position:official

  • 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


  • Authorities probing immigrant Saudi sisters’ mystery deaths
    https://apnews.com/094178ff98c34dfa89b372c963193757

    Their mother told detectives the day before the bodies were discovered, she received a call from an official at the Saudi Arabian Embassy, ordering the family to leave the U.S. because her daughters had applied for political asylum, New York police said Tuesday.

    #assassinats #arabie_saoudite


  • National Security Pros, It’s Time to Talk About Right-Wing Extremism

    Ask any of us who works in national security what to do about ISIS, and we’d have no problem pitching you ideas. Even if we lack expertise in the topic or don’t work directly on it, we’d still have opinions and thoughts, because we’ve been swimming in a sea of articles, op-eds, books, hearings, programs, and overall research and debate for years. But ask us about right-wing extremism, a violent ideology that’s killed more Americans than ISIS in the last decade, and most of us would pause — either because we were unaware of the problem or, worse, we were afraid to speak openly about it.

    So let’s talk about it now.

    Over the last decade, individuals and groups fueled by this virulent ideology have committed 71 percent of the known politically or religiously inspired killings in our country — that is, 274 of the 387 Americans murdered by extremists. Reports now indicate it was part of the recent murder of 17 school children and teachers in Florida, just as it was part of mass shootings that have happened everywhere from California to Charleston. It has not just hit inside the US, but has struck many of our closest allies, both causing near-tragedies and horrible massacres. It is not a new threat; it has killed hundreds of Americans in past decades. But it is growing in power and influence, worrisomely being stoked by foreign nations like Russia that wish our nation harm. It is a clear, present, and proven danger to the United States. Yet we find it awkward to talk about.

    There are many reasons why we have a hard time acknowledging the deadly threat from the cluster of groups that gather inside our country under the hateful flags of white nationalism, white supremacy, anti-government militia, and Neo-Nazism. One reason is to avoid appearing too partisan, a desire to be even-handed. There is irony in that we seek to avoid appearing biased, even when the threat espouses bias to the point of justifying hating and even killing their fellow Americans. So, after each episode of right-wing violence, we avoid talking about it, even to the point of reaching in the opposite direction. For instance, after these groups united to march on Charlottesville, culminating in the killing of a young woman, major U.S. papers ran more op-eds condemning the counter-protesters, who have yet to commit a mass killing, than those who committed the crime.

    I must pause here to pre-empt the inevitable “what-aboutism” — the kind of attempts to change the conversation that wouldn’t happen in an article on a group like ISIS. Yes, far-left violence is bad. (See how easy it is to write that? There’s no need to caveat violent extremists of any flag as “very fine people.”) But over the last decade, 3 percent of extremist killings in the U.S. have been committed by members of far left-wing groups — a fraction of the 71 percent by right-wing extremists and 26 percent by Islamic extremists. Those figures are the ADL’s, which documents them case by case. If you don’t like the ADL’s categorization, you could use the data gathered by colleagues of mine at the New America Foundation, which drew on the statements of law enforcement officials to determine motivation in the various attacks. That dataset shows that attacks by right-wing extremists outnumber those by left-wing groups more than 17 to one. Or you could use the one compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which since the rise of the “alt-right” in 2014, has documented 43 people killed and more than 60 injured by young men whose social media use evinced a similar ideology — and often a “lone-wolf” style familiar from other forms of terrorism. And this was before Parkland. In short, from a standpoint of scale, trends, and impact, we have a problem that shouldn’t require what-aboutism or ignoring the bulk of the problem. Nor is the “alt-left,” or “violent left,” a viable political movement. Certainly, it has not bled into the broader mainstream of party politics and key media outlets, nor held multiple armed standoffs after seizing government facilities, nor even paralyzed entire American cities in fear.

    We also have to admit that we are quiet about right-wing extremist violence out of calculation. The cost-vs.-gain equations that shape our choices are simply different from other topics. Compare the professional benefits to the potential risks of publishing an article, creating a college course, writing a book or dissertation, organizing a conference, hosting a speech, creating a university or thinktank project, funding a foundation program, etc., on right-wing extremism. It is not just that there is no great profit in it. It is that every one of these endeavors would be far more difficult, and would likely create far more headaches for us and our bosses, than a similar project on pretty much any other topic in our field.

    This isn’t to say there aren’t fantastic researchers on this topic; there are many, who have valuably shaped much of what we know about the issue. But we in the rest of the field must acknowledge that they’ve chosen a more professionally risky path than most of us, even though the very object of their study has killed more Americans over the last few years than essentially any other problem we are working on.

    The same problem plagues government. For an elected official, or, worse, a U.S. government employee, to speak about this threat carries proven political and professional risks; doing so has literally cost people their jobs. And that was before we had the first president in the modern era to express sympathy for and be celebrated by these groups.

    The result is that far-right extremism mirrors that of Islamic extremism in its forms, spread, and goals. The head of counter-terrorism policing in the U.K., which broke up four planned far-right terrorist attacks in just the last year, says both groups “create intolerance, exploit grievances, and generate distrust of state institutions.” But the politics of doing something about these two dangers are directly opposite. In America, it is politically savvy to talk strongly and repeatedly about terrorism and extremism, except the version of it that has killed the largest number of our fellow citizens over the last decade.

    Finally, we avoid talking about right-wing extremism because to do so invites personal risks and annoyances that, generally speaking, don’t much afflict other areas of security studies. These range from online harassment (via social networks that have become a breeding ground for it) to physical stalking and violence.

    I don’t have all the answers about what to do about the plague of violence fueled by right-wing hate groups. But I do know we’ll never find them as long as those of us interested in national security downplay and avoid it. It is long past time to start talking about a threat that is regularly killing our fellow citizens.


    https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2018/02/national-security-pros-its-time-talk-about-right-wing-extremism/146319
    #sécurité #sécurité_nationale #USA #Etats-Unis #extrême_droite #extrémisme #massacres #violence

    Over the last decade, individuals and groups fueled by this virulent ideology have committed 71 percent of the known politically or religiously inspired killings in our country — that is, 274 of the 387 Americans murdered by extremists.


  • You Can Now Buy an Official Ubuntu 18.10 T-Shirt
    https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2018/10/ubuntu-18-10-mascot-t-shirt

    A t-shirt bearing the Ubuntu 18.10 mascot design has gone on sale. Canonical’s online shop has added a dark blue shirt overlaid with an orange cuttlefish design, the same one used on the official Ubuntu 18.10 wallpaper. The reverse of each 100% cotton tee bears the Ubuntu brand mark and text that reads “Cosmic Cuttlefish 18.10”. […] This post, You Can Now Buy an Official Ubuntu 18.10 T-Shirt, was written by Joey Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.


  • Who’s buying Israeli gas? A company owned by the General Intelligence Service (Egypt) | MadaMasr

    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/10/23/feature/politics/whos-buying-israeli-gas-a-company-owned-by-the-general-intelligence-servic

    When news broke in February that an Egyptian firm named Dolphinus Holdings had signed a US$15 billion deal to purchase Israeli natural gas for supply to Egypt, the Egyptian government refused to comment, portraying it as a private market transaction.

    “The Ministry of Petroleum has no comment on private-sector negotiations or agreements regarding the import or sale of natural gas to Israel,” the ministry spokesperson said in a brief statement at the time.

    That same day, Reuters quoted an anonymous Egyptian government official who said that the deal did not mean the government itself would import gas from Israel. “International private companies will import gas from abroad in the framework of their own needs,” the official said.

    Similar claims were made in September after a preliminary agreement was struck for the acquisition of a stake in a pipeline between Ashkelon and Arish that would allow the transport of natural gas from Israel to Egypt.

    Again, the Petroleum Ministry spokesperson issued a swift response: “The ministry welcomes this new step taken by the private companies involved in the imminent commercial venture.” This time, the Egyptian company involved was called East Gas.

    Last week, CEO and managing director of East Gas Mohamed Shoeib boasted in several interviews that in exchange for the deal, his company had managed to get a handful of arbitration fines and cases against Egypt dropped after 18 months of negotiations. Shoeib attributed the success of the deal to a decision “from the beginning to think outside the government framework.”


  • The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khasho

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch


  • Saudi operative wore Khashoggi’s clothes, acted as decoy to fool Turkish police – report — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/441922-khashoggi-clothing-embassy-turkey

    “Khashoggi’s clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on,” the senior Turkish official told CNN.

    Madani, 57, is of similar age and build to Khashoggi, 59, and was reportedly brought in as a decoy to throw Turkish investigators off the killers’ trail.

    #khashoggi toujours aussi gore.


  • The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany

    On a visit to one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments, U.S. migration journalist and academic Daniela Gerson went in search of her family history and found an increasingly uneasy relationship between past and present.

    At the #Grand_Hotel_Cosmopolis, an African teenager served cappuccinos to European travelers below clocks telling the time in Kabul, Damascus, Grozny and other global centers of crisis.

    Lamin Saidy – sporting a style he described as “American proper” with tight jeans, lots of earrings and a big smile – was 13 when he fled violence in the Gambia. After he arrived in Germany as a refugee, he was told about this place, where tourists, asylum seekers and artists all share one building. The hotel is run by staff composed of a core group of resident German artists and a diverse team that includes volunteers who may be refugees like Saidy or local college students who want to join the experiment.

    Then, in the fall of 2016, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., on immigration, a public artist gave a presentation on cultural integration initiatives in #Augsburg like none I had seen in more than a decade of reporting on immigration in the United States and Europe.

    The artist flashed images of the migrant job center, cafe and immigrant rights organization called Tuer an Tuer, which helped convince the city to take a stance against large institutional centers. Instead, all asylum seekers in Augsburg have been housed in residences of 100 or fewer people. She also showed photos of the colorful, boundary-bending Grand Hotel. This was Augsburg? It was definitely not the city of my imagination.

    Soon after, my mother forwarded me an invitation. In summer 2017, there was going to be a gathering of Jews from Augsburg and their families to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the synagogue. I set off, eager to explore my family’s past and to see if a city I associated with historic brutality had succeeded in building a more welcoming society as a result.
    A Welcoming Nation

    When I arrived in Munich, the Bavarian capital, I borrowed a friend’s bike and pedaled down to the vast main train station. In 2015, in what was known as the Welcoming Summer, more than 1 million asylum seekers came to Germany and the station was full of arriving migrants. There was such an outpouring of public support for them that they had to close the station to donations.

