position:co-director

  • Report Finds US Sanctions on Venezuela Are Responsible for Tens of Thousands of Deaths
    http://cepr.net/press-center/press-releases/report-finds-us-sanctions-on-venezuela-are-responsible-for-tens-of-thousands-o

    A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), by economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, finds that economic sanctions implemented by the Trump administration since August 2017 have caused tens of thousands of deaths and are rapidly worsening the humanitarian crisis.

    “The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR and coauthor of the report. “This is illegal under US and international law, and treaties that the US has signed. Congress should move to stop it.”

    Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela | Reports | CEPR
    http://cepr.net/publications/reports/economic-sanctions-as-collective-punishment-the-case-of-venezuela

    The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans.

    […]

    We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties that the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well.

    La lecture du rapport vaut le coup:
    http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/venezuela-sanctions-2019-04.pdf

  • Polluted water leading cause of child mortality in Gaza, study finds -

    With 43 Olympic swimming pools worth of sewage water flowing from Gaza toward Israel and Egypt daily, researchers say local epidemic is only a matter of time
    By Yaniv Kubovich Oct 16, 2018
    0comments Print Zen

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium.MAGAZINE-polluted-water-a-leading-cause-of-gazan-child-mortality-s

    Illness caused by water pollution is a leading cause of child mortality in the Gaza Strip, says a study by the RAND Corporation, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz.
    The study shows that water pollution accounts for more than a quarter of illnesses in Gaza and that more than 12 percent of child deaths up until four years ago was linked to gastrointestinal disorders due to water pollution. Since that time these numbers have continued to grow.
    The collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella, the report says.

    The data appear in a study by Dr. Shira Efron, a special adviser on Israel and policy researcher at RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy; Dr. Jordan Fishbach, co-director of the Water and Climate Resilience Center at RAND; and Dr. Melinda Moore, a senior physician, policy researcher and associate director of the Population Health Program at RAND.
    The researchers based their study on previous cases in the world in which wars and instability created a water crisis and hurt infrastructure, such as in Iraq and Yemen, where mortality has been on the rise and other health problems have surfaced. In the period studied, they collected material from various officials in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

    The emergency department at Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza, March 29, 2017. MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS
    The RAND Corporation is an apolitical American non-profit that advises governments and international organizations on formulating public policy.

    Gaza’s water crisis dates back more than a few years. The Israeli company Mekorot began supplying water to the territory in the 1980s. But since Hamas’ rise to power and the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and the repetitive fighting since Operation Cast Lead at the turn of 2009 have significantly worsened the situation.
    Today 97 percent of drinking water in the Strip is not drinkable by any recognized international standard. Some 90 percent of residents drink water from private purifiers, because the larger installations have been damaged by fighting or have fallen into disuse since they couldn’t be maintained. The current situation, according to the study, is that Gaza is incapable of supplying enough water for its 2 million inhabitants.

    • Despite the high risk for a cholera outbreak in Gaza due to the polluted sewage system, researchers at first estimated it wasn’t possible to determine when and if such an epidemic would occur, since the residents are immunized. But a short time before they published their findings, the Trump administration announced a halt to funding for UNRWA, reversing these conclusions. UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East), regularly inoculates 1.3 million residents of Gaza and gets 4 million doctors’ visits in the territory. Efron said that without a proper alternative to UNRWA’s health aid, it’s only a matter of time before an epidemic occurs.

      “It may reach the level of a humanitarian disaster,” she said.

      In their report, the researchers recommend the urgent establishment of a joint team of Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority officials to prepare for the possible outbreak of an epidemic.

      They said that while global discourse is focused on difficult illnesses and their long-term ramifications, the real urgency is to deal with infectious disease caused by drinking water and sewage.

      “They must think about immediate-term solutions that could stabilize the situation. To think that it will stay on the other side of the fence is to bury your head in the sand,” Efron said.

      “Gaza sewage is already affecting Israel, viruses traced to Gaza have been diagnosed in Israel in the past,” she said. “If the situation isn’t dealt with, it may unfortunately be just a matter of time before Israel and Egypt find themselves facing a health crisis because of Gaza.”

      Efron says this is a resolvable crisis and the obstacles are mainly political. “Although the debate about Gaza turns mainly on mutual recriminations over who is responsible, it’s not in the interest of any player for an epidemic to erupt. It’s a human-made crisis and it has technical solutions, but the obstacles are political.”

      Therefore, she says, it was important for the team to point out the relatively simple and technical means that could be employed from this moment to avoid a regional health crisis.

      With regard to the Gaza electricity crisis, the researches propose the use of solar energy. “It’s a relatively cheap solution, accessible and it could be run from private homes, clinics and schools – and it would not require the continued reliance on diesel fuel,” they wrote.

      They also recommended that the diesel fuel that does get into Gaza be supplied straight to the hospitals, where it should be used for examinations and life-saving treatment.

      “We are referring to energy solutions, water and the health system which go beyond the assurances of emergency supplies of diesel fuel,” she said. “It’s important in and of itself, but far from sufficient. At the same time, funding and support for large projects involving desalination, sewage purification, electricity lines, and solar energy must be sought, as the international community is trying to do. But while working on projects whose overall costs will be in the billions of dollars, and which will take years to complete, entailing the agreement of all involved parties – who cannot seem to agree on anything – immediate solutions must also be sought.”

  • IMF’s New Chief Economist Is a Great Choice
    https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/view/articles/2018-10-01/gita-gopinath-is-the-right-choice-for-imf-chief-economist


    New thinking at the IMF.
    Photographer: Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

    Having followed Gita Gopinath’s work closely for several years, I am delighted the International Monetary Fund appointed her to head its influential research department as chief economist.

    Gopinath, a professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, brings expertise, insights and cognitive diversity to the IMF. Her appointment comes at an important time, as the fund seeks to evolve its thinking and practices to better reflect realities on the ground, particularly the two-way causal relationship between macroeconomic and financial issues.

  • Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/17/can-mark-zuckerberg-fix-facebook-before-it-breaks-democracy

    Since 2011, Zuckerberg has lived in a century-old white clapboard Craftsman in the Crescent Park neighborhood, an enclave of giant oaks and historic homes not far from Stanford University. The house, which cost seven million dollars, affords him a sense of sanctuary. It’s set back from the road, shielded by hedges, a wall, and mature trees. Guests enter through an arched wooden gate and follow a long gravel path to a front lawn with a saltwater pool in the center. The year after Zuckerberg bought the house, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, held their wedding in the back yard, which encompasses gardens, a pond, and a shaded pavilion. Since then, they have had two children, and acquired a seven-hundred-acre estate in Hawaii, a ski retreat in Montana, and a four-story town house on Liberty Hill, in San Francisco. But the family’s full-time residence is here, a ten-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters.

