position:official

  • U.S. Businesses Complain Saudi Arabia Is Slow to Pay - WSJ
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-businesses-complain-saudi-arabia-is-slow-to-pay-11548945000

    The Saudi government has delayed payments worth billions of dollars to Western firms in a bid to contain its government-budget deficit amid lower oil prices and record spending announced in December, said Saudi officials who weren’t authorized to comment publicly and the people familiar with the matter.

    “It is a strategy,” one Saudi official said about delaying payments to the private sector. “The government knows they can get away with it and would not want to have an alarming budget-deficit figure.”

    #arabie_saoudite


  • Exclusive : Venezuela plans to fly central bank gold reserves to UAE - source | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-gold-exclusive-idUSKCN1PP2QR

    Venezuela will sell 15 tonnes of gold from central bank vaults to the United Arab Emirates in coming days in return for euros in cash, a senior official with knowledge of the plan said, as the crisis-stricken country seeks to stay solvent.

    The sale this year of gold reserves that back the bolivar currency began with a shipment on Jan. 26 of 3 tonnes, the official said, and follows the export last year of $900 million of mostly unrefined gold to Turkey.

    In total, the plan is to sell 29 tonnes of gold held in Caracas to the United Arab Emirates by February in order to provide liquidity for imports of basic goods, the source said, requesting anonymity in order to speak freely.

    Socialist President Nicolas Maduro is under intense pressure to step down, with Venezuela in deep economic crisis and the government facing widespread international condemnation for elections last year seen as fraudulent.

    The United States, which is backing an attempt by the opposition to oust Maduro and call new elections, warned bankers and traders on Wednesday not to deal in Venezuelan gold.

    Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio sent a tweet to the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington on Thursday warning that anybody transporting Venezuelan gold would be subject to U.S. sanctions.

    Fin novembre 2018, les réserves d’or du Venezuela s’élevaient à 132 tonnes d’or répartis entre la Banque centrale du Venezuela et la Banque d’Angleterre.
    (cité par El Nacional)
    Reuters : BCV venderá 15 toneladas de oro a Emiratos Árabes
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/economia/reuters-bcv-vendera-toneladas-oro-emiratos-arabes_268963

    El Banco Central de Venezuela ya hizo un primer envío de unas tres toneladas a esa nación el 26 de enero

    • Bolton: ¿Maduro está robando recursos para pagar una intervención rusa?
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/bolton-maduro-esta-robando-recursos-para-pagar-una-intervencion-rusa_26

      John Bolton, consejero de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos, insinuó este viernes que los recursos de oro que está entregando Nicolás Maduro serían para financiar una intervención rusa en el país.

      «Maduro no solo requiere apoyo paramilitar extranjero para mantener los hilos restantes de una dictadura fallida, pero los informes demuestran que está volando los activos venezolanos. ¿Está robando recursos de la gente para pagar la intervención rusa? », escribió Bolton vía Twitter.

      El Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) venderá en los próximos días 15 toneladas de oro a Emiratos Árabes a cambios de euros en efectivo. El informe indica que el plan es vender más de 29 toneladas de oro para febrero.

      Venezuela poseía reservas de hasta 132 toneladas del mineral entre las cámaras del BCV y el Banco de Inglaterra a fines de noviembre del pasado año.

      tweet de J. Bolton en réponse à la dépêche Reuters ci-dessus,…
      https://twitter.com/AmbJohnBolton/status/1091333152658915328
      @AmbJohnBolton

      Not only does Maduro require foreign paramilitary support to keep remaining threads of a failed dictatorship, but reports show he is flying out Venezuelan assets by the plane full. Is he stealing resources from the people to pay for Russian intervention?


  • Helen Duncan, Scotland’s Last Witch
    https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Helen-Duncan-Scotlands-last-witch

    Spiritualist, medium and the last person in Britain to be tried and sentenced under the 1735 Witchcraft Act.

    son site officiel, tenu par sa petite-fille

    Helen Duncan Official Site
    http://helenduncan.org

    Welcome To The Official Helen Duncan Website

    Helen Duncan, Medium
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3fdTpZtM70


    (forts accents écossais…)

    et la notice WP, détaillée
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Duncan
    (déjà pointée, sans réactions, par @klaus en juillet 2015
    https://seenthis.net/messages/385905#message386083

    via @unagi et le site sur les U-Boat qu’il pointait, https://seenthis.net/messages/754198

    #spritisme #ectoplasme


  • Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

    There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

    Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

    Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

    In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

    At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.

    Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.

    A move to withdraw from the alliance, in place since 1949, “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an under secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.

    “It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,” Ms. Flournoy said in an interview. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

    Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

    “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” Admiral Stavridis said.

    Senior Trump administration officials discussed the internal and highly sensitive efforts to preserve the military alliance on condition of anonymity.

    After the White House was asked for comment on Monday, a senior administration official pointed to Mr. Trump’s remarks in July when he called the United States’ commitment to NATO “very strong” and the alliance “very important.” The official declined to comment further.

    American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.

    Comme on le voit au début et à la fin de cet extrait, si les #USA quittent l’#Otan ce sera pas mal la faute de la #Russie de #"Poutine


  • Trump starts fundraising minutes after his first primetime Oval Office address – Alternet.org
    https://www.alternet.org/2019/01/trump-starts-fundraising-minutes-after-his-first-primetime-oval-office-add

    Non, mais on vit où là ?
    Ainsi donc Trump constitue un fichier des « vrais américains » qui payent pour construire son mur... que fera-t-on des autres demain ?

    The Trump presidency has been little more than an extension of his presidential campaign, starting when he filed papers for re-election the day he was sworn in to office.

    So perhaps it comes as no surprise that literally minutes after delivering his first primetime Oval Office address to the nation on what he labeled the “crisis” at the border, Trump was fundraising off his speech.

    A primetime address from the Oval Office is generally reserved for the absolute, most important events in a president’s time in office. It is literally an attempt to place the weight and magnitude of the entire presidency in view of the American people, in order to convey the extreme magnitude of the President’s speech and the issue at hand.

    President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the Oval Office.

    President Ronald Reagan spoke to comfort the nation from the Oval Office after the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

    President George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office the night of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    President Barack Obama used the Oval Office to address the nation on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    None of them fundraised off their speeches.

    On Tuesday night, about 15 minutes after President Trump finished his speech, likely thousands if not millions of supporters received a text asking them to “Donate to the Official Secure the Border Fund NOW.”

    MSNBC’s Joy Reid posted a screenshot of the text:

    If that weren’t enough, Trump sent a fearmongering fundraising email, trashing Democratic leaders and urging supporters to donate half a million dollars by 9 PM, the time of his speech. The email was sent around 5:30 PM.

    “Drugs are poisoning our loved ones,” it reads. “MS-13 gang members are threatening our safety.” “Illegal criminals are flooding our nation,” it warns.

    “I want to make one thing clear to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi: Your safety is not a political game or a negotiation tactic!”

    If these scare tactics weren’t enough, Trump used high-pressure tactics to eek every dime out of his supporters – many of whom are low income earners or retirees.

    “I want to know who stood with me when it mattered most so I’ve asked my team to send me a list of EVERY AMERICAN PATRIOT who donates to the Official Secure the Border Fund,” the email reads.

    In other words, the President of the United states is saying if you don’t send him money, you’re not a patriotic American. And he’s taking names. Literally.

    “Please make a special contribution of $5 by 9 PM EST to our Official Secure the Border Fund to have your name sent to me after my speech.”

    The Official Secure the Border Fund is not a fund that will actually secure the border. It’s just Trump’s re-election campaign fund.

    Here’s the email:

    #Trump #Fichier


  • Pan Am Flight 103 : Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/robert-muellers-search-for-justice-for-pan-am-103

    Cet article décrit le rôle de Robert Mueller dans l’enquête historique qui a permis de dissimuler ou de justifier la plupart des batailles de la guerre non déclarée des États Unis contre l’OLP et les pays arabes qui soutenaient la lutte pour un état palestinien.

    Aux États-Unis, en Allemagne et en France le grand public ignore les actes de guerre commis par les États Unis dans cette guerre. Vu dans ce contexte on ne peut que classer le récit de cet article dans la catégorie idéologie et propagande même si les intentions et faits qu’on y apprend sont bien documentés et plausibles.

    Cette perspective transforme le contenu de cet article d’une variation sur un thème connu dans un reportage sur l’état d’âme des dirigeants étatsuniens moins fanatiques que l’équipe du président actuel.

    THIRTY YEARS AGO last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack.

    TEN YEARS AGO last Friday, then FBI director Robert Mueller bundled himself in his tan trench coat against the cold December air in Washington, his scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. Sitting on a small stage at Arlington National Cemetery, he scanned the faces arrayed before him—the victims he’d come to know over years, relatives and friends of husbands and wives who would never grow old, college students who would never graduate, business travelers and flight attendants who would never come home.

    Burned into Mueller’s memory were the small items those victims had left behind, items that he’d seen on the shelves of a small wooden warehouse outside Lockerbie, Scotland, a visit he would never forget: A teenager’s single white sneaker, an unworn Syracuse University sweatshirt, the wrapped Christmas gifts that would never be opened, a lonely teddy bear.

    A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director, and that awoke the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.

    It had taught him the complexity of responding to international terror attacks, how unprepared the government was to respond to the needs of victims’ families, and how on the global stage justice would always be intertwined with geopolitics. In the intervening years, he had never lost sight of the Lockerbie bombing—known to the FBI by the codename Scotbom—and he had watched the orphaned children from the bombing grow up over the years.

    Nearby in the cemetery stood a memorial cairn made of pink sandstone—a single brick representing each of the victims, the stone mined from a Scottish quarry that the doomed flight passed over just seconds before the bomb ripped its baggage hold apart. The crowd that day had gathered near the cairn in the cold to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

    For a man with an affinity for speaking in prose, not poetry, a man whose staff was accustomed to orders given in crisp sentences as if they were Marines on the battlefield or under cross-examination from a prosecutor in a courtroom, Mueller’s remarks that day soared in a way unlike almost any other speech he’d deliver.

    “There are those who say that time heals all wounds. But you know that not to be true. At its best, time may dull the deepest wounds; it cannot make them disappear,” Mueller told the assembled mourners. “Yet out of the darkness of this day comes a ray of light. The light of unity, of friendship, and of comfort from those who once were strangers and who are now bonded together by a terrible moment in time. The light of shared memories that bring smiles instead of sadness. And the light of hope for better days to come.”

    He talked of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and of inspiration drawn from Lockerbie’s town crest, with its simple motto, “Forward.” He spoke of what was then a two-decade-long quest for justice, of how on windswept Scottish mores and frigid lochs a generation of FBI agents, investigators, and prosecutors had redoubled their dedication to fighting terrorism.

    Mueller closed with a promise: “Today, as we stand here together on this, the darkest of days, we renew that bond. We remember the light these individuals brought to each of you here today. We renew our efforts to bring justice down on those who seek to harm us. We renew our efforts to keep our people safe, and to rid the world of terrorism. We will continue to move forward. But we will never forget.”

    Hand bells tolled for each of the victims as their names were read aloud, 270 names, 270 sets of bells.

    The investigation, though, was not yet closed. Mueller, although he didn’t know it then, wasn’t done with Pan Am 103. Just months after that speech, the case would test his innate sense of justice and morality in a way that few other cases in his career ever have.

    ROBERT S. MUELLER III had returned from a combat tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s and eventually headed to law school at the University of Virginia, part of a path that he hoped would lead him to being an FBI agent. Unable after graduation to get a job in government, he entered private practice in San Francisco, where he found he loved being a lawyer—just not a defense attorney.

    Then—as his wife Ann, a teacher, recounted to me years ago—one morning at their small home, while the two of them made the bed, Mueller complained, “Don’t I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy?” He finally landed a job as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco and stood, for the first time, in court and announced, “Good morning your Honor, I am Robert Mueller appearing on behalf of the United States of America.” It is a moment that young prosecutors often practice beforehand, and for Mueller those words carried enormous weight. He had found the thing that made him happy.

    His family remembers that time in San Francisco as some of their happiest years; the Muellers’ two daughters were young, they loved the Bay Area—and have returned there on annual vacations almost every year since relocating to the East Coast—and Mueller found himself at home as a prosecutor.

    On Friday nights, their routine was that Ann and the two girls would pick Mueller up at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, the city’s oldest Irish pub, not far from the Ferry Building in the Financial District, where he hung out each week with a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, cops, and agents. (One Christmas, his daughter Cynthia gave him a model of the bar made out of Popsicle sticks.) He balanced that family time against weekends and trainings with the Marines Corps Reserves, where he served for more than a decade, until 1980, eventually rising to be a captain.

