position:journalist

  • View from Nowhere. Is it the press’s job to create a community that transcends borders?

    A few years ago, on a plane somewhere between Singapore and Dubai, I read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). I was traveling to report on the global market for passports—how the ultrawealthy can legally buy citizenship or residence virtually anywhere they like, even as 10 million stateless people languish, unrecognized by any country. In the process, I was trying to wrap my head around why national identity meant so much to so many, yet so little to my passport-peddling sources. Their world was the very image of Steve Bannon’s globalist nightmare: where you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many passports.

    Anderson didn’t address the sale of citizenship, which only took off in earnest in the past decade; he did argue that nations, nationalism, and nationality are about as organic as Cheez Whiz. The idea of a nation, he writes, is a capitalist chimera. It is a collective sense of identity processed, shelf-stabilized, and packaged before being disseminated, for a considerable profit, to a mass audience in the form of printed books, news, and stories. He calls this “print-capitalism.”

    Per Anderson, after the printing press was invented, nearly 600 years ago, enterprising booksellers began publishing the Bible in local vernacular languages (as opposed to the elitist Latin), “set[ting] the stage for the modern nation” by allowing ordinary citizens to participate in the same conversations as the upper classes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the proliferation (and popularity) of daily newspapers further collapsed time and space, creating an “extraordinary mass ceremony” of reading the same things at the same moment.

    “An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000–odd fellow Americans,” Anderson wrote. “He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time.” But with the knowledge that others are reading the same news, “he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity.”

    Should the press be playing a role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together?

    Of course, national presses enabled more explicit efforts by the state itself to shape identity. After the US entered World War I, for instance, President Woodrow Wilson set out to make Americans more patriotic through his US Committee on Public Information. Its efforts included roping influential mainstream journalists into advocating American-style democracy by presenting US involvement in the war in a positive light, or simply by referring to Germans as “Huns.” The committee also monitored papers produced by minorities to make sure they supported the war effort not as Indians, Italians, or Greeks, but as Americans. Five Irish-American papers were banned, and the German-American press, reacting to negative stereotypes, encouraged readers to buy US bonds to support the war effort.

    The US media played an analogous role in selling the public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But ever since then, in the digital economy, its influence on the national consciousness has waned. Imagined Communities was published seven years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty-two years before Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a couple of decades before the internet upended print-capitalism as the world knew it (one of Anderson’s footnotes is telling, if quaint: “We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing”).

    Since Trump—a self-described nationalist—became a real contender for the US presidency, many news organizations have taken to looking inward: consider the running obsession with the president’s tweets, for instance, or the nonstop White House palace intrigue (which the president invites readily).

    Meanwhile, the unprofitability of local and regional papers has contributed to the erosion of civics, which, down the line, makes it easier for billionaires to opt out of old “imagined communities” and join new ones based on class and wealth, not citizenship. And given the challenges humanity faces—climate change, mass migration, corporate hegemony, and our relationships to new technologies—even if national papers did make everyone feel like they shared the same narrative, a renewed sense of national pride would prove impotent in fighting world-historic threats that know no borders.

    Should the press, then, be playing an analogous role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together? If it was so important in shaping national identity, can it do so on a global scale?

    Like my passport-buying subjects, I am what Theresa May, the former British prime minister, might call a “citizen of nowhere.” I was born in one place to parents from another, grew up in a third, and have lived and traveled all over. That informs my perspective: I want deeply for there to be a truly cosmopolitan press corps, untethered from national allegiances, regional biases, class divisions, and the remnants of colonial exploitation. I know that’s utopian; the international working class is hardly a lucrative demographic against which publishers can sell ads. But we seem to be living in a time of considerable upheaval and opportunity. Just as the decline of religiously and imperially organized societies paved the way for national alternatives, then perhaps today there is a chance to transcend countries’ boundaries, too.

    Does the US media help create a sense of national identity? If nationalism means putting the interests of one nation—and what its citizens are interested in—before more universal concerns, then yes. Most journalists working for American papers, websites, and TV write in English with a national audience (or regional time zone) in mind, which affects how we pitch, source, frame, and illustrate a story—which, in turn, influences our readers, their country’s politics, and, down the line, the world. But a news peg isn’t an ideological form of nationalism so much as a practical or methodological one. The US press feeds off of more pernicious nationalisms, too: Donald Trump’s false theory about Barack Obama being “secretly” Kenyan, disseminated by the likes of Fox and The Daily Caller, comes to mind.

    That isn’t to say that global news outlets don’t exist in the US. When coaxing subscribers, the Financial Times, whose front page often includes references to a dozen different countries, openly appeals to their cosmopolitanism. “Be a global citizen. Become an FT Subscriber,” read a recent banner ad, alongside a collage featuring the American, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and European Union flags (though stories like the recent “beginner’s guide to buying a private island” might tell us something about what kind of global citizen they’re appealing to).

    “I don’t think we try to shape anyone’s identity at all,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s managing editor for the US, says. “We recognize two things: that the world is more interconnected today than it’s ever been, and that these connections are complex and quite opaque. We think it’s critical to try to illuminate them.”

    For Tett, who has a PhD in social anthropology, money serves as a “neutral, technocratic” starting point through which to understand—and tie together—the world. “Most newspapers today tend to start with an interest in politics or events, and that inevitably leads you to succumb to tribalism, however hard you try [not to],” Tett explains. “If you look at the world through money—how is money going around the world, who’s making and losing it and why?—out of that you lead to political, cultural, foreign-policy stories.”

    Tett’s comments again brought to mind Imagined Communities: Anderson notes that, in 18th-century Caracas, newspapers “began essentially as appendages of the market,” providing commercial news about ships coming in, commodity prices, and colonial appointments, as well as a proto–Vows section for the upper crust to hate-read in their carriages. “The newspaper of Caracas quite naturally, and even apolitically, created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged,” he wrote. “In time, of course, it was only to be expected that political elements would enter in.”

    Yesterday’s aristocracy is today’s passport-buying, globe-trotting one percent. The passport brokers I got to know also pitched clients with the very same promise of “global citizenship” (it sounds less louche than “buy a new passport”)—by taking out ads in the Financial Times. Theirs is exactly the kind of neoliberal “globalism” that nationalist politicians like Trump have won elections denouncing (often hypocritically) as wanting “the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” Isn’t upper-crust glibness about borders, boundaries, and the value of national citizenship part of what helped give us this reactionary nativism in the first place?

    “I suspect what’s been going on with Brexit and maybe Trump and other populist movements [is that] people. . . see ‘global’ as a threat to local communities and businesses rather than something to be welcomed,” Tett says. “But if you’re an FT reader, you see it as benign or descriptive.”

    Among the largest news organizations in the world is Reuters, with more than 3,000 journalists and photographers in 120 countries. It is part of Thomson Reuters, a truly global firm. Reuters does not take its mandate lightly: a friend who works there recently sent me a job posting for an editor in Gdynia, which, Google clarified for me, is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland.

    Reuters journalists cover everything from club sports to international tax evasion. They’re outsourcing quick hits about corporate earnings to Bangalore, assembling teams on multiple continents to tackle a big investigation, shedding or shuffling staff under corporate reorganizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “more than half our business is serving financial customers,” Stephen Adler, the editor in chief, tells me. “That has little to do with what country you’re from. It’s about information: a central-bank action in Europe or Japan may be just as important as everything else.”

    Institutionally, “it’s really important and useful that we don’t have one national HQ,” Adler adds. “That’s the difference between a global news organization and one with a foreign desk. For us, nothing is foreign.” That approach won Reuters this year’s international Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar (two of the reporters were imprisoned as a result, and since freed); it also comes through especially sharply in daily financial stories: comprehensive, if dry, compendiums of who-what-where-when-why that recognize the global impact of national stories, and vice versa. A recent roundup of stock movements included references to the US Fed, China trade talks, Brexit, monetary policy around the world, and the price of gold.

    Adler has led the newsroom since 2011, and a lot has changed in the world. (I worked at Reuters between 2011 and 2013, first as Adler’s researcher and later as a reporter; Adler is the chair of CJR’s board.) Shortly after Trump’s election, Adler wrote a memo affirming the organization’s commitment to being fair, honest, and resourceful. He now feels more strongly than ever about judiciously avoiding biases—including national ones. “Our ideology and discipline around putting personal feelings and nationality aside has been really helpful, because when you think about how powerful local feelings are—revolutions, the Arab Spring—we want you writing objectively and dispassionately.”

    The delivery of stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter.

    Whether global stories can push communities to develop transnationally in a meaningful way is a harder question to answer; it seems to impugn our collective aptitude for reacting to problems of a global nature in a rational way. Reuters’s decision not to fetishize Trump hasn’t led to a drop-off in US coverage—its reporters have been especially strong on immigration and trade policy, not to mention the effects of the new administration on the global economy—but its stories aren’t exactly clickbait, which means ordinary Americans might not encounter them at the top of their feed. In other words, having a global perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to more eyeballs.

    What’s more, Reuters doesn’t solve the audience-class problem: whether readers are getting dispatches in partner newspapers like The New York Times or through the organization’s Eikon terminal, they tend to be the sort of person “who does transnational business, travels a good deal, is connected through work and media, has friends in different places, cares about what’s going on in different places,” Adler says. “That’s a pretty large cohort of people who have reason to care what’s going on in other places.”

    There are ways to unite readers without centering coverage on money or the markets. For a generation of readers around the world, the common ground is technology: the internet. “We didn’t pick our audience,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, tells me over the phone. “Our audience picked us.” He defines his readers as a cohort aged 18–35 “who are on the internet and who broadly care about human rights, global politics, and feminism and gay rights in particular.”

    To serve them, BuzzFeed recently published a damning investigative report into the World Wildlife Fund’s arming of militias in natural reserves; a (not uncontroversial) series on Trump’s business dealings abroad; early exposés of China’s detention of Uighur citizens; and reports on child abuse in Australia. Climate—“the central challenge for every newsroom in the world”—has been harder to pin down. “We don’t feel anyone has cracked it. But the shift from abstract scientific [stories] to coverage of fires in California, it’s a huge change—it makes it more concrete,” Smith says. (My husband is a reporter for BuzzFeed.)

    The delivery of these stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter. “The global political financial elites have had a common language ever since it was French,” Smith says. “There is now a universal language of internet culture, [and] that. . . is how our stuff translates so well between cultures and audiences.” This isn’t a form of digital Esperanto, Smith insists; the point isn’t to flatten the differences between countries or regions so much as to serve as a “container” in which people from different regions, interest groups, and cultures can consume media through references they all understand.

    BuzzFeed might not be setting out to shape its readers’ identities (I certainly can’t claim to feel a special bond with other people who found out they were Phoebes from the quiz “Your Sushi Order Will Reveal Which ‘Friends’ Character You’re Most Like”). An audience defined by its youth and its media consumption habits can be difficult to keep up with: platforms come and go, and young people don’t stay young forever. But if Anderson’s thesis still carries water, there must be something to speaking this language across cultures, space, and time. Call it “Web vernacular.”

    In 2013, during one of the many recent and lengthy US government shutdowns, Joshua Keating, a journalist at Slate, began a series, “If It Happened There,” that imagined how the American media would view the shutdown if it were occurring in another country. “The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city,” Keating opens. “Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. . . .But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink.”

    It goes on; you get the idea. Keating’s series, which was inspired by his having to read “many, many headlines from around the world” while working at Foreign Policy, is a clever journalistic illustration of what sociologists call “methodological nationalism”: the bias that gets inadvertently baked into work and words. In the Middle East, it’s sectarian or ethnic strife; in the Midwest, it’s a trigger-happy cop and a kid in a hoodie.

    His send-ups hit a nerve. “It was huge—it was by far the most popular thing I’ve done at Slate,” Keating says. “I don’t think that it was a shocking realization to anyone that this kind of language can be a problem, but sometimes pointing it out can be helpful. If the series did anything, it made people stop and be conscious of how. . . our inherent biases and perspectives will inform how we cover the world.”

    Curiously, living under an openly nationalist administration has changed the way America—or at the very least, a significant part of the American press corps—sees itself. The press is a de facto opposition party, not because it tries to be, but because the administration paints it that way. And that gives reporters the experience of working in a place much more hostile than the US without setting foot outside the country.

    Keating has “semi-retired” the series as a result of the broad awareness among American reporters that it is, in fact, happening here. “It didn’t feel too novel to say [Trump was] acting like a foreign dictator,” he says. “That was what the real news coverage was doing.”

    Keating, who traveled to Somaliland, Kurdistan, and Abkhazia to report his book Invisible Countries (2018), still thinks the fastest and most effective way to form an international perspective is to live abroad. At the same time, not being bound to a strong national identity “can make it hard to understand particular concerns of the people you’re writing about,” he says. It might be obvious, but there is no one perfect way to be internationally minded.

    Alan Rusbridger—the former editor of The Guardian who oversaw the paper’s Edward Snowden coverage and is now the principal at Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University—recognizes the journalistic and even moral merits of approaching news in a non-national way: “I think of journalism as a public service, and I do think there’s a link between journalism at its best and the betterment of individual lives and societies,” he says. But he doesn’t have an easy formula for how to do that, because truly cosmopolitan journalism requires both top-down editorial philosophies—not using certain phrasings or framings that position foreigners as “others”—and bottom-up efforts by individual writers to read widely and be continuously aware of how their work might be read by people thousands of miles away.

    Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network, but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases.

    Rusbridger sees potential in collaborations across newsrooms, countries, and continents. Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network; but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases. It also wields power. “One of the reasons we reported Snowden with the Times in New York was to use global protections of human rights and free speech and be able to appeal to a global audience of readers and lawyers,” Rusbridger recalls. “We thought, ‘We’re pretty sure nation-states will come at us over this, and the only way to do it is harness ourselves to the US First Amendment not available to us anywhere else.’”

    In employing these tactics, the press positions itself in opposition to the nation-state. The same strategy could be seen behind the rollout of the Panama and Paradise Papers (not to mention the aggressive tax dodging detailed therein). “I think journalists and activists and citizens on the progressive wing of politics are thinking creatively about how global forces can work to their advantage,” Rusbridger says.

