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  • Par un arrêt du 28 juin 2019, le Conseil d’État dépossède les communes ayant apporté la compétence d’organisation de la distribution d’électricité à des syndicats intercommunaux de la propriété du réseau de distribution électrique basse tension. Les syndicats, dans l’immense majorité syndicats départementaux, en deviennent propriétaires.

    #Linky et le lien intercommunal
    https://blog.landot-avocats.net/2019/07/04/linky-et-le-lien-intercommunal

    La commune est-elle encore compétence pour délibérer sur les compteurs Linky alors que sa qualité d’autorité organisatrice de ces réseaux a été transférée à un EPCI ou à un syndicat mixte ? NON répond le Conseil d’Etat, ce qui rend encore plus compliqué pour les communes leur fronde anti-Linky.

    C’est peu de dire que la fronde de nombre de communes en matière de compteurs Linky n’est que rarement couronnée de succès au contentieux, sauf à se limiter à de prudentes informations sur les droits d’opposition des usagers en ce domaine. Voir par exemple :
    […]
    Mais nombre de communes vont maintenant connaître, sur ce terrain, des échecs contentieux encore plus en amont que ce qui résulte d’une étude sur le fond : souvent, elles vont, maintenant, être jugées irrecevables, tout simplement.

    La raison en est qu’elles ont perdu leur compétence (sauf à ce que ce ne soit pas une délibération qui aura été prise, mais un arrêté du maire au titre de ses pouvoirs de police… mais là encore en allant vers un échec quasi certain sauf cas particulier ou sauf [peut-être] arrêté de rappel de quelques règles minimales d’information et de sécurité).

    Le raisonnement est le suivant… et il est peu parable car tenu par le Conseil d’Etat lui-même.

    Le Conseil d’Etat a en effet estimé qu’il résulte de la combinaison du premier alinéa de l’article L. 1321-1, de l’article L. 1321-4 et du deuxième alinéa du IV de l’article L. 2224-31 du code général des collectivités territoriales (CGCT) ainsi que du premier alinéa de l’article L. 322-4 du code de l’énergie que la propriété des ouvrages des réseaux publics de distribution d’électricité est attachée à la qualité d’autorité organisatrice de ces réseaux.

    Sur ce point, nul doute.

    Le Conseil d’Etat en déduit que lorsqu’une commune transfère sa compétence en matière d’organisation de la distribution d’électricité à un établissement public de coopération, celui-ci devient autorité organisatrice sur le territoire de la commune, et propriétaire des ouvrages des réseaux en cause, y compris des installations de comptage visées à l’article D. 342-1 du code de l’énergie.

    Il en résulte que la commune n’était pas compétente pour s’opposer aux compteurs Linky qui relèvent d’une compétence qu’elle n’a plus, car en l’espèce ladite compétence avait (comme presque partout en France) transférée à un grand syndicat départemental d’électricité.

    Donc les délibérations en ce domaine, usuellement illégales sur le fond, le sont désormais nettement aussi pour incompétence. Encore une fois, seul le maire (ou la structure en charge des compétences énergétiques correspondantes) pourrait agir. Via des mesures d’information ou des pouvoirs de police pour le maire, avec des mesures légales limitées à de très prudentes informations des usagers, sans plus.

    • communiqué de Stéphane Homme

      Linky : avec la bénédiction du Conseil d’Etat, les communes se font officiellement voler leurs compteurs d’électricité...
      Stop Linky 28 - NON AUX COMPTEURS COMMUNICANTS ET À LA 5G !
      http://stoplinky28.blogg.org

      Très concrètement, avec la bénédiction du Conseil d’Etat, les communes sont littéralement en train de se faire voler leurs compteurs d’électricité, ce qui est totalement inadmissible. De plus, s’il n’est pas remis en cause, ce coup de force pourra être réédité concernant d’autres éléments de patrimoine.

      Les 36 000 maires de France vont-ils se laisser dépouiller sans réagir ? Il est vrai que l’Association des maires de France a pris fait et cause pour Enedis et non pour ses communes adhérentes.

  • #Féminicides : un collectif demande à Emmanuel Macron de prendre « cinq mesures immédiates »
    https://www.francetvinfo.fr/societe/violences-faites-aux-femmes/un-collectif-demande-a-emmanuel-macron-de-prendre-cinq-mesures-immediat

    Ce texte appelle notamment à « donner la consigne ferme aux commissariats et gendarmeries qu’aucune femme victime de violence au sein du couple ne reste sans réponse » et à augmenter le nombre d’ordonnances de protection attribuées en France (1 300 par an actuellement, contre 20 000 en Espagne). Sont également demandées la « suspension de l’autorité parentale d’un père meurtrier le temps de l’instruction », l’ouverture de places d’hébergement supplémentaires et la mise en place d’un « plan de détection systématique des violences à l’hôpital ».

    Un lien dans l’article renvoie vers les principaux chiffres sur les violences au sein du couple : https://stop-violences-femmes.gouv.fr/les-chiffres-de-reference-sur-les.html

    De très intéressantes et régulières études sont publiées sur ces violences par la délégation aux victimes du ministère de l’intérieur. On trouvera à la suite les rapports pour les années 2017 (a), 2016 (b) et les plus anciens (c) :
    a. https://www.centre-hubertine-auclert.fr/sites/default/files/fichiers/etude-nationale-sur-les-morts-violentes-au-sein-du-couple-a
    b. https://www.egalite-femmes-hommes.gouv.fr/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Etude-nationale-sur-les-morts-violentes-au-sein-du-couple
    c. https://www.egalite-femmes-hommes.gouv.fr/publications/droits-des-femmes/lutte-contre-les-violences/morts-violente-au-sein-du-couple

    • Mais merde André, tout le monde ne fait pas tout tout le temps. Là depuis six mois qu’on compte mieux, on découvre que les violences masculines, que les meurtres de femmes par conjoint ou ex-conjoint, alias #féminicide, ont explosé (+ 50 % environ ?). Et là, il y a peut-être un moment où des gens quelque part en ont quelque chose à foutre. Visiblement pas toi, qui nous fais le gars qui explique aux femmes leurs priorités. C’est sale. Et en plus tu le fais ici où il n’y a pas une seule féministe qui ne s’inquiète des conséquences de l’#austérité_sélective sur l’intégrité des corps des plus vulnérables : femmes, enfants, personnes handicapées. C’est pénible.

      Moi qui allais faire une sale remarque sur le fait que c’est compliqué de mettre les flics au front quand par ailleurs tu leur laisses la bride sur le col avec #impunité devant toutes leurs violences, politiques ou domestiques...

    • Mais je t’emmerde, André. J’ai bien des leçons de féminisme à recevoir mais pas de toi. Je te dis que la manière de compter les violences masculines a changé et que les chiffres 2019 font état d’une augmentation (qui n’est peut-être qu’une visibilisation) de 50 %. Parce que des femmes s’organisent pour relever dans la presse ces violences et finissent par fournir des chiffres plus alarmants que ceux qu’on avait avant - dont je n’ignorais pas la gravité.

      J’ai posté ma part, j’ai tagué ma part sur Seenthis à ce propos. Pas toi.

      Je ne tiens pas une émission hebdomadaire sur Radio Campus et j’essaie trop souvent de faire dans la nuance, ce qui te déplaît, mais là encore, je fais mieux que de déblatérer au bistrot contre les riches qui sont des connards et les femmes qui sont des connasses alors on va leur dire quels sont les sujets sur lesquels elles devraient l’ouvrir et bizarrement c’est les mêmes que nous, les vieux machos blancs.

      Mais qui tu es pour imaginer que c’est toi qui valides des profils militants et que tu as par essence les idées plus claires qu’une meuf quand il est question des violences que toi et tes camarades vous exercez sur des femmes, de la petite mise en cause de la #crédibilité_féminine à la violence physique et au meurtre, en un beau continuum ? Tu sais que la raison pour laquelle moins de femmes militent, c’est qu’il y a plus de femmes qui ont été brisées par la violence des hommes, celle-ci, où je me vois obligée de me justifier parce qu’on a mis mes idées en cause, suggéré que puisque tu ne me connaissais pas c’est que je devais débarquer et découvrir naïvement ? Que c’est des procédés usants qui vous font certes briller la nouille mais qui nous nous épuisent ?

      Comme disait l’autre, tu es un fasciste de la bite, André, un nazi du poireau, un franquiste de la nouille, un pétainiste du gland, un macroniste du zob, un flic RN de la pine, un fillonniste de la queue. Le tout tout en livrant tes analyses de café du Commerce hyper anti-capitalistes mais sans nuance et sans intelligence. Parce que oui, c’est des méchants, mais si le truc tient c’est pas par magie, c’est parce qu’il nous donne en échange un truc mais quoi ? Tant qu’on n’a pas compris on ne peut pas se battre, juste se mettre en scène en train de « lutter » (bavasser).

      Je t’avais suivi parce que tu balances des infos intéressants, de sources francophones (belges et québécoises) qu’on voit moins passer ici. Mais les commentaires qui l’accompagnent sont vraiment crasseux. Tu es crasseux, André, tu es un troll, tu fatigues trop de monde et pour la dernière fois (et je m’y connais en petite bourgeoisie militante) tu pourrais te trouver des ennemis plus pertinents.

      cc @mad_meg @touti @monolecte @odilon et les autres...
      #sexisme_Seenthis #mecsplication

    • Très bon le « Filloniste de la queu » ! Merci @aofobb pour cette poésie matinale.
      C’est inquiétant de voire comme ce sujet les rend tout colère, surtout @bce_106_6 qui le montre souvent, le sujet doit le concerné de près. Quant il est question de n’importe quel autre sujet de l’univers il va pas y écrire :

      Le collectif demande à émmanuel macron d’arrêter de fermer les maternités ? Les services d’urgence ?
      Non !
      Etrange.

