• An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela : Abby Martin & UN Rapporteur Expose Coup

    On the eve of another US war for oil, Abby Martin debunks the most repeated myths about Venezuela and uncovers how US sanctions are crimes against humanity with UN Investigator and Human Rights...

  • EXCLUSIVE : Meet the Reporters Whose Pages Were Shut Down By Facebook - Sputnik International

    C’est mon beau-frère américain qui m’a transmis l’info : sous couvert de lutte contre les #fake_news, les réseaux sociaux des #GAFA (Facebook et Twitter, notamment) ont fermé des centaines de pages et de comptes appartenant à des journalistes indépendants ou juste plutôt critiques sur la société américaine. À l’approche des #élections de mi-mandat, il s’agit d’une #censure brutale et inquiétante.

    Signalons que mon beau-frère est un Républicain plutôt progressiste, mais un Républicain quand même, même s’il n’a jamais pu blairer Trump.

    Facebook purged hundreds of pages from its platform on Thursday. But instead of the usual targets - namely Russia and Iran - Thursday’s ban shut down accounts operated by independent American reporters and activists, Sputnik News has learned.

    Facebook said the pages were “working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing,” but the co-founder of one of the pages, The Free Thought Project, tells Sputnik News Facebook’s claim couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Most of the pages that were banned and viewed by Sputnik News were independent media outlets and pages that advocated for marijuana legalization or shined a light on police brutality.
    Anti-Trump Facebook event posted by the Resisters page, which has been accused of being set up by the alleged Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency.
    The Kremlin Line? Facebook’s Latest Ban Nets Resistance Pages, Anti-Trump Events

    In total, Facebook removed 559 pages and 251 personal accounts “that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the social media giant said. “Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action,” Facebook said, going on to accuse the accounts of manipulating the platform to make their content appear more popular, hawking fake products or functioning as ad farms that tricked “people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”

    — Jon Ziegler “Reb Z” (@Rebelutionary_Z) October 12, 2018

    The founder of one of the pages — The Anti-Media — said he had no knowledge of his page engaging in any such behavior. The Free Thought Project co-founder similarly denied Facebook’s accusations. Rachel Blevins, a reporter for RT America whose personal journalism page was nixed, also denied inauthentic behavior.

    Just hours after its ban from Facebook, Twitter suspended Anti-Media from its platform, following a pattern of social media companies successively banning users that has been demonstrated in the past. For example, Facebook, YouTube and Apple all banned the far-right conspiracy theory site InfoWars around the same time. And after the CIA-funded cybersecurity firm FireEye contacted Facebook, Google and Twitter, each company banned a number of accounts allegedly linked to Iran.

    — Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) September 6, 2018

    In the case of InfoWars, Twitter eventually followed suit.

    While many warned that the ban of InfoWars from social media would establish a slippery slope, they were often mocked and ridiculed. Thursday’s onslaught on independent media appears to have confirmed their suspicions, however.

    — Anya Parampil (@anyaparampil) August 6, 2018

    Facebook has been partnering with the Digital Forensics Lab, an arm of the Atlantic Council think tank — a neoconservative group funded by Gulf monarchies and defense giants like Raytheon — to weed out inauthentic users from its platform. Similarly, it has been partnering with the neoconservative Weekly Standard magazine to fact check so-called fake news.
    Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
    © AP Photo / Ben Margot
    Facebook Bans Russia-Linked Social Media Firm for Alleged ’Scraping’ of Users’ Data

    Journalist Abby Martin, who hosts “The Empire Files” on TeleSur English, told Sputnik News after TeleSur’s page was temporarily removed from Facebook, “The shuttering of progressive media amidst the ‘fake news’ and Russiagate hysteria is what activists been warning all along — tech companies, working in concert with think tanks stacked with CIA officials and defense contractors, shouldn’t have the power to curate our reality to make those already rendered invisible even more obsolete.”

    Sputnik News contacted a number of journalists caught up in the ban. Below is what they had to say, edited extremely lightly for clarity.

    Independent reporter John Vibes, who contributes to The Free Thought Project and other websites:

    This signifies a re-consolidation of the media. Cable news media controlled the narrative for most of modern history, but the internet has lowered that barrier to entry and allowed the average person to become the media themselves. This obviously took market share and influence away from the traditional media, and it has allowed for a more diverse public conversation. Now it seems the platforms that have monopolized the industry are favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices. So now, instead of allowing more people to have a voice, these platforms are creating an atmosphere where only powerful media organizations are welcome, just as we had on cable news.

    People think that we are just providing an activist spin on the news, but they don’t see the families struggling to have their voice heard. For example, when someone is shot by police, mainstream media sources often just republish the press release from the police department, without presenting the victim’s side of the story. We give the victims and their families a voice, which is essential to keep power in check. This also goes for bigger issues like foreign policy as well; multiple full-scale invasions of Syria have been prevented because of information that the alternative media made viral.

    “Information exchange” activist Jason Bassler, who co-founded The Free Thought Project and solely founded Police the Police, both of which were banned:

    We were verified by Facebook with a little check mark next to our name, so they know we are a legitimate organization/outlet. They have seen our “Articles of Organization” which was issued by the state of Louisiana, which is where my partner and The Free Thought Project co-founder lives.

    We have even paid Facebook to boost our posts and for likes in the past, meaning they gladly took our money for a product that they ended up manipulating and backing out on. It wasn’t much, maybe $1,200 over the past 6 years. Do we get that money back now?

    We have already had the lawyers at Rutherford Institute (a nonprofit civil liberties organization) send them a letter late last month about unfair treatment by third-party “fact checkers,” which they ignored and never responded to.

    I was motivated [to start The Free Thought Project] by the injustices I saw on social media during Occupy Wall Street in 2011. I knew I had an obligation to get involved somehow and to share information critical for liberty and peace. I never thought I would have built fan pages of 5 million fans, nor did I ever think we would employ and give jobs to nine other activists (at one point), but I was inspired to do what I could to plant seeds and combat the mainstream media’s bullsh*t narratives, to keep police and government accountable, to make sure people knew their rights and how to interact with police.

