position:princess

  • 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

  • Un prix important pour l’écrivaine égyptienne Ahdaf Soueif, défenseure inlassable de la démocratie attribué par la fondation pour la culture européenne

    ECF Princess Margriet Award 2019 - European Cultural Foundation
    https://www.culturalfoundation.eu/pma-2019

    Ahdaf Soueif (1950) is a writer and cultural activist working in London and Cairo.

    In the last 20 years she has courageously merged literature and activism, building a body of fiction and committed journalism that responds to the legacies of European intervention in conflicts outside of the continent’s immediate territorial boundaries.

    The Palestine Festival of Literature (2008–present), of which she is founding chair, created a new form of international cultural cooperation.

    Soueif’’s consistent opposition to both authoritarianism and colonialism has marked her as a cultural figure of international importance inspiring new generations of critical voices throughout Europe and its neighbouring regions.

    Throughout her career, Soueif has been a tireless mediator between the supposed opposition of east and west, working to find common ground for a more democratic future.
    Visit Ahdaf Soueif’s website
    Follow Soueif on Twitter
    Visit the PalFest Website

  • Who Was Shakespeare? Could the Author Have Been a Woman? - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/06/who-is-shakespeare-emilia-bassano/588076

    On a spring night in 2018, I stood on a Manhattan sidewalk with friends, reading Shakespeare aloud. We were in line to see an adaptation of Macbeth and had decided to pass the time refreshing our memories of the play’s best lines. I pulled up Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy on my iPhone. “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,” I read, thrilled once again by the incantatory power of the verse. I remembered where I was when I first heard those lines: in my 10th-grade English class, startled out of my adolescent stupor by this woman rebelling magnificently and malevolently against her submissive status. “Make thick my blood, / Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse.” Six months into the #MeToo movement, her fury and frustration felt newly resonant.

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    Pulled back into plays I’d studied in college and graduate school, I found myself mesmerized by Lady Macbeth and her sisters in the Shakespeare canon. Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing, raging at the limitations of her sex (“O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace”). Rosalind, in As You Like It, affecting the swagger of masculine confidence to escape those limitations (“We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside, / As many other mannish cowards have / That do outface it with their semblances”). Isabella, in Measure for Measure, fearing no one will believe her word against Angelo’s, rapist though he is (“To whom should I complain? Did I tell this, / Who would believe me?”). Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew, refusing to be silenced by her husband (“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, / Or else my heart concealing it will break”). Emilia, in one of her last speeches in Othello before Iago kills her, arguing for women’s equality (“Let husbands know / Their wives have sense like them”).
    I was reminded of all the remarkable female friendships, too: Beatrice and Hero’s allegiance; Emilia’s devotion to her mistress, Desdemona; Paulina’s brave loyalty to Hermione in The Winter’s Tale; and plenty more. (“Let’s consult together against this greasy knight,” resolve the merry wives of Windsor, revenging themselves on Falstaff.) These intimate female alliances are fresh inventions—they don’t exist in the literary sources from which many of the plays are drawn. And when the plays lean on historical sources (Plutarch, for instance), they feminize them, portraying legendary male figures through the eyes of mothers, wives, and lovers. “Why was Shakespeare able to see the woman’s position, write entirely as if he were a woman, in a way that none of the other playwrights of the age were able to?” In her book about the plays’ female characters, Tina Packer, the founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, asked the question very much on my mind.

    Doubts about whether William Shakespeare (who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616) really wrote the works attributed to him are almost as old as the writing itself. Alternative contenders—Francis Bacon; Christopher Marlowe; and Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, prominent among them—continue to have champions, whose fervor can sometimes border on fanaticism. In response, orthodox Shakespeare scholars have settled into dogmatism of their own. Even to dabble in authorship questions is considered a sign of bad faith, a blinkered failure to countenance genius in a glover’s son. The time had come, I felt, to tug at the blinkers of both camps and reconsider the authorship debate: Had anyone ever proposed that the creator of those extraordinary women might be a woman? Each of the male possibilities requires an elaborate theory to explain his use of another’s name. None of the candidates has succeeded in dethroning the man from Stratford. Yet a simple reason would explain a playwright’s need for a pseudonym in Elizabethan England: being female.
    Who was this woman writing “immortal work” in the same year that Shakespeare’s name first appeared in print?

    Long before Tina Packer marveled at the bard’s uncanny insight, others were no less awed by the empathy that pervades the work. “One would think that he had been Metamorphosed from a Man to a Woman,” wrote Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century philosopher and playwright. The critic John Ruskin said, “Shakespeare has no heroes—he has only heroines.” A striking number of those heroines refuse to obey rules. At least 10 defy their fathers, bucking betrothals they don’t like to find their own paths to love. Eight disguise themselves as men, outwitting patriarchal controls—more gender-swapping than can be found in the work of any previous English playwright. Six lead armies.

    The prevailing view, however, has been that no women in Renaissance England wrote for the theater, because that was against the rules. Religious verse and translation were deemed suitable female literary pursuits; “closet dramas,” meant only for private reading, were acceptable. The stage was off-limits. Yet scholars have lately established that women were involved in the business of acting companies as patrons, shareholders, suppliers of costumes, and gatherers of entrance fees. What’s more, 80 percent of the plays printed in the 1580s were written anonymously, and that number didn’t fall below 50 percent until the early 1600s. At least one eminent Shakespeare scholar, Phyllis Rackin, of the University of Pennsylvania, challenges the blanket assumption that the commercial drama pouring forth in the period bore no trace of a female hand. So did Virginia Woolf, even as she sighed over the obstacles that would have confronted a female Shakespeare: “Undoubtedly, I thought, looking at the shelf where there are no plays by women, her work would have gone unsigned.”

    A tantalizing nudge lies buried in the writings of Gabriel Harvey, a well-known Elizabethan literary critic. In 1593, he referred cryptically to an “excellent Gentlewoman” who had written three sonnets and a comedy. “I dare not Particularise her Description,” he wrote, even as he heaped praise on her.

    All her conceits are illuminate with the light of Reason; all her speeches beautified with the grace of Affability … In her mind there appeareth a certain heavenly Logic; in her tongue & pen a divine Rhetoric … I dare undertake with warrant, whatsoever she writeth must needs remain an immortal work, and will leave, in the activest world, an eternal memory of the silliest vermin that she should vouchsafe to grace with her beautiful and allective style, as ingenious as elegant.

    Who was this woman writing “immortal work” in the same year that Shakespeare’s name first appeared in print, on the poem “Venus and Adonis,” a scandalous parody of masculine seduction tales (in which the woman forces herself on the man)? Harvey’s tribute is extraordinary, yet orthodox Shakespeareans and anti-Stratfordians alike have almost entirely ignored it.

    Until recently, that is, when a few bold outliers began to advance the case that Shakespeare might well have been a woman. One candidate is Mary Sidney, the countess of Pembroke (and beloved sister of the celebrated poet Philip Sidney)—one of the most educated women of her time, a translator and poet, and the doyenne of the Wilton Circle, a literary salon dedicated to galvanizing an English cultural renaissance. Clues beckon, not least that Sidney and her husband were the patrons of one of the first theater companies to perform Shakespeare’s plays. Was Shakespeare’s name useful camouflage, allowing her to publish what she otherwise couldn’t?
    Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer.

    But the candidate who intrigued me more was a woman as exotic and peripheral as Sidney was pedigreed and prominent. Not long after my Macbeth outing, I learned that Shakespeare’s Globe, in London, had set out to explore this figure’s input to the canon. The theater’s summer 2018 season concluded with a new play, Emilia, about a contemporary of Shakespeare’s named Emilia Bassano. Born in London in 1569 to a family of Venetian immigrants—musicians and instrument-makers who were likely Jewish—she was one of the first women in England to publish a volume of poetry (suitably religious yet startlingly feminist, arguing for women’s “Libertie” and against male oppression). Her existence was unearthed in 1973 by the Oxford historian A. L. Rowse, who speculated that she was Shakespeare’s mistress, the “dark lady” described in the sonnets. In Emilia, the playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm goes a step further: Her Shakespeare is a plagiarist who uses Bassano’s words for Emilia’s famous defense of women in Othello.

    Could Bassano have contributed even more widely and directly? The idea felt like a feminist fantasy about the past—but then, stories about women’s lost and obscured achievements so often have a dreamlike quality, unveiling a history different from the one we’ve learned. Was I getting carried away, reinventing Shakespeare in the image of our age? Or was I seeing past gendered assumptions to the woman who—like Shakespeare’s heroines—had fashioned herself a clever disguise? Perhaps the time was finally ripe for us to see her.

    The ranks of Shakespeare skeptics comprise a kind of literary underworld—a cross-disciplinary array of academics, actors (Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance are perhaps the best known), writers, teachers, lawyers, a few Supreme Court justices (Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens). Look further back and you’ll find such illustrious names as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, and Charlie Chaplin. Their ideas about the authorship of the plays and poems differ, but they concur that Shakespeare is not the man who wrote them.

    Their doubt is rooted in an empirical conundrum. Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented, by the standards of the period—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer. The more than 70 documents that exist show him as an actor, a shareholder in a theater company, a moneylender, and a property investor. They show that he dodged taxes, was fined for hoarding grain during a shortage, pursued petty lawsuits, and was subject to a restraining order. The profile is remarkably coherent, adding up to a mercenary impresario of the Renaissance entertainment industry. What’s missing is any sign that he wrote.

    From January 1863: Nathaniel Hawthorne considers authorship while visiting Stratford-upon-Avon

    No such void exists for other major writers of the period, as a meticulous scholar named Diana Price has demonstrated. Many left fewer documents than Shakespeare did, but among them are manuscripts, letters, and payment records proving that writing was their profession. For example, court records show payment to Ben Jonson for “those services of his wit & pen.” Desperate to come up with comparable material to round out Shakespeare, scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries forged evidence—later debunked—of a writerly life.

    To be sure, Shakespeare’s name can be found linked, during his lifetime, to written works. With Love’s Labour’s Lost, in 1598, it started appearing on the title pages of one-play editions called “quartos.” (Several of the plays attributed to Shakespeare were first published anonymously.) Commentators at the time saluted him by name, praising “Shakespeare’s fine filed phrase” and “honey-tongued Shakespeare.” But such evidence proves attribution, not actual authorship—as even some orthodox Shakespeare scholars grant. “I would love to find a contemporary document that said William Shakespeare was the dramatist of Stratford-upon-Avon written during his lifetime,” Stanley Wells, a professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, has said. “That would shut the buggers up!”
    FROM THE ARCHIVES
    October 1991 Atlantic cover

    In 1991, The Atlantic commissioned two pieces from admittedly partisan authors, Irving Matus and Tom Bethell, to examine and debate the argument:
    In Defense of Shakespeare
    The Case for Oxford

    By contrast, more than a few of Shakespeare’s contemporaries are on record suggesting that his name got affixed to work that wasn’t his. In 1591, the dramatist Robert Greene wrote of the practice of “underhand brokery”—of poets who “get some other Batillus to set his name to their verses.” (Batillus was a mediocre Roman poet who claimed some of Virgil’s verses as his own.) The following year, he warned fellow playwrights about an “upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers,” who thinks he is the “onely Shake-scene in a countrey.” Most scholars agree that the “Crow” is Shakespeare, then an actor in his late 20s, and conclude that the new-hatched playwright was starting to irk established figures. Anti-Stratfordians see something else: In Aesop’s fables, the crow was a proud strutter who stole the feathers of others; Horace’s crow, in his epistles, was a plagiarist. Shakespeare was being attacked, they say, not as a budding dramatist, but as a paymaster taking credit for others’ work. “Seeke you better Maisters,” Greene advised, urging his colleagues to cease writing for the Crow.

    Ben Jonson, among others, got in his digs, too. Scholars agree that the character of Sogliardo in Every Man Out of His Humour—a country bumpkin “without brain, wit, anything, indeed, ramping to gentility”—is a parody of Shakespeare, a social climber whose pursuit of a coat of arms was common lore among his circle of actors. In a satirical poem called “On Poet-Ape,” Jonson was likely taking aim at Shakespeare the theater-world wheeler-dealer. This poet-ape, Jonson wrote, “from brokage is become so bold a thief,”

    At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
    Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
    To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
    He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own

    What to make of the fact that Jonson changed his tune in the prefatory material that he contributed to the First Folio of plays when it appeared seven years after Shakespeare’s death? Jonson’s praise there did more than attribute the work to Shakespeare. It declared his art unmatched: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” The anti-Stratfordian response is to note the shameless hype at the heart of the Folio project. “Whatever you do, Buy,” the compilers urged in their dedication, intent on a hard sell for a dramatist who, doubters emphasize, was curiously unsung at his death. The Folio’s introductory effusions, they argue, contain double meanings. Jonson tells readers, for example, to find Shakespeare not in his portrait “but his Booke,” seeming to undercut the relation between the man and the work. And near the start of his over-the-top tribute, Jonson riffs on the unreliability of extravagant praise, “which doth ne’er advance / The truth.”