    Occasionally, Zuckerberg records a Facebook video from the back yard or the dinner table, as is expected of a man who built his fortune exhorting employees to keep “pushing the world in the direction of making it a more open and transparent place.” But his appetite for personal openness is limited. Although Zuckerberg is the most famous entrepreneur of his generation, he remains elusive to everyone but a small circle of family and friends, and his efforts to protect his privacy inevitably attract attention. The local press has chronicled his feud with a developer who announced plans to build a mansion that would look into Zuckerberg’s master bedroom. After a legal fight, the developer gave up, and Zuckerberg spent forty-four million dollars to buy the houses surrounding his. Over the years, he has come to believe that he will always be the subject of criticism. “We’re not—pick your noncontroversial business—selling dog food, although I think that people who do that probably say there is controversy in that, too, but this is an inherently cultural thing,” he told me, of his business. “It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal.”

    At the same time, former Facebook executives, echoing a growing body of research, began to voice misgivings about the company’s role in exacerbating isolation, outrage, and addictive behaviors. One of the largest studies, published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed the Facebook use of more than five thousand people over three years and found that higher use correlated with self-reported declines in physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. At an event in November, 2017, Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, called himself a “conscientious objector” to social media, saying, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” A few days later, Chamath Palihapitiya, the former vice-president of user growth, told an audience at Stanford, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no coöperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Palihapitiya, a prominent Silicon Valley figure who worked at Facebook from 2007 to 2011, said, “I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds.” Of his children, he added, “They’re not allowed to use this shit.” (Facebook replied to the remarks in a statement, noting that Palihapitiya had left six years earlier, and adding, “Facebook was a very different company back then.”)

    In March, Facebook was confronted with an even larger scandal: the Times and the British newspaper the Observer reported that a researcher had gained access to the personal information of Facebook users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy hired by Trump and other Republicans which advertised using “psychographic” techniques to manipulate voter behavior. In all, the personal data of eighty-seven million people had been harvested. Moreover, Facebook had known of the problem since December of 2015 but had said nothing to users or regulators. The company acknowledged the breach only after the press discovered it.

    We spoke at his home, at his office, and by phone. I also interviewed four dozen people inside and outside the company about its culture, his performance, and his decision-making. I found Zuckerberg straining, not always coherently, to grasp problems for which he was plainly unprepared. These are not technical puzzles to be cracked in the middle of the night but some of the subtlest aspects of human affairs, including the meaning of truth, the limits of free speech, and the origins of violence.

    Zuckerberg is now at the center of a full-fledged debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders. Leslie Berlin, a historian of technology at Stanford, told me, “For a long time, Silicon Valley enjoyed an unencumbered embrace in America. And now everyone says, Is this a trick? And the question Mark Zuckerberg is dealing with is: Should my company be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people? Nobody in the history of technology has dealt with that.”

    In 2002, Zuckerberg went to Harvard, where he embraced the hacker mystique, which celebrates brilliance in pursuit of disruption. “The ‘fuck you’ to those in power was very strong,” the longtime friend said. In 2004, as a sophomore, he embarked on the project whose origin story is now well known: the founding of Thefacebook.com with four fellow-students (“the” was dropped the following year); the legal battles over ownership, including a suit filed by twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, accusing Zuckerberg of stealing their idea; the disclosure of embarrassing messages in which Zuckerberg mocked users for giving him so much data (“they ‘trust me.’ dumb fucks,” he wrote); his regrets about those remarks, and his efforts, in the years afterward, to convince the world that he has left that mind-set behind.

    New hires learned that a crucial measure of the company’s performance was how many people had logged in to Facebook on six of the previous seven days, a measurement known as L6/7. “You could say it’s how many people love this service so much they use it six out of seven days,” Parakilas, who left the company in 2012, said. “But, if your job is to get that number up, at some point you run out of good, purely positive ways. You start thinking about ‘Well, what are the dark patterns that I can use to get people to log back in?’ ”

    Facebook engineers became a new breed of behaviorists, tweaking levers of vanity and passion and susceptibility. The real-world effects were striking. In 2012, when Chan was in medical school, she and Zuckerberg discussed a critical shortage of organs for transplant, inspiring Zuckerberg to add a small, powerful nudge on Facebook: if people indicated that they were organ donors, it triggered a notification to friends, and, in turn, a cascade of social pressure. Researchers later found that, on the first day the feature appeared, it increased official organ-donor enrollment more than twentyfold nationwide.

    Sean Parker later described the company’s expertise as “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” The goal: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Facebook engineers discovered that people find it nearly impossible not to log in after receiving an e-mail saying that someone has uploaded a picture of them. Facebook also discovered its power to affect people’s political behavior. Researchers found that, during the 2010 midterm elections, Facebook was able to prod users to vote simply by feeding them pictures of friends who had already voted, and by giving them the option to click on an “I Voted” button. The technique boosted turnout by three hundred and forty thousand people—more than four times the number of votes separating Trump and Clinton in key states in the 2016 race. It became a running joke among employees that Facebook could tilt an election just by choosing where to deploy its “I Voted” button.

    These powers of social engineering could be put to dubious purposes. In 2012, Facebook data scientists used nearly seven hundred thousand people as guinea pigs, feeding them happy or sad posts to test whether emotion is contagious on social media. (They concluded that it is.) When the findings were published, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they caused an uproar among users, many of whom were horrified that their emotions may have been surreptitiously manipulated. In an apology, one of the scientists wrote, “In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

    Facebook was, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, becoming a pioneer in “ persuasive technology.

    Facebook had adopted a buccaneering motto, “Move fast and break things,” which celebrated the idea that it was better to be flawed and first than careful and perfect. Andrew Bosworth, a former Harvard teaching assistant who is now one of Zuckerberg’s longest-serving lieutenants and a member of his inner circle, explained, “A failure can be a form of success. It’s not the form you want, but it can be a useful thing to how you learn.” In Zuckerberg’s view, skeptics were often just fogies and scolds. “There’s always someone who wants to slow you down,” he said in a commencement address at Harvard last year. “In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.”

    In contrast to a traditional foundation, an L.L.C. can lobby and give money to politicians, without as strict a legal requirement to disclose activities. In other words, rather than trying to win over politicians and citizens in places like Newark, Zuckerberg and Chan could help elect politicians who agree with them, and rally the public directly by running ads and supporting advocacy groups. (A spokesperson for C.Z.I. said that it has given no money to candidates; it has supported ballot initiatives through a 501(c)(4) social-welfare organization.) “The whole point of the L.L.C. structure is to allow a coördinated attack,” Rob Reich, a co-director of Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, told me. The structure has gained popularity in Silicon Valley but has been criticized for allowing wealthy individuals to orchestrate large-scale social agendas behind closed doors. Reich said, “There should be much greater transparency, so that it’s not dark. That’s not a criticism of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a criticism of the law.”