    • Ça, on ne sait pas si André est coupable de violences masculines ni même s’il est en couple. Je confirme toutefois que c’est un vieux mec blanc, pas antipathique au premier abord mais les réseaux sociaux dévoilent peut-être plus l’abjection des gens.

      C’est une plaie, ces militants qui disent aux autres quelles priorités poser. Enfin, tout est priorité, tout est déchirant. Au nom de quoi la défense d’une maternité qui ferme est plus importante qu’un bateau de réfugiés à la dérive ? Une usine qui rejette ses déchets toxiques plus importante qu’une sentence de prison contre une personne qui a volé pour manger ? Comment peut-on imaginer avoir soi-même la réponse et faire si peu confiance aux autres pour donner leur temps ou leur énergie ou leur pognon sur les causes qui leur semblent importantes, pour qu’elles vivent toutes ?

    • Et quand il s’agit d’hommes qui expliquent à des femmes c’est encore plus problématique, vu les intérêts divergents et les enjeux de pouvoir qu’il y a pour les hommes à décider de ce que le féminisme devrait être (voir le dessin auto-proclamé « féministe » de l’autre buse).

      Je ne suis pas sûre d’avoir été jusqu’à ce matin identifiée comme une femme ici par André, mon pseudo n’est pas genré, mais soit par âgisme (sont tous plus jeunes que moi ici, heureusement que je suis là pour leur expliquer) ou par sexisme, il s’est cru le droit de m’interpeller comme si j’avais des comptes à lui rendre ou comme si on avait gardé les cochons ensemble. Comme on fait avec les personnes qu’on pense ne pas devoir respecter.
      https://seenthis.net/messages/790946#message791067

    • J’ai bloqué aussi l’autre, @mad_meg. Ça peut paraître ridicule, de postuler que tu roules pour un groupe politique pas recommandable, mais je n’accepte pas ce genre de pratiques (accusations sans fondement, à côté de la plaque, harcèlement, insultes ou propos masculinistes ou fascistes) et je ne souhaite pas que mon fil puisse éventuellement accueillir des merdes pareilles. On se retrouve souvent avec des trolls et des harceleurs sexistes parce qu’on prend la peine de s’engueuler avec eux mais pas de les bloquer. Un réseau social, c’est (un peu) comme la vie : vous n’acceptez pas d’inviter chez vous des personnes désagréables, bêtes ou violentes ?

    • Bien d’accord avec toi @aofobb au passage je m’amuse que @bce_106_6 s’appel André ca colle joliement à ton pseudo
      Sinon comme souvent, le sujet du féminicide est occulté, et on n’en parle pas, exactement comme le voulait @bce_106_6

      En regardant les rapports fournis par @af_sobocinski on peu voire que les chiffres comprennent aussi les enfants tués, les amant·es, ami·es, membres de la famille et autres personnes assassinées dans le cadre des violences par conjoint·es ou ex, tués comme toujours majoritairement par des hommes. Je croi que c’est la première fois que je voie cette statistique alors qu’elle est à mon avis totalement inséparable des crimes par conjoint·es ou ex.

    • Andrée O. Fobb, oui, rien à voir avec André mais avec une accusation d’androphobie que j’ai subie de la part d’un bitard et de ses complices. C’est ce que j’ai trouvé le plus proche d’androphobe, titre de gloire pour féministe. Reclaim !

      C’est aussi un pseudo qui a l’air anglo-saxon, ça tombe bien il n’aime pas les trucs en anglais. Moi au contraire, j’apprécie que Seenthis me donne l’occasion de lire des langues étrangères - même si je passe vite sur les articles en allemand.

    • Lien vers une page officielle.

      Les chiffres de référence sur les violences faites aux femmes - Violences contre les femmes La loi vous protège
      https://stop-violences-femmes.gouv.fr/les-chiffres-de-reference-sur-les.html

      En 2017, 130 femmes ont été tués par leur partenaire ou ex-partenaire intime "officiel" (conjoint, concubin, pacsé ou « ex ») ou non officiel (petits-amis, amants, relations épisodiques...).
      21 hommes ont été tués par leur partenaire ou ex-partenaire intime.
      25 enfants mineurs sont décédés, tués par un de leurs parents dans un contexte de violences au sein du couple.

      86% des victimes sont des femmes. Sur les 109 femmes tuées par leur conjoint officiel, au moins 51, soit 47%, étaient victimes de violences antérieures de la part de ce compagnon. Sur les 16 femmes ayant tué leur conjoint, au moins 11, soit 69%, étaient victimes de violences au sein du couple.

      Intéressant : déjà l’immense majorité des meurtres sur conjoint·e sont le fait de femmes et en plus chez les meurtrières de conjoint, plus de la moitié tuent après des violences (vraisemblablement pour y échapper). C’est des chiffres que je ne connaissais pas.

  • Nouvelle journée de #manifestations après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne

    Des manifestations ont eu lieu mercredi à Tel-Aviv et dans le nord d’#Israël pour la troisième journée consécutive, après le décès d’un jeune Israélien d’origine éthiopienne, tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne dénonçant un crime raciste.

    #Solomon_Teka, âgé de 19 ans, a été tué dimanche soir par un policier qui n’était pas en service au moment des faits, à Kiryat Haim, une ville proche du port de Haïfa, dans le nord d’Israël.

    Des dizaines de policiers ont été déployés mercredi dans la ville de Kiryat Ata, non loin de Kiryat Haim. Des manifestants tentant de bloquer une route ont été dispersés par la police.

    Malgré des appels au calme lancés par les autorités, des jeunes se sont aussi à nouveau rassemblés à Tel-Aviv. Une centaine de personnes ont défié la police en bloquant une route avant d’être dispersées.

    En trois jours, 140 personnes ont été arrêtées et 111 policiers blessés par des jets de pierres, bouteilles et bombes incendiaires lors des manifestations dans le pays, selon un nouveau bilan de la police.

    Les embouteillages et les images de voitures en feu ont fait la une des médias.

    Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et le président israélien Reuven Rivlin ont appelé au calme, tout en reconnaissant que les problèmes auxquels était confrontée la communauté israélo-éthiopienne devaient être traités.

    – ’Tragédie’-

    « La mort de Solomon Teka est une immense tragédie », a dit le Premier ministre. « Des leçons seront tirées. Mais une chose est claire : nous ne pouvons tolérer les violences que nous avons connues hier », a-t-il déclaré mercredi lors d’une réunion du comité ministériel sur l’intégration de la communauté éthiopienne.

    « Nous ne pouvons pas voir de routes bloquées, ni de cocktails Molotov, ni d’attaques contre des policiers, des citoyens et des propriétés privées », a-t-il ajouté.

    Le ministre de la Sécurité publique, Gilad Erdan, et le commissaire de la police, Moti Cohen, ont rencontré des représentants de la communauté israélo-éthiopienne, selon un communiqué de la police.

    La police a rapporté que le policier ayant tué le jeune homme avait tenté de s’interposer lors d’une bagarre entre jeunes. Après avoir expliqué qu’il était un agent des forces de l’ordre, des jeunes lui auraient alors lancé des pierres. L’homme aurait ouvert le feu après s’être senti menacé.

    Mais d’autres jeunes présents et un passant interrogés par les médias israéliens ont assuré que le policier n’avait pas été agressé.

    L’agent a été assigné à résidence et une enquête a été ouverte, a indiqué le porte-parole de la police.

    En janvier, des milliers de juifs éthiopiens étaient déjà descendus dans la rue à Tel-Aviv après la mort d’un jeune de leur communauté tué par un policier.

    Ils affirment vivre dans la crainte d’être la cible de la police. La communauté juive éthiopienne en Israël compte environ 140.000 personnes, dont plus de 50.000 sont nées dans le pays. Elle se plaint souvent de racisme institutionnalisé à son égard.

    https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/nouvelle-journee-de-manifestations-apres-la-mort-dun-israelie
    #discriminations #racisme #xénophobie #décès #violences_policières #police #éthiopiens

    • Ethiopian-Israelis Protest for 3rd Day After Fatal Police Shooting

      Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday for a third day of protests in an outpouring of rage after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a black youth, and the Israeli police turned out in force to try to keep the main roads open.

      The mostly young demonstrators have blocked major roads and junctions, paralyzing traffic during the evening rush hour, with disturbances extending into the night, protesting what community activists describe as deeply ingrained racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

      Scores have been injured — among them many police officers, according to the emergency services — and dozens of protesters have been detained, most of them briefly. Israeli leaders called for calm; fewer protesters turned out on Wednesday.

      “We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”
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      On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

      After initially holding back, the police fired stun grenades, tear gas and hard sponge bullets and sent in officers on horseback, prompting demonstrators to accuse them of the kind of police brutality that they had turned out to protest in the first place.

      The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened.

      The officer said that the youths had thrown stones that struck him and that he believed that he was in a life-threatening situation. He drew his gun and said he fired toward the ground, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

      Mr. Tekah’s friends said that they were just trying to get away after the officer began harassing them. Whether the bullet ricocheted or was fired directly at Mr. Tekah, it hit him in the chest, killing him.

      “He was one of the favorites,” said Avshalom Zohar-Sal, 22, a youth leader at the center, Beit Yatziv, which offers educational enrichment and tries to keep underprivileged youth out of trouble. Mr. Zohar-Sal, who was not there at the time of the shooting, said that another youth leader had tried to resuscitate Mr. Tekah.