    But he thinks it all starts locally, with correspondents who have fluency in the language, culture, and politics of the places they cover, people who are members of the communities they write about. That isn’t a traditional foreign-correspondent experience (nor indeed that of UN employees, NGO workers, or other expats). The silver lining of publishing companies’ shrinking budgets might be that cost cutting pushes newsrooms to draw from local talent, rather than send established writers around. What you gain—a cosmopolitanism that works from the bottom up—can help dispel accusations of media elitism. That’s the first step to creating new imagined communities.

    Anderson’s work has inspired many an academic, but media executives? Not so much. Rob Wijnberg is an exception: he founded the (now beleaguered) Correspondent in the Netherlands in 2013 with Anderson’s ideas in mind. In fact, when we speak, he brings the name up unprompted.

    “You have to transcend this notion that you can understand the world through the national point of view,” he says. “The question is, What replacement do we have for it? Simply saying we have to transcend borders or have an international view isn’t enough, because you have to replace the imagined community you’re leaving behind with another one.”

    For Wijnberg, who was a philosophy student before he became a journalist, this meant radically reinventing the very structures of the news business: avoiding covering “current events” just because they happened, and thinking instead of what we might call eventful currents—the political, social, and economic developments that affect us all. It meant decoupling reporting from national news cycles, and getting readers to become paying “members” instead of relying on advertisements.

    This, he hoped, would help create a readership not based on wealth, class, nationality, or location, but on borderless, universal concerns. “We try to see our members. . . as part of a group or knowledge community, where the thing they share is the knowledge they have about a specific structural subject matter,” be it climate, inequality, or migration, Wijnberg says. “I think democracy and politics answers more to media than the other way around, so if you change the way media covers the world you change a lot.”

    That approach worked well in the Netherlands: his team raised 1.7 million euros in 2013, and grew to include 60,000 members. A few years later, Wijnberg and his colleagues decided to expand into the US, and with the help of NYU’s Jay Rosen, an early supporter, they made it onto Trevor Noah’s Daily Show to pitch their idea.

    The Correspondent raised more than $2.5 million from nearly 50,000 members—a great success, by any measure. But in March, things started to get hairy, with the publication abruptly pulling the plug on opening a US newsroom and announcing that staff would edit stories reported from the US from the original Amsterdam office instead. Many of the reasons behind this are mundane: visas, high rent, relocation costs. And reporters would still be reporting from, and on, the States. But supporters felt blindsided, calling the operation a scam.

    Today, Wijnberg reflects that he should have controlled the messaging better, and not promised to hire and operate from New York until he was certain that he could. He also wonders why it matters.

    “It’s not saying people who think it matters are wrong,” he explains. “But if the whole idea of this kind of geography and why it’s there is a construct, and you’re trying to think about transcending it, the very notion of Where are you based? is secondary. The whole point is not to be based anywhere.”

    Still: “The view from everywhere—the natural opposite—is just as real,” Wijnberg concedes. “You can’t be everywhere. You have to be somewhere.”

    And that’s the rub: for all of nationalism’s ills, it does instill in its subjects what Anderson calls a “deep, horizontal comradeship” that, while imagined, blossoms thanks to a confluence of forces. It can’t be replicated supranationally overnight. The challenge for a cosmopolitan journalism, then, is to dream up new forms of belonging that look forward, not backward—without discarding the imagined communities we have.

    That’s hard; so hard that it more frequently provokes a retrenchment, not an expansion, of solidarity. But it’s not impossible. And our collective futures almost certainly depend on it.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/view-from-nowhere.php
    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • 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

  • On 64th Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege, Israeli Forces Wound 128 Palestinian Civilians, including 38 Children, 3 Women, 7 Paramedics, and Journalist
    June 28, 2019 | Palestinian Center for Human Rights
    https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=12581

    On Friday, 28 June 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 64th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 128 Palestinian civilians, including 38 children, 3 women, 7 paramedics, and a journalist. Four of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

    According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the protesters by firing bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of the protesters were hit with bullets and teargas canisters without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.

    #marcheduretour 64

  • 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

  • Egypt. Arrests target political figures involved in new coalition to run in 2020 parliamentary elections | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2019/06/25/feature/politics/arrests-target-political-figures-involved-in-new-coalition-to-run-in-2020-

    Several political figures involved in discussions to form a new political alliance meant to stand in 2020 parliamentary elections were arrested beginning at dawn on Tuesday.

    At least eight people have been swept up in the arrest campaign, most prominently former Member of Parliament Zyad Elelaimy, journalist Hisham Fouad, Omar El-Shenety, the founder of the Multiples Group investment firm, and Hossam Moanis, the former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi’s campaign manager.

    The other four people identified by the Interior Ministry in a press release issued this morning are Mostafa Abdel Moez Abdel Sattar, Osama Abdel Aal Mohamed al-Aqbawy, Ahmed Abdel Galeel Hussein Ghoneim, and Hassan Mohamed Hussein Barbary.

    Those detained face accusations of leading a plot “to bring down the state” ahead of the June 30 anniversary. This plot — identified by the ministry as “The Plan for Hope” — was backed by 19 companies and economic entities secretly managed by Muslim Brotherhood leaders from abroad, according to the Interior Ministry.

  • Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps

    If you were paying close attention last week, you might have spotted a pattern in the news. Peeking out from behind the breathless coverage of the Trump family’s tuxedoed trip to London was a spate of deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody: Johana Medina Léon, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker; an unnamed 33-year-old Salvadoran man; and a 40-year-old woman from Honduras.

    Photos from a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso showed people herded so tightly into cells that they had to stand on toilets to breathe. Memos surfaced by journalist Ken Klippenstein revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s failure to provide medical care was responsible for suicides and other deaths of detainees. These followed another report that showed that thousands of detainees are being brutally held in isolation cells just for being transgender or mentally ill.

    Also last week, the Trump administration cut funding for classes, recreation and legal aid at detention centers holding minors — which were likened to “summer camps” by a senior ICE official last year. And there was the revelation that months after being torn from their parents’ arms, 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in the parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. In the last year, at least seven migrant children have died in federal custody.

    Preventing mass outrage at a system like this takes work. Certainly it helps that the news media covers these horrors intermittently rather than as snowballing proof of a racist, lawless administration. But most of all, authorities prevail when the places where people are being tortured and left to die stay hidden, misleadingly named and far from prying eyes.

    There’s a name for that kind of system. They’re called concentration camps. You might balk at my use of the term. That’s good — it’s something to be balked at.

    The goal of concentration camps has always been to be ignored. The German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, who was imprisoned by the Gestapo and interned in a French camp, wrote a few years afterward about the different levels of concentration camps. Extermination camps were the most extreme; others were just about getting “undesirable elements … out of the way.” All had one thing in common: “The human masses sealed off in them are treated as if they no longer existed, as if what happened to them were no longer of interest to anybody, as if they were already dead.”

    Euphemisms play a big role in that forgetting. The term “concentration camp” is itself a euphemism. It was invented by a Spanish official to paper over his relocation of millions of rural families into squalid garrison towns where they would starve during Cuba’s 1895 independence war. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese Americans into prisons during World War II, he initially called them concentration camps. Americans ended up using more benign names, like “Manzanar Relocation Center.”

    Even the Nazis’ camps started out small, housing criminals, Communists and opponents of the regime. It took five years to begin the mass detention of Jews. It took eight, and the outbreak of a world war, for the first extermination camps to open. Even then, the Nazis had to keep lying to distract attention, claiming Jews were merely being resettled to remote work sites. That’s what the famous signs — Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Sets You Free” — were about.

    Subterfuge doesn’t always work. A year ago, Americans accidentally became aware that the Trump administration had adopted (and lied about) a policy of ripping families apart at the border. The flurry of attention was thanks to the viral conflation of two separate but related stories: the family-separation order and bureaucrats’ admission that they’d been unable to locate thousands of migrant children who’d been placed with sponsors after crossing the border alone.

    Trump shoved that easily down the memory hole. He dragged his heels a bit, then agreed to a new policy: throwing whole families into camps together. Political reporters posed irrelevant questions, like whether President Obama had been just as bad, and what it meant for the midterms. Then they moved on.

    It is important to note that Trump’s aides have built this system of racist terror on something that has existed for a long time. Several camps opened under Obama, and as president he deported millions of people.

    But Trump’s game is different. It certainly isn’t about negotiating immigration reform with Congress. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. His mass arrests, iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project to put the country under the control of the right kind of white people.

    As a Republican National Committee report noted in 2013: “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become.” The Trump administration’s attempt to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census was also just revealed to have been a plot to disadvantage political opponents and boost “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” all along.

    That’s why this isn’t just a crisis facing immigrants. When a leader puts people in camps to stay in power, history shows that he doesn’t usually stop with the first group he detains.

    There are now at least 48,000 people detained in ICE facilities, which a former official told BuzzFeed News “could swell indefinitely.” Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended more than 144,000 people on the Southwest border last month. (The New York Times dutifully reported this as evidence of a “dramatic surge in border crossings,” rather than what it was: The administration using its own surge of arrests to justify the rest of its policies.)

    If we call them what they are — a growing system of American concentration camps — we will be more likely to give them the attention they deserve. We need to know their names: Port Isabel, Dilley, Adelanto, Hutto and on and on. With constant, unrelenting attention, it is possible we might alleviate the plight of the people inside, and stop the crisis from getting worse. Maybe people won’t be able to disappear so easily into the iceboxes. Maybe it will be harder for authorities to lie about children’s deaths.

    Maybe Trump’s concentration camps will be the first thing we think of when we see him scowling on TV.

    The only other option is to leave it up to those in power to decide what’s next. That’s a calculated risk. As Andrea Pitzer, author of “One Long Night,” one of the most comprehensive books on the history of concentration camps, recently noted: “Every country has said their camps are humane and will be different. Trump is instinctively an authoritarian. He’ll take them as far as he’s allowed to.”

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-katz-immigrant-concentration-camps-20190609-story.html
    #terminologie #vocabulaire #mots #camps #camps_de_concentration #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #USA #Etats-Unis
    #cpa_camps

    • ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System

      On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

      At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations.

      The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States.

      So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity.

      On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections.

      In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

      Conditions for detainees have not been improving. At the end of May, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general found nearly 900 migrants at a Texas shelter built for a capacity of 125 people. On June 11, a university professor spotted at least 100 men behind chain-link fences near the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Those detainees reported sitting outside for weeks in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees. Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration lawyer, described going into one facility and finding “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches… Another young child had to be restrained by his mother because he kept running full-speed into metal lockers. He was covered in bruises.”

      If deciding what to do about the growing numbers of adults and children seeking refuge in the US relies on complex humanitarian policies and international laws, in which most Americans don’t take a deep interest, a simpler question also presents itself: What exactly are these camps that the Trump administration has opened, and where is this program of mass detention headed?

      Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

      Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

      Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

      Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising, despite his predecessor’s written refusal “as the representative of a civilized nation, to be the first to give the example of cruelty and intransigence” that such detention would represent. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said. “The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.” Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

      Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war. Two weeks later, US Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point on the windward side of the entrance to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. After a grim, week-long fight, the Marines took the hill. It became a naval base, and the United States has never left that patch of land.

      As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system. Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

      Meanwhile, in southern Africa in 1900, the British had opened their own camps during their battle with descendants of Dutch settlers in the second Boer War. British soldiers filled tent cities with Boer women and children, and the military authorities called them refugee camps. Future Prime Minister David Lloyd George took offense at that name, noting in Parliament: “There is no greater delusion in the mind of any man than to apply the term ‘refugee’ to these camps. They are not refugee camps. They are camps of concentration.” Contemporary observers compared them to the Cuban camps, and criticized their deliberate cruelty. The Bishop of Hereford wrote to The Times of London in 1901, asking: “Are we reduced to such a depth of impotence that our Government can do nothing to stop such a holocaust of child-life?”

      Maggoty meat rations and polluted water supplies joined outbreaks of contagious diseases amid crowded and unhealthy conditions in the Boer camps. More than 27,000 detainees are thought to have died there, nearly 80 percent of them children. The British had opened camps for black Africans as well, in which at least 14,000 detainees died—the real number is probably much higher. Aside from protests made by some missionaries, the deaths of indigenous black Africans did not inspire much public outrage. Much of the history of the suffering in these camps has been lost.

      These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

      Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. The Daily Mail denounced aliens left at liberty once they had registered with their local police department, demanding, “Does signing his name take the malice out of a man?” The Scottish Field was more direct, asking, “Do Germans have souls?” That these civilian detainees were no threat to Britain did not keep them from being demonized, shouted at, and spat upon as they were paraded past hostile crowds in cities like London.

      Though a small number of people were shot in riots in these camps, and hunger became a serious issue as the conflict dragged on, World War I internment would present a new, non-lethal face for the camps, normalizing detention. Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

      Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

      In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

      However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory.

      It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001.

      In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell.

      This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways.

      I visited Guantánamo twice in 2015, sitting in the courtroom for pretrial hearings and touring the medical facility, the library, and all the old abandoned detention sites, as well as newly built ones, open to the media—from the kennel-style cages of Camp X-Ray rotting to ruin in the damp heat to the modern jailhouse facilities of Camp 6. Seeing all this in person made clear to me how vast the architecture of detention had become, how entrenched it was, and how hard it would be to close.

      Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

      Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo. The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

      What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

      Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.

      When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away.

      The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

      President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.

      The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.

      Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

      The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

      https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/06/21/some-suburb-of-hell-americas-new-concentration-camp-system

    • #Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez engage le bras de fer avec la politique migratoire de Donald Trump

      L’élue de New York a qualifié les camps de rétention pour migrants érigés à la frontière sud des Etats-Unis de « camps de concentration ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/06/19/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-engage-le-bras-de-fer-avec-la-politique-migratoire-

  • YouTube says homophobic abuse does not violate harassment rules
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jun/05/youtube-says-homophobic-abuse-does-not-violate-harassment-rules

    Video-sharing site defends American user who called journalist ‘lispy queer’ YouTube has sparked outrage by defending an American man who subjected a journalist to repeated homophobic abuse in videos presented to millions of people, arguing that his “criticism” was debating rather than harassment. Carlos Maza, a video journalist for the US news site Vox, went public last week with a complaint that the rightwing YouTube personality Steven Crowder was engaged in a long-term homophobic (...)