    La question des langues est fondamentale quand il s’agit de réseaux sociaux

    Beginning in 2013, a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fuelling attacks on the Rohingya. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the Rwandan genocide. In 2016, C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit, published a detailed analysis of Facebook usage in Myanmar, and described a “campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims.” Facebook officials said that they were hiring more Burmese-language reviewers to take down dangerous content, but the company repeatedly declined to say how many had actually been hired. By last March, the situation had become dire: almost a million Rohingya had fled the country, and more than a hundred thousand were confined to internal camps. The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U.N. has deemed a genocide, said, “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it was originally intended.” Afterward, when pressed, Zuckerberg repeated the claim that Facebook was “hiring dozens” of additional Burmese-language content reviewers.

    More than three months later, I asked Jes Kaliebe Petersen, the C.E.O. of Phandeeyar, a tech hub in Myanmar, if there had been any progress. “We haven’t seen any tangible change from Facebook,” he told me. “We don’t know how much content is being reported. We don’t know how many people at Facebook speak Burmese. The situation is getting worse and worse here.”

    I saw Zuckerberg the following morning, and asked him what was taking so long. He replied, “I think, fundamentally, we’ve been slow at the same thing in a number of areas, because it’s actually the same problem. But, yeah, I think the situation in Myanmar is terrible.” It was a frustrating and evasive reply. I asked him to specify the problem. He said, “Across the board, the solution to this is we need to move from what is fundamentally a reactive model to a model where we are using technical systems to flag things to a much larger number of people who speak all the native languages around the world and who can just capture much more of the content.”

    Lecture des journaux ou des aggrégateurs ?

    once asked Zuckerberg what he reads to get the news. “I probably mostly read aggregators,” he said. “I definitely follow Techmeme”—a roundup of headlines about his industry—“and the media and political equivalents of that, just for awareness.” He went on, “There’s really no newspaper that I pick up and read front to back. Well, that might be true of most people these days—most people don’t read the physical paper—but there aren’t many news Web sites where I go to browse.”

    A couple of days later, he called me and asked to revisit the subject. “I felt like my answers were kind of vague, because I didn’t necessarily feel like it was appropriate for me to get into which specific organizations or reporters I read and follow,” he said. “I guess what I tried to convey, although I’m not sure if this came across clearly, is that the job of uncovering new facts and doing it in a trusted way is just an absolutely critical function for society.”

    Zuckerberg and Sandberg have attributed their mistakes to excessive optimism, a blindness to the darker applications of their service. But that explanation ignores their fixation on growth, and their unwillingness to heed warnings. Zuckerberg resisted calls to reorganize the company around a new understanding of privacy, or to reconsider the depth of data it collects for advertisers.

    Antitrust

    In barely two years, the mood in Washington had shifted. Internet companies and entrepreneurs, formerly valorized as the vanguard of American ingenuity and the astronauts of our time, were being compared to Standard Oil and other monopolists of the Gilded Age. This spring, the Wall Street Journal published an article that began, “Imagine a not-too-distant future in which trustbusters force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.” It was accompanied by a sepia-toned illustration in which portraits of Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and other tech C.E.O.s had been grafted onto overstuffed torsos meant to evoke the robber barons. In 1915, Louis Brandeis, the reformer and future Supreme Court Justice, testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of corporations large enough that they could achieve a level of near-sovereignty “so powerful that the ordinary social and industrial forces existing are insufficient to cope with it.” He called this the “curse of bigness.” Tim Wu, a Columbia law-school professor and the author of a forthcoming book inspired by Brandeis’s phrase, told me, “Today, no sector exemplifies more clearly the threat of bigness to democracy than Big Tech.” He added, “When a concentrated private power has such control over what we see and hear, it has a power that rivals or exceeds that of elected government.”

    When I asked Zuckerberg whether policymakers might try to break up Facebook, he replied, adamantly, that such a move would be a mistake. The field is “extremely competitive,” he told me. “I think sometimes people get into this mode of ‘Well, there’s not, like, an exact replacement for Facebook.’ Well, actually, that makes it more competitive, because what we really are is a system of different things: we compete with Twitter as a broadcast medium; we compete with Snapchat as a broadcast medium; we do messaging, and iMessage is default-installed on every iPhone.” He acknowledged the deeper concern. “There’s this other question, which is just, laws aside, how do we feel about these tech companies being big?” he said. But he argued that efforts to “curtail” the growth of Facebook or other Silicon Valley heavyweights would cede the field to China. “I think that anything that we’re doing to constrain them will, first, have an impact on how successful we can be in other places,” he said. “I wouldn’t worry in the near term about Chinese companies or anyone else winning in the U.S., for the most part. But there are all these places where there are day-to-day more competitive situations—in Southeast Asia, across Europe, Latin America, lots of different places.”

    The rough consensus in Washington is that regulators are unlikely to try to break up Facebook. The F.T.C. will almost certainly fine the company for violations, and may consider blocking it from buying big potential competitors, but, as a former F.T.C. commissioner told me, “in the United States you’re allowed to have a monopoly position, as long as you achieve it and maintain it without doing illegal things.”

    Facebook is encountering tougher treatment in Europe, where antitrust laws are stronger and the history of fascism makes people especially wary of intrusions on privacy. One of the most formidable critics of Silicon Valley is the European Union’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

    In Vestager’s view, a healthy market should produce competitors to Facebook that position themselves as ethical alternatives, collecting less data and seeking a smaller share of user attention. “We need social media that will allow us to have a nonaddictive, advertising-free space,” she said. “You’re more than welcome to be successful and to dramatically outgrow your competitors if customers like your product. But, if you grow to be dominant, you have a special responsibility not to misuse your dominant position to make it very difficult for others to compete against you and to attract potential customers. Of course, we keep an eye on it. If we get worried, we will start looking.”

    Modération

    As hard as it is to curb election propaganda, Zuckerberg’s most intractable problem may lie elsewhere—in the struggle over which opinions can appear on Facebook, which cannot, and who gets to decide. As an engineer, Zuckerberg never wanted to wade into the realm of content. Initially, Facebook tried blocking certain kinds of material, such as posts featuring nudity, but it was forced to create long lists of exceptions, including images of breast-feeding, “acts of protest,” and works of art. Once Facebook became a venue for political debate, the problem exploded. In April, in a call with investment analysts, Zuckerberg said glumly that it was proving “easier to build an A.I. system to detect a nipple than what is hate speech.”