    Two years later, the backlash was mounting. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had taken steps to slow the tide of arrivals, limiting countries from which people are eligible for asylum and speeding up deportations of people whose applications had been rejected.

    Munich’s size has helped mask the impact of the refugee influx. Augsburg, founded more than 2,000 years ago, is a different story. With a population approaching 300,000, and a popular destination for refugees and foreign laborers, it was a contender to become the first majority minority city in Germany. Now almost 50 percent residents have a “migration background.”

    After a quick train trip an hour east of Munich, I biked across Augsburg’s picture-perfect main square of churches and beer gardens, passing by women strolling in hijabs and Chechnyan kids racing in circles on scooters. And near one of the largest cathedrals, down a cobblestone street, I found the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis. On first impression, it hardly felt grand, but rather like the 1960s old-age home it once was, converted into a lively Berlin artists’ squatter house.

    In a sun-drenched garden, I joined two of the artist founders and a refugee artist for a vegetarian lunch cooked in the communal basement kitchen. As we ate, they explained that the building had been abandoned for six years when some local artists spotted it and inquired about renting it out as a temporary exhibition space. But the owners, a Protestant social enterprise, said they had already entered into negotiations with the government to house asylum seekers.

    That’s when the idea came up to merge the two concepts, and add a hotel. The artists take care of the hotel, cafe and ateliers. The social enterprise, with government support, provides housing for the migrants.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived. “Many of the artists stopped their artistic work,” one of my guides, Susa Gunzner, told me. Instead, they focused all of their energies on learning about immigration laws and how to help the refugees.

    After lunch, I toured the 12 uniquely designed hotel rooms: One was bordello hot pink, another constructed to feel like a container ship, a third had a forest growing through it. My stark room, with a long wooden bench of a bed and simple, low table, struck me as a very elegant prison cell.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived.

    Gunzner, who teamed up with an Iranian artist to create the room, told me it symbolized freedom. The room is a homage to a Persian woman who moved with her family to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and later became a spy against the Nazis. Gunzner pointed out illustrations of trees on the wall from Shiraz. “We are always trying to enrich each other and find out – sometimes through very slow processes – who the other person is,” she told me.

    Left on my own, I walked downstairs to the refugee floor, and passed a half-dozen or so baby carriages crowding the stairwell. I had been warned I was only allowed to intrude if an asylum seeker invited me in. The founders of the hotel like to say they “only have guests – with and without asylum.” I was also struck by the strangeness of putting us all in one building as fellow travelers: people on holiday rubbing elbows with people who have been running for their lives.

    Not far from Augsburg, in the aftermath of World War II, my other grandparents – on my father’s side – landed in a very different type of refugee camp, set up by the United Nations and largely funded by the United States. They were Polish Jews whose families had been slaughtered in the streets and in concentration camps. They survived the war in Siberian labor camps and in Uzbek villages, where my father was born.

    In the desperate limbo of the displaced persons camp, they created a community – my grandfather took part in local governance; my father remembers a pet dog, Blackie, a synagogue and a school. What would my grandmother have said if artists lived upstairs and American tourists stayed for a week or two, temporarily sharing her first home outside Poland, the place where my father formed his first memories? Would she have appreciated the attention, or would she have felt like a monkey in the zoo?
    The Shadow of the Past

    It was not the first time that I had traveled to Germany and discovered echoes of my family’s past in my present, as I grapple with issues of migration, persecution and intolerance today as a journalist and academic.

    A decade ago, I spent a little over a year researching contemporary guest worker policies in Berlin and Bonn. Despite my last living relative who survived the Holocaust reprimanding me that Germany was no place for a nice Jewish girl, I fell for the country’s bike and cafe culture, numerous lakes and deliberate approach to its troubled history. I almost always felt welcome as a Jew. Even my neighbor who was a neo-Nazi was dating a Venezuelan and liked to come over and chat with me. Another neighbor, whose grandfather had been active in Hitler Youth, became one of my closest friends.

    Though I was sometimes disturbed by the recent stance that Germany was not a country of immigration, as well as the focus on integration – this notion some leaders interpreted as demanding that newcomers should cede their other cultural identities – I, in many ways, felt that Germany had dealt with its past in ways that could be a lesson to all nations.

    Ten years later, I visited a Germany increasingly conflicted about its moral obligations as it confronted the refugee crisis. And in Augsburg the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    I left the Grand Hotel on Sunday morning to meet other descendants of Augsburg Jews in the glorious sanctuary of the synagogue built in 1917. The descendants of those who fled the Nazis, or had the foresight or luck to leave before the war, had traveled from South Africa, Norway, Israel and across the United States. Civil leaders turned out in large numbers to pledge “never again.” It was a familiar message. But the synagogue’s attic museum reminded me how quickly a nation can shift toward hate. For the first time, it felt less like a history lesson and more like a warning that struck very close to home.

    In Augsburg, the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation, and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    Created in 1985, the Augsburg synagogue houses the first independent museum in Germany dedicated to Jewish history. It tells the story of how there were only 1,500 Jews in Augsburg when the Nazis came, but they enjoyed comfortable local prominence. The synagogue is a clear sign of that position. Congregants built the sanctuary – one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with its 95ft (29m) dome and an architectural style that spans from Byzantine and Oriental elements to Art Noveau – investing in what they imagined would be a vibrant future in Augsburg.

    I was struck by a slide titled “Integration through Achievement.” The museum describes the dreams of these Jews, and it reminded me of the aspirations of many of the asylum seekers I met during my stay in Augsburg. They did not want just to live free from danger, they wanted an opportunity to be productive, successful German citizens. Chillingly, the museum concludes, the local Jewish communities were “extinguished totally.”
    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    In the year since my visit to the synagogue, I have covered U.S. authorities tearing apart asylum-seeking families as part of a larger, often vicious, crackdown. While I wish I could at least point to Germany today as a model of how to do things differently, the picture is unfortunately not so black and white.

    In German elections last fall, the far-right anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party – whose senior member maintains that the country should be more positive about its Nazi past – won 13 percent of the popular vote. According to current polls, the party is on track to win around a similar proportion of votes in upcoming regional parliamentary elections in Bavaria on October 14.

    This year, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, pushed her to clamp down on border policy. In the eastern German city of Chemnitz, far-right protests against immigrants in recent weeks were accompanied by xenophobic tirades.

    In August Seehofer instituted the beginning of a new plan in Bavaria that could soon transform how asylum seekers are treated. In what he described as a national model, the goal is to expedite rapid deportations. Most new asylum seekers will be transported to institutions that can house more than 1,000 people, where they will not be in contact with anyone who is not an official or a lawyer or has specific permission.

    “That’s the opposite of what we tried to do in the last years, now we are going two steps back,” said Tuelay Ates-Brunner, the managing director of Tuer an Tuer. “For people who will be rejected, nobody will see them, nobody will know them.”

    “My first impression was that I felt like I was in a new world,” Saidy told me to the beat of Afro Pop on the jukebox. “The hotel is kind of incomparable.”

    The Grand Hotel is located in Augsburg, an ancient German city on Bavaria’s tourist-trod Romantic Road. It is also the place where my mother’s father was born. He was one of the first boys to have a bar mitzvah in the ornate, domed synagogue in Augsburg – just a few years before the Jews were forced to flee or perished at the hands of the Nazis.

    Nearly a century later, I went to stay at the Grand Hotel – one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments.

    Like so many inherited homelands, Augsburg was a mythical place for me, formed from family memories I had never lived – portraits of stern ancestors, the men with elaborate waxy mustaches, the buxom women with beautifully tailored clothes and lace collars. My Augsburg froze when the Nazis took over.


    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2018/10/08/the-grand-refugee-hotel-the-sequel-to-my-grandfathers-germany

    #Allemagne #hôtel #réfugiés #travail #migrations #asile


  • Amid skepticism, Saudi official provides another version of Khashoggi death | Article | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-khashoggi-official/amid-scepticism-saudi-official-provides-another-version-of-khashoggi-death-

    Cette énième version vaut son pesant de #foutage_de_gueule

    According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said .

    To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15 -member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

    “There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully ; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership" the official said.

    [...]

    According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for “a period of time” but then release him if he ultimately refused to return to Saudi Arabia, the official said.

    Things went wrong from the start as the team overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence, the official said.

    #arabie_saoudite


  • In Khashoggi Disappearance, Turkey’s Slow Drip of Leaks Puts Pressure on Saudis - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/world/europe/turkey-khashoggi-saudi-arabia.html

    Political analysts noted that Mr. Erdogan seemed to increase the pressure by releasing descriptions of audio recordings after it appeared that President Trump would offer cover to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, known as M.B.S., by promoting the Saudi line that the death had been the work of “rogue killers.”

    [...]

    "Initially, it seemed Turkey was seeking a bargain with or financial support from Saudi Arabia,” said Amanda Sloat, a former State Department official now at the Brookings Institution. “But it increasingly appears that Turkey is seeking to inflict maximum damage on M.B.S.”

    It is not clear what Mr. Erdogan is demanding, but the policy of official leaks has been clearly to prevent a complete whitewash of the disappearance. Pro-government columnists have called for the Saudi crown prince to go.

    #Turquie


  • The Vulnerability Contest

    Traumatized Afghan child soldiers who were forced to fight in Syria struggle to find protection in Europe’s asylum lottery.

    Mosa did not choose to come forward. Word had spread among the thousands of asylum seekers huddled inside Moria that social workers were looking for lone children among the general population. High up on the hillside, in the Afghan area of the chaotic refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, some residents knew someone they suspected was still a minor. They led the aid workers to Mosa.

    The boy, whose broad and beardless face mark him out as a member of the Hazara ethnic group, had little reason to trust strangers. It was hard to persuade him just to sit with them and listen. Like many lone children, Mosa had slipped through the age assessment carried out on first arrival at Moria: He was registered as 27 years old. With the help of a translator, the social worker explained that there was still time to challenge his classification as an adult. But Mosa did not seem to be able to engage with what he was being told. It would take weeks to establish trust and reveal his real age and background.

    Most new arrivals experience shock when their hopes of a new life in Europe collide with Moria, the refugee camp most synonymous with the miserable consequences of Europe’s efforts to contain the flow of refugees and migrants across the Aegean. When it was built, the camp was meant to provide temporary shelter for fewer than 2,000 people. Since the European Union struck a deal in March 2016 with Turkey under which new arrivals are confined to Greece’s islands, Moria’s population has swollen to 9,000. It has become notorious for overcrowding, snowbound tents, freezing winter deaths, violent protests and suicides by adults and children alike.