    From September 1904: Ralph Waldo Emerson celebrates Shakespeare

    The authorship puzzles don’t end there. How did the man born in Stratford acquire the wide-ranging knowledge on display in the plays—of the Elizabethan court, as well as of multiple languages, the law, astronomy, music, the military, and foreign lands, especially northern Italian cities? The author’s linguistic brilliance shines in words and sayings imported from foreign vocabularies, but Shakespeare wasn’t educated past the age of 13. Perhaps he traveled, joined the army, worked as a tutor, or all three, scholars have proposed. Yet no proof exists of any of those experiences, despite, as the Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper pointed out in an essay, “the greatest battery of organized research that has ever been directed upon a single person.”
    Emilia Bassano’s life encompassed the breadth of the Shakespeare canon: its low-class references and knowledge of the court; its Italian sources and Jewish allusions; its music and feminism.

    In fact, a document that does exist—Shakespeare’s will—would seem to undercut such hypotheses. A wealthy man when he retired to Stratford, he was meticulous about bequeathing his properties and possessions (his silver, his second-best bed). Yet he left behind not a single book, though the plays draw on hundreds of texts, including some—in Italian and French—that hadn’t yet been translated into English. Nor did he leave any musical instruments, though the plays use at least 300 musical terms and refer to 26 instruments. He remembered three actor-owners in his company, but no one in the literary profession. Strangest of all, he made no mention of manuscripts or writing. Perhaps as startling as the gaps in his will, Shakespeare appears to have neglected his daughters’ education—an incongruity, given the erudition of so many of the playwright’s female characters. One signed with her mark, the other with a signature a scholar has called “painfully formed.”

    “Weak and unconvincing” was Trevor-Roper’s verdict on the case for Shakespeare. My delving left me in agreement, not that the briefs for the male alternatives struck me as compelling either. Steeped in the plays, I felt their author would surely join me in bridling at the Stratfordians’ unquestioning worship at the shrine—their arrogant dismissal of skeptics as mere deluded “buggers,” or worse. (“Is there any more fanatic zealot than the priest-like defender of a challenged creed?” asked Richmond Crinkley, a former director of programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library who was nonetheless sympathetic to the anti-Stratfordian view.) To appreciate how belief blossoms into fact—how readily myths about someone get disseminated as truth—one can’t do better than to read Shakespeare. Just think of how obsessed the work is with mistaken identities, concealed women, forged and anonymous documents—with the error of trusting in outward appearances. What if searchers for the real Shakespeare simply haven’t set their sights on the right pool of candidates?

    Read: An interview with the author of ‘The Shakespeare Wars’

    I met Emilia Bassano’s most ardent champion at Alice’s Tea Cup, which seemed unexpectedly apt: A teahouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it has quotes from Alice in Wonderland scrawled across the walls. (“off with their heads!”) John Hudson, an Englishman in his 60s who pursued a degree at the Shakespeare Institute in a mid-career swerve, had been on the Bassano case for years, he told me. In 2014, he published Shakespeare’s Dark Lady: Amelia Bassano Lanier, the Woman Behind Shakespeare’s Plays? His zeal can sometimes get the better of him, yet he emphasizes that his methods and findings are laid out “for anyone … to refute if they wish.” Like Alice’s rabbit hole, Bassano’s case opened up new and richly disorienting perspectives—on the plays, on the ways we think about genius and gender, and on a fascinating life.

    Hudson first learned of Bassano from A. L. Rowse, who discovered mention of her in the notebooks of an Elizabethan physician and astrologer named Simon Forman. In her teens, she became the mistress of Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the master of court entertainment and patron of Shakespeare’s acting company. And that is only the start. Whether or not Bassano was Shakespeare’s lover (scholars now dismiss Rowse’s claim), the discernible contours of her biography supply what the available material about Shakespeare’s life doesn’t: circumstantial evidence of opportunities to acquire an impressive expanse of knowledge.

    Bassano lived, Hudson points out, “an existence on the boundaries of many different social worlds,” encompassing the breadth of the Shakespeare canon: its coarse, low-class references and its intimate knowledge of the court; its Italian sources and its Jewish allusions; its music and its feminism. And her imprint, as Hudson reads the plays, extends over a long period. He notes the many uses of her name, citing several early on—for instance, an Emilia in The Comedy of Errors. (Emilia, the most common female name in the plays alongside Katherine, wasn’t used in the 16th century by any other English playwright.) Titus Andronicus features a character named Bassianus, which was the original Roman name of Bassano del Grappa, her family’s hometown before their move to Venice. Later, in The Merchant of Venice, the romantic hero is a Venetian named Bassanio, an indication that the author perhaps knew of the Bassanos’ connection to Venice. (Bassanio is a spelling of their name in some records.)

    Further on, in Othello, another Emilia appears—Iago’s wife. Her famous speech against abusive husbands, Hudson notes, doesn’t show up until 1623, in the First Folio, included among lines that hadn’t appeared in an earlier version (lines that Stratfordians assume—without any proof—were written before Shakespeare’s death). Bassano was still alive, and by then had known her share of hardship at the hands of men. More to the point, she had already spoken out, in her 1611 book of poetry, against men who “do like vipers deface the wombs wherein they were bred.”

    Prodded by Hudson, you can discern traces of Bassano’s own life trajectory in particular works across the canon. In All’s Well That Ends Well, a lowborn girl lives with a dowager countess and a general named Bertram. When Bassano’s father, Baptista, died in 1576, Emilia, then 7, was taken in by Susan Bertie, the dowager countess of Kent. The countess’s brother, Peregrine Bertie, was—like the fictional Bertram—a celebrated general. In the play, the countess tells how a father “famous … in his profession” left “his sole child … bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that her education promises.” Bassano received a remarkable humanist education with the countess. In her book of poetry, she praised her guardian as “the Mistris of my youth, / The noble guide of my ungovern’d dayes.”
    Bassano’s life sheds possible light on the plays’ preoccupation with women caught in forced or loveless marriages.

    As for the celebrated general, Hudson seizes on the possibility that Bassano’s ears, and perhaps eyes, were opened by Peregrine Bertie as well. In 1582, Bertie was named ambassador to Denmark by the queen and sent to the court at Elsinore—the setting of Hamlet. Records show that the trip included state dinners with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whose names appear in the play. Because emissaries from the same two families later visited the English court, the trip isn’t decisive, but another encounter is telling: Bertie met with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose astronomical theories influenced the play. Was Bassano (then just entering her teens) on the trip? Bertie was accompanied by a “whole traine,” but only the names of important gentlemen are recorded. In any case, Hudson argues, she would have heard tales on his return.

    Later, as the mistress of Henry Carey (43 years her senior), Bassano gained access to more than the theater world. Carey, the queen’s cousin, held various legal and military positions. Bassano was “favoured much of her Majesty and of many noblemen,” the physician Forman noted, indicating the kind of extensive aristocratic associations that only vague guesswork can accord to Shakespeare. His company didn’t perform at court until Christmas of 1594, after several of the plays informed by courtly life had already been written. Shakespeare’s history plays, concerned as they are with the interactions of the governing class, presume an insider perspective on aristocratic life. Yet mere court performances wouldn’t have enabled such familiarity, and no trace exists of Shakespeare’s presence in any upper-class household.

    And then, in late 1592, Bassano (now 23) was expelled from court. She was pregnant. Carey gave her money and jewels and, for appearance’s sake, married her off to Alphonso Lanier, a court musician. A few months later, she had a son. Despite the glittering dowry, Lanier must not have been pleased. “Her husband hath dealt hardly with her,” Forman wrote, “and spent and consumed her goods.”

    Bassano was later employed in a noble household, probably as a music tutor, and roughly a decade after that opened a school. Whether she accompanied her male relatives—whose consort of recorder players at the English court lasted 90 years—on their trips back to northern Italy isn’t known. But the family link to the home country offers support for the fine-grained familiarity with the region that (along with in-depth musical knowledge) any plausible candidate for authorship would seem to need—just what scholars have had to strain to establish for Shakespeare. (Perhaps, theories go, he chatted with travelers or consulted books.) In Othello, for example, Iago gives a speech that precisely describes a fresco in Bassano del Grappa—also the location of a shop owned by Giovanni Otello, a likely source of the title character’s name.

    Her Bassano lineage—scholars suggest the family were conversos, converted or hidden Jews presenting as Christians—also helps account for the Jewish references that scholars of the plays have noted. The plea in The Merchant of Venice for the equality and humanity of Jews, a radical departure from typical anti-Semitic portrayals of the period, is well known. “Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” Shylock asks. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” A Midsummer Night’s Dream draws from a passage in the Talmud about marriage vows; spoken Hebrew is mixed into the nonsense language of All’s Well That Ends Well.
    Stephen Doyle

    What’s more, the Bassano family’s background suggests a source close to home for the particular interest in dark figures in the sonnets, Othello, and elsewhere. A 1584 document about the arrest of two Bassano men records them as “black”—among Elizabethans, the term could apply to anyone darker than the fair-skinned English, including those with a Mediterranean complexion. (The fellows uttered lines that could come straight from a comic interlude in the plays: “We have as good friends in the court as thou hast and better too … Send us to ward? Thou wert as good kiss our arse.”) In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the noblemen derisively compare Rosaline, the princess’s attendant, to “chimney-sweepers” and “colliers” (coal miners). The king joins in, telling Berowne, who is infatuated with her, “Thy love is black as ebony,” to which the young lord responds, “O wood divine!”

    Bassano’s life sheds possible light, too, on another outsider theme: the plays’ preoccupation with women caught in forced or loveless marriages. Hudson sees her misery reflected in the sonnets, thought to have been written from the early 1590s to the early 1600s. “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state, /And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, /And look upon myself and curse my fate,” reads sonnet 29. (When Maya Angelou first encountered the poem as a child, she thought Shakespeare must have been a black girl who had been sexually abused: “How else could he know what I know?”) For Shakespeare, those years brought a rise in status: In 1596, he was granted a coat of arms, and by 1597, he was rich enough to buy the second-largest house in Stratford.

    Read: What Maya Angelou meant when she said ‘Shakespeare must be a black girl’

    In what is considered an early or muddled version of The Taming of the Shrew, a man named Alphonso (as was Bassano’s husband) tries to marry off his three daughters, Emilia, Kate, and Philema. Emilia drops out in the later version, and the father is now called Baptista (the name of Bassano’s father). As a portrait of a husband dealing “hardly” with a wife, the play is horrifying. Yet Kate’s speech of submission, with its allusions to the Letters of Paul, is slippery: Even as she exaggeratedly parrots the Christian doctrine of womanly subjection, she is anything but dutifully silent.

    Shakespeare’s women repeatedly subvert such teachings, perhaps most radically in The Winter’s Tale, another drama of male cruelty. There the noblewoman Paulina, scorned by King Leontes as “a most intelligencing bawd” with a “boundless tongue,” bears fierce witness against him (no man dares to) when he wrongly accuses Queen Hermione of adultery and imprisons her. As in so many of the comedies, a more enlightened society emerges in the end because the women’s values triumph.

    I was stunned to realize that the year The Winter’s Tale was likely completed, 1611, was the same year Bassano published her book of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judæorum. Her writing style bears no obvious resemblance to Shakespeare’s in his plays, though Hudson strains to suggest similarities. The overlap lies in the feminist content. Bassano’s poetry registers as more than conventional religious verse designed to win patronage (she dedicates it to nine women, Mary Sidney included, fashioning a female literary community). Scholars have observed that it reads as a “transgressive” defense of Eve and womankind. Like a cross-dressing Shakespearean heroine, Bassano refuses to play by the rules, heretically reinterpreting scripture. “If Eve did err, it was for knowledge sake,” she writes. Arguing that the crucifixion, a crime committed by men, was a greater crime than Eve’s, she challenges the basis of men’s “tyranny” over women.

    “I always feel something Italian, something Jewish about Shakespeare,” Jorge Luis Borges told The Paris Review in 1966. “Perhaps Englishmen admire him because of that, because it’s so unlike them.” Borges didn’t mention feeling “something female” about the bard, yet that response has never ceased to be part of Shakespeare’s allure—embodiment though he is of the patriarchal authority of the Western canon. What would the revelation of a woman’s hand at work mean, aside from the loss of a prime tourist attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon? Would the effect be a blow to the cultural patriarchy, or the erosion of the canon’s status? Would (male) myths of inexplicable genius take a hit? Would women at last claim their rightful authority as historical and intellectual forces?

