position:president

  • Democrats and Republicans Passing Soft Regulations - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/06/democrats-and-republicans-passing-soft-regulations/592558

    Your face is no longer just your face—it’s been augmented. At a football game, your face is currency, used to buy food at the stadium. At the mall, it is a ledger, used to alert salespeople to your past purchases, both online and offline, and shopping preferences. At a protest, it is your arrest history. At the morgue, it is how authorities will identify your body.

    Facial-recognition technology stands to transform social life, tracking our every move for companies, law enforcement, and anyone else with the right tools. Lawmakers are weighing the risks versus rewards, with a recent wave of proposed regulation in Washington State, Massachusetts, Oakland, and the U.S. legislature. In May, Republicans and Democrats in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform heard hours of testimony about how unregulated facial recognition already tracks protesters, impacts the criminal-justice system, and exacerbates racial biases. Surprisingly, they agreed to work together to regulate it.

    The Microsoft president Brad Smith called for governments “to start adopting laws to regulate this technology” last year, while the Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy echoed those comments in June, likening the technology to a knife. It’s a less dramatic image than the plutonium and nuclear-waste metaphors critics employ, but his message—coming from an executive at one of the world’s most powerful facial-recognition technology outfits—is clear: This stuff is dangerous.

    But crucially, Jassy and Smith seem to argue, it’s also inevitable. In calling for regulation, Microsoft and Amazon have pulled a neat trick: Instead of making the debate about whether facial recognition should be widely adopted, they’ve made it about how such adoption would work.

    Without regulation, the potential for misuse of facial-recognition technology is high, particularly for people of color. In 2016 the MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini published research showing that tech performs better on lighter-skinned men than on darker-skinned men, and performs worst on darker-skinned women. When the ACLU matched Congress members against a criminal database, Amazon’s Rekognition software misidentified black Congress members more often than white ones, despite there being far fewer black members.

    This includes House Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore native whose face was also scanned when he attended a 2015 rally in memory of Freddie Gray, the unarmed black teenager who died of a spinal-cord injury while in police custody. The Baltimore Police Department used facial recognition to identify protesters and target any with outstanding warrants. Most of the protesters were black, meaning the software used on them might have been less accurate, increasing the likelihood of misidentification. Expert witnesses at the committee hearing in May warned of a chilling effect: Protesters, wary of being identified via facial recognition and matched against criminal databases, could choose to stay home rather than exercise their freedom of assembly.

    Microsoft and Amazon both claim to have lessened the racial disparity in accuracy since the original MIT study and the ACLU’s report. But fine-tuning the technology to better recognize black faces is only part of the process: Perfectly accurate technology could still be used to support harmful policing, which affects people of color. The racial-accuracy problem is a distraction; how the technology is used matters, and that’s where policy could prevent abuse. And the solution Microsoft and Amazon propose would require auditing face recognition for racial and gender biases after they’re already in use—which might be too late.

    In early May, The Washington Post reported that police were feeding forensic sketches to their facial-recognition software. A witness described a suspect to a sketch artist, then police uploaded the sketch to Amazon’s Rekognition, looking for hits, and eventually arrested someone. Experts at the congressional hearing in May were shocked that a sketch submitted to a database could credibly qualify as enough reasonable suspicion to arrest someone.

    Read: Half of American adults are in police facial-recognition databases

    But Jassy, the Amazon Web Services CEO, claimed that Amazon has never received a report of police misuse. In May, Amazon shareholders voted down a proposal that would ban the sale of Rekognition to police, and halt sales to law enforcement and ICE. Jassy said that police should only rely on Rekognition results when the system is 99 percent confident in the accuracy of a match. This is a potentially critical safeguard against misidentification, but it’s just a suggestion: Amazon doesn’t require police to adhere to this threshold, or even ask. In January, Gizmodo quoted an Oregon sheriff’s official saying his department ignores thresholds completely. (“There has never been a single reported complaint from the public and no issues with the local constituency around their use of Rekognition,” a representative from Amazon said, in part, in a statement to Gizmodo.)

    #Reconnaissance_faciale #Libertés #Espace_public #Etat_policier

  • GBC - Gibraltar News - GBC TV and Radio Gibraltar
    https://www.gbc.gi/news/gib-authorities-and-royal-marines-board-and-detain-supertanker-en-route-syria

    Gibraltar Port and Law Enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachmentof Royal Marines, boarded and detained a super tanker carrying crude oil to Syria in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    This followed information giving the Gibraltar Government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of European Union sanctions against Syria.

    The operation took place overnight as the giant vessel sailed into Gibraltar waters.

    The Government says it has reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.The refinery is the property of an entity subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.

    #piraterie #gibraltar reste un atout géopolitique

    en arabe : https://www.raialyoum.com/index.php/%d8%b3%d9%84%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%ac%d8%a8%d9%84-%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%b1%d9%8
    où il est précisé que le navire est sous pavillon de Panama et que le pétrole serait iranien.

    • https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1177558/lambassadeur-britannique-en-iran-convoque-apres-la-saisie-dun-petroli

      Dans un communiqué, le gouvernement de Gibraltar, territoire britannique situé à la pointe sud de l’Espagne, dit avoir de bonnes raisons de croire que les cuves du Grace 1 contiennent du pétrole destiné à la raffinerie syrienne de Banyas. Le gouvernement syrien est la cible de sanctions de l’Union européenne depuis mai 2011, date du début de la répression sanglante des manifestations pour la démocratie par le régime de Bachar el-Assad.

      D’après l’outil de données cartographiques Refinitiv Eikon mapping, le Grace 1 a chargé du brut iranien le 17 avril dernier, ce qui constituerait une violation des sanctions américaines sur les exportations de pétrole iranien rétablies l’an dernier après la décision de Donald Trump de retirer les Etats-Unis de l’accord de 2015 sur le nucléaire iranien.

    • https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1128207/Gibraltar-tanker-seizure-triggers-IranUK-diplomatic-row

      (...)

      The incident triggered debate over the lawfulness of the tanker seizure and detention which will be tested in Gibraltar’s Supreme Court in coming days.

      Local maritime and admiralty lawyers have been instructed for the Captain of the Port, financial secretary and the attorney general, Lloyd’s List understands, ahead of what is expected to be protracted legal debate.

      The acting foreign minister of Spain — which claims the waters as its own and does not recognise British sovereignty — said Britain acted at the behest of the US and the country was assessing the detention’s legal implications.

      The US has not shown the same vigilance for Iran-China crude flows, which have been taking place without action. Iranian- and Chinese-owned or controlled ships have been loading cargoes since the May 1 ending of waivers allowing some countries limited imports. About five cargoes have been discharged in Syria.

      Lloyd’s List understands that the owner of the very large crude carrier is Russian Titan Shipping, a subsidiary of Dubai-based oil and energy shipping company TNC Gulf, which has clear Iranian links.

      While Grace 1 has a complex ownership chain that is not unusual for many internationally trading vessels, its executives listed on LinkedIn have Iranian university and technical qualifications, or list their names in Farsi, the Iranian language.

      The ship’s current class and insurance is unknown according to databases. Lloyd’s Register withdrew class in January, 2019, as did former P&I insurers Swedish Club, at the same time as the vessel arrived to spend a month at the Bandar-e Taheri single buoy mooring area in Iranian waters, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data.

      The ship’s opaque ownership and operating chain is complicated further by company websites linked to the tanker not operating. The European Commission-operated Equasis website lists the shipmanager as Singapore-based Iships Management. However, the website is under construction and its telephone number is not in service. Websites for Russian Titan Shipping and TNC Gulf are also not working. LinkedIn lists Captain Asadpour as the executive managing director, saying he has also been president of the Georgia-based Russian Shipping Lines for 11 years.

  • THE ANGRY ARAB: The First Elected Egyptian President? The Death of Mohammad Morsi – Consortiumnews
    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/03/the-angry-arab-the-first-elected-egyptian-president-the-death-of-moh

    The year of Morsi was an interesting period in contemporary Egyptian history. It was by far the freest political era, where political parties and media flourished and the state tolerated more criticisms against the ruler than before or since. But young Egyptians who participated in the 2011 revolt stress the point that freedoms under Morsi were not so much a gift from the leader to the people as they were the result of insistence on their rights by the revolutionary masses. They had just managed to oust the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and they were not going to settle for less than an open political environment.

    But that also did not last, and the rise of el-Sisi was entirely an affair hatched by foreign governments and the security apparatus of the state. Secular, liberal, Nasserists, and even some progressives were accomplices of the coup of 2013; they were alarmed with the Islamic rhetoric of the Brotherhood and some even resented the political rise of poorer Egyptians with an Islamist bend. el-Sisi knew how to appeal to a large coalition and to pretend that he would carry on the democratization of Egypt. But the signs were on the wall: the blatant role of the Saudi and UAE regime in his coup were not disguised, and el-Sisi was an integral part of the Egyptian state military-intelligence apparatus, whose purpose is to maintain close relations with the Israeli occupation state, and to crush domestic dissent and opposition.

    Morsi’s fate was sealed when he decided to coexist with the same military council that had existed in the age of Mubarak. He could have purged the entire top brass, and replaced them with new people who were not tainted with links to the Mubarak regime. Worse, Morsi made the chief of Egyptian military intelligence—the man who is in charge of close Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation—his minister of defense (that was el-Sisi himself). Morsi assumed that the military command would quickly switch their loyalty to the democratic order instead of the old tyrannical regime.

    #angry_arab #morsi #issi #égypte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – ’Tragédie’-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      “We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”
      Sign up for The Interpreter

      Subscribe for original insights, commentary and discussions on the major news stories of the week, from columnists Max Fisher and Amanda Taub.

      On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #régulation #Robots #Californie

  • Les Ethiopiens d’Israël manifestent après le « meurtre » d’un des leurs par la police
    Par Le Figaro avec AFP Publié le 02/07/2019 à 21:57
    http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/les-ethiopiens-d-israel-manifestent-apres-le-meurtre-d-un-des-leurs-par-la-

    Des Israéliens d’origine éthiopienne manifestaient mardi leur colère après la mort d’un membre de leur communauté, tué par un policier qui n’était pas en service et dans des circonstances encore troubles.

    La mort dimanche soir de Solomon Teka, âgé de 18 ou 19 ans, a ravivé parmi les Ethiopiens d’Israël les accusations de racisme policier à son encontre. Depuis lundi soir, ces Israéliens manifestent à Kiryat Haim, près de Haïfa (nord), lieu où a été abattu Solomon Teka. Mardi, jour de son enterrement, la contestation a repris. La mort de Solomon Teka n’est rien d’autre qu’un « meurtre », a accusé sur les ondes de la radio israélienne Amir Teka, cousin de la victime. Les manifestants ont bloqué plusieurs routes et une quinzaine de carrefours, brûlant des pneus et attaquant parfois les véhicules qui tentaient de passer leurs barrages improvisés. Au moins 19 contestataires ont été interpellés, selon la police.