    #YouTube #harcèlement #LGBT

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/2064d9a60892db6f2418716f0ccc1429217aa327/511_495_3416_2050/master/3416.jpg

  • #Patrice_Lumumba: the most important assassination of the 20th century | Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja | Global development | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jan/17/patrice-lumumba-50th-anniversary-assassination

    Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was assassinated 50 years ago today, on 17 January, 1961. This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed.

    #afrique #rdc #résistance

    • Thomas Giefer, le grand réalisateur de films documentaires sur le mouvement ’68 en Allemagne a retrouvé l’un des membres belges du commado qui a assassiné Patrice Lumumba. En 1999 peu de temps avant sa mort celui-ci donne sa version des événements dans un film qui retrace les développements qui ont mené à la mort du premier ministre congolais. Dan le film Thomas Giefer parle aussi avec l’assassin de la CIA chargé de l’exécution.

      Oui, il y a des sous-titres !

      Patrice Lumumba - Mord im Kolonialstil (2000)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOwPERiRyOw

      AGDOK - Mitglieder | Thomas Giefer | Film / Funk, Journalist | Vita
      http://member.agdok.de/de_DE/members_detail/8097/vita

      Thomas Giefer | DFFB
      https://dffb-archiv.de/dffb/thomas-giefer

      Thomas Giefer
      https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Giefer

      Harun Farocki Institut » Thomas Giefer
      https://www.harun-farocki-institut.org/en/tag/thomas-giefer-en

      Instructions on how to Pull off Police Helmets

      News from the archive : INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PULL OFF POLICE HELMETS and UNTITLED OR : NIXON COMES TO BERLIN, both made in 1969.
      https://www.harun-farocki-institut.org/en/2017/11/30/november-2017-instructions-on-how-to-pull-off-police-helmets

      Farocki presumed the films to be lost. Surprisingly, they resurfaced just now, in November 2017. Thomas Giefer , dffb student of the year 1967 and one of the 18 students relegated in 1968, found them among the films he kept from the time.

      Here’s an image from INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PULL OFF POLICE HELMETS, filmed from the Steenbeck by Giefer.

      Farocki about the film: »According to Fritz J. Raddatz, Rosa Luxemburg cried when she read Marx’s concept of value. I was just as disappointed by the Cine-Tracts made in May 1968 in Paris and shown shortly afterwards in Berlin.

      I must have been expecting something more like television news coverage; in much the same way, each crowd which saw our handbill films during those years was similarly disappointed. Because we didn’t make ‘real’ films, as my mother called them, it seemed to them that their cause wasn’t being acknowledged in suitably official form, something which workers’ films and Fassbinder were later to achieve.

      We made this spot during one of the many breaks in filming a somewhat reckless film about playgroups by Susanne Beyeler. Wolfgang Gremm stripped naked on a flat roof and played a policeman. We played on the anti-humanist provocation of showing, purely technically, how to fight a policeman, but didn’t go so far as to use an androgynous, long-haired actor – something which Gremm, the fattest and shortest-haired of us all, accepted with a grin.«

      #Congo #Kongo #film #histoire #Berlin #1968

  • Army Injures Sixteen Palestinians In Gaza
    IMEMC News - May 25, 2019 7:32 AM
    https://imemc.org/article/army-injures-sixteen-palestinians-in-gaza

    The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, sixteen Palestinians during the Great Return March processions, ongoing for the 59th week, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

    The Health Ministry in Gaza said the injuries varied between rubber-coated steel bullets and gas inhalation, including some who were shot with high-velocity gas bombs.

    It added that a journalist, and a female medic volunteer, were among the injured Palestinians.

    All the wounded Palestinians received the needed treatment in make-shift clinics, without the needed to move them to hospitals.

    Israeli soldiers have killed 307 Palestinians, including medics and journalists, and injured more than 29000, since the Great Return March procession started in the Gaza Strip, on Palestinian land Day, March 30th, 2018.

    #marcheduretour 59

  • Egypt. Remembering Hani Shukrallah, the activist-journalist | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2019/05/12/feature/politics/remembering-hani-shukrallah-the-activist-journalist

    As Egypt’s journalist and political activist communities gathered on Thursday to mourn the loss of prominent journalist and leftist activist Hani Shukrallah, we take his remembrance to our pages.

    Although he didn’t have direct ties to the institution, Hani was a beacon for us at Mada. As a political activist who challenged the comfort of those in power and a journalist who believed in speaking truth to power, he represented a combination that inspires us and was an embodiment of the ethos that guides us.

    Hani was 69 years old when he died. His activism began to take form during the student movement of the 1970s, in which Egypt’s university campuses became a hotbed of resistance against the government’s ambiguous stance on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    But Hani’s pursuit of political issues was not limited to joining effervescent, preexisting movements. It also included attempts to fundamentally shape a thinking behind a type of contentious politics that was slow to form in Egypt, from the 1980s onward. In a generous effort to highlight these endeavors, Amr Abdel Rahman, a political thinker and activist in our generation — a generation one step younger than Hani’s — synthesized Hani’s writing on a possible new communism in Egypt in the early 2000s. This writing was marked by the proposition that a capitalistic oligarchy, formed in the early 1980s, with the rise of the Mubarak government, has direct control of the state and has instigated the process of privatizing it as a whole. This process did not develop into a full-fledged capitalist project — à la the Four Asian Tigers model — because of the accumulation of a massive surplus in its hands, given the direct state control it exercised and the absence of any pressure to invest this surplus into some form of economic development. This oligarchy has also defined the possible modes of opposition to it, one that must steer clear from the presidency’s power establishment and its main economic model. In this mode of opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, which would later become a subject of Hani’s vehement criticism, managed to find room to maneuver. Unless a democractic movement stands against this oligarchy — by reactivating ties with the labor movement and the middle class — the opposition would slowly be eliminated, Hani argued. Post-2011, he would write about the ominous death of politics, saying, “The defeat of the revolution was destined to expand into a ‎trouncing of politics.”

  • » Updated: Army Kills One Palestinian, Injures 30, Including 4 Children And One Medic, In Gaza
    May 10, 2019 8:28 PM - IMEMC News
    https://imemc.org/article/army-injures-30-palestinians-including-4-children-and-one-medic-in-gaza

    Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly Great Return March processions on Palestinian lands along the eastern areas of the Gaza Strip, killing one Palestinian and wounding 30, including four children, and one medic who was shot in the head.

    The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has confirmed that the soldiers killed Abdullah Jom’a Abdul-‘Al , 24, east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

    It added that the soldiers also injured thirty Palestinians, including four children, and a volunteer medic, who suffered a head injury while providing treatment to wounded Palestinians.

    The medic, identified as Mohammad Abu T’eima, was shot as he, and several other medics were providing treatment to wounded protesters, who were shot by the soldiers on Palestinian lands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

    Eyewitnesses said the soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against the protesters by firing a barrage of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and high-velocity gas bombs at them.

    #Palestine_assassinée #marcheduretour

  • No Friend but the Mountains. The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee

    In 2013, Kurdish journalist #Behrouz_Boochani sought asylum in Australia but was instead illegally imprisoned in the country’s most notorious detention centre on Manus Island. He has been there ever since. This book is the result.

    Behrouz Boochani spent nearly five years typing passages of this book one text at a time from a secret mobile phone in prison. Compiled and translated from Farsi, they form an incredible story of how escaping political persecution in Iran, he ended up trapped as a stateless person. This vivid, gripping portrait of his years of incarceration and exile shines devastating light on the fates of so many people as borders close around the world.

    No Friend but the Mountains is both a brave act of witness and a moving testament to the humanity of all people, in the most extreme of circumstances.


    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781529028485?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIncGnxfz84QIVFOd3Ch3PVAXdEA
    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Nauru #Australie #réfugiés_kurdes #Kurdistan #livre #témoignage

    Une chose m’intrigue... pourquoi la #montagne dans le titre?

    • Australia’s Shame

      Let us suppose that I am the heir of an enormous estate. Stories about my generosity abound. And let us suppose that you are a young man, ambitious but in trouble with the authorities in your native land. You make a momentous decision: you will set out on a voyage across the ocean that will bring you to my doorstep, where you will say, I am here—feed me, give me a home, let me make a new life!

      Unbeknown to you, however, I have grown tired of strangers arriving on my doorstep saying I am here, take me in—so tired, so exasperated that I say to myself: Enough! No longer will I allow my generosity to be exploited! Therefore, instead of welcoming you and taking you in, I consign you to a desert island and broadcast a message to the world: Behold the fate of those who presume upon my generosity by arriving on my doorstep unannounced!

      This is, more or less, what happened to Behrouz Boochani. Targeted by the Iranian regime for his advocacy of Kurdish independence, Boochani fled the country in 2013, found his way to Indonesia, and was rescued at the last minute from the unseaworthy boat in which he was trying to reach Australia. Instead of being given a home, he was flown to one of the prisons in the remote Pacific run by the Commonwealth of Australia, where he remains to this day.

      Boochani is not alone. Thousands of asylum-seekers have suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Australians. The point of the fable of the rich man and the supplicant is the following: Is it worse to treat thousands of people with exemplary inhumanity than to treat a single man in such a way? If it is indeed worse, how much worse is it? Thousands of times? Or does the calculus of numbers falter when it comes to matters of good and evil?

      Whatever the answer, the argument against Australia’s treatment of asylum-seekers can be made as trenchantly on the basis of a single case as on that of a thousand, and Boochani has provided exactly that case. Under atrocious conditions he has managed to write and publish a record of his experiences (experiences yet to be concluded), a record that will certainly leave his jailers gnashing their teeth.

      Given the fact that the foundational event of the Commonwealth of Australia was the arrival on the island continent’s east coast of a fleet of uninvited vessels captained by James Cook; given further that since the end of World War II Australia has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them from Europe but many from Asia and Africa too, it is hard to comprehend the dogged hostility of the Australian public to the latest wave of refugees fleeing strife in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Indian subcontinent, and northeast Africa. To call their hostility racist or xenophobic explains little. Its roots lie further back in time, suggests the historian Jane Haggis:

      The sense of victimhood, of being exiled—unwelcome at home, by virtue of being a convict, an ill-paid worker or an economically precarious tenant farmer…and of having struggled too hard to earn the land…meant Australia never totally embraced the discourse of humanitarianism and of human rights that came to define one sense of the Western self during the twentieth century…. The sense of exile, of expulsion from Europe to the bottom of the world, of being victims rather than members of God’s elect, [shapes] Australia and Australians’ historic sense of themselves as a national community [and] feeds a hyper-vigilance to maintain…“First World privilege.”

      Hostility to refugees is clearly to be seen in the positions taken by both main political parties, which respond to protests against the way they treat refugees with the mantra “We will put the people smugglers out of business, we will end the drownings at sea,” refusing bluntly to address what is unique about their common policy: that people are to be punished for seeking asylum, and that the punishment will be and is meant to be as harsh as possible, visible for all the world to see.

      Poll after poll attests that a majority of Australians back stringent border controls. Fed by the right-wing media, the public has swallowed the argument that there is an orderly immigration queue that boat people could have joined but chose not to; further, that most boat people are not genuine refugees but “economic migrants”—as if fleeing persecution and seeking a better life elsewhere were mutually exclusive motives.

      Under the uniquely complex, quota-based system that Australia follows for dealing with humanitarian cases, there is indeed an orderly queue for applicants waiting to be processed in camps overseas supervised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and the system for processing these humanitarian cases does indeed function smoothly if somewhat slowly, though when we bear in mind that, by the latest count, there are 70 million persons displaced from their homes worldwide, Australia’s quota of about 12,500 humanitarian acceptances per year is modest, well short of Canada’s (28,000). As for the argument that boat people are trying to jump the queue, the fact is that—until the policy changed so that arriving by boat effectively nullified any future application for asylum—the actions of asylum-seekers who arrived on Australian shores without papers and were subsequently found to be “genuine” had no effect on the quota for acceptances from the camps. Simply stated, boat people have never been part of any queue.

      Most of those who head for Australia’s back door do so via Indonesia, where they spend as little time as they can: Indonesia routinely arrests sans-papiers and sends them back to their country of origin. At the height of the boat traffic to Australia in 2009–2011, some five thousand people a year were setting sail from ports in southern Indonesia, in leaky boats provided by smugglers. No official figures are available for deaths at sea, but Monash University’s Australian Border Deaths database estimates a total of some two thousand since the year 2000, with a spike of over four hundred in 2012.

      The preventive measures undertaken by the Australian navy to head off asylum-seekers are shrouded in secrecy; therefore we do not know how many of them have persisted in embarking for Australia since a harsh new policy of interning and processing them offshore was put into practice in 2013, but there is every reason to believe that the number has fallen drastically. It would appear that when the navy intercepts a refugee vessel, it immediately transfers the occupants to a disposable boat with a minimum of fuel, tows it back into Indonesian waters, and casts it off.

      Australia’s treatment of refugees is constrained by a number of treaties. First among these is the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified in 1954 though with a number of reservations. This convention confirms the right (already enunciated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948) of any victim of persecution to seek and enjoy asylum. It also binds signatories not to return asylum-seekers to the countries from which they have fled, a requirement known as non-refoulement.

      While adhering to non-refoulement, Australia has over the years exploited two lacunae in the convention, namely that it does not confer on an asylum-seeker the legal right to enter the country where asylum is sought, and that it does not oblige the country where asylum is sought to grant asylum. Successive Australian administrations have therefore taken the position—validated by Australian courts—that a person who enters Australian territorial waters without the requisite papers is in Australia illegally, whether or not that person has come to seek asylum.

      The question of asylum was repeatedly debated in the United Nations in the 1960s and 1970s. Australia voted alongside its allies the United States and the United Kingdom in favor of the right of asylum, while consistently reserving its position on the actual admission of asylum-seekers. In 1977 it spelled out that position: Australia “will wish to retain its discretion to determine ultimately who can enter Australian territory and under what conditions they remain.”

      Christmas Island, a sparsely populated island south of Java, was incorporated into Australia in 1958 despite being some nine hundred miles from the Australian mainland. It is to Christmas Island that most boat people seeking Australian asylum steer. To forestall them, the Australian parliament legislated in 2001 that for the purposes of the Refugee Convention, Christmas Island will be deemed to be not part of Australia. Once a refugee vessel has entered the waters of Christmas Island, its occupants are thus both illegally in Australia and also not yet in Australia. The Australian navy is empowered to detain such “illegal non-citizens” and remove them to a location outside Australia, where they may be held indefinitely, without recourse to judicial review.