    All that’s gone now with a click of a button. Six years of hard work, literally seven days a week, working our as*es off finding stories, researching them, writing them, making thumbnails and titles for them, making graphics and videos for them, sharing them on various social media outlets.

    What’s next? I will fight this until I am utterly exhausted. We will fight back tooth and nail. I don’t care if that means protesting in front of Facebook headquarters (which I’ve already considered doing many times in the past two years), I will make sure people know how corrupt and untrustworthy Facebook is if it’s the last thing I do. You can’t just steal years of hard work from someone and not expect there to be consequences. I will do everything I can to make their lives miserable. That’s a promise.

    Rachel Blevins, a correspondent for RT America:

    Today I was locked out of my Facebook account for four hours, and my public page was “unpublished.” There appears to be no explanation for this other than the vague claim from Facebook that my page was taken down because it was “administered by a fake account, misleading users or violating the Facebook spam policies.” I am the only person who publishes posts on my page; the only posts I publish are articles I have written or videos of my reports, and I only post one or two times a day — which rules out all of the claims that I have violated Facebook’s policies.

    My page had nearly 70,000 followers before it was taken down. I have poured the last four years into building my page as a journalist, and I have noticed recently that the reach seems to have been stifled and that the engagement on my posts was down significantly. I know that I am not the only one who has become a victim of this purge, and there are hundreds of other pages — many of which had millions of followers — that have been taken down with no warning and no explanation.

    Ford Fischer, the founder of the media startup News2Share, had a number of his live streams removed during the purge, although they were later restored:

    This attack was a long time coming. Facebook has been slowly clamping down on independent media. First, they removed more extreme pages and made it harder for the surviving ones to make a living by hurting their algorithms (unless they paid, of course!). Then they started purging those that didn’t quickly respond to their ID requests. Today, hundreds of pages belonging to the family of independent media, especially those that question state authority, were removed without explanation. This is just one step further toward the total state and corporate takeover of what you’re allowed to think.

    Nicholas Bernabe, founder of The Anti-Media:

    Our approach generally is to cover stories and angles that corporate media underreport or misreport and to amplify activist and anti-war voices and stories. All of our content is professionally fact-checked and edited.

    I got into this line of work because I felt there was a need for media that challenged mainstream assumptions and biases in politics. I wanted to shed light on corruption and wrongdoing against oppressed peoples and cover the harsh truth about American foreign policy.

    Over the last 28 days, we reached 7,088,000 people on Facebook.

    The timing of this purge is rather dubious in my view, coming shortly before the midterm elections. This could be an attempt by Facebook itself to affect the outcome of the coming elections. The Twitter suspension caught me by surprise. I can only speculate that these suspensions were a coordinated effort to stifle our message ahead of the coming elections.

    By Alexander Rubinstein.


  • Israel is using an online blacklist against pro-Palestinian activists. But nobody knows who compiled it

    Israeli border officials are using a shadowy online dossier as an intelligence source on thousands of students and academics

    The Forward and Josh Nathan-Kazis Aug 07, 2018

    Last December, Andrew Kadi flew to Israel to visit his mother. As he walked through Ben Gurion International Airport, officials pulled him aside and said that the security services wanted to speak with him.
    Kadi is among the leaders of a major pro-Palestinian advocacy group, and border authorities always question him when he travels to Israel to see his family. This time, however, something was different.

    During his second of what ended up being three interrogations, spanning more than eight hours, Kadi realized that much of what the interrogator knew about him had come from Canary Mission, an anonymously-run online blacklist that tries to frighten pro-Palestinian students and activists into silence by posting dossiers on their politics and personal lives.

    Kadi’s interrogator asked question after question about organizations listed on his Canary Mission profile. A pro-Palestinian organization that Kadi had been involved with but that wasn’t listed on his Canary Mission profile went unmentioned. Hours later, a third interrogator confirmed what Kadi had suspected: They were looking at his Canary Mission profile.

    Canary Mission has said since it went live in 2015 that it seeks to keep pro-Palestinian student activists from getting work after college. Yet in recent months, the threat it poses to college students and other activists has grown far more severe.
    The site, which is applauded by some pro-Israel advocates for harassing hardcore activists, is now being used as an intelligence source on thousands of students and academics by Israeli officials with immense power over people’s lives, the Forward has learned.
    Rumors of the border control officers’ use of the dossiers is keeping both Jewish and Palestinian activists from visiting relatives in Israel and the West Bank, and pro-Palestinian students say they are hesitant to express their views for fear of being unable to travel to see family.
    >> Twitter account of Canary Mission, group blacklisting pro-Palestinian activists, deactivated
    Meanwhile, back on campus, pro-Israel students are facing suspicion of colluding with Canary Mission. The students, and not the operatives and donors who run it from behind a veil of anonymity, are taking the blame for the site’s work.