    I was curious to take the temperature of the combative authorship debate as women edge their way into it. Over more tea, I tested Hudson’s room for flexibility. Could the plays’ many connections to Bassano be explained by simply assuming the playwright knew her well? “Shakespeare would have had to run to her every few minutes for a musical reference or an Italian pun,” he said. I caught up with Mark Rylance, the actor and former artistic director of the Globe, in the midst of rehearsals for Othello (whose plot, he noted, comes from an Italian text that didn’t exist in English). A latitudinarian doubter—embracing the inquiry, not any single candidate—Rylance has lately observed that the once heretical notion of collaboration between Shakespeare and other writers “is now accepted, pursued and published by leading orthodox scholars.” He told me that “Emilia should be studied by anyone interested in the creation of the plays.” David Scott Kastan, a well-known Shakespeare scholar at Yale, urged further exploration too, though he wasn’t ready to anoint her bard. “What’s clear is that it’s important to know more about her,” he said, and even got playful with pronouns: “The more we know about her and the world she lived in, the more we’ll know about Shakespeare, whoever she was.”
    Related Stories

    Such Ado: The Fight for Shakespeare’s Puns
    Shakespeare in Love, or in Context

    In the fall, I joined the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust—a gathering of skeptics at the Globe—feeling excited that gender would be at the top of the agenda. Some eyebrows were raised even in this company, but enthusiasm ran high. “People have been totally frustrated with authorship debates that go nowhere, but that’s because there have been 200 years of bad candidates,” one participant from the University of Toronto exclaimed. “They didn’t want to see women in this,” he reflected. “It’s a tragedy of history.”

    He favored Sidney. Others were eager to learn about Bassano, and with collaboration in mind, I wondered whether the two women had perhaps worked together, or as part of a group. I thought of Bassano’s Salve Deus, in which she writes that men have wrongly taken credit for knowledge: “Yet Men will boast of Knowledge, which he tooke / From Eve’s faire hand, as from a learned Booke.”

    The night after the meeting, I went to a performance of Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre. I sat enthralled, still listening for the poet in her words, trying to catch her reflection in some forgotten bit of verse. “Give me my robe, put on my crown,” cried the queen, “I have / Immortal longings in me.” There she was, kissing her ladies goodbye, raising the serpent to her breast. “I am fire and air.”

  • johnirons: Anna Bijns (1493-1575) ’Refereyn’ in English
    http://johnirons.blogspot.com/2018/08/anna-bijns-1493-1575-refereyn-in-english.html

    Ballade
    To be a woman’s fine, a man far better.
    You maids, you widows keep this to the letter:
    Don’t haste or fret to see yourselves soon wed.
    It’s said that manless you are honour’s debtor;
    If finding food and clothes though does not fetter,
    Let no man master both your house and bed.
    Take my advice: Be wary where you tread
    It seems to me, where’er I cast my gaze,
    That if a woman choose – though nobly bred
    And rich in goods – to wed she all her days
    Will spend short-tethered; if alone she stays
    Instead both pure and chaste she’ll, I profess,
    Be mistress of a life excelling praise.
    With marriage I’ve no quarrel, nonetheless
    Not tied by husbands women prosper best.
    […]
    Princess

    Though women may have wealth none can deny,
    They’re viewed as slaves by men both low and high.
    Should they with fine words ply, then stop them short
    And tell them to push off if they should try;
    In number good men with white ravens vie.
    Away from all gifts shy that they have brought,
    As soon as in their mesh the woman’s caught,
    Love is as nought, ’tis seen repeatedly.
    In marriage man’s deception’s grimly taught,
    With sorrows fraught, she suffers constantly;
    He squanders all her wealth, won’t let her be.
    No game for free, but heavy curse no less.
    Oft money rules not love when you can see
    Such men run till their lungs burst out their chest.
    Not tied by husbands women prosper best.

    • Anna Bijns — Wikipédia
      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Bijns

      Anna Bijns, née le 5 mars 1493 à Anvers où elle est enterrée le 10 avril 1575, est une femme de lettres brabançonne, écrivant en langue néerlandaise.

      Prolégomènes
      Anna Bijns est une des rares femmes à avoir fait partie de la corporation des instituteurs. Les franciscains l’ont incité à publier ses œuvres. Les chambres de rhétorique, bien que réservées aux hommes, l’apprécient et elle est reconnue par les humanistes. Elle aurait été l’auteur de langue néerlandaise le plus vendu au xvie siècle.

      (la notice WP semble largement écrite par des hommes…)

    • l’original en néerlandais (pas forcément facile à trouver…

      Anna Bijns - Het is goet vrouwe syn
      http://users.telenet.be/gaston.d.haese/anna_bijns_wyff_sonder_man.html

      XIII Het is goet vrouwe syn, veel beter heere

      Het is goet vrouwe syn, veel beter heere;
      ghy maechden, ghy wyfkens, onthout dees leere.
      Niemant hem te seere // om houwen en spoeye;
      Men seyt: daer gheen man en is, daeren is geen eere;
      maer die gecrygen can cost & cleere,
      niet haest haer en keere // onder eens mans roeye.
      Dits mynen raet, want soo ic vermoeye,
      dagelycx vernoeye //, men siet dat gemeene.
      Al is een vrouwe noch soo ryck van goeye,
      sy crycht haest een boeye // aen haer beene,
      ist dat sy trout; maer blyft sy alleene,
      & sy haer reene // & suyver gehouwen can,
      sy is heere & vrouwe: beter leven geene.
      Ic en acht niet cleene // thouwelyck; nochtan:
      ongebonden best, weldich wyff sonder man.
      […]
      Prinche.
      Al is een vrouwe noch soo ryck van haven,
      veel mans die achtense als hare slaven.
      Siet toe als sy u laven // met schoone prologen,
      en gelooftse soo saen niet, maer laetse draven;
      want, my dunckt, de goede mans syn nu witte raven;
      acht niet wat gaven // sy u brengen voer oogen:
      als sy een vrouwe hebben int net getogen,
      is lieffde vervlogen //; dit sien wy wel.
      Int houwen wort menige vrouwe bedrogen,
      die moet gedragen // groot swaer gequel:
      haer goet wort gequist, de man valt haer fel;
      ten is vry gheen spel //, maer noyt swaerder ban.
      Tis somtyts om tgelleken & niet om tvel,
      dat de sulcke soo snel //, seer liep & ran:
      ongebonden best, weldich wyff sonder man.

      quelques autres ballades sur le même site
      http://users.telenet.be/gaston.d.haese/anna_bijns.html

  • The Software That Shapes Workers’ Lives | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/the-software-that-shapes-workers-lives

    How could I know which had been made ethically and which hadn’t?

    Answering this question can be surprisingly difficult. A few years ago, while teaching a class about global labor at the University of California, Los Angeles, I tried assigning my students the task of analyzing the “supply chain”—the vast network of factories, warehouses, and shipping conduits through which products flow—by tracing the components used in their electronic devices. Almost immediately, I hit a snag: it turns out that even companies that boast about “end-to-end visibility” and “supply-chain transparency” may not know exactly where their components come from. This ignorance is built into the way supply chains work. The housing of a television, say, might be built in a small factory employing only a few people; that factory interacts only with the suppliers and buyers immediately adjacent to it in the chain—a plastic supplier on one side, an assembly company on the other. This arrangement encourages modularity, since, if a company goes out of business, its immediate partners can replace it without consulting anyone. But it also makes it hard to identify individual links in the chain. The resilient, self-healing quality of supply chains derives, in part, from the fact that they are unsupervised.

    When people try to picture supply chains, they often focus on their physical infrastructure. In Allan Sekula’s book “Fish Story,” a volume of essays and photographs produced between 1989 and 1995, the writer and photographer trains his lens on ports, harbors, and the workers who pilot ships between them; he reveals dim shipboard workspaces and otherworldly industrial zones. In “The Forgotten Space,” a documentary that Sekula made with the film theorist Noël Burch, in 2010, we see massive, gliding vessels, enormous machines, and people rummaging through the detritus around ports and harbors. Sekula’s work suggests the degree to which our fantasy of friction-free procurement hides the real, often gruelling, work of global shipping and trade.

    But supply chains aren’t purely physical. They’re also made of information. Modern supply-chain management, or S.C.M., is done through software. The people who design and coördinate supply chains don’t see warehouses or workers. They stare at screens filled with icons and tables. Their view of the supply chain is abstract. It may be the one that matters most.

    Most of the time, the work of supply-chain management is divided up, with handoffs where one specialist passes a package of data to another. No individual is liable to possess a detailed picture of the whole supply chain. Instead, each S.C.M. specialist knows only what her neighbors need.

    In such a system, a sense of inevitability takes hold. Data dictates a set of conditions which must be met, but there is no explanation of how that data was derived; meanwhile, the software takes an active role, tweaking the plan to meet the conditions as efficiently as possible. sap’s built-in optimizers work out how to meet production needs with the least “latency” and at the lowest possible costs. (The software even suggests how tightly a container should be packed, to save on shipping charges.) This entails that particular components become available at particular times. The consequences of this relentless optimization are well-documented. The corporations that commission products pass their computationally determined demands on to their subcontractors, who then put extraordinary pressure on their employees. Thus, China Labor Watch found that workers in Heyuan City, China, tasked with producing Disney’s Princess Sing & Sparkle Ariel Bath Doll—retail price today, $26.40—work twenty-six days a month, assembling between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred dolls per day, and earning one cent for each doll they complete.

    Still, from a worker’s point of view, S.C.M. software can generate its own bullwhip effect. At the beginning of the planning process, product requirements are fairly high-level. But by the time these requirements reach workers, they have become more exacting, more punishing. Small reductions in “latency,” for instance, can magnify in consequence, reducing a worker’s time for eating her lunch, taking a breath, donning safety equipment, or seeing a loved one.

    Could S.C.M. software include a “workers’-rights” component—a counterpart to PP/DS, incorporating data on working conditions? Technically, it’s possible. sap could begin asking for input about worker welfare. But a component like that would be at cross-purposes with almost every other function of the system. On some level, it might even undermine the purpose of having a system in the first place. Supply chains create efficiency in part through the distribution of responsibility. If a supervisor at a toy factory objects to the production plan she’s received, her boss can wield, in his defense, a PP/DS plan sent to him by someone else, who worked with data produced by yet another person. It will turn out that no one in particular is responsible for the pressures placed on the factory. They flow from the system—a system designed to be flexible in some ways and rigid in others.

    #Algorithmes #SAP #Droit_travail #Industrie_influence

  • The Death Star: Dream, or Future Reality?
    https://hackernoon.com/the-death-star-d37c82a77f51?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    A Sci-Fi enthusiast or a kid whose childhood was based around Star Wars might dream of one day having the possibility of handling a phaser or firing from the Death Star against the planet Alderaan, home of princess Leia.Though most might think these fantasies are just pure imagination, I believe we might not actually be that far from making them reality.Hold on tight: let’s explore…The Death Star of Star Wars is a colossal weapon. Not only is it the size of the Moon, but with a single blast it could destroy entire planets. Some may even describe The Death Star to have:“Power! Unlimited power!” — Darth SidiousThe dream of controlling light dates back to ancient Greece with Zeus and the ancient nordic god Thor, who were both the most powerful gods of their time.Many scientists tried to understand (...)

    #tech #fiction #technology #star-wars #science-fiction

  • Wee Dragons (2018) [WEBRip] [720p] [YTS.AM]
    https://yts.am/movie/wee-dragons-2018#720p

    IMDB Rating: 2.1/10Genre: AnimationSize: 613.64 MBRuntime: 1hr 10 minThe peaceful Kingdom of the Wee Dragons is plunged into turmoil, when villainous Blister teams with fearsome dragon Durwyn, to overthrow King Bedwyr and force his daughter, Princess Cai, to marry the evil goblin, King Foul. Noble dragon Boil, along with his sidekick Big Gurt, journeys through time and space, meeting magical friends and foes alike, in a desperate effort to free the king, restore the land, and win the heart of the princess.

    https://yts.am/torrent/download/0B90A06E54D5B71C1CA50E090B05FE276DC8B09F

  • I’ve Come From the Future to Save #spotify
    https://hackernoon.com/ive-come-from-the-future-to-save-spotify-f69bea631ee4?source=rss----3a81

    Disclaimer: I’m obliged to inform you that I haven’t really come from the future.Growing up in Sweden, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Spotify’s development sitting front-row. Like a new member of our monarchy, Spotify has been the royal child that we’ve proudly watched grow up to become a crown princess with 170 million users.The road to be crowned Queen is far from a straight one though. When Spotify started the seemingly impossible mission to make #music listeners pay for music through streaming, it was mostly alone in doing so, competing mainly against itself. Incredibly, the streaming company achieved this feat and indisputably proved a lot of people wrong. Today however, its not only competing against itself, as some serious competitors have emerged to cause an external threat to (...)

    #technology #business #podcast

  • The History of Civilization Is a History of Border Walls

    When I joined my first archaeological dig at a site near Hadrian’s Wall in 2002, walls never appeared in the nightly news. Britain was still many years away from planning a barrier near the opening of the Chunnel in Calais. Saudi Arabia hadn’t yet encircled itself with high-tech barricades. Israel hadn’t started reinforcing its Gaza border fence with concrete. Kenya wasn’t seeking Israel’s help in the construction of a 440-mile barrier against Somalia. And the idea that India might someday send workers high into the Himalayas to construct border walls that look down on clouds still seemed as preposterous as the notion that Ecuador might commence construction on a 950-mile concrete wall along its border with Peru.