    While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Stathis Poularakis is a lawyer who previously served for two years on an appeal committee dealing with asylum cases in Greece and has worked extensively on Lesbos. While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Asylum claims on Lesbos can take anywhere between six months and more than two years to be resolved. In the second quarter of 2018, Greece faced nearly four times as many asylum claims per capita as Germany. The E.U. has responded by increasing the presence of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and broadening its remit so that EASO officials can conduct asylum interviews. But the promises that EASO will bring Dutch-style efficiency conceal the fact that the vast majority of its hires are not seconded from other member states but drawn from the same pool of Greeks as the national asylum service.

    Asylum caseworkers at Moria face an overwhelming backlog and plummeting morale. A serving EASO official describes extraordinary “pressure to go faster” and said there was “so much subjectivity in the system.” The official also said that it was human nature to reject more claims “when you see every other country is closing its borders.”

    Meanwhile, the only way to escape Moria while your claim is being processed is to be recognized as a “vulnerable” case. Vulnerables get permission to move to the mainland or to more humane accommodation elsewhere on the island. The term is elastic and can apply to lone children and women, families or severely physically or mentally ill people. In all cases the onus is on the asylum seeker ultimately to persuade the asylum service, Greek doctors or the United Nations Refugee Agency that they are especially vulnerable.

    The ensuing scramble to get out of Moria has turned the camp into a vast “vulnerability contest,” said Poularakis. It is a ruthless competition that the most heavily traumatized are often in no condition to understand, let alone win.

    Twice a Refugee

    Mosa arrived at Moria in October 2017 and spent his first night in Europe sleeping rough outside the arrivals tent. While he slept someone stole his phone. When he awoke he was more worried about the lost phone than disputing the decision of the Frontex officer who registered him as an adult. Poularakis said age assessors are on the lookout for adults claiming to be children, but “if you say you’re an adult, no one is going to object.”

    Being a child has never afforded Mosa any protection in the past: He did not understand that his entire future could be at stake. Smugglers often warn refugee children not to reveal their real age, telling them that they will be prevented from traveling further if they do not pretend to be over 18 years old.

    Like many other Hazara of his generation, Mosa was born in Iran, the child of refugees who fled Afghanistan. Sometimes called “the cursed people,” the Hazara are followers of Shia Islam and an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, a country whose wars are usually won by larger ethnic groups and followers of Sunni Islam. Their ancestry, traced by some historians to Genghis Khan, also means they are highly visible and have been targets for persecution by Afghan warlords from 19th-century Pashtun kings to today’s Taliban.

    In recent decades, millions of Hazara have fled Afghanistan, many of them to Iran, where their language, Dari, is a dialect of Persian Farsi, the country’s main language.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    Iran hosts 950,000 Afghan refugees who are registered with the U.N. and another 1.5 million undocumented Afghans. There are no official refugee camps, making displaced Afghans one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world. For those without the money to pay bribes, there is no route to permanent residency or citizenship. Most refugees survive without papers on the outskirts of cities such as the capital, Tehran. Those who received permits, before Iran stopped issuing them altogether in 2007, must renew them annually. The charges are unpredictable and high. Mostly, the Afghan Hazara survive as an underclass, providing cheap labor in workshops and constructions sites. This was how Mosa grew up.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    But he could not remain invisible forever and one day in October 2016, on his way home from work, he was detained by police for not having papers.

    Sitting in one of the cantinas opposite the entrance to Moria, Mosa haltingly explained what happened next. How he was threatened with prison in Iran or deportation to Afghanistan, a country in which he has never set foot. How he was told that that the only way out was to agree to fight in Syria – for which they would pay him and reward him with legal residence in Iran.

    “In Iran, you have to pay for papers,” said Mosa. “If you don’t pay, you don’t have papers. I do not know Afghanistan. I did not have a choice.”

    As he talked, Mosa spread out a sheaf of papers from a battered plastic wallet. Along with asylum documents was a small notepad decorated with pink and mauve elephants where he keeps the phone numbers of friends and family. It also contains a passport-sized green booklet with the crest of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a temporary residence permit. Inside its shiny cover is the photograph of a scared-looking boy, whom the document claims was born 27 years ago. It is the only I.D. he has ever owned and the date of birth has been faked to hide the fact that the country that issues it has been sending children to war.

    Mosa is not alone among the Hazara boys who have arrived in Greece seeking protection, carrying identification papers with inflated ages. Refugees Deeply has documented the cases of three Hazara child soldiers and corroborated their accounts with testimony from two other underage survivors. Their stories are of childhoods twice denied: once in Syria, where they were forced to fight, and then again after fleeing to Europe, where they are caught up in a system more focused on hard borders than on identifying the most damaged and vulnerable refugees.

    From Teenage Kicks to Adult Nightmares

    Karim’s descent into hell began with a prank. Together with a couple of friends, he recorded an angsty song riffing on growing up as a Hazara teenager in Tehran. Made when he was 16 years old, the song was meant to be funny. His band did not even have a name. The boys uploaded the track on a local file-sharing platform in 2014 and were as surprised as anyone when it was downloaded thousands of times. But after the surprise came a creeping sense of fear. Undocumented Afghan refugee families living in Tehran usually try to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Karim tried to have the song deleted, but after two months there was a knock on the door. It was the police.

    “I asked them how they found me,” he said. “I had no documents but they knew where I lived.”

    Already estranged from his family, the teenager was transported from his life of working in a pharmacy and staying with friends to life in a prison outside the capital. After two weeks inside, he was given three choices: to serve a five-year sentence; to be deported to Afghanistan; or to redeem himself by joining the Fatemiyoun.

    According to Iranian propaganda, the Fatemiyoun are Afghan volunteers deployed to Syria to protect the tomb of Zainab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad. In reality, the Fatemiyoun Brigade is a unit of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, drawn overwhelmingly from Hazara communities, and it has fought in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Syria. Some estimates put its full strength at 15,000, which would make it the second-largest foreign force in support of the Assad regime, behind the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah.

    Karim was told he would be paid and given a one-year residence permit during leave back in Iran. Conscripts are promised that if they are “martyred,” their family will receive a pension and permanent status. “I wasn’t going to Afghanistan and I wasn’t going to prison,” said Karim. So he found himself forced to serve in the #Fatemiyoun.

    His first taste of the new life came when he was transferred to a training base outside Tehran, where the recruits, including other children, were given basic weapons training and religious indoctrination. They marched, crawled and prayed under the brigade’s yellow flag with a green arch, crossed by assault rifles and a Koranic phrase: “With the Help of God.”

    “Imagine me at 16,” said Karim. “I have no idea how to kill a bird. They got us to slaughter animals to get us ready. First, they prepare your brain to kill.”

    The 16-year-old’s first deployment was to Mosul in Iraq, where he served four months. When he was given leave back in Iran, Karim was told that to qualify for his residence permit he would need to serve a second term, this time in Syria. They were first sent into the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa. Because of his age and physique, Karim and some of the other underage soldiers were moved to the medical corps. He said that there were boys as young as 14 and he remembers a 15-year-old who fought using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    “I knew nothing about Syria. I was just trying to survive. They were making us hate ISIS, dehumanizing them. Telling us not to leave one of them alive.” Since media reports revealed the existence of the Fatemiyoun, the brigade has set up a page on Facebook. Among pictures of “proud volunteers,” it shows stories of captured ISIS prisoners being fed and cared for. Karim recalls a different story.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    The casualties on both sides were overwhelming. At the al-Razi hospital in Aleppo, the young medic saw the morgue overwhelmed with bodies being stored two or three to a compartment. Despite promises to reward the families of martyrs, Karim said many of the bodies were not sent back to Iran.

    Mosa’s basic training passed in a blur. A shy boy whose parents had divorced when he was young and whose father became an opium addict, he had always shrunk from violence. He never wanted to touch the toy guns that other boys played with. Now he was being taught to break down, clean and fire an assault rifle.

    The trainees were taken three times a day to the imam, who preached to them about their holy duty and the iniquities of ISIS, often referred to as Daesh.

    “They told us that Daesh was the same but worse than the Taliban,” said Mosa. “I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t go to Syria by choice. They forced me to. I just needed the paper.”

    Mosa was born in 2001. Before being deployed to Syria, the recruits were given I.D. tags and papers that deliberately overstated their age: In 2017, Human Rights Watch released photographs of the tombstones of eight Afghan children who had died in Syria and whose families identified them as having been under 18 years old. The clerk who filled out Mosa’s forms did not trouble himself with complex math: He just changed 2001 to 1991. Mosa was one of four underage soldiers in his group. The boys were scared – their hands shook so hard they kept dropping their weapons. Two of them were dead within days of reaching the front lines.

    “I didn’t even know where we were exactly, somewhere in the mountains in a foreign country. I was scared all the time. Every time I saw a friend dying in front of my eyes I was thinking I would be next,” said Mosa.

    He has flashbacks of a friend who died next to him after being shot in the face by a sniper. After the incident, he could not sleep for four nights. The worst, he said, were the sudden raids by ISIS when they would capture Fatemiyoun fighters: “God knows what happened to them.”

    Iran does not release figures on the number of Fatemiyoun casualties. In a rare interview earlier this year, a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard suggested as many as 1,500 Fatemiyoun had been killed in Syria. In Mashhad, an Iranian city near the border with Afghanistan where the brigade was first recruited, video footage has emerged of families demanding the bodies of their young men believed to have died in Syria. Mosa recalls patrols in Syria where 150 men and boys would go out and only 120 would return.

    Escaping Syria

    Abbas had two weeks left in Syria before going back to Iran on leave. After 10 weeks in what he describes as a “living hell,” he had begun to believe he might make it out alive. It was his second stint in Syria and, still only 17 years old, he had been chosen to be a paramedic, riding in the back of a 2008 Chevrolet truck converted into a makeshift ambulance.

    He remembers thinking that the ambulance and the hospital would have to be better than the bitter cold of the front line. His abiding memory from then was the sound of incoming 120mm shells. “They had a special voice,” Abbas said. “And when you hear it, you must lie down.”

    Following 15 days of nursing training, during which he was taught how to find a vein and administer injections, he was now an ambulance man, collecting the dead and wounded from the battlefields on which the Fatemiyoun were fighting ISIS.

    Abbas grew up in Ghazni in Afghanistan, but his childhood ended when his father died from cancer in 2013. Now the provider for the family, he traveled with smugglers across the border into Iran, to work for a tailor in Tehran who had known his father. He worked without documents and faced the same threats as the undocumented Hazara children born in Iran. Even more dangerous were the few attempts he made to return to Ghazni. The third time he attempted to hop the border he was captured by Iranian police.