    The cult of growth leads to the curse of bigness: every day, a billion things were being posted to Facebook. At any given moment, a Facebook “content moderator” was deciding whether a post in, say, Sri Lanka met the standard of hate speech or whether a dispute over Korean politics had crossed the line into bullying. Zuckerberg sought to avoid banning users, preferring to be a “platform for all ideas.” But he needed to prevent Facebook from becoming a swamp of hoaxes and abuse. His solution was to ban “hate speech” and impose lesser punishments for “misinformation,” a broad category that ranged from crude deceptions to simple mistakes. Facebook tried to develop rules about how the punishments would be applied, but each idiosyncratic scenario prompted more rules, and over time they became byzantine. According to Facebook training slides published by the Guardian last year, moderators were told that it was permissible to say “You are such a Jew” but not permissible to say “Irish are the best, but really French sucks,” because the latter was defining another people as “inferiors.” Users could not write “Migrants are scum,” because it is dehumanizing, but they could write “Keep the horny migrant teen-agers away from our daughters.” The distinctions were explained to trainees in arcane formulas such as “Not Protected + Quasi protected = not protected.”

    It will hardly be the last quandary of this sort. Facebook’s free-speech dilemmas have no simple answers—you don’t have to be a fan of Alex Jones to be unnerved by the company’s extraordinary power to silence a voice when it chooses, or, for that matter, to amplify others, to pull the levers of what we see, hear, and experience. Zuckerberg is hoping to erect a scalable system, an orderly decision tree that accounts for every eventuality and exception, but the boundaries of speech are a bedevilling problem that defies mechanistic fixes. The Supreme Court, defining obscenity, landed on “I know it when I see it.” For now, Facebook is making do with a Rube Goldberg machine of policies and improvisations, and opportunists are relishing it. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, seized on the ban of Jones as a fascist assault on conservatives. In a moment that was rich even by Cruz’s standards, he quoted Martin Niemöller’s famous lines about the Holocaust, saying, “As the poem goes, you know, ‘First they came for Alex Jones.’ ”

    #Facebook #Histoire_numérique

  • Yale donor linked to opioid crisis
    https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/11/13/yale-donor-linked-to-opioid-crisis

    By 2008, when Raymond and Beverly Sackler endowed Yale with funds for an Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Purdue Pharma’s misrepresentation of the drug was commonly known — the company had already settled multiple suits.

    “These are gifts that different family members made as individual family gifts. These were not gifts from the company — these were individual family gifts, so in that sense, these individuals have wealth that they gave to us, so it’s no more complicated than that when they made these gifts a number of years ago,” said Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill. “We have no reason that we wouldn’t have been excited by the generosity that they provided to Yale and that they’ve provided to institutions around the world.”

    In 2009, Richard and Jonathan Sackler endowed the Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professorship, to be held by the Yale Cancer Center director, with a $3 million gift. Mark Lemmon, the co-director of the Yale Cancer Biology Institute at Yale’s West Campus, currently holds the David A. Sackler Professorship of Pharmacology. According to Dean of the School of Medicine Robert Alpern, the Sacklers have given many gifts over the years to research and lectureship at Yale.

    As of July 2014, Richard S. Sackler, former co-chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, was a member of the School of Medicine dean’s council and the Yale Cancer Center director’s advisory board. That year, Alpern called Sackler a “steadfast friend of the medical school.”

    In March 2014, Sackler and his children established the Richard Sackler Family Endowment in Medicine, funded by a gift of stock donated by Sackler in 2009, to support three professorships. Raymond and Beverly Sackler have given to Yale to support archaeological excavation work and the establishment of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Visiting Professor/Lecturer at the School of Medicine.

    Asked whether Yale considered the source of the Sackler family’s wealth a factor in deciding whether to accept their donations and why the University ultimately accepted them, Alpern responded that the Sackler family had been “incredibly generous” to the University as well as other organizations. He added that members of the family have always been professional and never asked for anything in return.

    #Opioides #Sackler #Yale

  • Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-10-11/uber-pushed-the-limits-of-the-law-now-comes-the-reckoning

    The ride-hailing company faces at least five U.S. probes, two more than previously reported, and the new CEO will need to dig the company out of trouble.

    Illustration: Maria Nguyen
    By Eric Newcomer
    October 11, 2017, 10:11 AM GMT+2

    Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property. The very attributes that, for years, set the company on a rocket-ship trajectory—a tendency to ignore rules, to compete with a mix of ferocity and paranoia—have unleashed forces that are now dragging Uber back down to earth.

    Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy”
    Some governments, sensing weakness, are moving toward possible bans of the ride-hailing app. London, one of Uber’s most profitable cities, took steps to outlaw the service, citing “a lack of corporate responsibility” and specifically, company software known as Greyball, which is the subject of yet another U.S. probe. (Uber said it didn’t use the program to target officials in London, as it had elsewhere, and will continue to operate there while it appeals a ban.) Brazil is weighing legislation that could make the service illegal—or at least treat it more like a taxi company, which is nearly as offensive in the eyes of Uber.

    Interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, including several senior executives, describe a widely held view inside the company of the law as something to be tested. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former CEO, set up a legal department with that mandate early in his tenure. The approach created a spirit of rule-breaking that has now swamped the company in litigation and federal inquisition, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

    Kalanick took pride in his skills as a micromanager. When he was dissatisfied with performance in one of the hundreds of cities where Uber operates, Kalanick would dive in by texting local managers to up their game, set extraordinary growth targets or attack the competition. His interventions sometimes put the company at greater legal risk, a group of major investors claimed when they ousted him as CEO in June. Khosrowshahi has been on an apology tour on behalf of his predecessor since starting. Spokespeople for Kalanick, Uber and the Justice Department declined to comment.

    Kalanick also defined Uber’s culture by hiring deputies who were, in many instances, either willing to push legal boundaries or look the other way. Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who previously held the same title at Facebook, runs a unit where Uber devised some of the most controversial weapons in its arsenal. Uber’s own board is now looking at Sullivan’s team, with the help of an outside law firm.

    Salle Yoo, the longtime legal chief who will soon leave the company, encouraged her staff to embrace Kalanick’s unique corporate temperament. “I tell my team, ‘We’re not here to solve legal problems. We’re here to solve business problems. Legal is our tool,’” Yoo said on a podcast early this year. “I am going to be supportive of innovation.”

    From Uber’s inception, the app drew the ire of officials. After a couple years of constant sparring with authorities, Kalanick recognized he needed help and hired Yoo as the first general counsel in 2012. Yoo, an avid tennis player, had spent 13 years at the corporate law firm Davis Wright Tremaine and rose to become partner. One of her first tasks at Uber, according to colleagues, was to help Kalanick answer a crucial question: Should the company ignore taxi regulations?

    Around that time, a pair of upstarts in San Francisco, Lyft Inc. and Sidecar, had begun allowing regular people to make money by driving strangers in their cars, but Uber was still exclusively for professionally licensed drivers, primarily behind the wheel of black cars. Kalanick railed against the model publicly, arguing that these new hometown rivals were breaking the law. But no one was shutting them down. Kalanick, a fiercely competitive entrepreneur, asked Yoo to help draft a legal framework to get on the road.