    No one chatted about walls while we cut through sod to expose the buried remains of an ancient fortress in northern Britain. I doubt that anyone was chatting about walls anywhere. The old fortress, on the other hand, was generally considered the crown jewel of British archaeology. For more than 30 years, sharp-eyed excavators at the Roman fort of Vindolanda had been finding writing tablets — thin slivers of wood upon which Roman soldiers had written letters, duty rosters, inventories, and other assorted jottings. At first, the tablets had represented something of a technical challenge; their spectral writing faded almost immediately upon exposure to air, almost as if written in invisible ink. But when the writings were recovered through infrared photography, a tremendous satisfaction came from the discovery that Roman soldiers complained about shortages of beer while the wives of their commanders planned birthday parties. The Romans, it turned out, were a lot like us.

    Archaeology, even at such a special place, was tiring business, but after work I enjoyed taking hikes along the wall. It was beautiful countryside — well lit by an evening sun that lingered late during the Northumbrian summer — and as I ambled over the grassy hills, occasionally enjoying the company of sheep, I sometimes imagined I was a lonely Roman soldier, stationed at the end of the world, scanning the horizon for barbarians while I awaited a resupply of beer. I’m ashamed to say that I took no detailed notes on the wall itself. It made for beautiful photographs, the way it stretched languidly over the countryside, but my real interest lay in other things: the Roman soldiers, the barbarians, the letters. If anything I saw in Britain was to hold any significance for my research, it seemed obvious that I would find it in the wet gray clay of Vindolanda. There I hoped only to discern tiny clues about a particular period of Roman history. Such are the modest goals of the academic. For the duration of my stay, my focus was on the clay. All the while, I was standing right next to a piece of a much bigger story, a fragment of the past that was about to rise up from its ancient slumber to dominate contemporary politics on two continents. I was leaning against it, resting my hand on it, posing for pictures by it. I just didn’t see it.

    It was my interest in the barbarians that finally opened my eyes to the historical importance of walls. The barbarians were, in the main, inhabitants of every North African or Eurasian wasteland — the steppes, the deserts, the mountains. Civilized folk had erected barriers to exclude them in an astonishing array of countries: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Britain, Algeria, Libya, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Peru, China, and Korea, to give only a partial list. Yet somehow this fact had entirely escaped the notice of historians. Not a single textbook observed the nearly universal correlation between civilization and walls. It remained standard even for specialists to remark that walls were somehow unique to Chinese history, if not unique to Chinese culture — a stereotype that couldn’t possibly be any less true.

    By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone.

    The reemergence of border walls in contemporary political debates made for an even more surprising revelation. Like most people my age, I had watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with great excitement. To many of us, it looked like the beginning of a new era, heralded by no less towering an international figure than David Hasselhoff, whose concert united both halves of Berlin in inexplicable rapture. More than a quarter-century has passed since then, and if it had once seemed that walls had become a thing of the past, that belief has proven sorely wrong.

    Border walls have experienced a conspicuous revival in the 21st century. Worldwide, some 70 barriers of various sorts currently stand guard. Some exist to prevent terrorism, others as obstacles to mass migration or the flow of illegal drugs. Nearly all mark national borders. By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone. For every person who sees a wall as an act of oppression, there is always another urging the construction of newer, higher, and longer barriers. The two sides hardly speak to each other.

    As things turned out, it was the not the beer or the birthday parties that connected the past to the present in northern England. It was the wall. We can almost imagine it now as a great stone timeline, inhabited on one end by ancients, on the other by moderns, but with both always residing on the same side facing off against an unseen enemy. If I couldn’t see that in 2002, it was only because we were then still living in an anomalous stage in history and had somehow lost our instinct for something that has nearly always been a part of our world.

    How important have walls been in the history of civilization? Few civilized peoples have ever lived outside them. As early as the 10th millennium BC, the builders of Jericho encircled their city, the world’s first, with a rampart. Over time, urbanism and agriculture spread from Jericho and the Levant into new territories: Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, and beyond. Walls inevitably followed. Everywhere farmers settled, they fortified their villages. They chose elevated sites and dug ditches to enclose their homes. Entire communities pitched in to make their villages secure. A survey of prehistoric Transylvanian farming villages determined that some 1,400 to 1,500 cubic meters of earth typically had to be moved just to create an encircling ditch — an effort that would have required the labor of 60 men for 40 days. Subsequently, those ditches were lined with stone and bolstered by palisades. If a community survived long enough, it might add flanking towers. These were the first steps toward walls.

    The creators of the first civilizations descended from generations of wall builders. They used their newfound advantages in organization and numbers to build bigger walls. More than a few still survive. We can estimate their heights, their thicknesses, their volumes, and their lengths. But the numbers can only tell us so much. We will always learn more by examining the people who built the walls or the fear that led to their construction.

    And what about these fears? Were civilizations — and walls — created only by unusually fearful peoples? Or did creating civilization cause people to become fearful? Such questions turn out to be far more important than we’ve ever realized.

    Since 2002, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the Roman soldiers who once guarded Hadrian’s Wall. They certainly never struck me as afraid of anything. Then again, they weren’t exactly Roman, either. They came chiefly from foreign lands, principally Belgium and Holland, which were in those days still as uncivilized as the regions north of the wall. Everything they knew of building and writing, they had learned in the service of Rome.

    As for the Romans, they preferred to let others fight their battles. They had become the definitive bearers of civilization and as such were the target of a familiar complaint: that they had lost their edge. Comfortable behind their city walls and their foreign guards, they had grown soft. They were politicians and philosophers, bread makers and blacksmiths, anything but fighters.

    The Roman poet Ovid knew a thing or two about the soft life, but he also had the unusual experience of learning what life was like for Rome’s frontier troops. The latter misfortune came as a consequence of his having offended the emperor Augustus. The offense was some peccadillo — Ovid never divulges the details — compounded by his having penned a rather scandalous book on the art of seduction. “What is the theme of my song?” he asked puckishly, in verse. “Nothing that’s very far wrong.” Augustus disagreed. Reading Ovid’s little love manual, the moralistic emperor saw plenty of wrong. He probably never even made it to the section where Ovid raved about what a great ruler he was. Augustus banished the poet from Rome, exiling him to Tomis, a doomed city on the coast of the Black Sea, 60-odd miles south of the Danube.

    Tomis was a hardscrabble sort of place, a former Greek colony already some 600 years old by the time of Ovid’s exile in the first century AD and no shinier for the wear. Its distinguishing characteristics were exactly two: First, it was about as far from Rome as one could be sent. Second, it lay perilously close to some of Rome’s fiercest enemies, in an area that didn’t yet have a border wall. Like northern Britain, the region of Tomis would one day receive its share of border walls, but in Ovid’s day, the only barriers to invasion were the fortifications around the city itself.

    Ovid suffered in his new home. It was one thing to live in a walled city, but quite another to be completely confined within those walls. In his letters to Rome, Ovid complained that the farmers of Tomis couldn’t even venture out onto their fields. On the rare occasion when a peasant dared to visit his plot, he guided the plow with one hand while carrying weapons in another. Even the shepherds wore helmets.

    Fear permeated everyday life in Tomis. Even in times of peace, wrote Ovid, the dread of war loomed. The city was, for all intents and purposes, under perpetual siege. Ovid likened the townspeople to a timid stag caught by bears or a lamb surrounded by wolves.

    Occasionally, Ovid reminisced on his former life in the capital, where he’d lived free from fear. He wistfully recalled the amenities of Rome — the forums, the temples, and the marble theaters; the porticoes, gardens, pools, and canals; above all, the cornucopia of literature at hand. The contrast with his new circumstances was complete. At Tomis, there was nothing but the clash and clang of weapons. Ovid imagined that he might at least content himself with gardening, if only he weren’t afraid to step outside. The enemy was quite literally at the gates, separated only by the thickness of the city’s wall. Barbarian horsemen circled Tomis. Their deadly arrows, which Ovid unfailingly reminds us had been dipped in snake venom, made pincushions of the roofs in the city.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism.

    There remained a final indignity for Ovid: the feeble, middle-aged author was pressed into service in defense of Tomis. As a youth, Ovid had avoided military service. There was no shame for shirkers back in Rome, a city replete with peaceniks and civilians. Now aging, Ovid had finally been forced to carry a sword, shield, and helmet. When the guard from the lookout signaled a raid, the poet donned his armor with shaking hands. Here was a true Roman, afraid to step out from behind his fortifications and hopelessly overwhelmed by the responsibility of defending them.

    From time to time, a Chinese poet would find himself in a situation much like Ovid’s. Stationed at some lonely outpost on the farthest reaches of the empire, the Chinese, too, longed for home while dreading the nearness of the barbarians. “In the frontier towns, you will have sad dreams at night,” wrote one. “Who wants to hear the barbarian pipe played to the moon?” Sometimes they meditated on the story of the Chinese princess who drowned herself in a river rather than cross beyond the wall. Even Chinese generals lamented the frontier life.

    Oddly, none of these sentiments appear in the letters written by the Roman soldiers at Vindolanda. Transplanted to a rainy land far from home, they grumbled at times about the beer supply but had nothing to say about shaky hands or sad dreams. It was as if these barbarian-turned-Roman auxiliaries had come from another world, where homesickness and fear had been banished. Perhaps they had.

    Almost anytime we examine the past and seek out the people most like us — those such as Ovid or the Chinese poets; people who built cities, knew how to read, and generally carried out civilian labor — we find them enclosed behind walls of their own making. Civilization and walls seem to have gone hand in hand. Beyond the walls, we find little with which we can identify — warriors mostly, of the sort we might hire to patrol the walls. The outsiders are mostly anonymous, except when they become notorious.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism. But the first path also pointed to much more — science, mathematics, theater, art — while the other brought its followers only to a dead end, where a man was nothing except a warrior and all labor devolved upon the women.

    No invention in human history played a greater role in creating and shaping civilization than walls. Without walls, there could never have been an Ovid, and the same can be said for Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians, or Greek philosophers. Moreover, the impact of walls wasn’t limited to the early phases of civilization. Wall building persisted for most of history, climaxing spectacularly during a 1,000-year period when three large empires — Rome, China, and Sasanid Persia — erected barriers that made the geopolitical divisions of the Old World all but permanent.

    The collapse of those walls influenced world history almost as profoundly as their creation, by leading to the eclipse of one region, the stagnation of another, and the rise of a third. When the great border walls were gone, leaving only faint traces on the landscape, they left indelible lines on our maps — lines that have even today not yet been obscured by modern wars or the jockeying of nations for resources. Today, a newer set of walls, rising up on four continents, has the potential to remake the world yet again.


    https://medium.com/s/greatescape/the-history-of-civilization-is-a-history-of-border-walls-24e837246fb8
    #civilisation #histoire #murs #murs_frontaliers #histoire #frontières #livre #David_Frye

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 10
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM10.htm

    A Major in the State Security Service

    One day I picked up my telephone to answer a call, and heard an unknown voice: “Is that the staff of the Soviet Military Administration?”

    “Yes.”

    “Major Klimov?”

    “Speaking.”

    “Good day, Klimov.” Then, after a brief pause: “This is the Central Administration of the M. V. D. in Potsdam.”

    “Oh yes. Whom do you want?”

    “You.”

    “What about?”

    “A major in the State Security wishes to speak to you.”

    “By all means. What about?”

    “A highly personal matter,” the voice said with a hint of irony, to go on with exaggerated courtesy: “When can I talk to you?”

    “At any time.”

    “We’d like to pay you a visit after office hours. Be at home this evening. What’s your address? But it doesn’t matter; we’ve got it here. Till this evening, so long.”

    “So long.”

    Frankly, I thought it was only an acquaintance of mine playing a stupid joke. A silly trick, especially on the telephone. When I got home that evening I lay on the sofa reading the papers, completely forgetting the promised visit. I didn’t remember it even when the bell rang. I went and opened the door. In the hall an officer was standing. The hall light shone on a blue cap with a raspberry band, and on blue-edged tabs.

    No doubt of it: a M. V. D. uniform. It was the first time I had seen that raspberry band since the end of the war, for the M. V. D. officers in Germany usually wore normal military uniform or civilian dress. But now they were calling on me in my own apartment! I felt an unpleasant emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Then the thought flashed through my mind: ’But he’s alone. So it can’t be so bad; it’s not usual to send only one when an arrest is to be made.’

    “May I come in?” The visitor walked past me with a confident step.

    I did not look at his face. Startled by the unexpected visit, I tried to think what it meant. Without waiting for my invitation the officer took off his coat and cap, turned to me, and said:

    “Well, old fellow! If we’d met on the street I wouldn’t have recognized you either. But now make your guest really welcome.”

    I stared dumbfounded at the officer’s face. He was obviously delighted at the impression he had made. I recognized him as my old school colleague and student friend, Andrei Kovtun, whom I had long believed to be dead.

    One hot day in July 1941 Andrei and I were standing in the street, watching a column of infantry march past. Yesterday they had still been peaceful citizens. Today they had been led into the Russian bath, their heads had been close-cropped, they had been put in uniform, and now the ragged, silent column was on its way to the unknown. They sang no songs; their faces expressed only resignation to fate. They were wearing old, completely faded uniforms, the heritage of previous generations of soldiers.