    Over the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks of the San Francisco US attorney’s office—an office he would return to lead during the Clinton administration—and then decamped to Massachusetts to work for US attorney William Weld in the 1980s. There, too, he shined and eventually became acting US attorney when Weld departed at the end of the Reagan administration. “You cannot get the words straight arrow out of your head,” Weld told me, speaking of Mueller a decade ago. “The agencies loved him because he knew his stuff. He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy, he just put the cards on the table.”

    In 1989, an old high school classmate, Robert Ross, who was chief of staff to then attorney general Richard Thornburgh, asked Mueller to come down to Washington to help advise Thornburgh. The offer intrigued Mueller. Ann protested the move—their younger daughter Melissa wanted to finish high school in Massachusetts. Ann told her husband, “We can’t possibly do this.” He replied, his eyes twinkling, “You’re right, it’s a terrible time. Well, why don’t we just go down and look at a few houses?” As she told me, “When he wants to do something, he just revisits it again and again.”

    For his first two years at so-called Main Justice in Washington, working under President George H.W. Bush, the family commuted back and forth from Boston to Washington, alternating weekends in each city, to allow Melissa to finish school.

    Washington gave Mueller his first exposure to national politics and cases with geopolitical implications; in September 1990, President Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s entire criminal division, which at that time handled all the nation’s terrorism cases as well. Mueller would oversee the prosecution of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, mob boss John Gotti, and the controversial investigation into a vast money laundering scheme run through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals

    None of his cases in Washington, though, would affect him as much as the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    THE TIME ON the clocks in Lockerbie, Scotland, read 7:04 pm, on December 21, 1988, when the first emergency call came into the local fire brigade, reporting what sounded like a massive boiler explosion. It was technically early evening, but it had been dark for hours already; that far north, on the shortest day of the year, daylight barely stretched to eight hours.

    Soon it became clear something much worse than a boiler explosion had unfolded: Fiery debris pounded the landscape, plunging from the sky and killing 11 Lockerbie residents. As Mike Carnahan told a local TV reporter, “The whole sky was lit up with flames. It was actually raining, liquid fire. You could see several houses on the skyline with the roofs totally off and all you could see was flaming timbers.”

    At 8:45 pm, a farmer found in his field the cockpit of Pan Am 103, a Boeing 747 known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, lying on its side, 15 of its crew dead inside, just some of the 259 passengers and crew killed when a bomb had exploded inside the plane’s cargo hold. The scheduled London to New York flight never even made it out of the UK.

    It had taken just three seconds for the plane to disintegrate in the air, though the wreckage took three long minutes to fall the five miles from the sky to the earth; court testimony later would examine how passengers had still been alive as they fell. Nearly 200 of the passengers were American, including 35 students from Syracuse University returning home from a semester abroad. The attack horrified America, which until then had seen terror touch its shores only occasionally as a hijacking went awry; while the US had weathered the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, attacks almost never targeted civilians.

    The Pan Am 103 bombing seemed squarely aimed at the US, hitting one of its most iconic brands. Pan Am then represented America’s global reach in a way few companies did; the world’s most powerful airline shuttled 19 million passengers a year to more than 160 countries and had ferried the Beatles to their US tour and James Bond around the globe on his cinematic missions. In a moment of hubris a generation before Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the airline had even opened a “waiting list” for the first tourists to travel to outer space. Its New York headquarters, the Pan Am building, was the world’s largest commercial building and its terminal at JFK Airport the biggest in the world.

    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 began immediately, as police and investigators streamed north from London by the hundreds; chief constable John Boyd, the head of the local police, arrived at the Lockerbie police station by 8:15 pm, and within an hour the first victim had been brought in: A farmer arrived in town with the body of a baby girl who had fallen from the sky. He’d carefully placed her in the front seat of his pickup truck.

    An FBI agent posted in London had raced north too, with the US ambassador, aboard a special US Air Force flight, and at 2 am, when Boyd convened his first senior leadership meeting, he announced, “The FBI is here, and they are fully operational.” By that point, FBI explosives experts were already en route to Scotland aboard an FAA plane; agents would install special secure communications equipment in Lockerbie and remain on site for months.

    Although it quickly became clear that a bomb had targeted Pan Am 103—wreckage showed signs of an explosion and tested positive for PETN and RDX, two key ingredients of the explosive Semtex—the investigation proceeded with frustrating slowness. Pan Am’s records were incomplete, and it took days to even determine the full list of passengers. At the same time, it was the largest crime scene ever investigated—a fact that remains true today.

    Investigators walked 845 square miles, an area 12 times the size of Washington, DC, and searched so thoroughly that they recovered more than 70 packages of airline crackers and ultimately could reconstruct about 85 percent of the fuselage. (Today, the wreckage remains in an English scrapyard.) Constable Boyd, at his first press conference, told the media, “This is a mammoth inquiry.”

    On Christmas Eve, a searcher found a piece of a luggage pallet with signs of obvious scorching, which would indicate the bomb had been in the luggage compartment below the passenger cabin. The evidence was rushed to a special British military lab—one originally created to investigate the Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605.

    When the explosive tests came back a day later, the British government called the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for combating terrorism, L. Paul Bremer III (who would go on to be President George W. Bush’s viceroy in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and officially delivered the news that everyone had anticipated: Pan Am 103 had been downed by a bomb.

    Meanwhile, FBI agents fanned out across the country. In New York, special agent Neil Herman—who would later lead the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York in the run up to 9/11—was tasked with interviewing some of the victims’ families; many of the Syracuse students on board had been from the New York region. One of the mothers he interviewed hadn’t heard from the government in the 10 days since the attack. “It really struck me how ill-equipped we were to deal with this,” Herman told me, years later. “Multiply her by 270 victims and families.” The bombing underscored that the FBI and the US government had a lot to learn in responding and aiding victims in a terror attack.

    INVESTIGATORS MOVED TOWARD piecing together how a bomb could have been placed on board; years before the 9/11 attack, they discounted the idea of a suicide bomber aboard—there had never been a suicide attack on civil aviation at that point—and so focused on one of two theories: The possibility of a “mule,” an innocent passenger duped into carrying a bomb aboard, or an “inside man,” a trusted airport or airline employee who had smuggled the fatal cargo aboard. The initial suspect list stretched to 1,200 names.

    Yet even reconstructing what was on board took an eternity: Evidence pointed to a Japanese manufactured Toshiba cassette recorder as the likely delivery device for the bomb, and then, by the end of January, investigators located pieces of the suitcase that had held the bomb. After determining that it was a Samsonite bag, police and the FBI flew to the company’s headquarters in the United States and narrowed the search further: The bag, they found, was a System 4 Silhouette 4000 model, color “antique-copper,” a case and color made for only three years, 1985 to 1988, and sold only in the Middle East. There were a total of 3,500 such suitcases in circulation.

    By late spring, investigators had identified 14 pieces of luggage inside the target cargo container, known as AVE4041; each bore tell-tale signs of the explosion. Through careful retracing of how luggage moved through the London airport, investigators determined that the bags on the container’s bottom row came from passengers transferring in London. The bags on the second and third row of AVE4041 had been the last bags loaded onto the leg of the flight that began in Frankfurt, before the plane took off for London. None of the baggage had been X-rayed or matched with passengers on board.

    The British lab traced clothing fragments from the wreckage that bore signs of the explosion and thus likely originated in the bomb-carrying suitcase. It was an odd mix: Two herring-bone skirts, men’s pajamas, tartan trousers, and so on. The most promising fragment was a blue infant’s onesie that, after fiber analysis, was conclusively determined to have been inside the explosive case, and had a label saying “Malta Trading Company.” In March, two detectives took off for Malta, where the manufacturer told them that 500 such articles of clothing had been made and most sent to Ireland, while the rest went locally to Maltese outlets and others to continental Europe.

    As they dug deeper, they focused on bag B8849, which appeared to have come off Air Malta Flight 180—Malta to Frankfurt—on December 21, even though there was no record of one of that flight’s 47 passengers transferring to Pan Am 103.

    Investigators located the store in Malta where the suspect clothing had been sold; the British inspector later recorded in his statement, “[Store owner] Anthony Gauci interjected and stated that he could recall selling a pair of the checked trousers, size 34, and three pairs of the pajamas to a male person.” The investigators snapped to attention—after nine months did they finally have a suspect in their sights? “[Gauci] informed me that the man had also purchased the following items: one imitation Harris Tweed jacket; one woolen cardigan; one black umbrella; one blue colored ‘Baby Gro’ with a motif described by the witness as a ‘sheep’s face’ on the front; and one pair of gents’ brown herring-bone material trousers, size 36.”

    Game, set, match. Gauci had perfectly described the clothing fragments found by RARDE technicians to contain traces of explosive. The purchase, Gauci went on to explain, stood out in his mind because the customer—whom Gauci tellingly identified as speaking the “Libyan language”—had entered the store on November 23, 1988, and gathered items without seeming to care about the size, gender, or color of any of it.

    As the investigation painstakingly proceeded into 1989 and 1990, Robert Mueller arrived at Main Justice; the final objects of the Lockerbie search wouldn’t be found until the spring of 1990, just months before Mueller took over as assistant attorney general of the criminal division in September.

    The Justice Department that year was undergoing a series of leadership changes; the deputy attorney general, William Barr, became acting attorney general midyear as Richard Thornburgh stepped down to run for Senate back in his native Pennsylvania. President Bush then nominated Barr to take over as attorney general officially. (Earlier this month Barr was nominated by President Trump to become attorney general once again.)

    The bombing soon became one of the top cases on Mueller’s desk. He met regularly with Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent heading Scotbom. For Mueller, the case became personal; he met with victims’ families and toured the Lockerbie crash site and the investigation’s headquarters. He traveled repeatedly to the United Kingdom for meetings and walked the fields of Lockerbie himself. “The Scots just did a phenomenal job with the crime scene,” he told me, years ago.

    Mueller pushed the investigators forward constantly, getting involved in the investigation at a level that a high-ranking Justice Department official almost never does. Marquise turned to him in one meeting, after yet another set of directions, and sighed, “Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you want to be FBI director.”

    The investigation gradually, carefully, zeroed in on Libya. Agents traced a circuit board used in the bomb to a similar device seized in Africa a couple of years earlier used by Libyan intelligence. An FBI-created database of Maltese immigration records even showed that a man using the same alias as one of those Libyan intelligence officers had departed from Malta on October 19, 1988—just two months before the bombing.

    The circuit board also helped makes sense of an important aspect of the bombing: It controlled a timer, meaning that the bomb was not set off by a barometric trigger that registers altitude. This, in turn, explained why the explosive baggage had lain peacefully in the jet’s hold as it took off and landed repeatedly.

    Tiny letters on the suspect timer said “MEBO.” What was MEBO? In the days before Google, searching for something called “Mebo” required going country to country, company to company. There were no shortcuts. The FBI, MI5, and CIA were, after months of work, able to trace MEBO back to a Swiss company, Meister et Bollier, adding a fifth country to the ever-expanding investigative circle.

    From Meister et Bollier, they learned that the company had provided 20 prototype timers to the Libyan government and the company helped ID their contact as a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who looked like the sketch of the Maltese clothing shopper. Then, when the FBI looked at its database of Maltese immigration records, they found that Al Megrahi had been present in Malta the day the clothing was purchased.

    Marquise sat down with Robert Mueller and the rest of the prosecutorial team and laid out the latest evidence. Mueller’s orders were clear—he wanted specific suspects and he wanted to bring charges. As he said, “Proceed toward indictment.” Let’s get this case moving.

    IN NOVEMBER 1990, Marquise was placed in charge of all aspects of the investigation and assigned on special duty to the Washington Field Office and moved to a new Scotbom task force. The field offce was located far from the Hoover building, in a run-down neighborhood known by the thoroughly unromantic moniker of Buzzard Point.

    The Scotbom task force had been allotted three tiny windowless rooms with dark wood paneling, which were soon covered floor-to-ceiling with 747 diagrams, crime scene photographs, maps, and other clues. By the door of the office, the team kept two photographs to remind themselves of the stakes: One, a tiny baby shoe recovered from the fields of Lockerbie; the other, a picture of the American flag on the tail of Pan Am 103. This was the first major attack on the US and its civilians. Whoever was responsible couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    With representatives from a half-dozen countries—the US, Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Malta—now sitting around the table, putting together a case that met everyone’s evidentiary standards was difficult. “We talked through everything, and everything was always done to the higher standard,” Marquise says. In the US, for instance, the legal standard for a photo array was six photos; in Scotland, though, it was 12. So every photo array in the investigation had 12 photos to ensure that the IDs could be used in a British court.