    « Nous devons faire tout notre possible pour nous assurer que la police cesse de tuer des gens à cause de leur couleur de peau », a déclaré à l’AFP l’un des manifestants, Mengisto, 26 ans. « Nous avons besoin d’obtenir des garanties de la part de l’Etat ou de la police que cela ne se reproduira plus », a-t-il exigé.

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    Israël : des manifestations dégénèrent après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne (VIDEOS)
    3 juil. 2019, 16:02
    https://francais.rt.com/international/63600-israel-manifestations-degenerent-apres-mort-israelien-origine-eth

    A la suite de la disparition de Solomon Tekah, probablement tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne d’Israël a manifesté sa colère. Différentes villes ont connu des affrontements au cours desquels manifestants et policiers ont été blessés. (...)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=61&v=hjTyEsGgB6g

    #émeutesisraéliennes

    • Family of Ethiopian Israeli Shot Dead by Police Urges Halt to Protests

      Major Tel Aviv junction blocked in third day of unrest ■ Dozens of demonstrators arrested
      Yaniv Kubovich, Almog Ben Zikri, Josh Breiner , Bar Peleg, Noa Shpigel and Aaron Rabinowitz Jul 03, 2019 7:45 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/police-brace-for-third-day-of-protests-over-shooting-of-ethiopian-israeli-t

      The family of an Ethiopian Israeli teen whose shooting death by an off-duty police officer sparked a wave of prortests across the country called Wednesday for demonstrations to be put on hold, as they enter their third day.

      A friend of the 18-year-old Solomon Teka’s family said his father asked for protests to halt until the seven days of Jewish mourning, known as shiva, are over.

      Although police warned earlier on Wednesday they would not allow roads blockages, demonstrators were attempting to disrupt traffic in a number of locations across Israel.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVtTSNHLoz0

      Seven people who were trying to block a road south of Tel Aviv, were forcibly removed by police and detained. One protester has been arrested in the northern city of Kiryat Ata, where about 100 people have gathered and begun marching toward the Zevulun police station. Five more people were detained for attempting to block access to a police station in Yavne.

      Speaking at a meeting of ministers tasked with advancing the integration of the Ethiopian Israeli community Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Netanyahu called on lawmakers to “exert their influence” and stop the violence immediately. “The death of Solomon Teka is a big tragedy, but we cannot tolerate this violence,” he said.

      Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that police forces were bracing for heightened tensions after Tuesday night’s protest against police brutality and racism toward Jews of Ethiopian descent turned violent, with 136 arrests and 111 injured policemen. The arrests were for allegedly attacking policemen, vandalism, and gross disturbance of public order.

      One protester’s remand was extended until Friday, for allegedly setting a car on fire in Tel Aviv. Another protester’s remand has been extended until 8:00 P.M. Wednesday for attempting to run over a police officer. A 24-year-old was arrested in Ashdod after he was caught on video lighting a border policeman’s uniform on fire. Police identified him and arrested him Wednesday.

      Erdan also noted that police had information that some protesters were planning to arm themselves and try to shoot policemen during the upcoming protests.

      The police announced that it will not allow protesters to block main roads on Wednesday, after roads were blocked throughout Israel on Tuesday evening, causing mass traffic jams. Magen David Adom stated that in the protests the night before, beyond the 111 officers who were hurt, 26 protesters were also injured, nine passers-by, and one firefighter. MDA also said that seven of its ambulances and four emergency first-aid motorbikes were damaged by rock-throwers.

      Police employed means of riot control Tuesday, including tear gas and stun grenades, as protesters closed down main city arteries, burning tires and vandalizing cars. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that while he understands the frustration and suffering of tens of thousands, the police did what they had to do. Erdan also vowed that the violence would not recur, and that if necessary, police would defend themselves.

      People were incited through social media, he said, boosting the violence to levels previously unknown, such as the throwing of a firebomb at a police station. He reiterated intense regret and sorrow over Teka’s death but added that the incident is not representative of change in the Israeli police in recent years.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the “Ethiopian community is dear to us,” however the state is not prepared to tolerate blocking of roads or violence “including firebombs thrown toward our forces, the burning of cars or any other civilian property. We are a law-abiding nation. We demand that everyone respect the law.”

      Netanyahu convened a committee of ministers Wednesday night to advance the integration of the Ethiopian community and discuss “excessive policing and the patterns of behavior toward of those of Ethiopian descent.” Netanyahu added, “we’ve already seen improvement in this area and it seems that we need to make many more improvements.”

      In the northern city of Kiryat Ata, over a thousand marched on the Zevulun police station and smoke grenades were thrown into the station. Around 200 demonstrators in Afula blocked traffic on one of the northern city’s main streets. Meanwhile, major roads in several cities, including Tel Aviv and Haifa, were blocked by demonstrators burning tires.

      President Reuven Rivlin called for restraint and dialogue: “The rage must not be expressed in violence,” he tweeted. “The handful who chose violence are not the face of the protest and must not become the face of the protest, which we very much understand.” Rivlin called for a meeting together with representatives of all the parties involved in public safety: “Only through open conversation, difficult as it is, can change be achieved.”

      On Monday the police said that Teka may have been hit by a bullet ricocheting off the ground.

    • Rage Against the Police: 13 Photos From Ethiopian Israelis’ Protest

      Escalating demonstrations over the death of 18-year-old Ethiopian Israeli teen Solomon Teka are entering the third day
      By Haaretz Jul 03, 2019
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/MAGAZINE-in-photos-thousands-of-ethiopian-israelis-protest-police-brutality

      Israelis of Ethiopian origin are demonstrating throughout Israel following the death Sunday of 18-year old Solomon Teka, who was shot by police.

      Some of the protests quickly became violent when demonstrators blocked main roads and set on fire a car of a passerby who tried to drive through the blockade.

      A protester is throwing a scooter at a burning car during the Ethiopian Israeli protest in Tel Aviv. Credit : Tomer Appelbaum


      Protesters show photos of 18-year old Solomon Teka of Ethiopian descent, who died after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv. Credit : Tomer Appelbaum

      A protester stands opposite to a policeman during the protest of Ethiopian Israelis, in Tel Aviv. Credit \ CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS

    • Nouvelle journée de manifestations après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne
      3 juillet 2019
      https://www.lavenir.net/cnt/dmf20190703_01354547/nouvelle-journee-de-manifestations-apres-la-mort-d-un-israelien-d-origine-e

      (Belga) Des manifestations ont eu lieu mercredi à Tel-Aviv et dans le nord d’Israël pour la troisième journée consécutive, après le décès d’un jeune Israélien d’origine éthiopienne, tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne dénonçant un crime raciste.
      Solomon Teka, âgé de 19 ans, a été tué dimanche soir par un policier qui n’était pas en service au moment des faits, à Kiryat Haim, une ville proche du port de Haïfa, dans le nord d’Israël. Des dizaines de policiers ont été déployés mercredi dans la ville de Kiryat Ata, non loin de Kiryat Haim. Des manifestants tentant de bloquer une route ont été dispersés par la police. Malgré des appels au calme lancés par les autorités, des jeunes se sont aussi à nouveau rassemblés à Tel-Aviv. Une centaine de personnes ont défié la police en bloquant une route avant d’être dispersées. En trois jours, 140 personnes ont été arrêtées et 111 policiers blessés par des jets de pierres, bouteilles et bombes incendiaires lors des manifestations dans le pays, selon un nouveau bilan de la police. Les embouteillages et les images de voitures en feu ont fait la une des médias. Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et le président israélien Reuven Rivlin ont appelé au calme, tout en reconnaissant que les problèmes auxquels était confrontée la communauté israélo-éthiopienne devaient être traités. « La mort de Solomon Teka est une immense tragédie », a dit le Premier ministre. « Des leçons seront tirées. Mais une chose est claire : nous ne pouvons tolérer les violences que nous avons connues hier », a-t-il déclaré mercredi lors d’une réunion du comité ministériel sur l’intégration de la communauté éthiopienne. « Nous ne pouvons pas voir de routes bloquées, ni de cocktails Molotov, ni d’attaques contre des policiers, des citoyens et des propriétés privées », a-t-il ajouté. (...)

    • Les Israéliens éthiopiens s’interrogent : « Nos vies ont-elles moins de prix ? »
      Selon les manifestants, c’est un racisme systématique qui s’exprime derrière les violences policières répétées contre les jeunes noirs en Israël - et qui ont pu entraîner la mort
      Par Simona Weinglass 3 juillet 2019, 14:41
      https://fr.timesofisrael.com/les-israeliens-ethiopiens-sinterrogent-nos-vies-ont-elles-moins-de

      Pour ces jeunes Israéliens d’origine éthiopienne qui manifestent, mardi, pour dénoncer le meurtre d’un membre de leur communauté par un policier, ce n’est pas seulement l’expression d’une colère contre ce qu’ils considèrent comme un racisme systématique profondément ancré du côté des forces de l’ordre.

      C’est aussi un cri exprimant une frustration entraînée par des promesses de changement, maintes fois répétées et qui n’ont rien changé.

      Dans tout le pays, ce sont des milliers de manifestants issus de la communauté et leurs soutiens qui ont bloqué les routes pour faire part de leur fureur après la mort de Solomon Tekah, qui a été abattu cette semaine par un agent de police qui n’était pas en service à ce moment-là.
      (...)
      Une jeune femme d’une vingtaine d’années, vêtue d’une robe d’été et originaire de Ness Ziona, dans le centre d’Israël, confie : « Je suis complètement bouleversée. D’abord, on se dit : OK, c’est arrivé une fois mais ça n’arrivera plus. La fois suivante, on se dit : d’accord, peut-être qu’ils vont enfin régler ça ».

      « Mais quand ça devient systématique, alors là vous vous demandez si effectivement votre vie a moins de prix qu’une autre ? », lance-t-elle.

      « Ce jeune », ajoute-t-elle en évoquant Tekah, « ses parents lui ont donné tout ce qu’ils avaient. Ils l’ont élevé pendant toutes ces années. Et un jour, quelqu’un a décidé qu’il était autorisé à l’abattre ».

      Tekah est mort au cours d’une altercation survenue dimanche à Haïfa, dans le quartier Kiryat Haim.

      Un témoin de la fusillade aurait indiqué au département des enquêtes internes de la police, qui dépend du ministère de la Défense, que contrairement à ce qu’a pu affirmer le policier incriminé, ce dernier ne semblait pas être en danger quand il a ouvert le feu.

      L’agent a été brièvement placé en détention avant d’être assigné à domicile, attisant la colère au sein de la communauté.(...)

  • Iran Isn’t Trying to Build a Bomb Tomorrow. It Wants Sanctions Relief. – Foreign Policy

    Iran’s decision to surpass uranium enrichment limits isn’t a dangerous provocation. It’s a calculated effort to get European leaders to reinforce the nuclear deal and halt the drift toward war.
    By Gérard Araud, Ali Vaez | July 2, 2019,

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/07/02/iran-isnt-trying-to-build-a-bomb-tomorrow-it-wants-sanctions-relief-u

    On Monday, for the first time since the nuclear deal with Iran went into effect on Jan. 16, 2016, Iran has deliberately violated its terms by producing more low-enriched uranium than the agreement permits. The threshold of 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride—corresponding to 202.8 kilograms of enriched uranium—was designed to keep Iran at a comfortable distance from nearly 1,500 kilograms of 3.67 percent enriched uranium that would be needed for a single nuclear weapon if the uranium were to be further enriched to 90 percent.