      The police officer who shot Mr. Tekah is under investigation by the Justice Ministry. His rapid release to house arrest has further inflamed passions around what Mr. Tekah’s supporters call his murder.

      In a televised statement on Tuesday as violence raged, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that all Israel embraced the family of the dead youth and the Ethiopian community in general. But he added: “We are a nation of law; we will not tolerate the blocking of roads. I ask you, let us solve the problems together while upholding the law.”

      Many other Israelis said that while they were sympathetic to the Ethiopian-Israelis’ cause — especially after the death of Mr. Tekah — the protesters had “lost them” because of the ensuing violence and vandalism.

      Reflecting a gulf of disaffection, Ethiopian-Israeli activists said that they believed that the rest of Israeli society had never really supported them.

      “When were they with us? When?” asked Eyal Gato, 33, an Ethiopian-born activist who came to Israel in 1991 in the airlift known as Operation Solomon, which brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel within 36 hours.

      The airlift was a cause of national celebration at the time, and many of the immigrants bent down to kiss the tarmac. But integration has since proved difficult for many, with rates of truancy, suicide, divorce and domestic violence higher than in the rest of Israeli society.

      Mr. Gato, a postgraduate student of sociology who works for an immigrant organization called Olim Beyahad, noted that the largely poor Ethiopian-Israeli community of about 150,000, which is less than 2 percent of the population, had little electoral or economic clout.

      He compared their situation to African-Americans in Chicago or Ferguson, Mo., but said that the Israeli iteration of “Black Lives Matter” had no organized movement behind it, and that the current protests had been spontaneous.

      Recalling his own experiences — such as being pulled over by the police a couple of years ago when he was driving a Toyota from work in a well-to-do part of Rehovot, in central Israel, and being asked what he was doing there in that car — Mr. Gato said he had to carry his identity card with him at all times “to prove I’m not a criminal.”

      The last Ethiopian protests broke out in 2015, after a soldier of Ethiopian descent was beaten by two Israeli police officers as he headed home in uniform in a seemingly unprovoked assault that was caught on video. At the time, Mr. Gato said, 40 percent of the inmates of Israel’s main youth detention center had an Ethiopian background. Since 1997, he said, a dozen young Ethiopian-Israelis have died in encounters with the police.

      A government committee set up after that episode to stamp out racism against Ethiopian-Israelis acknowledged the existence of institutional racism in areas such as employment, military enlistment and the police, and recommended that officers wear body cameras.

      “Ethiopians are seen as having brought their values of modesty and humility with them,” Mr. Gato said. “They expect us to continue to be nice and to demonstrate quietly.”

      But the second generation of the Ethiopian immigration has proved less passive than their parents, who were grateful for being brought to Israel.

      The grievances go back at least to the mid-1990s. Then, Ethiopian immigrants exploded in rage when reports emerged that Israel was secretly dumping the blood they donated for fear that it was contaminated with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

      “The community is frustrated and in pain,” said one protester, Rachel Malada, 23, from Rehovot, who was born in Gondar Province in Ethiopia and who was brought to Israel at the age of 2 months.

      “This takes us out to the streets, because we must act up,” she said. “Our parents cannot do this, but we must.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/world/middleeast/ethiopia-israel-police-shooting.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

  • When Tomatoes met Wagner
    https://www.nova-cinema.org/prog/2019/173-summer-stoemp/stoemp-weekend-1/article/when-tomatoes-met-wagner

    Marianna Economou, 2019, GR, DCP, VO ST FR ANG, 73’

    Grèce, plaine de Thessalie. Dans cette région agricole vidée de son activité et désertée de sa jeunesse, Alexandros revient dans son village (Elias, 33 habitants) plutôt que de rester à la ville après ses études. Il reprend avec son cousin Christos leurs terres pour produire des tomates, aidés des grands-mères du coin. Qui de Wagner ou du chanteur grec traditionnel fera le mieux pousser les tomates ? Peut-on vraiment remplacer la marjolaine par de la menthe dans la recette de Mamie ? Un peu grave dans le fond mais plein d’humour partout, cette entreprise, peut-être désespérée et sûrement utopiste, tente de faire sens en lançant une conserverie bio dans le hangar de la maison familiale. Si le reste du monde est plus friand de Storytelling que de (...)

  • Will California’s New Bot Law Strengthen Democracy ? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/will-californias-new-bot-law-strengthen-democracy

    Une loi très intéressante en Californie qui va entrer en vigueur aujourd’hui. On va voir comment cela se passe pour la déclaration du caractère robotique d’un compte Twitter ou Facebook...

    California is the first state to try to reduce the power of bots by requiring that they reveal their “artificial identity” when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter.Photograph by Emma Innocenti / Getty
    When you ask experts how bots influence politics—that is, what specifically these bits of computer code that purport to be human can accomplish during an election—they will give you a list: bots can smear the opposition through personal attacks; they can exaggerate voters’ fears and anger by repeating short simple slogans; they can overstate popularity; they can derail conversations and draw attention to symbolic and ultimately meaningless ideas; they can spread false narratives. In other words, they are an especially useful tool, considering how politics is played today.

    On July 1st, California became the first state in the nation to try to reduce the power of bots by requiring that they reveal their “artificial identity” when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter. Violators could face fines under state statutes related to unfair competition. Just as pharmaceutical companies must disclose that the happy people who say a new drug has miraculously improved their lives are paid actors, bots in California—or rather, the people who deploy them—will have to level with their audience.

    We are in new terrain, where the microtargeting of audiences on social networks, the perception of false news stories as genuine, and the bot-led amplification of some voices and drowning-out of others have combined to create angry, ill-informed online communities that are suspicious of one another and of the government.

    Regulating bots should be low-hanging fruit when it comes to improving the Internet. The California law doesn’t even ban them outright but, rather, insists that they identify themselves in a manner that is “clear, conspicuous, and reasonably designed.”

    The point where economic self-interest stops and libertarian ideology begins can be hard to identify. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week, appealed to personal freedom to defend his platform’s decision to allow the microtargeting of false, incendiary information. “I do not think we want to go so far towards saying that a private company prevents you from saying something that it thinks is factually incorrect,” he said. “That to me just feels like it’s too far and goes away from the tradition of free expression.”

    In the 2016 Presidential campaign, bots were created to support both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but pro-Trump bots outnumbered pro-Clinton ones five to one, by one estimate, and many were dispatched by Russian intermediaries. Twitter told a Senate committee that, in the run-up to the 2016 election, fifty thousand bots that it concluded had Russian ties retweeted Trump’s tweets nearly half a million times, which represented 4.25 per cent of all his retweets, roughly ten times the level of Russian bot retweets supporting Clinton.

    Bots also gave Trump victories in quick online polls asking who had won a Presidential debate; they disrupted discussions of Trump’s misdeeds or crude statements; and they relentlessly pushed dubious policy proposals through hashtags like #draintheswamp.

    They have also aided Trump during his Presidency. Suspected bots created by unidentified users drove an estimated forty to sixty per cent of the Twitter discussion of a “caravan” of Central American migrants headed to the U.S., which was pushed by the President and his supporters prior to the 2018 midterm elections. Trump himself has retweeted accounts that praise him and his Presidency, and which appear to be bots. And last week a suspected bot network was discovered to be smearing Senator Kamala Harris, of California, with a form of “birtherism” after her strong showing in the first round of Democratic-primary debates.

    Hertzberg, the state senator who authored the legislation, told me that he was glad that the changes to the bill before passage were related to the implementation of the law, rather than to its central purpose of requiring that bots reveal themselves to the public when used politically or commercially. A lawyer by training, Hertzberg said that he resented the accusation that he didn’t care about First Amendment concerns. “There is no effort in this bill to have a chilling effect on speech—zero,” he said. “The argument you go back to is, Do bots have free speech? People have free speech. Bots are not people.”

    #régulation #Robots #Californie

  • 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

  • Facebook may be ’pivoting’ to something worse - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-48835250?SThisFB

    Over the past few months, Mark Zuckerberg has spoken at length about his grand plan for fixing Facebook.

    In short, it involves “pivoting” - as they say - to a more private social network. One which focuses on closed spaces, like groups or messaging, rather than the public News Feed.

    He unveiled this plan in March, a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit.

    At the time, I noted that critics were concerned that the shift would mean Facebook was abdicating some of its responsibilities. Making Facebook more private would arguably not remove the problems of abuse - though it would make it harder for outsiders to find instances of Facebook’s failures.

    Recent stories have demonstrated that concern was perhaps justified.
    […]
    Groups have, of course, been a feature on Facebook since the early days. But never before have they had such prominence.
    Facebook, as directed by its leader, is aggressively pushing users to use groups more often. There’s an advertising campaign - which includes hand-painted murals - and a new button placed front and centre in its mobile app. Private is the new public.
    “_This vision could backfire terribly,
    ” warned French journalism professor, Frederick Pilloux, in 2018. “An increase in the weight of ’groups’ means reinforcement of Facebook’s worst features -  cognitive bubbles -  where users are kept in silos fueled by a torrent of fake news and extremism.

    Make no mistake: few, if any, of the problems Facebook is “working hard” on at the moment would have come to light were it not for external pressure from journalists, lawmakers, academics and civil rights groups.

    The examples I’ve raised here pose a question: is Facebook fixing itself, or merely making it harder for us to see it’s broken?

  • Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers

    In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max.

    The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

    Boeing’s cultivation of Indian companies appeared to pay other dividends. In recent years, it has won several orders for Indian military and commercial aircraft, such as a $22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order included 100 737-Max 8 jets and represented Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline, a coup in a country dominated by Airbus.

    Based on resumes posted on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., handled software for flight-test equipment.