    The trail of evidence so far was pretty clear, and it all pointed toward Libya. Yet there was still much work to do prior to an indictment. A solid hunch was one thing. Having evidence that would stand up in court and under cross-examination was something else entirely.

    As the case neared an indictment, the international investigators and prosecutors found themselves focusing at their gatherings on the fine print of their respective legal code and engaging in deep, philosophical-seeming debates: “What does murder mean in your statute? Huh? I know what murder means: I kill you. Well, then you start going through the details and the standards are just a little different. It may entail five factors in one country, three in another. Was Megrahi guilty of murder? Depends on the country.”

    At every meeting, the international team danced around the question of where a prosecution would ultimately take place. “Jurisdiction was an eggshell problem,” Marquise says. “It was always there, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was always the elephant in the room.”

    Mueller tried to deflect the debate for as long as possible, arguing there was more investigation to do first. Eventually, though, he argued forcefully that the case should be tried in the US. “I recognize that Scotland has significant equities which support trial of the case in your country,” he said in one meeting. “However, the primary target of this act of terrorism was the United States. The majority of the victims were Americans, and the Pan American aircraft was targeted precisely because it was of United States registry.”

    After one meeting, where the Scots and Americans debated jurisdiction for more than two hours, the group migrated over to the Peasant, a restaurant near the Justice Department, where, in an attempt to foster good spirits, it paid for the visiting Scots. Mueller and the other American officials each had to pay for their own meals.

    Mueller was getting ready to move forward; the federal grand jury would begin work in early September. Prosecutors and other investigators were already preparing background, readying evidence, and piecing together information like the names and nationalities of all the Lockerbie victims so that they could be included in the forthcoming indictment.

    There had never been any doubt in the US that the Pan Am 103 bombing would be handled as a criminal matter, but the case was still closely monitored by the White House and the National Security Council.

    The Reagan administration had been surprised in February 1988 by the indictment on drug charges of its close ally Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and a rule of thumb had been developed: Give the White House a heads up anytime you’re going to indict a foreign agent. “If you tag Libya with Pan Am 103, that’s fair to say it’s going to disrupt our relationship with Libya,” Mueller deadpans. So Mueller would head up to the Cabinet Room at the White House, charts and pictures in hand, to explain to President Bush and his team what Justice had in mind.

    To Mueller, the investigation underscored why such complex investigations needed a law enforcement eye. A few months after the attack, he sat through a CIA briefing pointing toward Syria as the culprit behind the attack. “That’s always struck with me as a lesson in the difference between intelligence and evidence. I always try to remember that,” he told me, back when he was FBI director. “It’s a very good object lesson about hasty action based on intelligence. What if we had gone and attacked Syria based on that initial intelligence? Then, after the attack, it came out that Libya had been behind it? What could we have done?”

    Marquise was the last witness for the federal grand jury on Friday, November 8, 1991. Only in the days leading up to that testimony had prosecutors zeroed in on Megrahi and another Libyan officer, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah; as late as the week of the testimony, they had hoped to pursue additional indictments, yet the evidence wasn’t there to get to a conviction.

    Mueller traveled to London to meet with the Peter Fraser, the lord advocate—Scotland’s top prosecutor—and they agreed to announce indictments simultaneously on November 15, 1991. Who got their hands on the suspects first, well, that was a question for later. The joint indictment, Mueller believed, would benefit both countries. “It adds credibility to both our investigations,” he says.

    That coordinated joint, multi-nation statement and indictment would become a model that the US would deploy more regularly in the years to come, as the US and other western nations have tried to coordinate cyber investigations and indictments against hackers from countries like North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

    To make the stunning announcement against Libya, Mueller joined FBI director William Sessions, DC US attorney Jay Stephens, and attorney general William Barr.

    “We charge that two Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan intelligence agency, along with other co-conspirators, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103,” Barr said. “I have just telephoned some of the families of those murdered on Pan Am 103 to inform them and the organizations of the survivors that this indictment has been returned. Their loss has been ever present in our minds.”

    At the same time, in Scotland, investigators there were announcing the same indictments.

    At the press conference, Barr listed a long set of names to thank—the first one he singled out was Mueller’s. Then, he continued, “This investigation is by no means over. It continues unabated. We will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. We have no higher priority.”

    From there, the case would drag on for years. ABC News interviewed the two suspects in Libya later that month; both denied any responsibility for the bombing. Marquise was reassigned within six months; the other investigators moved along too.

    Mueller himself left the administration when Bill Clinton became president, spending an unhappy year in private practice before rejoining the Justice Department to work as a junior homicide prosecutor in DC under then US attorney Eric Holder; Mueller, who had led the nation’s entire criminal division was now working side by side with prosecutors just a few years out of law school, the equivalent of a three-star military general retiring and reenlisting as a second lieutenant. Clinton eventually named Mueller the US attorney in San Francisco, the office where he’d worked as a young attorney in the 1970s.

    THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the bombing came and went without any justice. Then, in April 1999, prolonged international negotiations led to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi turning over the two suspects; the international economic sanctions imposed on Libya in the wake of the bombing were taking a toll on his country, and the leader wanted to put the incident behind him.

    The final negotiated agreement said that the two men would be tried by a Scottish court, under Scottish law, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Distinct from the international court there, the three-judge Scottish court would ensure that the men faced justice under the laws of the country where their accused crime had been committed.

    Allowing the Scots to move forward meant some concessions by the US. The big one was taking the death penalty, prohibited in Scotland, off the table. Mueller badly wanted the death penalty. Mueller, like many prosecutors and law enforcement officials, is a strong proponent of capital punishment, but he believes it should be reserved for only egregious crimes. “It has to be especially heinous, and you have to be 100 percent sure he’s guilty,” he says. This case met that criteria. “There’s never closure. If there can’t be closure, there should be justice—both for the victims as well as the society at large,” he says.

    An old US military facility, Kamp Van Zeist, was converted to an elaborate jail and courtroom in The Hague, and the Dutch formally surrendered the two Libyans to Scottish police. The trial began in May 2000. For nine months, the court heard testimony from around the world. In what many observers saw as a political verdict, Al Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was found not guilty.

    With barely 24 hours notice, Marquise and victim family members raced from the United States to be in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The morning of the verdict in 2001, Mueller was just days into his tenure as acting deputy US attorney general—filling in for the start of the George W. Bush administration in the department’s No. 2 role as attorney general John Ashcroft got himself situated.

    That day, Mueller awoke early and joined with victims’ families and other officials in Washington, who watched the verdict announcement via a satellite hookup. To him, it was a chance for some closure—but the investigation would go on. As he told the media, “The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am Flight 103.”

    The Scotbom case would leave a deep imprint on Mueller; one of his first actions as FBI director was to recruit Kathryn Turman, who had served as the liaison to the Pan Am 103 victim families during the trial, to head the FBI’s Victim Services Division, helping to elevate the role and responsibility of the FBI in dealing with crime victims.

    JUST MONTHS AFTER that 20th anniversary ceremony with Mueller at Arlington National Cemetery, in the summer of 2009, Scotland released a terminally ill Megrahi from prison after a lengthy appeals process, and sent him back to Libya. The decision was made, the Scottish minister of justice reported, on “compassionate grounds.” Few involved on the US side believed the terrorist deserved compassion. Megrahi was greeted as a hero on the tarmac in Libya—rose petals, cheering crowds. The US consensus remained that he should rot in prison.

    The idea that Megrahi could walk out of prison on “compassionate” ground made a mockery of everything that Mueller had dedicated his life to fighting and doing. Amid a series of tepid official condemnations—President Obama labeled it “highly objectionable”—Mueller fired off a letter to Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill that stood out for its raw pain, anger, and deep sorrow.

    “Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision,” Mueller began. “Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of ‘compassion.’”

    That nine months after the 20th anniversary of the bombing, the only person behind bars for the bombing would walk back onto Libyan soil a free man and be greeted with rose petals left Mueller seething.

    “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world,” Mueller wrote. “You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification—the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.”

    For Mueller, walking the fields of Lockerbie had been walking on hallowed ground. The Scottish decision pained him especially deeply, because of the mission and dedication he and his Scottish counterparts had shared 20 years before. “If all civilized nations join together to apply the rules of law to international terrorists, certainly we will be successful in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism,” he had written in a perhaps too hopeful private note to the Scottish Lord Advocate in 1990.

    Some 20 years later, in an era when counterterrorism would be a massive, multibillion dollar industry and a buzzword for politicians everywhere, Mueller—betrayed—concluded his letter with a decidedly un-Mueller-like plea, shouted plaintively and hopelessly across the Atlantic: “Where, I ask, is the justice?”

    #USA #Libye #impérialisme #terrorisme #histoire #CIA #idéologie #propagande


  • MSC Zoe Loses Up to 270 Containers Overboard in North Sea - PHOTOS – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/dutch-coastguard-msc-zoe-loses-hundreds-of-containers-overboard-in-north-s

    The Dutch Coastguard has issued a navigational warning after an ultra-large containership lost scores of containers while underway in the North Sea.

    The ship, MSC ZOE, was in German waters when it lost the containers in heavy seas between Vlieland, Netherlands and the German Bight in the southeastern North Sea on New Year’s Day.

    The Coastguard initially reported about 30 containers lost. However, an update Wednesday morning said it now understands that a whopping 270 containers went overboard.

    Photos released Wednesday by Germany’s Havariekommando shows toppled boxes both fore and aft of the ship’s superstructure:


    Photo : Havariekommando

    The Coastguard is warning ships in the vicinity keep an eye out for containers floating in the water.

    At least 21 containers with loose goods have washed up on the Dutch islands of Vlieland, Terschelling and Ameland.
    […]
    The contents of all lost containers has not been confirmed, however at least three are reported to contain hazardous materials.

    The Coastguard is warning the public not to handle or approach any of the containers.

    #Îles_de_la_Frise-Occidentale

    • Dutch authorities demand clean-up costs from Swiss shipping line | Reuters
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-shipping-containers-idUSKCN1OY19N


      A handout photo made available by the central command for maritime emergencies Havariekommando on their website on January 3, 2019 shows containers onboard the MSC ZOE vessel. Up to 270 containers had fallen off the Panamanian-flagged MSC ZOE, one of the world’s biggest container ships, in rough weather near the German island of Borkum and floated southwest toward Dutch waters.
      Havariekommando/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT

      Dutch authorities will hold Swiss shipping line MSC liable for the cost of cleaning up debris from more than 270 cargo containers that fell off one of its vessels and washed up on shore, officials said on Friday.

      The Dutch coastguard said a criminal investigation had been launched by prosecutors into the incident, one of the largest of its kind off the coast of the Netherlands.

      The containers, some holding hazardous chemicals, fell off one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Zoe, during a North Sea storm on Wednesday in German waters near the island of Borkum.

      Roughly 35 containers have been located and the remainder were lost at sea, Water Management Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen wrote in a letter to parliament. “Those responsible (MSC) will be held liable,” she wrote.

      Among the lost goods were car parts, refrigerators, toys and furniture, she wrote. “Several containers of hazardous materials were onboard. It is unclear how many fell off,” it said.

      At least one container load of organic peroxide, a strong bleaching agent that can cause injury on contact with skin, was lost, the letter said. Residents were told not to touch 25-kg bags found on the shore.

    • Rough weather hampers clean-up of North Sea container spill | Reuters
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-shipping-containers-idUSKCN1P31SQ


      A handout aerial photo made available by the Dutch Coastguard on January 3, 2019 shows floating container that have fallen from the container ship MSC ZOE.
      Dutch Coastguard/Handout via REUTERS

      Clean-up efforts after a container ship spill off the Dutch coast are being hampered by rough weather although progress is being made, the Swiss based vessel’s owner MSC said on Wednesday.

      In one of the worst incidents off the coast of the Netherlands, more than 250 containers - some holding hazardous chemicals - fell off the MSC Zoe, one of the world’s largest container ships, during a North Sea storm on Jan. 2.

      This week, a storm is impacting the area being cleaned and unfortunately this will interrupt some operations,” MSC said on Wednesday. The accident happened in German waters near the Dutch island of Borkum.

      MSC, the world’s no. 2 container shipping group, said it had made significant progress on the Dutch islands of Terschelling, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog in the Wadden Sea and on the mainland, with a total of 1,220 tonnes of debris collected so far.