    Trump claimed that withdrawal would lead to a better deal—it has not, and chances of that are diminishing if they ever were realistic.It has been a long time coming. A little over a year ago, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement that bound Iran to carefully crafted restrictions on its nuclear program and intrusive inspections of its nuclear sites. He claimed that the Iranians were cheating—they were not, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has consistently reported. He claimed that this action would lead to a better deal—it has not, and chances of that are diminishing if they ever were realistic.

  • Feu sur la liberté d’expression en Europe
    dimanche 30 juin 2019 par Coordination nationale de l’UJFP
    http://www.ujfp.org/spip.php?article7264

    Il aura fallu que Yossi Bartal, guide au musée juif de Berlin, démissionne pour qu’apparaissent toutes les manœuvres de l’État d’Israël, toutes ses compromissions aussi.

    La démission de Yossi Bartal(1) se produit huit jours après celle du Directeur du musée, Peter Schäfer (2).

    Peter Schäfer avait protesté avec 240 intellectuels juifs (dont Avraham Burg et Eva Illouz) pour s’opposer à une motion du Parlement allemand qui considérait le mouvement BDS comme antisémite. Il a été directement attaqué par l’ambassadeur d’Israël, Jeremy Issacharoff et Josef Schuster, directeur de l’équivalent du Crif allemand qui n’ont pas hésité à utiliser des « fake news » pour le salir.

    L’année dernière déjà le budget d’une exposition consacrée à Jérusalem, montrant aussi son versant palestinien a été divisé par 2 à la suite d’une intervention de Benjamin Netanyahou (qui réclamait l’annulation totale du budget). De son côté, Josef Schuster avait critiqué le fait que la majorité des employés du musée n’étaient pas juifs. Et les détracteurs de la liberté d’esprit du musée sont soutenus par l’ALD, le parti d’extrême droite…

    Un panier de crabe insoupçonné que nous révèle son (ex) guide. (...)

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““"
    (1) Opinion Why I Resigned From Berlin’s Jewish Museum
    Yossi Bartal - Jun 22, 2019 9:39 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/why-i-resigned-from-berlin-s-jewish-museum-1.7398301

    Last Monday, after guiding hundreds of different tour groups from Germany and around the world to various exhibitions, I submitted my resignation as a guide at the Jewish Museum of Berlin in protest against the crass political intervention by the German government and the State of Israel in the work of the museum.

    The shameful firing of Peter Schäfer, among the most important scholars of Judaism in the world, in the wake of an aggressive campaign of “fake news” conducted by the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, and Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, made it clear that the German government is not interested any more in guarding the artistic and academic autonomy of the museum. And I am not interested in working for an institution that relinquishes its independence to serve the political interests of this or that state.

    From the beginning, working as a Jewish guide at a Jewish museum where most of the staff and visitors are not Jews presented personal, political and pedagogical challenges. Thus questions of representation of the other and of speaking in their name have accompanied the work of the museum since its opening in 2003.

    Is it appropriate for a German state museum to be called a Jewish museum at all, or must it be under the complete control of the official Jewish community (that itself only represents part of German Jewry)? Is a Jewish museum, in the absence of a similar institution addressing the Muslim community or other minority groups, responsible for providing space for the perspectives of children of migrants in Germany, many of whom live in neighborhoods nearby, and for conducting Jewish-Muslim dialogue?

    Should the museum function as a forum in which various opinions in the Jewish world can be heard, those touching on Israel as well? The answer of the head of the Jewish community, the Israeli ambassador and right-wing journalists, who for years have been running a toxic and untruthful campaign against museum staff, is an absolute no.

    Thus a significant portion of the criticism of the museum suggests, or even declares openly, that the very fact that many of the staff members of the museum are not Jews negates their right to social activism that is not in keeping with the political preferences of the Jewish community’s representatives. This discourse reached the point of absurdity when Schuster, the leader of a community in which many members are not considered Jewish according to halakha, negated the museum’s right to call itself Jewish.

    But we should not be confused by the legitimate criticism over the lack of Jewish representation in leading positions in Germany, because this criticism is raised only when non-Jews dare, even in the most sensitive way, to criticize policies of the Israeli government, or to come out against anti-Muslim racism. Proof of this may be seen in the Jewish community’s support for the 10 officials who have been nominated to fight anti-Semitism in the country: All 10 are non-Jews, and all 10 support the position that strong criticism of the occupation and of Israel’s religiously discriminatory character should be seen as an expression of anti-Semitism.

    Not surprisingly, the extreme right-wing “Alternative for Germany” is the party that, by way of parliamentary questions, has been leading the campaign against the museum for the last year, as reported sympathetically by the house newspaper of Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the Israeli Embassy’s contention that it is not in contact with members of the party, its opposition to museum activities is based on a fervent rejection of democratic discourse, and its absolute conflation of the interests of the Israeli government with those of world Jewry. Already in the past year, as part of an exhibition on Jerusalem and its significance to three religions, the museum was forced to cancel a lecture on the status of LGBTQ Palestinians in East Jerusalem because the Israeli ambassador suspected that the speaker, God help us, supports BDS.

    Accusations of anti-Semitism, which carry enormous weight in Germany, lead more and more to censorship and self-censorship. Cultural institutions in Germany, which are supposed to provide a stage for critical positions, are threatened financially and politically if they even dare to host artists and musicians who at any time expressed support for non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation. This policy of fear-mongering that Miri Regev leads in Israel is imported by supporters of Israel to Germany. Only in Germany, because of its great sensitivity to anti-Semitism and deep identification with Israel in the wake of the Shoah, are there politicians not only on the right but on the left as well who vehemently endorse the silencing of criticism of Israel.

    The extreme right’s ascendance to power in places across the globe is based in great part on the constriction of democratic space and the intimidation and sanctioning of anyone who dares to oppose suppressive nationalist policies. The efforts of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with Jewish and right-wing organizations around the world, to defame and slander anyone who refuses to join their campaign of incitement against human rights activists, has now led to the firing of an esteemed scholar, strictly because he chose to defend the rights of Israeli academics to oppose the designation of the BDS movement as an anti-Semitic movement.

    Against this paranoid impulse toward purges, which to a great extent recalls the years of McCarthyism in the United States, one must take a clear public stance. If the firing of Peter Schäfer has a moral, it is that no matter how much approbation a person has received for his opposition to anti-Semitism and support for Israel, opposition to Netanyahu’s anti-democratic policies is enough to turn him into an enemy of the people and the nation.

    If the German and Israeli governments are interested in the Jewish Museum representing only their narrow political interests and denying its staff members freedom of expression, I am not interested in having a part in it. So despite my deep respect for the museum’s staff, I proffered my resignation. I and many other Jews of my generation do not want or need a kashrut certificate from the State of Israel or the heads of the institutional Jewish community, nor, certainly, from the German government. Judaism, as a pluralistic and democratic world culture, will continue to exist after the racist, ultra-nationalist politics that has taken over many communal institutions passes from the world.

    The writer has lived in Berlin for 13 years and works as a tour guide.

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    (2) https://seenthis.net/messages/788398

  • America’s Economic Blockades and International Law by Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate
    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-reliance-on-economic-sanctions-by-jeffrey-d-sachs-2019-06

    Despite the intense economic pain – indeed calamity – inflicted on North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, none of them has succumbed to US demands. In this sense, sanctions have proved to be no more successful than military intervention. North Korea has maintained, and most likely is expanding, its nuclear arsenal. The Iranian regime rejects US demands concerning its missile program and foreign policies. And Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro remains in power.

    [...]

    Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with devastating consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping.1

    #etats-unis (hors la) #loi

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

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

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

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

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

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

    [...]

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

    [...]

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

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

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

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

    #sionisme #etats-unis

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  • Trump’s Iran policy is deepening mistrust in North Korea, experts say
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/trump-s-iran-policy-deepening-mistrust-north-korea-experts-say-n1021901

    “From the North Koreans’ perspective, the Americans just can’t be trusted — full stop,” said Tom Plant, director of the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank.

    “It is so bizarre to say this, but there’s just not the stability of policy in Washington that there is in Pyongyang,” Plant said. “They will always be worrying about how certain they could be that a deal made with one president would be honored by another.”

    #etats-unis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Footnotes:

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

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

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

    [4] ibid, p.389.

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

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

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

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

    #Chine #4689

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

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

  • Beyond the Hype of Lab-Grown Diamonds
    https://earther.gizmodo.com/beyond-the-hype-of-lab-grown-diamonds-1834890351

    Billions of years ago when the world was still young, treasure began forming deep underground. As the edges of Earth’s tectonic plates plunged down into the upper mantle, bits of carbon, some likely hailing from long-dead life forms were melted and compressed into rigid lattices. Over millions of years, those lattices grew into the most durable, dazzling gems the planet had ever cooked up. And every so often, for reasons scientists still don’t fully understand, an eruption would send a stash of these stones rocketing to the surface inside a bubbly magma known as kimberlite.

    There, the diamonds would remain, nestled in the kimberlite volcanoes that delivered them from their fiery home, until humans evolved, learned of their existence, and began to dig them up.

    The epic origin of Earth’s diamonds has helped fuel a powerful marketing mythology around them: that they are objects of otherworldly strength and beauty; fitting symbols of eternal love. But while “diamonds are forever” may be the catchiest advertising slogan ever to bear some geologic truth, the supply of these stones in the Earth’s crust, in places we can readily reach them, is far from everlasting. And the scars we’ve inflicted on the land and ourselves in order to mine diamonds has cast a shadow that still lingers over the industry.

    Some diamond seekers, however, say we don’t need to scour the Earth any longer, because science now offers an alternative: diamonds grown in labs. These gems aren’t simulants or synthetic substitutes; they are optically, chemically, and physically identical to their Earth-mined counterparts. They’re also cheaper, and in theory, limitless. The arrival of lab-grown diamonds has rocked the jewelry world to its core and prompted fierce pushback from diamond miners. Claims abound on both sides.

    Growers often say that their diamonds are sustainable and ethical; miners and their industry allies counter that only gems plucked from the Earth can be considered “real” or “precious.” Some of these assertions are subjective, others are supported only by sparse, self-reported, or industry-backed data. But that’s not stopping everyone from making them.