    “What do you think, how will it all end?” Andrei asked me.

    “We’ll pull through,” I answered, for the sake of saying some-thing.

    “I think the Germans will get here quite quickly,” he said in an enigmatic tone, giving me a searching look.

    Andrei was an amusing fellow, outwardly as well as inwardly- not good-looking, but sturdily built, tall, rather bandy, with arms too long for his body. His head seemed to go flat at the sides, and was stuck on an absurdly long neck. He was terribly proud of his thick, bristly hair, and had even let it grow into a shock that made him look like a tsarist cossack.

    He was all out of proportion, and had a savage appearance. His eyes were too black, his skin far too swarthy, and much too freckled for a grown man. I often used to say to him jokingly: “Andrei, if scientists should happen to dig up your skeleton some day in the distant future, they’ll be delighted: they’ll think they’ve discovered a specimen of a cave-man.” In those days he bubbled with youthful energy and seemed to exude the scent of black earth and steppe winds.

    His chief characteristic was an inordinate self-esteem. When we were at school together we often went out to the lakes about fourteen miles from the city. Andrei took a rod and nets, and I an old sporting gun. On the way we always had a race to see who could walk the faster. He laid down the conditions right to the last detail, and set off at a great pace, looking back again and again to see whether I was keeping up, or possibly felt like giving up. After an hour or more of this he would stop, quite out of breath, and say condescendingly: “Yes, you’ve got some idea of how to walk. We’ll call a halt, otherwise I’m afraid you’ll have a stroke.” He lay down on the grass at the roadside and gasped: “Of course, your gun’s lighter than my rod.... Otherwise I’d have beaten you. Now we’ll swop over.”

    Later, when he became a student, he found another outlet for his self-esteem: he ardently studied the lives of the great. He did this by simply rummaging through the library catalogues for books, which had titles beginning with the word ’great’. He was never put off, even by some three-volume work like Great Courtesans in World History.

    Whenever he visited me at home he always sat astride his chair and drummed his fingers on the table without saying a word. Then he would turn his flat face to me and ask in the tone of an inquisitor: “I expect you’ve heard of Cleopatra. But can you tell me who Messalina was? Well?” When I couldn’t answer the question he was absurdly delighted. As a rule I didn’t fall into the trap, but resorted to counter-questions. If he asked what stone Nero used for his spectacles I would say contemptuously: “That’s just stupid! But you tell me the difference between a cohort and a phalanx. That’s a man’s question, that is!”

    It has to be borne in mind that in the Soviet Union his Lory teaching begins with the Paris Commune. According to Soviet pedagogues all that happened before that event is to be related to the Darwin theory; namely, evolution from ape to man. Man really made his first appearance only in 1871. By the law of action and reaction we felt an invincible antipathy to the ’barrel-organs’, as we called the history teachers, and preferred to go and play football.

    The result was that it was unusual for a student to have any knowledge of antiquity and the middle ages. To acquire such knowledge one had to study such things for oneself, and it was very difficult to get hold of the necessary books. I first read textbooks on the history of antiquity when I was a university student, as a change from boring differential calculus and integrals. I don’t know why Andrei came to take an interest in the ashes of Alexander the Great: probably it was just his self-esteem. He assumed that he was the only student who could ever think of such an idea, and he was highly astonished when he found I could answer his importunate questions.

    Another outstanding feature of his character was his deep, instinctive hate of the Soviet regime. He hated it, as a dog hates a cat. I found his attitude incomprehensible and often rather un-pleasant-1 was more liberal in my views. Andrei’s father was an independent shoemaker, so, according to Soviet ideas, he belonged to the propertied class which was condemned to be liquidated, though all the property he owned was a pair of callused hands and a back bowed with much labor.

    I expect Andrei heard quite a few bitter curses at Stalin and the whole ’communist band of robbers’ even in his cradle. I could find no other explanation for his conduct when he took me aside at school and whispered anti-Soviet verses into my ears: the sort of thing one finds on the walls of lavatories. Usually I refused to be drawn into any argument. We were both sixteen, but I remembered that in a local school three scholars had recently been sent to prison for ’anti-Soviet activity’.

    During our student days he often came round to my place. We were not exactly inseparable friends: my impression is that he had no intimate friends whatever. His friendship was based mainly on one-sided contests on every possible issue. He felt a constant desire to excel me in examinations, and in general knowledge of the humanities. I was amused at his extraordinary ways, tried to haul him down from the clouds to earth and make him realize that even he had still a long way to go to perfection.

    My feeling for him was not so much one of friendship as of interest, because he was a very unusual fellow. Although he had never done me any wrong, I always kept him at a certain distance. But he honored me in a condescending sort of way with his friendship, or rather his rivalry, explaining that I did have some understanding at least of ’higher things’.

    He regarded himself as insuperable, unique. Among us students that gave rise to continual joking and banter. One thing in his favor was that, despite his self-esteem, he never took offense. He simply kept away for a time, and when he had got over it he turned up again as if nothing had happened.

    On one occasion, while we were studying at the Institute for Industry, at the beginning of the school year he came round to my place and seated himself, as usual, astride a chair. I was bent over the table, occupied with a plan, and took no notice of him. But this time he had especially important news. At first he preserved a mysterious silence in order to provoke my curiosity. I saw that he was bursting to surprise me with his news, but I pretended that I hadn’t noticed.

    “Haven’t you heard yet?” At last he could hold out no longer. I calmly went on with my drawing.

    “Of course you haven’t!” He dropped his voice almost to a whisper. “There are some simply marvelous girls in the first course this year. I was in the students’ hostel of the Faculty of Chemistry yesterday. They’re stunning! One of them I saw is a real princess. I’ve managed to find out her name - it’s Halina. And I’ve thought out a plan and I want to talk it over with you. Oh, drop your stupid drawing! I’ve arranged things with devilish cleverness. First I found out what room Halina occupies.

    Then I discovered whom she has in with her - there are four altogether. Next I sought out the ugliest of the lot and enchanted her all the evening like Mephistopheles. Now the toad thinks I’m head over heels in love with her, and she’s even invited me to go and see her. Get that? And in her room I shall find.... Halina!” He capered about joyfully, and made some indefinite grunts and groans of rapture at his own cleverness. "So it’s already half achieved. Only I can’t go along by myself. I need a companion. You’re going with me!

    “Anyway, you’re not dangerous as a rival,” he added, fully conscious of his own superiority.

    I was highly astonished. We all regarded him as a woman-hater. His appearance was so unprepossessing that he never achieved any success with the girl students. He was in the habit of saying: “Women haven’t any understanding. They see only the outer shell, they’re not interested in the soul.” Then he would mutter: “Besides, all the greatest men were lifelong bachelors.” So something unusual must have happened to make him suddenly wax enthusiastic about feminine charms.

    A little later I did meet the princess he was out to capture. It need only be added that our friendship and rivalry were extended to include Halina.

    We both received diplomas as engineers, passing the State Examination Commission in the spring of 1941. Now the world lay open before us. Despite all its attractions, student life had not been easy. Over half the graduates of our course had had to pay for their studies at a high price: tuberculosis, gastric troubles, and neurasthenia. But we had been fighting for our future, and now it lay before us in all its allurement. We had a definite profession, which promised improvement in our material conditions and the possibility of putting long-nursed plans into execution.

    Then came 21 June 1941.

    There are very many who will never forget that date. The war came like a bolt out of the blue. It shattered all our plans at one blow. We had to renounce all our personal and private life for several years. Yet we accepted the war with great calmness. Germany stood for us as a symbol of Europe, but for the majority of the young, thinking people of Russia, Europe was a forbidden paradise. The complete ban on contacts with the outer world had its negative aspects: many of the young Soviet people greatly exaggerated the reality, and thought of Europe as the incarnation of all that they were striving for in intellectual and material respects.

    During the early days many of us accepted that the war was the signal for the world communist revolution, that it was a logical maneuver engineered by the Comintern, staged by Stalin, and those who thought so were alarmed. But when the first reports began to come in of the Germans’ incredible successes and the Red Army’s catastrophic defeats, they were reassured. Many people genuinely welcomed the war. Particularly such a war! Secretly they thought of it as a European crusade against Bolshevism. That is a paradox, and very few people in Europe suspected its existence. Russian people now prefer not to be reminded of it: the later disillusionment was too bitter.

    Hitler played his greatest trump, the people’s trust, into Stalin’s hands. Before the war the majority of the young Soviet thinking people had had no faith whatever in Soviet propaganda, or at least treated it with great skepticism. The war taught them a bloody lesson that they will never forget.

    In those days, if Andrei caught me, anywhere, it didn’t matter where; he excitedly drew me aside and told me the latest reports from the front. The German reports, of course. He swore that Kiev had fallen long before the German troops had got anywhere near it. He greeted every Soviet defeat not only exultantly, but also with a really bestial malignity. He already had visions of himself leading a terrorist band, and was mentally counting the communists he would hang with his own hand.

    The war drove Andrei and me in different directions. I had my first letter from him at the end of 1941. It was written on a dirty scrap of paper, and every line expressed a hopeless depression. It was not a letter; it was the cry of a hound howling to the moon. He was with a training unit somewhere in the rear. To make things worse, it was a unit for special training: when the course was finished they were to be dropped as partisans in the German rear. He had been a constructional engineer; now he was an officer in the pioneer corps. That determined his future work: the organization of diversionist activities in the enemy rear.

    After reading the letter I felt convinced that the day he was dropped he would go over to the Germans.

    I received a second letter from him much later, after some twelve months. The paper was headed with a German staff heading, which Andrei himself had crossed out. As I read it I was not a little amazed at the amount of hypocrisy a man can achieve. It was written in an exalted style and consisted solely of a hymn of praise of the fatherland, the Party, and the government. He wrote:

    ’Only here, in the enemy rear, have I come to realize what “homeland” means. It is no longer an abstract conception, but a living essence, a dear being, the fatherland. I have found what I previously sought in vain: the meaning of life. To triumph gloriously or go under. But if I survive, to have a chest loaded with decorations. I am now a member of the Party; I have three orders and have been recommended for promotion. I am in command of a partisan force, which corresponds, roughly to a regiment in numerical strength, but our fighting power is even greater. I was a fool when I decided to be an engineer. Now for the first time I know what I have to do: when we have won the war I shall work in the N. K. V. D. and change my name to Orlov.’

    Little Nero no longer had any doubt of the outcome of the war. He wanted to join the N. K. V. D. because he regarded that institution as the quintessence of the Soviet regime. His letter went on to detail how many bridges his unit had blown up, how many trains it had derailed, and how many of the enemy it had wiped out. I had no faith in this regeneration. I simply assumed that when writing the letter he had had one eye on the military censor. The authorities form their moral and political opinion of an officer largely on the content of his letters, and his promotion therefore depends on them to a large extent. I assumed that his self-esteem and desire for a brilliant career had swamped all other feelings in him. I felt thoroughly angry, and replied:

    ’I’m afraid you and I may find ourselves on opposite sides of the table. Citizen Orlov’: a clear hint at his future career as a N. K. V. D. officer.

    The last letter I had from Andrei reached me a year later. It revealed the well-considered, mature thought of someone who had come to manhood. He reported that he now commanded a group of regular partisan units, amounting in strength to approximately an army division. His units were active in a district corresponding in area to a Central European state. The official army communiqués made references to their military achievements. He no longer listed the orders he had received, and only mentioned casually that he had been awarded the title Of ’Hero of the Soviet Union’.

    So my friend and rival had really carved himself out a career. Andrei was fond of boasting, but he was not a liar. During these years great changes had occurred in the souls of the Russians, and I was genuinely proud of his success. In conclusion, he wrote that he was moving westward with the advancing front into the Baltic States, that the work there would be difficult and there might be an interruption in our correspondence. That was the last I had heard of him. I thought with regret that his career was closed, and mentally put R. I. P. after his name.

    Now he was standing in front of me, alive and unscathed, risen from the dead, a man in the prime of life. On his chest a gold five-pointed star, the highest Soviet distinction for military prowess, glittered above several rows of ribbons. All his being radiated the calm assurance of a man who is accustomed to command; his features had lost their angularity and had acquired a distinctive, masculine, handsome quality. Only his character hadn’t changed: he had planned to give me a surprise that would make my heart sink into my boots 1

    “It’s a long time since we last met, brother. Prepare a fitting reception for your guest,” he said. His voice was different, strange; it had a note of patronage, as though he was used to ordering people about.

    “You certainly are a stranger,” I said. “But why didn’t you warn me? Now I haven’t the least idea how to celebrate your return from the dead. Why didn’t you write?”

    “You know what the words ’special task’ mean? For two whole years I couldn’t even write to my mother. But how are you? Are you married, or are you still ploughing a lonely furrow? Tell me all that’s happened to you, from beginning to end. How did you get on in the war?”

    “Like everybody else,” I answered. I was not yet recovered from the surprise, and felt a little awkward. He had changed so completely: would we find any common language?