    C’est beau comme tout la langue de bois des public relations :

    Boeing said the company did not rely on engineers from HCL and Cyient for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been linked to the Lion Air crash last October and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March. The Chicago-based planemaker also said it didn’t rely on either firm for another software issue disclosed after the crashes: a cockpit warning light that wasn’t working for most buyers.

    “Boeing has many decades of experience working with supplier/partners around the world,” a company spokesman said. “Our primary focus is on always ensuring that our products and services are safe, of the highest quality and comply with all applicable regulations.”

    In a statement, HCL said it “has a strong and long-standing business relationship with The Boeing Company, and we take pride in the work we do for all our customers. However, HCL does not comment on specific work we do for our customers. HCL is not associated with any ongoing issues with 737 Max.”

    Starting with the 787 Dreamliner, launched in 2004, it sought to increase profits by instead providing high-level specifications and then asking suppliers to design more parts themselves. The thinking was “they’re the experts, you see, and they will take care of all of this stuff for us,” said Frank McCormick, a former Boeing flight-controls software engineer who later worked as a consultant to regulators and manufacturers. “This was just nonsense.”

    Sales are another reason to send the work overseas. In exchange for an $11 billion order in 2005 from Air India, Boeing promised to invest $1.7 billion in Indian companies. That was a boon for HCL and other software developers from India, such as Cyient, whose engineers were widely used in computer-services industries but not yet prominent in aerospace.

    La sous-traitance logicielle peut-elle suivre les modèles de la sous-traitance de l’industrie ?

    HCL, once known as Hindustan Computers, was founded in 1976 by billionaire Shiv Nadar and now has more than $8.6 billion in annual sales. With 18,000 employees in the U.S. and 15,000 in Europe, HCL is a global company and has deep expertise in computing, said Sukamal Banerjee, a vice president. It has won business from Boeing on that basis, not on price, he said: “We came from a strong R&D background.”

    Still, for the 787, HCL gave Boeing a remarkable price – free, according to Sam Swaro, an associate vice president who pitched HCL’s services at a San Diego conference sponsored by Avionics International magazine in June. He said the company took no up-front payments on the 787 and only started collecting payments based on sales years later, an “innovative business model” he offered to extend to others in the industry.

    The 787 entered service three years late and billions of dollars over budget in 2011, in part because of confusion introduced by the outsourcing strategy. Under Dennis Muilenburg, a longtime Boeing engineer who became chief executive in 2015, the company has said that it planned to bring more work back in-house for its newest planes.

    #Boeing #Sous-traitance #Capitalisme #Sécurité #Logiciel

  • Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers


    The cockpit of a grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft.
    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

    • Planemaker and suppliers used lower-paid temporary workers
    • Engineers feared the practice meant code wasn’t done right

    It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis: how a company renowned for meticulous design made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes. Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.

    The Max software — plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after U.S. regulators this week revealed a new flaw — was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs.

    Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace — notably India.

    In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max.
    […]
    In one post, an HCL employee summarized his duties with a reference to the now-infamous model, which started flight tests in January 2016: “Provided quick workaround to resolve production issue which resulted in not delaying flight test of 737-Max (delay in each flight test will cost very big amount for Boeing).

  • Nantes : Petit récit instructif d’un contrôle de la CAF - Non Fides - Base de données anarchistes
    http://www.non-fides.fr/?Nantes-Petit-recit-instructif-d-un-controle-de-la-CAF

    Le contrôle a continué. Elle m’a demandé ce que j’avais fait les dernières années comme démarche de réinsertion. Je n’ai pas répondu et elle a insisté pour avoir une réponse. Puis, elle m’a dit qu’elle avait obtenu auprès de ma banque tous mes relevés de compte sur une période de trois ans. Elle m’a fait des remarques sur mes habitudes de vie, sur le fait que je retirais systématiquement mon RSA d’un seul coup au début de chaque mois. Je ne lui ai pas dit que c’était pour me protéger des huissiers. Puis, elle a commencé a énumérer toutes les rentrés d’argent sur mon compte en me demandant a chaque fois de les justifier. Genre, « le 3 septembre 2017, vous avez encaissé un chèque de 60 euros, a quoi correspond cette somme ? ». A chaque fois je lui répond « je ne sais pas, je ne m’en souviens plus ». Elle continue a énumérer les sommes et les dates, elle a trouvé 10 entrées suspects. Elle regarde aussi les dépenses, même s’il n’y en a pas beaucoup, vu que je retire la plupart de mon argent en liquide. Elle a remarqué un paiement au consulat d’Algérie, elle me demande si je suis parti en Algérie. Le paiement était bien pour un visa, mais pas pour moi, pour une copine. Je le lui dis. Plus tôt, elle avait examiné chaque page de mon passeport pour voir s’il y avait des tampons de voyage.

    #répression #caf #guerre_aux_pauvres

    • Iels sont relous non-fides à ne pas mettre leurs sources. J’ai donc retrouvé l’original, que j’avais vu passer dans mon flux rss sans avoir eut le temps de le lire, alors que le sujet le parle très très fort, ayant moi même subit un contrôle à domicile.
      Donc la source non modifiée est là : https://nantes.indymedia.org/articles/45908 : quand une personne choisi de ne pas mettre de majuscules, c’est politique et ça se respecte ! En plus y’a des commentaires chouettes. J’y ai rajouté une lecture que j’avais faite sur le sujet et des ressources...

  • Polémique après l’évacuation violente de militants écologistes à Paris
    http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/polemique-apres-l-evacuation-violente-de-militants-ecologistes-a-paris-2019

    Depuis vendredi 28 juin, la dispersion de militants écologistes installés pont de Sully, à Paris, crée la polémique. Le ministre de l’Intérieur Christophe Castaner a demandé un rapport au préfet de police de Paris sur « les modalités » de cette évacuation.

    Plus de quarante-huit heures après les faits, les images de l’évacuation des militants écologistes installés sur le pont de Sully à Paris ce vendredi, continuent de faire polémique. Vendredi 28 juin, ils étaient quelques dizaines de militants à s’être rassemblés sur le pont du 4e arrondissement parisien, dans le cadre d’une mobilisation pour le climat.

    Je me demande pourquoi le figaro dénonce aujourd’hui subitement ces violences contre les manifestant·es, ca fait des mois(/années) que les gens se font ébrognés ou arraché les mains par les flics sans que la press dominante ne bronche et là subitement Castaner demande un rapport et à peu près tous les journaux parlent de cette affaire. Je présume que c’est lié à l’origine sociale des manifestant·es qui sont probablement filles et fils de bourgeois/people. Peut être que les enfants de proches de Brigitte ont été gazés !!! Un rapport sur cette affaire là ca leur coutera pas cher et ca leur rapportera beaucoup.
    – Le préfet aura une petite réprimande symbolique ou se fera viré si Castaner/Macron veulent saisir ce prétexte pour changer leur fusible.
    – Le gouvernement pourra dire qu’il agit contre les violences policières et pour l’écologie (qui ont fait un bon score aux européennes) et faire croire que le comportement des flics n’est pas le résultat de leurs ordres.
    – C’est une belle diversion alors qu’on cherche toujours Steve Caniço
    https://seenthis.net/messages/788917

  • Barak Ravid sur Twitter : “WATCH: U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman takes a 10 pounds hammer and breaks open a tunnel which runs under the Palestinian village of #Silwan to the old city of #Jerusalem. This happens at a settlers organisation event with Sara Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson at his side” / Twitter
    https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/1145362268022067200

    https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1145362068507430912/pu/vid/640x360/A_akO0XpJxkZ-Rl-.mp4?tag=10

    Des officiels américains à un évènement lié aux colons israéliens à Jérusalem-Est - L’Orient-Le Jour
    https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1176973/des-officiels-americains-a-un-evenement-lie-aux-colons-israeliens-a-j

    Deux responsables américains ont assisté dimanche à l’inauguration à Jérusalem-Est d’un site archéologique organisée par une association ultranationaliste israélienne, une présence qui rompt une nouvelle fois avec la pratique diplomatique s’agissant de la colonisation et du secteur palestinien de la ville occupé par Israël.

    Jason Greenblatt, conseiller du président américain Donald Trump, et David Friedman, ambassadeur en Israël, ont assisté en compagnie de responsables israéliens à une cérémonie dévoilant le résultat de travaux archéologiques à Silwan, quartier palestinien de Jérusalem-Est. Silwan, situé en contrebas des murailles de la Vieille ville, est le théâtre de tensions permanentes entre les résidents palestiniens et des colons juifs de plus en plus nombreux.

    Les travaux archéologiques, portant sur une route souterraine utilisée il y a environ 2.000 ans pour le pèlerinage vers le Second Temple juif, ont été entrepris par l’association Elad, dont le but avoué est de renforcer la présence juive à Jérusalem-Est.

    [...]

    Les Palestiniens accusent Israël et la fondation Elad de chercher à les chasser de Jérusalem.

    [...]

    L’ONG israélienne Emek Shaveh, qui lutte contre l’usage de l’archéologie au service de la colonisation, a également critiqué la présence d’officiels américains à la cérémonie. Elle dénonce un « acte politique qui se rapproche le plus d’une reconnaissance américaine de la souveraineté israélienne » sur toute la Vieille ville de Jérusalem.

    Israël considère Jérusalem comme sa capitale « unifiée et indivisible ». Mais la communauté internationale ne reconnaît pas l’annexion en 1967 de la partie orientale occupée de la ville, dont les Palestiniens veulent faire la capitale de l’Etat auquel ils aspirent.

    Le président Donald Trump a rompu en décembre 2017 avec des décennies de consensus diplomatique en reconnaissant Jérusalem comme la capitale d’Israël, poussant les Palestiniens à couper tout contact formel avec Washington.

