the once-thriving fishing and sugar-producing areas of Cumana and Cariaco in the east to once-opulent and wealthy Maracaibo in the west – face a daily battle for survival.

    Residents tell of children starving to death, of forming human chains to block roads to hijack trucks just to get food. They tell of hiding provisions – toilet paper even – in cemeteries, and of concealing their supplies in buckets under layers of trash.​ They tell of being prisoners in their own homes, frightened to leave for fear of looters, who don’t come for their televisions and computers – no one wants those any more – but for basic foodstuffs and medicine.

    While some Venezuelans abroad paper social media with pictures of themselves posing jubilantly in front of powdered milk and shampoo, those who remain grind guava leaves with baking soda to make deodorant, and boil ash from the fire to make soap. It leaves people “itching all day long like gorillas,” says Leidis Vallenilla, explaining how the term violin has become a euphemism for body odour. “We have a whole orchestra here,” she laughs.

    There is pride here, too.

    “The inventive part of us has really been activated,” says Vallenilla.
    The road holds secrets

    Lined with lush foliage and mango trees, dotted with the occasional home, the road from Cumana to Carupano in Venezuela’s eastern state of Sucre winds gently, every now and then rising to give a glimpse of the sea.

    Pilongo – 23-year-old José Gregorio’s nickname, acquired from a cartoon he loved as a baby – leans into the windscreen and squints, staring closely into the verges. He’s looking for vehicles hiding in the bushes, where they wait to ambush cars.

    As the crisis has deepened, so has the threat. This road is a main artery to the east; seemingly bucolic, it is one of the most dangerous in the country.

    Hunger is behind most everything here.

    Hunger was behind the widespread protests that roiled the country in 2015 and precipitated the flight of millions of Venezuelans from the country.

    Then, shortages of essential foodstuffs – milk, butter, sugar, pasta, flour, oil, rice, beef, and chicken – were estimated at 80-90 percent.

    It has only gotten worse since.

    By 2018, according to a report produced by three Venezuelan universities, only one in 10 Venezuelans could afford enough daily food. Hunger has blanketed the country.

    Cumana was once the fourth largest tuna processing town in the world. Nearby, around Caraico and Carupano, was a major sugar-producing area. Not any more. Now, people are starving.

    Government food trucks travel the road carrying President Nicolás Maduro’s signature boxes of subsidised food.

    Named CLAP – after the Spanish acronym for Local Committees for Supply and Production – Maduro rolled them out in 2016 in order, he declared, to circumvent the “economic war” being waged on Venezuela by the United States and his opponents.

    These boxes, the government claims, will feed a family of four for one week. They are supposed to be delivered once a month to all those who have signed up for the “Carnet de la Patria” – a controversial ID card that grants holders access to subsidised food.

    However, according to those who get the CLAP boxes, the food arrives spoiled or past its sell-by date, is nowhere near enough to last even a week, and never comes more than, if you’re lucky, once every six weeks. Around Cumana, seven hours east of the capital Caracas, people say the boxes arrive once every three to four months.

    Pilongo, Vallenilla, and other locals say the trucks still barrel through here daily – in convoys of as many as 40 – laden with precious food and never stopping for angered, hungry people. They recall how people started coating the road with oil so the trucks would skid into a ditch and then everyone would swarm around and loot them.

    “A population which is not well fed become thieves and will steal any food no matter what.”

    When the truck drivers wised up and took a diversion, people got metal strips with sharp teeth and laid them across the other road. Tires would blow out and trucks would still be looted. When the National Guard came and confiscated the metal strips, the community protested that they belonged to them. After a fight, the mayor agreed and returned the strips.

    As hunger grew around the country so did the number of incidents like these, leading Maduro to issue an edict that armed National Guards must accompany the government food trucks. This has given greater license to the much-feared National Guard, who locals accuse of being behind the bodies they say have been turning up on nearby beaches.

    The threat hasn’t stopped people. They just choose different trucks.

    “Malnutrition is the mother of the whole problem,” says Pilingo’s former teacher, Fernando Battisti Garcia, 64, talking from his home in the town of Muelle de Cariaco. “A population which is not well fed become thieves and will steal any food no matter what.”

    People call it “the Maduro diet”.

    “As soon as people see a big truck coming with supplies,” explains Pilingo, “they go into the street – men, women, even children – and stop the truck and take the supplies.”

    It happened just a few days ago, he says, adding that the National Guard has begun searching people’s houses and if they find anything – food, toilet paper, supplies – they take you to jail.

    So people have started hiding the goods in tombs in cemeteries, or lowering them in buckets into water tanks.