    By January 2013, Kalanick’s view of the law changed. “Uber will roll out ridesharing on its existing platform in any market where the regulators have tacitly approved doing so,” Kalanick wrote in a since-deleted blog post outlining the company’s position. Uber faced some regulatory blowback but was able to expand rapidly, armed with the CEO’s permission to operate where rules weren’t being actively enforced. Venture capitalists rewarded Uber with a $17 billion valuation in 2014. Meanwhile, other ride-hailing startups at home and around the world were raising hundreds of millions apiece. Kalanick was determined to clobber them.

    One way to get more drivers working for Uber was to have employees “slog.” This was corporate speak for booking a car on a competitor’s app and trying to convince the driver to switch to Uber. It became common practice all over the world, five people familiar with the process said.

    Staff eventually found a more efficient way to undermine its competitors: software. A breakthrough came in 2015 from Uber’s office in Sydney. A program called Surfcam, two people familiar with the project said, scraped data published online by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were. The tool was primarily used on Grab, the main competitor in Southeast Asia. Surfcam, which hasn’t been previously reported, was named after the popular webcams in Australia and elsewhere that are pointed at beaches to help surfers monitor swells and identify the best times to ride them.

    Surfcam raised alarms with at least one member of Uber’s legal team, who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws, a person familiar with the matter said. Its creator, who had been working out of Singapore after leaving Sydney, eventually moved to Uber’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. He’s still employed by the company.

    “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative.”
    Staff at home base in San Francisco had created a similar piece of software called Hell. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Heaven program, which allows employees to see where Uber drivers are in a city at a given moment. With Hell, Uber scraped Lyft data for a view of where its rival’s drivers were. The legal team decided the law was unclear on such tactics and approved Hell in the U.S., a program first reported by technology website the Information.

    Now as federal authorities investigate the program, they may need to get creative in how to prosecute the company. “You look at what categories of law you can work with,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “None of this fits comfortably into any explicit prohibitions.”

    Uber’s lawyers had a hard time keeping track of all the programs in use around the world that, in hindsight, carried significant risks. They signed off on Greyball, a tool that could tag select customers and show them a different version of the app. Workers used Greyball to obscure the actual locations of Uber drivers from customers who might inflict harm on them. They also aimed the software at Lyft employees to thwart any slog attempts.

    The company realized it could apply the same approach with law enforcement to help Uber drivers avoid tickets. Greyball, which was first covered by the New York Times, was deployed widely in and outside the U.S. without much legal oversight. Katherine Tassi, a former attorney at Uber, was listed as Greyball supervisor on an internal document early this year, months after decamping for Snap Inc. in 2016. Greyball is under review by the Justice Department. In another case, Uber settled with the Federal Trade Commission in August over privacy concerns with a tool called God View.

    Uber is the world’s most valuable technology startup, but it hardly fits the conventional definition of a tech company. Thousands of employees are scattered around the world helping tailor Uber’s service for each city. The company tries to apply a Silicon Valley touch to the old-fashioned business of taxis and black cars, while inserting itself firmly into gray areas of the law, said Benkler.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy, and it looks like they overplayed their hand in ways that were stupid or ultimately counterproductive,” he said. “Maybe they’ll bounce back and survive it, but they’ve given competitors an opening.”

    Kalanick indicated from the beginning that what he wanted to achieve with Yoo was legally ambitious. In her first performance review, Kalanick told her that she needed to be more “innovative.” She stewed over the feedback and unloaded on her husband that night over a game of tennis, she recalled in the podcast on Legal Talk Network. “I was fuming. I said to my husband, who is also a lawyer: ‘Look, I have such a myriad of legal issues that have not been dealt with. I have constant regulatory pressures, and I’m trying to grow a team at the rate of growth of this company.’”

    By the end of the match, Yoo said she felt liberated. “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative. What I’m hearing from this is I actually don’t have to do things like any other legal department. I don’t have to go to best practices. I have to go to what is best for my company, what is best for my legal department. And I should view this as, actually, freedom to do things the way I think things should be done, rather than the way other people do it.”

    Prosecutors may not agree with Yoo’s assumptions about how things should be done. Even when Yoo had differences of opinion with Kalanick, she at times failed to challenge him or his deputies, or to raise objections to the board.

    After a woman in Delhi was raped by an Uber driver, the woman sued the company. Yoo was doing her best to try to manage the fallout by asking law firm Khaitan & Co. to help assess a settlement. Meanwhile, Kalanick stepped in to help craft the company’s response, privately entertaining bizarre conspiracy theories that the incident had been staged by Indian rival Ola, people familiar with the interactions have said. Eric Alexander, an Uber executive in Asia, somehow got a copy of the victim’s medical report in 2015. Kalanick and Yoo were aware but didn’t take action against him, the people said. Yoo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    The mishandling of the medical document led to a second lawsuit from the woman this year. The Justice Department is now carrying out a criminal bribery probe at Uber, which includes questions about how Alexander obtained the report, two people said. Alexander declined to comment through a spokesman.

    In 2015, Kalanick hired Sullivan, the former chief security officer at Facebook. Sullivan started his career as a federal prosecutor in computer hacking and intellectual property law. He’s been a quiet fixture of Silicon Valley for more than a decade, with stints at PayPal and EBay Inc. before joining Facebook in 2008.

    It appears Sullivan was the keeper of some of Uber’s darkest secrets. He oversees a team formerly known as Competitive Intelligence. COIN, as it was referred to internally, was the caretaker of Hell and other opposition research, a sort of corporate spy agency. A few months after joining Uber, Sullivan shut down Hell, though other data-scraping programs continued. Another Sullivan division was called the Strategic Services Group. The SSG has hired contractors to surveil competitors and conducts extensive vetting on potential hires, two people said.

    Last year, Uber hired private investigators to monitor at least one employee, three people said. They watched China strategy chief Liu Zhen, whose cousin Jean Liu is president of local ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, as the companies were negotiating a sale. Liu Zhen couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Sullivan wasn’t just security chief at Uber. Unknown to the outside world, he also took the title of deputy general counsel, four people said. The designation could allow him to assert attorney-client privilege on his communications with colleagues and make his e-mails more difficult for a prosecutor to subpoena.

    Sullivan’s work is largely a mystery to the company’s board. Bloomberg learned the board recently hired a law firm to question security staff and investigate activities under Sullivan’s watch, including COIN. Sullivan declined to comment. COIN now goes by a different but similarly obscure name: Marketplace Analytics.

    As Uber became a global powerhouse, the balance between innovation and compliance took on more importance. An Uber attorney asked Kalanick during a company-wide meeting in late 2015 whether employees always needed to follow local ride-hailing laws, according to three people who attended the meeting. Kalanick repeated an old mantra, saying it depended on whether the law was being enforced.