    “There were various ways of fighting during the war,” he commented. “You know, the wise got the rewards while the stupid fought. But that’s all past now. What are your plans?”

    “About ten in the morning I shall go to my office,” I answered. “Very praiseworthy. So you’re still a realist?” Our conversation was formal and artificial, as though time had washed away the intimacy of our youthful years.

    “Ah, those were wonderful times, our student days. It might be a thousand years ago,” he said thoughtfully, as though he had guessed my thoughts. “Tell me, how did things go between you and Halina? I felt sure you’d marry her.”

    So he had not forgotten the princess of our student days. I too willingly turned our thoughts back to those years. I offered him a cigarette, but he refused it. “So you still don’t smoke?” I asked.

    “I tried it in the forests, out of sheer boredom. But I just didn’t take to it,” he replied.

    I knew that in the old days he could not stand spirits. I set a flask on the table before him, and he studied it as though it were medicine.

    “That’s my biggest defect: I can’t drink,” he said. “At home, I’ve got some of the choicest wines from Goring’s private cellar, but I never touch them. That isn’t always easy for me. Others can empty a bottle and find oblivion; I can’t.”

    “Are you beginning to be troubled by conscience?” I asked. “If I remember aright, you had a tremendous desire to be a Robespierre at one time. Oh, and by the way, is your name Orlov now?”

    “No, I was just intoxicated then. A kind of drunkenness,” he replied. I caught a note of uncertainty in his voice.

    “Tell me, Andrei, what made you write such idiotic rot in your letters? Were you writing with one eye on the censorship?”

    “You may not believe it, but I wrote exactly as I felt at that time,” he answered. “Today it seems idiotic to me too. To tell the truth, the war years were the happiest time of my life, and will always remain so. In the war I found myself. I waded in blood, but I was absolutely convinced that I was right, I was doing a great and necessary work. It all seemed as clear and clean to me as a field of virgin snow. I felt that I was lord of our Russian earth, and was pre-pared to die for it.” He spoke slowly, with an almost imperceptible falter in his voice.

    The self-confidence was gone. “Then what do you really feel now?” I asked. “These days I often lose that absolute conviction,” he went on as though he hadn’t heard my question. He stared into vacancy. “I’ve killed lots and lots of Germans! Look!” He thrust out his sinewy, swarthy hands towards me. "With these hands I’ve put out I don’t how many Germans. Just wiped them out: we partisans didn’t take prisoners. I killed, and I felt happy in killing. For I was convinced that I was doing right.

    “But do you know what I’m doing now?” His face twitched nervously; there was a note of suppressed resentment in his voice, a peculiar resentment, as though he was furious with himself. “Now I’m killing the German soul and German brains. Goebbels once said:

    ’If you wish to subject a people, you must rob it of its brains.’ That is my job now. The snag is that in this procedure your own brain threatens to go. We are interested in Germany only in so far as it is necessary to secure our own interests! Very sound! But things are going too far. However, that’s not really the crux of the matter. How can I put it...?”

    He was silent for a time; then he went on slowly, carefully choosing his words: “I’m tormented with accursed doubts. It seems to me... that what we’re trying to kill here... is better than what we have at home. I don’t feel any pity for the Germans, but I feel pity for myself, and for ourselves. That’s the crux of the matter. We’re destroying a well-developed cultural system, reorganizing it to match our own pattern, and that pattern... to he’ll with it! Do you remember what our life was like?”

    “Tell me, Major of the State Security Force, what is the job you’re doing at the moment?” I asked.

    “And another thing: talk a little more quietly. German houses have thin walls.”

    “What am I doing at present?” he repeated my words. Then, evasively: "Various things. Besides the tasks usually assigned to the M. V. D. we have many others of which nobody outside has any suspicion. For instance, we have an exact copy of your S. M. A. organization, only in miniature. We control all your work, and we give a hand when radical intervention is called for, swift and without fuss. Moscow has less trust in Sokolovsky’s reports than in ours.

    "I expect you know from experience than an M. V. D. lieutenant can issue orders to your army colonels, and an M. V. D. major’s word is binding on your army generals. Yet it is only an unwritten law that that is so: a general takes for granted that it is a law, and that if he disregards or fails to comply with it the consequences can be very unpleasant.

    “You know the Political Adviser Semionov, and Colonel Tulpanov?” he asked, but added without waiting for my answer: “We have contact with them very rarely, but they’re always conscious of our fatherly care. Right down to such details as would ensure a full hall and a sound moral tone in our Soviet House of Culture here.... And we often invite Wilhelm Pieck and other leaders to visit us for friendly conversations”-he ironically stressed the words ’leaders’ and ’friendly conversations’. "We never even shake hands with them, so that they shouldn’t get any Voltairian ideas into their heads. We don’t bother with velvet gloves, not like your Tulpanov.

    "Only a man who has worked in our organization can know all the depths of human turpitude. All our guests slink in on tiptoe. If they no longer please us, it isn’t far to Buchenwald. Pieck and his fellows know that well enough. A number of their colleagues are already stewing in their own juice there.

    “The democratization of Germany... Hm!... All the bakers and sausage-makers are to be sent to Siberia! The property-owners are to be liquidated as a class! We turn their places into Red Corners and call them after Pieck or some other dog. Do you know how we purged Berlin after the capitulation? It took us just one night. Thirty thousand people were taken from their beds and sent straight to Siberia. We already had the lists prepared while our troops were still the other side of the Oder. We got all we needed from the local communists.”

    He was silent for a moment, crossed his legs and studied his knee. “We can hardly shake off the servile scum. You know, after the capitulation there were literally queues of voluntary denouncers and informers waiting to be interviewed by us. Once I gave orders for a whole mob of these human abominations to be driven out of my waiting room with rifle butts. I simply couldn’t stand any more.”

    His words reminded me of the typical attitude taken by Soviet soldiers to the German ’political comrades’. Shortly before the Soviet and American forces made contact a group of Russian soldiers fell in with a single German. He had a rucksack on his back, and was wheeling a cycle loaded with all he possessed. He was going eastward. When he saw the Soviet soldiers he shouted enthusiastically: ’Stalin good... I’m communist... Comrade...’ He tried to explain that he was on his way to the Soviet Union, and intended to build communism together with them.

    The soldiers looked at one another without a word, turned him round to face the west, and gave him a good-natured push. When he resisted, and tried again and again to go east, the soldiers got wild and took away his rucksack and cycle. After they had given him a communist baptism he could hardly move a limb. As he pulled himself together and turned to go back the soldiers called after him: “Now comrade is a real communist. Yours is mine. Stalin-good!” They were perfectly convinced they had done him a good turn, they had saved his life.

    The officials of the K. P. D. - S. E. D. decorated their car radiators with red flags and felt that they were lords of creation as they drove like the fire-brigade about Berlin, with no regard to the speed limit. Whenever a Soviet soldier or officer driving a car met such a man he regarded it as a matter of honor to undertake the crazy ’comrade’s’ ideological re-education. The higher the ’comrade’s’ Party ranks the greater the honor of smashing in his radiator and his mug. “So that he won’t be in such a hurry to get to communism in future,” was the usual comment in such cases.

    The Karlshorst commandant, Colonel Maximov, only laughed when such incidents were reported to him. They were not simply acts of crude barbarism. After the Soviet soldiers had lived a while in Germany they spoke with respect and even with envy of the Germans. But they called the German communists rogues and venal riffraff. Any Soviet citizen who has seen Europe is quite convinced that only degenerates in the pay of Moscow can be communists.

    “Oh, and by the way, what were you doing in Petersburgerstrasse recently?” Andrei asked the direct question.

    I stared at him in amazement. It was true that I had been in Petersburgerstrasse a week before. A Moscow girl acquaintance named Irena had invited me to call on her. She had graduated from the Institute for Foreign Languages in Moscow and was now working in Berlin as a teacher of German.

    The house I had visited differed very little from the others in the street; it had no nameplate or red flag to indicate that it was used by the occupation authorities. But hardly had I opened the door when a man in the uniform of the M. V. D. frontier guards barred my way. My officer’s uniform and my identity papers were not of much use. Before I could enter the house Irena herself had to come down and identify me.

    The house was used as the school for the M. V. D. censors, and they lived as though in barracks. The conditions were very strict, as they are in all M. V. D. establishments. Although Irena was not on the M. V. D. strength, but was simply an outside employee, she had to obtain her employer’s permission to go out, even on Sundays. When she went out she had to enter the time she left and the object of her going in a record book; on her return she had to enter the time and sign her name again. As she herself admitted, they all lived like semi-prisoners.

    “How do you know I was in Petersburgerstrasse?” I asked Andrei. “That’s simple: I took a preliminary look at your personal file, only not the personal file you have in your Personnel Department here. If I’m not mistaken, not long ago you saw ’Eugene Onegin’ at the Admiralspalast, and you’ve seen the ’Petrushka’ ballet too, haven’t you? I can even tell you whom you went with.”

    He looked at me sidelong, to see what impression he had made. Evidently he was just as fond as ever of cheap effects.

    "But that’s not a crime at the moment: the Admiralspalast is in the Soviet Sector. But I advise you not to visit theaters in the other sectors, for that will be placed to your debit. Understand? We keep our own books on every S. M. A. officer, right up to Marshal Sokolovsky. At present your personal record is perfectly in order, and I congratulate you.

    “Oh, and while we’re talking about the Petersburgerstrasse, we’ve got one or two other interesting institutions there: a special school for German instructors, for instance. They’re the framework of the future German M. V. D. There are certain things that it’s more convenient to leave to the Germans. I’m only surprised at the enormous amount of trouble they give themselves. There are times when I can’t help thinking that some of them really believe they’re helping to build a finer Germany. And these petty hacks never even get supplementary rations, like the Special-Troika does. You know what the Special-Troika is, I expect. The Germans call the triumvirate Grotewohl, Pieck and Ulbricht simply and briefly the G. P. U. And for simplicity’s sake we ourselves have christened them the ’Special-Troika’.” (A reference to the days of the revolutionary Extraordinary Tribunals, which usually had three members - Tr.)

    He went on to tell of the slogans with which the walls of German toilets are embellished. “Do you know what S. E. D. stands for?” he asked. “The Germans say: ’So ends Germany.’ (So endet Deutschland.) Maybe they themselves don’t suspect how right they are. That will be clear to them when Germany is renamed the German S. S. R. and the present S. E. D. is known as the German Communist Party. Of course it’s not the name but the thing behind it that’s important.”

    For the sake of both of us I felt that I had to comment: “You’re saying some very remarkable things. If it were anybody else, I’d report it to the proper authorities without hesitation. But as they’re being said by a major in the State Security Service I must take them as deliberate provocation. So I think it unnecessary to do anything about it. Go on until you get bored.”

    He looked at me and laughed. “But you’re a prudent fellow! Reinsurance can’t do any harm. To reassure you, you can take every word I have said as provocation. In those circumstances I can speak even more frankly.”

    He got up from his chair and strode about the room. Finally he halted before my bookcase and studied the books. With his back to me he continued:

    "It’s really amusing to see how readily whole nations put their necks into this yoke. Take Germany. If Stalin had all Germany in his hands the Germans would dance to his pipe as one man. You know how they think: ’Orders are orders!’ Of course one would have to create the prerequisites first: the form of an independent German state, with a premier and other puppets. You have to play up the German national pride. And when the right men are in charge the Germans will vote unanimously for a German S. S. R.

    “Form and content!” he continued thoughtfully. "Take socialism and communism, for instance. According to Marx, socialism is the first step to communism. There are very strong socialist tendencies in the world today. Of course as modern society progresses it requires new forms. The Social-Democratic Parties, socialization under Hitler, the present socialistic trend in England. You can see it at every step. Well then, do all roads really lead to communism?

    "Now look at what we’ve got in Russia. It’s called socialism. By its form it really does seem to be socialism, for everything belongs to society in the shape of the State. But the content? The content is state capitalism or socialistic slave-ownership. The people pour out their blood and sweat to bring about the future communist paradise. It’s all strongly reminiscent of the ass with the bundle of hay hung out in front of its nose. The ass puts out all its strength, but the hay always remains the same distance off. And the naive idealists of the West treat the concepts of socialism and communism as interchangeable, and voluntarily put their necks in the same yoke.

    “Strange as it may seem, there is only one historical parallel to communist teaching, and that’s Christian teaching. Only the Christian teaching was as orthodox as communist teaching is to-day, and that is precisely why it spread all over the world. The Christian teaching said to the soul of man: ’Share with your neighbor’. But history has advanced to the materialistic phase. The common law of communism is: ’Take from your neighbor’.”

    He sank into his chair, stretched out his legs, and leaned his head against the back. “After the capitulation I took for granted that we would be taking all the best Europe had got-after all, we were the victors-and then we would impose order in our own house. Instead, we’ve forced our own muck down these people’s throats while we’re draining our own people of their last drop of blood. Permanent revolution! Here I’m building communism on an all-German scale. In that job Wilhelm Pieck is my errand-boy, and meanwhile what is happening in our own country?”