    “Everyone is just so desperate,” Pilingo shrugs.

    With their erratic and infrequent delivery of meagre, often spoiled goods, CLAP boxes have done little to address hunger. What they have done, however, is line the pockets – and secure the loyalty – of military and government officials.

    The US treasury estimates as much as 70 percent of the CLAP programme is victim to corruption, while accusations of military and government officials siphoning off millions of dollars and creating a lucrative food trafficking business and thriving black market have led to sanctions and intensifying international scrutiny.

    The CLAP boxes have also succeeded in creating dependency. As inflation continues to spiral upwards and poverty escalates – jumping from 81.8 to 87 percent between 2016 and 2017 – more and more desperate people have become reliant on them to supplement their impoverished diets. In 2018, one in two Venezuelans say CLAP boxes are an “essential” part of their diet, while 83 percent of pro-Maduro voters say that CLAP is their main source of food.
    Malaria and death

    Vallenilla, 60, sits in a folding chair in her shop on the main road passing through Cerezal, a town of 1,000. Dozens of the colourful fabric dolls she makes and sells bob overhead hung from the ceiling, but she admits it has been a long time since she has had any customers.

    It has been a long time too since anyone around here has been able to get any medicine. And it has been even longer since people had enough food.

    “We have lost a lot of kids here to malaria and hepatitis,” says Vallenilla. “You can see people whose eyes and lips have turned orange. But worst of all is malnutrition. Malnourished children are dying here – yes, in my community they are starving to death.

    “The vice-president (Delcy Rodríguez) says there is enough food to feed three countries the size of Venezuela, but the truth is the malnourished kids, the elderly – that is what is real; that is what is the truth.”

    Vallenilla nods across the street where a rail-thin woman is sitting in her doorway. “That woman used to weigh 230 pounds,” she confides. She gestures down the street. “And a woman lost her three-year-old to malnutrition last week, a few streets down….”

    But those women won’t talk about it, says Vallenilla. No one here speaks out, she says. Everyone is scared; scared of losing their CLAP box; scared of the bodies turning up; scared of the repercussions of being identified through the Carnet de la Patria; scared of being reported to Maduro’s security forces; scared full stop.

    “The vice-president (Delcy Rodríguez) says there is enough food to feed three countries the size of Venezuela, but the truth is the malnourished kids, the elderly – that is what is real; that is what is the truth.”

    But Vallenilla isn’t scared. She is angry.

    “About two months ago, malaria was in fashion here – everyone here was trembling from fever,” she seethes, fury rising in her voice. “We had to block the road for two days. We made a trembling chain of people just to force the government to bring us treatment.”

    But even then, the government didn’t bring the full treatment. They brought only half a dose. Half treatments mean malaria will recur. Half treatments risk mosquitos building immunity. Half treatment is the best anyone can hope for these days across Venezuela. And, if they even get that, they can consider themselves lucky.

    “This is why people die,” Vallenilla bellows. “How can you play with people’s health like that? Kids’ health? It is inhuman!

    ‘‘The most sacred thing is your child. Having to put your child in the ground, having your child die? It is the worst thing. How must a mother feel?”

    Her brown eyes glare under the placid smiles of her handmade dolls overhead.

    “I cannot change my feelings – I will not change my feelings for a bone!’ she says. “No matter how many bones they throw to me, I will not be silenced!’

    Vallenilla’s thin neighbour across the street shrinks into the shadows at the sound of the raised voice.

    “This is like a curse, a spell cast on the population,” Vallenilla sighs.
    Electrocution and amputation

    On a sunny Saturday afternoon, there is not a soul to be seen in Cariaco, a town of supposedly 22,000 souls in the east of Venezuela. It is eerily empty. Shops are shuttered and there is no one visible behind the fences barricading the single-storey pastel houses topped with several rows of electrified wires.

    ‘‘You used to be able to walk anywhere, anytime,’’ Pilingo reminisces.

    No more. People are home. They all say they just don’t dare leave their homes for fear they will get broken into when they go out. Vallenilla says she even slaughtered her 17 ducks as she knew they would be taken otherwise.

    The night before, someone had broken into a local house just to steal some clothes.

    “Hunger is taking over in most towns,” Garcia, the former teacher, observes. ‘‘If people have the possibility of one or two meals in a day, they consider it like providence.”

    “People go too long without food,” Leidis concurs. “You can’t blame them looting and hijacking.”

    The consequences are showing up in unexpected ways.

    Music blares from speakers mounted on a flatbed truck as it drives slowly through the small village of Pantonó, leading a young crowd surrounding a wooden coffin hoisted high by the cluster of men carrying it.