    A few hours later, Yoo sent Kalanick an email recommending “a stronger, clearer message of compliance,” according to two people who saw the message. The company needed to adhere to the law no matter what, because Uber would need to demonstrate a culture of legal compliance if it ever had to defend itself in a criminal investigation, she argued in the email.

    Kalanick continued to encourage experimentation. In June 2016, Uber changed the way it calculated fares. It told customers it would estimate prices before booking but provided few details.

    Using one tool, called Cascade, the company set fares for drivers using a longstanding formula of mileage, time and demand. Another tool called Firehouse let Uber charge passengers a fixed, upfront rate, relying partly on computer-generated assumptions of what people traveling on a particular route would be willing to pay.

    Drivers began to notice a discrepancy, and Uber was slow to fully explain what was going on. In the background, employees were using Firehouse to run large-scale experiments offering discounts to some passengers but not to others.

    “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on”
    While Uber’s lawyers eventually looked at the pricing software, many of the early experiments were run without direct supervision. As with Greyball and other programs, attorneys failed to ensure Firehouse was used within the parameters approved in legal review. Some cities require commercial fares to be calculated based on time and distance, and federal law prohibits price discrimination. Uber was sued in New York over pricing inconsistencies in May, and the case is seeking class-action status. The Justice Department has also opened a criminal probe into questions about pricing, two people familiar with the inquiry said.

    As the summer of 2016 dragged on, Yoo became more critical of Kalanick, said three former employees. Kalanick wanted to purchase a startup called Otto to accelerate the company’s ambitions in self-driving cars. In the process, Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski told the company he had files from his former employer, Alphabet, the people said. Yoo expressed reservations about the deal, although accounts vary on whether those were conveyed to Kalanick. He wanted to move forward anyway. Yoo and her team then determined that Uber should hire cyber-forensics firm Stroz Friedberg in an attempt to wall off any potentially misbegotten information.

    Alphabet’s Waymo sued Uber this February, claiming it benefited from stolen trade secrets. Uber’s board wasn’t aware of the Stroz report’s findings or that Levandowski allegedly had Alphabet files before the acquisition, according to testimony from Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist and former board member, as part of the Waymo litigation. The judge in that case referred the matter to U.S. Attorneys. The Justice Department is now looking into Uber’s role as part of a criminal probe, two people said.

    As scandal swirled, Kalanick started preaching the virtues of following the law. Uber distributed a video to employees on March 31 in which Kalanick discussed the importance of compliance. A few weeks later, Kalanick spoke about the same topic at an all-hands meeting.

    Despite their quarrels and mounting legal pressure, Kalanick told employees in May that he was promoting Yoo to chief legal officer. Kalanick’s true intention was to sideline her from daily decisions overseen by a general counsel, two employees who worked closely with them said. Kalanick wrote in a staff email that he planned to bring in Yoo’s replacement to “lead day to day direction and operation of the legal and regulatory teams.” This would leave Yoo to focus on equal-pay, workforce-diversity and culture initiatives, he wrote.

    Before Kalanick could find a new general counsel, he resigned under pressure from investors. Yoo told colleagues last month that she would leave, too, after helping Khosrowshahi find her replacement. He’s currently interviewing candidates. Yoo said she welcomed a break from the constant pressures of the job. “The idea of having dinner without my phone on the table or a day that stays unplugged certainly sounded appealing,” she wrote in an email to her team.

    The next legal chief won’t be able to easily shed the weight of Uber’s past. “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on,” said Marianne Jennings, professor of legal and ethical studies in business at Arizona State University. “It’s like chalk. There’s a chalk line: It’s white; it’s bright; you can see it. But once you cross over it a few times, it gets dusted up and spread around. So it’s not clear anymore, and it just keeps moving. By the time you realize what’s happening, if you say anything, you’re complicit. So the questions start coming to you: ‘How did you let this go?’”

    #Uber #USA #Recht

  • #Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time

    #Chauka_please_Tell_Us_the_Time is a documentary movie co-directed by #Behrouz_Boochani and #Arash_Kamali_Sarvestani. It was shot by Behrouz Boochani from inside the #Manus_Island detention center in Papua New Guinea.[1] The entire movie was shot over a period of several months on a mobile phone, which was kept secret from the prison authorities. Chauka is the name of a native bird on Manus Island and is also the name of the solitary confinement unit at Manus detention center. The Chauka is a symbol of the island and allows locals to tell the time from the Chauka’s regular singing. The co-director, Arash Kamali Sarvestani lives in the Netherlands. Sarvin Productions company produced the movie.

    Boochani, a journalist who was persecuted for his journalism in Iran, was forced into hiding and fled Iran in 2013. He was intercepted by Australian authorities while attempting a boat crossing from Indonesia to Australia and incarcerated in the Manus Island detention centre. “After a year or two years I found out that the journalism language is not powerful enough to tell the suffering and to tell the history of this prison, and what Australian government is doing in this island,” said Boochani.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauka,_Please_Tell_Us_the_Time
    #film #documentaire #Australie #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    Trailer :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5YJQKFMMdw

    • Detained journalist on Manus Island secretly shoots feature film entirely on mobile phone

      ’Chauka, please tell us the time’ is a movie co-produced by Behrouz Boochani - a Kurdish journalist, writer and human rights defender, who has spent nearly four years as a detainee at Manus Island Detention Centre.

      www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/kurdish/en/article/2017/04/12/detained-journalist-manus-island-secretly-shoots-feature-film-entirely-mobile

  • Doctors raked in cash to push fentanyl as N.J. death rate exploded | NJ.com @fil
    http://www.nj.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2017/06/doctors_raked_in_cash_to_push_powerful_fentanyl_as_nj_death_rate_soared.html

    The most powerful opioid ever mass-marketed was designed to ease cancer patients into death.

    It’s ideal for that: the drug is fast acting, powerful enough to tame pain that other opioids can’t and comes in a variety of easy delivery methods — from patches to lollipops.

    But a dose the size of a grain of sand can kill you.

    Meet fentanyl. It’s heroin on steroids. It’s killing people in droves. And, in New Jersey, you can get it after having your tonsils removed.

    In fact, doctors who treat children’s colds and adult’s sore knees are prescribing it with alarming frequency, far more than oncologists easing end-of-life cancer pain.

    The surge is stoked by companies that shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to doctors, wining and dining them in hopes of convincing them that their particular brand of fentanyl is the solution to all their patients’ pain problems.

    Evidently, it’s working.

    An NJ Advance Media analysis has found that eight medical specialties in New Jersey have filed more Medicare claims for fentanyl than those by oncologists. Family practitioners, for example, filed at least five times as many claims for fentanyl from 2013 to 2015 than did cancer doctors.