    An evil light gleamed in his eyes. He jumped up and took long strides about the room. His voice choked with fury: “Is that what I fought for?”

    “Listen, Andrei,” I said. “Assuming for the moment that your remarks are not intended as provocation, but that you really do feel and think as you say, how can you reconcile it with your work in the M. V. D.?”

    He looked into my eyes for one moment, then shifted his gaze to some invisible point in the twilit room.

    “You mean, why do I wear this raspberry-banded cap?” he asked. “Just for fun. Simply to enjoy the sight of others starting away from me. That’s the only thing I get any pleasure out of now in my work. When one has a vacuum inside, one inevitably seeks some substitute in the outside world.”

    “You had that streak even in the old days, a la Nero!” I retorted. “But a man doesn’t get far with that.”

    “You’re quite right. Do you know what are the occupational diseases of M. V. D. officers?” He laughed maliciously. "Alcoholism is the least of them. The majority of the men are drug-addicts: morphine, cocaine. It’s been statistically proved that three years’ work in the operational organs is enough to turn a man into a chronic neurasthenic. In the Crimea there’s a special M. V. D. sanitarium for treatment of the drug-addicts and impotents.

    But it doesn’t do much good. A shattered nervous system isn’t easily restored to health. Normal men can’t stick the work. And intelligence - that’s the most dangerous thing of all in our profession. If you want to make a career in the M. V. D. you must be a scoundrel by vocation. The idealists have long since lost their heads, the old guard has become part of the history of the C. P. S. U. What are left can be divided into two main categories: those who do every-thing they’re called on to do without offering any resistance, since they don’t mind how they earn their bread, and those who’re ready to betray even their own mother for the sake of their career.

    You know the Soviet commandment: outwardly be your superior’s slave, but inwardly dig his grave, so that you can take his place. The same holds true of the M. V. D., only much more so. No wonder they turn to cocaine and morphine.

    "You know, when I get sick to death of it all I go out in the middle of the night, get into my car and drive like a madman through Berlin. At full speed along the East-West Axis. The British Military Police try to stop me, but what can they do? I’ve got an eight-cylinder Tatra. And then I drive through the Brandenburg Gate. A hair’s breadth to right or left, and I’d be smashed to pulp. I’m even tempted to, sometimes.... It’s so simple.... Only a hair’s breadth.... You’re all right; you’re an engineer. That smells of oil and smoke. But everything around me reeks of blood.

    “At the university I thought of engineering as a solid sort of profession. But when I got down to practice and saw what a lot engineers were I stayed on in the faculty only by sheer inertia. All the time I wanted something different, but now I don’t know what I want. I know only one thing: my life will be ended with a bullet - my own or another’s.”

    I felt sorry for Andrei now. The man who had entered my room was in the prime of life, with a confident step and outlook, a man who seemed to have achieved his aim in life. But now I could tell from his own words that he was damned. And the calmness with which he spoke only accentuated my feeling.

    But you’re still an engineer too," I said. “And you’re a Party member and a war hero. You can go back to your old profession.”

    “That’s right out of the question,” he answered. "There’s no escape from the M. V. D. Have you ever met anyone who has? In the old days, work in the Cheka provided a way to a further, a different career. But now we’ve advanced in that respect too. Now you’re asked: ’Why did you leave the M. V. D.?’ Now such a step is a crime, it’s desertion from the most responsible sector of the communist front. They’d never release me, except to put me behind bars.

    “And besides, anyone who has had some power over other men finds it difficult to start catching butterflies and growing geraniums in a flower-box on the window-sill,” he said with an unpleasant smile. “Power is a tasty dish. And you can’t tear yourself away from it, you’re only torn away.”

    His words reminded me of a man I had met in a front-line hospital during the war. He was a private in a punitive company. Before the war he had been an aviation engineer. He was a Party member, and when he was called up he was assigned to work in the N. K. V. D. They sent him to the Secret Department of the Central Institute for Aerodynamics in Moscow, where he was put on secret work in the field of constructing special high-flying machines driven by turbo-compression engines.

    Nobody in Moscow suspected that almost all through the war a solo German Henschel circled over Moscow day after day. It flew at such a height that it was invisible to the naked eye. Only the experts knew the secret of the white smoke-clouds that formed and then slowly dissipated in the sky. The machine never dropped bombs; it only took photographs with the aid of infrared films. The Germans attached great importance to the regular photographing of the Moscow railway junctions, through which the main flood of military material passed to the West.

    German machines flew over Moscow day and night, and they gradually began to get on the Kremlin’s nerves. When the Soviet fighters attempted to go above their 80, 000 feet limit the Henschel calmly climbed still higher, then swooped down and shot up the Yaks and the MIGS. However, it did not often show the Soviet fighters such honor, and only made fun of them.

    The Defense Council gave the Institute for Aerodynamics the urgent task of inventing means of combating these German reconnaissance planes, and the former aviation engineer, the newly commissioned N. K. V. D. officer, was given the task of controlling the work. Under the ’plan’ drawn up by the N. K. V. D. higher authorities he was instructed to send them each month the names of a fixed percentage of spies, diversionists and wreckers.

    The ’plan’ was strict: every month a certain percentage of spies, a percentage of diversionists, and similar ’people’s enemies’. Often, in addition, they sent him an urgent demand for ten ’spies’ from the milling-machinists, or five ’wreckers’ from the laboratory or metallurgical workers, the demand being made to meet the N. K. V. D.’s special needs for some urgent constructional project of its own.

    After some months the lieutenant had a nervous breakdown. He was not very well acquainted with the ways of the N. K. V. D., and he put in a report with the request to be assigned to other work. A day later he was reduced to the ranks and sent to a punitive company. In the hospital where I came to know him he had had both legs amputated.

    Andrei was right; there would be no way out of the M. V. D. for him.

    “Where is Halina now?” he suddenly asked bluntly.

    “Somewhere in Moscow.”

    “I have only one hope left now,” he said dreamily. “Perhaps if I could see her again...”

    There was a ring at the door. I went out, and came back with an acquaintance named Mikhail Sykov, who lived not far from me. He excused his invasion with the usual remark: “I happened to be passing, and saw your light was on, so I thought...” He broke off as he caught sight of Andrei. Andrei’s face was not recognizable in the dusk; my desk lamp lit up only his blue and gold epaulettes and the numerous decorations on his chest. Sykov greeted Andrei, who only nodded without rising from his chair.

    The newcomer obviously felt that he had called at an awkward moment. It isn’t so easy to make conversation with a M. V. D. officer as with ordinary mortals. Besides, who knew what the officer was here for? On official business, quite possibly. In such cases it’s much the best to make yourself scarce. Anyway, the taciturn major showed no inclination to talk. So Sykov declined the chair I offered him, with the remark: “I’ll drop in some other time. I think I’ll go and see who’s around in the club.”

    He vanished as suddenly as he had arrived. Next morning he probably told everybody in his office that I was on friendly terms with the M. V. D., embellishing his story, of course. Among official S. M. A. circles my stock would rise: intimate relations with the M. V. D. were not without significance.

    Andrei sat a little longer without speaking, then rose and re-marked: “I think it’s about time I was going, too. Drop in and see me whenever you’re in Potsdam.”

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • French arrest warrant out for Saudi crown prince’s sister: source close to probe
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb//News/Middle-East/2018/Mar-15/441675-french-arrest-warrant-out-for-saudi-crown-princes-sister-source

    France has issued an arrest warrant for the sister of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on suspicion of ordering her bodyguard to beat up a worker at her Paris apartment, sources close to the case told AFP Thursday.

    The mandate against the princess, named in the warrant under the French spelling Hussat ben Salmane, was issued in late December, a source said, confirming a report by Le Point magazine.

  • 19 méga-paquebots à venir dans les 5 ans pour le groupe Carnival qui en exploite déjà 94, d’après WP (Costa Croisières, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, Aida Cruises)…

    Carnival Corp. Expands Cruise Ship Orderbook with Eighth LNG-Powered Newbuild – gCaptain
    http://gcaptain.com/carnival-corp-expands-cruise-ship-orderbook-with-eighth-lng-powered-newbui

    Cruise ship giant Carnival Corporation announced Thursday it has signed yet another shipbuilding contract for a second LNG-powered cruise ship for its P&O Cruises brand with leading German shipbuilder Meyer Werft.

    The next-generation newbuild is scheduled to be delivered in 2022.

    Similar to a P&O Cruises sister ship due for delivery in 2020, this second new vessel will be the largest cruise ship to be built specifically for the British market. It will be 180,000 gross tons and will accommodate approximately 5,200 guests (lower berths). Both new ships will be registered in the UK.

    The newbuid is part of Carnival Corporation’s aggressive fleet expansion strategy with 19 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2018 and 2022 to keep pace with the growing demand for new capacity.

  • Peach’s Tiny Taste of Freedom : Gender in Super Mario Odyssey
    https://feministfrequency.com/2017/11/08/peachs-tiny-taste-of-freedom-gender-in-super-mario-odyssey

    SPOILERS: Super Mario Odyssey’s climax sees our hero Mario, who has made a 30-plus-year career out of rescuing Princess Peach, once again doing battle with Bowser to save her from his vile clutches. Okay, okay, you probably saw that coming, but just to be clear, this post discusses endgame story events in Super Mario Odyssey in detail. Consider yourself warned. This time around, it’s not just Peach who needs rescuing […]


    http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/6abc065cf4320a47a3f67f81c71a66fc?s=96&d=identicon&r=G

  • Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm
    https://www.thelocal.se/20170908/confirmed-viking-warrior-was-a-woman

    Have researchers finally discovered Sweden’s real-life version of Lady Brienne of Tarth or Xena the Warrior Princess? New evidence suggest they actually have…
    For more than a century, archaeologists and historians have assumed that the remains of a person found buried along with arms and horses in one of the most spectacular graves discovered in the Viking Age town of Birka, in Sweden, belonged to a man. Turns out they were wrong. Osteology- and DNA tests now show that that he has always been a she, and she was most likely a powerful military leader.

    “It’s actually a woman, somewhere over the age of 30 and fairly tall too, measuring around 170 centimetres,” Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, an archeologist at Uppsala University, told The Local of the findings that were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology on Friday.

    “Aside from the complete warrior equipment buried along with her – a sword, an axe, a spear, armour-piercing arrows, a battle knife, shields, and two horses – she had a board game in her lap, or more of a war-planning game used to try out battle tactics and strategies, which indicates she was a powerful military leader. She’s most likely planned, led and taken part in battles,” she said.

  • The Zionist tango -
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.810226

    Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left
    By Gideon Levy | Sep. 3, 2017 | 2:28 AM

    Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” [ http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.810167 ] Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism.

    They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

    Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

    That’s why I prefer Shaked. With her, what you see is what you get – racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.

    The occupation was no less cruel under left-wing Israeli governments, which was the founding father of the settlement enterprise. Those princes of peace Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin established more settlements than Shaked and caused the deaths of more Arabs. The left has enthusiastically defended every military action Israel has carried out and every brutal act committed by the Israel Defense Forces. It hasn’t just sat silent in the face of such acts; it has been supportive. Always.

    Operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge in Gaza (in 2008-09 and 2014, respectively) involved thousands of senseless deaths, and most of the Zionist left supported them. The majority of those on the left supported the siege on Gaza, the checkpoint executions, the nighttime abductions, the administrative detentions, the abuse, dispossession and oppression – the left remained silent throughout.

    But the truth is that it’s not Shaked and it’s not the left. It’s Zionism. Havoc has been wreaked, as Hecht herself wrote. But instead of trying to repair the unstable foundations, all of Israel – and not only the right wing – has done everything to undermine them even further.

    Yes, this involves the 1948 War of Independence, which has to be discussed even though it’s uncomfortable. The spirit of 1948 has never stopped blowing here and, in this respect, Shaked and Hecht are in the same boat. According to this view, there is only one people here that needs to be considered, only one victim, and it is entitled to do as much harm as it wishes to the other people. That is the essential evolution of Zionism.

    It could and should have been rectified, without derogating the Jews’ right to a state. But the Zionist left has never done this. It has never acknowledged the Nakba suffered by the Palestinians, and never did anything to atone for its crimes. This never happened because the Zionist left believes in exactly what Shaked believes in.

    It is true there are many other issues in which the right causes national disasters the left never would have created. But on the other side of the line lives a people that for the past 50 years – the past 100, actually – has been suffering and oppressed. Not a day goes by without horrible crimes being committed against it. We can’t say, “Be patient. We’re busy at the moment with the status of the Supreme Court.”

    And on the truly crucial issue that overshadows all others, Shaked and Hecht are performing a perfect tango together, with a fragrance of true love exuding from them both – a Zionist tango.

  • Whistleblower in Record #Magic_Pipe Pollution Case Gets $1 Million Payout – gCaptain
    http://gcaptain.com/whistleblower-gets-1-million-in-largest-ever-magic-pipe-pollution-case

    A U.S. District Judge in Miami on Wednesday sentenced Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. (Princess) to pay a $40 million penalty – the largest-ever for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution – related to illegal dumping overboard of oil contaminated waste and falsification of official logs in order to conceal the discharges.