    • Questions on #stowage as enquiries begin into how MSC Zoe spilled 281 boxes - The Loadstar
      https://theloadstar.co.uk/questions-on-stowage-as-enquiries-begin-into-how-msc-zoe-spilled-281-

      There have also been questions about the stowage plan of the 23,000 teu containership – in particular, the lashing of rows seven, eight and nine, from where the boxes fell overboard.

      The former managing director of salvage company Smit, Tak Klaas Reinigert, now resident on Schiermonnikoog, one of the islands affected by spills of styrene and other particles, told The Loadstar that, while the north-west force nine wind in the area may have been a hazard for small coasters,it should not have been a problem for a vessel as large as the MSC Zoe.

      He also suggested the speed of the MSC Zoe when the incident occurred needed to be investigated, as well as the lashing of containers on top of the vessel. These fell off the midship, which he said was “odd”.

      Meanwhile, Dr Bart Kuipers, port economist at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, said more thorough research needed to be carried out into the possible hazards involved in deploying ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs).

      Dutch Coast Guard pictures show the containers which landed in the sea had not been not secured by lashing rods.

      Niek Stam, an official at the FNV trade union, said it was hard to secure containers in rows seven, eight and nine in such way.

      Vessels can be loaded according to an automated loading scheme. Only the top rows are manually loaded.  As a rule, #lashing is done by well-trained men, but not in every port,” he added.

      In the case of the MSC Zoe, the last port of call prior to its arrival at Bremerhaven was Sines, in Portugal, and Mr Stam questioned whether the containers that went overboard had been loaded there.

      Nobody talks about the origin of those,” he told The Loadstar.

      #arrimage #saisine

    • Swiss shipping line starts clean up of Dutch waters after container spill | Reuters
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-shipping-containers-idUSKCN1P60BC


      A handout aerial photo made available by the Dutch Coastguard on January 3, 2019 shows the container ship MSC ZOE. Up to 270 containers had fallen off the Panamanian-flagged MSC ZOE, one of the world’s biggest container ships, in rough weather near the German island of Borkum and floated southwest toward Dutch waters.
      Dutch Coastguard/Handout via REUTERS

      Swiss shipping line MSC has started cleaning up Dutch sea waters, ten days after it lost nearly 300 containers from one of its largest cargo vessels in a storm.

      The clean up will likely take months”, Dutch water authorities spokesman Edwin de Feijter said on Saturday. “The largest part of the debris has been located, but there are still parts missing.

      291 containers, some holding hazardous chemicals, fell off one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Zoe, on Jan. 2 in German waters near the island of Borkum during a North Sea storm.

      Two salvage ships left the harbor at IJmuiden, near Amsterdam, on Friday night, heading towards a container north of the tiny Rottumerplaat island, which is blocking an important shipping route between Germany and the Netherlands.

      Work was planned to start at midday on Saturday, but rough weather looked set to delay the operation, De Feijter said, adding that 238 objects had been identified in the water so far.

      Those objects are not all entire containers, they can also be part of the cargo lost from broken ones.

      Seventeen containers washed up on shore on the Dutch islands of Terschelling, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, with the debris of many others littering the islands’ beaches.

      MSC, the world’s no. 2 container shipping group, on Wednesday said it had made significant progress on the Dutch islands, with a total of 1,220 tonnes of debris collected so far.

      Dutch authorities last week said they would hold MSC liable for the cost of cleaning up the waters.

      Roughly 100 soldiers joined the clean-up operation last week, while local authorities and volunteers had already gathered up tonnes of waste from several kilometers (miles) of coastline.

    • MSC Zoe Incident : Lost Container Count Jumps to 345 – gCaptain
      https://gcaptain.com/msc-zoe-incident-lost-container-count-jumps-to-345

      The estimated number of containers lost from the MSC Zoe during a North Sea storm in early January has risen to at least 345, more than 50 containers more than initially thought, the Dutch agency Rijkswaterstaat said Wednesday following a report from the shipowner. 

      The new assessment comes after more of remaining containers on board the MSC Zoe, one of the world’s largest containerships, have now been unloaded at the Port of Gdansk in Poland.
      […]
      While many of the containers sank, about two dozen washed up on the shores of the Wadden Islands, an island chain in the northern Netherlands
      […]
      The number of containers with hazardous substances remains unchanged, the agency said.[…] Rijkswaterstaat says it expects a final count of the number of containers lost from the shipowner next week.


  • Coût du travail trop élevé, poids des syndicats trop lourd, vous êtes bien en … Corée.
    Fin du miracle…
    Empty shipyard and suicides as ’Hyundai Town’ grapples with grim future | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-hyundaitown-idUSKBN1KX0UT

    In many ways, the challenges facing Ulsan mirror those faced in the American Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s, when the once prosperous industrial heartland was hit by massive job and population losses.

    Some experts and industry executives warn Ulsan - home to the world’s biggest shipbuilder and largest carmaking complex - might be South Korea’s ‘Rust Belt’ in the making.
    […]
    Ulsan accounted for 12 percent of South Korea’s exports last year, the lowest since 2000 and down from its peak of 19 percent in 2008, according to customs data
    […]
    Taxi drivers have been told by police not to drop people off on Ulsan’s newly built bridge after three people killed themselves there in just one month.


    –People believed that if they work hard, they will be better off, and if their children study hard, they will be better off,
    –” said Park Sang-hoon, an official at an Ulsan suicide prevention center. “Confronting a different reality now, it seems that many of them are getting to a point of hopelessness, and some are even making extreme choices.

    After massive shipbuilding job losses, auto workers fear it could be their turn next.
    […]
    Executives say that’s necessary because of high labor costs and strong unions at home.

    But workers say many of Hyundai’s problems are its own making, like failing to forecast a SUV boom in the key U.S. market and missing the shift to electric cars.


  • Scoop: Netanyahu rejected Russian plan to work with U.S. on Syria, Iran
    Axios - 20 déc 2018
    https://www.axios.com/russia-proposal-syria-israel-iran-united-states-c6d0bde9-583a-4dab-8a38-b2a21

    More than three months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev gave his Israeli counterpart a document. It contained an unofficial proposal for a deal between the U.S. and Russia on Syria and Iran intended to start a wider dialogue between Washington and Moscow to improve relations, two Israeli officials with direct knowledge tell me.

    Why it matters: The Russian proposal would have tied a U.S. withdrawal from Syria to an Iranian exit from the country, and provided the U.S. and Israel more influence over a future political settlement in Syria. However, it also called for a freeze on U.S. sanctions on Iran — something Netanyahu found unacceptable. Ultimately, the U.S. gave up much of its leverage in Syria with President Trump’s surprise announcement Wednesday of a unilateral withdrawal.

    Background: Last month, I reported that Netanyahu told a closed door hearing at the Knesset that Russia proposed a deal for pushing Iranian forces out of Syria in return for relief from some U.S. sanctions against Iran. We now know that Netanyahu’s comments referred to a document called the “Patrushev Paper.”

    The Patrushev Paper was given to Israel in a meeting that took place in Moscow on Sept. 13 — four days before the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria that kicked off a deep crisis between Israel and Russia.
    The two Israeli officials told me Russia’s proposal was that Israel would act as a facilitator between the U.S. and Russia and encourage the White House to start a dialogue with the Kremlin on Syria and Iran as an opening for a wider bilateral discussion.
    “They asked us to open the gates for them in Washington,” one Israeli official told me. (...)

    #Israel #Russie #Syrie #USA #Iran


  • Statistical Insights: Are international productivity gaps as large as we thought? - OECD
    http://www.oecd.org/sdd/productivity-stats/statistical-insights-are-international-productivity-gaps-as-large-as-we-though


    Figure 1. Average annual hours worked per person, selected OECD countries, 2016

    Labour productivity is a key indicator of economic wellbeing, and raising it – producing more goods and services from the same or less work (labour input) – is one of the main drivers of sustainable economic growth.

    Historically, comparisons of levels of productivity across countries have shown substantial gaps, even between similar-sized economies at a similar stage of development – leaving many analysts struggling to understand the causes. However, a new OECD study has found that at least a part of these gaps disappears once we adjust for differences in how countries measure labour input.
    In the case of the United Kingdom for instance, the study reveals that the gap in labour productivity levels with the United States is around 8 percentage points smaller than was previously thought – closing from 24% to 16%. The gap with Germany shrinks from 22% to 14% and with France from 20% to 11%.

    The corollary of lower hours worked of course is higher labour productivity levels. Figure 2 shows labour productivity levels, referenced to the United States, using official national accounts average hours worked estimates, comparing them with new results from the OECD simplified component approach for countries using the direct method.

    Overall, the results point to a reduction in relative productivity gaps of around 10 percentage points on average compared with current official estimates in many countries, with notable international ranking changes for some countries. The United Kingdom for example moves above Italy, while Austria moves ahead of France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.


    Figure 2. International productivity gaps, levels, 2016


  • China’s hacking against U.S. on the rise : U.S. intelligence official
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-czech-huawei/czech-cyber-watchdog-calls-huawei-zte-products-a-security-threat-idUSKBN1OG

    A senior U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday that Chinese cyber activity in the United States had risen in recent months, targeting critical infrastructure in what may be attempts to lay the groundwork for future disruptive attacks. “You worry they are prepositioning against critical infrastructure and trying to be able to do the types of disruptive operations that would be the most concern,” National Security Agency official Rob Joyce said at a Wall Street Journal cybersecurity (...)

    #NSA #USDepartmentOfDefense #hacking

    https://s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r


  • Build your own CI/CD pipeline with Drone
    https://hackernoon.com/build-your-own-ci-cd-pipeline-with-drone-e43d7190989b?source=rss----3a81

    Photo credit unsplash.comTL;DRThis is mostly a cookbook style article. If you expect more of a theoretical guide, I suggest you to look at the Official Drone Documentation and the Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery BookBackground storyIn my current company, I’m in charge of the Backend Engineering as well as DevOps side. As you may know, setting up an automated CI/CD pipeline is the prime duty of a DevOps Engineer. I’m no different.Historically we’re mostly a Jenkins CI driven company just like most other startups. But we’re heavily cloud enthusiast and distributed development company with scalability in mind. And you know, distributed CI/CD pipeline with Jenkins is not impossible, but hard when you reach at a certain level, as jenkins is almost an ancient (and pioneer) CI/CD (...)

    #continuous-delivery #continuous-integration #cd-drone #ci-drone #docker


  • Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian attacker
    Dec. 13, 2018 10:49 A.M. (Updated : Dec. 13, 2018 12:23 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782061

    RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A 29-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces, on late Wednesday, near Surda village, north of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

    The Israeli army announced that Saleh Amer Saleh al-Barghouth i, 29, a resident from Kobar village, in Ramallah district, was shot and killed by Israeli special forces.

    Earlier this week, al-Barghouthi carried out a drive-by shooting attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra, injuring seven Israeli settlers, including a 21-year-old pregnant woman, who was in critical condition and delivered the baby prematurely in an emergency procedure.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Undercover Israeli Forces Kill A Palestinian Taxi Driver Near Ramallah
      December 13, 2018 2:33 AM
      http://imemc.org/article/undercover-israeli-forces-kill-a-palestinian-taxi-driver-near-ramallah

      Undercover Israeli soldiers assassinated, on Wednesday evening, a Palestinian Taxi driver, near Surda village, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah; the army claimed the Palestinian was allegedly “involved” in the shooting targeting colonialist settlers, last Sunday.

      The slain Palestinian has been identified as Saleh Omar Saleh Barghouthi , 29; eyewitnesses said he was driving his taxi when the undercover Israeli soldiers, driving an old commercial Mercedes, ambushed him, and opened fire at him, before abducting him while he was still alive, but severely injured and bleeding.

      The army later said the Palestinian died from his wounds in a hospital in occupied Jerusalem.

      Eyewitnesses said that the taxi remained in the middle of the road, after the soldiers shot Saleh, and added that a young man, identified as Wa’ad Barghouthi, tried to remove it from the road, but the undercover forces attacked and abducted him too.

      Eyewitnesses said the undercover soldiers instantly opened fire at the car after ambushing it, in what appeared to be a clear assassination, not an attempt to abduct and imprison him.

      The soldiers also abducted Ala’ Tarifi, who owns the Taxi company, when he tried to ask about Saleh’s condition.

    • B’Tselem investigation: al-Barghouthi was shot point-blank
      Jan. 31, 2019 12:01 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2019 12:01 P.M.)
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=782396

      JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An investigation by B’Tselem found that, contrary to official Israeli statements, Saleh al-Barghouthi did not try to flee or run anyone over, nor could he have tried: two security vehicles were blocking the taxi he was driving at either end, and he was surrounded by some 10 security personnel who shot him point-blank – an operation resembling an extrajudicial killing. Official attempts to sanction the killing in retrospect ensure no one will be held accountable.