    This is the funeral of a 13-year-old boy, a member of the local baseball team who was electrocuted when he tried to go through an electrified fence in the rain – it is thought, to find food.

    There were virtually no cases of electrocution before the crisis, says Dr. Dora Colomenares, a surgeon at University Hospital in Maracaibo. Now it is a common occurrence as people breach electric fences hunting for food, medicine, and electricity sources to wire off to their homes.

    An unprecedented number of children are also arriving at hospital with broken bones. Doctors told IRIN many injuries were hungry children left alone by parents to go out searching day in and day out for food and medicine, even children who had fallen out of fruit trees they had scaled ever higher searching for something to eat.

    This desperation is also reflected in the thriving business of herb selling, as people across the country turn to traditional remedies in the absence of standard medicine.

    Louisa Lopez, 54, the lone vendor in her row, is packing up the medicinal herbs and leaves she sells. Slits of light coming through the corrugated roof dapple the darkness, bouncing off empty stalls in nearby Cariaco market hall.

    Lopez didn’t have this business before the crisis, but when medicine became scarce she anticipated that people would turn to traditional and homemade remedies. After doing her research on the internet, she set up a stall.

    Her instinct has proven spot on. “Business,” she smiles, “is booming.”

    But so is death.

    Needless, pointless, avoidable. Deaths that would have been unimaginable even five years ago.

    One man in Cumana is eager to talk but fearful of losing his job and CLAP box for speaking out. He asks that his real name not be used and steps inside his pastel-coloured home, where a framed photo of a middle-aged man is sat shrine-like under a vase of lilies atop a decorative lace tablecloth on a round table.

    This, he explains, was his uncle “Alberto M” – a chef. He had died two weeks earlier of hypertension and diabetes, a failure of herbal medicine. The man picks up the photo and studies it in silence. His uncle’s warm smile and kind eyes beam back, blissfully unaware of the fate that would needlessly, avoidably befall him.

    “There is a death daily around here,” says the man, placing the photo back on the table before reeling off a list of recent deaths in the neighbourhood: children from malnutrition; a mother and her unborn baby – more failures of herbal medicine – dead from a urine infection; a brother-in-law, shot, his family charges, by the police and whose body washed up on a nearby shore.

    “But,” he says after a long pause, “we don’t even have coffins. The morgue is stacked high with dead bodies as people can’t find coffins.”

    He explains how people have taken to bringing the body home and praying it doesn’t explode – as happened the week before just down the street – before they find a way to bury it.
    Depression and anger

    This endless struggle just to survive exacts a huge emotional toll.

    “You see people who walk around feeling betrayed, with low spirits, sad – many who don’t want to live, because of the issue of food,” says Garcia, shaking this head, his eyes sad.

    “The biggest psychiatric problem in the world is in Venezuela,” says Colomenares, the surgeon in Maracaibo. “Why? Because there are many depressed people, people who have lost hope. Melancholy and all these things mix with the problems the people are already going through, and they don’t know how to cope with it.”

    Yet, as more and more people are driven to the brink, psychiatric wards are closing. The number of people attended to in public psychiatric facilities has dropped from 23,000 to 3,500 and those that are still working have neither food nor medicines, according to a report published by the Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation in September.

    Suicide has surged throughout the country.

    Official statistics are hard to come by, but a psychiatric nurse at a large eastern hospital whispers in confidence, scared of losing his job for speaking out, that in his ward alone there were 10 suicides between January and July this year. By comparison, in 2017, there were only three or four. Before then, there were virtually none, he says.

    Venezuelan children’s rights group CECODAP released a study that reported an 18 percent rise from 2017 in adolescents committing suicide in 2018, while Bloomberg found there were 131 suicides in Caracas alone in June and July, a large increase on the normal monthly rate.

    Anger is growing at the seeming indifference of Maduro and his government – a government that refuses to acknowledge the scale of death and sickness of its own citizens.

    "How can you not curse the government straight out? This damn government! This damn government!”

    "I insist here there is no humanitarian crisis; there is a war on the country,” Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Constituent Assembly, said last month, before claiming: “Those who speak of humanitarian crisis are the ones who have created war against our country.”

    Over a lunch of thin soup at his mission in the west of Venezuela, Friar Nelson Sandoval describes the scene in the summer when his whole village was overcome by malaria and there was no medicine. “It was like an apocalyptic film where people were so desperate; they were literally in the street having convulsions.”