    The judge also ordered that $1 million be awarded to a British engineer, who first reported the illegal discharges to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which in turn provided the evidence to the U.S. Coast Guard.
    […]
    According to papers filed in court, the Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005, one year after the ship began operations. The August 2013 discharge approximately 23-miles off the coast of England involved approximately 4,227 gallons within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. At the same time as the discharge, engineers ran clean seawater through the ship’s monitoring equipment in order to conceal the criminal conduct and create a false digital record for a legitimate discharge.

    suite de https://seenthis.net/messages/550090

    • Et donc, pas de peine de prison pour ceux qui ont couvert ces pratiques en toute connaissance de cause pendant des années…

      As set forth in papers filed in court, Princess admitted to the following:
      • After suspecting that the authorities had been informed, senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie.
      • Following the MCA’s inquiry, the chief engineer held a sham meeting in the engine control room to pretend to look into the allegations while holding up a sign stating: “LA is listening.” The engineers present understood that anything said might be heard by those at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California, because the engine control room contained a recording device intended to monitor conversations in the event of an incident.
      • A perceived motive for the crimes was financial – the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense.
      • Graywater tanks overflowed into the bilges on a routine basis and were pumped back into the graywater system and then improperly discharged overboard when they were required to be treated as oil contaminated bilge waste. The overflows took place when internal floats in the graywater collection tanks got stuck due to large amounts of fat, grease and food particles from the galley that drained into the graywater system. Graywater tanks overflowed at least once a month and, at times, as frequently as once per week. Princess had no written procedures or training for how internal gray water spills were supposed to be cleaned up and the problem remained uncorrected for many years.

  • It Isn’t Destiny that Dooms Zelda to a Damsel’s Fate, it’s Nintendo
    https://feministfrequency.com/2017/04/06/it-isnt-destiny-that-dooms-zelda-to-a-damsels-fate-its-nintendo

    In the 31 years since The Legend of Zelda was released, the titular Princess of Hyrule has needed rescuing time and time again. By this point, it almost seems to be a matter of rigid, unchangeable destiny that Link, Zelda and Ganon are doomed to play out the same roles over and over throughout history, as Zelda repeatedly finds herself in peril at the hands of Ganon, a force of darkness, evil […]


    http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/6abc065cf4320a47a3f67f81c71a66fc?s=96&d=identicon&r=G

  • BiP_HOp du 07/03/2017
    http://www.radiopanik.org/emissions/generation-bip_hop/bip_hop-du-07-03-2017

    Foreign Diplomats: Lies Of November “Princess Flash” (Hi-Lo/Caroline)

    Keiko Schichijo plays Komitas Vardapet: Shoror “Six Dances” (Makkum)

    Yannis Kyriakides: DerKomponist “Subvoice” (Unsounds)

    Olivier Lété: Blacktop “Tuning” (Discobole)

    Oren Ambarchi: Part 3 “Hubris” (Editions Mego)

    Marcus Fjellström: Skeleton Dance 1 “Skelektikon” (Miasmah)

    Ed Wood Jr.: Drive “Lost. Drive. Water. Exit” (Black Basset)

    http://www.radiopanik.org/media/sounds/generation-bip_hop/bip_hop-du-07-03-2017_03388__1.mp3

  • China launches new cruise ship tour in South China Sea | Reuters
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-china-ship-idUSKBN16A0A4

    A new Chinese cruise ship has embarked on its maiden voyage to the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, the latest effort by Beijing to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.

    The Changle Princess sailed from Sanya on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Thursday afternoon with 308 passengers on a four-day voyage, Xinhua said.

    The new ship can carry 499 people and has 82 guest rooms with dining, entertainment, shopping, medical and postal services on board, it added.

    Tourists will be able to visit the three islands in the Crescent group of the Paracels, Xinhua said.

    China has previously said it plans to build hotels, villas and shops on the Crescent group and has also said it wants to build Maldives-style resorts around the South China Sea, though it is unclear if foreigners will ever be allowed to visit.

  • THE TWENTIETH DAY OF JANUARY – HiLobrow
    http://hilobrow.com/2017/01/20/the-twentieth-day-of-january

    J’adore - c’est une des plus belles théories conspirationnistes que j’ai jamais lu. Pour faire aussi fort il faut remonter au moins jusqu’aux illuminati . Bonne lecture :-)

    This really obscure British spy novel, written by Ted Allbeury, who was a contemporary of Len Deighton’s. It’s called The Twentieth Day of January. It was published in 1981. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told that it is Donald Trump’s favorite thriller.

    THEORY OF EVERYTHING: I thought Donald Trump hasn’t read any books?

    “JOSH GLENN”: Well, I heard about this book everywhere. From spy novel fans in New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Miami, Jersey City, Dallas — even London, Paris, and Prague.

    In each case, this was from someone who had encountered Trump in the late ’80s — when Trump was first rising as a celebrity. One woman used to work backstage on Oprah’s show — Trump talked to her about the book in the green room. There was a guy who worked as crew on Trump’s yacht — what was it called? The Trump Princess? And one guy had been a pilot on one of Trump’s Sikorsky helicopters. For a couple of years there, Trump apparently talked the book up to everyone he met — so enthusiastically that, years later, they remembered.

    Now, I never paid any attention to this. I had no interest in reading an obscure spy novel just because Trump liked it. But then over Christmas after the election, I was visiting family in Bozeman, Montana. And there it was, in a used bookstore: The Twentieth Day of January.

    THEORY OF EVERYTHING: And? Is it good?

    “JOSH GLENN”: No, it’s terrible. The plot is ridiculous. A Republican — Logan Powell — has just been elected president. This guy has never been in politics before, but he beats a crowded field of experienced politicians to become first a senator, then president. He’s from a wealthy East Coast family, but he sells himself as a populist. And his big idea is — he wants the US and Russia to be friends. And despite opposition from within his own party, this guy wins the election.

    THEORY OF EVERYTHING: This is kind of a weirdly prescient novel!

    “JOSH GLENN”: I’m just getting started! With only a month to go before the inauguration — on the 20th day of January — an officer in Britain’s intelligence service (!) who’d spent years under diplomatic cover working for the agency, MI6, in Russia and Paris and London, gets wind of a plot by the Kremlin to influence the US election.

    etc. #wtf #politique #littérature #it_has_begun

  • An expansive photo record of Native American life in the early 1900s
    http://mashable.com/2015/11/25/edward-curtis-native-americans

    Born on a Wisconsin farm in 1868, Edward Sheriff Curtis grew up to become a commercial photographer in Seattle. In 1895 he photographed Princess Angeline, the daughter of the Duwamish chief Seattle, for whom the city was named.

    That encounter sparked Curtis’ lifelong fascination with the cultures and lives of Native American tribes. He soon joined expeditions to visit tribes in Alaska and Montana.

    In 1906, Curtis was approached by wealthy financier J.P. Morgan, who was interested in funding a documentary project on the indigenous people of the continent. They conceived a 20-volume series, called The North American Indian.

    #états-unis #indiens #nations_premières #peuples_autochtones

  • Carnival’s Princess Cruises to Pay Record $40 Million Over Illegal Dumping, Cover Up – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/carnivals-princess-cruise-lines-to-pay-record-40-million-over-illegal-dump


    Caribbean Princess at St Maartin
    Photo: Juan-Manuel Gonzalez, sur WP

    Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruise Lines has agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from illegal oil dumping at sea and intentional acts to cover it up, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.

    Princess will pay a $40 million penalty – the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution. 

    The charges are tied to the Caribbean Princess cruise ship which visited various U.S. ports in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Virginia.

    The U.S. investigation was launched after information was provided to the U.S. Coast Guard by the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) indicating that a newly hired engineer on the Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called “magic pipe” had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England.

    According to the Justice Dept., after the incident the #whistleblower quit when the ship reached Southampton, England. The chief engineer and senior first engineer ordered a cover-up, including removal of the magic pipe and directing subordinates to lie. But the MCA shared evidence with the U.S. Coast Guard, including before and after photos of the bypass used to make the discharge and showing its disappearance. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an examination of the cruise ship upon its arrival in New York City on Sept. 14, 2013, during which certain crew members continued to lie in accordance with orders they had received from Princess employees.
    […]
    In addition to the use of a #magic_pipe, the U.S. investigation uncovered two other illegal practices which were found to have taken place on the Caribbean Princess as well as four other Princess ships – Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

    One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor in order to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge. This was done routinely on the Caribbean Princess in 2012 and 2013, the Justice Dept. said. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were accurately recorded in the oil record book as required by law. All of the bypassing took place through the graywater system which was discharged when the ship was more than four nautical miles from land.

    Princess, headquartered in Santa Clarita, California, is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company. As part of the plea agreement, cruise ships from eight Carnival brands (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line N.V., Seabourn Cruise Line Ltd. and AIDA Cruises) will be under a court supervised Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) for five years.

    #lanceur_d'alerte

  • Regina activists place warning labels on Indigenous Halloween costumes - Saskatchewan - CBC News

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-activists-place-warning-labels-stereotypical-indigenous-halloween-costume

    Halloween costumes depicting Indigenous women and girls in costume at a Regina store had warning labels thanks to some local activists.

    Spirit Halloween in Regina is selling costumes such as ’Reservation Royalty’, ’Native American Princess’ and ’Wolf Dancer’. There are similar costumes for both women and girls.

    “It’s precisely these types of images that normalize the sexualization of Indigenous women and lay the foundation for a culture that accepts the violence against Indigenous women,” said Chris Kortright who helped place the labels on the costumes.

    #résister #résistance #sexisme #peuples_autochtones

  • Ken Burns explique que Donald Trump est l’héritier de Joseph McCarthy
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z13FoWqtQy0

    Joseph McCarthy’s lawyer was Donald Trump mentor.

    Il suffit de regarder les entrées de Wikipedia pour identifier le rôle que joue l’interview dans la lutte entre les impérialistes démocrates et le réactionnaires républicains. La lignée de Trump est quand même intéressante.

    Joseph Mcarthy
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy

    Roy Cohn
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Cohn

    Cohn’s direct examination of Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, produced testimony that was central to the Rosenbergs’ conviction and subsequent execution. Greenglass testified that he had given the Rosenbergs classified documents from the Manhattan Project that had been stolen by Klaus Fuchs. Greenglass would later claim that he lied at the trial in order “to protect himself and his wife, Ruth, and that he was encouraged by the prosecution to do so.” Cohn always took great pride in the Rosenberg verdict and claimed to have played an even greater part than his public role. He said in his autobiography that his own influence had led to both Chief Prosecutor Saypol and Judge Irving Kaufman being appointed to the case. He further said that Kaufman imposed the death penalty, based on his personal recommendation.

    J. Edgar Hoover, who recommended him to Joseph McCarthy.

    Cohn invited his friend G. David Schine, an anti-Communist propagandist, to join McCarthy’s staff as a consultant. When Schine was drafted into the US Army in 1953, Cohn made repeated and extensive efforts to procure special treatment for Schine. He contacted military officials from the Secretary of the Army down to Schine’s company commander and demanded for Schine to be given light duties, extra leave, and exemption from overseas assignment. At one point, Cohn is reported to have threatened to “wreck the Army” if his demands were not met. That conflict, along with McCarthy’s accusations of Communists in the defense department, led to the Army–McCarthy hearings of 1954, in which among other developments the Army charged Cohn and McCarthy with using improper pressure on Schine’s behalf, and McCarthy and Cohn countercharged that the Army was holding Schine “hostage” in an attempt to squelch McCarthy’s investigations into Communists in the Army.

    In 1971, businessman Donald Trump moved to Manhattan, where he became involved in large construction projects. Trump came to public attention in 1973 when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings. The government alleged that Trump’s corporation quoted different rental terms and conditions to blacks and made false “no vacancy” statements to blacks for apartments they managed in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

    Representing Trump, Cohn filed a countersuit against the government for $100 million, asserting that the charges were irresponsible and baseless. The countersuit was unsuccessful. Trump settled the charges out of court in 1975 without admitting guilt, saying he was satisfied that the agreement did not "compel the Trump organization to accept persons on welfare as tenants unless as qualified as any other tenant.

    Ken Burns
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Burns

    Burns is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, with almost $40,000 in political donations.

    Christiane Amanpour
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiane_Amanpour

    Amanpour is the niece-in-law of General Nader Jahanbani, who commanded the Imperial Iranian Air Force for nearly 20 years until he was executed by Islamic Revolutionaries in 1979, and of his younger brother Khosrow, who was married to Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi. Amanpour’s uncle, Captain Nasrollah Amanpour, was married to the younger sister of Khosrow and Nader.
    ...
    During the height of the Syrian crisis, in mid to late 2013, Amanpour started a push for the case of war with Syria. She traveled to the UK and appeared on several news programs, not as a journalist, but as an “expert” on the Middle East, and pushed the Obama administration line for war in Syria.

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