      A statement on the investigation said that “On 12 December 2018, at around 6:30 P.M., two Israeli security vehicles blocked the path of a taxi driving along the main road of Surda, a Palestinian village in Ramallah District. Driving the taxi was Saleh al-Barghouthi, 28, husband and father of a 5-year-old boy from the village of Kobar, which lies north of Ramallah. About ten personnel, including Special Police Unit officers, got out of the vehicles, surrounded the taxi and shot al-Barghouthi point-blank. They then pulled the wounded al-Barghouthi out of the taxi, handcuffed him and drove away with him. The IDF notified the family that al-Barghouthi had been critically injured in the incident and died in hospital. According to the Shin Bet (ISA), al-Barghouthi, who was an operative with Hamas’ military wing, was suspected of involvement in the drive-by shooting that took place on 9 December 2018 at the hitch-hiking post near the settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah. Seven Israelis were injured in the attack, including Shira Ish-Ran, who was seven months pregnant and delivered of her baby in hospital. The baby boy, Amiad Israel Ish-Ran, died three days later.” (...)


  • Brazil makes official intervention in state bordering Venezuela | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-politics-immigration-idUSKBN1O918M

    Brazilian President Michel Temer has signed a decree making official a federal “intervention” in the state of #Roraima which borders Venezuela, the government’s official newspaper said on Monday.

    Waves of Venezuelan migrants have entered the border area in recent months, seeking refuge from poverty and hunger in the neighboring country. The thousands of refugees are straining public services and the state’s finances.

    The person in charge of the intervention will be Antonio Denarium, the governor-elect of Roraima, who is set to take office on Jan. 1. It will last until Dec. 31, said the decree published in Brazil’s Diario Oficial.

    The intervention means federal resources can be used to deal with public security issues and state legislature can be bypassed.


  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    Amos Harel, Chaim Levinson and Yaniv Kubovich Nov 25, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudi

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.


  • #Obama tells #bankers to thank him, boasts of boosting oil production, at elite gala with GOP official - YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjVFfX4BtvI

    Barack Obama told bankers they should thank him for helping them make so much money, and boasted of making the US the world’s largest oil producer. The former Democratic president was speaking with former top Bush/Reagan official James Baker, at a lavish gala surrounded by rich elites in tuxes eating hors d’oeuvres


  • Hunger and survival in Venezuela

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There is pride here, too.

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

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

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

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

    Hunger is behind most everything here.

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

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

    It has only gotten worse since.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    People call it “the Maduro diet”.

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

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

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

    “Everyone is just so desperate,” Pilingo shrugs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But Vallenilla isn’t scared. She is angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The consequences are showing up in unexpected ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But so is death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Suicide has surged throughout the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • The Kaiser goes : the generals remain - Theodor Plivier
    https://libcom.org/history/kaiser-goes-generals-remain-theodor-plivier-1932

    Text entier en anglais : https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.pdf https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.mobi

    Du même auteur : Stalingrad (1945), Moskau (1952), Berlin (1954), une trilogie sur la guerre contre les nazis. Je n’ai pas encore trouvé de version en ligne.

    This is an amazing novel about the German Revolution, written by a participant. Republished here in PDF and Kindle formats.

    I’m republishing a novel about the German Revolution called The Kaiser Goes: the Generals Remain, written by a participant in the naval mutinies which kicked the whole thing off. But the novel doesn’t just concern rebellion in the armed forces, there’s all kinds of other exciting events covered too!

    I first became aware of the novel when I noticed some quotations from it in Working Class Politics in the German Revolution1, Ralf Hoffrogge’s wonderful book about the revolutionary shop stewards’ movement in Germany during and just after World War I.

    I set about finding a copy of The Kaiser goes..., read it, and immediately wanted to make it more widely available by scanning it. The results are here.

    Below I’ve gathered together all the most readily accessible information about the novel’s author, Theodor Plivier, that I can find. Hopefully, the sources referenced will provide a useful basis for anybody who wants to do further research.

    Dan Radnika

    October 2015

    THEODOR Otto Richard PLIVIER – Some biographical details

    Theodor Plivier (called Plievier after 1933) was born on 12 February 1892 in Berlin and died on 12 March 1955 in Tessin, Switzerland.

    Since his death Plivier/Plievier has been mostly known in his native Germany as a novelist, particularly for his trilogy of novels about the fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, made up of the works Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin.

    He was the son of an artisan file-maker (Feilenhauer in German) and spent his childhood in the Gesundbrunnen district in Berlin. There is still a plaque dedicated to him on the house where he was born at 29 Wiesenstraße. He was interested in literature from an early age. He began an apprenticeship at 17 with a plasterer and left his family home shortly after. For his apprenticeship he traveled across the German Empire, in Austria-Hungary and in the Netherlands. After briefly returning to his parents, he joined up as a sailor in the merchant navy. He first visited South America in 1910, and worked in the sodium nitrate (saltpetre) mines in 1913 in Chile. This period of his life seems to have provided much of the material for the novel The World’s Last Corner (see below).

    He returned to Germany, Hamburg, in 1914, when he was still only 22. He was arrested by the police for a brawl in a sailors’ pub, and was thus “recruited” into the imperial navy just as the First World War broke out. He spent his time in service on the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf, commanded by the famous Commander Karl August Nerger. It was he who led a victorious war of patriotic piracy in the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, seizing enemy ships and their cargo, taking their crews prisoner, and returning in glory to Kiel in February 1918. The activities of SMS Wolf are described in fictional form in the final chapter of Plivier’s The Kaiser’s Coolies (see below). The young Plivier didn’t set foot on land for 451 days, but while at sea he became converted to revolutionary ideas, like thousands of other German sailors. Nevertheless, he never joined a political party. In November 1918, he was in Wilhelmshaven and participated in the strikes, uprisings and revolts accompanying the fall of the German Empire, including the Kiel Mutiny. He also played a small role in the November Revolution in Berlin.

    He left the navy after the armistice (11 November 1918) and, with Karl Raichle and Gregor Gog (both sailor veterans of the Wilmhelmshaven revolt), founded the “Green Way Commune”, near Bad Urach. It was a sort of commune of revolutionaries, artists, poets, proto-hippies, and whoever turned up. Two early participants were the anarchist Erich Mühsam and Johannes Becher (see below), who was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD). At this time several communes were set up around Germany, with Urach being one of three vegetarian communes set up in the Swabia region2.

    It was the beginning of the anarchist-oriented “Edition of the 12” publishing house. Plivier was certainly influenced by the ideas of Bakunin, but also Nietzsche. Later he took on some kind of “individualist anarchism”, ensuring that he didn’t join any party or formal political organisation.

    In Berlin in 1920 he married the actress Maria Stoz3. He belonged to the circle of friends of Käthe Kollwitz4, the radical painter and sculptor, who painted his portrait. On Christmas Day 1920 he showed a delegation from the American IWW to the grave of Karl Liebknecht5. In the early ‘20s he seems to have associated with the anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAUD (Free Workers’ Union of Germany), and addressed its public meetings6.

    Plivier underwent a “personal crisis” and began to follow the example of the “back to nature” poet Gusto Gräser7, another regular resident of “Green Way” and a man seen as the leading figure in the subculture of poets and wandering mystics known (disparagingly at the time) as the “Inflation Saints” (Inflationsheilige)8. In the words of the historian Ulrich Linse, “When the revolutionaries were killed, were in prison or had given up, the hour of the wandering prophets came. As the outer revolution had fizzled out, they found its continuation in the consciousness-being-revolution, in a spiritual change”9. Plivier began wearing sandals and robes…10 According to the Mountain of Truth book (see footnote), in 1922, in Weimar, Plivier was preaching a neo-Tolstoyan gospel of peace and anarchism, much influenced by Gräser. That year he published Anarchy, advocating a “masterless order, built up out of the moral power of free individuals”. Supposedly, “he was a religious anarchist, frequently quoting from the Bible”11. This was not unusual amongst the Inflationsheilige.

    His son Peter and his daughter Thora died from malnutrition during the terrible times of crisis and hyper-inflation in 1923. A year later he began to find work as a journalist and translator. He then worked for some time in South America as a cattle trader and as secretary to the German consul in Pisagua, Chile. On his return to Germany he wrote Des Kaisers Kulis (“The Kaiser’s Coolies”) in 1929, which was published the following year. It was a story based on his days in the Imperial Navy, denouncing the imperialist war in no uncertain terms. At the front of the book is a dedication to two sailors who were executed for participation in a strike and demonstration by hundreds of sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold12. Erwin Piscator put on a play of his novel at the Lessingtheater in Berlin, with the first showing on 30 August 1930. Der Kaiser ging, die Generälen blieben (“The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain”) was published in 1932. In both novels Plivier did an enormous amount of research, as well as drawing on his own memories of important historical events. In the original edition of Der Kaiser ging… there is a citations section at the end with fifty book titles and a list of newspapers and magazines consulted. This attention to historical fact was to become a hallmark of Plivier’s method as a novelist. The postscript to Der Kaiser ging… clearly states what he was trying to do:

    “I have cast this history in the form of a novel, because it is my belief that events which are brought about not by any exchange of diplomatic notes, but by the sudden collision of opposed forces, do not lend themselves to a purely scientific treatment. By that method one can merely assemble a selection of facts belonging to any particular period – only artistic re-fashioning can yield a living picture of the whole. As in my former book, The Kaiser’s Coolies, so I have tried here to preserve strict historic truth, and in so far as exact material was available I have used it as the basis of my work. All the events described, all the persons introduced, are drawn to the life and their words reproduced verbatim. Occasional statements which the sources preserve only in indirect speech are here given direct form. But in no instance has the sense been altered.”

    His second marriage (which didn’t produce any children) was to the Jewish actress Hildegard Piscator in 1931. When Hitler came to power as Chancellor in 1933, his books were banned and publically burnt. He changed his name to Plievier. That year he decided to emigrate, and at the end of a long journey which led him to Prague, Zurich, Paris and Oslo, he ended up in the Soviet Union.

    He was initially not subject to much censorship in Moscow and published accounts of his adventures and political commentaries. When Operation Barbarossa was launched he was evacuated to Tashkent along with other foreigners. Here, for example, he met up (again?) with Johannes Robert Becher, the future Culture Minister of the DDR! In September 1943 he became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD), which gathered anti-Nazi German exiles living in the USSR – not just Communist Party members, although there were a fair number of them involved. In 1945 he wrote Stalingrad, based on testimonies which he collected, with official permission, from German prisoners of war in camps around Moscow. This novel was initially published in occupied Berlin and Mexico, but ended up being translated into 14 languages and being adapted for the theatre and TV13. It describes in unflinching and pitiless detail the German military defeat and its roots in the megalomania of Hitler and the incompetence of the High Command. It is the only novel by Plievier that was written specifically as a work of state propaganda. It is certainly “defeatist”, but only on the German side – it is certainly not “revolutionary defeatist” like Plievier’s writings about WWI. The French writer Pierre Vaydat (in the French-language magazine of German culture, Germanica14) even suggests that it was clearly aimed at “the new military class which was the officer corps of the Wehrmacht” in an effort to encourage them to rise up against Hitler and save the honour of the German military. The novel nevertheless only appeared in a censored form in the USSR.

    He returned to Weimar at the end of 1945, as an official of the Red Army! For two years he worked as a delegate of the regional assembly, as director of publications and had a leading position in the “Cultural Association [Kulturbund] for German Democratic Renewal” which was a Soviet organisation devoted to changing attitudes in Germany and preparing its inclusion into the USSR’s economic and political empire. As with so much else in Plievier’s life, this episode was partly fictionalised in a novel, in this case his last ever novel, Berlin.

    Plievier ended up breaking with the Soviet system in 1948, and made an announcement to this effect to a gathering of German writers in Frankfurt in May of that year15. However, Plievier had taken a long and tortuous political path since his days as a revolutionary sailor in 1918… He clearly ended up supporting the Cold War – seeing the struggle against “Communist” totalitarianism as a continuation of the struggle against fascism (logically enough). What’s more, his views had taken on a somewhat religious tinge, talking of a “spiritual rebirth” whose foundations “begin with the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai and end with the theses of the Atlantic Charter”! Although it can be read as a denunciation of the horrors of war in general, it’s clear that Berlin, his description of the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, is far more of a denunciation of Soviet Russia than anything else. The character Colonel Zecke, obviously a mouthpiece for Plievier’s views, even claims that Churchill and Roosevelt only bombed Dresden because they wanted to please Stalin. If you say so, Theo…! One virtue of Plievier’s single-minded attack on the Russian side is that he draws attention to the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. This was a war crime which it was not at all fashionable to mention at the time he was writing, despite the existence of perhaps as many as two million victims16.