    This is a fight over image, and when it comes to diamonds, image is everything.
    A variety of cut, polished Ada Diamonds created in a lab, including smaller melee stones and large center stones. 22.94 carats total. (2.60 ct. pear, 2.01 ct. asscher, 2.23 ct. cushion, 3.01 ct. radiant, 1.74 ct. princess, 2.11 ct. emerald, 3.11 ct. heart, 3.00 ct. oval, 3.13 ct. round.)
    Image: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    Same, but different

    The dream of lab-grown diamond dates back over a century. In 1911, science fiction author H.G. Wells described what would essentially become one of the key methods for making diamond—recreating the conditions inside Earth’s mantle on its surface—in his short story The Diamond Maker. As the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) notes, there were a handful of dubious attempts to create diamonds in labs in the late 19th and early 20th century, but the first commercial diamond production wouldn’t emerge until the mid-1950s, when scientists with General Electric worked out a method for creating small, brown stones. Others, including De Beers, soon developed their own methods for synthesizing the gems, and use of the lab-created diamond in industrial applications, from cutting tools to high power electronics, took off.

    According to the GIA’s James Shigley, the first experimental production of gem-quality diamond occurred in 1970. Yet by the early 2000s, gem-quality stones were still small, and often tinted yellow with impurities. It was only in the last five or so years that methods for growing diamonds advanced to the point that producers began churning out large, colorless stones consistently. That’s when the jewelry sector began to take a real interest.

    Today, that sector is taking off. The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA), a trade group formed in 2016 by a dozen lab diamond growers and sellers, now has about 50 members, according to IGDA secretary general Dick Garard. When the IGDA first formed, lab-grown diamonds were estimated to represent about 1 percent of a $14 billion rough diamond market. This year, industry analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates they account for 2-3 percent of the market.

    He expects that share will only continue to grow as factories in China that already produce millions of carats a year for industrial purposes start to see an opportunity in jewelry.
    “I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not.”

    “This year some [factories] will come up from 100,000 gem-quality diamonds to one to two million,” Zimnisky said. “They already have the infrastructure and equipment in place” and are in the process of upgrading it. (About 150 million carats of diamonds were mined last year, according to a global analysis of the industry conducted by Bain & Company.)

    Production ramp-up aside, 2018 saw some other major developments across the industry. In the summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reversed decades of guidance when it expanded the definition of a diamond to include those created in labs and dropped ‘synthetic’ as a recommended descriptor for lab-grown stones. The decision came on the heels of the world’s top diamond producer, De Beers, announcing the launch of its own lab-grown diamond line, Lightbox, after having once vowed never to sell man-made stones as jewelry.

    “I would say shock,” Lightbox Chief Marketing Officer Sally Morrison told Earther when asked how the jewelry world responded to the company’s launch.

    While the majority of lab-grown diamonds on the market today are what’s known as melee (less than 0.18 carats), the tech for producing the biggest, most dazzling diamonds continues to improve. In 2016, lab-grown diamond company MiaDonna announced its partners had grown a 6.28 carat gem-quality diamond, claimed to be the largest created in the U.S. to that point. In 2017, a lab in Augsburg University, Germany that grows diamonds for industrial and scientific research applications produced what is thought to be the largest lab-grown diamond ever—a 155 carat behemoth that stretches nearly 4 inches across. Not gem quality, perhaps, but still impressive.

    “If you compare it with the Queen’s diamond, hers is four times heavier, it’s clearer” physicist Matthias Schreck, who leads the group that grew that beast of a jewel, told me. “But in area, our diamond is bigger. We were very proud of this.”

    Diamonds can be created in one of two ways: Similar to how they form inside the Earth, or similar to how scientists speculate they might form in outer space.

    The older, Earth-inspired method is known as “high temperature high pressure” (HPHT), and that’s exactly what it sounds like. A carbon source, like graphite, is placed in a giant, mechanical press where, in the presence of a catalyst, it’s subjected to temperatures of around 1,600 degrees Celsius and pressures of 5-6 Gigapascals in order to form diamond. (If you’re curious what that sort of pressure feels like, the GIA describes it as similar to the force exerted if you tried to balance a commercial jet on your fingertip.)

    The newer method, called chemical vapor deposition (CVD), is more akin to how diamonds might form in interstellar gas clouds (for which we have indirect, spectroscopic evidence, according to Shigley). A hydrocarbon gas, like methane, is pumped into a low-pressure reactor vessel alongside hydrogen. While maintaining near-vacuum conditions, the gases are heated very hot—typically 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius, according to Lightbox CEO Steve Coe—causing carbon atoms to break free of their molecular bonds. Under the right conditions, those liberated bits of carbon will settle out onto a substrate—typically a flat, square plate of a synthetic diamond produced with the HPHT method—forming layer upon layer of diamond.

    “It’s like snow falling on a table on your back porch,” Jason Payne, the founder and CEO of lab-grown diamond jewelry company Ada Diamonds, told me.

    Scientists have been forging gem-quality diamonds with HPHT for longer, but today, CVD has become the method of choice for those selling larger bridal stones. That’s in part because it’s easier to control impurities and make diamonds with very high clarity, according to Coe. Still, each method has its advantages—Payne said that HPHT is faster and the diamonds typically have better color (which is to say, less of it)—and some companies, like Ada, purchase stones grown in both ways.

    However they’re made, lab-grown diamonds have the same exceptional hardness, stiffness, and thermal conductivity as their Earth-mined counterparts. Cut, they can dazzle with the same brilliance and fire—a technical term to describe how well the diamond scatters light like a prism. The GIA even grades them according to the same 4Cs—cut, clarity, color, and carat—that gemologists use to assess diamonds formed in the Earth, although it uses a slightly different terminology to report the color and clarity grades for lab-grown stones.

    They’re so similar, in fact, that lab-grown diamond entering the larger diamond supply without any disclosures has become a major concern across the jewelry industry, particularly when it comes to melee stones from Asia. It’s something major retailers are now investing thousands of dollars in sophisticated detection equipment to suss out by searching for minute differences in, say, their crystal shape or for impurities like nitrogen (much less common in lab-grown diamond, according to Shigley).

    Those differences may be a lifeline for retailers hoping to weed out lab-grown diamonds, but for companies focused on them, they can become another selling point. The lack of nitrogen in diamonds produced with the CVD method, for instance, gives them an exceptional chemical purity that allows them to be classified as type IIa; a rare and coveted breed that accounts for just 2 percent of those found in nature. Meanwhile, the ability to control everything about the growth process allows companies like Lightbox to adjust the formula and produce incredibly rare blue and pink diamonds as part of their standard product line. (In fact, these colored gemstones have made up over half of the company’s sales since launch, according to Coe.)

    And while lab-grown diamonds boast the same sparkle as their Earthly counterparts, they do so at a significant discount. Zimnisky said that today, your typical one carat, medium quality diamond grown in a lab will sell for about $3,600, compared with $6,100 for its Earth-mined counterpart—a discount of about 40 percent. Two years ago, that discount was only 18 percent. And while the price drop has “slightly tapered off” as Zimnisky put it, he expects it will fall further thanks in part to the aforementioned ramp up in Chinese production, as well as technological improvements. (The market is also shifting in response to Lightbox, which De Beers is using to position lab-grown diamonds as mass produced items for fashion jewelry, and which is selling its stones, ungraded, at the controversial low price of $800 per carat—a discount of nearly 90 percent.)

    Zimnisky said that if the price falls too fast, it could devalue lab-grown diamonds in the eyes of consumers. But for now, at least, paying less seems to be a selling point. A 2018 consumer research survey by MVI Marketing found that most of those polled would choose a larger lab-grown diamond over a smaller mined diamond of the same price.

    “The thing [consumers] seem most compelled by is the ability to trade up in size and quality at the same price,” Garard of IGDA said.

    Still, for buyers and sellers alike, price is only part of the story. Many in the lab-grown diamond world market their product as an ethical or eco-friendly alternative to mined diamonds.

    But those sales pitches aren’t without controversy.
    A variety of lab-grown diamond products arrayed on a desk at Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. The stone in the upper left gets its blue color from boron. Diamonds tinted yellow (top center) usually get their color from small amounts of nitrogen.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    Dazzling promises

    As Anna-Mieke Anderson tells it, she didn’t enter the diamond world to become a corporate tycoon. She did it to try and fix a mistake.

    In 1999, Anderson purchased herself a diamond. Some years later, in 2005, her father asked her where it came from. Nonplussed, she told him it came from the jewelry store. But that wasn’t what he was asking: He wanted to know where it really came from.

    “I actually had no idea,” Anderson told Earther. “That led me to do a mountain of research.”

    That research eventually led Anderson to conclude that she had likely bought a diamond mined under horrific conditions. She couldn’t be sure, because the certificate of purchase included no place of origin. But around the time of her purchase, civil wars funded by diamond mining were raging across Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, fueling “widespread devastation” as Global Witness put it in 2006. At the height of the diamond wars in the late ‘90s, the watchdog group estimates that as many as 15 percent of diamonds entering the market were conflict diamonds. Even those that weren’t actively fueling a war were often being mined in dirty, hazardous conditions; sometimes by children.

    “I couldn’t believe I’d bought into this,” Anderson said.

    To try and set things right, Anderson began sponsoring a boy living in a Liberian community impacted by the blood diamond trade. The experience was so eye-opening, she says, that she eventually felt compelled to sponsor more children. Selling conflict-free jewelry seemed like a fitting way to raise money to do so, but after a great deal more research, Anderson decided she couldn’t in good faith consider any diamond pulled from the Earth to be truly conflict-free in either the humanitarian or environmental sense. While diamond miners were, by the early 2000s, getting their gems certified “conflict free” according to the UN-backed Kimberley Process, the certification scheme’s definition of a conflict diamond—one sold by rebel groups to finance armed conflicts against governments—felt far too narrow.

    “That [conflict definition] eliminates anything to do with the environment, or eliminates a child mining it, or someone who was a slave, or beaten, or raped,” Anderson said.

    And so she started looking into science, and in 2007, launching MiaDonna as one of the world’s first lab-grown diamond jewelry companies. The business has been activism-oriented from the get-go, with at least five percent of its annual earnings—and more than 20 percent for the last three years—going into The Greener Diamond, Anderson’s charity foundation which has funded a wide range of projects, from training former child soldiers in Sierra Leone to grow food to sponsoring kids orphaned by the West African Ebola outbreak.

    MiaDonna isn’t the only company that positions itself as an ethical alternative to the traditional diamond industry. Brilliant Earth, which sells what it says are carefully-sourced mined and lab-created diamonds, also donates a small portion of its profits to supporting mining communities. Other lab-grown diamond companies market themselves as “ethical,” “conflict-free,” or “world positive.” Payne of Ada Diamonds sees, in lab-grown diamonds, not just shiny baubles, but a potential to improve medicine, clean up pollution, and advance society in countless other ways—and he thinks the growing interest in lab-grown diamond jewelry will help propel us toward that future.

    Others, however, say black-and-white characterizations when it comes to social impact of mined diamonds versus lab-grown stones are unfair. “I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not,” Estelle Levin-Nally, founder and CEO of Levin Sources, which advocates for better governance in the mining sector, told Earther. “I think it’s always about your politics. And ethics are subjective.”

    Saleem Ali, an environmental researcher at the University of Delaware who serves on the board of the Diamonds and Development Initiative, agrees. He says the mining industry has, on the whole, worked hard to turn itself around since the height of the diamond wars and that governance is “much better today” than it used to be. Human rights watchdog Global Witness also says that “significant progress” has been made to curb the conflict diamond trade, although as Alice Harle, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness told Earther via email, diamonds do still fuel conflict, particularly in the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe.