      Because Australia does not have a bill of rights, challenges to its refugee policies on the basis of international law have tended to fail in the nation’s courts. They have succeeded only when it has been proved that provisions of the country’s Migration Act have not been met. However, such court rulings have typically been followed by appropriate adjustments to the Migration Act.

      As if this were not enough, the government legislated in 2014 to strike from the Migration Act almost all references to the 1951 Refugee Convention. The revised act states that “it is irrelevant whether Australia has any non-refoulement obligations in respect of an unlawful non-citizen,” i.e., an asylum-seeker. The legality of Australia’s asylum policy is thus, in the eyes of the government and, it would appear, of the courts as well, ironclad.

      Australia is a vast, sparsely populated continent. Since it became an independent nation in 1901, it has had to manage two contending forces: a need to increase its population and a fear that its way of life might be undermined or swamped or corroded (the metaphors are legion) if too many strangers are allowed in.

      In the early years, the latter fear expressed itself in frankly racial terms. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, the cornerstone of the policy commonly known as White Australia, was aimed in the first place at blocking immigration from Asia. A generation later the focus shifted to European Jews. When he came to power in 1933, Hitler declared that the only future for Germany’s Jews lay in emigration. But like other Western countries, Australia refused mass Jewish immigration. At an international conference held in Évian in 1938 to discuss the fate of Europe’s Jews, the leader of the Australian delegation made his country’s position clear: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of large-scale foreign migration.”

      The truth is that Australia did have a racial problem, and had had one ever since British colonists established themselves on the continent. The problem was that the colonists held themselves to be intrinsically (in the language of the day, racially) superior to Aboriginal Australians, and did not regard this conviction as a problem. Their unproblematic racism—a problem that was not a problem—easily extended itself to Jews, who might be white but were not the right shade of white.

      The Évian conference confirmed that the traditional countries of settlement—the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina—would continue to the end to resist large-scale Jewish immigration. By the time the doors out of Europe closed in 1939, Australia had accepted some 10,000 Jewish refugees, a respectable quota by comparison with other Western countries, but minuscule in the larger picture.

      World War II, the redrawing of boundaries that followed it, and the flight of populations left millions of Europeans displaced. The 1948 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention of 1951 were intended to address the problem of these displaced persons (DPs). Between 1947 and 1952 Australia took in some 170,000 European refugees. At first the government gave priority to candidates who fit the physical stereotype of the white Australian, for instance people from the Baltic lands. But as the DP camps emptied, and as public opinion softened, migrants began to be accepted from Greece, Italy, Croatia, and other Southern European countries. Refugees from Communist regimes were looked on favorably: Czech dissidents fleeing the Russians in 1968; Vietnamese boat people after the fall of Saigon in 1975; Chinese students after the massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Gradually a nation began to emerge that was no longer quite so Anglo-Celtic in its ethnicity.

      Since the 1990s, however, refugee policy has again hardened, and has been complicated by the rise of Islamist terrorism. On August 26, 2001, shortly before the attack on the Twin Towers, a Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, picked up 438 passengers (mostly Afghan Hazaras) from a foundering boat and anchored near Christmas Island. The Tampa was soon boarded by Australian commandos, while the Australian prime minister announced that backdoor asylum-seekers would from then on be processed not on the mainland but in offshore facilities run by Australia in yet-to-be-decided third countries. After September 11, the refugees on the Tampa suddenly became Muslim boat people, and as Muslims became suspected terrorists. From then on, in the politics of the right, asylum-seekers have been tarred with the brush of terrorism. From that date too, broad support for the doctrine of human rights began to wane, not only in Australia but in Western democracies in general—witness Guantánamo.

      The practice of offshore processing announced in 2001 was maintained until the number of boat arrivals had dwindled to such an extent that the camps could be closed. However, soon after this was done, in 2004, boats began to arrive again. Why? Because refugees had simply been biding their time, waiting for Australia to relax its guard? Or because as the civil war in Sri Lanka intensified, thousands of Tamils were fleeing for their lives? Which was the determining factor: the pull of Australia or the push of world events?

      As the number of boat arrivals grew, the authorities became more and more nervous. Australia had to be made a less attractive destination. A panel of experts recommended what it called a “circuit breaker”: the resumption of offshore processing together with an end to compassionate border control.

      Agreements were concluded in 2013 with Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the tiny island state of Nauru. The old camps would be reopened. These two countries would process the protection claims of people arriving in Australia by boat and would resettle them either on their own territory or in a third country. Australia could then argue that it was not responsible for the ultimate fate of the asylum-seekers, even though the camps would be financed and run by the Australian government through private contractors.

      Manus Island belongs to an archipelago that forms part of PNG. It lies 650 miles north of the Australian mainland; the entire archipelago has a population of about 60,000. Between 2013 and 2016, when the PNG Supreme Court ruled that imprisoning asylum-seekers had been illegal from the start, several thousand people passed through the camps on Manus. However, when in 2017 the PNG police tried to close the camps, most of the occupants—some six hundred men—refused to leave, claiming to fear for their safety. Water and electricity were cut off, and a siege commenced that is vividly described in Boochani’s book. After a month, resistance crumbled, and the detainees were moved into compounds elsewhere on the island, where they have freedom of movement though, without papers, they cannot leave PNG.

      Nauru, nearly two thousand miles from Australia, is one of the world’s smallest nation-states, with a mere 11,000 inhabitants. Since its deposits of rock phosphate gave out a decade or two ago, its economic viability has depended on money-laundering and on the largesse of foreign patrons. On Nauru, prisoners have been held in what are called “open facilities.” However, since the island is tiny (eight square miles), the advantage is slight.

      The UNHCR has been extremely critical of Australia’s offshore policies. In 2017 it concluded that PNG and Nauru were intrinsically unsuitable as resettlement homes, given “the impossibility of local integration.” In other words, Papuans and Nauruans do not want refugees living among them, and refugees do not want to live in PNG or Nauru. New Zealand has offered to take 150 of the inmates, but Australia has vetoed this offer on the grounds that former detainees might make their way from New Zealand to Australia, thereby weakening the deterrent power of Australian policy.

      The operation of the camps was shrouded from the beginning under a blanket of secrecy. Inmates were to be known not by name but by number; circulating photographs of them was forbidden. For information on life in the camps, we have to rely on prisoners like Boochani and on those Australian doctors and social workers who have defied legislation that made it a criminal offense to report what they had witnessed.

      On the basis of such evidence, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Manus and Nauru are not just processing centers but punishment camps where detainees—“clients” in the jargon of the bureaucracy—serve indeterminate or even indefinite sentences for the offense of trying to enter Australia without papers. The attitude of the Australian guards (“client service officers”), many of them veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, seems to be unremitting hostility, fueled by suspicions that among their clientele are Islamic terrorists masquerading as refugees. The local populations, Nauruan or Papuan, also seem to regard the refugees with an unfriendly eye. In 2014 the Manus camp was invaded by Papuan police and civilians who assaulted the inmates, killing one of them.

      In the first year and a half after the agreement with Nauru and PNG, over three thousand people, including hundreds of children, were consigned to offshore detention. A pediatrician visiting the island camps reported a range of troubled behavior among children there: bed-wetting, nightmares, defiant behavior, separation anxiety, withdrawal, regression in speech, mutism, stuttering. Australia’s human rights commissioner concluded that the camps were too violent and unsafe to house children. The entire practice of putting children behind razor wire was damned by a UN special rapporteur. In the face of public disquiet, the Australian authorities began to remove children and their parents to the mainland. By February 2019 the last of them had either been resettled in the US or brought to Australia on an explicitly temporary basis.

      Refugee policy was not an issue in the recent elections for the Australian federal parliament, which were won and lost on arcane issues in the tax code. News that Australian voters had returned to power the same set of jailers responsible for their misery provoked a spate of self-harm and suicide attempts among the remaining detainees. An Indian who tried to set himself alight was treated for burns, then charged with attempting suicide. Boochani reports that most of the refugees left on Manus have fallen into a state of despair and no longer leave their rooms. To date, fourteen prisoners, most of them in their twenties, have died on Nauru and Manus, some by their own hand. They died because the camps were unhealthy, dangerous, and destructive not only of their psychic stability but of their very humanity.

      For years there has been a drumbeat of protest from within Australia against the demonization of asylum-seekers. One appeal came from Tim Winton, among Australia’s most widely read writers:

      Prime Minister, turn us back from this path to brutality. Restore us to our best selves. Turn back from piling trauma upon the traumatised. It grinds innocent people to despair and self-harm and suicide. It ruins the lives of children. It shames us. And it poisons the future. Give these people back their faces, their humanity. Do not avert your gaze and don’t hide them from us.

      Not everyone shares Winton’s sentiments. After being shown a poster targeting aspiring asylum-seekers that showed a boat in rough waters with the caption “NO WAY. YOU WILL NOT MAKE AUSTRALIA HOME,” President Trump tweeted, “Much can be learned!” Australia’s practices of imprisoning refugees and turning back boats have been applauded by the European right and in some quarters mimicked.

      At the peak of the influx of boat people, Manus housed 1,353 prisoners and Nauru 1,233. For Nauru, the camp business has been particularly lucrative. For each detainee it houses on behalf of Australia, Nauru earns about US$1,400 a year in visa fees. Holding a prisoner offshore costs Australia about US$38,000 per year. If the same prisoner were brought to the Australian mainland while his or her claim was being processed, the cost would fall to US$7,000. Persisting with the offshore camps has clearly been a point of honor with the Australians, no matter what the expense.

      In the last days of the Obama administration, it was announced that the United States would accept up to 1,250 refugees from Manus and Nauru. When President Trump took office in January 2017, the then Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called to pay his respects and apprise the new incumbent of the agreement. President Trump was understandably baffled. Why could Australia not house the refugees itself? Turnbull replied:

      The only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

      As Turnbull artlessly reveals, there is something arbitrary in welcoming people who have papers while treating people without papers not only badly but with spectacular heartlessness. Commentators have pointed to the contrived quality of the distinction and hinted at a motive behind it: that the sans-papiers are being offered up to the xenophobes and nativists to vent their rage on, while government and business are left free to run an orderly system of importing skilled migrants.

      With evident reluctance, President Trump has honored the deal made by the Obama administration. As of April 2019, over five hundred refugees had been resettled in the US, with further departures expected, while 265 applications had been rejected on character grounds. According to Boochani’s recent count, there are still 370 asylum-seekers on Manus, seventy of whom had been accepted by the US and are ready to leave. Sixty men on Nauru have been accepted, leaving about two hundred on the island. The prisoners rejected by the US provide Australia with a legal headache. It cannot send them back to their countries of origin without violating its non-refoulement obligations, yet if no third country will accept them, they will find themselves in indefinite detention, in violation of international human rights law.

      As a youngster, Behrouz Boochani tells us, he wanted to join the Kurdish guerrillas in their war of liberation but was not brave enough to take the final step: “To this very day I don’t know if I have a peace-loving spirit or if I was just frightened.” Instead he turned to a career in writing.

      About the journalism that got him into trouble with the authorities and his subsequent flight from Iran he has little to say. At Tehran airport he masquerades as a casual tourist, carrying nothing but a few changes of clothes and a book of poetry. In Indonesia he spends a miserable forty days hiding from the police, waiting for a place on a boat. The boat that he boards is barely seaworthy: he and his fellow fugitives spend most of their time bailing out water. They are picked up by an Indonesian fishing vessel, transferred to a British freighter, then finally arrested by the Australian navy and flown to Manus Island.

      Boochani understands at once that he and his companions have become hostages, to be used “to strike fear into others, to scare people so they won’t come to Australia.” His first impression of his new home is that it is “beautiful…nothing like the island hell that [the Australians] tried to scare us with.” Then, as he steps off the plane, he is hit by the suffocating humidity and stifling heat. Mosquitoes buzz everywhere.

      No Friend But the Mountains provides a wholly engrossing account of the first four years that Boochani spent on Manus, up to the time when the prison camp was closed and the prisoners resettled elsewhere on the island. Just as absorbing is his analysis of the system that reigns in the camp, a system imposed by the Australian authorities but autonomous in the sense that it holds the jailers as well as the prisoners in its grip.

      The aim of the system is to break the will of the prisoners and make them accept refoulement. It works by fostering animosities among them, eroding solidarity and leaving them feeling isolated. The simplest of means are used to create paranoia. The electricity running the fans that provide relief from the insufferable heat is switched on and off for no reason. There is drinking water, but it is always lukewarm. Occasionally chilled fruit juice appears, but according to no detectable schedule. With nothing else to do, prisoners become obsessed with finding patterns in these random events: “A twisted system governs the prison, a deranged logic that confines the mind of the prisoner, an extremely oppressive form of governance that the prisoner internalises.”

      New rules and regulations are introduced from week to week, for which no one will accept responsibility: “No person who is a part of the system can ever provide an answer—neither the officers nor the other employees…. All they can say is, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just following orders.’” The daily routine includes four body-checks. The eyes of the Australian guards who carry out the searches are “cold, barbaric, hateful.”

      Boochani’s fellow prisoners come from all over the world: Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Kurdistan. Having to live in close proximity with strangers becomes a torment. He withdraws further and further into himself.

      Moral standards deteriorate on all sides. Now and then the mango trees that surround the camp drop their fruit within the perimeter. Even Kurds, normally renowned for their hospitality, pounce on the fruit and devour it without sharing.

      The toilets become a place of refuge where a prisoner can be by himself and scream his lungs out. But they also become a place of self-harm and suicide. Boochani records a terrifying episode as the prisoners witness guards removing the body of a man who had slit his wrists with a razor. Among the onlookers he detects a pulsating excitement: “Their responses reveal an attraction to the thrills of a night of blood…. The scene is like a festival: a festival of blood, a festival of the dead.” For some prisoners, self-harm becomes “a kind of cultural practice,” a way of gaining respect. “The faces of those who have self-harmed show peace, a profound peace akin to ecstasy, akin to euphoria.”

      Boochani’s narrative reaches a climax when in October 2017 the PNG authorities try to close down the prison camp. Two weeks of nonviolent protest culminate in bloody warfare. Boochani is thrilled by the militancy of his comrades: “For the first time the prisoners did not feel oppressed by the fences. For the first time the rules and regulations meant nothing…. A bond of brotherhood emerged among the prisoners in this fierce movement, performed in the theatre of war for all to see.”