    L’ambassadeur américain en Israël David Friedman est un fervent soutien des colonies israéliennes dans les Territoires palestiniens, considérées comme illégales par la communauté internationale.

    #sionisme #etats-unis

    • Editorial Settlers From the White House
      Haaretz Editorial
      Jun 30, 2019 11:20 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/settlers-from-the-white-house-1.7424748

      The event held Sunday in a tunnel under the main street of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls, would have been impossible only a few years ago. Two of the U.S. administration’s most senior diplomats, Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, were there alongside Israeli ministers at the inauguration of the Path of the Pilgrims – a tunnel excavated by the right-wing Elad organization with generous help from the state.

      The tunnel, which according to Elad exposed a street from the Second Temple period that brought pilgrims from the Shiloah pool to the Temple Mount, is a central project in the organization’s efforts to Judaize Silwan and its environs by way of archaeology and tourism. When the tunnel opens to the public, presumably in a few months, it will become a major tourist attraction.

      The participation of American diplomats at an event sponsored by a right-wing group in East Jerusalem constitutes de facto recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem’s historic basin. If anyone had any doubts about that, Friedman made clear in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that, “The City of David is an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel.” Giving it up, even in the context of a peace agreement, he said, “would be akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty.”

      This recognition doesn’t just put the American administration on the extreme right of the Israeli political map – thus undercutting the claim that American can be an unbiased broker between Israel and the Palestinians – but it also ignores the complicated reality in Silwan, East Jerusalem and the entire region. The tunnel, which was excavated using controversial methods from a scientific standpoint, harnesses archaeology to politics while ignoring the nuances of Jerusalem’s ancient past.

      But the main problem is that excavating under the street blatantly ignores what’s happening at street level. In Silwan alone there are 20,000 Palestinians without citizenship or civil rights, who justifiably feel that this archaeological project is aimed at forcing them out of their neighborhood. Surrounding Silwan are another 300,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, also without rights.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfbMcYhJY6Q


      Anyone having even a passing familiarity with the Palestinian people knows that there’s no chance of arriving at any kind of agreement that will end the occupation so long as Israel continues to control East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Thus, by mere words and an event dripping with sweetness and smiles, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has sentenced Israelis to a life of constant conflict, or to an apartheid state in which there are two types of residents, those with rights and those without them.

  • Paris streets, squares named in honour of LGBT+ figures

    Fifty years after New York City’s Stonewall riots laid the foundation for modern gay rights, Paris is carrying on that legacy by naming an array of streets and squares after historically important LGBT+ figures.

    New to the city map are Stonewall Riot and Harvey Milk squares – the first in recognition of the famous rebellion against Manhattan police in 1969; the latter in honour of the American civil rights leader and first openly gay politician to be elected in California.

    Other squares, gardens and passageways pay tribute to the likes of Irish gay rights activist Mark Ashton, French transsexual politician and poet Ovida-Delect and bisexual American writer and filmmaker Susan Sontag.

    There’s also a commemorative plaque in honour of Gilbert Baker, the man who invented the rainbow flag. Add to that Pierre Seel Street, named for the openly gay Holocaust survivor, and Place Renée Vivien, in honour of the British poet known for her Sapphic verse and party days during the Belle Epoque.

    Increasing LGBT+ visibility

    The new unveilings bring to more than 40 the number of people immortalised through plaques erected around the city – with most of them smattered about the vibrant 4th arrondissement, home to Paris’s unofficial gay district.

    These sorts of gestures are an important way of increasingly the visibility of the gay community and cementing its place in history, says Fabien Jannic-Cherbonnel, a journalist with the French LGBT+ news site Komitid.

    “France is very keen on talking about its history and the great men who shaped the country – and these plaques show people that women and LGBT+ figures are a part of that history, and they also helped to make this country what it is today,” he says.

    Paris playing catch-up

    While other European cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin are perhaps a little further ahead in celebrating the LGBT+ legacy, with their so-called “homomonuments” drawing in tourists, Paris is steadily playing catch-up – so much so the Town Hall has dared to label it the “flagship city of inclusion and diversity”.

    The street-naming gesture comes just ahead of this weekend’s pride march. Like many cities across the world, Paris cranks up the colour in June to celebrate gay pride – and this Saturday the capital will look like the rainbow city that mayor Anne Hidalgo has been striving to deliver.

    Tempering the pride party, however, is last month’s report by the French not-for-profit organisation SOS Homophobie, which noted a 15 percent rise in the number of homophobic attacks reported in 2018, compared with the previous year.

    While the NGO described 2018 as a “black year”, Jannic-Cherbonnel says the numbers aren’t necessarily evidence that homophobic assaults are on the rise.

    “This is a reflection of the number of calls that SOS received – which means that people are talking about it,” he says. “They know when something is wrong and when something happens they will report it.

    “I’m not convinced there’s a huge increase in homophobia in French society, especially in Paris, but we are talking more about it – which is good because this is all about visibility, which in turn helps to fight homophobia.”


    http://en.rfi.fr/france/20190626-paris-streets-squares-named-honour-lgbt-figures?ref=tw
    #LGBT #homosexualité #Paris #France #toponymie #noms_de_rue #Harvey_Milk

  • Moi, mes poils sur les jambes et les 15 minutes les plus longues de ma vie - Rockie
    https://www.rockiemag.com/poils-jambes-humiliation-3937

    Comment en seulement 15min j’ai pu passer de « meuf sûre d’elle » à « meuf qui se sent observée et jugée par tous les passants » ? Comment une dizaine de cons ont pu me miner à ce point le moral alors que j’étais toute guillerette ? Il a suffi de quinze minutes pour que je remette en question mes choix et mes convictions forgées en plusieurs années.

    #pilophobie

  • Architectural Review : The Irish issue

    https://www.architectural-review.com/my-account/magazine-archive/the-irish-issue-is-here/10042957.article

    Un numéro intéressant consacré à l’Irlande

    Avec cette carte de Belfast en page 106

    ‘If there is a canon in Irish architecture, it seems to be one of ambiguity, of refined cross-pollinations, of great thought in small things’, writes Andrew Clancy. He offers an Irishness in relation, between home and away, one that traverses and returns, to stand at the edge of Europe and before the open ocean. By sending this issue to press at the end of May, the idea was to have caught the islands just two months after the UK’s formal departure from the European Union, with whatever strained solution might have been wrought into the land around the border. We remain, however, afloat in the unknown; and as the interminable process grinds on – as Maria McLintock writes – our language around it remains insufficient, the messy and pulsating borderlands collapsed into ‘backstop’.

    Ignoring the rigid, often arbitrary, frontiers dividing countries, choosing to encompass instead the entirety of ‘the islands of Ireland’ is itself a provocation. But in this issue, we ramble the land from end to end and over the sea to Inis Mór, the ambiguity of our appelation proving productive, to rove around rich seams and difficult terrain to cast an eye over a land in the middle of something.

    In the keynote, Shane O’Toole traces the developments of a critical culture of architecture across Ireland, starting in November 1974 when the AR paid a visit to Dublin, and following on through to the threats posed to the culture today. ‘How long can architects survive on house extensions and other small private commissions before their potential atrophies?’, he asks. In reflection, Eleanor Beaumont considers the ambitious architecture packed into Dublin’s domestic projects, such as those by Clancy Moore, TAKA, Ryan W Kennihan Architects, and Arigho Larmour Wheeler Architects, and Noreile Breen features as this issue’s AREA profile. Going back to Group 91, and the introduction of Irish architecture to an international scene, we also feature a retrospective on Grafton Architects, and their offers of silence in the cacophony of the city.

    We go to Galway, on the Republic’s western coast, to review the recently-completed Pálás cinema by dePaor, a small and fantastical gem fourteen years in the making. Further out in the remote western reaches of Rosmuc and the Aran isle of Inis Mór, we also feature two new school buildings by Paul Dillon, the simplicity and clarity of which does not undermine their value. Looking back to a school rooted in 1970s ideals, we revisit Birr Community School by Peter and Mary Doyle, a school found to be ‘no museum piece’, as John McLaughlin and Aiobheann Ní Mhearáin write: ‘the values it embodies are as pertinent today as they were when it was first built.’

    In Belfast, Mark Hackett asserts that the roads that profess to connect the city can be as divisive as its walls, and Gary A Boyd reviews the transport hub designed by Hackett’s former partners, Hall McKnight, as part of a masterplan hoped to catalyse regeneration of the city’s dislocated fringe. In Outrage, Dawn Foster writes that inequalities in access to social housing continue to perpetuate the divide between Catholics and Protestants. In Cantrell Close in Belfast for example, the banners hung around the purportedly mixed community constitute a warning: symbols become violent, even lethal. As Darran Anderson writes, the land is one of iconographers – but also one of iconoclasts, the violence of the conflict mirrored by symbolic acts of destruction carried out on architecture as a receptacle of collective memory.

    In this issue we also feature The raingod’s green, dark as passion, a lyrical story of Cork by Kevin Barry, while Reputations looks at the life of States-based architect, Pritzker laureate and County Cork native, Kevin Roche.

    #irlande #architecture #conflit #frontière #urban_matter

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/08/tian-j08.html

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • Connecticut legislators to consider minimum pay for Uber and Lyft drivers - Connecticut Post
    https://www.ctpost.com/politics/article/Connecticut-legislators-to-consider-minimum-pay-13608071.php

    By Emilie Munson, February 11, 2019 - Prompted by growing numbers of frustrated Uber and Lyft drivers, lawmakers will hold a hearing on establishing minimum pay for app-based drivers.