    Most industry observers seems to agree that the Kimberley Process is outdated and inadequate, and that more work is needed to stamp out other abuses, including child labor and forced labor, in the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector. Today, large-scale mining operations don’t tend to see these kinds of problems, according to Julianne Kippenberg, associate director for children’s rights at Human Rights Watch, but she notes that there may be other community impacts surrounding land rights and forced resettlement.

    The flip side, Ali and Levin-Nally say, is that well-regulated mining operations can be an important source of economic development and livelihood. Ali cites Botswana and Russia as prime examples of places where large-scale mining operations have become “major contributors to the economy.” Dmitry Amelkin, head of strategic projects and analytics for Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa, echoed that sentiment in an email to Earther, noting that diamonds transformed Botswana “from one of the poorest [countries] in the world to a middle-income country” with revenues from mining representing almost a third of its GDP.

    In May, a report commissioned by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), a trade organization representing the world’s largest diamond mining companies, estimated that worldwide, its members generate nearly $4 billion in direct revenue for employees and contractors, along with another $6.8 billion in benefits via “local procurement of goods and services.” DPA CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr said this was a story diamond miners need to do a better job telling.

    “The industry has undergone such changes since the Blood Diamond movie,” he said, referring to the blockbuster 2006 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio that drew global attention to the problem of conflict diamonds. “And yet people’s’ perceptions haven’t evolved. I think the main reason is we have not had a voice, we haven’t communicated.”

    But conflict and human rights abuses aren’t the only issues that have plagued the diamond industry. There’s also the lasting environmental impact of the mining itself. In the case of large-scale commercial mines, this typically entails using heavy machinery and explosives to bore deep into those kimberlite tubes in search of precious stones.

    Some, like Maya Koplyova, a geologist at the University of British Columbia who studies diamonds and the rocks they’re found in, see this as far better than many other forms of mining. “The environmental footprint is the fThere’s also the question of just how representative the report’s energy consumption estimates for lab-grown diamonds are. While he wouldn’t offer a specific number, Coe said that De Beers’ Group diamond manufacturer Element Six—arguably the most advanced laboratory-grown diamond company in the world—has “substantially lower” per carat energy requirements than the headline figures found inside the new report. When asked why this was not included, Rick Lord, ESG analyst at Trucost, the S&P global group that conducted the analysis, said it chose to focus on energy estimates in the public record, but that after private consultation with Element Six it did not believe their data would “materially alter” the emissions estimates in the study.

    Finally, it’s important to consider the source of the carbon emissions. While the new report states that about 40 percent of the emissions associated with mining a diamond come from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment, emissions associated with growing a diamond come mainly from electric power. Today, about 68 percent of lab-grown diamonds hail from China, Singapore, and India combined according to Zimnisky, where the power is drawn from largely fossil fuel-powered grids. But there is, at least, an opportunity to switch to renewables and drive that carbon footprint way down.
    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption.”

    And some companies do seem to be trying to do that. Anderson of MiaDonna says the company only sources its diamonds from facilities in the U.S., and that it’s increasingly trying to work with producers that use renewable energy. Lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry grows its stones inside plasma reactors running “as hot as the outer layer of the sun,” per its website, and while it wouldn’t offer any specific numbers, that presumably uses more energy than your typical operation running at lower temperatures. However, company spokesperson Ye-Hui Goldenson said its Washington State ‘megacarat factory’ was cited near a well-maintained hydropower source so that the diamonds could be produced with renewable energy. The company offsets other fossil fuel-driven parts of its operation by purchasing carbon credits.

    Lightbox’s diamonds currently come from Element Six’s UK-based facilities. The company is, however, building a $94-million facility near Portland, Oregon, that’s expected to come online by 2020. Coe said he estimates about 45 percent of its power will come from renewable sources.

    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption,” Coe said. “That’s something we’re focused on in Lightbox.”

    In spite of that, Lightbox is somewhat notable among lab-grown diamond jewelry brands in that, in the words of Morrison, it is “not claiming this to be an eco-friendly product.”

    “While it is true that we don’t dig holes in the ground, the energy consumption is not insignificant,” Morrison told Earther. “And I think we felt very uncomfortable promoting on that.”
    Various diamonds created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    The real real

    The fight over how lab-grown diamonds can and should market themselves is still heating up.

    On March 26, the FTC sent letters to eight lab-grown and diamond simulant companies warning them against making unsubstantiated assertions about the environmental benefits of their products—its first real enforcement action after updating its jewelry guides last year. The letters, first obtained by JCK news director Rob Bates under a Freedom of Information Act request, also warned companies that their advertising could falsely imply the products are mined diamonds, illustrating that, even though the agency now says a lab-grown diamond is a diamond, the specific origin remains critically important. A letter to Diamond Foundry, for instance, notes that the company has at times advertised its stones as “above-ground real” without the qualification of “laboratory-made.” It’s easy to see how a consumer might miss the implication.

    But in a sense, that’s what all of this is: A fight over what’s real.
    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in. They are a type of diamond.”

    Another letter, sent to FTC attorney Reenah Kim by the nonprofit trade organization Jewelers Vigilance Committee on April 2, makes it clear that many in the industry still believe that’s a term that should be reserved exclusively for gems formed inside the Earth. The letter, obtained by Earther under FOIA, urges the agency to continue restricting the use of the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” and “semi-precious” to Earth-mined diamonds and gemstones. Even the use of such terms in conjunction with “laboratory grown,” the letter argues, “will create even more confusion in an already confused and evolving marketplace.”

    JVC President Tiffany Stevens told Earther that the letter was a response to a footnote in an explanatory document about the FTC’s recent jewelry guide changes, which suggested the agency was considering removing a clause about real, precious, natural and genuine only being acceptable modifiers for gems mined from the Earth.

    “We felt that given the current commercial environment, that we didn’t think it was a good time to take that next step,” Stevens told Earther. As Stevens put it, the changes the FTC recently made, including expanding the definition of diamond and tweaking the descriptors companies can use to label laboratory-grown diamonds as such, have already been “wildly misinterpreted” by some lab-grown diamond sellers that are no longer making the “necessary disclosures.”

    Asked whether the JVC thinks lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, Stevens demurred.

    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in,” she said. “They are a type of diamond.”

    Change is afoot in the diamond world. Mined diamond production may have already peaked, according to the 2018 Bain & Company report. Lab diamonds are here to stay, although where they’re going isn’t entirely clear. Zimnisky expects that in a few years—as Lightbox’s new facility comes online and mass production of lab diamonds continues to ramp up overseas—the price industry-wide will fall to about 80 percent less than a mined diamond. At that point, he wonders whether lab-grown diamonds will start to lose their sparkle.

    Payne isn’t too worried about a price slide, which he says is happening across the diamond industry and which he expects will be “linear, not exponential” on the lab-grown side. He points out that lab-grown diamond market is still limited by supply, and that the largest lab-grown gems remain quite rare. Payne and Zimnisky both see the lab-grown diamond market bifurcating into cheaper, mass-produced gems and premium-quality stones sold by those that can maintain a strong brand. A sense that they’re selling something authentic and, well, real.

    “So much has to do with consumer psychology,” Zimnisky said.

    Some will only ever see diamonds as authentic if they formed inside the Earth. They’re drawn, as Kathryn Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth put it, to “the history and romanticism” of diamonds; to a feeling that’s sparked by holding a piece of our ancient world. To an essence more than a function.

    Others, like Anderson, see lab-grown diamonds as the natural (to use a loaded word) evolution of diamond. “We’re actually running out of [mined] diamonds,” she said. “There is an end in sight.” Payne agreed, describing what he sees as a “looming death spiral” for diamond mining.

    Mined diamonds will never go away. We’ve been digging them up since antiquity, and they never seem to lose their sparkle. But most major mines are being exhausted. And with technology making it easier to grow diamonds just as they are getting more difficult to extract from the Earth, the lab-grown diamond industry’s grandstanding about its future doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable.

    There’s a reason why, as Payne said, “the mining industry as a whole is still quite scared of this product.” ootprint of digging the hole in the ground and crushing [the rock],” Koplyova said, noting that there’s no need to add strong acids or heavy metals like arsenic (used in gold mining) to liberate the gems.

    Still, those holes can be enormous. The Mir Mine, a now-abandoned open pit mine in Eastern Siberia, is so large—reportedly stretching 3,900 feet across and 1,700 feet deep—that the Russian government has declared it a no-fly zone owing to the pit’s ability to create dangerous air currents. It’s visible from space.

    While companies will often rehabilitate other land to offset the impact of mines, kimberlite mining itself typically leaves “a permanent dent in the earth’s surface,” as a 2014 report by market research company Frost & Sullivan put it.

    “It’s a huge impact as far as I’m concerned,” said Kevin Krajick, senior editor for science news at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who wrote a book on the discovery of diamonds in far northern Canada. Krajick noted that in remote mines, like those of the far north, it’s not just the physical hole to consider, but all the development required to reach a previously-untouched area, including roads and airstrips, roaring jets and diesel-powered trucks.

    Diamonds grown in factories clearly have a smaller physical footprint. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, they also use less water and create less waste. It’s for these reasons that Ali thinks diamond mining “will never be able to compete” with lab-grown diamonds from an environmental perspective.

    “The mining industry should not even by trying to do that,” he said.

    Of course, this is capitalism, so try to compete is exactly what the DPA is now doing. That same recent report that touted the mining industry’s economic benefits also asserts that mined diamonds have a carbon footprint three times lower than that of lab-grown diamonds, on average. The numbers behind that conclusion, however, don’t tell the full story.

    Growing diamonds does take considerable energy. The exact amount can vary greatly, however, depending on the specific nature of the growth process. These are details manufacturers are typically loathe to disclose, but Payne of Ada Diamonds says he estimates the most efficient players in the game today use about 250 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity per cut, polished carat of diamond; roughly what a U.S. household consumes in 9 days. Other estimates run higher. Citing unnamed sources, industry publication JCK Online reported that a modern HPHT run can use up to 700 kWh per carat, while CVD production can clock in north of 1,000 kWh per carat.

    Pulling these and several other public-record estimates, along with information on where in the world today’s lab diamonds are being grown and the energy mix powering the producer nations’ electric grids, the DPA-commissioned study estimated that your typical lab-grown diamond results in some 511 kg of carbon emissions per cut, polished carat. Using information provided by mining companies on fuel and electricity consumption, along with other greenhouse gas sources on the mine site, it found that the average mined carat was responsible for just 160 kg of carbon emissions.

    One limitation here is that the carbon footprint estimate for mining focused only on diamond production, not the years of work entailed in developing a mine. As Ali noted, developing a mine can take a lot of energy, particularly for those sited in remote locales where equipment needs to be hauled long distances by trucks or aircraft.