      A prefatory note to the book informs us that strict measures have been taken to conceal the identities of detainees. The characters “are not individuals who are disguised…. Their identities are entirely manufactured. They are composite characters.” Boochani’s wish to protect his fellow detainees from reprisal is understandable, but it is nonetheless a pity that we are given no reliable facts about them. Was Boochani an exception, for example, in having a university education? And what led these people to undertake the perilous voyage to Australia, of all places?

      Boochani is clearly a loner. Oppressed by the meaningless clamor of prison life, he longs “to isolate [himself] and create that which is poetic and visionary.” He flirts with the idea of himself as a poet-prophet, but it is not clear what he might be prophesying. By his own confession, he is not a brave man, yet it is clear that in those desperate days at sea he behaved with great courage. His motive for seeking asylum in Australia remains unexplored. As autobiography, No Friend is not the summing up of a life but a work in progress, the absorbing record of a life-transforming episode whose effects on his inner self the writer is still trying to plumb.

      It is significant that the medium Boochani chooses for his story is a mixed one: analytic prose on the one hand, traditional Kurdish folk-ballad on the other. He writes:

      The amazement and horror felt during the nights on Manus has the power to thrust everyone back into their long distant pasts. These nights uncover many years of tears deep in our hearts and open old wounds…they draw out the bitter truth; they force the prisoners to self-prosecute. Prisoners are driven to crying tears of bitter sorrow.

      Getting No Friend But the Mountains off the island and into the hands of readers in Australia was an achievement in itself. The text was typed in Farsi on a cell phone that Boochani kept hidden in his mattress, and then surreptitiously dispatched, one text message at a time, to a collaborator in the outside world.

      Boochani’s translator, Omid Tofighian, provides an afterword containing useful information about the genesis of the book and Boochani’s place in the Iranian and Kurdish literary traditions. It is as though, to save himself from the madness of the camp, Boochani had to draw upon not only his innate creativity, not only his immersion in Kafka and Beckett, but also submerged memories of “the cold mountains of Kurdistan” and the songs of resistance sung there. (Here the title of the book becomes relevant.)

      If we approach No Friend as if it were a conventional refugee narrative or refugee memoir, Tofighian tells us, we misread it profoundly:

      In contrast to the thriving “refugee industry” that promotes stories to provide exposure and information and attempts to create empathy…Behrouz recounts stories in order to produce new knowledge and to construct a philosophy that unpacks and exposes systematic torture and the border-industrial complex. His intention has always been to hold a mirror up to the system, dismantle it, and produce a historical record to honour those who have been killed and everyone who is still suffering.

      As for Tofighian’s own contribution, “translation [is] for me…a duty to history and a strategy for positioning the issue of indefinite detention of refugees deep within Australia’s collective memory.”

      Tofighian contrasts the greater island of Australia with the lesser island of Manus:

      One island kills vision, creativity and knowledge—it imprisons thought. The other island fosters vision, creativity and knowledge—it is a land where the mind is free. The first island is the settler-colonial state called Australia, and the prisoners are the settlers. The second island contains Manus Prison, and knowledge resides there with the incarcerated refugees.

      This is a bold and persuasive claim: that through their experience on the island the prisoners have absorbed an understanding of how power works in the world, whereas their jailers remain locked in complacent ignorance. The claim rests on an extended conception of what knowledge can consist in: knowledge can be absorbed directly into the suffering body and thence transfigure the self. The prisoners know more than the jailers do, even if they do not have words for what they know. As Boochani puts it, the prisoners

      have modified their perception and understanding of life, transformed their interpretation of existence…. They have changed so much—they have transfigured into different beings…. This has occurred for everyone…. They have become distinctly creative humans, they have unprecedented creative capacities…. This is incredible, it is phenomenal to witness.

      Tofighian’s afterword upends the image of the translator as the humble, invisible helpmeet of the author. Not only does he present himself, along with two other Iranian colleagues, as a full collaborator in the project, but he also—somewhat hectoringly—gives instructions on how to approach the book: not as an affecting record of suffering and tribulation but as a “decolonial intervention,” “a decolonial text, representing a decolonial way of thinking and doing,” written to spur us “to resist the colonial mindset that is driving Australia’s detention regime.” Boochani supports this mode of reading when he identifies himself less as a writer than as a political scientist who has chosen to employ the language of literature.

      The question is, how novel and how valuable is Boochani’s analysis of what he calls the “intersecting social systems of domination and oppression” that reinforce each other in the prison? That people who run prisons try to break down the solidarity of prison populations by encouraging mistrust of all by all and diverting the inmates’ attention to trivia is hardly news. What has not been done before, claims Tofighian, is to connect the warped psychic regime of the prison with “Australian colonial history and fundamental factors plaguing contemporary Australian society, culture and politics.”

      This is, to my mind, an empty claim. The book contains no analysis at all of contemporary Australia, a country that Boochani—and who can blame him?—wishes never to set foot in. No doubt the Australian guards at the camp detested the prisoners and wished them ill; but that is true of many prison guards vis-à-vis many prisoners. What is more of a mystery is why so many Australians wish refugees ill. To answer this question one needs to know a great deal more about Australian history, the tensions within Australian society, and the maneuverings of Australia’s political parties than Boochani, isolated on his island, has been able to inquire into.

      In May 1994, during the first session of the parliament of the newly liberated South Africa, Nelson Mandela read into the record a poem written in 1960 by the Afrikaans writer Ingrid Jonker (1933–1965). The poem mourns the death of a child shot by police during a protest meeting and foretells his resurrection. Mandela read the poem as a gesture of reconciliation with white Afrikaners, who were dubious about how welcome they would be in the new South Africa. “She was both an Afrikaner and an African,” Mandela said of Jonker.

      There is an aspect of Jonker’s poem that few of the parliamentarians listening to Mandela, or indeed Mandela himself, chose to take seriously. The poem ends with the lines: “The child, become a man, treks through the whole of Africa. The child, become a giant, travels across the entire world, without a pass.” The pass to which Jonker refers is the hated internal passport that black Africans were required to carry, without which apartheid as an administrative system would have collapsed. The meeting at which the child was killed was held to protest against having to carry passes; now, in 1994, the reborn child strides unstoppably across the world, disdaining a pass. Not only does Jonker’s poem look forward to the defeat of apartheid; it also looks forward to a day when the borders of the nation-state will crumble before the march of a free people.

      The new government headed by Mandela never for a minute considered abolishing or even questioning the nation’s borders, as defined years earlier by the erstwhile colonial power, Britain. Liberated or not, any child who treks through Africa without a pass will be stopped when he arrives at the South African frontier.

      Despite its teetering economy, South Africa remains attractive to migrants. Of the 58 million people residing within its borders, some three million are immigrants of various degrees of legality, half of them from Zimbabwe. To obtain a visa that entitles him or her to work in South Africa, a Zimbabwean needs a passport, a letter from an employer, an address in South Africa, and proof of funds. Most find these requirements impossible to meet. As for getting accepted as a refugee, this is complicated by the reluctance of the South African government to concede that political repression exists in Zimbabwe. Thus, papers or no papers, Zimbabweans have for years been crossing South Africa’s inadequately monitored northern border unannounced, at a rate of some seven hundred a day.

      Immigration is a burning issue in South Africa. Politicians blame foreign migrants for high crime rates, for overrunning the cities, for exploiting the social welfare system, for taking jobs from the locals. In 2008 there were outbursts of mass violence against foreigners that left scores dead. The South African authorities have responded to the challenge of undocumented migration with sporadic roundups and mass deportations. The exercise has been largely futile. Most of those expelled promptly turn around and come back.

      I mention the case of South Africa, not untypical in the postcolonial world, to illustrate what can happen when—unlike Australia—a country lacks the will and/or the means to close its borders to less affluent neighbors. Zimbabweans and other African migrants who find their way to South Africa reside there only precariously. They are at the receiving end of resentment and sometimes of violence from the locals. They are ill advised to appeal to the police for protection. On the other hand, they have yet to find themselves dispatched to a godforsaken island as punishment for entering the country through the back door.

      Cross-border migration is a fact of life in today’s world, and numbers will only increase as the earth heats up, former pastures turn to desert, and islands are swallowed by the sea. There are messy but humane—or at least human—ways of reacting to this world-historical phenomenon, just as there are neat but inhuman ways.

      https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/09/26/australias-shame
      –-----

      Et un peu plus sur le lien avec la montagne...

      It is as though, to save himself from the madness of the camp, Boochani had to draw upon not only his innate creativity, not only his immersion in Kafka and Beckett, but also submerged memories of “the cold mountains of Kurdistan” and the songs of resistance sung there. (Here the title of the book becomes relevant.)

  • On 56th Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege, Israeli Forces Wound 110 Civilians, including 37 Children, 3 Women, 4 Paramedics, and Journalist | Palestinian Center for Human Rights
    https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=12416

    On Friday, 26 April 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 56thFriday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 110 civilians, including 37 children, 3 women, 4 paramedics, and a journalist, in the eastern Gaza Strip. Two of those wounded sustained serious wounds. (...)

    #marcheduretour

  • The #Assange Exception to the First Amendment
    https://townhall.com/columnists/jacobsullum/2019/04/17/the-assange-exception-to-the-first-amendment-freedom-of-the-press-is-not-l

    The debate about whether Julian Assange should be considered a journalist, reignited by the WikiLeaks founder’s arrest in London last week, gives employees of news and opinion outlets ample opportunity to display their high self-regard and contempt for amateurs who fall short of their lofty #standards. But the question is constitutionally irrelevant, because freedom of the press belongs to all of us, no matter where we work or what the journalistic establishment thinks of us.

    #MSM

    • lien propre:

      Glen Greenwald, Micah Lee - 20190412

      https://theintercept.com/2019/04/11/the-u-s-governments-indictment-of-julian-assange-poses-grave-threats-t

      In April, 2017, Pompeo, while still CIA chief, delivered a deranged speech proclaiming that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” He punctuated his speech with this threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”

      From the start, the Trump DOJ has made no secret of its desire to criminalize journalism generally. Early in the Trump administration, Sessions explicitly discussed the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information. Trump and his key aides were open about how eager they were to build on, and escalate, the Obama administration’s progress in enabling journalism in the U.S. to be criminalized.

      Today’s arrest of Assange is clearly the culmination of a two-year effort by the U.S. government to coerce Ecuador — under its new and submissive president, Lenín Moreno — to withdraw the asylum protection it extended to Assange in 2012. Rescinding Assange’s asylum would enable the U.K. to arrest Assange on minor bail-jumping charges pending in London and, far more significantly, to rely on an extradition request from the U.S. government to send him to a country to which he has no connection (the U.S.) to stand trial relating to leaked documents.

      Indeed, the Trump administration’s motive here is clear. With Ecuador withdrawing its asylum protection and subserviently allowing the U.K. to enter its own embassy to arrest Assange, Assange faced no charges other than a minor bail-jumping charge in the U.K. (Sweden closed its sexual assault investigation not because they concluded Assange was innocent, but because they spent years unsuccessfully trying to extradite him). By indicting Assange and demanding his extradition, it ensures that Assange — once he serves his time in a London jail for bail-jumping — will be kept in a British prison for the full year or longer that it takes for the U.S. extradition request, which Assange will certainly contest, to wind its way through the British courts.

      The indictment tries to cast itself as charging Assange not with journalistic activities but with criminal hacking. But it is a thinly disguised pretext for prosecuting Assange for publishing the U.S. government’s secret documents while pretending to make it about something else.

      Whatever else is true about the indictment, substantial parts of the document explicitly characterize as criminal exactly the actions that journalists routinely engage in with their sources and thus, constitutes a dangerous attempt to criminalize investigative journalism.

      The indictment, for instance, places great emphasis on Assange’s alleged encouragement that Manning — after she already turned over hundreds of thousands of classified documents — try to get more documents for WikiLeaks to publish. The indictment claims that “discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.’ To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience.’”

      But encouraging sources to obtain more information is something journalists do routinely. Indeed, it would be a breach of one’s journalistic duties not to ask vital sources with access to classified information if they could provide even more information so as to allow more complete reporting. If a source comes to a journalist with information, it is entirely common and expected that the journalist would reply: Can you also get me X, Y, and Z to complete the story or to make it better? As Edward Snowden said this morning, “Bob Woodward stated publicly he would have advised me to remain in place and act as a mole.”

      Investigative journalism in many, if not most, cases, entails a constant back and forth between journalist and source in which the journalist tries to induce the source to provide more classified information, even if doing so is illegal. To include such “encouragement” as part of a criminal indictment — as the Trump DOJ did today — is to criminalize the crux of investigative journalism itself, even if the indictment includes other activities you believe fall outside the scope of journalism.

      As Northwestern journalism professor Dan Kennedy explained in The Guardian in 2010 when denouncing as a press freedom threat the Obama DOJ’s attempts to indict Assange based on the theory that he did more than passively receive and publish documents — i.e., that he actively “colluded” with Manning:


      The problem is that there is no meaningful distinction to be made. How did the Guardian, equally, not “collude” with WikiLeaks in obtaining the cables? How did the New York Times not “collude” with the Guardian when the Guardian gave the Times a copy following Assange’s decision to cut the Times out of the latest document dump?

      For that matter, I don’t see how any news organisation can be said not to have colluded with a source when it receives leaked documents. Didn’t the Times collude with Daniel Ellsberg when it received the Pentagon Papers from him? Yes, there are differences. Ellsberg had finished making copies long before he began working with the Times, whereas Assange may have goaded Manning. But does that really matter?

      Most of the reports about the Assange indictment today have falsely suggested that the Trump DOJ discovered some sort of new evidence that proved Assange tried to help Manning hack through a password in order to use a different username to download documents. Aside from the fact that those attempts failed, none of this is new: As the last five paragraphs of this 2011 Politico story demonstrate, that Assange talked to Manning about ways to use a different username so as to avoid detection was part of Manning’s trial and was long known to the Obama DOJ when they decided not to prosecute.

      There are only two new events that explain today’s indictment of Assange: 1) The Trump administration from the start included authoritarian extremists such as Sessions and Pompeo who do not care in the slightest about press freedom and were determined to criminalize journalism against the U.S., and 2) With Ecuador about to withdraw its asylum protection, the U.S. government needed an excuse to prevent Assange from walking free.