    The dossiers
    Canary Mission’s profiles, of which there are now more than 2,000, can run for thousands of words. They consist of information about the activist, including photographs and screenshots, cobbled together from the internet and social media, along with descriptions of the groups with which they are affiliated.
    The phrase, “if you’re a racist, the world should know,” appears on the top of each page on the site.
    In addition to the thousands of profiles of pro-Palestinian students and professors, Canary Mission has also added a smattering of profiles of prominent white supremacists, including 13 members of Identity Evropa and a handful of others.
    The site’s profiles appear to be based entirely on open source intelligence that could be gathered by anyone with a computer. But the researchers are thorough, and some of what they post is exceptionally personal. Canary Mission’s profile of Esther Tszayg, a junior at Stanford University whose profile went online in May, includes two photographs of her as a young child and one taken for a campus fashion magazine.
    “It feels pretty awful and I really wish I wasn’t on that website,” said Tszayg, the president of Stanford’s chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-Palestinian group.
    Canary Mission’s profile of Rose Asaf, a leader of the local chapter of JVP at New York University, includes nearly 60 photographs of her and screenshots of her social media activities. It went online in November of 2017, when she was a college junior.
    Liz Jackson, a staff attorney at the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal, said that she was aware of one case in which Canary Mission posted old photographs a student had deleted a year before. The student believes that Canary Mission had been tracking her for over a year before they posted her profile.
    Some of what Canary Mission captures is genuinely troubling, including anti-Semitic social media posts by college students. But often, the eye-catching charges they make against their subjects don’t quite add up. A profile of an NYU freshman named Ari Kaplan charges him with “demonizing Israel at a Jewish event.” In fact, he had stood up at a Hillel dinner to make an announcement that was critical of President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
    “It’s really weird when they’re trying to have someone who looks like me [as] the face of anti-Semitism,” said Kaplan, joking that he looks stereotypically Jewish.
    The border
    It’s these profiles that Israeli border control officers were looking at when they interrogated Kadi, who is in his 30s, and is a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Kadi is a U.S. citizen, but his mother and her family are Palestinian citizens of Israel.
    Kadi’s case is not unique. In April, before deporting Columbia University Law School professor Katherine Franke and telling her she will be permanently banned from the country, an Israeli border control officer showed her something on his phone that she says she is “80% sure” was her Canary Mission profile.
    The officer, Franke said, had accused her of traveling to Israel to “promote BDS.” When she said that wasn’t true, the officer accused her of lying, saying she was a “leader” of JVP. He held up the screen of his phone, which appeared to show her Canary Mission profile, and told her: “See, I know you’re lying.”
    Franke, who had previously sat on JVP’s academic advisory council steering committee but at that time had no formal role with the group, told the officer she was not on JVP’s staff. The officer deported her anyhow.
    “Canary Mission information is often neither reliable, nor complete, nor up to date,” said Israeli human rights attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, who represents activists and human rights advocates denied entry to Israel. Schaeffer Omer-Man says that the site, as such, shouldn’t legally qualify to be used as the basis for a deportation decision by border control officers, as it doesn’t meet reliability standards set by Israeli administrative law.
    Yet incidents like those experienced by Franke and Kadi are on the rise. Schaeffer Omer-Man said that clients for years have said that they suspected that their interrogators had seen their Canary Mission profiles, based on the questions they asked. More recently, she said, clients have told her that border control mentioned Canary Mission by name.
    Rumors of these incidents are spreading fear among campus activists.
    “I have family in Israel, and I don’t expect I will be let in again,” said Tszayg, the Stanford student.
    Palestine Legal’s Liz Jackson said that a large majority of people who get in touch with her organization about their Canary Mission profile are mostly worried about traveling across Israeli borders. “That really puts the muzzle on what people can say in the public sphere about Palestine,” Jackson said.
    Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the country’s border control agency, did not respond to a question about whether it is ministry policy for its interrogators to use Canary Mission as a source of information on travelers. It’s possible that the officers are finding the Canary Mission dossiers on their own, by searching for travelers’ names on Google.
    But absent a denial from the interior ministry, it’s also possible that the dossiers are being distributed systematically. When Schaeffer Omer-Man reviews her clients’ interrogation files, as attorneys have the right to do under Israeli law, she has never seen a mention of Canary Mission. What she has seen, however, in summaries of the interrogations, are references to material provided by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the arm of the Israeli government tasked with opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement worldwide, largely through a secret network of non-governmental organizations that help it defend Israel abroad.
    The Israeli connection
    When Gilad Erdan, the strategic affairs minister, took over his agency in 2015, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, as it is officially known in English, had a tiny staff and a small budget. In just a few years, he has turned it into a major operation with a budget of over $100 million over two years, according to reporting by the Israeli investigative magazine the Seventh Eye.
    At the core of the MSA’s operation is a network of more than a hundred non-governmental organizations with which it shares information and resources. “A key part of the strategy is the belief that messaging by ‘real people’ is much more effective than plain old hasbara [propaganda] by official spokespersons,” said Itamar Benzaquen, an investigative journalist at the Seventh Eye, who has done extensive reporting on the MSA.
    The Forward has learned that the people who run Canary Mission are in direct contact with the leadership of, a pro-Israel propaganda app that is a part of the network, and has benefited from a publicity campaign funded by the MSA, according to Benzaquen’s reporting.
    The founder and CEO of, Yarden Ben Yosef, told the Forward last fall that he had been in touch with the people who run Canary Mission, and that they had visited his office in Israel.
    Neither Canary Mission nor the MSA responded to queries about their relationship to each other.
    The operators
    Canary Mission has jealously guarded the anonymity of its operators, funders, and administrators, and its cloak of secrecy has held up against the efforts of journalists and pro-Palestine activists alike.
    Two people, granted anonymity to speak about private conversations, have separately told the Forward that a British-born Jerusalem resident named Jonathan Bash identified himself to them as being in charge of Canary Mission.
    The Forward reported in 2015 that Bash was the CEO of a pro-Israel advocacy training organization, Video Activism, that appeared to have numerous ties to Canary Mission. At the time, Bash denied there was any relationship between the organizations.
    Neither Canary Mission nor Bash responded to requests for comment.
    The response
    As Canary Mission has become an increasingly prominent feature of the campus landscape, students have adapted to its threat. Increasingly, student governments vote on divestment resolutions by secret ballot, partly in an attempt to keep Canary Mission from profiling student representatives who vote in favor.
    Student activist groups, meanwhile, strategically mask the identities of vulnerable members. Abby Brook, who has been a leader in both the Students for Justice in Palestine and JVP groups at George Washington University, said that her fellow activists had strategized about who would be a public-facing leader of the group, and shoulder the risk of appearing on Canary Mission. When her profile went up last year, she was ready.
    “We made strategic decisions within our organization about who would be out-facing members and who would be in-facing members, knowing that Canary Missionwould have different consequences for different people,” Brook said. She said that the names of members of her chapter of SJP who are Palestinian are not listed publicly, and that those individuals have stayed off of Canary Mission.
    “We deliberately keep those people private,” Brook said. “I’m not Palestinian; I won’t be prohibited from being able to go home if I’m listed on Canary Mission. It has a lot less consequences for me as a white person.”
    While Brook’s Palestinian colleagues have been able to hide their identities while being active on the issue, others have chosen not to take the risk. Palestine Legal’s Jackson said that she has fielded questions from students who want to take political action in support of Palestinian rights, but have been afraid to do so because of what being listed on Canary Mission could mean for their families. One student activist told Jackson she wanted to be a leader in SJP, but asked Jackson if getting a Canary Mission profile could damage her family’s naturalization application.
    “I said I don’t know, honestly,” Jackson said.
    Another student told Jackson that she had wanted to write an op-ed about the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a controversial piece of federal legislation that critics say could limit free speech, but that she was afraid to be published because she wanted to be able to go visit her grandparents in the West Bank, and couldn’t risk being profiled on Canary Mission.
    For students who do find themselves on Canary Mission, there is little recourse. Canary Mission has posted a handful of essays by “ex-canaries,” people who have written effusive apologies in return for being removed from the site. Jackson said that some profiles have been temporarily removed after the subjects filed copyright complaints, but that they were reposted later with the offending images removed.
    There do not appear to have been any defamation suits filed against Canary Mission. The authors of the profiles are careful about what they write, and pursuing a lawsuit would place a heavy burden on the plaintiff. “Students who are naturally concerned about the reputational damage of being smeared as a terrorist usually don’t want to go through a public trial, because that only makes it worse,” Jackson wrote in an email. “It’s tough to take on a bully, especially in court. But litigation is not off the table.”
    Campus spies
    In the meantime, Canary Mission’s utter secrecy has created an atmosphere of suspicion on campuses. While the operatives behind Canary Mission hide behind their well-protected anonymity, pro-Israel students take the blame for its activities, whether or not they were involved.
    A number of students listed on the site who spoke with the Forward named specific pro-Israel students on their campuses who they suspected of having informed on them to Canary Mission.
    Tilly Shames, who runs the local Hillel at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said that Canary Mission has led to suspicion of pro-Israel students on her campus. “It has created greater mistrust and exclusion of pro-Israel students, who are assumed to be involved in Canary Mission, or sharing information with Canary Mission, when they are not,” Shames said.
    Kaplan, the NYU sophomore, said that he’s now wary talking to people who he knows are involved in pro-Israel activism on campus.
    “I’ll want to be open and warm with them, but it will be, how do I know this guy isn’t reporting to Canary Mission?” Kaplan said. He said he didn’t intend to let the suspicions fomented by Canary Mission keep him from spending time with other Jewish students.
    “I’m not going to live in fear; I love Jews,” he said. “I’m not going to not talk to Jewish students out of fear of being on Canary [Mission], but it would be better to have some solidarity from the Jewish community of NYU.”
    For more stories, go to Sign up for the Forward’s daily newsletter at