    Abbas was packed onto a transport, along with 23 other children, and sent to Ordugah-i Muhaceran, a camplike detention center outside Mashhad. When they got there the Shia Hazara boys were separated from Sunni Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, who were pushed back across the border. Abbas was given the same choice as Karim and Mosa before him: Afghanistan or Syria. Many of the other forced recruits Abbas met in training, and later fought alongside in Syria, were addicts with a history of substance abuse.

    Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that Tramadol was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time.

    The Fatemiyoun officers dealt with withdrawal symptoms by handing out Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is used to treat back pain but sometimes abused as a cheap alternative to methadone. The drug is a slow-release analgesic. Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that it was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time. One of the children reiterated that the painkiller meant he felt nothing. Users describe feeling intensely thirsty but say they avoid drinking water because it triggers serious nausea and vomiting. Tramadol is addictive and prolonged use can lead to insomnia and seizures.

    Life in the ambulance had not met Abbas’ expectations. He was still sent to the front line, only now it was to collect the dead and mutilated. Some soldiers shot themselves in the feet to escape the conflict.

    “We picked up people with no feet and no hands. Some of them were my friends,” Abbas said. “One man was in small, small pieces. We collected body parts I could not recognize and I didn’t know if they were Syrian or Iranian or Afghan. We just put them in bags.”

    Abbas did not make it to the 12th week. One morning, driving along a rubble-strewn road, his ambulance collided with an anti-tank mine. Abbas’ last memory of Syria is seeing the back doors of the vehicle blasted outward as he was thrown onto the road.

    When he awoke he was in a hospital bed in Iran. He would later learn that the Syrian ambulance driver had been killed and that the other Afghan medic in the vehicle had lost both his legs. At the time, his only thought was to escape.

    The Toll on Child Soldiers

    Alice Roorda first came into contact with child soldiers in 2001 in the refugee camps of Sierra Leone in West Africa. A child psychologist, she was sent there by the United Kingdom-based charity War Child. She was one of three psychologists for a camp of more than 5,000 heavily traumatized survivors of one of West Africa’s more brutal conflicts.

    “There was almost nothing we could do,” she admitted.

    The experience, together with later work in Uganda, has given her a deep grounding in the effects of war and post-conflict trauma on children. She said prolonged exposure to conflict zones has physical as well as psychological effects.

    “If you are chronically stressed, as in a war zone, you have consistently high levels of the two basic stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.”

    Even after reaching a calmer situation, the “stress baseline” remains high, she said. This impacts everything from the immune system to bowel movements. Veterans often suffer from complications related to the continual engagement of the psoas, or “fear muscle” – the deepest muscles in the body’s core, which connect the spine, through the pelvis, to the femurs.

    “With prolonged stress you start to see the world around you as more dangerous.” The medial prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that interprets threat levels, is also affected, said Roorda. This part of the brain is sometimes called the “watchtower.”

    “When your watchtower isn’t functioning well you see everything as more dangerous. You are on high alert. This is not a conscious response; it is because the stress is already so close to the surface.”

    Psychological conditions that can be expected to develop include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Left untreated, these stress levels can lead to physical symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME) to high blood pressure or irritable bowel syndrome. Also common are heightened sensitivity to noise and insomnia.

    The trauma of war can also leave children frozen at the point when they were traumatized. “Their life is organized as if the trauma is still ongoing,” said Roorda. “It is difficult for them to take care of themselves, to make rational well informed choices, and to trust people.”

    The starting point for any treatment of child soldiers, said Roorda, is a calm environment. They need to release the tension with support groups and physical therapy, she said, and “a normal bedtime.”

    The Dutch psychologist, who is now based in Athens, acknowledged that what she is describing is the exact opposite of the conditions at #Moria.

    Endgame

    Karim is convinced that his facility for English has saved his life. While most Hazara boys arrive in Europe speaking only Farsi, Karim had taught himself some basic English before reaching Greece. As a boy in Tehran he had spent hours every day trying to pick up words and phrases from movies that he watched with subtitles on his phone. His favorite was The Godfather, which he said he must have seen 25 times. He now calls English his “safe zone” and said he prefers it to Farsi.

    When Karim reached Greece in March 2016, new arrivals were not yet confined to the islands. No one asked him if he was a child or an adult. He paid smugglers to help him escape Iran while on leave from Syria and after crossing through Turkey landed on Chios. Within a day and a half, he had passed through the port of Piraeus and reached Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, at Idomeni.

    When he realized the border was closed, he talked to some of the international aid workers who had come to help at the makeshift encampment where tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waited for a border that would not reopen. They ended up hiring him as a translator. Two years on, his English is now much improved and Karim has worked for a string of international NGOs and a branch of the Greek armed forces, where he was helped to successfully apply for asylum.

    The same job has also brought him to Moria. He earns an above-average salary for Greece and at first he said that his work on Lesbos is positive: “I’m not the only one who has a shitty background. It balances my mind to know that I’m not the only one.”

    But then he admits that it is difficult hearing and interpreting versions of his own life story from Afghan asylum seekers every day at work. He has had problems with depression and suffered flashbacks, “even though I’m in a safe country now.”

    Abbas got the help he needed to win the vulnerability contest. After he was initially registered as an adult, his age assessment was overturned and he was transferred from Moria to a shelter for children on Lesbos. He has since been moved again to a shelter in mainland Greece. While he waits to hear the decision on his protection status, Abbas – like other asylum seekers in Greece – receives 150 euros ($170) a month. This amount needs to cover all his expenses, from food and clothing to phone credit. The money is not enough to cover a regular course of the antidepressant Prozac and the sleeping pills he was prescribed by the psychiatrist he was able to see on Lesbos.

    “I save them for when it gets really bad,” he said.

    Since moving to the mainland he has been hospitalized once with convulsions, but his main worry is the pain in his groin. Abbas underwent a hernia operation in Iran, the result of injuries sustained as a child lifting adult bodies into the ambulance. He has been told that he will need to wait for four months to see a doctor in Greece who can tell him if he needs another operation.

    “I would like to go back to school,” he said. But in reality, Abbas knows that he will need to work and there is little future for an Afghan boy who can no longer lift heavy weights.

    Walking into an Afghan restaurant in downtown Athens – near Victoria Square, where the people smugglers do business – Abbas is thrilled to see Farsi singers performing on the television above the door. “I haven’t been in an Afghan restaurant for maybe three years,” he said to explain his excitement. His face brightens again when he catches sight of Ghormeh sabzi, a herb stew popular in Afghanistan and Iran that reminds him of his mother. “I miss being with them,” he said, “being among my family.”

    When the dish arrives he pauses before eating, taking out his phone and carefully photographing the plate from every angle.

    Mosa is about to mark the end of a full year in Moria. He remains in the same drab tent that reminds him every day of Syria. Serious weight loss has made his long limbs – the ones that made it easier for adults to pretend he was not a child – almost comically thin. His skin is laced with scars, but he refuses to go into detail about how he got them. Mosa has now turned 18 and seems to realize that his best chance of getting help may have gone.

    “Those people who don’t have problems, they give them vulnerability (status),” he said with evident anger. “If you tell them the truth, they don’t help you.”

    Then he apologises for the flash of temper. “I get upset and angry and my body shakes,” he said.

    Mosa explained that now when he gets angry he has learned to remove himself: “Sometimes I stuff my ears with toilet paper to make it quiet.”

    It is 10 months since Mosa had his asylum interview. The questions he expected about his time in the Fatemiyoun never came up. Instead, the interviewers asked him why he had not stayed in Turkey after reaching that country, having run away while on leave in Iran.

    The questions they did ask him point to his likely rejection and deportation. Why, he was asked, was his fear of being persecuted in Afghanistan credible? He told them that he has heard from other Afghan boys that police and security services in the capital, Kabul, were arresting ex-combatants from Syria.

    Like teenagers everywhere, many of the younger Fatemiyoun conscripts took selfies in Syria and posted them on Facebook or shared them on WhatsApp. The images, which include uniforms and insignia, can make him a target for Sunni reprisals. These pictures now haunt him as much as the faces of his dead comrades.

    Meanwhile, the fate he suffered two tours in Syria to avoid now seems to be the most that Europe can offer him. Without any of his earlier anger, he said, “I prefer to kill myself here than go to Afghanistan.”

    #enfants-soldats #syrie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #guerre #conflit #réfugiés_afghans #Afghanistan #ISIS #EI #Etat_islamique #trauma #traumatisme #vulnérabilité

    ping @isskein


  • The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/the-growth-of-sinclairs-conservative-media-empire

    Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, with a hundred and ninety-two stations in eighty-nine markets. It reaches thirty-nine per cent of American viewers. The company’s executive chairman, David D. Smith, is a conservative whose views combine a suspicion of government, an aversion to political correctness, and strong libertarian leanings. Smith, who is sixty-eight, has a thick neck, deep under-eye bags, and a head of silvery hair. He is an enthusiast of fine food and has owned farm-to-table restaurants in Harbor East, an upscale neighborhood in Baltimore. An ardent supporter of Donald Trump, he has not been shy about using his stations to advance his political ideology. Sinclair employees say that the company orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and that it feeds interviewers questions intended to favor Republicans.

    In some cases, anchors have been compelled to read from scripts prepared by Sinclair. In April, 2018, dozens of newscasters across the country parroted Trump’s invectives about “fake news,” saying, “Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” In response, Dan Rather, the former anchor of “CBS Evening News,” wrote, on Twitter, “News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, words meant to obscure the truth not elucidate it, isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. It’s Orwellian. A slippery slope to how despots wrest power, silence dissent, and oppress the masses.”

    It’s unclear whether Sinclair is attempting to influence the politics of its viewers or simply appealing to positions that viewers may already have—or both. Andrew Schwartzman, a telecommunications lecturer at Georgetown Law School, told me, “I don’t know where their personal philosophy ends and their business goals begin. They’re not the Koch brothers, but they reflect a deep-seated conservatism and generations of libertarian philosophy that also happen to help their business.”