      A technical analysis of the indictment’s claims similarly proves the charge against Assange to be a serious threat to First Amendment press liberties, primarily because it seeks to criminalize what is actually a journalist’s core duty: helping one’s source avoid detection. The indictment deceitfully seeks to cast Assange’s efforts to help Manning maintain her anonymity as some sort of sinister hacking attack.

      The Defense Department computer that Manning used to download the documents which she then furnished to WikiLeaks was likely running the Windows operating system. It had multiple user accounts on it, including an account to which Manning had legitimate access. Each account is protected by a password, and Windows computers store a file that contains a list of usernames and password “hashes,” or scrambled versions of the passwords. Only accounts designated as “administrator,” a designation Manning’s account lacked, have permission to access this file.

      The indictment suggests that Manning, in order to access this password file, powered off her computer and then powered it back on, this time booting to a CD running the Linux operating system. From within Linux, she allegedly accessed this file full of password hashes. The indictment alleges that Assange agreed to try to crack one of these password hashes, which, if successful, would recover the original password. With the original password, Manning would be able to log directly into that other user’s account, which — as the indictment puts it — “would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.”

      Assange appears to have been unsuccessful in cracking the password. The indictment alleges that “Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he had ‘no luck so far.’”

      Thus, even if one accepts all of the indictment’s claims as true, Assange was not trying to hack into new document files to which Manning had no access, but rather trying to help Manning avoid detection as a source. For that reason, the precedent that this case would set would be a devastating blow to investigative journalists and press freedom everywhere.

      Journalists have an ethical obligation to take steps to protect their sources from retaliation, which sometimes includes granting them anonymity and employing technical measures to help ensure that their identity is not discovered. When journalists take source protection seriously, they strip metadata and redact information from documents before publishing them if that information could have been used to identify their source; they host cloud-based systems such as SecureDrop, now employed by dozens of major newsrooms around the world, that make it easier and safer for whistleblowers, who may be under surveillance, to send messages and classified documents to journalists without their employers knowing; and they use secure communication tools like Signal and set them to automatically delete messages.

      But today’s indictment of Assange seeks to criminalize exactly these types of source-protection efforts, as it states that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used a special folder on a cloud drop box of WikiLeaks to transmit classified records containing information related to the national defense of the United States.”

      The indictment, in numerous other passages, plainly conflates standard newsroom best practices with a criminal conspiracy. It states, for instance, that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records, and to enter into the agreement to crack the password […].” There is no question that using Jabber, or any other encrypted messaging system, to communicate with sources and acquire documents with the intent to publish them, is a completely lawful and standard part of modern investigative journalism. Newsrooms across the world now use similar technologies to communicate securely with their sources and to help their sources avoid detection by the government.

      The indictment similarly alleges that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks, including by removing usernames from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning.”

  • » Updated: “Army Kills A Child, Injures 66 Palestinians, In Gaza
    IMEMC News - April 12, 2019 8:12 PM
    https://imemc.org/article/army-kills-a-child-injures-at-least-thirty-palestinians-in-gaza

    Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday evening, the weekly Great March Processions in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing one child, and injuring at 55 others, including one who suffered serious wounds, and two medics.

    The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that the soldiers shot a child, identified as Maisara Mousa Ali Abu Shallouf, 15, after shooting him with live fire in the abdomen, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

    The soldiers also fired live rounds and gas bombs at medics trying to reach the child to provide him with the urgently needed medical help, before he succumbed to his wounds.

    Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry In Gaza, said the soldiers shot 66 Palestinians, including 15 children and six women, in addition to two medics.

    It added that one of the wounded Palestinians suffered life-threatening wounds.

    The Health Ministry also stated that the soldiers shot two medics and caused others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

    “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    On 54th Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege, Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Child and Wound 93 Civilians, including 17 Children, 4 Women, 3 Paramedics, and Journalist
    April 12, 2019
    https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=12310

    (...) The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 19:00, resulted in the killing of Maysara Mousa Suliman Abu Shalouf (15), from ‘zbit Beit Hanoun. At approximately 17:00, Maysara sustained a live bullet wound that entered his left waist and settled in the pelvis while standing few meters away from the border fence in eastern Jabalia. He was left bleeding for 20 minutes because medical personnel were unable to access him. After that, he was taken to a medical point and then referred to the Indonesian Hospital, where his death was declared at approximately 17:55.

    Moreover, 93 civilians, including 17 children, four women, three paramedics, and a journalist, were wounded. Forty-four of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel, 46 were directly hit with tear gas canisters and three were hit with rubber bullets. In addition, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.(...)

    #Palestine_assassinée #marcheduretour

  • #Chomsky: Arrest of #Assange Is “Scandalous” and Highlights Shocking Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. | Democracy Now!
    https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/12/chomsky_arrest_of_assange_is_scandalous

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects. One of them is just the effort of governments—and it’s not just the U.S. government. The British are cooperating. Ecuador, of course, is now cooperating. Sweden, before, had cooperated. The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about—OK?—that’s basically what happened. #WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.

    To take another example, right next door to Ecuador, in Brazil, where the developments that have gone on are extremely important. This is the most important country in Latin America, one of the most important in the world. Under the Lula government early in this millennium, Brazil was the most—maybe the most respected country in the world. It was the voice for the Global South under the leadership of Lula da Silva. Notice what happened. There was a coup, soft coup, to eliminate the nefarious effects of the labor party, the Workers’ Party. These are described by the World Bank—not me, the World Bank—as the “golden decade” in Brazil’s history, with radical reduction of poverty, a massive extension of inclusion of marginalized populations, large parts of the population—Afro-Brazilian, indigenous—who were brought into the society, a sense of dignity and hope for the population. That couldn’t be tolerated.

    After Lula’s—after he left office, a kind of a “soft coup” take place—I won’t go through the details, but the last move, last September, was to take Lula da Silva, the leading, the most popular figure in Brazil, who was almost certain to win the forthcoming election, put him in jail, solitary confinement, essentially a death sentence, 25 years in jail, banned from reading press or books, and, crucially, barred from making a public statement—unlike mass murderers on death row.
    This, in order to silence the person who was likely to win the election. He’s the most important political prisoner in the world. Do you hear anything about it?

    Well, Assange is a similar case: We’ve got to silence this voice. You go back to history. Some of you may recall when Mussolini’s fascist government put Antonio Gramsci in jail. The prosecutor said, “We have to silence this voice for 20 years. Can’t let it speak.” That’s Assange. That’s Lula. There are other cases. That’s one scandal.

    The other scandal is just the extraterritorial reach of the United States, which is shocking. I mean, why should the United States—why should any—no other state could possibly do it. But why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world? I mean, it’s an outlandish situation. It goes on all the time. We never even notice it. At least there’s no comment on it .

    #extraterritorialité #états-unis

  • Daniel Ellsberg On #Assange Arrest: The Beginning of the End For Press Freedom
    https://therealnews.com/stories/daniel-ellsberg-on-assange-arrest-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-press-fr

    This is the first indictment of a journalist and editor or publisher, Julian Assange. And if it’s successful it will not be the last. This is clearly is a part of President Trump’s war on the press, what he calls the enemy of the state. And if he succeeds in putting Julian Assange in prison, where I think he’ll be for life, if he goes there at all, probably the first charge against him is only a few years. But that’s probably just the first of many.

  • Everipedia Culture Roundup #13 : Factual Coverage
    https://hackernoon.com/everipedia-culture-roundup-13-factual-coverage-db03d0db07c3?source=rss--

    Covering news, pop culture, and #media should be a straight-forward thing one should think, but today it’s hard to get a sense of what is true and false. On this week’s edition of Everipedia Culture Roundup, we recognize people that report the #facts. Hassan Bargathi was the founder of the popular culture staple Only Hip-Hop Facts. Christie Smythe is writing a book that is an expansion on the biggest story she ever reported, the arrest of Martin Shkreli. Armin van Bitcoin isn’t a journalist by any means, but he truthfully shares his opinion on cryptocurrency and trading to his tens of thousands of followers on Twitter. Marko Jukic is using the scientific method to improve #language-learning techniques in order to increase the success rate of fluency. And Muzmatch is the honest dating app (...)

    #dating-app #everipedia-partnership

  • Saudi Arabia paying Jamal Khashoggi’s children thousands each month – report | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/02/saudi-arabia-paying-jamal-khashoggis-children-thousands-each-month-repo

    The children of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received multimillion-dollar homes and are being paid thousands of dollars per month by the kingdom’s authorities, the Washington Post has reported.

    Khashoggi – a contributor to the Post and a critic of the Saudi government – was killed and dismembered in October at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has not been recovered.

    The payments to his four children – two sons and two daughters – “are part of an effort by Saudi Arabia to reach a long-term arrangement with Khashoggi family members, aimed in part at ensuring that they continue to show restraint in their public statements”, the Post said.
    Saudi crown prince wanted to go after Jamal Khashoggi ’with a bullet’ – report
    Read more

    The houses given to the Khashoggi children are located in the port city of Jeddah and are worth up to $4m, the newspaper reported.

    #arabie_saoudite #khashoggi ... beurk

  • Even to the most enlightened Zionist leftists, the Palestinians are invisible
    Gideon Levy | Mar 31, 2019
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-even-to-the-most-enlightened-zionist-leftists-the-palestinians-are

    FILE Photo: Oshrat Kotler during a conference on education in Jerusalem, April 1, 2014. Olivier Fitoussi

    Oshrat Kotler is an editor and anchor of the Channel 13 news magazine. She is considered principled, assertive and courageous. She comes by this description honestly, especially in comparison to most of her colleagues on television. On Thursday, she participated in a panel on the silencing of free speech at the Haaretz Democracy Conference.

    What happened on stage was like a Hollywood movie. As she praised her editors and bosses for their strong position against silencing free speech, it was reported that she had been put on extended leave. Kotler squirmed and tried to deny it, but by the time she left the stage it turned out the report was true. We may assume that there was a direct connection between her leave and her remark: “We send the kids to the army, to the territories, and we get back ‘animals.’ This is the result of the occupation.”

    Kotler has drawn the boundaries of Zionist leftist protest in Israel. They are despairingly narrow and selfish. The bad old expression “we shoot and weep” has turned into the even worse “We shoot and weep only for ourselves.” Even protest that exacts the type of heavy personal price that Kotler is paying has always remained in the comfort zone and is no less ultranationalist and racist than the right’s positions. Even to the most enlightened, the Palestinians are invisible, they don’t exist, they are subhuman. The fact that even this protest is silenced only shows what is left of freedom of expression, scraps of liberty, on television as in the state itself.

    Kotler was shocked by the video of soldiers in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion abusing two Palestinian detainees, father and son. The first feeling it should have evoked was empathy for the pain of these ill-fated people. But not in Kotler, nor in the vast majority of Israelis. Kotler said she ached for the soldiers’ parents, who did not raise them for this; and she saw the soldiers’ eyes, which were blurred on TV, and her heart went out to them.

    There was just one thing Kotler didn’t see: the real victims. Soldiers abuse a man and his son who are blindfolded and in restraints, and the opinionated anchor, the voice of courageous protest, is shocked. At what? At the fate of the abusers. Their parents, their eyes. We send children and we get animals back. How unfortunate we are. We’ll never forgive the Palestinians for forcing us to abuse their fathers and sons. Once again, the abuser as victim, his parents as a pedagogic poem that was destroyed. Who else was in the jeep? No one.

    We’ll say it: Ziad and Mahmoud Shalaldeh were on the floor of the jeep. They are the only victims in this story. The father is a garbage collector, the son is a shepherd, 13 people living in a tent. Anjud, 17, lives on the floor of the tent. She has cerebral palsy. Ziad and Mahmoud ran into a man from their village who is wanted for murder, and are suspected of hiding him. They will spend years in prison. The solders beat them in revenge and forced the son to watch his father being kicked and punched. Both were hospitalized in serious condition. They couldn’t stand, they couldn’t speak. The father suffers from internal bleeding. Their family is prohibited from visiting them and knows very little about their condition.

    And after all that, the soldiers’ doleful eyes are what we cherish most. The only thing. Their parents are the ones who touch us. Only they. And Kotler is still the best of the best. She at least cares about someone. She isn’t an automaton and hasn’t become inured like almost all of them. On YouTube her clips appear, titled: “Oshrat Kotler Weeps,” Oshrat Kotler Shouts,” “Oshrat Kotler Goes Crazy,” Oshrat Kotler Apologizes.”

    At the Haaretz conference she choked back tears over her dying father. He is a Likudnik, an Israel Air Force veteran who weeps whenever IAF planes fly overhead. Thanks to him, she said, she is a journalist. Because of him she’s brave. In his honor she came to the Haaretz conference and didn’t heed her loved ones who told her not to come and to “keep quiet for a change.” And once again she spoke of the soldiers and their parents. And the real victim? He is once again an orphan, mute, cast into darkness on the floor of the jeep, helpless, bleeding, without arousing any compassion, any human feeling. He is a Palestinian.

    #agresseurvictimisé #victimeinvibilisée

  • Health Ministry : “Army Killed 266 Palestinians In One Year”
    March 31, 2019 7:22 AM
    https://imemc.org/article/health-ministry-army-killed-266-palestinians-in-one-year

    The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported, Saturday, that Israeli soldiers killed 266 Palestinians, and injured 30398 others, since the Great Return March processions started on March 30, 2018, which also marks Palestinian Land Day. Four Palestinians were killed, Saturday, and 316, including 86 children and 29 women, were injured.

    The Health Ministry stated that the soldiers killed 266 Palestinians, including 50 children, six women and one elderly man, and injured 30398 others, including 16027 who were moved to various hospitals and medical centers.

    It said that among the wounded are 3175 children and 1008 women, and added that 136 Palestinians suffered amputations; 122 in the lower limbs, and 14 in the upper limbs.

    The Ministry also stated that the soldiers killed three medics, identified as Razan Najjar, 22, Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, 36, and Abdullah al-Qutati, 20, and injured 665 others, in addition to causing damage to 112 ambulances.

    Among the slain Palestinians are two journalists, identified as Yasser Mortaja, and journalist Ahmad Abu Hussein, in the Gaza Strip, while the soldiers injured dozens of journalists.