  • No One Knows Who’s Behind The New Anti-#BDS Tactics – The Forward

    Strange things started happening at George Washington University this April, as their student government prepared to vote on a resolution supported by pro-Palestinian campus activists.

    Anonymous fliers, websites, and social media campaigns appeared out of nowhere to attack the student activists. And, on the day of the vote, two adult men dressed as canaries showed up to do a weird dance in the lobby of the college building where the student government was set to vote.

    It was the canaries that really freaked out Abby Brook, a Jewish GW student active in pro-Palestinian campus groups. “I honestly didn’t believe it at first,” said Brook, who arrived at the building where the canaries were dancing a few minutes after they left. Friends showed her pictures of the two men. One had worn a full-body Tweety Bird costume, his face painted yellow; the other a yellow plague doctor mask with a long, curved beak.

    #intimidation #voyous #impunité #israel #etats-unis

  • How Endometriosis Became Ground Zero for Healthcare Access | Evette Dionne

    In 2010, Abby Norman was attending Sarah Lawrence College on a scholarship after escaping her hometown and a household where she rarely felt loved and nurtured. She was pursuing a career in dance and didn’t have to foot the bill for her college education because she’d earned an academic scholarship. All of that changed during a routine shower. While Norman was showering, an excruciating, but unexplainable, pain took hold of her body. She found that she could barely pull herself out of the shower and even laying in her bed in the fetal position didn’t ease the persistent pain. In fact, since that fateful shower, the pain has never really left. Source: itch (...)

  • Thelazia gulosa: US woman becomes first human infected with parasitic eye worm

    Abby Beckley, a 26-year-old from Oregon, felt an itching sensation in her eye for more than a week before she pulled a half-inch (1.27 cm) long worm out of her own eyeball, researchers said.

    Confused – and worried she might go blind – Ms Beckley went to a local doctor, who fished out two more worms. An ophthalmologist found three more.

    Eventually Ms Beckley wound up at the CDC, where researchers identified the parasite as a member of the Thelazia family. Over the course of 20 days, Ms Beckley and her doctors pulled 14 of the worms out of her eye, according to a report published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

    "They weren’t able to remove them all at once. They had to remove them as they became present and visible,” Richard Bradbury, a CDC researcher and lead author of a case report on the event, told CBS.


  • Inside Venezuela ’s Markets: Propaganda vs. Reality

    Abby Martin talks to Venezuelans on the streets of Caracas and investigates the main claim that there’s no free press, and that there is no food in the supermarkets. Using hidden cameras, she takes you through local grocery stores and the underground black market currency exchange, the main source of inflation in the country. Abby sits down with economist Pasqualina Curzio to learn more about the nature of the black market and chronic shortages of goods. Knowing that world leaders are calling for foreign intervention, Abby finds out if locals (...)