    Sinclair has even greater ambitions for expansion. In May, 2017, the company announced a proposed $3.9-billion merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media Company, which owns forty-two television stations. The merger would make Sinclair far larger than any other broadcaster in the country, with stations beaming into seventy per cent of American households. The proposal alarmed regulatory and free-speech experts. Michael Copps, a former official at the Federal Communications Commission, told me, “One of the goals of the First Amendment is to make sure the American people have the news and information they need to make intelligent decisions about our democracy, and I think we’re pretty close to a situation where the population lacks the ability to do that. That’s the whole premise of self-government.” He went on, “There are a lot of problems facing our country, but I don’t know one as important as this. When you start dismantling our news-and-information infrastructure, that’s poison to self-government and poison to democracy.”

    In subsequent years, Smith took measures to deepen Sinclair’s influence among policymakers, apparently recognizing that the company’s profits were dependent upon regulatory decisions made in Washington. One of Smith’s first notable forays into politics was his support for Robert Ehrlich, Jr., a Republican congressman who represented Maryland from 1995 until 2003. Sinclair became a top donor to Ehrlich and, in 2001, Ehrlich sent the first of several letters on Sinclair’s behalf to Michael Powell, who had recently become the chair of the F.C.C. The commission was investigating a request from Sinclair to buy a new group of stations, and Ehrlich protested the “unnecessary delays on pending applications.” The F.C.C.’s assistant general counsel responded that Ehrlich’s communication had violated procedural rules. Ehrlich sent another message, alleging that the delays were politically motivated and threatening to “call for a congressional investigation into this matter.” He added, “Knowing that you have served as Chairman for a few short months, we would prefer to give you an opportunity to address these concerns.” The proposed acquisitions were approved.

    A former general-assignment reporter at the station, Jonathan Beaton, told me, “Almost immediately, I could tell it was a very corrupt culture, where you knew from top down there were certain stories you weren’t going to cover. They wanted you to keep your head down and not upset the fruit basket. I’m a Republican, and I was still appalled by what I saw at Sinclair.” Beaton characterized the man-on-the-street segments as “Don’t forget to grab some random poor soul on the street and shove a microphone in their face and talk about what the Democrats have done wrong.” He said that reporters generally complied because of an atmosphere of “intimidation and fear.”

    After Trump’s victory, it looked as though Sinclair’s investment in the candidate would pay off. In January, 2017, Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a vocal proponent of media deregulation, to be the chair of the F.C.C. Pai, formerly an associate general counsel at Verizon and an aide to Senators Jeff Sessions and Sam Brownback, was exactly the sort of commission head that Sinclair had been hoping for. He believed that competition from technology companies such as Google had made many government restrictions on traditional media irrelevant—an argument that echoed Smith’s views on ownership caps and other regulations. Sinclair executives quickly tried to cultivate a relationship with Pai; shortly after the election, he addressed a gathering of Sinclair managers at the Four Seasons in Baltimore. He also met with David Smith and Sinclair’s C.E.O., Christopher Ripley, the day before Trump’s Inauguration.

    It’s not unusual for business executives to meet with the chair of the F.C.C., but Pai soon announced a series of policy changes that seemed designed to help Sinclair. The first was the reinstatement of the ultrahigh-frequency discount, an arcane rule that digital technology had rendered obsolete. The move served no practical purpose, but it freed Sinclair to acquire many more stations without bumping up against the national cap.

    The F.C.C. soon made other regulatory modifications that were helpful to Sinclair. It eliminated a rule requiring television stations to maintain at least one local studio in licensed markets, essentially legitimatizing Sinclair’s centralized news model. Perhaps most perniciously, Pai took steps toward approving a new broadcast-transmission standard called Next Gen TV, which would require all consumers in the U.S. to purchase new televisions or converter devices. A subsidiary of Sinclair owns six patents necessary for the new standard, which could mean billions of dollars in earnings for the company. Jessica Rosenworcel, the sole Democratic commissioner at the F.C.C., told me, “It’s striking that all of our media policy decisions seem almost custom-built for this one company. Something is wrong.” Rosenworcel acknowledged that many F.C.C. policies need to be modernized, but, she said, “broadcasting is unique. It uses the public airwaves, it’s a public trust.” She added, “I don’t think those ideas are retrograde. They are values we should sustain.”

    The F.C.C. and the D.O.J. both warned Sinclair about the dummy divestitures, insisting that the company find independent owners in ten problematic markets. According to a lawsuit later filed by Tribune, instead of taking steps to appease regulators, Sinclair executives “antagonized DOJ and FCC staff” by acting “confrontational” and “belittling.” The company offered to make sales in only four of the markets, and told the Justice Department that it would have to litigate for any further concessions. One Sinclair lawyer told government representatives, “Sue me.” There was no tactical reason for Sinclair to take such a combative and self-sabotaging stance. Instead, the episode seemed to reflect how Trump’s own corruption and conflicts of interest have filtered into the business community. One industry expert who followed the proceedings closely told me that the company clearly “felt that, with the President behind them, why would the commission deny them anything?

    Then, in April, the Web site Deadspin edited the broadcasts of Sinclair anchors reciting the script about fake news into one terrifying montage, with a tapestry of anchors in different cities speaking in unison. The video ignited public outrage, and Trump tweeted a defense of Sinclair, calling it “far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.” (In a statement, a spokesperson for Sinclair said, “This message was not presented as news and was not intended to be political—there was no mention of President Trump, political parties, policy issues, etc. It was a business objective centered on attracting more viewers.”)

    #Médias #Concentration #Dérégulation #Etats-Unis #Sinclair


  • Canary Mission : JVP Statement and Resource Guide
    https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/canarymissionguide

    Une organisation inquiétante qui dénonce anonymement les soutiens du peuple palestinien

    CANARY MISSION: JVP STATEMENT AND RESOURCE GUIDE
    08 OCTOBER 2018 PRESS RELEASE/STATEMENT
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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    October 8, 2018
    Contact: Sonya E Meyerson-Knox | sonya@jvp.org | 929-290-0317
    Jewish Voice for Peace has been fighting Canary Mission since 2015, when the site first appeared.

    Thanks to intrepid reporting in The Forward, The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco (JCF) has promised to stop funding Canary Mission in the future, following the exposure of a $100,000 contribution by one of its donor groups.

    The Canary Mission website, which maintains a blacklist of people who defend Palestinian human rights, has bullied and slandered thousands of students and professors, making egregious claims based on very little fact. Canary Mission has threatened the careers and reputations of those listed, and tries to intimidate and dissuade people from speaking out for Palestinian rights.

    Canary Mission particularly targets Arab and Muslim students, pulling on anti-Arab and anti-Muslim tropes. For Palestinian students, inclusion on the blacklist can prevent them from visiting their families. Indeed, it was recently confirmed that the State of Israel is using this slanderous and unverified blacklist as a tool in determining who can enter Israel, and that the FBI was using Canary Mission as a basis for questioning students of color in the U.S.

    With the majority of Canary Mission’s donors remaining anonymous, all Jewish institutions should immediately confirm they will cease any funding to the cyber-bullying blacklist.

    Moreover, it is not enough to pledge to abstain from funding Canary Mission in the future. Indeed, the JCF should issue a public apology, and clarify the steps it will take towards restitution and repair.

    Many American Jewish philanthropic institutions grant money to causes far outside their mandate of support for the Jewish community; The Jewish United Fund of Metro Chicago funds anti-Muslim hate groups, for example. We urge members of the American Jewish community to contact your local Jewish institutions to ensure they are not funding hate groups or racist organizations.

    Canary Mission is a form of online harassment, and like all cyberbullying, it has real world consequences for the victims. It must be shutdown – and it will be, once it has lost its funders.

    Resources

    Against Canary Mission
    Palestine Legal: Canary Mission’s Veil of Anonymity Pierced
    Jewish Voice for Peace condemns Canary Mission
    University Faculty condemn Canary Mission Blacklist
    Articles

    Official Documents Prove: Israel Bans Young Americans Based on Canary Mission Website
    In Funding Canary Mission, Jewish Federation Betrayed Us
    Following Forward Report, Federation Says It Will No Longer Fund Canary Mission
    REVEALED: Canary Mission Blacklist Is Secretly Bankrolled By Major Jewish Federation
    How Israel Spies on US Citizens
    Meet the Owner of Canary Mission’s Anonymous Anti-Palestinian Blacklisting Website
    A New Wave Of Hardline Anti-BDS Tactics Are Targeting Students, And No One Knows Who’s Behind It
    The FBI is using unvetted, right-wing blacklists to question activists about their support for Palestine
    Canary Mission’s Threat Grows, From U.S. Campuses To The Israeli Border
    Banned From Israel: A Q&A With Law Professor Katherine Franke
    Jewish students: A blacklist of BDS supporters is hurting our efforts to defend Israel on campus
    Countering a Blacklist: Introducing ‘Against Canary Mission’
    ###

    Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP has over 200,000 online supporters, over 70 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.


  • A rational Hamas

    Hamas leader’s interview with Israeli paper caused an uproar. It wasn’t always like that

    Amira Hass

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-hamas-leader-s-interview-with-israeli-paper-caused-an-uproar-it-wa

    The interview with Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in Gaza, which was conducted by Italian journalist Francesca Borri and published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth,” set off a major internet storm in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian diaspora. What? Sinwar spoke knowingly to an Israeli newspaper? It wasn’t the content that caused the uproar (“A new war is not in anyone’s interest, certainly not our interest”) – only the host.
    >> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
    Sinwar’s bureau hastened to publish a clarification: The request was for an interview with an Italian newspaper and a British newspaper; the Western media department in the Hamas movement ascertained that the journalist was neither Jewish nor Israeli, and that she has never worked with the Israeli press. There was no face-to-face interview with the above-mentioned journalist, but rather a written response to her questions. The journalist met with Sinwar only for the purpose of a joint photo.

    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar greets militants in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, after his release from Israeli prison, October 20, 2011Adel Hana / ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Borri, 38, is a freelance journalist who began writing only about six years ago, mainly from Syria. “I think that Sinwar agreed to let me interview him because he knew that I’m a war correspondent and that I would understand when he told me that he isn’t interested in another war,” she told me over the phone from Italy on Friday.
    Her articles have been published in many languages – including in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth. In June, Borri visited Gaza and published an article that was “tough on Hamas,” as she put it. She was haunted by the sight of little children begging, and in her opinion the Islamic resistance movement is also responsible for the terrible deterioration in the Strip. That article was also translated and published in Yedioth.
    And then Borri received a text message from one of Sinwar’s advisers, she told me. Why are you so hard on the Palestinians, he complained. They exchanged several text messages, until she asked if she could interview Sinwar. In late August she came to the Gaza Strip again, to interview him.