    The latest information does not include dozens of Palestinians who were killed and injured by the Israeli army after crossing the perimeter fence and were never returned to the Gaza Strip. (...)

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
     » Updated : Land Day ; Israeli Soldiers Kill Four Palestinians, Injure 316, In Gaza
    March 30, 2019 11:56 PM
    https://imemc.org/article/land-day-israeli-soldiers-kill-three-palestinians-injure-316-in-gaza

    Israeli soldiers killed, Saturday, four Palestinians, and injured 316 others, including 14 who suffered life-threatening wounds, during protests across the perimeter fence, in the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip.

    On Saturday at night, a Palestinian teen, identified as Bilal Mahmoud Najjar (Abu Jamous), 17, from Bani Soheila near Khan Younis, in southern Gaza Strip, died from serious wounds suffered earlier after the soldiers shot him with live fire.


    The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that, among the wounded are 86 children and 29 women.

    Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians gathered on lands near the perimeter fence, marking Palestinian Land Day, and the first anniversary since the beginning of the Great Return March.

    Media sources in Gaza said that National Committee for Breaking the Siege has called for a million-person march, marking Land Day, and the first anniversary of the Great Return March, demanding lifting the siege on Gaza, the internationally-guaranteed Right of Return, the liberation of Palestine and independence.


    On Saturday evening, the Health Ministry in Gaza said the soldiers killed Tamer Hashem Abu al-Kheir , 17, after shooting him with a live round in the chest, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

    His death came just hours after the soldiers killed Adham Nidal ‘Amara , 17, who was fatally shot during the processions east of Gaza city.


    On Friday morning, the soldiers killed Mohammad Jihad Sa’ad , 20, east of Gaza city, before the Great Return March processions started.

    #Palestine_assassinée #marcheduretour
    https://seenthis.net/messages/771083

  • Les #gilets_jaunes vus de New York...

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    Driving was already expensive in France when in January 2018 the government of President Emmanuel Macron imposed a tax that raised the price of diesel fuel by 7.6 centimes per liter and of gasoline by 3.8 centimes (about 9 and 4 cents, respectively); further increases were planned for January 2019. The taxes were an attempt to cut carbon emissions and honor the president’s lofty promise to “Make Our Planet Great Again.”

    Priscillia Ludosky, then a thirty-two-year-old bank employee from the Seine-et-Marne department outside Paris, had no choice but to drive into the city for work every day, and the cost of her commute was mounting. “When you pay regularly for something, it really adds up fast, and the increase was enormous,” she told me recently. “There are lots of things I don’t like. But on that I pushed.” In late May 2018, she created a petition on Change.org entitled Pour une Baisse des Prix du Carburant à la Pompe! (For a reduction of fuel prices at the pump!)

    Over the summer Ludosky’s petition—which acknowledged the “entirely honorable” aim of reducing pollution while offering six alternative policy suggestions, including subsidizing electric cars and encouraging employers to allow remote work—got little attention. In the fall she tried again, convincing a radio host in Seine-et-Marne to interview her if the petition garnered 1,500 signatures. She posted that challenge on her Facebook page, and the signatures arrived in less than twenty-four hours. A local news site then shared the petition on its own Facebook page, and it went viral, eventually being signed by over 1.2 million people.

    Éric Drouet, a thirty-three-year-old truck driver and anti-Macron militant also from Seine-et-Marne, created a Facebook event for a nationwide blockade of roads on November 17 to protest the high fuel prices. Around the same time, a fifty-one-year-old self-employed hypnotherapist named Jacline Mouraud recorded herself addressing Macron for four minutes and thirty-eight seconds and posted the video on Facebook. “You have persecuted drivers since the day you took office,” she said. “This will continue for how long?” Mouraud’s invective was viewed over six million times, and the gilets jaunes—the yellow vests, named for the high-visibility vests that French drivers are required to keep in their cars and to wear in case of emergency—were born.

    Even in a country where protest is a cherished ritual of public life, the violence and vitriol of the gilets jaunes movement have stunned the government. Almost immediately it outgrew the issue of the carbon taxes and the financial burden on car-reliant French people outside major cities. In a series of Saturday demonstrations that began in mid-November and have continued for three months, a previously dormant anger has erupted. Demonstrators have beaten police officers, thrown acid in the faces of journalists, and threatened the lives of government officials. There has been violence on both sides, and the European Parliament has condemned French authorities for using “flash-ball guns” against protesters, maiming and even blinding more than a few in the crowds. But the gilets jaunes have a flair for cinematic destruction. In late November they damaged parts of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; in early January they commandeered a forklift and rammed through the heavy doors of the ministry of state—the only time in the history of the Fifth Republic that a sitting minister had to be evacuated from a government building.

    The gilets jaunes are more than a protest. This is a modern-day jacquerie, an emotional wildfire stoked in the provinces and directed against Paris and, most of all, the elite. French history since 1789 can be seen as a sequence of anti-elite movements, yet the gilets jaunes have no real precedent. Unlike the Paris Commune of 1871, this is a proletarian struggle devoid of utopian aspirations. Unlike the Poujadist movement of the mid-1950s—a confederation of shopkeepers likewise opposed to the “Americanization” of a “thieving and inhuman” state and similarly attracted to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories—the gilets jaunes include shopkeepers seemingly content to destroy shop windows. There is an aspect of carnival here: a delight in the subversion of norms, a deliberate embrace of the grotesque.

    Many have said that the gilets jaunes are merely another “populist movement,” although the term is now so broad that it is nearly meaningless. Comparisons have been made to the Britain of Brexit, the United States of Donald Trump, and especially the Italy of Cinque Stelle. But the crucial difference is that the gilets jaunes are apolitical, and militantly so. They have no official platform, no leadership hierarchy, and no reliable communications. Everyone can speak for the movement, and yet no one can. When a small faction within it fielded a list of candidates for the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May, their sharpest opposition came from within: to many gilets jaunes, the ten who had put their names forward—among them a nurse, a truck driver, and an accountant—were traitors to the cause, having dared to replicate the elite that the rest of the movement disdains.

    Concessions from the government have had little effect. Under mounting pressure, Macron was forced to abandon the carbon tax planned for 2019 in a solemn televised address in mid-December. He also launched the so-called grand débat, a three-month tour of rural France designed to give him a better grasp of the concerns of ordinary people. In some of these sessions, Macron has endured more than six hours of bitter criticisms from angry provincial mayors. But these gestures have quelled neither the protests nor the anger of those who remain in the movement. Performance is the point. During the early “acts,” as the weekly demonstrations are known, members refused to meet with French prime minister Édouard Philippe, on the grounds that he would not allow the encounter to be televised, and that sentiment has persisted. Perhaps the most telling thing about the gilets jaunes is the vest they wear: a symbol of car ownership, but more fundamentally a material demand to be seen.

    Inequality in France is less extreme than in the United States and Britain, but it is increasing. Among wealthy Western countries, the postwar French state—l’État-providence—is something of a marvel. France’s health and education systems remain almost entirely free while ranking among the best in the world. In 2017 the country’s ratio of tax revenue to gross domestic product was 46.2 percent, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—the highest redistribution level of any OECD country and a ratio that allows the state to fight poverty through a generous social protection system. Of that 46.2 percent, the French government allocated approximately 28 percent for social services.

    “The French social model is so integrated that it almost seems a natural, preexisting condition,” Alexis Spire, a sociologist of inequality at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, told me recently. A number of the gilets jaunes I met said that despite the taxes they pay, they do not feel they benefit from any social services, since they live far from urban centers. But anyone who has ever received housing assistance, a free prescription, or sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave has benefited from the social protection system. The effect of redistribution is often invisible.

    And yet the rich in France have gotten much richer. Between 1983 and 2015, the vast majority of incomes in France rose by less than one percent per year, while the richest one percent of the population saw their incomes rise by 100 percent after taxes. According to World Bank statistics, the richest 20 percent now earns nearly five times as much as the bottom 20 percent. This represents a stark shift from the Trente Glorieuses, France’s thirty-year economic boom after World War II. As the economist Thomas Piketty has pointed out, between 1950 and 1983, most French incomes rose steadily by approximately 4 percent per year; the nation’s top incomes rose by only one percent.

    What has become painfully visible, however, is the extent of the country’s geographical fractures. Paris has always been the undisputed center of politics, culture, and commerce, but France was once also a country that cherished and protected its vibrant provincial life. This was la France profonde, a clichéd but genuinely existing France of tranquil stone villages and local boulangeries with lines around the block on Sundays. “Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance,” goes the beloved song by the crooner Charles Trenet. “Mon village, au clocher aux maisons sages.” These days, the maisons sages are vacant, and the country boulangeries are closed.

    The story is familiar: the arrival of large multinational megastores on the outskirts of provincial French towns and cities has threatened, and in many cases asphyxiated, local businesses.1 In the once-bustling centers of towns like Avignon, Agen, Calais, and Périgueux, there is now an eerie quiet: windows are often boarded up, and fewer and fewer people are to be found. This is the world evoked with a melancholy beauty in Nicolas Mathieu’s novel Leurs enfants après eux, which won the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, in 2018.

    The expansion since the 1980s of France’s high-speed rail network has meant that the country’s major cities are all well connected to Paris. But there are many small towns where the future never arrived, where abandoned nineteenth-century train stations are now merely places for teenagers to make out, monuments of the way things used to be. In these towns, cars are the only way people can get to work. I met a fifty-five-year-old truck and taxi driver named Marco Pavan in the Franche-Comté in late November. What he told me then—about how carbon taxes can seem like sneers from the Parisian elite—has stayed with me. “Ask a Parisian—for him none of this is an issue, because he doesn’t need a car,” Pavan said. “There’s no bus or train to take us anywhere. We have to have a car.” I cited that remark in a Washington Post story I filed from Besançon; in the online comments section, many attacked the movement for what they saw as a backward anti-environmentalism—missing his point.

    Few have written as extensively as the French geographer Christophe Guilluy on la France périphérique, a term he popularized that refers both to the people and the regions left behind by an increasingly globalized economy. Since 2010, when he published Fractures françaises, Guilluy has been investigating the myths and realities of what he calls “the trompe l’oeil of a peaceful, moderate, and consensual society.” He is one of a number of left-wing French intellectuals—among them the novelist Michel Houellebecq, the historian Georges Bensoussan, and the essayist Michel Onfray—who in recent years have argued that their beloved patrie has drifted into inexorable decline, a classic critique of the French right since 1789. But Guilluy’s decline narrative is different: he is not as concerned as the others with Islamist extremism or “decadence” broadly conceived. For him, France’s decline is structural, the result of having become a place where “the social question disappears.”

    Guilluy, born in Montreuil in 1964, is something of a rarity among well-known French intellectuals: he is a product of the Paris suburbs, not of France’s storied grandes écoles. And it is clear that much of his critique is personal. As a child, Guilluy, whose family then lived in the working-class Paris neighborhood of Belleville, was forcibly relocated for a brief period to the heavily immigrant suburb of La Courneuve when their building was slated to be demolished in the midst of Paris’s urban transformation. “I saw gentrification firsthand,” he told Le Figaro in 2017. “For the natives—the natives being just as much the white worker as the young immigrant—what provoked the most problems was not the arrival of Magrebis, but that of the bobos.”

    This has long been Guilluy’s battle cry, and he has focused his intellectual energy on attacking what he sees as the hypocrisy of the bobos, or bourgeois bohemians. His public debut was a short 2001 column in Libération applying that term, coined by the columnist David Brooks, to French social life. What was happening in major urban centers across the country, he wrote then, was a “ghettoization by the top of society” that excluded people like his own family.

    Guilluy crystallized that argument in a 2014 book that won him the ear of the Élysée Palace and regular appearances on French radio. This was La France périphérique: comment on a sacrifié les classes populaires, in which he contended that since the mid-1980s, France’s working classes have been pushed out of the major cities to rural communities—a situation that was a ticking time bomb—partly as a result of rising prices. He advanced that view further in 2016 with La Crépuscule de la France d’en haut—now translated into English as Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France—a pithy screed against France’s bobo elite and what he sees as its shameless embrace of a “neoliberal,” “Americanized society” and a hollow, feel-good creed of multicultural tolerance. In 2018, one month before the rise of the gilets jaunes, he published No Society, whose title comes from Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 comment that “there is no such thing as society.”

    In Guilluy’s view, an immigrant working class has taken the place of the “native” working class in the banlieues on the outskirts of major cities. This native class, he argues, has been scattered throughout the country and become an “unnoticed presence” that France’s elite has “made to disappear from public consciousness” in order to consolidate its grip on power. Cities are now the exclusive preserve of the elites and their servants, and what Guilluy means by “no society” is that the visible signs of class conflict in urban daily life have vanished. This is his trompe l’oeil: rich, insulated Parisians have convinced themselves that everything is fine, while those who might say otherwise are nowhere near. “The simmering discontent of rural France has never really been taken seriously,” he writes in Twilight of the Elites.

    Since November, much of the French press has declared that Guilluy essentially predicted the rise of the gilets jaunes. They seem, after all, a fulfillment of his prophecy about “the betrayal of the people” by the elites, even if he is always elusive about who exactly “the people” are. While critiques from the movement have remained a confused cloud of social media invective, Guilluy has served as its de facto interpreter.

    No Society puts into words what many in the gilets jaunes have either struggled or refused to articulate. This is the hazy middle ground between warning and threat: “The populist wave coursing through the western world is only the visible part of a soft power emanating from the working classes that will force the elites to rejoin the real movement of society or else to disappear.”

    For now, however, there is just one member of the elite whom the gilets jaunes wish would disappear, and calls for his violent overthrow continue even as the movement’s momentum subsides.

    An intense and deeply personal hatred of Macron is the only unifying cry among the gilets jaunes. Eighteen months before the uprising began, this was the man who captured the world’s imagination and who, after populist victories in Britain and the United States, had promised a French “Third Way.” Yet the Macronian romance is already over, both at home and abroad.

    To some extent, the French always turn against their presidents, but the anger Macron elicits is unique. This is less because of any particular policy than because of his demeanor and, most of all, his language. “Mr. Macron always refused to respond to us,” Muriel Gautherin, fifty-three, a podiatrist who lives in the Paris suburbs, told me at a December march on the Champs-Élysées. “It’s he who insults us, and he who should respond.” When I asked her what she found most distasteful about the French president, her answer was simple: “His words.”