    #Venezuela #crise_économique #inflation #alimentation

    • Vidéo TeleSUR [22’15’’, en&es avec des sous-tritres en]

      – Introduction : situation économique - interviews avec des gens dans la rue
      – 2’10’’ #médias et #censure
      – 6’20’’ quelles réstrictions sur le marché ? - inflation, #marché_noir, #valuta, expliquées dans un entretiens avec économiste Pasqualina Curzio (dès min. 10’10’’)
      – 19’20’’ - interviews avec des gens dans la rue : « Qu’est-que vous en pensez de l’aide d’extérieure pour votre pays ? »

  • The Empire Files: Fighting at Standing Rock with AIM Founder Dennis Banks · Videos teleSUR

    A historic gathering is taking place against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock. Thousands of people, and around 300 Native nations, have gathered to stop Big Oil’s pipeline, which threatens sacred Native grounds and the environment. To give an eyewitness account of this growing movement, as well as essential historical context, Abby Martin interviews legendary Native leader Dennis Banks. Banks is a founder of of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a leader in the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff and many other actions over five decades.

    #dakota_access_pipeline #Standing_Rock #Wounded_Knee #Dennis_Bank

    • Le fondateur du groupe suédois Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad toujours aussi jeune : Ses cabanes pour migrants inflammables, comme dans les camps

      Les autorités zurichoises et argoviennes (#Suisse) ont renoncé vendredi à utiliser ces installations d’urgence pour les requérants d’asile.
      La #Fondation_Ikea a défendu samedi la sécurité de ses cabanes pour #migrants après la décision de la ville de Zurich d’y renoncer en affirmant qu’elles sont inflammables.

      Zurich a dévoilé vendredi des tests montrant que ces cabanes conçues par le géant suédois de l’ameublement prêt-à-monter étaient « facilement inflammables ».
      Les autorités ont donc décidé d’annuler l’accueil de migrants dans 62 de ces petites maisons à partir de janvier. Le canton d’Argovie, qui envisageait lui aussi d’acquérir ces maisonnettes pour accueillir 300 demandeurs d’asile, a annoncé qu’il recherchait d’autres solutions.

      Niveau de sécurité supérieur

      « Nous ne pouvons faire aucun commentaire avant d’avoir reçu la traduction du rapport sur les résultats et la méthode utilisée pour conduire ces tests d’incendie », a indiqué la responsable de la communication du projet « Better Shelter », fruit d’une collaboration entre la Fondation Ikea et le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (#HCR).

      Les cabanes Ikea, dont la réaction au feu a été testée selon les normes européennes, présentent un niveau de sécurité supérieur à ce qui se fait ailleurs en matière d’hébergement d’urgence, a souligné la responsable, Märta Terne. « Les tests réalisés sur les murs et les panneaux de
      couverture ont montré que le matériau dépasse les niveaux requis de sécurité pour ces logements provisoires ».

    • Dans le même temps que se développent des habitats-containers dont se félicitent certains designers et urbanistes, ces logements précaires pour les migrants d’aujourd’hui seront le standard de tous les pauvres de demain. Pour ce faire on insistera bien sur l’aspect bon marché et recyclage de la chose, et on fera des reportages cool et fun montrant des étudiants, pour mieux masquer la #paupérisation généralisée et la baisse des standards de vie que cette évolution entraîne.
      Bientôt on n’en sera plus à exiger un logement digne pour tous, on en sera à se satisfaire de caissons en tôle avec 3 gadgets marketing, pendant que la bourgeoisie rira dans ses villas.
      Comme le dit un type que je n’aime pas mais qui sur ce point a raison :

      Rien de ce que décident les capitalistes n’est bon pour toi. Même si de prime abord ça a l’air sympa.
      Surtout si ça a l’air sympa.

    • Dans le #film / #documentaire « Bienvenue au #Réfugistan », une critique de l’#innovation en matière de #réfugiés :

      Citation tirée du film :
      Alexander BETTS : « Ce qui inquiète dans le débat actuel autour de l’innovation c’est qu’il renforce avant tout les logiques d’une réponse humanitaire imposée par le haut. Il y a de la part des unités chargées de l’innovation une réticence à aborder frontalement ces questions, à poser les vrais problèmes, à confronter les gouvernements des pays hôtes, les gouvernement des pays donateurs et à remettre en question le cadre légal. Il faudrait remettre en cause ces logiques de #gouvernance_totalitaire imposée par le haut que vous trouvez dans les camps. Il faudrait se battre contre cette culture de la #surveillance et apporter des solutions qui transformeraient beaucoup plus en profondeur la manière dont nous concevons les défis des réfugiés aujourd’hui ».

    • IKEA Foundation and UNHCR put ‘Better Shelters’ to the test in the #Diffa region

      In the region of Diffa, UNHCR have been providing emergency shelter assistance to vulnerable refugees and displaced persons since the first refugees crossed the border fleeing Boko Haram violence in Northern Nigeria in 2013. In 2016 alone, over 65,000 people in the Diffa region benefitted from UNHCR emergency shelters.

    • Ikea donerà mobili per arredare la #Casa_Valdese di Vittoria e due casa di #Lampedusa

      Ikea Italia arrederà la Casa Valdese di Vittoria, il centro destinato alla prima accoglienza di donne migranti minorenni, non accompagnate, che formalizzeranno richiesta d’asilo. C’è il patrocinio della Prefettura di Ragusa. Si tratta di un’iniziativa di solidarietà Ikea con tre progetti in collaborazione con Unicef, a sostegno dei bambini migranti in fuga dalle guerre e dalla povertà. Interessato anche il Comune di Lampedusa dove saranno arredati due appartamenti di proprietà dell’ente civico che ospiteranno i minori non accompagnati.

    • Why IKEA’s Award-Winning Refugee Shelters Need A Redesign

      Fire safety concerns halted the rollout of Better Shelter and the IKEA Foundation’s portable, flat-pack refugee shelters to camps. The Swedish social enterprise is working on a redesign to launch later this year. We speak to their director about the lessons learned.