    Berlin ends with one of the recurring characters in Plievier’s war novels being killed while participating in the East German worker’s revolt in 195317. Despite his conservative turn, Plievier obviously still has some of the spirit of Wilhelmshaven and can’t restrain himself from giving the rebellious workers some advice about how to organise a proletarian insurrection – seize the means of production! Another character says:

    “What use was it raising one’s fists against tanks, fighting with the Vopos [Volkspolizei – People’s Police], trampling down propaganda posters – one has to get into the vital works, to get busy at the waterworks, the power stations, the metropolitan railway! But the workers are without organisation, without leadership or a plan –the revolt has broken out like a steppes fire and is flickering away uncoordinated, in all directions at once.”

    He went to live in the British Zone of Occupation. He got married for a third time, in 1950, to Margarete Grote, and went to live next to Lake Constance. He published Moscow (Moskau) in 1952 and Berlin in 1954. He moved to Tessin in Switzerland in 1953, and died from a heart attack there in 1955, at the age of 63.

    His works – particularly the pro-revolutionary ones – are almost unknown in the English-speaking world (or anywhere else) today. The republication of The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain in electronic form is a modest attempt to remedy this!

    Finally, please read Plivier’s novels! Even the reactionary ones…

    #Allemagne #histoire #révolution #littérature


  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudi

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.
    >> $6 billion of Iranian money: Why Israeli firm Black Cube really went after Obama’s team
    According to the complaint, the affair began with a phone call received by a man identified as a European businessman with connections in the Gulf states. On the line was W., an Israeli dealing in defense-related technologies and who operates through Cyprus-based companies. (Many defense-related companies do business in Cyprus because of its favorable tax laws.) W. asked his European interlocutor to help him do business in the Gulf.

    FILE Photo: Two of the founders of NSO, Shalev Julio and Omri Lavi.
    Among the European businessman’s acquaintances were the two senior Saudi officials, Malihi and Qahtani.
    On February 1, 2017, W. and the businessman met for the first time. The main topic was the marketing of cyberattack software. Unlike ordinary weapons systems, the price depends only on a customer’s eagerness to buy the system.
    The following month, the European businessman traveled to a weapons exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, where a friend introduced him to Malihi, the Saudi businessman.
    In April 2017, a meeting was arranged in Vienna between Malihi, Qahtani and representatives of Israeli companies. Two more meetings subsequently took place with officials of Israeli companies in which other Israelis were present. These meetings took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, where Israeli cybercompanies often meet with foreign clients.
    >> Snowden: Israeli firm’s spyware was used to track Khashoggi
    The meetings were attended by W. and his son. They were apparently friendly: In photographs documenting one of them, W. and Qahtani are shown after a hunting trip, with the Saudi aiming a rifle at a dead animal.
    In the Vienna meeting of April 2017, the Saudis presented a list of 23 systems they sought to acquire. Their main interest was cybersystems. For a few dozens of millions of dollars, they would be able to hack into the phones of regime opponents in Saudi Arabia and around the world and collect classified information about them.
    According to the European businessman, the Saudis, already at the first meeting, passed along to the representatives of one of the companies details of a Twitter account of a person who had tweeted against the regime. They wanted to know who was behind the account, but the Israeli company refused to say.

    Offices of Israeli NSO Group company in Herzliya, Israel, Aug. 25, 2016Daniella Cheslow/AP
    In the June 2017 meeting, the Saudis expressed interest in NSO’s technology.
    According to the European businessman, in July 2017 another meeting was held between the parties, the first at W.’s home in Cyprus. W. proposed selling Pegasus 3 software to the Saudis for $208 million.
    Malihi subsequently contacted W. and invited him to Riyadh to present the software to members of the royal family. The department that oversees defense exports in Israel’s Defense Ministry and the ministry’s department for defense assistance, responsible for encouraging exports, refused to approve W.’s trip.
    Using the initials for the defense assistance department, W. reportedly said “screw the D.A.” and chartered a small plane, taking with him NSO’s founder, Shalev Hulio, to the meetings in the Gulf. According to the European businessman, the pair were there for three days, beginning on July 18, 2017.
    At these meetings, the European businessman said, an agreement was made to sell the Pegasus 3 to the Saudis for $55 million.
    According to the European businessman, the details of the deal became known to him only through his contacts in the defense assistance department. He said he had agreed orally with W. that his commission in the deal would be 5 percent – $2.75 million.
    But W. and his son stopped answering the European businessman’s phone calls. Later, the businessman told the police, he received an email from W.’s lawyer that contained a fake contract in which the company would agree to pay only his expenses and to consider whether to pay him a bonus if the deal went through.
    The European businessman, assisted by an Israeli lawyer, filed a complaint in April 2018. He was questioned by the police’s national fraud squad and was told that the affair had been transferred to another unit specializing in such matters. Since then he has been contacted by the income tax authorities, who are apparently checking whether there has been any unreported income from the deal.
    The European businessman’s claims seem to be substantiated by correspondence Haaretz has obtained between Cem Koksal, a Turkish businessman living in the UAE, and W.’s lawyers in Israel. The European businessman said in his complaint that Koksal was involved in mediating the deal.
    In a letter sent by Koksal’s lawyer in February of this year, he demanded his portion from W. In a response letter, sent in early March, W.’s attorney denied the existence of the deal. The deal had not been signed, the letter claimed, due to Koksal’s negligence, therefore he was due no commission or compensation of any kind.
    These issues have a wider context. From the claims by the European businessman and Koksal’s letter, it emerges that the deal was signed in the summer of 2017, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed began his purge of regime opponents. During that purge, the Saudi regime arrested and tortured members of the royal family and Saudi businessmen accused of corruption. The Saudis also held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri for a few days in a Riyadh hotel.
    In the following months the Saudis continued their hunt for regime opponents living abroad, which raised international attention only when the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul came to light in October.
    It has recently been claimed that NSO helped the Saudi regime surveil its opponents. According to an article in Forbes magazine and reports from the Canadian cyber-related think tank Citizen Lab, among the surveillance targets were the satirist Ghanem Almasrir and human rights activist Yahya Asiri, who live in London, and Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in exile in Canada.
    These three men were in contact with Khashoggi. Last month, Edward Snowden, who uncovered the classified surveillance program of the U.S. National Security Agency, claimed that Pegasus had been used by the Saudi authorities to surveil Khashoggi.
    “They are the worst of the worst,” Snowden said of NSO, whose people he accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations.
    NSO’s founders and chief executives are Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. The company is registered in Cyprus but its development headquarters is in Herzliya. In 2014 the company was sold to private equity firm Francisco Partners based on a valuation of $250 million.
    Francisco Partners did not respond to Haaretz’s request for comment.
    In May, Verint Systems offered to buy NSO for $1 billion, but the offer was rejected. The company is awash in cash. Earlier this month all its employees went on vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Netta Barzilai, Lior Suchard, the Ma Kashur Trio and the band Infected Mushroom were also flown there to entertain them.
    The Pegasus system developed by NSO was a “one-click system,” meaning that the victim had to press on a link sent to him through phishing. The new system no longer requires this. Only the number of the SIM card is needed to hack into the phone. It’s unknown how Pegasus does this.
    Technology sources believe that the technology either exploits breaches in the cellphone’s modem, the part that receives messages from the antenna, or security breaches in the apps installed on a phone. As soon as a phone is hacked, the speaker and camera can be used for recording conversations. Even encoded apps such as WhatsApp can be monitored.
    NSO’s operations are extremely profitable.
    The company, which conceals its client list, has been linked to countries that violate human rights. NSO says its products are used in the fight against crime and terror, but in certain countries the authorities identify anti-regime activists and journalists as terrorists and subject them to surveillance.
    In 2012, NSO sold an earlier version of Pegasus to Mexico to help it combat the drug cartel in that country. According to the company, all its contracts include a clause specifically permitting the use of its software only to “investigate and prevent crime or acts of terror.” But The New York Times reported in 2016 that the Mexican authorities also surveilled journalists and lawyers.
    Following that report, Mexican victims of the surveillance filed a lawsuit in Israel against NSO last September. This year, The New York Times reported that the software had been sold to the UAE, where it helped the authorities track leaders of neighboring countries as well as a London newspaper editor.
    In response to these reports, NSO said it “operated and operates solely in compliance with defense export laws and under the guidelines and close oversight of all elements of the defense establishment, including all matters relating to export policies and licenses.
    “The information presented by Haaretz about the company and its products and their use is wrong, based on partial rumors and gossip. The presentation distorts reality.
    “The company has an independent, external ethics committee such as no other company like it has. It includes experts in legal affairs and international relations. The committee examines every deal so that the use of the system will take place only according to permitted objectives of investigating and preventing terror and crime.
    “The company’s products assist law enforcement agencies in protecting people around the world from terror attacks, drug cartels, child kidnappers for ransom, pedophiles, and other criminals and terrorists.
    “In contrast to newspaper reports, the company does not sell its products or allow their use in many countries. Moreover, the company greatly limits the extent to which its customers use its products and is not involved in the operation of the systems by customers.”
    A statement on W.’s behalf said: “This is a false and completely baseless complaint, leverage for an act of extortion by the complainants, knowing that there is no basis for their claims and that if they would turn to the relevant courts they would be immediately rejected.”


  • Tests Showed Children Were Exposed to Lead. The Official Response: Challenge the Tests
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/18/nyregion/nycha-lead-paint.html

    Within two weeks, a city health inspector visited the two Brooklyn public housing apartments where Mikaila spent her time — her mother’s in the Tompkins Houses; her grandmother’s in the Gowanus Houses — to look for the source of the lead exposure, records show. The inspector, wielding a hand-held device that can detect lead through multiple layers of paint, found the dangerous heavy metal in both homes. The Health Department ordered the Housing Authority to fix the problems.

    The discovery spurred the Housing Authority to action: It challenged the results.

    Rather than remove or cover the lead, the Housing Authority dispatched its own inspector who used a different test, documents show. The agency insisted that however Mikaila was poisoned, there was no lead in her apartments.

    #plomb #saturnisme


  • Top White House Official Involved in Saudi Sanctions Resigns - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-saudi-arabia.html

    A top White House official responsible for American policy toward Saudi Arabia resigned on Friday evening, a move that may suggest fractures inside the Trump administration over the response to the brutal killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

    The official, Kirsten Fontenrose, had pushed for tough measures against the Saudi government, and had been in Riyadh to discuss a raft of sanctions that the American government imposed in recent days against those identified as responsible for the killing, according to two people familiar with the conversations. Specifically, she advocated that Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, be added to the list, and he ultimately was.

    Mauvais timing pour le renvoi de cette fonctionnaire de la Maison blanche en charge du dossier saoudien et qui souhaitait apparemment des sanctions : cela vient juste au moment des fuites sur le rapport de la CIA mettant en cause #MBS et, par dessus le marché, une vidéo (totalement invérifiable) se met à circuler montrant des morceaux choisis (!) du démantèlement (https://twitter.com/mazmbc/status/1063753281099325440)

    #gore de gore #arabie_saoudite #grand_jeu


  • Israel’s defense chief resigns, slams Netanyahu for ’surrendering to Hamas terror’
    Haaretz.com - Chaim Levinson Nov 14, 2018 12:47 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-s-political-arena-holds-breath-as-defense-chief-calls-surpr

    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for elections to be held as soon as possible, saying he hopes a date will be set by Sunday. Lieberman said of all the members of his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will quit the coalition.

    However, a senior source in Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, said that elections are not neccessarily the next step and added that Netanyahu will initially take on Lieberman’s portfolio. Lieberman, who heads Yisrael Beiteinu, will retake his Knesset seat following his resignation, as provided for by law.

    “I didn’t look for reasons to quit,” Lieberman said. “I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost.” The two turning points, he said, were the millions of dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the cease-fire Israel reached with Hamas on Tuesday.

    “There is no other definition, no other significance, but a capitulation to terror,” he said, adding: “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”

    “It is no secret there were differences between the prime minister and I,” he said. “I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money [into Gaza], and I had to allow it only after the prime minister announced it.” Lieberman said similar differences revolved around the evacuation of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.

    Yisrael Beiteinu’s departure means Netanyahu still holds a Knesset majority of 61 seats to maintain the coalition. Another key coalition partner in Netanyahu’s government, Habayit Hayehudi (headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett) said that unless the defense portfolio goes to Bennett, the party will also quit the coalition.

    Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said Lieberman’s resignation is a recognition of Israel’s defeat in this week’s military confrontation with the Islamic group.

    Following the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett published statements against the truce reached with Hamas. Sources said that as soon as the latest round of fighting erupted, Lieberman demanded a “harsh, decisive” move against Hamas. Sources near Bennett say that his opposition to the cease-fire was clear as could be.

    Other sources, however, say that ultimately, the ministers unanimously supported the defense establishment’s position that action should be taken to restore the calm.

    According to associates of Lieberman, the Prime Minister’s Office’s claim on Tuesday that he had supported the cease-fire agreement that was reached to end hostilities in Gaza infuriated him.

    Senior Hamas official Husan Badran said Tuesday, the third day of hostilities, that “if Netanyahu is interested in ending this round, he must fire [Defense Minister] Lieberman, who in his foolish conduct caused the escalation.”

    In recent weeks, Lieberman and Bennett have publicly argued between them about Gaza and Israel’s actions there. Last month, Bennett charged Lieberman of a weak, left-wing defense policy, while Lieberman retorted that in cabinet meetings, Bennett says the opposite of what he says in public.

    Lieberman and the cabinet were divided about the sale of gasoline and natural gas to Gaza, and in defense forums, it was decided that the defense minister may not make decisions on the subject without the cabinet’s agreement. The ministers were surprised last month by Lieberman’s decision to cut off the fuel supply to Gaza, a decision he made on his own, in contradiction to the position of the defense establishment. Netanyahu and the cabinet members heard of the decision for the first time through the media.


  • Working Through the Pain at TeslaReveal
    https://www.revealnews.org/article/inside-teslas-factory-a-medical-clinic-designed-to-ignore-injured-worker

    Inside Tesla’s factory, a medical clinic designed to ignore injured workers
    By Will Evans / November 5, 2018

    When a worker gets smashed by a car part on Tesla’s factory floor, medical staff are forbidden from calling 911 without permission.

    The electric carmaker’s contract doctors rarely grant it, instead often insisting that seriously injured workers – including one who severed the top of a finger – be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft.

    Injured employees have been systematically sent back to the production line to work through their pain with no modifications, according to former clinic employees, Tesla factory workers and medical records. Some could barely walk.

    The on-site medical clinic serving some 10,000 employees at Tesla Inc.’s California assembly plant has failed to properly care for seriously hurt workers, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

    The clinic’s practices are unsafe and unethical, five former clinic employees said.

    But denying medical care and work restrictions to injured workers is good for one thing: making real injuries disappear.

    “The goal of the clinic was to keep as many patients off of the books as possible,” said Anna Watson, a physician assistant who worked at Tesla’s medical clinic for three weeks in August.

    Watson has nearly 20 years of experience as a medical professional, examining patients, diagnosing ailments and prescribing medications. She’s treated patients at a petroleum refinery, a steel plant, emergency rooms and a trauma center. But she said she’s never seen anything like what’s happening at Tesla.


    Anna Watson was a physician assistant at the medical clinic inside Tesla’s electric car factory in Fremont, Calif. She was fired in August after raising concerns. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    “The way they were implementing it was very out of control,” said Watson, who was fired in August after she raised her concerns. “Every company that I’ve worked at is motivated to keep things not recordable. But I’ve never seen anybody do it at the expense of treating the patient.”

    Workers with chest pain, breathing problems or extreme headaches have been dismissed as having issues unrelated to their work, without being fully evaluated or having workplace exposures considered, former employees said. The clinic has turned away temp workers who got hurt on Tesla’s assembly lines, leaving them without on-site care. And medical assistants, who are supposed to have on-site supervision, say they were left on their own at night, unprepared to deal with a stream of night-shift injuries.

    If a work injury requires certain medical equipment – such as stitches or hard braces – then it has to be counted in legally mandated logs. But some employees who needed stitches for a cut instead were given butterfly bandages, said Watson and another former clinic employee. At one point, hard braces were removed from the clinic so they wouldn’t be used, according to Watson and a former medical assistant.

    As Tesla races to revolutionize the automobile industry and build a more sustainable future, it has left its factory workers in the past, still painfully vulnerable to the dangers of manufacturing.

    An investigation by Reveal in April showed that Tesla prioritized style and speed over safety, undercounted injuries and ignored the concerns of its own safety professionals. CEO Elon Musk’s distaste for the color yellow and beeping forklifts eroded factory safety, former safety team members said.

    The new revelations about the on-site clinic show that even as the company forcefully pushed back against Reveal’s reporting, behind the scenes, it doubled down on its efforts to hide serious injuries from the government and public.

    In June, Tesla hired a new company, Access Omnicare, to run its factory health center after the company promised Tesla it could help reduce the number of recordable injuries and emergency room visits, according to records.

    A former high-level Access Omnicare employee said Tesla pressured the clinic’s owner, who then made his staff dismiss injuries as minor or not related to work.

    “It was bullying and pressuring to do things people didn’t believe were correct,” said the former employee, whom Reveal granted anonymity because of the worker’s fear of being blackballed in the industry.

    Dr. Basil Besh, the Fremont, California, hand surgeon who owns Access Omnicare, said the clinic drives down Tesla’s injury count with more accurate diagnoses, not because of pressure from Tesla. Injured workers, he said, don’t always understand what’s best for them.

    “We treat the Tesla employees just the same way we treat our professional athletes,” he said. “If Steph Curry twists his knee on a Thursday night game, that guy’s in the MRI scanner on Friday morning.”

    Yet at one point, Watson said a Tesla lawyer and a company safety official told her and other clinic staff to stop prescribing exercises to injured workers so they wouldn’t have to count the injuries. Recommending stretches to treat an injured back or range-of-motion exercises for an injured shoulder was no longer allowed, she said.

    The next day, she wrote her friend a text message in outrage: “I had to meet with lawyers yesterday to literally learn how not to take care of people.”

    Tesla declined interview requests for this story and said it had no comment in response to detailed questions. But after Reveal pressed the company for answers, Tesla officials took time on their October earnings call to enthusiastically praise the clinic.

    “I’m really super happy with the care they’re giving, and I think the employees are as well,” said Laurie Shelby, Tesla’s vice president for environment, health and safety.

    Musk complained about “unfair accusations” that Tesla undercounts its injuries and promised “first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

    Welcome to the new Tesla clinic
    Back in June, on stage at Tesla’s shareholder meeting, Musk announced a declining injury rate for his electric car factory.

    “This is a super important thing to me because we obviously owe a great debt to the people who are building the car. I really care about this issue,” Musk said to applause.

    It wasn’t long after that that Stephon Nelson joined the company. Working the overnight shift Aug. 13, Nelson got a sudden introduction to Tesla’s new model of care.

    He was bent over putting caulk inside the trunk of a Model X. Something slipped and the hatchback crunched down on his back. Nelson froze up in agonizing pain. He had deep red bruises across his back.

    “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t even stand up straight,” said Nelson, who’s 30 and used to play semiprofessional football.

    He asked for an ambulance, but the on-call Tesla doctor said no – he could take a Lyft to the hospital instead.

    “I just felt heartbroken,” Nelson said. “What they was telling us in the orientation, that Tesla is a company that cares about their employees’ safety, it just seemed like it was just a whole reversal.”

    No one was allowed to call 911 without a doctor’s permission, said Watson and two medical assistants who used to work at the clinic under Besh’s direction. Anyone who did so would get in trouble, they said.

    “There was a strong push not to send anybody in an ambulance,” Watson said.


    “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t even stand up straight,” Stephon Nelson says of what happened when he injured his back while working on a Tesla Model X. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    It’s unclear why there was such a focus on avoiding 911, though some former employees thought it was to save money. Also, 911 logs become public records. And first responders, unlike drivers for ride-hailing services, are required to report severe work injuries to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the state’s workplace safety agency. Besh said ambulance use is based on “clinical judgment only.”

    The system was especially problematic on the night shift, as the factory continued churning out vehicles around the clock, but there were no doctors or nurses around, former employees said.

    Two medical assistants who used to work there said they often were left on their own – one on duty at a time – and struggled to tend to all the injured. Both had to do things such as take vital signs, which medical assistants aren’t allowed to do without on-site supervision, according to the Medical Board of California. Reveal granted them anonymity because they fear speaking out will hurt their careers. Besh said no one works alone.

    For a severely injured worker lying on the assembly line, it could take 10 to 15 minutes for a medical assistant to arrive and then contact on-call doctors, a medical assistant said. Getting a code for Tesla’s Lyft account was a drawn-out process that could take hours, she said.

    The medical assistants said they were alarmed and uncomfortable with the doctors’ orders to use Lyft because they worried some patients could pass out or need help en route. One worker directed to take a Lyft was light-headed and dizzy. Another had his fingers badly broken, contorted and mangled.

    Besh, who often serves as the on-call doctor, said anyone could call 911 in a life-threatening situation. He said he recommends using Lyft for workers who don’t need advanced life support.

    Besh gave the example of a worker who had the top of his finger cut off. He needed to go to the hospital, but not by ambulance, Besh said. He likened the situation to people at home who get a ride to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance.

    “We right-size the care,” he said. “Obviously, it’s all about the appropriate care given for the appropriate situation.”

    It’s a doctor’s judgment call to use Lyft, but many on the factory floor found it inhumane. In some cases, including the worker with an amputated fingertip, factory supervisors refused to put their employees in a Lyft and instead drove them to the hospital, according to a medical assistant.

    Injured workers sent back to work

    In Nelson’s case, he called his girlfriend to take him to the hospital. But he said his supervisor told him that he had to show up for work the next day or Nelson would get in trouble.

    Nelson needed the job, so he forced himself to come in. He shuffled slowly, hunched over in pain, to his department, he said. When it was clear he couldn’t do the job, he was sent to the Tesla health center, a small clinic on an upper level of the factory.

    Workers too injured to do their regular jobs are supposed to receive job restrictions and a modified assignment that won’t make the injury worse.

    But the health center wouldn’t give Nelson any accommodations. He could go home that day, but he had to report to work full duty the following day, he said.

    By law, work-related injuries must be recorded on injury logs if they require medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work or job restrictions. The clinic’s practices were designed to avoid those triggers, said Anna Watson, the physician assistant.

    There was a clinic rule, for example, that injured employees could not be given work restrictions, Watson said. No matter what type of injuries workers came in with – burns, lacerations, strains and sprains – clinic staff were under instructions to send them back to work full duty, she said. Watson said she even had to send one back to work with what appeared to be a broken ankle.

    Medical clinics are supposed to treat injuries and keep workers safe, she said, “and none of that’s happening. So at the most acute time of their injury, they don’t have any support, really.”

    A medical assistant who formerly worked at the clinic remembered an employee who was sent back to work even though he couldn’t stand on one of his feet. Another employee passed out face down on the assembly line – then went back to work.

    “You always put back to full duty, no matter what,” said the medical assistant.

    Dr. Basil Besh said patients are given work restrictions when appropriate. He said those hurt at night get first aid and triage, followed by an accurate diagnosis from a physician the next day.

    “There’s always going to be somebody who says, ‘No, I shouldn’t be working,’ ” he said. “But if you look objectively at the totality of the medical examination, that’s not always the case.”

    Four days after Nelson’s injury, Watson herself sent him back to work with no restrictions, according to medical records he provided. Nelson said this happened repeatedly as he hobbled in pain.

    But Watson did what she could to help: She referred him to Access Omnicare’s main clinic, about 5 miles from the auto factory. It was allowed to give work restrictions, Watson said. But most workers aren’t sent there, and it can take a while to get an appointment.

    Eight days after his injury, the outside clinic diagnosed Nelson with a “crushing injury of back,” contusions and “intractable” pain. He finally was given work restrictions that said he shouldn’t be bending, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs or lifting more than 10 pounds.

    Even after that, the health center at one point sent Nelson back to his department in a wheelchair, he said.

    “And I’m rocking back and forth, just ready to fall out of the wheelchair because I’m in so much pain,” he said.

    In September, Nelson got a warehouse job at another company. It was a pay cut, but he quit Tesla right away. “I feel like it’s really not safe at all,” he said.

    Besh said he couldn’t comment on a specific case without a signed release from the patient. But, he said, “a physician examined that patient and saw that there was not a safety issue.”

    Besh was named chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Board of Councilors this year. A Tesla spokeswoman set up and monitored his interview with Reveal.

    There’s been a “culture shift” at the health center since Tesla hired him to take over, he said.