    Yahya Sinwar holds his son Ibrahim while he listens to Khaled Mashaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile, during his news conference in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, May 1, 2017Adel Hana,AP
    I asked her whether Hamas really didn’t know that the article would be published in Yedioth. “As a freelancer, transparency is important to me,” she said. “It was clear to everyone that the interview would be translated into other languages, including Hebrew. Everyone in Sinwar’s bureau knew that my articles have been published in Yedioth Ahronoth.”

    What caused the outrage was that the wording of the article seemed to indicate that Borri was sent by the Israeli newspaper, and that that’s how the situation was presented to Sinwar. Here is the wording of her first question: “This is the first time ever that you’re agreeing to speak to the Western media – and to an Israeli newspaper yet.” According to Borri, the words “and to an Israeli newspaper yet” didn’t appear in her original question to Sinwar.
    >> ’We can’t prevail against a nuclear power’: Hamas’ Gaza chief says he doesn’t want war with Israel
    On the other hand, she confirmed that Sinwar’s final remark in the article, “and they translate you regularly into Hebrew too,” really was said. “Sinwar spoke to me, and through me to the world. I had the impression that he’s interested in talking through me to the Israelis too,” she said.
    And was the interview really conducted face-to-face and during joint trips with Sinwar and his aides over the course of five days, or in writing, as Hamas claimed. Borri explains: “I never record. I feel that people’s answers change when they see a recording device.” She didn’t travel with him in his car, but she says she did join a convoy of cars with Sinwar through the Strip, yet preferred not to say where.
    On Thursday, in other words before the publication of the full article in Yedioth on Friday, the Al Jazeera website in Arabic already published the text of the written questions and answers that were exchanged, according to Hamas, between Sinwar’s bureau and Borri. A comparison of the written version with the article in Yedioth reveals great similarity between the two texts, with a few differences – mainly a change in the order of the questions and their answers, sentences, declarations and facts that were deleted from the Hebrew version, and a few sentences that were added to it.
    >> Israeli military strikes Gazans who launched incendiary balloons
    The questions and answers in the Arabic version flow, and there is a connection between the replies and the following questions; in other words, a conversation is taking place. According to Al Jazeera, the written questions and replies were exchanged several times between the parties. There is even mention of how during the interview, Sinwar pointed to one of his advisers and said that his son was killed by Israeli fire.
    Borri confirmed in a conversation with me that she combined the replies received in writing, over a period of time, with answers she received orally. Due to the great similarity between the two versions, my impression is that many replies were sent to her in writing. A Gaza resident told me that he was convinced that most of the answers were given in writing because of “the polished wording, the level-headed replies and the rational explanations.”
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    He believes that an entire team thought things through and wrote the answers, not Sinwar alone. He also said that the message in the interview is addressed to the Palestinians in Gaza “who are sick and tired of Hamas rule,” no less than to readers in the West, whom Borri enables to see a senior Hamas official as a leader who cares about his people, rather than as a caricature of a bloodthirsty fanatic.
    And I was left longing for the period when senior Hamas officials gave interviews to the Israeli press and to a Jewish Israeli like me – including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Ismail Haniyeh and many others. And I was left with the following conclusion: When Israel doesn’t allow Israeli journalists to enter Gaza, it makes life easy for Hamas.


  • C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump

    The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

    Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

    But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

    Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

    One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

    A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

    The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

    “All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

    Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

    Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

    As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

    The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

    The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

    But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

    Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

    The C.I.A. operation in Dirkou is burdened by few, if any, of the political sensitivities that the United States military confronts at its locations, said one former American official involved with the project.

    Even so, security analysts said, it is not clear why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya. France also flies Reaper drones from Niamey, but only on unarmed reconnaissance missions.

    “I would be surprised that the C.I.A. would open its own base,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, which tracks military strikes against militant groups.

    Despite American denials, a Nigerien security official said he had concluded that the C.I.A. launched an armed drone from the Dirkou base to strike a target in Ubari, in southern Libya, on July 25. The Nigerien security official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    A spokesman for the Africa Command, Maj. Karl Wiest, said the military did not carry out the Ubari strike.

    #Ubari is in the same region where the American military in March launched its first-ever drone attack against Qaeda militants in southern Libya. It is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libya’s borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the area’s seminomadic residents are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

    Some of the residents have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

    Dirkou, in northeast Niger, is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, bordered by a small mountain range. For centuries, it has been a key transit point for travelers crossing the Sahara. It helped facilitate the rise of Islam in West Africa in the 9th century, and welcomed salt caravans from the neighboring town of Bilma.

    The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

    “It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

    Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

    Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

    It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

    Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

    The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in #Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

    It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/world/africa/cia-drones-africa-military.html
    #CIA #drones #Niger #Sahel #USA #Etats-Unis #EI #ISIS #Etat_islamique #sécurité #terrorisme #base_militaire

    • Le Sahel est-il une zone de #non-droit ?

      La CIA a posé ses valises dans la bande sahélo-saharienne. Le New-York Times l’a annoncé, le 9 septembre dernier. Le quotidien US, a révélé l’existence d’une #base_de_drones secrète non loin de la commune de Dirkou, dans le nord-est du Niger. Cette localité, enclavée, la première grande ville la plus proche est Agadez située à 570 km, est le terrain de tir parfait. Elle est éloignée de tous les regards, y compris des autres forces armées étrangères : France, Allemagne, Italie, présentes sur le sol nigérien. Selon un responsable américain anonyme interrogé par ce journal, les drones déployés à Dirkou n’avaient « pas encore été utilisés dans des missions meurtrières, mais qu’ils le seraient certainement dans un proche avenir, compte tenu de la menace croissante qui pèse sur le sud de la Libye. » Or, d’après les renseignements recueillis par l’IVERIS, ces assertions sont fausses, la CIA a déjà mené des opérations à partir de cette base. Ces informations apportent un nouvel éclairage et expliquent le refus catégorique et systématique de l’administration américaine de placer la force conjointe du G5 Sahel (Tchad, Mauritanie, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Mali) sous le chapitre VII de la charte des Nations Unies.
      L’installation d’une base de drones n’est pas une bonne nouvelle pour les peuples du Sahel, et plus largement de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, qui pourraient connaître les mêmes malheurs que les Afghans et les Pakistanais confrontés à la guerre des drones avec sa cohorte de victimes civiles, appelées pudiquement « dégâts collatéraux ».

      D’après le journaliste du NYT, qui s’est rendu sur place, les drones présents à Dirkou ressembleraient à des Predator, des aéronefs d’ancienne génération qui ont un rayon d’action de 1250 km. Il serait assez étonnant que l’agence de Langley soit équipée de vieux modèles alors que l’US Air Force dispose à Niamey et bientôt à Agadez des derniers modèles MQ-9 Reaper, qui, eux, volent sur une distance de 1850 km. A partir de cette base, la CIA dispose donc d’un terrain de tir étendu qui va de la Libye, au sud de l’Algérie, en passant par le Tchad, jusqu’au centre du Mali, au Nord du Burkina et du Nigéria…

      Selon deux sources militaires de pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ces drones ont déjà réalisé des frappes à partir de la base de Dirkou. Ces bombardements ont eu lieu en Libye. Il paraît important de préciser que le chaos existant dans ce pays depuis la guerre de 2011, ne rend pas ces frappes plus légales. Par ailleurs, ces mêmes sources suspectent la CIA d’utiliser Dirkou comme une prison secrète « si des drones peuvent se poser des avions aussi. Rien ne les empêche de transporter des terroristes de Libye exfiltrés. Dirkou un Guantanamo bis ? »

      En outre, il n’est pas impossible que ces drones tueurs aient été en action dans d’autres Etats limitrophes. Qui peut le savoir ? « Cette base est irrégulière, illégale, la CIA peut faire absolument tout ce qu’elle veut là-bas » rapporte un officier. De plus, comment faire la différence entre un MQ-9 Reaper de la CIA ou encore un de l’US Air Force, qui, elle, a obtenu l’autorisation d’armer ses drones (1). Encore que…

      En novembre 2017, le président Mahamadou Issoufou a autorisé les drones de l’US Air Force basés à Niamey, à frapper leurs cibles sur le territoire nigérien (2). Mais pour que cet agrément soit légal, il aurait fallu qu’il soit présenté devant le parlement, ce qui n’a pas été le cas. Même s’il l’avait été, d’une part, il le serait seulement pour l’armée US et pas pour la CIA, d’autre part, il ne serait valable que sur le sol nigérien et pas sur les territoires des pays voisins…

      Pour rappel, cette autorisation a été accordée à peine un mois après les événements de Tongo Tongo, où neuf militaires avaient été tués, cinq soldats nigériens et quatre américains. Cette autorisation est souvent présentée comme la conséquence de cette attaque. Or, les pourparlers ont eu lieu bien avant. En effet, l’AFRICOM a planifié la construction de la base de drone d’Agadez, la seconde la plus importante de l’US Air Force en Afrique après Djibouti, dès 2016, sous le mandat de Barack Obama. Une nouvelle preuve que la politique africaine du Pentagone n’a pas changée avec l’arrivée de Donald Trump (3-4-5).

      Les USA seuls maîtres à bord dans le Sahel

      Dès lors, le véto catégorique des Etats-Unis de placer la force G5 Sahel sous chapitre VII se comprend mieux. Il s’agit de mener une guerre non-officielle sans mandat international des Nations-Unies et sans se soucier du droit international. Ce n’était donc pas utile qu’Emmanuel Macron, fer de lance du G5, force qui aurait permis à l’opération Barkhane de sortir du bourbier dans lequel elle se trouve, plaide à de nombreuses reprises cette cause auprès de Donald Trump. Tous les présidents du G5 Sahel s’y sont essayés également, en vain. Ils ont fini par comprendre, quatre chefs d’Etats ont boudé la dernière Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Seul, le Président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, est monté à la tribune pour réitérer la demande de mise sous chapitre VII, unique solution pour que cette force obtienne un financement pérenne. Alors qu’en décembre 2017, Emmanuel Macron y croyait encore dur comme fer et exigeait des victoires au premier semestre 2018, faute de budget, le G5 Sahel n’est toujours pas opérationnel ! (6-7) Néanmoins, la Chine a promis de le soutenir financièrement. Magnanime, le secrétaire d’Etat à la défense, Jim Mattis a lui assuré à son homologue, Florence Parly, que les Etats-Unis apporteraient à la force conjointe une aide très significativement augmentée. Mais toujours pas de chapitre VII en vue... Ainsi, l’administration Trump joue coup double. Non seulement elle ne s’embarrasse pas avec le Conseil de Sécurité et le droit international mais sous couvert de lutte antiterroriste, elle incruste ses bottes dans ce qui est, (ce qui fut ?), la zone d’influence française.