    “There are some powerful drivers of opioid prescriptions that have little to do with the presence of pain in the population,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins University.

    The investigation also reveals:

    From 2013 to 2015, doctors in New Jersey were paid at least $1.67 million by pharmaceutical companies marketing various forms of fentanyl. In the same time period, fentanyl deaths in New Jersey increased from 42 in 2013 to 417 in 2015.
    Since late 2011, enough fentanyl has been dispensed to allow every person who has died of cancer in New Jersey to fill a prescription for the drug eight times.
    Doctors are being disciplined for improperly prescribing fentanyl, in several cases losing their licenses after their patients die while taking the drug.

  • Exclusive: U.S. and Chinese labor groups collaborated before China Wal-Mart strikes
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-walmart-china-idUSKCN0ZY0SV

    OUR Walmart, the American worker group, has taken the unusual step of collaborating with a group of Chinese Wal-Mart workers trying to fight work schedule changes and low wages.

    OUR Walmart and the Wal-Mart Chinese Workers Association (WCWA) discussed strategy for recent strikes in China on a Skype call last month using a translator, both groups told Reuters.

    “They asked for our support,” said Cantare Davunt, OUR Wal-Mart’s leader from Minnesota, who participated in the Skype call.

    The U.S. organization is keen to maintain the relationship with the WCWA and believes such partnerships can boost the clout of the retailer’s global workforce.

    “We can use this to collectively press Wal-Mart on issues,” said Dan Schlademan, co-director of OUR Walmart.

    Wal-Mart declined to comment on the collaboration among worker groups in both countries, though the company did address the scheduling dispute in China.

  • Why David Hume Is So Hot Right Now - Facts So Romantic
    http://nautil.us/blog/why-david-hume-is-so-hot-right-now

    David Chalmers, co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, once undertook something odd for a philosopher: He conducted an international poll. In November 2009, he and his then-PhD advisee, David Bourget, asked over 2,500 of their colleagues—professors and graduate students alike—among other things, with which dead thinker they most identified. The results, published in 2013, showed that philosophers’ favorite was, overwhelmingly, David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher infamous, and now famous, for being skeptical not just about the claims of religion, but also the existence of the self, a subject that’s still scientifically unsettled. So it was with auspicious timing that James Harris—currently Head of Department and Reader in the (...)

  • Germany deports Afghan refugees in effort to deter new arrivals

    Germany’s interior minister has confirmed that the country has flown refugees back to Afghanistan. The move comes as Berlin seeks to stem the flow of asylum seekers into the country.


    http://www.dw.com/en/germany-deports-afghan-refugees-in-effort-to-deter-new-arrivals/a-19070750

    #Allemagne #Afghanistan #réfugiés_afghans #renvois #expulsion #réfugiés #asile #migrations

  • Geneva Conventions laws of war ’need fixing’ - BBC News
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35023029?ocid=socialflow_twitter

    David Rodin, a moral philosopher and co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, points out that “if you look historically at where the law of armed conflict came from, it’s about mutually advantageous reciprocity, it’s in the interests of both to have some restraint”.

    He adds: “So what do you do when you have a foe who is not interested in that reciprocity? There’s no benefit to us in behaving well if the enemy doesn’t.”

    This might be a seductive line of argument for countries engaged in the so-called “war on terror”.

    #conventions_de_Genève

    Il est quand même extraordinairement fabuleux de prendre comme prémisse le fait que les armées dites régulières, notamment occidentales, sont respectueuses des conventions de Genève, notamment vis-a-vis des combattants et des civils non occidentaux.

    #sidérant

  • Debating the Legality of Crimea’s Referendum | Interview with John Feffer & Eric Draitser
    http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/debating-the-legality-of-crimeas-referendum-interview-with-john-feff

    Abby Martin reports on the latest news from Ukraine, and speaks with John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus, and Eric Draitser, founder of StopImperialism.org about what Crimea’s...

  • Journalism, Even When It’s Tilted - NYTimes.com
    By David Carr
    June 30, 2013
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/business/media/journalism-is-still-at-work-even-when-its-practitioner-has-a-slant.html?pag

    #Journaliste ou #militant ? | Courrier international
    http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2013/07/16/journaliste-ou-militant #whistleblower

    Tous les militants ne sont pas journalistes, mais tous les vrais journalistes sont des militants. Il existe une valeur, un but propres au journalisme : servir de contre-pouvoir.”

  • For backing “5 Broken Cameras”, “Jewish Press” smears Dustin Hoffman as has-been “figleaf” with “Semitic nose”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/04/for-backing-5-broken-cameras-jewish-press-smears-dustin-hoffman-as-has-b

    What an ongoing calamity Zionism is for the American Jewish community. On Saturday night in LA, Dustin Hoffman was to present a Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) award to Emad Burnat, the Palestinian co-director of the brilliant documentary “5 Broken Cameras” about resistance in occupied Bil’in. A disturbing article in the Jewish Press vilifies both Hoffman for daring to present the award and Burnat for daring to chronicle the occupation.

    Lori Lowenthal Marcus first provides the news, then the character assassination, then the “He’s not really Jewish stuff.” Along the way, she talks about his “Semitic nose.” Imagine if a non-Jew used such a description! And Marcus calls Burnat an “Israel-hater” because he has protested the seizure of his village’s lands by an illegal settlement.

  • How My Friend and Current Oscar Nominee Emad Burnat Was Held and Threatened with Deportation Last Night at LAX | MichaelMoore.com
    By Michael Moore
    http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/how-my-friend-and-current-oscar-nominee-emad-burnat-was-held-and-threa

    Thus, last night, as an elected Governor of the Documentary Branch, I and my fellow Governors – Michael Apted and Rob Epstein – were co-hosting the nominee dinner for the documentary filmmakers. But one of the nominated directors was not there – Emad Burnat, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated ’5 Broken Cameras.’ This exceptional, award-winning movie about how Emad’s village in the West Bank used non-violence to oppose the Israeli’s government’s decision to build a wall straight through their farms and village – only to see (and capture on camera) Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinian civilians – had become the first Palestinian documentary ever to be nominated by the Academy.

    While we awaited Emad’s arrival from the airport – he and his family had already spent nearly six hours at an Israeli checkpoint as he was attempting to drive to Amman to catch their plane – I received an urgent text from Emad, written to me from a holding pen at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

    Here is what it said, in somewhat broken English:

    “Urgent - I am in the air port la they need more information why I come here
    Invitation or some thing
    Can you help they will send us back
    If you late
    Emad”

    I quickly texted him back and told him that help was on the way. He wrote back to say Immigration and Customs was holding him, his wife, Soraya, and their 8-year old son (and “star” of the movie) Gibreel in a detention room at LAX. He said they would not believe him when he told them he was an Oscar-nominated director on his way to this Sunday’s Oscars and to the events in LA leading up to the ceremony. He is also a Palestinian. And an olive farmer. Apparently that was too much for Homeland Security to wrap its head around.