    There’s also the question of just how representative the report’s energy consumption estimates for lab-grown diamonds are. While he wouldn’t offer a specific number, Coe said that De Beers’ Group diamond manufacturer Element Six—arguably the most advanced laboratory-grown diamond company in the world—has “substantially lower” per carat energy requirements than the headline figures found inside the new report. When asked why this was not included, Rick Lord, ESG analyst at Trucost, the S&P global group that conducted the analysis, said it chose to focus on energy estimates in the public record, but that after private consultation with Element Six it did not believe their data would “materially alter” the emissions estimates in the study.

    Finally, it’s important to consider the source of the carbon emissions. While the new report states that about 40 percent of the emissions associated with mining a diamond come from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment, emissions associated with growing a diamond come mainly from electric power. Today, about 68 percent of lab-grown diamonds hail from China, Singapore, and India combined according to Zimnisky, where the power is drawn from largely fossil fuel-powered grids. But there is, at least, an opportunity to switch to renewables and drive that carbon footprint way down.
    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption.”

    And some companies do seem to be trying to do that. Anderson of MiaDonna says the company only sources its diamonds from facilities in the U.S., and that it’s increasingly trying to work with producers that use renewable energy. Lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry grows its stones inside plasma reactors running “as hot as the outer layer of the sun,” per its website, and while it wouldn’t offer any specific numbers, that presumably uses more energy than your typical operation running at lower temperatures. However, company spokesperson Ye-Hui Goldenson said its Washington State ‘megacarat factory’ was cited near a well-maintained hydropower source so that the diamonds could be produced with renewable energy. The company offsets other fossil fuel-driven parts of its operation by purchasing carbon credits.

    Lightbox’s diamonds currently come from Element Six’s UK-based facilities. The company is, however, building a $94-million facility near Portland, Oregon, that’s expected to come online by 2020. Coe said he estimates about 45 percent of its power will come from renewable sources.

    “The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption,” Coe said. “That’s something we’re focused on in Lightbox.”

    In spite of that, Lightbox is somewhat notable among lab-grown diamond jewelry brands in that, in the words of Morrison, it is “not claiming this to be an eco-friendly product.”

    “While it is true that we don’t dig holes in the ground, the energy consumption is not insignificant,” Morrison told Earther. “And I think we felt very uncomfortable promoting on that.”
    Various diamonds created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan.
    Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther)
    The real real

    The fight over how lab-grown diamonds can and should market themselves is still heating up.

    On March 26, the FTC sent letters to eight lab-grown and diamond simulant companies warning them against making unsubstantiated assertions about the environmental benefits of their products—its first real enforcement action after updating its jewelry guides last year. The letters, first obtained by JCK news director Rob Bates under a Freedom of Information Act request, also warned companies that their advertising could falsely imply the products are mined diamonds, illustrating that, even though the agency now says a lab-grown diamond is a diamond, the specific origin remains critically important. A letter to Diamond Foundry, for instance, notes that the company has at times advertised its stones as “above-ground real” without the qualification of “laboratory-made.” It’s easy to see how a consumer might miss the implication.

    But in a sense, that’s what all of this is: A fight over what’s real.
    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in. They are a type of diamond.”

    Another letter, sent to FTC attorney Reenah Kim by the nonprofit trade organization Jewelers Vigilance Committee on April 2, makes it clear that many in the industry still believe that’s a term that should be reserved exclusively for gems formed inside the Earth. The letter, obtained by Earther under FOIA, urges the agency to continue restricting the use of the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” and “semi-precious” to Earth-mined diamonds and gemstones. Even the use of such terms in conjunction with “laboratory grown,” the letter argues, “will create even more confusion in an already confused and evolving marketplace.”

    JVC President Tiffany Stevens told Earther that the letter was a response to a footnote in an explanatory document about the FTC’s recent jewelry guide changes, which suggested the agency was considering removing a clause about real, precious, natural and genuine only being acceptable modifiers for gems mined from the Earth.

    “We felt that given the current commercial environment, that we didn’t think it was a good time to take that next step,” Stevens told Earther. As Stevens put it, the changes the FTC recently made, including expanding the definition of diamond and tweaking the descriptors companies can use to label laboratory-grown diamonds as such, have already been “wildly misinterpreted” by some lab-grown diamond sellers that are no longer making the “necessary disclosures.”

    Asked whether the JVC thinks lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, Stevens demurred.

    “It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in,” she said. “They are a type of diamond.”

    Change is afoot in the diamond world. Mined diamond production may have already peaked, according to the 2018 Bain & Company report. Lab diamonds are here to stay, although where they’re going isn’t entirely clear. Zimnisky expects that in a few years—as Lightbox’s new facility comes online and mass production of lab diamonds continues to ramp up overseas—the price industry-wide will fall to about 80 percent less than a mined diamond. At that point, he wonders whether lab-grown diamonds will start to lose their sparkle.

    Payne isn’t too worried about a price slide, which he says is happening across the diamond industry and which he expects will be “linear, not exponential” on the lab-grown side. He points out that lab-grown diamond market is still limited by supply, and that the largest lab-grown gems remain quite rare. Payne and Zimnisky both see the lab-grown diamond market bifurcating into cheaper, mass-produced gems and premium-quality stones sold by those that can maintain a strong brand. A sense that they’re selling something authentic and, well, real.

    “So much has to do with consumer psychology,” Zimnisky said.

    Some will only ever see diamonds as authentic if they formed inside the Earth. They’re drawn, as Kathryn Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth put it, to “the history and romanticism” of diamonds; to a feeling that’s sparked by holding a piece of our ancient world. To an essence more than a function.

    Others, like Anderson, see lab-grown diamonds as the natural (to use a loaded word) evolution of diamond. “We’re actually running out of [mined] diamonds,” she said. “There is an end in sight.” Payne agreed, describing what he sees as a “looming death spiral” for diamond mining.

    Mined diamonds will never go away. We’ve been digging them up since antiquity, and they never seem to lose their sparkle. But most major mines are being exhausted. And with technology making it easier to grow diamonds just as they are getting more difficult to extract from the Earth, the lab-grown diamond industry’s grandstanding about its future doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable.

    There’s a reason why, as Payne said, “the mining industry as a whole is still quite scared of this product.”

    #dimants #Afrique #technologie #capitalisme

  • Bahrain debacle marks crash of Trump team’s campaign to diss Palestinians into submission

    Kushner’s Peace for Prosperity includes Utopian projects funded by non-existent money as part of peace deal that won’t happen
    Chemi Shalev
    Jun 25, 2019 9:12 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bahrain-debacle-marks-crash-of-trump-team-s-campaign-to-dis-palest

    The unveiling of the U.S. administration’s long-awaited production of Peace for Prosperity, premiering in Bahrain on Tuesday, garnered mixed reviews, to say the least. Barak Ravid of Axios and Israel’s Channel 13 described it as “impressive, detailed and ambitious – perhaps overly ambitious.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer offered a slightly different take: “I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing,” he said.

    The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful “fruits of peace” that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.

    But the main problem with Peace for Prosperity isn’t its outlandishly unrealistic proposals – such as the $5 billion superhighway between the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel will never agree to; or its occasional condescending and Orientalist attitude towards Palestinian society - their great hummus could attract millions of tourists; or even its offer to manage and foster Palestinian institutions and civil society in a way that can be viewed either as implicit state-building or as imposing foreign control on a future Palestinian government.

    >> Read more: ’There is no purely economic solution to the Palestinian economy’s problems’ ■ Trump’s Bahrain conference - not what you imagined ■ Kushner’s deal holds some surprises, but it’s more vision than blueprint ■ The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan

    The Palestinians would have been suspicious in any case, even if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were President. They have always been wary of the term “economic peace”, especially when detached from the real nitty-gritty of resolving their dispute with Israel. Nonetheless, if the President was anyone other than Trump, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would have more or less emulated Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction: Somber nodding of the head, then a non-committal reaction to Peace for Prosperity, followed by effusive but general praise for our lord and savior Donald Trump. Israelis and Palestinians would have attended the Bahrain conference, while doing their best to suppress their inner guffaws.

    If it was anyone by Trump and his peace team - which often doubles as Netanyahu’s cheerleading squad – the Palestinians might have allowed themselves to believe that A. A comprehensive peace plan isn’t just a mirage and is indeed forthcoming. B. The deal won’t be tilted so far in favor of Israel that it will be declared stillborn on arrival and C. That it isn’t a ruse meant to cast Palestinians as congenital rejectionists and to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of “parts of the West Bank”, as Ambassador David Friedman put it when he pronounced Trump’s imperial edict conceding territory to Israel, which even Palestinian minimalists claim as their own, in advance of any actual talks.

    But because the plan bears Trump’s signature, it was received in most world capitals with shrugs, as yet another manifestation of the U.S. administration’s preposterous handling of foreign policy – see North Korea, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela et al. Israel, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to regurgitate the cliché about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
    Stay up to date: Sign up to our newsletter
    Email*

    For Palestinians and their supporters, however, Kushner’s bid was but the latest in the Trump team’s never-ending stream of slights, slanders and slaps in their collective faces. In Palestinian eyes, the economic bonanza isn’t a CBM – confidence building measure – but a con job and insult rolled into one. It dangles dollars in front of Palestinian noses, implying they can be bought, and it sets up a chain of events at the end of which Jason Greenblatt will inevitably accuse them on Twitter of being hysterical and dishonest while praising Netanyahu’s bold leadership and pioneering vision. They’ve been there, and done that.

    This has been the Trump approach from the outset: Uncontained admiration for Israel and its leader coupled with unhidden disdain for Palestinian leaders and contempt for their “unrealistic” dreams. Trump’s peace team swears by Israel’s security needs as if they were part of the bible or U.S. Constitution; the ongoing 52-year military occupation of millions of Palestinians, on the other hand, seems to have escaped their attention.

    For the first ten months of Trump’s tenure, the Palestinians put up with his administration’s unequivocal pledges of allegiance to Israel as well as the White House’s departure from past custom and continuing refusal to criticize any of its actions – not to mention the appointment of a peace team comprised exclusively of right-wing Netanyahu groupies, which Palestinians initially thought was surely a practical joke.

    Trump’s announcement in December 2017 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there was both game-changer and deal-breaker as far as the Palestinians were concerned. While Netanyahu and most of Israel were celebrating Donald the Daring and the long-awaited recognition of their eternal capital, Palestinians realized they were facing a President radically different from any of his predecessors - one willing to break the rules in Israel’s favor and to grant his bestie Bibi tangible victories, before, during and after elections - without asking for anything in return.

    The Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration ever since, embarrassing Friedman, Greenblatt, Kushner and ultimately Trump in the process. They, in response, have increasingly vented their anger and frustrations at the Palestinians, and not just in words and Tweets alone: The administration shut down the PLO’s office in Washington, declared Jerusalem “off the table” and indicated that the refugee issue should follow it, cut aid to UNRWA and is endeavoring to dismantle it altogether and slashed assistance to Palestinian humanitarian organizations.