    After three separate legislative proposals regarding pay for drivers flooded the Labor and Public Employees Committee, the committee will raise the concept of driver earnings as a bill, said state Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, who chairs the committee, on Friday night.

    A coalition of Uber and Lyft drivers from New Haven has been pressuring lawmakers to pass a pay standard, following New York City’s landmark minimum pay ordinance for app-based drivers approved in December. The legislation, which set an earnings floor of $17.22 an hour for the independent contractors, took effect on Feb. 1.

    Connecticut drivers have no minimum pay guarantees.

    Guillermo Estrella, who drives for Uber, worked about 60 hours per week last year and received $25,422.65 in gross pay. His pay stub doesn’t reflect how much Estrella paid for insurance, gas, oil changes and wear-and-tear on his car. Factor those expenses in, and the Branford resident said his yearly take-home earnings were about $18,000 last year.

    Estrella and other New Haven drivers have suggested bill language to cap the portion of riders’ fares that Uber and Lyft can take at 25 percent, with the remaining 75 percent heading to drivers’ pockets. The idea has already received pushback from Uber, which said it was unrealistic given their current pay structure.

    Connecticut legislators have suggested two other models for regulating driver pay. State Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, filed a bill to set a minimum pay rate per mile and per minute for drivers. His bill has not assigned numbers to those minimums yet.

    “What (drivers) were making when Uber started and got its name, they are not making that anymore,” said Cassano. “The company is taking advantage of the success of the company. I understand that to a point, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the drivers.”

    State Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, proposed legislation that says if drivers’ earnings do not amount to hourly minimum wage payments, Uber or Lyft should have to kick in the difference. Connecticut’s minimum wage is now $10.10, although Democrats are making a strong push this year to raise it.

    As lawmakers consider these proposals, they will confront issues raised by the growing “gig economy”: a clash between companies seeking thousands of flexible, independent contractors and a workforce that wants the benefits and rights of traditional, paid employment.

    Some Democrats at the Capitol support the changes that favor drivers.

    “I thought it was important to make sure our labor laws are keeping up with the changes we are seeing in this emerging gig economy, that we have sufficient safeguards to make sure that drivers are not being exploited,” said Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown.

    But the proposals also raise broad, difficult questions like what protections does a large independent contractor workforce need? And how would constraining the business model of Uber and Lyft impact service availability around the state?

    Sen. Craig Miner, a Republican of Litchfield who sits on the Labor committee, wondered why Uber and Lyft drivers should have guaranteed pay, when other independent contractors do not. How would this impact the tax benefits realized by independent contractors, he asked.

    Uber and Lyft declined to provide data on how many drivers they have in the state, and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles does not keep count. In Connecticut, 82 percent of Lyft drivers drive fewer than 20 hours per week, said Kaelan Richards, a Lyft spokesperson.

    Last week, Hearst Connecticut Media spoke to 20 Uber and Lyft drivers in New Haven who are demanding lawmakers protect their pay. All drove full-time for Uber or Lyft or both.

    An immigrant from Ecuador, Estrella, the Branford driver, struggles to pay for rent and groceries for his pregnant wife and seven-year-old son using his Uber wages.

    “A cup of coffee at the local Starbucks cost $3 or $4,” said Estrella. “How can a trip can cost $3 when you have to drive to them five minutes away and drop them off after seven or eight minutes?”

    In December, 50 Uber and Lyft drivers held a strike in New Haven demanding better pay. The New Haven drivers last week said they are planning more strikes soon.

    “Why is Uber lowering the rates and why do we have to say yes to keep working?” asked Carlos Gomez, a Guilford Uber driver, last week.

    The drivers believe Uber and Lyft are decreasing driver pay and taking a larger chunk of rider fares for company profits. Many New Haven drivers said pay per mile has been decreasing. They liked Sen. Cassano’s idea of setting minimum pay per mile and per minute.

    “The payment by mile, it went down by 10 cents,” said Rosanna Olan, a driver from West Haven. “Before it was more than one dollar and now when you have a big truck SUV, working long distance especially is not worth it anymore.”

    Uber and Lyft both declined to provide pay rates per mile and per minute for drivers. Drivers are not paid for time spent driving to pick up a passenger, nor for time spent idling waiting for a ride, although the companies’ model depends on having drivers ready to pick up passengers at any moment.

    Lyft said nationally drivers earn an average of $18.83 an hour, but did not provide Connecticut specific earnings.

    “Our goal has always been to empower drivers to get the most out of Lyft, and we look forward to continBy Emilie Munson Updated 4:49 pm EST, Monday, February 11, 2019uing to do so in Connecticut, and across the country," said Rich Power, public policy manager at Lyft.

    Uber discouraged lawmakers from considering the drivers’ proposal of capping the transportation companies’ cut of rider fares. Uber spokesman Harry Hartfield said the idea wouldn’t work because Uber no longer uses the “commission model” — that stopped about two years ago.

    “In order to make sure we can provide customers with an up-front price, driver fares are not tied to what the rider pays,” said Hartfield. “In fact, on many trips drivers actually make more money than the rider pays.”

    What the rider is pays to Uber is an estimated price, calculated before the ride starts, Hartfield explained, while the driver receives from Uber a fare that is calculated based on actual drive time and distance. Changing the model could make it hard to give customers up-front pricing and “lead to reduced price transparency,” Hartfield said. New York’s changes raised rates for riders.

    James Bhandary-Alexander, a New Haven Legal Assistance attorney who is working with the drivers, said Uber’s current pay model is “irrelevant to how drivers want to be paid for the work.”

    “The reason that drivers care is it seems fundamentally unfair that the rider is willing to pay or has paid $100 for the ride and the driver has only gotten $30 or $40 of that,” he said.

    Pursuing any of the three driver-pay proposals would bring Uber and Lyft lobbyists back to the Capitol, where they negotiated legislation spearheaded by Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, from 2015 to 2017.

    Scanlon said the companies eventually favored the bill passed in 2017, which, after some compromise, required drivers have insurance, limited “surge pricing,” mandated background checks for drivers, imposed a 25 cent tax collected by the state and stated passengers must be picked up and delivered anywhere without discrimination.

    “One of my biggest regrets about that bill, which I think is really good for consumers in Connecticut, is that we didn’t do anything to try to help the driver,” said Scanlon, who briefly drove for Uber.
    By Emilie Munson Updated 4:49 pm EST, Monday, February 11, 2019
    emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

    #USA #Uber #Connecticut #Mindestlohn #Klassenkampf

  • I Rode All the E-Scooters. Most of Them Are Awful Except Two
    https://jalopnik.com/i-rode-all-the-e-scooters-most-of-them-are-awful-excep-1835373127

    So sieht es im paradiesischen Wunderland des Transport-Sharing aus : #ASAB Alle Roller sind Mist, außer einem, und der ist genau genommen kein Roller. Und in Berlin? Sind das bessere E-Roller Made in Germany ? Wohl kaum. Tragt bloß einen Helm!

    Matt Farah, 6/10/19 3:45pm - One weekend morning toward the end of 2017, I woke up at home in Venice, CA and took a walk, only to see something entirely new: people on electric scooters. And I mean lots of people on electric scooters. Literally overnight, a new company called Bird, founded just two miles away in Santa Monica, had launched an app and dumped thousands of dockless scooters all over the place. A few things happened very quickly after that:

    Bird Scooters became litter. Freelance chargers, or “Juicers” as Lime would later call their not-employees, would do their best to place the scooters in an orderly fashion, out of the way in common areas. But since people only have respect for a.) things they, themselves personally own or b.) are locked down or are being watched, kicking, destroying, throwing them in the ocean, and more turned into Venice’s favorite new sport. The other morning, I watched someone line up a dozen or more scooters neatly, get into their van, and drive off. Not 10 seconds later, someone used a shopping cart as a bowling ball, turning the whole thing into some kind of bramble.
    Everyone wanted to compete with Bird. Lime was next, with its fun, fruit-themed livery. Bird and Lime were the new disruptors, and the OG disruptors, Uber and Lyft, wanted in on that sweet, sweet last-mile dollar. So those two started dropping their own scooters all over.
    E-Mobility Scooters have absolutely decimated the bike rental industry in Venice. Enterprising bike rental shop owners began to moonlight as scooter chargers or repair facilities. Some bike rental shop owners began buying and renting out their own scooters. Now, just 18 months later, on any given weekend, well over 50 percent of the wheeled traffic on the Venice bike path is battery powered.

    There were injuries. Lots of injuries. Anecdotally, I regularly see people wiping out and getting hurt on mobility scooters. It happens enough that I have made something of a pastime watching a specific corner on the bike path near my house. Business Insider reports over 1,500 injuries serious enough to record in the U.S., in 2018 alone, plus four fatalities.

    For the record, I sympathize with local residents who resent them taking up sidewalk space in front of their home, hate them for becoming litter in a neighborhood that often has too much of that already, and who have to deal with yet another way for dumb, lost tourists to be dumb and lost.

    I’ve found scooters blocking my own front door or garage on several occasions. And folks tend to want the best of all worlds while riding one: they want the rights of a pedestrian, the rights of a bicycle, and the rights of a car, all at the same time, which is an incredibly dangerous mindset.

    Also, for the record, I have found some extremely convenient uses for the scooters when I need to get somewhere that is just out of walking range, or to “run to the store to pick up some forgotten ingredient” while a recipe is in the oven. I have used every brand of scooter at one point or another, with extremely mixed results. I will factor in previous experience into my rankings.

    The Test: My goal was to find out which mobility company provides the best motoring experience for the rider, for their money. A showdown, for which scooter is best.

    For purposes of this piece, we will not be discussing company policy, only the scooter itself, and whether or not you should get down with it when you come hang out with me on Venice Beach.