    He pounds his fist on the table. “How can you not curse the government straight out? How terrible it is when the electricity is out; when you’re hungry and yet food gets spoiled; when you’re tired as you couldn’t sleep as it was too hot? How do you give Mass? How can you not curse the government straight out? This damn government! This damn government!”

    Emails to the government media department and the Minister of Information for comment on the widespread hunger, the hijacking of food trucks, and the lack of medicines were unanswered at time of publication.

    https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/11/21/hunger-and-survival-venezuela
    #survie #crise #Venezuela #faim #alimentation #malnutrition

  • Explaining the plummeting cost of solar power | MIT News
    http://news.mit.edu/2018/explaining-dropping-solar-cost-1120

    Researchers uncover the factors that have caused photovoltaic module costs to drop by 99 percent.

    (...) government policy to help grow markets around the world played a critical role in reducing this technology’s costs.

    La France a mis tous ses moyens dans le #nucléaire, dont le prix n’a pas baissé (bien au contraire). Grands stratèges !

    At the device level, the dominant factor was an increase in “conversion efficiency,” or the amount of power generated from a given amount of sunlight.

    #recherche #énergie

    • World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018
      https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2018-HTML.html

      Investment. Global reported investment for the construction of the four commercial nuclear reactor projects (excluding the demonstration CFR-600 in China) started in 2017 is nearly US$16 billion for about 4 GW. This compares to US$280 billion renewable energy investment, including over US$100 billion in wind power and US$160 billion in solar photovoltaics (PV). China alone invested US$126 billion, over 40 times as much as in 2004. Mexico and Sweden enter the Top-Ten investors for the first time. A significant boost to renewables investment was also given in Australia (x 1.6) and Mexico (x 9). Global investment decisions on new commercial nuclear power plants of about US$16 billion remain a factor of 8 below the investments in renewables in China alone.

      Installed Capacity. In 2017, the 157 GW of renewables added to the world’s power grids, up from 143 GW added the previous year, represent the largest increase ever. The increase accounted for more than 61 percent of net additions to global power generating capacity. Wind added 52 GW and solar PV a record 97 GW. These numbers compare to a 3.3 GW increase for nuclear power.

      Electricity Generation. Nine of the 31 nuclear countries, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and U.K.—a list that includes three of the world’s four largest economies—generated more electricity in 2017 from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.

      In 2017, annual growth for global generation from solar was over 35 percent, for wind power over 17 percent, and for nuclear power 1 percent, exclusively due to China.

      Compared to 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was signed, in 2017 an additional 1,100 TWh of wind power was produced globally and 442 TWh of solar PV electricity, compared to nuclear’s additional 239 TWh.

      In China, as in the previous five years, in 2017, electricity production from wind alone (286 TWh), by far exceeded that from nuclear (233 TWh). The same phenomenon is seen in India, where wind power (53 TWh) outpaced nuclear—stagnating at 35 TWh—for the second year in a row.

    • First Light – Migration in the Swiss alps

      “Escape from hardship, because it is the only hope.” is what the father of the little Iranian boy explained to me as to why his son is named Vihan. (In Persian, the name Vihan can be translated as “First light” or hope)

      From August to October 2016 I had the opportunity to work as ‘artist in residence’, on a project for SMART (Sustainable Mountain Art programme) in Switzerland, creating pictures to raise awareness on the challenges facing mountain regions. I chose the theme of migration that has interested me for some time already.

      Since the middle ages, demographic pressure, armed conflict and oppression, natural disasters and overpopulation have driven the cause for Migration in the Swiss mountain regions. The largest mass emigration being of the Walser people from Lötschental, who over the course of 2 centuries established themselves over the Valais region and even as far as Austria.

      The foreigner’s lot was that of having very limited rights and labeled with the status of ‘inhabitant’, often not welcomed and even restricted by opposition to marriage to locals.

      I stayed in the historical village of #Medergen in the Graubünden, established by the #Walser people as early as 1300 with houses dating back to the 1700s, high in the alps at 2000m above sea level. A special, tiny village almost frozen in time, as people live a very modest life with no running water inside the house, which also means no flushing toilets or showers. Wooden stoves are used for cooking and heating water for washing, as there is no electricity either, except for the recent additions of solar panels. People use buckets to fetch water from the fresh water fountains, just like Heidi! :)

      In Litzirüti the closest village to Medergen, there is an old ski-hotel, that has been transformed into a temporary home for about 100 asylum seekers from various war torn and heavily oppressed countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Siria, Gambia, Tibet, awaiting the decision of the Swiss government to announce their fate, if they will be rejected or if they will be given permission to stay in Switzerland.