    In March 2018, in a move strongly supported by Israel and vigorously endorsed by Evangelicals and other right wing supporters, Trump signed the Congressionally approved Taylor Force Act that prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to pay monthly stipends to the families of what the Act describes as “terrorists”. Palestinians, who, to many people’s regret, regard such terrorists as heroes and martyrs, noted that the passage of the Taylor Force Act embarrassed Israel and spurred it to legislate its own way to withholding Palestinian tax money for the very same reason.

    Throughout the process, Trump and his peace team have lectured the Palestinians as a teacher reprimands an obstinate child. The Palestinians need to face reality, to lower their expectations, to land back on earth, Kushner and colleagues insist. Not only will they never realize their dreams and aspirations, they should also forget their core demand for an independent state free of outside control and not confide inside Israeli-controlled gates. Israelis are worthy of such independence, the Palestinians are told, but you are not.

    Trump approach is a product, first and foremost, of his own inexperience, arrogance and unwillingness to learn anything from a past in which he wasn’t in charge. It is fed by anti-Palestinian prejudices prevalent in his peace team as well as his advisers and most of his political supporters. Trump and his underlings basically adhere to the arguably racist tenet encapsulated in the Israeli saying “The Arabs understand only force.” The more you pressure them, the greater the chance they will succumb.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.AFP

    At this point at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Bahrain, by any measure, is a humiliating bust. As Trump and his aides contemplate the reasons for their abject failure they are likely to blame stubborn Palestinians who don’t know what’s good for them, along with radical Muslims, perfidious Europeans, idiot liberals and all the other usual suspects.

    In a better world, they would take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and possibly have an epiphany. They can make an immediate adjustment that will cost them nothing but possibly achieve dramatic results. Instead of incessantly rebuking, reproaching, reprimanding, threatening and intimidating the Palestinians in a way that garners cheers from Christian messianics and Jewish zealots, they could try and treat them, as Aretha Franklin sang, with just a little respect. And perhaps, if it isn’t asking too much, take down their fawning for Netanyahu a notch or two.

    It might not be enough to reconcile irreconcilable differences or to make peace, but it will signal that Trump is finally getting serious about his claim to be the peacemaker the world has been waiting for. Alternatively, the Palestinians will continue to frustrate his designs and pray to Allah for his quick departure.

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

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

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

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

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

  • A new deepfake detection tool should keep world leaders safe—for now - MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613846/a-new-deepfake-detection-tool-should-keep-world-leaders-safefor-no

    An AI-produced video could show Donald Trump saying or doing something extremely outrageous and inflammatory. It would be only too believable, and in a worst-case scenario it might sway an election, trigger violence in the streets, or spark an international armed conflict.

    Fortunately, a new digital forensics technique promises to protect President Trump, other world leaders, and celebrities against such deepfakes—for the time being, at least. The new method uses machine learning to analyze a specific individual’s style of speech and movement, what the researchers call a “softbiometric signature.”

    The team then used machine learning to distinguish the head and face movements that characterize the real person. These subtle signals—the way Bernie Sanders nods while saying a particular word, perhaps, or the way Trump smirks after a comeback—are not currently modeled by deepfake algorithms.

    In experiments the technique was at least 92% accurate in spotting several variations of deepfakes, including face swaps and ones in which an impersonator is using a digital puppet. It was also able to deal with artifacts in the files that come from recompressing a video, which can confuse other detection techniques. The researchers plan to improve the technique by accounting for characteristics of a person’s speech as well. The research, which was presented at a computer vision conference in California this week, was funded by Google and DARPA, a research wing of the Pentagon. DARPA is funding a program to devise better detection techniques.

    The problem facing world leaders (and everyone else) is that it has become ridiculously simple to generate video forgeries with artificial intelligence. False news reports, bogus social-media accounts, and doctored videos have already undermined political news coverage and discourse. Politicians are especially concerned that fake media could be used to sow misinformation during the 2020 presidential election.

    Some tools for catching deepfake videos have been produced already, but forgers have quickly adapted. For example, for a while it was possible to spot a deepfake by tracking the speaker’s eye movements, which tended to be unnatural in deepfakes. Shortly after this method was identified, however, deepfake algorithms were tweaked to include better blinking.

    “We are witnessing an arms race between digital manipulations and the ability to detect those, and the advancements of AI-based algorithms are catalyzing both sides,” says Hao Li, a professor at the University of Southern California who helped develop the new technique. For this reason, his team has not yet released the code behind the method .

    Li says it will be particularly difficult for deepfake-makers to adapt to the new technique, but he concedes that they probably will eventually. “The next step to go around this form of detection would be to synthesize motions and behaviors based on prior observations of this particular person,” he says.

    Li also says that as deepfakes get easier to use and more powerful, it may become necessary for everyone to consider protecting themselves. “Celebrities and political figures have been the main targets so far,” he says. “But I would not be surprised if in a year or two, artificial humans that look indistinguishable from real ones can be synthesized by any end user.”

    #fake_news #Deepfake #Video #Détection

  • Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-killing-saudi-arabia.html

    But in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place” and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.

    “I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” the president told Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

    #usa #trump #cynisme

  • Russia Squeezing Embattled Venezuela for Tax-Free Gas Expansion - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-20/russia-squeezing-embattled-venezuela-for-tax-free-gas-expansion


    Photographer: Wil Riera/Bloomberg

    • Venezuela offers Rosneft path to amplify natural gas dominance
    • Expropriation clause gives Moscow-based company a hedge

    Russia’s state-controlled oil giant, Rosneft PJSC, is extracting concessions from crisis-ridden Venezuela to enter the offshore natural gas market on the cheap, a potential headache for the U.S. and Europe.

    An accord signed by both Russia and Venezuela earlier this month will give Rosneft tax breaks to produce and export gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields off Venezuela’s east coast. The document, which also includes a “fair market price” in the event of an expropriation, makes changes to a bilateral agreement reached in 2009, according to a filing by the Russian government.

    The deal underscores how Russia is both propping up and gaining from the Nicolas Maduro regime at a time when the U.S. is sanctioning Maduro and China has cut its support. Venezuelan gas could eventually offer Russia new entry points into both Asia and Europe.

    China is backing away in terms of its financial exposure,” Andrew Stanley, an associate fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a telephone interview. “Whereas the Russians, over the past few years, they’ve gone in the opposite direction, they’ve kind of doubled down and seen this as an opportunistic plan.

    Since 2014, Rosneft has loaned about $6.5 billion to Venezuela in exchange for oil, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, has been repaying the loans by delivering barrels to Rosneft, and had an outstanding debt of about $1.8 billion in the first quarter, according to a company presentation.

    As a result of the changes signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rosneft and its suppliers will be exempt from value added and import taxes to develop the two gas fields, which are near to where Exxon Mobil Corp. is rushing to extract oil in neighboring Guyana. The agreement was filed online by the Russian legal information website, which publishes orders by the president and applied international treaties.

  • The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/08/28/the-u-s-is-wrong-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-arab-world-is-suffering-for-it/?noredirect=on

    Texte intégral de l’article:
    By Jamal Khashoggi

    August 28, 2018
    During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.
    That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.
    The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world. The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In turn, this will mean the continuation of the causes behind revolution, extremism and refugees — all of which have affected the security of Europe and the rest of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis have changed the political mood in the West and brought the extreme right to prominence there.
    There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.
    Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, explains the problem in this way: “The Arab regimes’ war on the Brotherhood does not target the movement alone, but rather targets those who practice politics, who demand freedom and accountability, and all who have a popular base in society.” A quick look at the political degradation that has taken place in Egypt since the military’s return to power confirms what Ghabra says. President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s regime has cracked down on the Islamists and arrested some 60,000 of them. Now it has extended its heavy hand against both secular and military figures, even those who supported him in the coup. In today’s Egypt, political life is totally dead.
    It is wrong to dwell on political Islam, conservatism and identity issues when the choice is between having a free society tolerant of all viewpoints and having an oppressive regime. Five years of Sissi’s rule in Egypt makes this point clear.
    There are efforts here in Washington, encouraged by some Arab states that do not support freedom and democracy, to persuade Congress to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. If they succeed, the designation will weaken the fragile steps toward democracy and political reform that have already been curbed in the Arab world. It will also push backward the Arab countries that have made progress in creating a tolerant environment and allowing political participation by various components of society, including the Islamists.
    Islamists today participate in the parliaments of various Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Morocco. This has led to the emergence of Islamic democracy, such as the Ennahda movement in Tunisia, and the maturing of democratic transformation in the other countries.
    The coup in Egypt led to the loss of a precious opportunity for Egypt and the entire Arab world. If the democratic process had continued there, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political practices could have matured and become more inclusive, and the unimaginable peaceful rotation of power could have become a reality and a precedent to be followed.
    The Trump administration always says it wants to correct Obama’s mistakes. It should add his mishandling of Arab democracy to its list. Obama erred when he wasted the precious opportunity that could have changed the history of the Arab world, and when he caved to pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as from members of his own administration. They all missed the big picture and were governed by their intolerant hatred for any form of political Islam, a hatred that has destroyed Arabs’ choice for democracy and good governance.

    #démocratie #Islam #pays-arabes #Egypte #Sissi #Morsi #Révolutions-arabes #Trump #Etats-Unis #coup-d'état

  • Egypt’s Former President Morsi Dies in Court : State TV | News | teleSUR English
    https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Egypts-Former-PresidentMorsiDies-in-Court-State-TV-20190617-0010.htm

    Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi died after fainting during a court hearing.

    Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has died in court, state television reported Monday.

    It said Morsi had fainted after a court session and died afterward. He was pronounced dead at 4:50 pm local time according to the country’s public prosecutor.

    “He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.

    “In front of Allah, my father and we shall unite,” wrote Ahmed, Morsi’s son on Facebook.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan paid tribute to Morsi saying, "May Allah rest our Morsi brother, our martyr’s soul in peace.”

    According to medical reports, there were no apparent injuries on his body.

    Morsi, who was democratically elected after the popular ouster of Hosni Mubarak, was toppled by the military led by coup leader and current President Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi in 2013 after protests against his rule.

    “We received with great sorrow the news of the sudden death of former president Dr. Mohamed Morsi. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and Egyptian people. We belong to God and to him we shall return,” Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani wrote on Twitter.

    The United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric offered condolences to his supporters and relatives.

    State television said Morsi, who was 67, was in court for a hearing on charges of espionage emanating from suspected contacts with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip that is under blockade by the current Egyptian government and Israel.

    He was facing at least six trials for politically motivated charges according to his supporters. The former president was also serving a 20-years prison sentence for allegedly killing protesters in 2012.

    Morsi was suffering from various health issues including diabetes and liver and kidney disease. During his imprisonment, he suffered from medical neglect worsened by poor prison conditions.

    Mohammed Sudan, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that Morsi’s death was "premeditated murder” by not allowing him adequate health care.

    "He has been placed behind [a] glass cage [during trials]. No one can hear him or know what is happening to him. He hasn’t received any visits for months or nearly a year. He complained before that he doesn’t get his medicine. This is premeditated murder. This is a slow death,” Sudan said.