    “So culturally, there were folks in the past who were expecting that any time they come to the clinic, they would be taken off of work,” he said. “And when we told them, ‘No, we really want to do what’s best for you’ … it’s taking some time to get buy-in.”

    In the end, Tesla counted Nelson on its injury logs, which is how Reveal identified him. That’s another reason the system didn’t make sense to Watson: Some workers whose injuries were so serious that they eventually would have to be counted still were denied proper care when they needed it most, she said.

    Many more injured workers never were counted, she said. Tesla’s official injury logs, provided to Reveal by a former employee, show 48 injuries in August. Watson reviewed the list for the three weeks she was there and estimated that more than twice as many injuries should have been counted if Tesla had provided appropriate care and counted accurately.

    Other ways Tesla’s clinic avoids treating workers
    The clinic seemed geared toward sending workers away instead of treating them, Watson said. The culture of the clinic, she said, was to discount workers’ complaints and assume they were exaggerating.

    The clinic would look for reasons to dismiss injuries as not work-related, even when they seemed to be, former employees said.

    Watson recalled one worker who had passed out on the job and went to the hospital because of her exposure to fumes in the factory. Even though a work-related loss of consciousness is required to be counted, no such injury was recorded on Tesla’s injury logs.

    Temp workers hurt on the production line also were often rebuffed by the clinic, said former clinic employees. At one point, there was a blanket policy to turn away temps, they said.


    Tracy Lee wears a brace to help with a repetitive stress injury she developed while working at Tesla’s factory. She says the in-house health center sent her away without evaluating her because she wasn’t a permanent employee. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    Tracy Lee developed a repetitive stress injury over the summer when a machine broke and she had to lift car parts by hand, she said. Lee said the health center sent her away without evaluating her because she wasn’t a permanent employee.

    “I really think that’s messed up,” said Lee, who later sought medical treatment on her own. “Don’t discriminate just because we’re temps. We’re working for you.”

    By law, Tesla is required to record injuries of temp workers who work under its supervision, no matter where they get treatment. But not all of them were. Lee said her Tesla supervisor knew about the injury. But Lee’s name doesn’t appear on Tesla’s injury logs.

    Besh pushed back on the claims of his former employees.

    He said the clinic didn’t treat some temp workers because Access Omnicare wasn’t a designated health care provider for their staffing agencies. About half of the agencies now are able to use the clinic, and the rest should be early next year, he said.

    Besh said a physician accurately and carefully determines whether an injury is work-related and the clinic is not set up to treat personal medical issues. He said the clinic is fully stocked.

    As for prescribing exercises, Besh said the clinic automatically was giving exercise recommendations to workers who were not injured and simply fixed the error.


    These sample Work Status Reports, posted in Tesla’s health center, show how clinic staff were instructed to handle different situations. The document on the left, labeled “Work Related,” is marked “First Aid Only” and “Return to full duty with no limitations or restrictions,” scenarios that would mean Tesla wouldn’t have to count the injury. Those were the only options, says Anna Watson, a physician assistant who used to work there. One document for contract employees such as temp workers (center) and another for non-occupational injuries (right) both say to refer the patients elsewhere. Credit: Obtained by Reveal

    Clinic source: Tesla pressured doctor
    Access Omnicare’s proposal for running Tesla’s health center states that Tesla’s priorities include reducing recordable injuries and emergency room visits, according to a copy obtained by Reveal.

    It says Access Omnicare’s model, with more accurate diagnoses, reduces “un-necessary use of Emergency Departments and prevents inadvertent over-reporting of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recordability.”

    Even before Access Omnicare took over the on-site health center in June, Tesla sent many injured workers to its main clinic as one of the automaker’s preferred providers.

    Tesla exercised an alarming amount of pressure on the clinic to alter how it treated patients in order to keep injury rates down, said the former high-level Access Omnicare employee.

    “There was a huge, huge push from Tesla to keep things nonrecordable,” said the former employee.

    A Tesla workers’ compensation official routinely would contact the clinic to intervene in individual cases, said the former employee. Tesla would take issue with diagnoses and treatment decisions, arguing that specific workers should be sent back to work full duty or have their injuries labeled as unrelated to work. The clinic gave Tesla what it wanted, the former employee said.

    For example, Bill Casillas’ diagnosis suddenly was changed by Access Omnicare after discussions with Tesla.

    In December, Casillas was working in Tesla’s seat factory. When he touched a forklift, he felt an electric shock jolt him back. Later that shift, it happened again. He said he felt disoriented and found he had urinated on himself.

    Casillas said he hasn’t been the same since. He struggles with pain, tingling and numbness. At 47, he’s unsteady, uses a cane and hasn’t been able to work, he said.

    A doctor at Access Omnicare diagnosed a work-related “injury due to electrical exposure” and gave him severe work restrictions and physical therapy, medical records show.

    Then, nearly two months after his injury, another Access Omnicare physician, Dr. Muhannad Hafi, stepped in and dismissed the injury.

    “I have spoken again with (the workers’ compensation official) at Tesla and he informed that the forklift did not have electric current running. With that said, in my medical opinion, the patient does not have an industrial injury attributed to an electrical current,” he wrote.

    Hafi, who’s no longer with Access Omnicare, didn’t respond to questions. Besh said he can’t discuss patient details.

    The co-worker who was in the forklift during the second shock, Paul Calderon, said he disagrees with the Tesla official but no one asked him. He backed up Casillas’ account and said Tesla “tried to really downplay what happened to him.”

    Hafi’s January report noted that Casillas said he was “miserable,” used a cane and had pain all over his body. But he discharged him back to work full duty, writing, “No further symptoms of concern.”

    A Tesla safety team manager informed Casillas last month that his injury was not counted because it was “determined to not be work-related.” Casillas is still a Tesla employee, but he’s off work because of his injury. His workers’ comp claim was denied based on Hafi’s report, but his lawyer, Sue Borg, is seeking an independent medical evaluation.

    Besh said Tesla does not pressure him to dismiss injuries.

    “What Tesla pressures us on is accurate documentation,” he said. “What they want is their OSHA log to be as accurate as possible, so what they’ll push back on is, ‘Doctor I need more clarity on this report.’ And we do that for them.”

    “They are not in the business of making clinical determinations at all,” he said. “We make those clinical determinations only based on what the patient needs.”

    State regulators not interested
    By late August, Watson, the physician assistant, reached her breaking point. She got into an argument with Besh, who fired her for not deferring to doctors.

    Afterward, she filed a complaint to Cal/OSHA, California’s workplace safety agency.

    “I just see the workers at Tesla as having absolutely no voice,” she said. “I do feel extra responsible to try to speak up for what’s going on there.”

    Watson thought Cal/OSHA would put an immediate stop to the practices she witnessed. But the agency wasn’t interested.

    Cal/OSHA sent her a letter saying it folded her complaint into the investigation it started in April after Reveal’s first story ran. The letter said it had investigated and cited Tesla for a recordkeeping violation.

    But Cal/OSHA already had closed that investigation two weeks before Watson’s complaint. The agency issued a fine of $400 for a single injury it said was not recorded within the required time period. Tesla appealed, calling it an administrative error.

    Reveal had documented many other cases of injuries that Tesla had failed to record. But the agency had only about six months from the date of an injury to fine a company. By the time Cal/OSHA concluded its four-month investigation, the statute of limitations had run out.

    After Reveal reported that the time limitation makes it difficult to hold employers accountable, state legislators passed a bill giving investigators six months from when Cal/OSHA first learns of the violation. It was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but it was too late for the Tesla investigation.

    A Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said the investigation found four other “injury recording violations that fell outside of the statute of limitations.” Even if those other violations had been included, the spokeswoman said Cal/OSHA would have had to combine them in a single $400 citation.

    Tesla, meanwhile, inaccurately cites Cal/OSHA’s investigation as vindication.

    “We do get these quite unfair accusations,” Musk said on his October earnings call. “One of them was that we were underreporting injuries. And it’s worth noting that OSHA completed their investigation and concluded that we had not been doing anything of the sort.”

    Watson called Cal/OSHA officials to insist they investigate her complaint. She told them that she had detailed knowledge of a system that undercounted injuries by failing to treat injured workers.

    But Cal/OSHA officials told her that it wasn’t the agency’s responsibility, she said. They suggested contacting another agency, such as the medical board or workers’ compensation regulators.

    As Watson kept pushing and Reveal began asking questions, a Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said her complaint now is being investigated.

    Watson has a new job at an urgent care clinic. She said she just wants someone to make sure that Tesla workers get the care they need.

    “You go to Tesla and you think it’s going to be this innovative, great, wonderful place to be, like this kind of futuristic company,” she said. “And I guess it’s just kind of disappointing that that’s our future, basically, where the worker still doesn’t matter.”

    #USA #Tesla #Arbeit #Krankheit


  • With Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Israel finds another natural partner on the far-
    right

    https://mondoweiss.net/2018/11/brazils-bolsonaro-another

    The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election last week has won Israel a passionate new friend on the international stage. The world’s fifth-most populous nation will now be “coloured in blue and white”, an Israeli official said, referring to the colours of Israel’s flag.

    The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately called to congratulate Bolsonaro, a former army officer with a pronounced nostalgia for his country’s 20-year military dictatorship. Critics describe him as a neo-fascist.

    According to Israeli media reports, it is “highly probable” that Netanyahu will attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration on January 1.

    The Brazilian president-elect has already promised that his country will be the third to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, after the United States and Guatemala. That will further undermine Palestinian hopes for an eventual state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    Bolsonaro has told Israel that it can count on Brazil’s vote at the United Nations, and has threatened to close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.

    One might imagine that Netanyahu is simply being pragmatic in cosying up to Bolsonaro, given Brazil’s importance. But that would be to ignore an unmistakable trend: Israel has relished the recent emergence of far-right leaders across the Americas and Europe, often to the horror of local Jewish communities.

    Bolsonaro has divided Brazil’s 100,000 Jews. Some have been impressed by the frequent appearance of Israeli flags at his rallies and his anti-Palestinian stance. But others point out that he regularly expresses hostility to minorities.


  • How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/us/politics/george-soros-bombs-trump.html

    On both sides of the Atlantic, a loose network of activists and political figures on the right have spent years seeking to cast Mr. Soros not just as a well-heeled political opponent but also as the personification of all they detest. Employing barely coded anti-Semitism, they have built a warped portrayal of him as the mastermind of a “globalist” movement, a left-wing radical who would undermine the established order and a proponent of diluting the white, Christian nature of their societies through immigration.

    In the process, they have pushed their version of Mr. Soros, 88, from the dark corners of the internet and talk radio to the very center of the political debate.

    “He’s a banker, he’s Jewish, he gives to Democrats — he’s sort of a perfect storm for vilification by the right, here and in Europe,” said Michael H. Posner, a human rights lawyer and former State Department official in the Obama administration.

    Mr. Soros has given his main group, the Open Society Foundations, $32 billion for what it calls democracy-building efforts in the United States and around the world. In addition, in the United States, Mr. Soros has personally contributed more than $75 million over the years to federal candidates and committees, according to Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records.

    That qualifies him as one of the top disclosed donors to American political campaigns in the modern campaign finance era, and it does not include the many millions more he has donated to political nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors.

    By contrast, the network of conservative donors led by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who have been similarly attacked by some on the American left, has spent about $2 billion over the past decade on political and public policy advocacy.❞

    The closing advertisement for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign featured Mr. Soros — as well as Janet L. Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve at the time, and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, both of whom are Jewish — as examples of “global special interests” who enriched themselves on the backs of working Americans.

    If anything, Mr. Soros has been elevated by Mr. Trump and his allies to even greater prominence in the narrative they have constructed for the closing weeks of the 2018 midterm elections. They have projected on to him key roles in both the threat they say is posed by the Central Americans making their way toward the United States border and what they characterized as Democratic “mobs” protesting the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

    The National Republican Congressional Committee ran an ad in October in Minnesota suggesting that Mr. Soros, who is depicted sitting behind a pile of cash, “bankrolls” everything from “prima donna athletes protesting our anthem” to “left-wing mobs paid to riot in the streets.” The ad links Mr. Soros to a local congressional candidate who worked at a think tank that has received funding from the Open Society Foundations.

    Even after the authorities arrested a fervent Trump supporter and accused him of sending the pipe bombs to Mr. Soros and other critics, Republicans did not back away. The president grinned on Friday when supporters at the White House responded to his attacks on Democrats and “globalists” by chanting, “Lock ’em up,” and yelling, “George Soros.”

    #Antisémitisme #Georges_Soros #Néo_fascisme #USA