    • Dossier : un monde de camps — Les réfugiés, une bonne affaire, par Nicolas Autheman (@mdiplo, mai 2017)

      Pour faire des économies, l’agence a créé en 2012 une branche intitulée « Laboratoire Innovation », destinée à lancer de nouveaux partenariats : Ikea pour l’habitat, la société de livraison américaine United Parcel Service (UPS) pour la logistique d’urgence, et bientôt Google pour l’apprentissage scolaire. Interrogé sur le risque de voir ces sociétés prendre une place croissante dans les processus de décision, le HCR répond invariablement que leur participation financière reste encore marginale comparée à celle des États. Pour autant, les partenariats conçus à l’origine comme de simples donations prennent de nouvelles formes. Selon M. Parker, l’agence a mis le doigt dans un engrenage dont il devient difficile de sortir : « La Fondation Ikea a promis des dizaines de millions de dollars au HCR. Et, maintenant, elle a envoyé quelqu’un en Suisse pour voir ce qu’il advient de son argent. Au début, je crois que le HCR imaginait pouvoir simplement recevoir du personnel bénévole et des dons. Il est en train d’apprendre que ce n’est pas vraiment comme cela que fonctionne le secteur privé. (...) Les entreprises ne viendront pas sans contreparties. Que dire si Ikea, par exemple, décide de tester du matériel dans les camps de réfugiés ? » Et comment réagir lorsque des parlementaires européens révèlent, comme cela s’est produit en février 2016, qu’Ikea est impliqué dans un vaste scandale d’évasion fiscale, échappant à l’impôt dans des États qui financent le HCR (La Tribune, 13 février 2016) ? L’agence de l’ONU n’en a jamais entendu parler...

    • A Slightly Better Shelter?

      The Shelter

      On January 26, 2017, the IKEA refugee shelter was declared the worldwide Design of the Year in a unanimous decision.[1] When I interviewed one of the jurors about the process I was told that they’d chosen the “obvious winner”: the IKEA shelter was high profile, it had featured widely in the media, it was a positive story with a clear social purpose, and it offered a practical solution to the so-called “refugee crisis,” one of the most significant issues of the previous twelve months.[2] The London Design Museum has been awarding the “Design of the Year” for a decade now, celebrating examples that “promote or deliver change, enable access, extend design practice, or capture the spirit of the year” (Beazley 2017). The IKEA refugee shelter seemed to match all of these aims, claiming to be modular, sustainable, long lasting, recyclable, easily assembled, affordable, and scalable. It was installed on the Greek islands to shelter newly arrived refugees in 2015, and it came with the backing of the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency, who purchased 15,000 units for distribution around the world.

      The juror I spoke to explained that the shelter won because it “tackles one of the defining issues of the moment: providing shelter in an exceptional situation whether caused by violence and disaster…. [It] provides not only a design but secure manufacture as well as distribution.” A statement described the project as “relevant and even optimistic,” concluding, “it shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them” (Beazley 2017; personal interview, April 25, 2017, Design Museum, London).

      It is easy to understand why this shelter has generated so much interest since it was first announced in 2013. It has received funding from IKEA, a company that has shaped so much of everyday life in the Global North and whose minimalist modernism has populated so many domestic environments. As Keith Murphy points out, there is a social democratic spirit underpinning so much of Swedish design, a combination of simplicity, affordability, and universality that both reflects and promotes a more egalitarian social order (Murphy 2015; see also Garvey 2017). When applied to refugee housing, this has all the makings of positive story. The media are given something their readers can relate to—the experience of unpacking and constructing IKEA flat-pack furniture—and can connect it to a problem that concerns us all: how to house the millions of refugees we see on the news. The IKEA refugee shelter, the story goes, can be assembled in four to six hours with a basic manual and no specialist tools. Everything comes in two compact boxes, much like those that contain your new bed and table from the IKEA store. More attractively, the design arrives with a number of innovative little tricks, including a photovoltaic panel that provides sufficient electricity to power a small light and mobile phone charger. It seems like a heartwarming example of philanthro-capitalism, good design, and humanitarian innovation (Scott-Smith 2016). What’s not to like?

      For anyone who has actually seen the shelter up close, it looks rather mundane after this hyperbolic description. It has a rectangular floor plan, vertical walls, and a pitched roof. The shelter is fairly small, covering an area of 17.5 square meters, and it is designed to house a family of up to five people. When inside, you can look up and see the entire structure laid bare: a standalone steel frame with imposing horizontal beams, onto which foam panels are clipped. These panels are made from polyolefin, a light, flexible plastic, and they have the feeling and texture of swimming floats. They have been attached to the frame with hand-tightened bolts and brackets, and the shelter has four small ‘window’ openings, ventilation slots, and a lockable door. The main designer described its chunky, basic appearance as the kind of house “a 5-year-old would draw” (personal interview, May 18, 2017, Stockholm). It is, indeed, visually uninspiring, but this is because it is meant to be basic. Like much of IKEA’s product line, it is mass-produced, economical modernism. It is meant to offer a shelter that is immediate, quick, affordable, and easily transportable, staying as close as possible to the price and weight of the main alternative: the tent.

      Tents have been the go-to shelter for humanitarian organizations for more than 50 years. The UN Refugee Agency distributes tens of thousands of them annually, and they are still valued for their lightweight, inexpensive simplicity. To be taken seriously as a humanitarian product, therefore, the IKEA shelter needs to be comparable to the tent in terms of price and weight while making some crucial improvements. There are four, in particular, that can be found in this design. First, the IKEA shelter provides increased security through a lockable door. Second, it provides greater privacy through firmer and more opaque walls. Third, it provides improved communication with a mobile phone-charging station. And fourth, it lasts considerably longer: up to four years rather than just one. These improvements encapsulate the basic requirements for dignified living according to the designers, combining security, privacy, durability, and connection to the outside world. These features, the narrative goes, are particularly important given the protracted nature of so many contemporary refugee situations and the likelihood of a lengthy exile.[3]