    “They are saying they are going to put us on the next plane back to Amman,” he told me.

    I immediately contacted the Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and COO Ric Robertson, who in turn told Academy President Hawk Koch. They got ahold of the Academy’s attorney who is also partners with a top immigration attorney and they went to work on it. I called the State Department in DC.

    I told Emad to give the Homeland Security people my name and cell number and to have them call me ASAP so I could explain who he was and why they should let him go.

    After being held for somewhere between one and two hours, with repeated suggestions that the U.S. may not let him into the country – saying that they may send him back home – the authorities relented and released Emad and his family.

    I texted him to say we would not start the dinner until he arrived. When he got there, he was fairly shaken and upset.

    He told us that this sort of treatment is something he is used to “on a daily basis under Occupation.” He gave an eloquent and moving impromptu speech, in his usual soft-spoken voice, to his fellow nominees. He said this was his 6th trip with his film to the U.S. this year and that this was the first time he was detained. He said they wanted to see some “official document” that he was an actual nominee. I said, “Doesn’t Immigration have Google?”

    The Americans in the dining room apologized to Emad for the way our government and its security police treated him. We then sat down and ate some good ol’ American roast beef.

  • Marijuana Legalization

    The Rocky Mountain High just got a whole lot higher. On Tuesday night, Amendment 64 — the measure seeking the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults — was passed by Colorado voters, making Colorado the first state to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.

    With about 36 percent of precincts reporting at the time of publishing, 9News and Fox31 report that Amendment 64 has passed.

    Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a vocal opponent to the measure, reacted to the passage of A64 in a statement late Tuesday night:

    The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.

    The passage of the state measure is without historical precedent and the consequences will likely be closely-watched around the world. In an interview with The Huffington Post, the authors/researchers behind the book “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know” pointed out that the measure in Colorado is truly groundbreaking, comparing it to the legalization that Amsterdam enjoys:

    A common error is to believe that the Netherlands has already legalized cannabis (the preferred term for marijuana in Europe). What has been de facto legalized is only the retail sale of 5 grams (about a sixth of an ounce) or less. Production and wholesale distribution is still illegal, and that prohibition is enforced, which is largely why the price of sinsemilla in the “coffee shops” isn’t much different than the price in American dispensaries.

    Although Colorado “legalized it,” it will be several months, perhaps as long as a year, before Colorado adults 21-and-over can enjoy the legal sale of marijuana. However, the parts of the amendment related to individual behavior will go into effect as soon as Governor Hickenlooper certifies the results of the vote, a proclamation he is obligated to do within 30 days of the election, The Colorado Independent reported.

    It’s a huge victory for the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the pro-pot group behind Amendment 64. “Over the past eight years in Colorado, we have argued that it is irrational to punish adults for choosing to use a product that is far less harmful than alcohol,” Mason Tvert, co-director of the campaign, said in a statement. “Today, the voters agreed. Colorado will no longer have laws that steer people toward using alcohol, and adults will be free to use marijuana instead if that is what they prefer. And we will be better off as a society because of it.”

    This is the second time Colorado voted on legal weed, in 2006 Coloradans voted the measure down, but not in 2012. Tvert told The Huffington Post in an August interview why he thought this year might be different:

    The 2006 initiative would have simply removed the penalties for the possession of marijuana legal for individuals 21 years of age or older. The current initiative proposes a fully regulated system of cultivation and sales, which will eliminate the underground marijuana market and generate tens of millions of dollars per year in new revenue and criminal justice savings. It also directs the legislature to regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp, a versatile, popular, and environmentally friendly agricultural crop.

    More importantly, voters are more informed about marijuana than ever before. They have also experienced the emergence of a state-regulated medical marijuana system that has not produced any serious problems, but has provided a number of benefits. We now know that marijuana cultivation and sales can be regulated, and that medical marijuana businesses do not contribute to increased crime. We have also seen marijuana use among high school students decrease since the state began implementing regulations, whereas it has increased nationwide where there are no regulations. And, of course, localities and the state have seen how much revenue can be generated through the legal sale of marijuana that would have otherwise gone into the underground market. Voters in Colorado no longer need to imagine what a legal and regulated system of marijuana sales would look like; they have seen it.

    It’s also worth noting that 2012 is a presidential election year, so we will benefit from increased voter turnout compared to an off-year election like 2006. Historically, the more people who vote, the more support marijuana reform initiatives receive.

    On the same night that Colorado passed Amendment 64, Washington state passed Initiative 502 which regulates and taxes sales of small amounts of marijuana for adults, The Associated Press reports. Oregon also had a marijuana measure on the ballot, but as of publishing and with 47 percent of precincts reporting, it looked as if it would not pass.

    Under Amendment 64, marijuana is taxed and regulated similar to alcohol and tobacco. It gives state and local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of marijuana to adults age 21 and older. According to the Associated Press, analysts project that that tax revenue could generate somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year in the state. An economist whose study was funded by a pro-pot group projects as much as a $60 million boost by 2017.

    “Today, the people of Colorado have rejected the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” Brian Vicente, also a co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, said in a statement. “Thanks to their votes, we will now reap the benefits of regulation. We will create new jobs, generation million of dollars in tax revenue, and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes. It would certainly be a travesty if the Obama administration used its power to impose marijuana prohibition upon a state whose people have declared, through the democratic process, that they want it to end.”

    The big unknown still is if the federal government will allow a regulated marijuana market to take shape. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was a vocal opponent of California’s legalization initiative in 2010 saying he would “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana prohibition, has continued to remain silent on the issue this year.

    In September, Holder was urged by nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to take a stand against marijuana legalization again. “To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives,” the nine said in the letter to holder obtained by Reuters.

    Earlier this month those same DEA drug warriors joined by former directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy on a teleconference call to put additional pressure on Holder to speak out against Colorado’s marijuana measure as well as similar initiatives on the ballot in Washington state and Oregon.

    The drug warriors say that states that legalize marijuana for recreational use will trigger a “Constitutional showdown” with the federal government.

    In a report published Sunday by NBC News, President Obama’s former senior drug policy advisor said that if the marijuana initiatives pass, a war will be incited between the federal government and the states that pass them. “Once these states actually try to implement these laws, we will see an effort by the feds to shut it down,” Sabet said.

    But proponents of the legislation say they don’t foresee federal agents interfering in states that have legalized cannabis, citing the federal government’s silence on the issue this election cycle.

    The DOJ has yet to formally announce its enforcement intentions, however, the clearest statement from the DOJ came from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who said his office’s stance on the issue would be “the same as it’s always been.” During a recent appearance on “60 Minutes” Cole elaborated, “We’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Reuters reported.

    .,._