    The Circuit

    Allow me to introduce you to The Mobiliring: a 3.4-mile handling circuit featuring a variety of surface changes, corners, crags, obstacles, sand, and people.

    You begin at the Venice Beach Parking lot at 2100 Ocean Front Walk, with the densest population of scooters around. Proceeding straight across the parking lot to the bike path, you go north on the bike path over a winding way made of slatted, rough, sandy concrete, all the way to the Santa Monica border, where you turn back south because mobility scooters can’t be ridden on the bike path at all in the city of Santa Monica.

    You ride south on Speedway, basically a decaying alley full of potholes, but appropriately named, as it was LA’s first paved road. Take Speedway south to Windward Avenue, the heart of Venice, and turn right, weaving across the freestyle dance skating grounds, through the throngs of tourists, and back to the bike path where it meets the legal graffiti area. Continue south on the bike path until you get to the Venice pier, then turn left on Washington Blvd and an immediate left to go north on Speedway, taking you right back to Start/Finish.

    This course is approximately 60 percent unlimited-speed bike path and 40 percent public roads, and in order to successfully complete a lap, you must pay attention and obey all posted road signs and laws.

    (Before you ask, Yes, I bought the Mobiliring domain name. Yes, I will be inviting you to post your own lap times.)

    The Contenders: We’ve restricted our entrants to scooter-type vehicles (as opposed to e-assist bicycles) available on the street for rent in Venice, CA as of May 13, 2019. For this test, that means Bird, Lime, Lyft, Jump (Uber), and Wheels are in the game. Now let’s see how they did on our handling course.

    5th Place – Jump – DNF

    Jump, along with Lyft, uses the Segway / Ninebot ES2 scooter with 19 miles of range and a claimed top speed of 15 mph. This scooter also uses two independent braking methods: regenerative via a toggle on the handlebar, and direct friction via a pressure plate on the rear tire. But, as with shared platforms in cars, the difference is often in the fine tuning, and here, the tuning mattered a lot.

    Our test started well. I picked up a fully charged and seemingly brand-new Jump scooter a few road blocks from the Mobiliring’s Start/Finish line. On the road, it seemed reasonably well made and stable, and reached the claimed top speed of 15 mph relatively drama-free. Then, just after starting off my official lap time, I hit the bike path, and it told me “no.”

    This is important. You see, the Venice bike path is exactly what it sounds like: a dedicated path for bikes, separate from cars and pedestrians. How each of these scooters deals with the bike path, as we will learn, is a defining factor in their Mobiliring time. The bike path and some of the surrounding pedestrian areas, a few of which are on-course, are “restricted” for some scooters, but not for others.

    While each scooter company deals with the bike path its own way, Jump has elected not to deal with it at all. The scooter refused to move, the app told me to take it back off the path, and into a “parking zone,” to lock it up and end my ride.

    I pushed it back where I found it, and even though my phone knew where I was, the scooter disagreed, and I was penalized for $5 for, ultimately, parking it legally.

    4th Place – Lime S – 44 minutes - $7.60

    Lime, the second scooter brand on the scene after Bird, has just released a heavier-duty version of their scooter, called the “Gen 3.” It features an underfloor battery for better stability, improved front suspension, bigger wheels, and a 30-mile range with all-weather capability.

    Unfortunately, since California doesn’t need that as badly as, say, Boston, we don’t get those. Here in Venice, we get the original Lime S scooter, also by Ninebot, but with a 18 mile range and a top speed of 14 mph. The Lime S has the tallest handlebars of all scooters and a single, rear-wheel bike-style cable and disc brake.

    In my previous experience, I’ve found the Lime S to be the fastest of the stand-up scooters, regularly exceeding the claimed 14 mph number, but also with the twitchiest handling in part because those handlebars are so high up and with a column full of heavy batteries in the front. Allegedly the handling issues are solved in the new scooter, but I will have to wait to see on that.

    Lime has decided that an appropriate speed for the Venice bike path should be 3 mph. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to operate a two-wheeled vehicle at 3 mph, but it’s actually quite a lot of work. Three is just barely enough speed to keep a two-wheeled vehicle standing up. It’s slow enough that I was passed by old people walking.

    It’s so slow, that you really can’t keep it in a straight line, which means the ride takes that much longer because you have to cover more zig-zaggy distance, and have I mentioned you’re going three? 

    I was openly mocked, to my face. I realize how mean-spirited you need to be to mock someone to their face for doing nothing besides silently riding a scooter very slowly on the bike path, but honestly, no one has just randomly mocked me on the street really ever in my lifetime. That’s how embarrassingly slow Lime wants you to go on the bike path.

    To make matters worse, Lime’s GPS calibration is so bad that, not 20 feet away from me on the pedestrian foot path I was passed by a dozen Limes going full-tilt, weaving between pedestrians, while I was a rolling chicane on the bike path, being passed by folks going slower than my own top speed.

    3rd Place – Lyft – 31 minutes, 47 Seconds - $7.01

    As I noted earlier, both Lyft and Jump use essentially the same Ninebot ES2scooter, painted different colors. But the difference between Jump’s DNF and Lyft’s podium finish? The software.

    Jump uses a basic LED display with a speedometer, whereas Lyft just has five little lights to indicate battery status. You could say that makes Jump better, but in fact it makes Jump worse, because there is nothing worse than looking at a powered vehicle’s speedometer and seeing a number lower than where you’d set the treadmill during cool down.

    Lyft’s “Prince Purple” and black livery also features a metal cage surrounding the column-mounted auxiliary battery pack, Mad Max style. I guess they follow @BirdGraveyard.

    I actually tested the Lyft before Lime and Jump, so when I hit the bike path and got stuck with a 5 mph limiter for the first mile and a half, it was bad. I thought that was, at the time, as embarrassed as I could be on a motorized vehicle, traveling barely faster than a walk. The thumb throttle, remained fully depressed for a solid 20 minutes, and my right hand began to cramp. I suddenly realized that, if the other scooters were this bad (they were worse) the test was actually going to take all day (it did).

    In unrestricted zones, the electrons flowed like a burst dam; the combination of power delivery and incredibly cheap, low-grip tires mean that you can actually get wheelspin on the sandy stuff – man this thing is fast. Maybe Lyft doesn’t put a speedometer on the handlebars because they are hiding the fact that their scooters are massively juiced up? Maybe it’s like Japan in the 1990s where everyone says their car makes 276 horsepower, and this is the R34 Skyline actually pushing 450?

    Southbound on Speedway, there were sections where I couldn’t use full throttle because it was just way, way too fast. With these tiny wheels, and this amount of power, when you hit the pavement head first (your only option when the front wheel “pivot point” of a crash is 4” in front of your toes), your head will explode like a Gallagher watermelon.

    The regenerative braking system on these Ninebot scooters is really cool, except, like most cheap regen systems, it stops working at low speed. So you really do have to use the friction brake on the rear wheel to come to a full stop.

    Considering the speed, you do not want to be standing on your toes on your back foot, which means you have to do a mid-brake foot shuffle to get that back foot planted on the brake to stop it. It seems like a good idea, and probably adds to the range to use regen as much as possible, but in a panic, complex braking systems are not good.

    Nevertheless, the bike path clearly took a lot away from Lyft’s time here, and so if you live in a city without restricted zones, commuting on one of these could be faster than you think. Wear a helmet.

    2nd Place – Bird Zero – 20 minutes - $6.20

    Bird is the Kleenex of mobility, the Google of mobility, the iPod of mobility. They were the first on the scene and made everyone else play catch-up. The original Bird scooter was a modified Xiaomi unit (sidebar: the guy who modified it is super interesting on his own and races a very fast and aero-fied Nissan GT-R in the Global Time Attack series), which proved not to be durable enough to stand up to the abuse put forth by Americans handling items they don’t own. So they first did a stint with Ninebot before developing their own in-house scooter, the Bird Zero, which is what I rode.

    The Zero has the widest deck of any standup scooter available, making it the most comfortable and stable to ride. (EDIT: New “Bolt” Scooters in LA have wider decks, but were not online at the time of my test). The handlebars fall between Jump and Lime height, so right in the middle, and between your hands is a speedometer and battery indicator.

    Though Bird says the Zero will go 25 km/hr (15 mph), the onboard speedometer would stop at 11.5 mph, and if you actually hit 12 mph (like on a small downhill), it would kill power until you dropped down to 9 mph, an incredibly annoying bug.

    It has larger wheels than the Ninebots used by Lyft, Jump and Lime, and what appear to be grippier tires. At 11 mph and change, you feel like you’re moving along pretty good, but it’s not sketchy fast, and the combination of (slightly) larger wheels and a basic front suspension mean the cracks in the sidewalk aren’t so jarring. The only brake is a bicycle-style cable disc brake on the rear wheel. The cable is exposed, so it’s vulnerable to tampering, but it’s intuitive and effective.

    (Side note: Yes, people are constantly messing with the brakes of these scooters. I regularly find cut cables, and on a few occasions, have started riding only to find out while in motion that the cables have been cut or removed entirely. Check any scooter before riding for functional brakes.)

    I took my first lap ever around the Mobiliring on a Bird, figuring they would be the one to beat, and frankly, Bird is the gold standard for a reason. The Zero is unrestricted on the bike path, and maintained its top speed for the entire first twisty section. The handling is predictable, and there is more grip than other scooters, right up until it gets sandy. Turning southward on Speedway at the north end of the course, the Zero absorbed many of the bumps and ruts in the road better than other scooters. Because I didn’t bump up on any stupid limiters, the entire lap was quite pleasant and relaxing.