      Far West

      Cerise sur le gâteau, en août dernier le patron de l’AFRICOM, le général Thomas D. Waldhauser, a annoncé une réduction drastique de ses troupes en Afrique (9). Les sociétés militaires privées, dont celle d’Erik Prince, anciennement Blackwater, ont bien compris le message et sont dans les starting-blocks prêtes à s’installer au Sahel (10).


      https://www.iveris.eu/list/notes_danalyse/371-le_sahel_estil_une_zone_de_nondroit__


  • Turkish police believe Saudi journalist was killed at consulate: sources | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-politics-dissident-turkey/turkish-police-believe-saudi-journalist-was-killed-at-consulate-sources-idU
    https://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20181006&t=2&i=1311983562&w=1200&r=LYNXNPEE950Q2

    “The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one Turkish official told Reuters.

    The sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out. Saudi Arabia’s consul-general told Reuters on Saturday his country was helping search for Khashoggi, and dismissed talk of his possible abduction.

    Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Washington for the past year fearing retribution for his critical views on Saudi policies, entered the consulate on Tuesday to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage, according to his fiancee, who waited outside. He has not been heard of since.


  • Saudi journalist ’killed inside consulate’ – Turkish sources | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/06/saudi-journalist-killed-inside-consulate-turkish-sources

    Turkish officials believe that missing Saudi journalist #Jamal_Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body later driven from the compound.

    Authorities say they believe Khashoggi’s death was premeditated and that Saudi officials had travelled to Istanbul from Riyadh after receiving word that the high-profile critic of the current Saudi leadership planned to visit the consulate.

    In an evening of quickfire developments, following four days of silence since his disappearance, officials in Ankara pledged to on Sunday release evidence that they say supports claims that the journalist was killed shortly after he entered the consulate to sign divorce papers. The evidence is expected to include video footage and focus on a black car.

    –—

    Jamal Khashoggi: Turkey says journalist was murdered in Saudi consulate - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45775819

    Fears are growing over missing Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, after Turkish officials said they believe he has been murdered.

    Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi national, went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    A Turkish official told the BBC that initial investigations indicated he was murdered there.

    Saudi Arabia has denied the accusations, saying it is “working to search for him”.

    The Washington Post said it would be a “monstrous and unfathomable act” if he had been killed.

    The BBC’s Istanbul correspondent, Mark Lowen, said it would plunge Turkish-Saudi relations into an unprecedented crisis.

    #arabie_saoudite #meurtre


  • How mapmakers help indigenous people defend their lands
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture-exploration/2018/10/indigenous-cultures-mapping-projects-reclaim-lands-columbus

    One early project in the 1990s focused on the remote Darién region of Panama. Official maps of the area contained little detail—the persistent cloud cover and dense rainforest canopy were impenetrable to the satellite imagery and aerial photos that government cartographers used to make their maps. But to the three main indigenous groups in the region, Emberá, the Wounaan, and the Guna, the land was filled with landmarks.

    The organization’s approach was simple: ask indigenous people to draw detailed maps of their lands, and then get professional cartographers to incorporate this information into modern, geographically accurate maps.

    To map the Darién, indigenous leaders selected men from communities in the region to act as surveyors. The surveyors then set out by bus, by canoe, or on foot, armed with pencils, pens, and blank sheets of manila paper to sketch the local waterways and other landmarks. In collaboration with villagers and their leaders they carefully drew maps that included things of importance to their communities that wouldn’t typically appear on government maps, like hunting and fishing grounds, or places where firewood, fruit, or medicine were gathered. They often chose to leave out cemeteries and sacred sites, preferring to keep that knowledge within their communities. The quality of these maps varies considerably, but the best of them are works of art, Chapin says (see below).

    #cartographie #cartographie_participative #territoire #peuples_autochtones


  • Official documents prove: Israel bans young Americans based on Canary Mission website - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Some Americans detained upon arrival in Israel reported being questioned about their political activity based on ’profiles’ on the controversial website Canary Mission. Documents obtained by Haaretz now clearly show that is indeed a source of information for decisions to bar entry

    Noa Landau SendSend me email alerts
    Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-official-documents-prove-israel-bans-young-americans-based-on-cana

    The Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry is using simple Google searches, mainly the controversial American right-wing website Canary Mission, to bar political activists from entering Israel, according to documents obtained by Haaretz.
    >>Israeli court rejects American visa-holding student’s appeal; to be deported for backing BDS
    The internal documents, some of which were submitted to the appeals tribunal in the appeal against the deportation of American student Lara Alqasem, show that officials briefly interviewed Alqasem, 22, at Ben-Gurion International Airport on her arrival Tuesday night, then passed her name on for “continued handling” by the ministry because of “suspicion of boycott activity.” Israel recently passed a law banning the entry of foreign nationals who engage in such activity.

    >> Are you next? Know your rights if detained at Israel’s border

    Links to Canary Mission and Facebook posts are seen on an official Ministry of Strategic Affairs document.
    The ministry then sent the officials at the airport an official report classified “sensitive” about Alqasem’s supposed political activities, which included information from five links – four from Facebook and one, the main source, from the Canary Mission site, which follows pro-Palestinian activists on U.S. campuses.
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    A decision on Alqasem’s appeal against her deportation was expected Thursday afternoon.
    Canary Mission, now the subject of major controversy in the American Jewish community, has been collecting information since 2015 about BDS activists at universities, and sends the information to potential employers. Pro-Israel students have also criticized their activities.

    Lara Alqasem.
    This week, the American Jewish news site The Forward reported that at least $100,000 of Canary Mission’s budget had been contributed through the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which donates to Jewish education. The donation was handed to a group registered in Beit Shemesh called Megamot Shalom, specifically stating that it was for Canary Mission. A few hours after the report was published, the federation announced that it would no longer fund the group.
    Over the past few months some of the Americans who have been detained for questioning upon arrival in Israel have reported that they were questioned about their political activity based on “profiles” about them published on Canary Mission. The documents obtained by Haaretz now show clearly that the site is indeed the No. 1 source of information for the decision to bar entry to Alqasem.
    According to the links that were the basis for the decision to suspend the student visa that Alqasem had been granted by the Israeli Consulate in Miami, she was president of the Florida chapter of a group called Students for Justice in Palestine, information quoted directly from the Canary Mission. The national arm of that organization, National Students for Justice in Palestine, is indeed on the list of 20 groups that the Strategic Affairs Ministry compiled as criteria to invoke the anti-boycott law. However, Alqasem was not a member at the national level, but rather a local activist. She told the appeals tribunal that the local chapter had only a few members.

    Canary Mission’s profile of Lara Alqasem.
    The ministry also cited as a reason for barring Alqasem’s entry to Israel a Facebook post showing that “In April 2016 [her] chapter conducted an ongoing campaign calling for the boycott of Sabra hummus, the American version of Hummus Tzabar, because Strauss, which owns Tzabar, funds the Golani Brigade.” Alqasem told the tribunal that she had not taken an active part in this campaign. Another link was about a writers’ petition calling on a cultural center to refuse sponsorship by Israel for its activities. Yet another post, by the local Students for Justice in Palestine, praised the fact that an international security company had stopped operations in Israel. None of these links quoted Alqasem.
    She told the tribunal that she is not currently a member of any pro-boycott group and would not come to study for her M.A. in Israel if she were.
    The Strategic Affairs Ministry report on Alqasem is so meager that its writers mentioned it themselves: “It should be noted that in this case we rely on a relatively small number of sources found on the Internet.” Over the past few months Haaretz has been following up reports of this nature that have been the basis for denying entry to activists, and found that in many other cases the material consisted of superficial Google searches and that the ministry, by admission of its own senior officials, does not collect information from non-public sources.
    skip - Facebook post calling for the boycott of Sabra hummus

    The ministry’s criteria for invoking the anti-boycott law state clearly that in order to bar entry to political activists, they must “hold senior or significant positions in the organizations,” including “official senior roles in prominent groups (such as board members).”
    But the report on Alqasem does not indicate that she met the criterion of “senior” official in the national movement, nor was this the case for other young people questioned recently at the airport. In some cases it was the Shin Bet security service that questioned people due to past participation in activities such as demonstrations in the territories, and not BDS activities.
    “Key activists,” according to the ministry’s criteria, also means people who “consistently take part in promoting BDS in the framework of prominent delegitimization groups or independently, and not, for example, an activist who comes as part of a delegation.” In Alqasem’s case, however, her visa was issued after she was accepted for study at Hebrew University.


  • As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed

    The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert #Jeff_Crisp.

    Over the past three years, the world has been confronted with a number of major new refugee emergencies – in Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela, as well as the Central American region. In addition, existing crises in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria have gone unresolved, making it impossible for large exiled populations to return to their own country. As a result, the global refugee population has soared to more than 25 million, the highest figure ever recorded.

    This means that the role of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which is supposed to protect and find solutions for this growing population, is more important than ever. But is it up to the task? The proliferating crises have stretched it to the limit. Funding, most of which comes from a dozen key donor states, has not kept up with the rising numbers the agency is expected to support. In April, UNHCR said it had received just $2.3 billion of the $8.2 billion it needed for its annual program.

    Things look unlikely to improve. UNHCR is losing the support of the United States, traditionally the organization’s most important government partner, whether under Republican or Democrat administrations. Since Donald Trump’s election, the country has slashed the number of refugees it admits through its resettlement program. In his final years in office, Barack Obama had raised the annual quota to 110,000 refugees. That is now down to 45,000 and may yet be reduced to 25,000.

    There is also the prospect that the Trump administration will demonstrate its disdain for the U.N. and limited interest in the refugee issue by reducing its funding to the agency, as it has already done with UNRWA, a separate agency that supports Palestinian refugees. Given that the U.S. currently contributes almost 40 percent of the UNHCR budget, even a modest reduction in its support will mean serious cuts in expenditure.

    The agency therefore has little choice but to look for alternative sources of funding and diplomatic support, especially from the European Union and its member states. But that may come at a price. One of the E.U.’s top priorities is to halt the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers who have transited through nearby countries such as Libya, Morocco and Turkey. Populist political parties throughout much of the E.U. are reaping the electoral benefits of taking a hard line on the issue of refugees and migration. Several European governments have shown little hesitation in violating the international refugee laws they have signed in their desperation to seal Europe’s borders.