      During the time I worked on the project, I hiked four hours up and down the mountain every second or third day, spending time and getting to know some of the people who reside here. If you ask anyone they will say that they are very thankful to be here in this peaceful village of Litzirüti and to be so well looked after in this beautiful place. And thankful to be in a country where there is peace and modern prosperity.

      However, thankful for escaping the unimaginable oppression and life threatening situations in their home countries, it is clear that they now have to deal with new challenges and difficulty in their lives. The youth in particular find it challenging to be in such a tiny village where there isn’t a single shop or anything to stimulate their growing minds. Furthermore, most of the people have been in Switzerland for a year or more, still waiting to have an interview to have their reasons for needing asylum assessed and their fate and extent of freedom, decided accordingly.

      What I’ve learnt from my research and looking at both the history of migration and what is happening today, is that the same challenges that existed centuries ago still exist today, namely that whenever there are newcomers, inevitably there is at least a degree of resistance to their acceptance that they are met with and state control that is the decider of their fate, prolonging the process of integration, usually in order to protect the fears of the established.

      “Cultural diversity is as essential to humanity as biodiversity is to nature. It makes the world a richer and more varied place and enlarges the range of choices available. It is the breeding ground that allows different cultures to continue and develop and enrich themselves through contact with each other, without drifting towards rigid identities. It is one of the sources of development, which must be perceived not merely in terms of economic growth , but also as a means of attaining to a satisfying intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.”

      (Quote from the SDC – Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation on the importance of culture for development).

      By depicting the contrast between the history of migration in the Swiss alps and the rich traditions that has become established in time, with the current asylum seeker and refugee situation mostly being a state of limbo, I aim to raise awareness of the current day migrants (asylum seekers) and remind people that sooner or later in life we all were or will be migrants again.

      I believe that through time, if cultures can embrace their differences, be it language, colour, traditions or spirituality, they will see that on the other side is another human being with the same hopes and desires as themselves and that we can all benefit and be so much richer for getting to know each other and giving each other the freedom to live out our own identity that makes us complete and wholesome human beings.


      http://lavonne.co.za/lavonnebosmanphotographicart/portfolio/first-light-migration-swissalps
      #Suisse #Alpes #Grisons

    • The Italian Ski Resort

      From Libya via Lampedusa. In the dark, the hotel that loomed after the last hairpin bend looked rather like Overlook in Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Montecampione, altitude 1,800 meters, is a ski resort at the end of the road winding up the Camonica Valley in Lombardy. The most striking thing on arrival here is being greeted with the faces and voices from another continent. Since June 2011, more than 100 Africans who fled the war inhave been settled in this hotel by the Brescia police authority, in line with the Italian government’s policy of spreading thearound the country. In most places the local authorities have been required to house them, but here private enterprise has also been asked to contribute. The hotel in Montecampione houses and feeds the migrants for 40 euros a head per day. The nearest village in the valley is more than 20km away, so the migrants are cut off from the outside world while they await a decision on their fates.
      “We live in a strange situation here,” admitted a lively young Ghanaian called Michael. “We’ve got absolutely nothing to do, but we’re all impatient to find work and start our lives again.” The last five migrants to arrive in Montecampione are equally bewildered. They reached Lampedusa early in August, and were taken across Italy. They have got plenty of time to find out about where they have ended up.

      http://www.bclaudia.com/libya-refugees/eleanor-rigby
      #Italy #stations_de_ski

    • Des photos, mais aussi un #film...

      Ilmurrán

      Nell’estate 2014, una giovane ragazza Maasai ha raggiunto una “pastora” piemontese sui pascoli delle Alpi Marittime. Due donne lontanissime tra loro, diverse per colore di pelle, generazione e lingua hanno vissuto una stagione d’alpeggio insieme, condividendo il lavoro, raccontandosi la loro storia, riconoscendosi più vicine.

      Le loro voci arrivano da lontano. Silvia si muove tra elementi primordiali, produce il formaggio con gli strumenti dei suoi antenati, ha tramandato la passione a suo figlio come in un rituale. Leah ha impressi a fuoco sulla pelle i simboli di un popolo pastore che ancora sopravvive sugli altipiani del Kenya. L’una e l’altra incarnano culture che oggi si trovano di fronte a scelte decisive, necessarie per la loro sopravvivenza. Ilmurrán significa “guerrieri”, perché la loro è una storia di resistenza.

      L’incontro è nato come un’esperienza antropologica a tutti gli effetti, realizzata in regime di completa autoproduzione dall’Associazione Culturale Geronimo Carbonò.


      http://www.ilmurran.it
      #Italie #Maasaï #pastoralisme #Alpes_maritimes #femmes