    Morsi was allowed 3 short visits in 6 years. One in November 2013 after being forcibly disappeared for 4 months, and another in June 2017 when only his wife and daughter were allowed, and the third in September 2018 with security official recording the whole conversation.
    — Abdelrahman Ayyash (@3yyash) June 17, 2019

    #Égypte #islamisme #prison

  • South Korea region seeks to tag Japanese firms as ’war criminals’ - Nikkei Asian Review
    https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/South-Korea-region-seeks-to-tag-Japanese-firms-as-war-criminals


    Il faut apprendre le coréen si on veut appendre des choses sur la participation des entreprises japonaises aux crimes de guerre. Le web de langue anglaise ne contient guère de documents, on a l’impression qu’un énorme balai nippon soit passé pour mettre à la poubelle chaque information nuisible à l’image de marque de son propriétaire.

    SEOUL — South Korea’s largest province is considering whether to stigmatize nearly 300 Japanese companies over their purported actions during World War II, by imposing an ordinance that requires schools to put alert labels on these firms’ products in their schools.

    Twenty-seven members of the Gyeonggi Province council submitted the bill last week in an attempt to give students the “right understanding on history.” If passed, schools will have to place on the items stickers that say: “This product is made by a Japanese war criminal company.”

    The move is likely further deepen a diplomatic spat between Seoul and Tokyo, which are at loggerheads over territorial issues and the legacy of Japan’s 35-year colonization of the Korean Peninsula (1910-1945).

    The list of 299 companies includes Nikon, Panasonic and Yamaha. The rule would apply to items such as projectors, camcorders, cameras and copy machines with a price tag of 200,000 won ($190) or more. Most of the companies on the list do not commonly supply products to schools — they include Tokyo Gas, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

    Both Nikon and Panasonic declined to comment for this story.
    The proposed sticker says: “This product is made by a Japanese war criminal company.” The image was captured from the Gyeonggi Provincial Council website. © Kyodo

    “Consumers have a responsibility to remember Japanese companies committed war crimes, and that they have not apologized [for their past wrongdoings],” Council member Hwang Dae-ho said in a statement. “It is a part of history education to help students remember clearly about war-crime companies who do not take social responsibility.”

    The sensitive historical issues were reopened last October when the South Korean Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to pay reparations to Koreans who were forced to work in Japan during the period of Japanese colonial rule. This was a reversal of a long-standing diplomatic understanding that reparations issues were settled in a 1965 accord establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

    The neighbors have also clashed over Seoul’s decision to disband a fund for wartime “comfort women,” which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former South Korean President Park Geun-hye set up in 2016. The countries also dispute the sovereignty of islands in the Sea of Japan, and in December a South Korean warship locked fire-control radar onto a Japanese patrol plane.

    Earlier this month, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said tariffs were among measures Japan could take against South Korea should the dispute worsen. He also said steps such as halting remittances or stopping visa issuance could be taken.

    But the head of Gyeonggi Province’s education office said he was concerned about the negative impact the ordinance could have on relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

    “The [central] government should make a decision first because it can hugely affect diplomacy between South Korea and Japan,” Lee Jae-jung said in a news conference. “I think it is natural that students study on this by themselves rather than making it a rule.”

    Gyeonggi province is located in the northwest of the country, and surrounds the capital, Seoul. It has a population of more than 12 million. The council is dominated by President Moon Jae-in’s ruling Democratic Party, with its members accounting for 135 members of the 142 seats.

    #Japon #Corée #censure

  • #Fearless_Cities’ Movements Plot Common Path in Serbia

    ‘Municipalist’ movements from all over Europe met in the Serbian capital last weekend to exchange ideas and plan a common strategy against deeply entrenched political structures in their home countries.

    Municipalist activists from all over Europe descended on Belgrade in Serbia at the weekend for the fifth Fearless Cities conference, an event that seeks to elevate the discussion about the role that grassroots city-based groups can play in countering entrenched political structures and the rise of the far right.

    The conference last weekend was hosted by activists from Serbia’s Let’s Not Drown Belgrade [#Ne_davimo_Beograd], which was formed in 2014 to oppose a massive development project on the riverbank of the Serbian capital.

    The global municipalist movement met for the first time at the Fearless Cities Summit in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2017, at the invitation of Barcelona En Comú, with the stated goal of “radicalizing democracy, feminizing politics and standing up to the far right”.

    In a world in which it says “fear and inequalities are being twisted into hate, the movement says it is “standing up to defend human rights, democracy and the common good”.

    “It is a good opportunity to see how both smaller and bigger European cities are doing, and how we are actually on the same page for how we want to introduce citizens to decision-making,” Radomir Lazovic, one of the founders of Ne Davimo Beograd, said.

    “We are against the privatization and commercialisation of public assets, and we want to develop cities that belong to us, as citizens,” he told BIRN.

    Besides opposing the Belgrade Waterfront, Ne Davimo Beograd has supported months of protests in the Serbian capital against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic.

    The “1of 5 million” movement launched a series of protests on December 8 last year, demanding that Vucic and his governing Serbian Progressive Party resign, as well as more media freedom and fair elections.

    At the event in Belgrade, one of the panels gathered individuals from all over the Balkans, including North Macedonia, Albania and Croatia, to discuss the rise of local movements in their respective countries, and whether these movements actually have the potential to affect real change.

    Many panelists emphasized that in their home cities, members of the public often didn’t even know that they had neighbourhood councils and could have a real say in matters affecting their cities and towns.

    “Connecting and expanding our knowledge on the practices we are interested in is important, especially at a time when we see that right-wing formations and political parties are much better organized, much better mobilized and much more present in the general media with a higher impact on the general public,” said Ivana Dragsic, from the Skopje-based organization, #Freedom_Square.

    How municipalist movements can help shape the future of European politics was the main topic of discussion in #Belgrade.

    “Municipalism” emphasises the importance of allowing cities and towns to make their own decisions on issues like affordable housing, sustainable environmental policies and transparency.

    “Political parties have a problem because they … don’t follow the real process of societies,” said Ana Méndez de Andés, a member of the organization Ahora Madrid.

    “Municipalism looks at other ways of organizing. It’s about understanding that there is a need to change institutions and open up radical democratic processes starting from a scale that is closer to the citizens,” she told BIRN.

    Speakers from groups such as OccupyGaguta in Moldova, The City is For All in Hungary and Organized Society S.O.S. in Romania also presented their views at the conference, highlighting issues like participatory democracy, evictions, and environmental campaigns.

    “I am here in the Balkans because, as a Romanian, I can learn more about the experience in Southeastern Europe than I can from Western countries,” said Adrian Dohotaru, an MP in Romania and a member of Organized Society S.O.S.

    “We have a similar experience of commodification and privatization of public goods, a neoliberal system and in order to reverse this, we need to provide better policies against corruption.”

    Environmental justice was addressed by several speakers, including members of Keep Upright, KOD, from Montenegro, and Zagreb je NAS! [Zagreb is us], from Croatia.

    Other organizations like Spasi Sofia [Save Sofia] focus on promoting good quality public transport and green public spaces in the Bulgarian capital.

    “When the local government in Sofia canceled a big tramway project for the city we said: ‘This is enough. We have to really vote for ourselves because we love the city and we have to do something about it,’” said Andrej Zografski, from Spasi Sofia.

    “We have to learn from each other because we don’t have any other allies than ourselves,” he added.

    Opportunities to learn about issues specific to Belgrade were also offered at the conference, including tours of the Belgrade Waterfront and of the Kaludjerica settlment, which is often referred to as an illegal settlement due to the number of buildings built there without permits.

    Workshops to learn about different issues facing people in Serbia, like LGBT rights and the construction of hydro-power plants against public will, were offered as well.

    One of the discussions at the Belgrade event addressed the feminization of politics within a global context.

    Speakers from Colombia, Spain, Serbia and Croatia discussed the challenges of women trying to navigate and change patriarchal political systems.

    “If we don’t have a feminization of politics, we’ll lose many voices that are important in politics and, unless we change this, it’ll be difficult for these people to participate on equal terms with others,” said Laura Roth, a member of Barcelona en Comú.

    “This means distributing responsibilities in different ways and trying to break traditional gender.

    https://balkaninsight.com/2019/06/14/fearless-cities-movements-plot-common-path-in-serbia
    #villes-refuge #Serbie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #solidarité #hospitalité #municipalisme

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les villes-refuge :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/759145

  • The “Drunk Pelosi” video shows that cheapfakes can be as damaging as deepfakes.
    https://slate.com/technology/2019/06/drunk-pelosi-deepfakes-cheapfakes-artificial-intelligence-disinformation.html

    The A.I.-generated “deepfake” video implicitly but unmistakably calls for Facebook to make a public statement on its content moderation polices. The platform has long been criticized for permitting the spread of disinformation and harassment, but it became particularly acute recently, when the company said that it would not remove the “Drunk Pelosi” video.

    On Thursday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing on A.I. and the potential threat of deepfake technology to Americans. Many technology researchers believe that deepfakes—realistic-looking content developed using machine learning algorithms—will herald a new era of information warfare. But as the “Drunk Pelosi” video shows, slight edits of original videos may be even more difficult to detect and debunk, creating a cascade of benefits for those willing to use these digital dirty tricks.

    The video, posted to a self-described news Facebook page with a fan base of about 35,000, depicted Nancy Pelosi slurring her words and sounding intoxicated. However, when compared with another video from the same event, it was clear even to nonexperts that it had been slowed down to produce the “drunken” effect. Call it a “cheapfake”—it was modified only very slightly. While the altered video garnered some significant views on Facebook, it was only after it was amplified by President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans on Twitter that it became a newsworthy issue. The heightened drama surrounding this video raises interesting questions not only about platform accountability but also about how to spot disinformation in the wild.

    “Cheapfakes” rely on free software that allows manipulation through easy conventional editing techniques like speeding, slowing, and cutting, as well as nontechnical manipulations like restaging or recontextualizing existing footage that are already causing problems. Cheapfakes already call into question the methods of evidence that scientists, courts, and newsrooms traditionally use to call for accountability

    Many will never know the video was a fake, but the advantages it gave to pundits will echo into the future. It’s a recent example of what legal theorists Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron call the liar’s dividend . Those wishing to deny the truth can create disinformation to support their lie, while those caught behaving badly can write off the evidence of bad behavior as disinformation. In a new survey from Pew Research Center, 63 percent of respondents said that they believe altered video and images are a significant source of confusion when it comes to interpreting news quality. That loss of trust works in favor of those willing to lie, defame, and harass to gain attention.

    As Daniel Kreiss and others have pointed out, people don’t just share content because they believe it. They do it for a host of reasons, not the least of which is simply because a message speaks to what users see as an implicit truth of the world even as they know it is not factually true. Researchers have found that creating and sharing hateful, false, or faked content is often rewarded on platforms like Facebook.

    The looming threat of the deepfake is worth attention—from politicians, like at the upcoming hearing; from journalists; from researchers; and especially from the public that will ultimately be the audience for these things. But make no mistake: Disinformation doesn’t have to be high tech to cause serious damage.

    #Fake_news #Deep_fake #Cheap_fake #Nancy_Pelosi #Médias_sociaux