    The E.U. thus looks to UNHCR for two things: first, the expertise and operational capacity of an organization that has years of experience in responding to mass movements of people; and second, the legitimacy that E.U. policies can acquire by means of close association with an agency deemed by its founding statute to be “entirely non-political and humanitarian.” In this context, it should come as no surprise that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been at pains to point out that the E.U. and UNHCR “work together” and have a “close partnership” – and that the E.U. remains “the strongest supporter of UNHCR.”

    But this partnership (which involved $436 million in funding from Brussels alone in 2017) also involves an important element of compromise on the part of UNHCR. In the Mediterranean, for example, the E.U. is funding the Libyan coast guard to intercept and return any refugees who try to leave the country by boat. Those people are subsequently confined to detention centers where, according to Amnesty International, they are at risk of torture, forced labor, extortion and murder at the hand of smugglers, bandits or the Libyan authorities.

    The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has publicly chastised the E.U. for its failure to improve the situation of migrants in Libya. By contrast, UNHCR has kept very quiet about the E.U.’s role in the process of interception, return and detention, despite the fact that these actions violate a fundamental principle of refugee protection: that no one should be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.

    This reveals a fundamental tension in the organization’s character. Ostensibly, UNHCR enjoys a high degree of independence and moral authority. As part of the U.N. system, it is treated with more respect by states and other actors than NGOs doing similar work. It has regular access to heads of state, government leaders, regional organizations, the U.N. security council and the secretary-general himself (who was previously UNHCR chief).

    But in practice, the autonomy enjoyed by UNHCR is at best a relative one. Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The organization can operate in a country only if it has the agreement of the government, which also has the ability to shape the scope of UNHCR’s operational activities, as well as the partners it works with. In countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria, for example, the organization is obliged to work with government departments whose priorities may well be different from those of UNHCR.

    Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The tensions at the heart of UNHCR seem unlikely to diminish. Throughout the world, governments are closing their borders to refugees and depriving them of basic rights. Exiled populations are being induced to repatriate against their will and to countries that are not safe. As epitomized by the E.U.’s deal with Turkey, asylum seekers have become bargaining chips in interstate relations, used by political leaders to extract financial, political and even military concessions from each other.

    Given the constitutional constraints imposed on the organization, UNHCR’s options are now limited. It can try (as it has done for many years) to diversify its funding base. It could assume a more assertive stance with states that violate refugee protection principles – and in doing so risk the loss of its already diminished degree of diplomatic support. And it can hope that the recently completed Global Compact on Refugees, a nonbinding declaration of principles that most U.N. member states are expected to sign, will have some effect on the way that governments actually treat refugees.

    A final option available to UNHCR is to be more transparent about its limitations, to moderate the relentless self-promotion of its branding and marketing campaign and give greater recognition to the efforts that refugees are making to improve their own lives. In that respect, UNHCR’s favourite hashtag, “We Stand #WithRefugees,” could usefully be changed to “Refugees Are #StandingUpForThemselves.”

    #UN #ONU #HCR #UNHCR #crise #indépendance #fonds #financement #it_has_begun


  • Irie™ Magazine | Respect | Khalifa
    https://www.iriemag.com/2018/09/respect-khalifa

    Mon ami Khalifa a les honneurs du principal journal de reggae... Caen au centre du monde. Khalifa le mérite.

    Singer and songwriter since 1997 with Positive Radical Sound (PRS), Khalifa believes music can be more than making tunes and performing. Releasing four albums with PRS, two with Sly & Robbie as well as numerous songs featuring Mad Professor, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Sly & Robbie, Taxi Gang, Sugar Minott, Nambo Robinson, Steven Marley Wright and Paul Groucho Smykle, Khalifa is also involved in teaching music in detention centers in France, in refugee camps in Palestine or in youth clubs in Oran, Algeria.

    “Music should help educate while exploring the depths of the Soul”. This is what Khalifa has learned to do.

    Khalifa gets his energy from the sources of reggae music to take us beyond frontiers as shown in his last single ‘There’s a Light’ which music video was shot in Camden, London, or in his cover of French classic ‘Chanson pour l’auvergnat’ by George Brassens, North African style! For nearly 17 years Khalifa keeps producing music and writing songs, inspired by his travels and by everyday life, and backed by a powerful rhythm. A must-see performance!

    For his album, ‘Hard Times for Dreamers’, Khalifa rounded up an international crew, bringing in Mad Professor, Winston Mac Anuff, Nambo Robinson, Sly and Robbie et Steven Marley Wright (I Jah Man) to put together 12 powerful, tight songs. Each tune has its subtlety; the punchy brass section gives way to the strings, and a 50s guitar trill weaves in and out of a raw afro-beat. Robbie Shakespeare’s bassline smoothly glides us from Lagos to the Kingston suburbs, while Khalif’s masterful voice takes the lead.

    Hard times for dreamers was the result of trips to Oran, Ramallah, Kingston, Paris and London, and exchanges with Sly & Robbie, Mad Professor, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Taxi Gang, Sugar Minott, Nambo Robinson, Steven Marley Wright and Paul Groucho Smykle.

    Official Website: Khalifa.fr

    #Musique #Khalifa


  • Deux lesbiennes ont été battues en public dans le Terengganu, le deuxième État malaisien à appliquer la syariah (plus précisément, une partie du droit qui suppose des châtiments corporels, j’ai oublié le nom mais c’était le gros débat en 2014 quand c’est arrivé dans le pays). Quelques coups de canne symboliques, l’essentiel étant d’humilier. Ça marche, et pas que pour les deux femmes en question. Hier j’étais en compagnie de lesbiennes malaisiennes (le groupe le plus mixte que j’aie vu ici, Malaises, Chinoises, Chindians et même trois mat salle comme moi) et elles étaient au fond du trou. Déjà au printemps un collab gay (et militant) de ministre a perdu son job dans une campagne de dénigrement. Et cet été deux portraits ont été « auto »-censurés dans une expo sur les Malaisien.nes au motif qu’une trans et un gay (sur des dizaines de portraits), c’est pas très malaisien. Et fin août, ce truc d’Arabes (pardon pour l’expression mais vu d’ici, l’idée de frapper des gens en public ressemble vraiment à l’importation de traditions allochtones et on en parle dans ces termes). Peut-être que dans la nouvelle Malaisie, un peu plus ouverte qu’avant l’alternance, les choses vont changer. L’espoir de ces femmes, c’est que tout ça occasionne une prise de conscience. Et déjà, le Premier ministre condamne au moins l’affaire du Terengganu.

    Women caned in Malaysia for attempting to have lesbian sex | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/03/women-caned-in-malaysia-for-attempting-to-have-lesbian-sex

    Two women found guilty of attempting to have sex have been caned in Malaysia’s conservative north-eastern state of Terengganu, in the first punishment of its kind.

    The two women, aged 22 and 32, were caned six times each in the Terengganu sharia high court just after 10am, after the sentence was read out.

    The caning was carried out in the courtroom and was witnessed by up to 100 people, including the public.

    While women in Malaysia have been caned for sexual offences in the past, such as adultery, rights activists say this is the first time two women have been caned for attempting to have sex.

    Malaysian PM says caning of lesbians counter to ’compassion of Islam’ | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-lgbt/malaysian-pm-says-caning-of-lesbians-counter-to-compassion-of-islam-idUSKCN
    https://s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20180906&t=2&i=1301353464&w=1200&r=LYNXNPEE850FD

    Mahathir’s government has appeared divided about the LGBT community, while the premier himself had been silent on the caning and recent attacks on transgender people and marginalized groups in the Muslim-majority country.

    In a video posted on his Twitter account, Mahathir said the caning “did not reflect the justice or compassion of Islam”.

    It was the women’s first offence, he said, which warranted a lighter sentence, such as counseling.

    “This gives a bad impression of Islam,” the 93-year-old leader said. “It is important that we show Islam is not a cruel religion that likes to impose harsh sentences to humiliate others.”

    Traduction : ça fait mauvais genre, on aurait pu se contenter de les envoyer en thérapie. Plus courageux, les député·es de sa coalition.

    ’We need to grow up’ : Malaysian MPs condemn caning over lesbian sex | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/malaysian-mps-condemn-caning-lesbian-sex

    A Malaysian MP has called for laws that criminalise homosexuality to be immediately abolished amid outcry over the caning of two women convicted by a sharia court of attempting to have lesbian sex.

    Charles Santiago, a parliamentary member from the Malaysian state of Selangor, expressed his outrage in a series of tweets after the punishment was carried out in the Terengganu court on Monday morning.

    That two women were caned while “100 people gawked at them” in the public gallery of the court was shocking and humiliating, he wrote on Twitter.
    Women caned in Malaysia for attempting to have lesbian sex
    Read more

    “We need to stop targeting the LGBT community. We need to stop invading their privacy. We need to stop abusing them. We need to grow up as a society and learn to embrace diversity,” he wrote.

    Santiago said the government was “voted in on the premise of inclusion” and must therefore repeal all laws criminalising homosexuality without delay.

    His anger was echoed by other politicians. Khairy Jamaluddin, the MP for Rembau, criticised the punishment on his Twitter account, saying: “Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being.”

    “Mercy is preferable to punishment.”

    Hannah Yeoh, a member of parliament for Segambut, reacted to the punishment with the statement: “Education doesn’t work this way.”

    Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable under a colonial-era sodomy law that carries a 20-year prison sentence, while strict Islamic laws that apply to Malaysian Muslims, but not people from other religious backgrounds, prohibit sexual relations between women.

    How public caning is performed in Terengganu
    https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/441727

    The cane is to be made of rattan or a small branch twig that does not have segments or joints.

    It should not exceed 1.22 metres in length and 1.25 centimetres in diameter.

    What are the rules for performing the caning?

    The convict must be dressed in accordance with religious rules (hukum syarak). If the convict is male, he receives the caning while standing. If the convict is female, she will be seated.

    The official who carries out the caning is to lash the convict with “moderate” strength and without raising the cane above his head to avoid injuring the convict’s skin. The cane must also be raised upward after each lash instead of being pulled away.

    The official may hit any part of the convict except the face, head, abdomen, chest, and genitals.


  • Russia warns US of pending attack in Syrian area with US troops - CNNPolitics
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/06/politics/syria-russia-attack-warning-pentagon/index.html

    While the situation is described by one US official as “concerning,” there clearly is US interest in discussing Moscow’s warning to ensure the Russians have a clear view of any potential US military response.

    #Syrie #etats-unis #Russie