    She has a point. Among Macron’s earliest actions as president was to shave five euros off the monthly stipends of France’s Aide personalisée au logement (APL), the country’s housing assistance program. Around the same time, he slashed France’s wealth tax on those with a net worth of at least €1.3 million—a holdover from the Mitterand era.

    Macron came to office with a record of unrelentingly insulting the poor. In 2014, when he was France’s economic minister, he responded to the firing of nine hundred employees (most of them women) from a Breton slaughterhouse by noting that some were “mostly illiterate.” In 2016 he was caught on camera in a heated dispute with a labor activist in the Hérault. When the activist gestured to Macron’s €1,600 suit as a symbol of his privilege, the minister said, “The best way to afford a suit is to work.” In 2018 he told a young, unemployed gardener that he could find a new job if he merely “crossed the street.”

    Yet nothing quite compares to the statement Macron made in inaugurating Station F, a startup incubator in the thirteenth arrondissement of Paris, housed in a converted rail depot. It is a cavernous consulate for Silicon Valley, a soaring glass campus open to all those with “big ideas” who can also pay €195 a month for a desk and can fill out an application in fluent English. (“We won’t consider any other language,” the organization’s website says.) Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have offices in it, and in a city of terrible coffee, the espresso is predictably fabulous. In June 2017 Macron delivered a speech there. “A train station,” he said, referring to the structure’s origins, “it’s a place where we encounter those who are succeeding and those who are nothing.”

    This was the moment when a large percentage of the French public learned that in the eyes of their president, they had no value. “Ceux qui ne sont rien” is a phrase that has lingered and festered. To don the yellow vest is thus to declare not only that one has value but also that one exists.

    On the whole, the gilets jaunes are not the poorest members of French society, which is not surprising. As Tocqueville remarked, revolutions are fueled not by those who suffer the most, but by those whose economic status has been improving and who then experience a sudden and unexpected fall. So it seems with the gilets jaunes: most live above the poverty line but come from the precarious ranks of the lower middle class, a group that aspires to middle-class stability and seeks to secure it through palliative consumption: certain clothing brands, the latest iPhone, the newest television.

    In mid-December Le Monde profiled a young couple in the movement from Sens in north-central France, identified only as Arnaud and Jessica. Both twenty-six, they and their four children live in a housing project on the €2,700 per month that Arnaud earns as a truck driver, including more than €1,000 in government assistance. According to statistics from France’s Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insée), this income places them right at the poverty line for a family of this size, and possibly even slightly below it. But the expenses Arnaud and Jessica told Le Monde they struggled to pay included karate lessons for their oldest son and pet supplies for their dog. Jessica, who does not work, told Le Monde, “Children are so mean to each other if they wear lesser brands. I don’t want their friends to make fun of them.” She said she had traveled to Paris for gilet jaune protests on three separate weekends—journeys that presumably cost her money.

    Readers of Le Monde—many of them educated, affluent, and pro-Macron—were quick to attack Arnaud and Jessica. But the sniping missed their point, which was that they felt a seemingly inescapable sense of humiliation, fearing ridicule everywhere from the Élysée Palace to their children’s school. They were explaining something profound about the gilets jaunes: the degree to which the movement is fueled by unfulfilled expectations. For many demonstrators, life is simply not as they believed it would be, or as they feel they deserve. There is an aspect of entitlement to the gilets jaunes, who are also protesting what the French call déclassement, the increasing elusiveness of the middle-class dream in a society in which economic growth has not kept pace with population increase. This entitlement appears to have alienated the gilets jaunes from immigrants and people of color, who are largely absent from their ranks and whose condition is often materially worse.2 “It’s not people who don’t have hope anymore, who don’t have a place to live, or who don’t have a job,” Rokhaya Diallo, a French activist for racial equality, told me recently, describing the movement. “It’s just that status they’re trying to preserve.”

    The gilets jaunes have no substantive ideas: resentment does not an ideology make. They remain a combustible vacuum, and extremist agitators on the far right and the far left have sought to capitalize on their anger. Both Marine Le Pen of the recently renamed Rassemblement National and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the left-wing La France Insoumise have tried hard to channel the movement’s grassroots energy into their own political parties, but the gilets jaunes have so far resisted these entreaties. The gilets jaunes also found themselves at the center of a diplomatic spat: in early February Italy’s deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, met with two of their members on the outskirts of Paris in a jab at Macron. Two days later, France withdrew its ambassador to Rome for the first time since 1940, but the gilets jaunes have not attempted to exploit this attention for their own political gain. Instead there was infighting—a Twitter war over who had the right to represent the cause abroad and who did not.

    The intellectual void at the heart of an amorphous movement can easily fill with the hatred of an “other.” That may already be happening to the gilets jaunes. Although a careful analysis by Le Monde concluded that race and immigration were not major concerns in the two hundred most frequently shared messages on gilet jaune Facebook pages between the beginning of the movement and January 22, a number of gilets jaunes have been recorded on camera making anti-Semitic gestures, insulting a Holocaust survivor on the Paris metro, and saying that journalists “work for the Jews.” Importantly, the gilets jaunes have never collectively denounced any of these anti-Semitic incidents—a silence perhaps inevitable for a movement that eschews organization of any kind. Likewise, a thorough study conducted by the Paris-based Fondation Jean Jaurès has shown the extent to which conspiracy theories are popular in the movement: 59 percent of those surveyed who had participated in a gilet jaune demonstration said they believed that France’s political elites were encouraging immigration in order to replace them, and 50 percent said they believed in a global “Zionist” conspiracy.

    Members of the movement are often quick to point out that the gilets jaunes are not motivated by identity politics, and yet anyone who has visited one of their demonstrations is confronted with an undeniable reality. Far too much attention has been paid to the symbolism of the yellow vests and far too little to the fact that the vast majority of those who wear them are lower-middle-class whites. In what is perhaps the most ethnically diverse society in Western Europe, can the gilets jaunes truly be said to represent “the people,” as the members of the movement often claim? Priscillia Ludosky, arguably the first gilet jaune, is a black woman. “It’s complicated, that question,” she told me. “I have no response.”

    The gilets jaunes are also distinctly a minority of the French population: in a country of 67 million, as many as 282,000 have demonstrated on a single day, and that figure has consistently fallen with each passing week, down to 41,500 during “Act 14” of the protest on February 16. On two different weekends in November and December, other marches in Paris—one for women’s rights, the other against climate change—drew far bigger crowds than the gilets jaunes did. But the concerns of this minority are treated as universal by politicians, the press, and even the movement’s sharpest critics. Especially after Trump and Brexit, lower-middle-class and working-class whites command public attention even when they have no clear message.

    French citizens of color have been protesting social inequality for years without receiving any such respect. In 2005 the killing of two minority youths by French police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois ignited a string of violent uprisings against police brutality, but the government declared an official state of emergency instead of launching a grand débat. In 2009, the overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique saw a huge strike against the high cost of living—a forty-four-day uprising that also targeted fuel prices and demanded an increase to the minimum wage. In 2017 an almost identical protest occurred in French Guiana, another French overseas department, where residents demonstrated against household goods that were as much as 12 percent more expensive than they were in mainland France, despite a lower minimum wage. The French government was slow to respond in both of these instances, while the concerns of the gilets jaunes have resulted in a personal apology from the president and a slew of concessions.

    Guilluy, whose analysis of la France périphérique ultimately fails to grapple significantly with France’s decidedly peripheral overseas territories, does not shy away from the question of identity. He sees a racial element to the frustrations of la France périphérique, but he does not see this as a problem. Some of the most frustrating moments in his work come when he acknowledges but refuses to interrogate white working-class behavior that seems to be racially motivated. “Public housing in outlying communities is now a last resort for workers hoping to be able to go on living near the major cities,” he writes in Twilight of the Elites, describing the recent astronomic rise in France’s urban real estate prices. “These projects, mostly occupied by immigrant renters, are avoided by white French-born workers. Barring some utterly unforeseeable turn of events, their expulsion from the largest urban centers will be irreversible.” It would not diminish Guilluy’s broader point about la France périphérique if he acknowledged that victims of structural changes can also be intolerant.

    Guilluy also regularly recycles anxieties over immigration, often from controversial theorists such as Michèle Tribalat, who is associated with the idea of le grand remplacement, the alleged “great replacement” of France’s white population by immigrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa. In making his case about “the demographic revolution in process,” Guilluy has been accused of inflating his statistics. France, he wrote in Fractures françaises, “welcomes a little less than 200,000 legal foreigners every year.” But these claims were attacked by Patrick Weil, a leading French historian of immigration, who noted in his book Le sens de la République (2015) that Guilluy failed to consider that a large number of those 200,000 are temporary workers, students who come and go, and others of “irregular” status. Guilluy has not responded to these criticisms, and in any case his rhetoric has since grown more radical. In No Society he writes, “Multiculturalism is, intrinsically, a feeble ideology that divides and weakens.”

    Whether the gilets jaunes will eventually come to agree with him is a crucial question. Like Guilluy, they are responding to real social conditions. But if, following Guilluy’s lead, they ultimately resort to the language of race and ethnicity to explain their suffering, they will have chosen to become a different movement altogether, one in which addressing inequality was never quite the point. In some ways, they have already crossed that line.

    On the afternoon of Saturday, February 16, the prominent French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut got out of a taxi on the Boulevard Montparnasse. A crowd of gilets jaunes noticed him and began hurling anti-Semitic insults. The scene, recorded on video, was chilling: in the center of Paris, under a cloudless sky, a mob of visibly angry men surrounded a man they knew to be Jewish, called him a “dirty Zionist,” and told him, “go back to Tel Aviv.”

    Finkielkraut’s parents were Polish refugees from the Holocaust. He was born in Paris in 1949 and has become a fixture in French cultural life, a prolific author, a host of a popular weekly broadcast on France Culture, and a member of the Académie Française, the country’s most elite literary institution. In the words of Macron, who immediately responded to the attack, he “is not only an eminent man of letters but the symbol of what the Republic affords us all.” The irony is that Finkielkraut—another former leftist who believes that France has plunged into inexorable decline and ignored the dangers of multiculturalism—was one of the only Parisian intellectuals who had supported the gilets jaunes from the beginning.

    I spoke to Finkielkraut after the attack, and he explained that the gilets jaunes had seemed to him the evidence of something authentic. “I saw an invisible France, neglected and forgotten,” he said. “Wearing fluorescent yellow vests in order to be visible—of being a ‘somewhere’ as opposed to an ‘anywhere,’ as Goodhart has said—seemed to me an absolutely legitimate critique.” The British journalist David Goodhart, popular these days in French right-wing circles, is the author of The Road to Somewhere (2017), which sees populist anger as the inevitable response to the widening gulf between those “rooted” in a particular place and cosmopolitans at home anywhere. “France is not a ‘start-up nation,’” Finkielkraut told me. “It can’t be reduced to that.”

    Finkielkraut said that the attack was a sign that the reasonable critiques orginally made by the gilets jaunes had vanished, and that they had no real future. “I think the movement is in the process of degradation. It’s no longer a social movement but a sect that has closed in on itself, whose discourse is no longer rational.”

    Although the Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into his attackers, Finkielkraut has not pressed charges. He told me that the episode, as violent as it was, did not necessarily suggest that all those who had worn yellow vests in recent months were anti-Semites or extremists. “Those who insulted me were not the nurses, the shopkeepers, or the small business owners,” he said, noting that he doubted he would have experienced the same prejudice at the roundabouts, the traffic circles across the country where gilets jaunes protesters gathered every Saturday. In a sense, these were the essence of the movement, which was an inchoate mobilization against many things, but perhaps none so much as loneliness. The roundabouts quickly became impromptu piazzas and a means, however small, of reclaiming a spirit of community that disappeared long ago in so many French towns and villages.

    In Paris, where the remaining gilets jaunes have now focused most of their energy, the weekly protests have become little more than a despicable theater filled with scenes like the attack on Finkielkraut. There is no convincing evidence that those still wearing yellow vests are troubled by the presence of bigotry in their ranks. What is more, many gilets jaunes now seem to believe that pointing out such prejudice is somehow to become part of a government-backed conspiracy to turn public opinion against them.

    Consider, for instance, a February 19 communiqué released in response to the attack on Finkielkraut from La France en Colère, one of the movement’s main online bulletins. “For many days, the government and its friends in the national media seem to have found a new technique for destabilizing public opinion and discrediting the Gilets Jaunes movement,” it begins. “We denounce the accusations and the manipulations put in place by this government adept at fake news.” But this is all the communiqué denounces; it does not address the anti-Semitic violence to which Finkielkraut was subjected, nor does it apologize to a national figure who had defended the movement when few others of his prominence dared to do the same.

    A month after our last conversation, I called Priscillia Ludosky back, to see if she had any reaction to the recent turn of events in the movement her petition had launched. She was only interested in discussing what she called the French government’s “systematic abuse to manipulate public opinion.” She also believes that a government-media conspiracy will stop at nothing to smear the cause. “If there was one person who ever said something homophobic, it was on the front page of every newspaper,” she told me.

    In the days after the attack, Finkielkraut lamented not so much the grim details of what had happened but the squandered potential of a moment that has increasingly descended into paranoid feverishness. As he told me: “This was a beautiful opportunity to reflect on who we are that’s been completely ruined.”

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/03/21/low-visibility-france-gilet-jaunes

  • #journalism Apocalypse and Tech trends with Christina Warren of #microsoft
    https://hackernoon.com/journalism-apocalypse-and-tech-trends-with-christina-warren-of-microsoft

    Journalism Apocalypse and Tech Trends with Christina Warren of MicrosoftEpisode 32 of the Hacker Noon Podcast: An interview with Christina Warren, former journalist at #mashable and #gizmodo, who currently works for Microsoft.Listen to the interview on iTunes, or Google Podcast, or watch on YouTube.In this episode Trent Lapinski Christina Warren discuss journalism, fake news, and what’s happening at the big tech companies.“This is what the news media struggles with, is that people don’t trust them, even though very often the mainstream media, in my opinion, isn’t out to mislead people and push an agenda. I think most working reporters are out to report the truth.”“Microsoft is evolving and understands that it is not the past anymore. We ultimately want to build tools that developers can use (...)

    #hackernoon-podcast