    Having tried all three generations of Bird scooter, the Zero is a vast improvement from the first two, and if you’re going to scoot on your feet, not on a seat, Bird is probably the one to ride.

    1st Place – Wheels – 15 Minutes, 16 seconds - $5.60

    “Wheels” is the newest mobility company on the scene; their miniature bicycles only appeared in Venice a few months ago. These bikes are, frankly, genius. In theory, they go up to 35 km/hr, (21.7 mph), though I never saw more than 33.5 on the display.

    Because they are the first mobility option with hot-swappable batteries, the bikes themselves never go out of service during daytime hours. Wheels “Transporters” pick random bikes from where they are left, swap the batteries, and return the bikes to “hubs,” where, in my experience, you can pretty much always find at least one.

    The fact that they are more like bicycles than Razor scooters is, itself, a major advantage. Sitting, rather than standing, means stability. It means your knees and ankles aren’t a suspension component. It has 14-inch wheels with pneumatic tires. It uses dual disc brakes from a high-end bicycle. It has a twist-grip throttle, like a motorcycle. And it has Bluetooth speakers, so you can play your music from the bike itself, freeing you from having to dangerously (and in Santa Monica, illegally) ride on the street wearing headphones.

    A Wheels has enough power that you don’t have to push-start it, real tires so you can ride confidently on sandy tarmac, and the kind of brakes you’d want on a vehicle capable of keeping up with, and passing, folks on geared bicycles, or even cars in urban traffic. The kind of bumps that would sail you headfirst into a parked car on a traditional scooter are mere inconveniences on a Wheels.

    I knew it would be faster than the scooters on specs alone, but honestly, it was also so much more fun. Every single scooter is kinda terrifying, because a crack or a bump can come up so quickly, with really bad consequences. Even while having fun, it’s virtually impossible to escape this train of thought. Especially since right when you do, that’s when you crash.

    A Wheels is like riding an electric Honda Grom. The bike path, unrestricted on a Wheels, might as well be Angeles Crest Highway. I was taking apexes, leaning it down, balancing the brakes, and leaning into the throttle on exits. You can actually look up and around, rather than four feet in front of you, because you aren’t terrified of uneven pavement anymore.

    Best of all, because it looks more like a bike than a Razor scooter, many folks are riding them in more appropriate places than sidewalks, because they no longer see themselves as pedestrians.

    And the speed, Lord, the speed. It completed the Mobiliring a full five minutes faster than Bird, in half the time of Lyft, 1/3 the time of Lime, and for less money than all of them—after all, you’re literally renting these things by the minute, not the mile. Time is money.

    Downsides? Admittedly, there are two: First are the exposed brake cables for the dual disc brakes. During the single day of this test, I found three Wheels with intentionally cut brake lines. Someone not as vigilant as myself might not notice, which, considering where they were cut, I believe was the sadistic intent.

    Secondly, 20 mph is fast enough to have a crash where you can get hurt pretty badly, and Wheels is getting awfully close to moped territory; those do require helmets. While you’re no longer worried about pavement quality, you are going fast enough to misjudge things and just, crash. I hate to say it, but helmets should probably be mandated. And if I’m nit-picking, a height-adjustable seat would be nice, although not having to pedal negates most of the negative effects of a fixed seat.

    When scooters first arrived in Venice, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Great, at last a substitute for walking.” And in some ways, I was right. These scooters do expose us at our most slovenly, both in how we treat them when no one is looking, and in how tourists do actually use them, right in front of me, every day: as a walk you don’t have to walk; as a bike you don’t have to pedal.

    But they also do give mobility to people who don’t otherwise have it. 30 miles in LA is a pretty long way; you could ride a Wheels from Venice to Beverly Hills and back, for less than an Uber or Lyft, and without having to be a sweaty mess when you got there. Bird scooters and their ilk are good for short trips that are just out of walking distance, as long as you don’t have to deal with restricted zones and the surface is good.

    A Wheels is good for that too, but it can also be a bicycle. And frankly, it’s safer. Wheels wins this one by a mile.

    But as I write this, some three more e-scooters are coming to Venice in the next month. I guess the Mobiliring’s work isn’t done yet.❞

    #USA #Elektroroller #Verkehr

  • A Pregnant Woman in Alabama Was Shot in the Stomach and Miscarried. Now, Alabama Cops Are Charging Her With Manslaughter. – Reason.com
    https://reason.com/2019/06/27/a-pregnant-woman-in-alabama-was-shot-in-the-stomach-and-miscarried-now-alaba


    (modified from Jefferson Co. mugshot)

    What the hell is going on with this state?
    ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN | 6.27.2019

    When expectant mother Marshae Jones was shot in the stomach last December, the 27-year-old woman survived, but her pregnancy did not. Now, Jones is behind bars and facing charges for the death of her five-month-old fetus. 

    On Wednesday, Jones was taken into custody after a jury in Jefferson County, Alabama, indicted her for manslaughter, according to Alabama newspaper group AL.com. She’ll be held in jail until her trial unless she can post a $50,000 bond.

    Meanwhile, the woman who shot Jones—23-year-old Ebony Jemison—is free. Police initially charged Jemison with manslaughter as well, but a grand jury did not indict. 

    Prosecutors allege that Jones started the altercation with Jemison, and that this makes Jones responsible for whatever happened as a result of her choice. 

    “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby,” said Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Danny Reid. “Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here. She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”

    It’s a terrifying interpretation of criminal justice—and one made especially poignant by taking place in a state that just criminalized almost all abortions and declared that fertilized eggs should have equal rights to the fully-formed women carrying them. Under this logic, pregnant women who are victims of violent crime could be held criminally liable anytime they’re perceived to have done something to “invite” the violence against them. 

    Picking a physical fight, certainly picking a fight while pregnant, may not show the best judgment. But even if Jones did initiate the altercation, it does not follow that she knew or should have known her opponent was armed or that her opponent would use lethal force in response. Plenty of people—even sometimes pregnant women—get in altercations that don’t end with anyone shooting anyone else. 

    Meanwhile, many more pregnant women engage in all sorts of behaviors that are probably OK but could harm a fetus if things go awry. Once we start holding women responsible for such unintentional harms, where do we draw the line? Is playing sports OK? Riding a bicycle? Is it OK to meet new people, even though they could turn out to be violent? What about driving on highways? Driving, period? Angering an abusive partner? Walking in a bad neighborhood?

    “The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,” said Amanda Reyes, executive director of abortion access group The Yellowhammer Fund, in a statement. “Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.”

    #USA #femmes #IVG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

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

  • 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #Palestine #femmes #résistance #zionisme #Allemagne

  • Renaud Epstein & station urbaner kulturen

    (Feben Amara, Jochen Becker, Christian Hanussek, Eva Hertzsch, Adam Page) with Oliver Pohlisch and Birgit Schlieps

    One day, one ZUP, one postcard (2014-…), 2018

    Wallpaper / Display cabinet
    Collection station urbaner kulturen, Berlin-Hellersdorf

    The sociologist Renaud Epstein’s project has first and foremost been an online format since its initiation in 2014: he posts a new postcard of large housing estates (Zones à Urbaniser par Priorité / ZUP) on his Twitter account every day. From a time when France dreamed of being modern and urban and believed in its architectural utopias, the ZUP postcards evoke at best a golden era, at worst a contemporary delusion.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/vte4ejv9wsumzyh/ARLES%202019-PRESS%20KIT-kl.pdf?dl=0

    The Berlin collective station urbaner kulturen, based in the last big housing estate built in the GDR, has extracted sections from Epstein’s Twitter timeline in order to materialize the interaction between internet users and images. Their project «Going out of Circles / Kreise ziehen» presents a wider series of exhibitions that aims to create connections between the housing estates on the periphery of urban and economic centers, around Berlin and beyond.

    A display case with original postcards next to the Twitter wallpaper emphasises the different readings of formats of communication.

    Postcards – News from a Dream World
    Musée départemental Arles Antique

    1 July - 25 August / 10 - 18

    Exhibition curators: Magali Nachtergael and Anne Reverseau

    Eric Baudart & Thu-Van Tran (1972 et 1979), Fredi Casco (1967), Moyra Davey (1958), documentation céline duval (1974), Renaud Epstein & station urbane kulturen (1971 et créé en 2014), Jean Geiser (1848-1923), Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige (1969), Roc Herms (1978), Susan Hiller (1940-2019), John Hinde (1916-1997), Katia Kameli (1973), Aglaia Konrad (1960), Valérie Mréjen (1969), Martin Parr (1952), Mathieu Pernot (1970), Brenda Lou Schaub (1993), Stephen Shore (1947), John Stezaker (1948), Oriol Vilanova (1980), William Wegman (1943)

    The postcard is the ultimate circulating picture, constantly subject to a sense of déjà-vu. Throughout the twentieth century, it went hand in hand with the bottling of the visible world, the rise of image globalization and mass tourism. Collectors, hoarders, retouchers and iconographers seize existing pictures to give them a new meaning, clarify their status or context.

    By comparing this artistic vision with the making of postcards, this exhibition questions what they show and tell of the world, like a visual anthropology. What did they convey throughout the twentieth century, during their hour of glory? What vision of the world did they plant in the minds of their recipients, who got them from relatives and friends?

    Both a symbol of our private and collective imagination, the postcard represents an illusion, always close to hand. It shows us a dream world in which can project ourselves, as in a desirable fiction story.

    www.rencontres-arles.com/en/expositions/view/779/cartes-postales

    https://archiv.ngbk.de/projekte/station-urbaner-kulturen-hellersdorf-seit-2014
    https://www.ngbk.de/en/program/initiative-urbane-kulturen

    #renaud_epstein #cartes_postales