      When I spoke to the designers about dignity, they came back again and again to the same material expressions, which were fascinating in their tangibility and their conception of refugee social worlds. Dignity meant being able to stand up in the IKEA shelter, which is impossible in a tent. Dignity meant having walls that were “knocky”: firmer, more secure, more resonant when tapped, which distinguished the materials from tarpaulin. Dignity meant privacy: whereas silhouettes can cause a problem in tents, the IKEA shelter does not reveal activity inside when the lights are on at night; its material is more opaque and disperses the shadows. Such improvements, however small, allow the design team to mobilize a more expansive, idealistic rhetoric. In its publicity materials, the shelter has become a “safer, more dignified home away from home for millions of displaced people across the world.” It has channeled “smart design, innovation and modern technology” to offer “a sense of peace, identity and dignity.” It is “universally welcoming”, a “home away from home” that balances “the needs of millions of people living in different cultures, climates and regions with a rational production—a single solution” (Better Shelter 2015; personal interview, May 19, 2017, Stockholm, Sweden). Far from being a better tent, this shelter has some revolutionary ambitions. But is it a better tent? Does it live up to its aims of producing a compact, cheap, lightweight product for meeting a basic human need?
      The Reaction

      The day after the announcement of the prize I sensed a collective sigh of despair among my colleagues working on refugee issues, which was tangible in personal conversations, snarky asides, and exasperated emails. The failures of the shelter were, for many of them, far too obvious. It was meager, limited, with no proper floor, no insulation, no natural light, and with a structure that let in drafts and dust. It had been oversold, under-ordered, and was described as sustainable when in fact it involved flying piles of metal and plastic around the world. It ignored established practice in the humanitarian shelter sector, which advocates the use of local materials and abundant local labor, and, above all, it was accompanied by an insistent triumphalism, with media reports pushing the narrative that an intractable problem had been solved. It had not. Managing refugee arrivals is a complex political issue that requires sustained political engagement, legal reform, and advocacy in host states to ensure investment in welfare and protection. Although these were not the aims of the IKEA refugee shelter, such lavish praise and attention, my informants felt, were a distraction. Many such “innovative designs” have become a fetish, creating a mistaken reassurance that circumstances can be controlled while obscuring a series of more serious, structural issues that remain unaddressed (Scott-Smith 2013).
      The most tangible criticisms of the IKEA shelter, I soon realized, came from two opposing directions. On the one hand, there were those who argued the shelter did too little. It was a mean little space, they suggested, that looked like a garden shed or, due to its plastic panels, a chemical toilet. This line of critique usually came from architects, who filed the object contemptuously under “product design” and declared that it involved no architectural thinking at all. Architecture, they pointed out, should respond to the site and local environment, not mass-produce a universal design with no adaptability or control. Architecture should create sensitive and carefully planned responses to specific problems, not ignore basic elements such as insulation, proper flooring, and natural light. Architecture should also be pleasing to the eye. If you took the Vitruvian triad of architectural virtues, the IKEA shelter seemed to fail on every count. Firmitas, utilitas, and venustas was the aim, but the shelter was flimsy rather than firm, flawed rather than useful, ugly rather than beautiful.[4] It was particularly galling for this group of critics that the shelter won not just Design of the Year, but that it won the architectural category as well.

      The other type of criticism came from humanitarians. They argued not that the shelter did too little, but that it did too much. It provided a fully integrated, flat-pack solution when this was rarely required or appropriate. It flew in a prefabricated house when there were better opportunities to work from the bottom up. It lionized designers when design was rarely a priority. Unlike architects, humanitarians were working in a context of limited time and limited resources. They worked with the mantra that “shelter is a process not a product,” a slogan that derives from the work of Ian Davis (1978), one of the founding thinkers of the humanitarian shelter sector, who argued that humanitarians needed to focus on the way people shelter themselves. Davis said that disaster-affected communities had their own techniques for finding and building shelter, suggesting that humanitarian shelter should mean discouraging designers and other outside “experts.” The priority should be to provide materials such as wood, nails, tarpaulin, and tape that help people build their own homes. These could be used and reused as people expanded their accommodation. The crucial task, in other words, was not to provide finished shelters, but to support people in their own process of sheltering.[5]
      The Tension

      In the middle of May 2017, I took a trip to Stockholm to meet the IKEA shelter’s design team and see how they navigated these two very different criticisms. I arrived at their headquarters on the 11th floor of the old Ericsson building in a southern suburb of the city, and spent some days learning about their brief, their aims, and their ways of thinking. The first thing that became clear was that this was not, in fact, an “IKEA shelter.” It was a designed by a group of independent Swedish industrial designers who had met at college and developed the basic idea in discussion with humanitarians in Geneva. They later received substantial financial support from the IKEA Foundation, which allowed them to refine, test, and iterate the idea, eventually leading to a commitment from the UN Refugee Agency to purchase a large number of units.

      As I learned more about the project, it soon became clear that the story of the shelter seemed to be constantly swinging like a pendulum. It was caught between the expansive utopian idealism that so often underpins the announcement of new humanitarian designs and the restricted, mundane implications of their actual implementation. Both types of criticism, in other words, were basically correct: the IKEA shelter is both ‘too much’ and ‘too little’. It is clearly a product rather than a process, so it ends up being overwrought, top-down, and “too much” for aid workers who are skeptical of universal solutions. At the same time, it has been designed to be cheap and lightweight, so it will always be “too little” for those with bigger ideas about what design can achieve (especially as it lacks many of the basic elements that are crucial to architecture, such as proper flooring, insulation, light, strength, and beauty). The formal name for the shelter seems to encapsulate this tension. It is properly called the “Better Shelter”, and I was reprimanded in Stockholm for using the name “IKEA shelter,” which remains in common parlance but has never been formally adopted.[6] This name emphasizes the restricted horizon of improvement. The product aspires to be better, but it is no more than shelter. It idealistically attempts to improve the world, but pursues this by providing basic shelter rather than engaging with a more expansive terrain of housing.

      The problem of doing too much and too little was powerfully illustrated in December 2015, when the Swiss city of Zurich conducted a fire safety test on the IKEA shelter. The video of the test was screened on the news and subsequently circulated online: it featured a series of terrifying images in which a small fire, illuminating first the translucent sides of the shelter, suddenly engulfed the scene in an explosion of flames and molten plastic. The media picked up on the story, Zurich cancelled its intended use of the shelters for new migrant arrivals, and distribution of the shelter began to slow. This was perhaps the biggest challenge the design had faced since its inception, and the fire test led to more than a year of additional work as the team made changes to the shelter’s design – mostly adjustments to the panel material. During this process, however, the design team found no clear code to work. Fire retardancy standards and testing procedures could not be found in the usual humanitarian handbooks, and so the team felt hostage to unrealistic criteria. The Swiss tests had compared the shelter with a permanent residential building, which seemed unfair (as a tent, which was the closest equivalent, would fare no better), yet it seemed impossible to object when the Swiss fire tests were released. The shelter was meant to be “better,” and the whiff of double standards would drift over the scene very quickly if they argued this was a shelter for a different population. The idea that refugee accommodation should be held to lower standards would not be good publicity for a product so concerned with the promoting dignity.

      The fire tests raised a number of questions. Is this a “slightly” Better Shelter? Or is it “sometimes” a better shelter, depending on location and context? And when, exactly, is it a better shelter – in which times and places? One thing is clear: most people would not choose to live in one of these structures because of its obvious limitations. It has no floor or insulation, barely any natural light, and a tiny living space, even if its three or four tangible improvements certainly make it better than a tent. But then again, it should be better, as it costs a good deal more than a tent: currently twice the price of a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) standard family model. Is this a problem? Don’t we expect a better shelter to be a more expensive shelter? Yet how much is too much? What if twice the price means aiding half as many people? Is this a “better” result?

      As the IKEA shelter becomes more widely used in different locations, a clear lesson has begun to emerge: that the whole product is deeply dependent on context. It is only “better” in some times and places. It may be “better” when compared with a tent, but not when compared with a Swiss apartment building. It may be “better” in a Middle Eastern refugee camp, but not in a Western European reception facility. It may be “better” when funds are plentiful and refugee numbers limited, but not when refugees are plentiful and funds limited. It might be “better” when there is an urgent need for emergency shelters, but not when there is scope for people to build a home of their own.

      The Lagom Shelter

      Perhaps this, in the end, defines the wider world of little development devices and humanitarian goods: they are simultaneously too much and too little. They are vulnerable to the charge of being too limited as well as the charge of being too expansive. They fail to tackle fundamental global injustices, but they still make numerous ideological assumptions about human life and human dignity beneath their search for modest improvements. The little development device oscillates between its grand visions of human improvement and its modest engineering in a tiny frame. The humanitarian good balances a philanthro-capitalist utopia with the minimalist aim of saving lives. All of this is encapsulated in the slightly Better Shelter. When I discussed these thoughts with the team in Stockholm, they basically agreed, and reached for the Swedish word lagom to describe their aims. It is tricky to translate, but means something like “the right amount,” “neither too little nor too much.” The Better Shelter is lagom because it has to be viable as well as adding value. It has to negotiate with the critics who claim it is “too much” as well as those who say it does “too little.” The shelter could never please architectural critics because it was only designed as a cheap, short-term home, and it would never please bottom-up humanitarian practitioners because it was too top-down and complete. Lagom captures the search for balance while reflecting a wider ethos of democratic Swedish design.[7]

      Yet aspiring to be lagom does not make the central tension disappear. Just like being “better,” being lagom depends on context. What counts as “just enough” depends on where you are, who you are, and what you are doing. Something lagom in Sweden may not be lagom elsewhere. This became apparent just before the Better Shelter was launched, when a handful of units were shipped to Lebanon for a practical test with refugees. On their arrival in the Bekaa Valley, a group of armed and angry Lebanese neighbors appeared. The shelters, in their view, were too permanent. It did not matter that they had no foundations. It did not matter that they could be removed in less than a day. It did not matter that the walls and roof would degrade in just a few years. The structures were too solid, and the authorities agreed.[8] The Better Shelter had become “too much” for the Lebanese political context, just as in Switzerland it had become “too little.” The same features that made it insufficient in one country made it extravagant in another.

      So although the Better Shelter tries to be better everywhere, it can never hope to adapt to the infinite complexity of refugee crises and its scales became disrupted when butting up against hard political realities. Since 2013, the designers have been working assiduously in Stockholm to optimize every component: changing the clips and panel material, redesigning the bolts and vents, refining the door and frame. They think an improved product can overcome both the Swiss fire tests and the Lebanese resistance. But what is “better” will always change with context. The Lagom Shelter can only be truly Lagom on the 11th floor of the old Ericcson building in Stockholm. As soon as it moves, the balance changes. Lagom cannot be built into any universal form.

      Avec cette bibliographie :


      Beazley. 2017. “Flat-packed refugee shelter named best design of 2016”. Beazley Design of the Year Press Release, 26.01.2017. Available at link:

      Better Shelter. 2015. Better Shelter: A Home Away From Home. Better Shelter Promotional Leaflet. Available at link:

      Davis, I. 1978. Shelter After Disaster. Oxford, UK: Oxford Polytechnic Press.

      Garvey, P. 2017. Unpacking Ikea Cultures: Swedish Design for the Purchasing Masses. London, UK: Routledge.

      Murphy, K. 2015. Swedish Design: An Ethnography. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

      Scott-Smith, T. 2013. “The Fetishism of Humanitarian Objects and the Management of Malnutrition in Emergencies.” Third World Quarterly 34(5): 913-28.

      ———. 2016. “Humanitarian Neophilia: The Innovation Turn and Its Implications.” Third World Quarterly 37(12): 2229–2251.

      ———. 2017. “The Humanitarian-Architect Divide.” Forced Migration Review 55:67-8.

      Sewell, Abby, and Charlotte Alfred. 2017. “Evicted Refugees in Lebanon Have Nowhere Left to Run.” Refugees Deeply, September 28. Available at link: