provinceorstate:british columbia

  • The Egyptian Egg Ovens Considered More Wondrous Than the Pyramids - Gastro Obscura
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/egypt-egg-ovens

    Many aspects of Egyptian culture impressed the ancient Greeks, including their mathematics, papyrus-making, art, and egg-hatching. Aristotle was the first to mention that last innovation, writing that in Egypt, eggs “are hatched spontaneously in the ground, by being buried in dung heaps.” But 200 years later, the historian Diodorus Siculus cast Egyptian egg-hatching as wondrous. In his forty-book-long historical compendium Library of History, he wrote:

    The most astonishing fact is that, by reason of their unusual application to such matters, the men [in Egypt] who have charge of poultry and geese, in addition to producing them in the natural way known to all mankind, raise them by their own hands, by virtue of a skill peculiar to them, in numbers beyond telling.

    Aristotle and Diodorus were referring to Egyptian egg incubators, an ingenious system of mud ovens designed to replicate the conditions under a broody hen. With lots of heat, moisture, and periodical egg-turning, an egg oven could hatch as many as 4,500 fertilized eggs in two to three weeks, a volume that impressed foreigners for centuries. Western travelers mentioned the wondrous structures constantly in their writings about Egypt. In 1750, French entomologist René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur visited an egg incubator and declared that “Egypt ought to be prouder of them than her pyramids.”
    Ancient Egyptian mural depicting food offerings (1422-1411 B.C.). Chicken did not become a feature of Egyptian diets until the fourth century B.C.
    Ancient Egyptian mural depicting food offerings (1422-1411 B.C.). Chicken did not become a feature of Egyptian diets until the fourth century B.C. Public Domain

    Egg incubators were quite a late invention, considering Egypt’s long history. According to Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, chickens were not a native bird of the Nile valley. They probably came from Asia—where they were domesticated from wild fowls 10,000 years ago—through Mesopotamia, or perhaps via trade ships that sailed to East Africa. It was only during the Ptolemaic dynasty, which lasted from 323 to 30 B.C., that chicken became a staple feature of Egyptian diets, says Ikram. In order to have a regular supply of chicken meat, Egyptians developed the first egg incubators.

    From the outside, many incubators looked like smaller, more rounded versions of the pyramids. They sat upon rectangular brick foundations, and had conic-shaped chimneys with a circular opening at the top. That thousands of eggs could be hatched in a single oven was an impressive feat, considering that a broody hen can only hatch up to 15 eggs at a time. Incubator hatching also meant that hens could spend more time laying eggs.


  • Will there be #credit-money in the crypto sphere?
    https://hackernoon.com/will-there-be-credit-money-in-the-crypto-sphere-ef3c5ad89c3b?source=rss-

    If there are presentations about what is money, then we usually hear, that money has to be durable, portable, divisible and fungible. We fully agree with this discussion.But there is a bigger picture. The money doesn’t have only one dimension, but it has two dimensions — there is base money and there is credit money. The notes and coins in your wallet are the base money. The money what you have on your bank account is actually credit money.This article:• Analyses how the base money and credit money work today• Analyses how the base money and credit money worked in the last 5’000 years• Discusses what will happen with the credit money in the crypto sphereBelow is the picture of the first known credit money, from Mesopotamia, from ca 2’500 B.C., now in the possession of the British Museum in  (...)

    #monetary-system #blockchain #base-money #bitcoin


  • Let’s all stop beating Basil’s car
    https://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html#dawkins
    C’est brillant, mais RD oublie que derrière ces jugements aberrants se cache toujours un intérêt de classe sociale. Les jugements ne sont pas la conséquence d’un atavisme humian.

    RICHARD DAWKINS - Evolutionary Biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science, Oxford University; Author, The Ancestor’s Tale

    Ask people why they support the death penalty or prolonged incarceration for serious crimes, and the reasons they give will usually involve retribution. There may be passing mention of deterrence or rehabilitation, but the surrounding rhetoric gives the game away. People want to kill a criminal as payback for the horrible things he did. Or they want to give "satisfaction’ to the victims of the crime or their relatives. An especially warped and disgusting application of the flawed concept of retribution is Christian crucifixion as "atonement’ for "sin’.

    Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE

    Basil Fawlty, British television’s hotelier from hell created by the immortal John Cleese, was at the end of his tether when his car broke down and wouldn’t start. He gave it fair warning, counted to three, gave it one more chance, and then acted. “Right! I warned you. You’ve had this coming to you!” He got out of the car, seized a tree branch and set about thrashing the car within an inch of its life. Of course we laugh at his irrationality. Instead of beating the car, we would investigate the problem. Is the carburettor flooded? Are the sparking plugs or distributor points damp? Has it simply run out of gas? Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? Why don’t we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty? Or at King Xerxes who, in 480 BC, sentenced the rough sea to 300 lashes for wrecking his bridge of ships? Isn’t the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component? Or a defective upbringing? Defective education? Defective genes?

    Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. When a child robs an old lady, should we blame the child himself or his parents? Or his school? Negligent social workers? In a court of law, feeble-mindedness is an accepted defence, as is insanity. Diminished responsibility is argued by the defence lawyer, who may also try to absolve his client of blame by pointing to his unhappy childhood, abuse by his father, or even unpropitious genes (not, so far as I am aware, unpropitious planetary conjunctions, though it wouldn’t surprise me).

    But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused’s physiology, heredity and environment. Don’t judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?

    Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment.

    #droit #justice #philosophie


  • Breaking: #Canada Announces That Its Border Wall Is Already Finished | The Inertia
    https://www.theinertia.com/comedy/canada-announces-border-wall-finished

    In incredible news out of Canada, officials have happily announced that the country easily finished its own border wall in the past 21 days while everyone was distracted by the U.S. government shutdown. And it was a simple solution: one of the snowiest countries in the world used its overabundance of frozen water to create a border wall spanning nearly 4,000 miles from the shores of British Columbia in the west to New Brunswick in the east. The purpose? Keep weed-puffing, hard-drinking Americans seeking better times out of the country.

    “For years, Americans have crossed our borders to bypass repressive laws and governments in their own country, simply to have a better time, be it the drinking age limit or, more recently, to smoke weed legally,” announced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Well, those benefits are for our citizens.”

    #mur #etats-unis

    Editor’s Note: If you didn’t figure out this was #satire within the first few sentences, shoot us a note and we’ll send someone to hit you over the head with a frying pan immediately.


  • Recently Deciphered 4,500-Year-Old Pillar Shows First Known Record of a Border Dispute

    The marble stele, held in the British Museum’s collections for 150 years, also includes the first known use of the term “no man’s land”


    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/pillar-first-evidence-neighbors-behaving-badly-180970969
    #frontières #conflits #histoire #disputes_frontalières (même si je sais que c’est pas le bon mot en français, comme m’a dit à plusieurs reprises @reka...) #différends_frontaliers #conflits_frontaliers #Mésopotamie

    • Finkel believes the pillar was artificially aged by a scribe to improve Lagash’s historical claim to Gu’edina. It appears the scribe also used an archaic form of cuneiform to make the pillar seem older, which made the modern interpretation effort difficult.

      The fight between Umma and Lagash is one of the oldest known wars in human history and led to what may be the world’s first peace treaty and one of the oldest legal documents, the Treaty of Mesilim, signed around 2550 B.C. The treaty set up a border that was demarcated with a stele along an irrigation canal, similar to the one on view in the museum.

      The peace did not last. Around 2400 B.C., the war between Enmetena and Gishakidu took place, and the boundary was reaffirmed. Eventually, Umma attacked Lagash and successfully destroyed its capital city of Girsu, not long before Sargon the Great took over all of Mesopotamia, paying no heed to even the snarkiest of boundary stones.


  • Tech Golden Boy: Stewart Butterfield
    https://hackernoon.com/tech-golden-boy-stewart-butterfield-794d11c4e083?source=rss----3a8144eab

    Canadian-born entrepreneur and his backstory — a timeline of events before #slack’s IPO announcement.Slack — you have maybe heard of it. It’s heralded as an “email killer” and has changed the way employees communicate in the workplace. Behind it is Canadian serial-entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield, a British Colombia native with an unlikely origin story.45 years ago, little Dharma Jeremy Butterfield was born in a commune out of a small fishing town called Lund in BC. His parents were hippies, and for the first three years of his life, he lived in a log cabin in the backwoods with no running water. In a U-turn fashion, his parents moved the family to Victoria and young Dharma found himself in a bustling metropolis at age 5. His parents gifted the toddler a computer which was rare at the time as if (...)

    #slack-ipo #stewart-butterfield #startup #tech-golden-boy


  • U.S. eyes West Coast military bases to export coal, gas -report | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-trump-coal/update-1-us-eyes-west-coast-military-bases-to-export-coal-gas-report-idUSL2

    President Donald Trump’s administration is considering using West Coast military facilities to export coal and natural gas to Asia, according to an Associated Press report on Monday, citing U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

    The move would help fossil fuel producers ship their products to Asia and circumvent environmental concerns in Democratic-leaning states like Washington, Oregon and California that have rejected efforts to build new coal ports.

    In an interview in Montana, Zinke told AP “it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities” and proposed using naval facilities or other federal properties for exports.

    Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, said the former Naval Air Facility Adak in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands could be used to export natural gas. He did not specify any others.
    […]
    The idea drew praise from the U.S. coal industry, which is eager to overcome a dearth of export terminals on the U.S. West Coast. Currently, U.S. coal exported into the Pacific basin must go through Canada’s British Columbia.


  • Lasers Reveal 60,000 Ancient Maya Structures in Guatemala - HISTORY
    https://www.history.com/news/ancient-maya-structures-guatemala-lasers

    The largest-ever survey of a region from the Maya civilization has located over 60,000 previously unknown structures in northern Guatemala. The survey, conducted with the help of lasers, challenges long-held assumptions that this area was poorly connected and sparsely populated.

    The structures researchers identified include farms, houses and defensive fortifications, as well as 60 miles of causeways, roads and canals connecting large cities across the civilization’s central lowlands. Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist who uses satellite technology, had this reaction on Twitter when preliminary images became public: “This is HOLY [expletive] territory.” (Parcak was not involved with this study).

    The ancient Maya civilization stretched from southern Mexico down to Guatemala and Belize, flourishing between 1000 B.C. and 1500 A.D. The recent study focused on 830 square miles of the #Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén, #Guatemala. Scientists used a laser technology called #lidar, or light detection and ranging, to penetrate the thick tree canopies in the area and discover archaeological remains beneath them.

    #archéologie


  • جريدة الأخبار
    https://al-akhbar.com/Literature_Arts/258357

    Rare : un beau projet, une belle architecture (arabo-canadienne), une belle réussite apparemment. Ouverture peu ordinaire d’un musée au nord du Liban.

    Son site (arabe et anglais) : https://www.nabumuseum.com/home

    On the coast of the Mediterranean in Ras al -Chakka, North of Lebanon stands Nabu Museum. Named after the Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the museum offers an exceptional permanent collection of early Bronze and Iron age artifacts, antiquities from the Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Phoenician and Mesopotamian epochs, rare manuscripts and ethnographic material. The museum’s collection also includes examples of local and regional modern and contemporary art by key artists such as Shafic Abboud, Amin al -Bacha, Helen Khal, Dia Azzawi, Shakir al - Said, Omar Onsi, Mustapha Farroukh, Ismail Fattah, Adam Henein, Khalil Gibran, Paul Guiragossian and Mahmoud Obaidi in addition to an exceptional collection of works by Saliba Douaihy. Notable in Nabu’s collection is a unique selection of Cuneiform tablets dating from 2330 to 540 B.C.E that recount epic tales, give indications of other economic systems, information on ethnic groups and maps of ancient cities.

    #liban #musée #nabu


  • Shadowy Black Axe group leaves trail of tattered lives - The Globe and Mail
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/shadowy-black-axe-group-leaves-trail-of-tattered-lives/article27244946

    Canadian police say they are fighting a new kind of criminal organization.

    The signs began to appear two years ago: photos on Facebook of men wearing odd, matching outfits.

    Then there were stories, even old police files, attached to the people in the photos: a kidnapping, a man run over by a car, brutal beatings over what seemed to be a small slight.

    Mapping a secret criminal hierarchy for the first time is a rare kind of detective work. So when two Toronto police officers and an RCMP analyst in British Columbia started documenting the existence of something called the “Black Axe, Canada Zone,” they could not have predicted it would take them to funerals, suburban barbecue joints and deep into African history before they understood what they were seeing.

    The Black Axe is feared in Nigeria, where it originated. It is a “death cult,” one expert said. Once an idealistic university fraternity, the group has been linked to decades of murders and rapes, and its members are said to swear a blood oath.

    Most often, the group is likened to the Mob or to biker gangs, especially as it spreads outside Nigeria.

    An investigation by The Globe and Mail that included interviews with about 20 people found that “Axemen,” as they call themselves, are setting up chapters around the world, including in Canada.

    Like any criminal organization, it focuses on profit, police say. But instead of drug or sex trafficking, it specializes in a crime many consider minor and non-violent: scamming.

    What police have also learned is that, when done on an “industrial” level as part of a professional global network, scams ruin lives on a scale they have rarely seen.

    Two weeks ago, at a news conference attended by FBI officers, Toronto police announced they had taken part in an international crackdown on a money-laundering network through which more than $5-billion flowed in just over a year. Two local men charged with defrauding a Toronto widow of her life’s savings will eventually face extradition to the United States on money-laundering charges, they said.

    Online fraud is fluid, global and hard-to-track, but it often requires local operatives. Several Toronto-area residents have been defrauded of at least $1-million each in the past two years, and police allege the money was wired with the help of Canadian residents linked to the Black Axe, and sometimes it was handed to the group’s associates in person. The recipients then sent the money ricocheting through bank accounts around the globe, with trusted members in countries on every continent helping with the transfers before it disappeared.

    The sophistication of the money-laundering scheme reflects the efficiency of the scams, in which several people assume false identities and mix reality – bank accounts, real names and real websites – with fake documents.

    The police added an extra charge for one of the men they arrested, Akohomen Ighedoise, 41: “participating in a criminal organization.”

    Officers said in an interview they seized documents that will prove in court that Mr. Ighedoise separately helped a network of fraudsters launder money, that the fraudsters are members of the Black Axe and that he is their bookkeeper. The charge is the first time a Canadian has been publicly linked to the group.

    Interviews with police, gang experts and Nigerian academics paint a picture of an organization both public and enigmatic, with an ostensible charitable purpose as well as secret codes and a strict hierarchy. Police say it has grown to 200 people across Canada.

    Officers in Canada first heard the name “Black Axe” less than two years ago, said Tim Trotter, a detective constable with the Toronto Police Service. They are working quickly, trying to stop the group from becoming entrenched.

    “I mean, 100 years ago, law enforcement dealt with the same thing, the Sicilian black hand, right? It meant nothing to anybody except the Sicilian community,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “And that’s what we have here – that’s what we believe we have here.”

    **

    Many scam victims lose a few thousand dollars. Soraya Emami, one of Toronto’s most recent victims, lost everything, including many friends.

    In 1988, Ms. Emami fled her native Iran with her four sons. Her husband was jailed by the regime and his passport was held for years. Ms. Emami flew to Canada and became a real estate agent in North York.

    It took 30 years to save for a nice house in quiet Stouffville, Ont. The rest of her earnings went to her boys, who grew up to be a doctor, an engineer, a computer engineer and a bank manager. Last year, the youngest – a fifth son, born in Canada – began university. She and her husband had never reunited, and for the first time in decades, Ms. Emami thought about dating.

    “My kids grow up, and I feel lonely,” said the 63-year-old, who has long, wavy black hair. “I didn’t know how, and because I’m not [used to] any relationship, I feel shy.”

    Ms. Emami saw a TV commercial for Match.com and joined, hesitantly. A few days later, she told a friend she had heard from a tanned, white-haired, very nice geologist. Fredrick Franklin said he lived just 45 minutes away, in Toronto’s wealthy Bridle Path neighbourhood.

    He had spent years in Australia, and when they talked on the phone, she could not always understand his thick accent at first. He called her several times a day from Vancouver, where he was on a business trip, then from Turkey, where he travelled on a short contract. He was to fly home via Delta airlines on May 5. She would pick him up from the airport, and they would finally meet.

    “I am a simple man in nature, very easy going,” he wrote in an e-mail, telling her about his son and granddaughters. “I have done the Heart and Stroke ride in Toronto for the past 2 years, have also done the MS ride from London to Grand Bend.”

    A few days before his return date, Mr. Franklin called Ms. Emami in a panic. His bank had told him someone had tried to gain access to his account, he said. He could not clear it up from rural Turkey, so would she mind calling the bank and reporting back with his balance? He e-mailed the phone number for SunTrust bank, a 10-digit account number and a nine-digit tax ID number.

    She spoke to a bank teller. The balance, she was told, was $18-million.

    A few days later, Mr. Franklin asked for a small favour – could she send him a new phone and laptop – saying he would repay her upon his return. She acquiesced, believing he could pay her back.

    Within a few weeks, she lost half a million dollars, and the scam would cost her the home in Stouffville.

    What perplexes police about some of the Toronto romance frauds is not how the victims could be so naive, but how the fraudsters could be so convincing.

    The SunTrust account appears to be real, The Globe determined after retracing the steps Ms. Emami took to access it. The bank said it could not verify the account’s existence, as that was client-related information.

    In the course of the scam, Ms. Emami spoke to at least five people other than the Aussie geologist, including two in person.

    In June, in what they called Project Unromantic, York Regional Police charged nine local people in several cases, including that of Ms. Emami, that added up to $1.5-million. They considered the criminals to be internationally connected. “We don’t know who’s at the top, but there seems to be a hierarchy,” Detective Courtney Chang said.

    The Toronto police believe the crimes that led to their charges against Mr. Ighedoise are linked to the ones in York Region.

    *

    Canadian police came across the Black Axe by happenstance. In 2013, an RCMP analyst in Vancouver was investigating a West Coast fraud suspect and found a photo of him on Facebook with another man, said Det. Constable Trotter (the analyst would not speak to The Globe). Both were wearing unusual clothes and seemed to be at a meeting in Toronto.

    The analyst discovered the second man was under investigation by Toronto financial crimes detective Mike Kelly, an old partner of Det. Constable Trotter. The analyst e-mailed Det. Constable Kelly to ask if he knew the significance of what the two men in the photo were wearing.

    The uniform of the Black Axe is a black beret, a yellow soccer scarf and high yellow socks. These items often have a patch or insignia showing two manacled hands with an axe separating the chain between them, which sometimes also says “Black Axe” or “NBM,” standing for “Neo-Black Movement,” another name for the group. They often incorporate the numbers seven or 147.

    The group tries to maintain a public image of volunteerism. It has been registered as a corporation in Ontario since 2012 under the name “Neo-Black Movement of Africa North America,” with Mr. Ighedoise among several people listed as administrators. In the United Kingdom, said Det. Constable Trotter, it has been known to make small donations – to a local hospital, for example – and then claim to be in a “partnership” with the legitimate organization.

    In the GTA, the group got itself listed publicly in 2013 as a member of Volunteer MBC, a volunteer centre serving Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. But after expressing an interest in recruiting volunteers, the group involved never posted an ad, and staff at the centre said when they tried to follow up, they found the three yahoo.com addresses on file were no longer working.

    Police found plenty of photos on social media of men in Axemen uniforms at what were said to be conferences or events.

    Det. Constable Kelly and Det. Constable Trotter compiled a list of people in Canada photographed wearing Axemen outfits. From a car, they watched some of them attend a funeral. One mourner had yellow socks and a yellow cummerbund with NBM on it, Det. Constable Trotter said. The rest were dressed normally. Near the end of the ceremony, “all of a sudden the berets and everything came out, and then they put the coffin into the earth,” he said.

    As they added names to their list, the investigators checked each one for connections to previous cases.

    What they found were 10 to 20 episodes of serious violence over the past few years clearly linked to members of the group, many of them at a Nigerian restaurant in northwest Toronto, Det. Constable Trotter said. One man had been run over by a car; another was allegedly kidnapped and beaten with a liquor bottle for a day in an abandoned building; a man was knocked to the ground for refusing to fetch another man a beer. Witnesses generally refused to talk.

    In one incident, a group of men had insulted another man’s girlfriend, and when he objected, they “beat the living hell” out of him, leaving him with cranial fractures, Det. Constable Trotter said.

    “Without the understanding of the context, it’s just a bar fight,” he said. “But when we understand who those people were, and we realize, oh, they’re all affiliated to the group … that’s why no one called [911]. And that’s why, when the police came, suddenly, oh no, those cameras don’t work. And that’s why, out of a bar full of people, the only witness was his girlfriend.”

    That case and the kidnapping case are before the courts, Det. Constable Trotter said. The Globe tried to search for all court records linked to the bar’s address over the past few years, but was told such a search is impossible.

    Police have six criteria to identify members of the group, Det. Constable Trotter said. If a person meets three of the six, he is considered a likely member.

    Police have documents that show when certain people were “blended” or initiated into the group, including some in Toronto, he said. Members live mostly in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

    “There’s evidence that they’ve been active since 2005, so that’s a decade’s worth of ability to lay under the radar and become ensconced in the criminal community,” he said.

    To set up scams, they work from cafés or home and are “fastidious” about deleting their online history, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “They have names, titles, they show respect,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “They pay dues to each other. Individuals are detailed by higher-ranking individuals to do things.”

    As they learned of the group’s fearsome reputation in Nigeria, the officers began to equate it more with established Canadian organized crime. At Afrofest in Woodbine Park one summer, a group of Axemen walked through in full uniform – not something anyone from the Nigerian community would do lightly, Det. Constable Trotter said. “I wouldn’t wear a Hells Angels vest if I wasn’t a Hells Angel.”

    He began to worry the group’s brazenness would signify to the community that “Axemen are here. And they’re open about it, and the police are doing nothing.”

    *

    Fraternities such as the Black Axe were born during an optimistic time in Nigeria’s recent history, and at first they reflected it. In the postcolonial 1970s, they were modelled after U.S. fraternities. They attracted top students and were meant to foster pan-African unity and Nigeria’s future leaders.

    When the country descended into widespread corruption after its oil boom, the fraternities split into factions and violently sought power on campuses, trying to control grades and student politics and gain the loyalty of the richest, best-connected students.

    Through the 1990s and 2000s, the groups inspired terror: Students were hacked to death or shot in their sleep, and professors were murdered in their offices in what seemed to be random attacks. Researchers say such crimes were often assigned to new members in their late teens to prove their allegiance after a painful hazing in an isolated cemetery or forest.

    “Sometimes, they are given some tough assignments like raping a very popular female student or a female member of the university staff,” Adewale Rotimi wrote in a 2005 scholarly article.

    Raping the daughters of rich and powerful families, or the girlfriends of enemies, was another tactic of the groups to prove their dominance, Ifeanyi Ezeonu wrote in 2013.

    In addition to innocent victims, one West African organization fighting cult violence says more than 1,700 fraternity members died in inter-group wars in a 10-year span. The groups were outlawed, and much of their ritualistic element – night-time ceremonies, code words – seemed to evolve to avoid detection, said Ogaga Ifowodo, who was a student in Nigeria during the 1980s and later taught at Cornell and Texas State universities.

    “Early on … you could distinguish them by their costume,” he said. “The Black Axe, they tended to wear black berets, black shirt and jeans.”

    The transformation was not a coincidence, Mr. Ifowodo said.

    “At that time, we were under military dictatorships, and they had actually propped up the now-secret cults as a way of weakening the students’ movements,” he said. “It violates something that I think is sacred to an academic community, which is bringing into campus a kind of Mafia ethos.”

    But this does not explain whether, or how, the fraternities could morph into a sophisticated global crime syndicate.

    In Nigeria, the groups are not associated with fraud, said Etannibi Alemika, who teaches at Nigeria’s University of Jos. Mr. Ifowodo agreed. However, he also backed Toronto Police’s conclusion that Black Axe is one and the same as the Neo-Black Movement. In a briefing document posted online, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board says the two are closely linked, but speculates that the Black Axe is a “splinter group” of the NBM.

    The NBM is known to carry out fraud, said Jonathan Matusitz, a professor at the University of Central Florida who has studied Nigerian fraternities. He said the group’s members have also been linked, mostly in Nigeria, to drug trafficking, pimping, extortion, and the falsification or copying of passports and credit cards.

    “I think that the NBM movement is more about scamming people, and it has some associations with the Black Axe, which kills people,” he said. “Have they joined forces to have like a super-group? I hope not.”

    Despite police fears, several people interviewed by The Globe, mostly business owners, said they had never heard of the Black Axe before the police news conference last week.

    Kingsley Jesuorobo, a Toronto lawyer who has many Nigerian-Canadian clients, said he has never heard of anyone being intimidated by the group.

    Mr. Jesuorobo said he is familiar with the Black Axe in the Nigerian context, but cannot imagine it posing a real threat in Canada. It is more likely that former members gravitate to each other for social reasons, he said.

    “It would be a case of comparing apples and oranges to look at how these guys operate – the impunity that characterizes their actions – in Nigeria, and then sort of come to the conclusion that they can do the same thing here,” he said.

    For Nigerian-Canadians, a cultural minority working hard to establish themselves, the idea is very troubling, he said.

    “If these things are true, it would be a bad omen for our community,” he said.

    *

    After confirming her love interest’s $18-million bank balance, Ms. Emami did not hear from him for a few days. When they spoke again, she told him she had worried. He responded that it was a sign of how close they had become; she had sensed something had happened.

    The geologist said that during his contract in Turkey, he had been in a mining accident. He was injured and could not get to Istanbul to replace his phone and laptop, which had been destroyed, so would she buy new ones and send them by courier? Ms. Emami went to the Apple Store at Fairview Mall and called him, asking if he could pay with his credit card over the phone. He said the store would not allow it, and the employee agreed. So she bought the $4,000 laptop and phone and shipped them.

    A few days later, he called again: He needed $80,000 to pay the salary of an employee, promising to repay with interest. She told him she would have to borrow from her son, but he reassured her, and she wired the money in several instalments.

    The day of his flight, a man called and said he was Mr. Franklin’s lawyer and was with him at the Istanbul airport. Someone injured in the mining accident had died, he said, and Mr. Franklin owed $130,000 to his family or he would go to jail.

    “He’s calling me, he’s crying to me,” she said. “I didn’t have any choice. I go to friends and everybody I know. Because you know, when you’re trying to be a good person, everybody trusts you. …Whatever I asked, they give me.”

    Even a friend of a friend, a cab driver, lent her thousands. “He told me, you know, dollar by dollar I collected this money,” she recalled.

    Mr. Franklin sent her details of his rebooked flight, and she promised to pick him up and cook a meal. He would love that, he said; he liked chicken.

    “You don’t believe how much food I make for him,” she said.

    She was waiting with the packed-up meal the morning of his flight when the phone rang again. It was another lawyer, this time at the Frankfurt airport, he said. Mr. Franklin owed $250,000 in tax before he could leave the country with a valuable stone.

    “My heart is just – crash,” she said. “I was crying on the phone. I said, ’Please don’t do this to me. … Why are you doing this to me? I told you from the first day, I’m borrowing this money from people.’”

    A man saying he was Mr. Franklin’s son, who also had an Australian accent, called and told her he had remortgaged his house to save his father and might lose custody of his children because of it. Ms. Emami pulled together $158,000. When her bank would not let her transfer the money, she was instructed to meet a man and a woman in person who deposited it into their accounts.

    Ms. Emami’s son and her manager at work persuaded her to go to police. When officers told her Mr. Franklin was not real and the money was likely gone for good, they called a psychiatrist to help her grasp the news.

    She cannot pay her bills or afford groceries, her credit rating is destroyed and she is hunting for work despite crippling headaches. On Oct. 27, she was served with notice that she will lose her house in Stouffville in 20 days.

    “I can’t sleep,” she said recently, crying.

    She had always considered it her “duty” to help people in need, she said. Now her friends, even her sons, are angry that the scam impoverished them as well.

    “It’s my life, it’s my relationships,” she said. “And after 30 years living here with five kids, you know, I can’t live in the street. I can’t go to the shelter.”

    *

    Other local women describe the lengths fraudsters went to to blend truth and fiction. One received a forged Ontario provincial contract. Two victims in York said the scammers impersonated an Edmonton mining executive. The fraudsters build Facebook and LinkedIn accounts that seem to be populated by friends and family.

    “When we Google them, they do seem real,” one woman said.

    Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a federal intelligence-gathering agency on fraud, said the scammers profit from economies of scale. “What they did to you, they were doing to 8,000 people that day,” he said.

    The agency gets more calls from fraud victims a day than it can answer, sometimes exceeding 2,000. Staff look for waves of calls complaining of the same methods.

    Authorities estimate they are only ever aware of about 1 per cent to 5 per cent of fraud committed globally, Mr. Williams said. Many victims do not believe they have been scammed or will not report it out of embarrassment.

    Fraudsters, sometimes using credit checks, also home in on well-off victims for special treatment, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “It’s just like, oh, we’ve got somebody on $100,000 level, let’s steer this to this person,” he said.

    The amount taken from Toronto victims alone is “absolutely astonishing,” he said.

    “If you were going to distribute cocaine, for example, you have to buy that cocaine from another smuggler somewhere, and you have to put up money for that,” he said.

    “In fraud, what is your put-up? What is your overhead? Your commodity that you’re trading in, that you’re selling, is BS. BS is cheap, it’s abundant, it’s infinite. You know, it can be replicated again and again and again and again. … And that’s why it’s a better business.”

    Fraudsters based in Canada work with people in Kuala Lumpur, in Tokyo, in Lagos, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    At the turn of the 20th century in New York, Italian-owned banks started suffering bombings, and homes were mysteriously burned down. Police heard the incidents happened after warnings from something called the “black hand.” But no officers spoke Italian, and investigations were stymied.

    It was not until the 1950s that widespread police crackdowns began. By that time, the group now known as the Mafia had spread around the world and made new alliances. The FBI estimates the organization has about 25,000 members and a quarter-million affiliates worldwide, including about 3,000 in the United States.

    Police hope the charge against Mr. Ighedoise will send an early message to Canada’s Axemen. York and Toronto officers are working to confirm connections between the fraud ring that impoverished Ms. Emami and the ring that Mr. Ighedoise is alleged to help lead.

    At their recent press conference, they appealed to the Nigerian community to report instances where the Black Axe has “intimidated” others.

    They want to know how ambitious the group really is, Det. Constable Trotter said, and how much it is feared.

    If Axemen rely on selling stories, he said, the most important one is for their own community: “That [they] have all the power and authority and the propensity for violence that [they] have back home, here in Canada.”

    #Canada #scam #Nigeria #Black_Axe


  • 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


  • Xenophon : Anabasis, or March Up Country , ἀνάϐασις
    https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/ancient/xenophon-anabasis.asp

    Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

    The Anabasis is his story of the march to Persia to aid Cyrus, who enlisted Greek help to try and take the throne from Artaxerxes, and the ensuing return of the Greeks, in which Xenophon played a leading role. This occurred between 401 B.C. and March 399 B.C.

    Xénophon : Expédition de Cyrus (Anabase) : livre I (bilingue)
    http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/historiens/xenophon/retraite1.htm

    ŒUVRES COMPLÈTES DE XÉNOPHON
    http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/historiens/xenophon/index.htm

    #histoire littérature #Grèce #Perse #antiquité


  • #NEW_SEVEN_WONDERS_OF_THE_WORLD

    Les #Sept_Nouvelles_Merveilles_du_Monde
    https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/articles/new-seven-wonders-of-the-world
    consulté le 03/06/2018

    The following list of the New Seven Wonders is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.
    In 2007, more than 100 million people voted to declare the New Seven Wonders of the World. The following list of seven winners is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.

    #Great_Wall_of_China (#China)


    Built between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century, the Great Wall of China is a stone-and-earth fortification created to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire from invading Mongols. The Great Wall is actually a succession of multiple walls spanning approximately 4,000 miles, making it the world’s longest manmade structure.

    #Christ_the_Redeemer Statue (#Rio_de_Janeiro)


    The Art Deco-style Christ the Redeemer statue has been looming over the Brazilians from upon Corcovado mountain in an awe-inspiring state of eternal blessing since 1931. The 130-foot reinforced concrete-and-soapstone statue was designed by Heitor da Silva Costa and cost approximately $250,000 to build - much of the money was raised through donations. The statue has become an easily recognized icon for Rio and Brazil.

    #Machu_Picchu (#Peru)


    Machu Picchu, an Incan city of sparkling granite precariously perched between 2 towering Andean peaks, is thought by scholars to have been a sacred archaeological center for the nearby Incan capital of Cusco. Built at the peak of the Incan Empire in the mid-1400s, this mountain citadel was later abandoned by the Incas. The site remained unknown except to locals until 1911, when it was rediscovered by archaeologist Hiram Bingham. The site can only be reached by foot, train or helicopter; most visitors visit by train from nearby Cusco.

    #Chichen_Itza (#Yucatan_Peninsula, #Mexico)


    The genius and adaptability of Mayan culture can be seen in the splendid ruins of Chichen Itza. This powerful city, a trading center for cloth, slaves, honey and salt, flourished from approximately 800 to 1200, and acted as the political and economic hub of the Mayan civilization. The most familiar ruin at the site is El Caracol, a sophisticated astronomical observatory.

    The Roman #Colosseum (#Rome)


    Rome’s, if not Italy’s, most enduring icon is undoubtedly its Colosseum. Built between A.D. 70 and 80 A.D., it was in use for some 500 years. The elliptical structure sat nearly 50,000 spectators, who gathered to watch the gladiatorial events as well as other public spectacles, including battle reenactments, animal hunts and executions. Earthquakes and stone-robbers have left the Colosseum in a state of ruin, but portions of the structure remain open to tourists, and its design still influences the construction of modern-day amphitheaters, some 2,000 years later.

    #Taj_Mahal (Agra, #India)


    A mausoleum commissioned for the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1648. Considered the most perfect specimen of Muslim art in India, the white marble structure actually represents a number of architectural styles, including Persian, Islamic, Turkish and Indian. The Taj Mahal also encompasses formal gardens of raised pathways, sunken flower beds and a linear reflecting pool.

    #Petra (#Jordan)


    Declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV, and likely existed in its prime from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40. The members of this civilization proved to be early experts in manipulating water technology, constructing intricate tunnels and water chambers, which helped create an pseudo-oasis. A number of incredible structures carved into stone, a 4,000-seat amphitheater and the El-Deir monastery have also helped the site earn its fame.

    En 2007, plus de 100 million de personnes ont voté pour élire les Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde.
    La #Grande_Muraille_de_Chine (#Chine) :
    Construite antre le Vème siècle avant J.C. et le XVIème siècle, la Grande Muraille de Chine a été conçue pour protéger les frontières de l’Empire chinois des invasions mongoles. Aujourd’hui, la Grande Muraille est une succession de multiples murs qui s’étend sur environ 6 500 kilomètres : il s’agit de la plus longue construction humaine au monde.
    La statue du #Christ_Rédempteur (Rio de Janeiro) :
    La statue du Christ Rédempteur se dresse sur le mont du Corcovado depuis 1931. Cette statue de 40 mètres de haut a été conçue par Heitor da Silva Costa et a coûté environ 250 000 dollars (une grande partie du financement provient de dons).
    Le Machu Picchu (#Pérou) :
    La cité inca du Machu Pichu est supposée avoir été le centre de la capitale Inca Cusco. Construite au milieu du Vème siècle, la citadelle a été par la suite abandonnée par les Incas. Le site, qui n’a été découvert qu’en 1911 par l’archéologue Hiram Bingham, n’est accessible qu’à pied, en train ou en hélicoptère depuis Cusco.
    Chichen Itza (#Péninsule_du_Yucatan, Mexico) :
    La puissante cité de Chichen Itza, probablement construite entre le IX ème et le XIIIème siècles, était le centre économique et politique de la civilisation maya. Les ruines les plus visitées sont celles de l’observatoire astronomique El Caracol.
    Le #Colisée (Rome) :
    Construit au Ier siècle avant J.C., le Colisée a pu accueillir, pendant environ 500 ans, presque 50 000 spectateurs pour les spectacles de gladiateurs et autres événements publics. À cause de tremblements de terre et de vols, le Colisée est aujourd’hui en ruines.
    Le Taj Mahal (Agra, #Inde) :
    Mausolée construit pour la femme de l’Empereur Mongol Shah Jahan, la Taj Mahal a été construit entre 1632 et 1648. Cette structure de marbre blanc comprend un certain nombre d’influences et de styles architecturaux, parmi lesquels les styles persan, islamique, turque et indien.
    Pétra (#Jordanie) :
    Déclaré site mondial de l’UNESCO en 1985, Pétra était la capitale de l’Empire nabatéen au Ier siècle avant J.C. Cette civilisation était apparemment très avancée dans la maîtrise de l’irrigation, ce qui a permis de créer un pseudo-oasis.

    Mon commentaire sur cet article :
    La volonté mondiale de choisir « Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde » montre bien que l’art peut permettre de redéfinir les « codes » établis. On remarque en effet que les « Sept Merveilles du Monde », dont la liste datait de l’Antiquité, se trouvaient toutes aux alentours de la Méditerranée (la pyramide de Khéops à Gizeh en Égypte, les Jardins suspendus de Babylone, la statue de Zeus à Olympie, le temple d’Artémis à Éphèse, le mausolée d’Halicarnasse, le colosse de Rhodes et le phare d’Alexandrie). Plus encore, presque aucune de ces œuvres mystiques n’existe encore aujourd’hui : ces merveilles n’étaient que le symbole de la puissance culturelle et du développement avancé des « civilisations européennes ». Les « Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde » permettent de sortir de cet européanocentrisme en reconnaissant la magnificence de civilisations « autres ».


  • Indigenous Women Have Been Disappearing for Generations. Politicians Are Finally Starting to Notice.

    https://theintercept.com/2018/05/31/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women

    Aux États-Unis comme au Canada

    Women on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington state didn’t have any particular term for the way the violent deaths and sudden disappearances of their sisters, mothers, friends, and neighbors had become woven into everyday life.

    “I didn’t know, like many, that there was a title, that there was a word for it,” said Roxanne White, who is Yakama and Nez Perce and grew up on the reservation. White has become a leader in the movement to address the disproportionate rates of homicide and missing persons cases among American Indian women, but the first time she heard the term “missing and murdered Indigenous women” was less than two years ago, at a Dakota Access pipeline resistance camp at Standing Rock. There, she met women who had traveled from Canada to speak about disappearances in First Nations to the north, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration launched a historic national inquiry into the issue in 2016.

    #nations_premières #états-unis #canada #féminicide

    • #NotInvisible: Why are Native American women vanishing?

      The searchers rummage through the abandoned trailer, flipping over a battered couch, unfurling a stained sheet, looking for clues. It’s blistering hot and a grizzly bear lurking in the brush unleashes a menacing growl. But they can’t stop.

      Not when a loved one is still missing.

      The group moves outside into knee-deep weeds, checking out a rusted garbage can, an old washing machine — and a surprise: bones.

      Ashley HeavyRunner Loring, a 20-year-old member of the Blackfeet Nation, was last heard from around June 8, 2017. Since then her older sister, Kimberly, has been looking for her.

      She has logged about 40 searches, with family from afar sometimes using Google Earth to guide her around closed roads. She’s hiked in mountains, shouting her sister’s name. She’s trekked through fields, gingerly stepping around snakes. She’s trudged through snow, rain and mud, but she can’t cover the entire 1.5 million-acre reservation, an expanse larger than Delaware.

      “I’m the older sister. I need to do this,” says 24-year-old Kimberly, swatting away bugs, her hair matted from the heat. “I don’t want to search until I’m 80. But if I have to, I will.”

      Ashley’s disappearance is one small chapter in the unsettling story of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. No one knows precisely how many there are because some cases go unreported, others aren’t documented thoroughly and there isn’t a specific government database tracking these cases. But one U.S. senator with victims in her home state calls this an epidemic, a long-standing problem linked to inadequate resources, outright indifference and a confusing jurisdictional maze.

      Now, in the era of #MeToo, this issue is gaining political traction as an expanding activist movement focuses on Native women — a population known to experience some of the nation’s highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse.

      “Just the fact we’re making policymakers acknowledge this is an issue that requires government response, that’s progress in itself,” says Annita Lucchesi, a cartographer and descendant of the Cheyenne who is building a database of missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada — a list of some 2,700 names so far.

      As her endless hunt goes on, Ashley’s sister is joined on this day by a cousin, Lissa, and four others, including a family friend armed with a rifle and pistols. They scour the trailer where two “no trespassing” signs are posted and a broken telescope looks out the kitchen window. One of Ashley’s cousins lived here, and there are reports it’s among the last places she was seen.

      “We’re following every rumor there is, even if it sounds ridiculous,” Lissa Loring says.

      This search is motivated, in part, by the family’s disappointment with the reservation police force — a common sentiment for many relatives of missing Native Americans.

      Outside, the group stumbles upon something intriguing: the bones, one small and straight, the other larger and shaped like a saddle. It’s enough to alert police, who respond in five squad cars, rumbling across the ragged field, kicking up clouds of dust. After studying the bones, one officer breaks the news: They’re much too large for a human; they could belong to a deer.

      There will be no breakthrough today. Tomorrow the searchers head to the mountains.

      _

      For many in Native American communities across the nation, the problem of missing and murdered women is deeply personal.

      “I can’t think of a single person that I know ... who doesn’t have some sort of experience,” says Ivan MacDonald, a member of the Blackfeet Nation and a filmmaker. “These women aren’t just statistics. These are grandma, these are mom. This is an aunt, this is a daughter. This is someone who was loved ... and didn’t get the justice that they so desperately needed.”

      MacDonald and his sister, Ivy, recently produced a documentary on Native American women in Montana who vanished or were killed. One story hits particularly close to home. Their 7-year-old cousin, Monica, disappeared from a reservation school in 1979. Her body was found frozen on a mountain 20 miles away, and no one has ever been arrested.

      There are many similar mysteries that follow a pattern: A woman or girl goes missing, there’s a community outcry, a search is launched, a reward may be offered. There may be a quick resolution. But often, there’s frustration with tribal police and federal authorities, and a feeling many cases aren’t handled urgently or thoroughly.

      So why does this happen? MacDonald offers his own harsh assessment.

      “It boils down to racism,” he argues. “You could sort of tie it into poverty or drug use or some of those factors ... (but) the federal government doesn’t really give a crap at the end of the day.”

      Tribal police and investigators from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs serve as law enforcement on reservations, which are sovereign nations. But the FBI investigates certain offenses and, if there’s ample evidence, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes major felonies such as murder, kidnapping and rape if they happen on tribal lands.

      Former North Dakota federal prosecutor Tim Purdon calls it a “jurisdictional thicket” of overlapping authority and different laws depending on the crime, where it occurred (on a reservation or not) and whether a tribal member is the victim or perpetrator. Missing person cases on reservations can be especially tricky. Some people run away, but if a crime is suspected, it’s difficult to know how to get help.

      “Where do I go to file a missing person’s report?” Purdon asks. “Do I go to the tribal police? ... In some places they’re underfunded and undertrained. The Bureau of Indian Affairs? The FBI? They might want to help, but a missing person case without more is not a crime, so they may not be able to open an investigation. ... Do I go to one of the county sheriffs? ... If that sounds like a horribly complicated mishmash of law enforcement jurisdictions that would tremendously complicate how I would try to find help, it’s because that’s what it is.”

      Sarah Deer, a University of Kansas professor, author of a book on sexual violence in Indian Country and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, offers another explanation for the missing and murdered: Native women, she says, have long been considered invisible and disposable in society, and those vulnerabilities attract predators.

      “It’s made us more of a target, particularly for the women who have addiction issues, PTSD and other kinds of maladies,” she says. “You have a very marginalized group, and the legal system doesn’t seem to take proactive attempts to protect Native women in some cases.”

      Those attitudes permeate reservations where tribal police are frequently stretched thin and lack training and families complain officers don’t take reports of missing women seriously, delaying searches in the first critical hours.

      “They almost shame the people that are reporting, (and say), ’Well, she’s out drinking. Well, she probably took up with some man,’” says Carmen O’Leary, director of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains. “A lot of times families internalize that kind of shame, (thinking) that it’s her fault somehow.”

      Matthew Lone Bear spent nine months looking for his older sister, Olivia — using drones and four-wheelers, fending off snakes and crisscrossing nearly a million acres, often on foot. The 32-year-old mother of five had last been seen driving a Chevy Silverado on Oct. 25, 2017, in downtown New Town, on the oil-rich terrain of North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation.

      On July 31, volunteers using sonar found the truck with Olivia inside submerged in a lake less than a mile from her home. It’s a body of water that had been searched before, her brother says, but “obviously not as thoroughly, or they would have found it a long time ago.”

      Lone Bear says authorities were slow in launching their search — it took days to get underway — and didn’t get boats in the water until December, despite his frequent pleas. He’s working to develop a protocol for missing person cases for North Dakota’s tribes “that gets the red tape and bureaucracy out of the way,” he says.

      The FBI is investigating Olivia’s death. “She’s home,” her brother adds, “but how did she get there? We don’t have any of those answers.”

      Other families have been waiting for decades.

      Carolyn DeFord’s mother, Leona LeClair Kinsey, a member of the Puyallup Tribe, vanished nearly 20 years ago in La Grande, Oregon. “There was no search party. There was no, ’Let’s tear her house apart and find a clue,’” DeFord says. “I just felt hopeless and helpless.” She ended up creating her own missing person’s poster.

      “There’s no way to process the kind of loss that doesn’t stop,” says DeFord, who lives outside Tacoma, Washington. “Somebody asked me awhile back, ’What would you do if you found her? What would that mean?’... It would mean she can come home. She’s a human being who deserves to be honored and have her children and her grandchildren get to remember her and celebrate her life.”

      It’s another Native American woman whose name is attached to a federal bill aimed at addressing this issue. Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, 22, was murdered in 2017 while eight months pregnant. Her body was found in a river, wrapped in plastic and duct tape. A neighbor in Fargo, North Dakota, cut her baby girl from her womb. The child survived and lives with her father. The neighbor, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life without parole; her boyfriend’s trial is set to start in September.

      In a speech on the Senate floor last fall, North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp told the stories of four other Native American women from her state whose deaths were unsolved. Displaying a giant board featuring their photos, she decried disproportionate incidences of violence that go “unnoticed, unreported or underreported.”

      Her bill, “Savanna’s Act,” aims to improve tribal access to federal crime information databases. It would also require the Department of Justice to develop a protocol to respond to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans and the federal government to provide an annual report on the numbers.

      At the end of 2017, Native Americans and Alaska Natives made up 1.8 percent of ongoing missing cases in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, even though they represent 0.8 percent of the U.S. population. These cases include those lingering and open from year to year, but experts say the figure is low, given that many tribes don’t have access to the database. Native women accounted for more than 0.7 percent of the missing cases — 633 in all — though they represent about 0.4 percent of the U.S. population.

      “Violence against Native American women has not been prosecuted,” Heitkamp said in an interview. “We have not really seen the urgency in closing cold cases. We haven’t seen the urgency when someone goes missing. ... We don’t have the clear lines of authority that need to be established to prevent these tragedies.”

      In August, Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, asked the leaders of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold a hearing to address the problem.

      Lawmakers in a handful of states also are responding. In Montana, a legislative tribal relations committee has proposals for five bills to deal with missing persons. In July 2017, 22 of 72 missing girls or women — or about 30 percent — were Native American, according to Montana’s Department of Justice. But Native females comprise only 3.3 percent of the state’s population.

      It’s one of many statistics that reveal a grim reality.

      On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average and more than half of Alaska Native and Native women have experienced sexual violence at some point, according to the U.S. Justice Department. A 2016 study found more than 80 percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetimes.

      Yet another federal report on violence against women included some startling anecdotes from tribal leaders. Sadie Young Bird, who heads victim services for the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, described how in 1½ years, her program had dealt with five cases of murdered or missing women, resulting in 18 children losing their mothers; two cases were due to intimate partner violence.

      “Our people go missing at an alarming rate, and we would not hear about many of these cases without Facebook,” she said in the report.

      Canada has been wrestling with this issue for decades and recently extended a government inquiry that began in 2016 into missing and murdered indigenous women. A report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police concluded that from 1980 to 2012 there were 1,181 indigenous women murdered or whose missing person cases were unresolved. Lucchesi, the researcher, says she found an additional 400 to 500 cases in her database work.

      Despite some high-profile cases in the U.S., many more get scant attention, Lucchesi adds.

      “Ashley has been the face of this movement,” she says. “But this movement started before Ashley was born. For every Ashley, there are 200 more.”

      Browning is the heart of the Blackfeet Nation, a distinctly Western town with calf-roping competitions, the occasional horseback rider ambling down the street — and a hardscrabble reality. Nearly 40 percent of the residents live in poverty. The down-and-out loiter on corners. Shuttered homes with “Meth Unit” scrawled on wooden boards convey the damage caused by drugs.

      With just about 1,000 residents, many folks are related and secrets have a way of spilling out.

      “There’s always somebody talking,” says Ashley’s cousin, Lissa, “and it seems like to us since she disappeared, everybody got quiet. I don’t know if they’re scared, but so are we. That’s why we need people to speak up.”

      Missing posters of Ashley are displayed in grocery stores and the occasional sandwich shop. They show a fresh-faced, grinning woman, flashing the peace sign. In one, she gazes into the camera, her long hair blowing in the wind.

      One of nine children, including half-siblings, Ashley had lived with her grandmother outside town. Kimberly remembers her sister as funny and feisty, the keeper of the family photo albums who always carried a camera. She learned to ride a horse before a bike and liked to whip up breakfasts of biscuits and gravy that could feed an army.

      She was interested in environmental science and was completing her studies at Blackfeet Community College, with plans to attend the University of Montana.

      Kimberly says Ashley contacted her asking for money. Days later, she was gone.

      At first, her relatives say, tribal police suggested Ashley was old enough to take off on her own. The Bureau of Indian Affairs investigated, teaming up with reservation police, and interviewed 55 people and conducted 38 searches. There are persons of interest, spokeswoman Nedra Darling says, but she wouldn’t elaborate. A $10,000 reward is being offered.

      The FBI took over the case in January after a lead steered investigators off the reservation and into another state. The agency declined comment.

      Ashley’s disappearance is just the latest trauma for the Blackfeet Nation.

      Theda New Breast, a founder of the Native Wellness Institute, has worked with Lucchesi to compile a list of missing and murdered women in the Blackfoot Confederacy — four tribes in the U.S. and Canada. Long-forgotten names are added as families break generations of silence. A few months ago, a woman revealed her grandmother had been killed in the 1950s by her husband and left in a shallow grave.

      “Everybody knew about it, but nobody talked about it,” New Breast says, and others keep coming forward — perhaps, in part, because of the #MeToo movement. “Every time I bring out the list, more women tell their secret. I think that they find their voice.”

      Though these crimes have shaken the community, “there is a tendency to be desensitized to violence,” says MacDonald, the filmmaker. “I wouldn’t call it avoidance. But if we would feel the full emotions, there would be people crying in the streets.”

      His aunt, Mabel Wells, would be among them.

      Nearly 40 years have passed since that December day when her daughter, Monica, vanished. Wells remembers every terrible moment: The police handing her Monica’s boot after it was found by a hunter and the silent scream in her head: “It’s hers! It’s hers!” Her brother describing the little girl’s coat flapping in the wind after her daughter’s body was found frozen on a mountain. The pastor’s large hands that held hers as he solemnly declared: “Monica’s with the Lord.”

      Monica’s father, Kenny Still Smoking, recalls that a medicine man told him his daughter’s abductor was a man who favored Western-style clothes and lived in a red house in a nearby town, but there was no practical way to pursue that suggestion.

      He recently visited Monica’s grave, kneeling next to a white cross peeking out from tall grass, studying his daughter’s smiling photo, cracked with age. He gently placed his palm on her name etched into a headstone. “I let her know that I’m still kicking,” he says.

      Wells visits the gravesite, too — every June 2, Monica’s birthday. She still hopes to see the perpetrator caught. “I want to sit with them and say, ‘Why? Why did you choose my daughter?’”

      Even now, she can’t help but think of Monica alone on that mountain. “I wonder if she was hollering for me, saying, ‘Mom, help!’”

      _

      Ash-lee! Ash-lee!! Ash-lee! Ash-lee!!

      Some 20 miles northwest of Browning, the searchers have navigated a rugged road lined with barren trees scorched from an old forest fire. They have a panoramic view of majestic snowcapped mountains. A woman’s stained sweater was found here months ago, making the location worthy of another search. It’s not known whether the garment may be Ashley’s.

      First Kimberly, then Lissa Loring, call Ashley’s name — in different directions. The repetition four times by each woman is a ritual designed to beckon someone’s spirit.

      Lissa says Ashley’s disappearance constantly weighs on her. “All that plays in my head is where do we look? Who’s going to tell us the next lead?”

      That weekend at the annual North American Indian Days in Browning, the family marched in a parade with a red banner honoring missing and murdered indigenous women. They wore T-shirts with an image of Ashley and the words: “We will never give up.”

      Then Ashley’s grandmother and others took to a small arena for what’s known as a blanket dance, to raise money for the search. As drums throbbed, they grasped the edges of a blue blanket. Friends stepped forward, dropping in cash, some tearfully embracing Ashley’s relatives.

      The past few days reminded Kimberly of a promise she’d made to Ashley when their mother was wrestling with substance abuse problems and the girls were briefly in a foster home. Kimberly was 8 then; Ashley was just 5.

      “’We have to stick together,’” she’d told her little sister.

      “I told her I would never leave her. And if she was going to go anywhere, I would find her.”


      https://apnews.com/cb6efc4ec93e4e92900ec99ccbcb7e05

    • Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview

      Executive summary

      In late 2013, the Commissioner of the RCMP initiated an RCMP-led study of reported incidents of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across all police jurisdictions in Canada.

      This report summarizes that effort and will guide Canadian Police operational decision-making on a solid foundation. It will mean more targeted crime prevention, better community engagement and enhanced accountability for criminal investigations. It will also assist operational planning from the detachment to national level. In sum, it reveals the following:

      Police-recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females in this review total 1,181 – 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims.
      There are 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered Aboriginal females: 105 missing for more than 30 days as of November 4, 2013, whose cause of disappearance was categorized at the time as “unknown” or “foul play suspected” and 120 unsolved homicides between 1980 and 2012.
      The total indicates that Aboriginal women are over-represented among Canada’s murdered and missing women.
      There are similarities across all female homicides. Most homicides were committed by men and most of the perpetrators knew their victims — whether as an acquaintance or a spouse.
      The majority of all female homicides are solved (close to 90%) and there is little difference in solve rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims.

      This report concludes that the total number of murdered and missing Aboriginal females exceeds previous public estimates. This total significantly contributes to the RCMP’s understanding of this challenge, but it represents only a first step.

      It is the RCMP’s intent to work with the originating agencies responsible for the data herein to release as much of it as possible to stakeholders. Already, the data on missing Aboriginal women has been shared with the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR), which will be liaising with policing partners to publish additional cases on the Canada’s Missing website. Ultimately, the goal is to make information more widely available after appropriate vetting. While this matter is without question a policing concern, it is also a much broader societal challenge.

      The collation of this data was completed by the RCMP and the assessments and conclusions herein are those of the RCMP alone. The report would not have been possible without the support and contribution of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics at Statistics Canada.

      As with any effort of such magnitude, this report needs to be caveated with a certain amount of error and imprecision. This is for a number of reasons: the period of time over which data was collected was extensive; collection by investigators means data is susceptible to human error and interpretation; inconsistency of collection of variables over the review period and across multiple data sources; and, finally, definitional challenges.

      The numbers that follow are the best available data to which the RCMP had access to at the time the information was collected. They will change as police understanding of cases evolve, but as it stands, this is the most comprehensive data that has ever been assembled by the Canadian policing community on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

      http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women-national-operational-overview
      #rapport

    • Ribbons of shame: Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women

      In Canada, Jessie Kolvin uncovers a shameful record of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Examining the country’s ingrained racism, she questions whether Justin Trudeau’s government has used the issue for political gain.
      In 2017, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. The country was ablaze with pride: mountain and prairie, metropolis and suburb, were swathed in Canadian flags bearing that distinctive red maple leaf.

      My eye was accustomed to the omnipresent crimson, so when I crossed a bridge in Toronto and saw dozens of red ribbons tied to the struts, I assumed they were another symbol of national honour and celebration.

      Positive energy imbued even the graffiti at the end of the bridge, which declared that, “Tout est possible”. I reflected that perhaps it really was possible to have a successful democracy that was progressive and inclusive and kind: Canada was living proof.

      Then my friend spoke briefly, gravely: “These are a memorial to the missing and murdered Indigenous* women.”

      In a moment, my understanding of Canada was revolutionised. I was compelled to learn about the Indigenous women and girls – believed to number around 4,000, although the number continues to rise – whose lives have been violently taken.

      No longer did the red of the ribbons represent Canadian pride; suddenly it signified Canadian shame, and Indigenous anger and blood.

      At home, I Googled: “missing and murdered Indigenous women”. It returned 416,000 results all peppered with the shorthand “MMIW”, or “MMIWG” to include girls. The existence of the acronym suggested that this was not some limited or niche concern.

      It was widespread and, now at least, firmly in the cultural and political consciousness.

      The description records that her sister, Jane, has “repeatedly called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.”

      The oldest is 83, the youngest nine months. A random click yields the story of Angela Williams, a mother of three girls, who went missing in 2001 and was found dumped in a ditch beside a rural road in British Columbia.

      Another offers Tanya Jane Nepinak, who in 2011 didn’t return home after going to buy a pizza a few blocks away. A man has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to her disappearance, but her body has never been found.

      The description records that her sister, Jane, has “repeatedly called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.”

      According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Native American women constitute just 4.3% of the Canadian population but 16% of homicide victims. It isn’t a mystery as to why.

      Indigenous peoples are less likely than white Canadians to complete their education, more likely to be jobless, more likely to live in insecure housing, and their health – both physical and mental – is worse.

      Alcoholism and drug abuse abound, and Indigenous women are more likely to work in the sex trade. These environments breed vulnerability and violence, and violence tends to be perpetrated against women.

      Amnesty International has stated that Indigenous women in particular tend to be targeted because the “police in Canada have often failed to provide Indigenous women with an adequate standard of protection”.

      When police do intervene in Indigenous communities, they are often at best ineffectual and at worst abusive. Indigenous women are not, it appears, guaranteed their “right to life, liberty and security of the person” enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      It didn’t take me long to realise that many of these problems – Indigenous women’s vulnerability, the violence perpetrated against them, the failure to achieve posthumous justice – can be partly blamed on the persistence of racism.

      Successive governments have failed to implement substantial change. Then Prime Minister Stephen Harper merely voiced what had previously been tacit when he said in 2014 that the call for an inquiry “isn’t really high on our radar”.

      If this is believable of Harper, it is much less so of his successor Justin Trudeau. With his fresh face and progressive policies, I had heralded his arrival. Many Native Americans shared my optimism.

      For Trudeau certainly talked the talk: just after achieving office, he told the Assembly of First Nations that: “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation.”

      Trudeau committed to setting up a national public inquiry which would find the truth about why so many Indigenous women go missing and are murdered, and which would honour them.

      https://lacuna.org.uk/justice/ribbons-of-shame-canadas-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women
      #disparitions #racisme #xénophobie


  • Le projet nucléaire jordanien abandonné, ou du moins reconfiguré à la baisse sans certitude que la nouvelle solution sera plus réaliste financièrement.
    Auteurs: Ali Ahmad is director of the Energy Policy and Security in the Middle East Programme at the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair for Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Canada and author of “The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India” (Penguin Books, 2012).
    HTRs will not help establish nuclear power in Jordan | Jordan Times
    http://www.jordantimes.com/opinion/ali-ahmad-and-m-v-ramana/htrs-will-not-help-establish-nuclear-power-jordan

    Chairman of Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), Khaled Toukan, has announced that the organisation is in “serious and advanced” talks with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build a 220 megawatt High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTR) in the Kingdom. Viewed in light of earlier announcements by JAEC and its failure to realise any of its proposed plans since 2007, this pronouncement suggests that the Kingdom is downsizing its nuclear plans in a desperate bid to keep alive the possibility of building a nuclear plant in the country. But this effort is as misguided as prior ones and the best option is to stop investing any more effort, or money, into developing nuclear power.

    Perhaps the most important earlier announcement worth recalling is from three years ago, when, amid much fanfare, Jordan signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to build two 1,000-megawatt reactors, at a total cost of $10 billion. The two reactors were “expected to be operational by 2022”. Reports suggested that Russia was to finance 50.1 per cent of the project and Jordan would find financing for the other half. But Jordan struggled to come up with its share.

    Although there has been no official announcement to that effect, the project is likely dead. This is presumably why there is now talk of a smaller reactor.

    #énergie #nucléaire #jordanie #électricité


  • Korea summit: When war ends but peace is out of reach - BBC News
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-43933745

    Ancient #Rome and #Carthage
    Going further back, in ancient times Rome and Carthage never agreed to peace after the Romans seized and destroyed Carthage at the end of the Punic wars in 146 BC.

    More than 2,100 years later in 1985, the mayors of modern Rome and Carthage municipality - a modern-day suburb of Tunis - signed a peace treaty and an accompanying pact of friendship.

    #guerres #paix #histoire


  • The Corporation - Full Movie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHrhqtY2khc



    Mark Achbar | The Corporation
    http://thecorporation.com/team/mark-achbar

    Mark Achbar | Hello Cool World Media
    http://hellocoolworld.com/mark-achbar

    The Corporation (2003 film) - Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation_(2003_film)

    The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

    Squel | The Corporation
    http://thecorporation.com

    More than a decade after The Corporation started a global conversation about the modern business corporation, best-selling author and scholar Joel Bakan is now working on a follow-up project that focuses on the corporation’s remarkable evolution and transformation since the first film.

    “The original film was a call to action,” says Joel Bakan. “Now an entire generation of advocates, from both within and outside corporations, is successfully demanding that major corporations redefine their very purposes and missions to include social and environmental values.”

    As today’s leading companies embed social responsibility and sustainability at the hearts of their business models and operations, the new film reveals an emerging ethos of shared value, a rejection of short-termism, and a new conviction that the best way for companies to do well is by doing good.

    #capitalisme #film #documentaire

    • Aujourd’hui ce film a 15 ans et les affaires continuent comme avant. Ce n’est pas avec des publications que tu changes le monde, il va falloir attendre que quelques grands « players » s’écrasent par leur propre poids entraînant une crise du système pour avoir l’occasion de s’attaquer aux problèmes des fond.

      A ce moment là il sera bien d’avoir quelques références et repères pour expliquer comment ne pas s’y prendre.

      Je crains que la quantité d’informations que tu peux apprendre par minute est soit nettement moins élevée en regardant un film qu’en lisant du texte. Alors puisque dans les moments de crise tout se joue dans des délais extrèmements brefs, la communication écrite sera beaucoup plus importante que la propagagation d’idée à travers les images animées.


  • This App Can Tell You the Indigenous History of the Land You Live On by Chelsey Luger — YES! Magazine
    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/decolonize/this-app-can-tell-you-the-indigenous-history-of-the-land-you-live-on-20

    Whose land are you on? Start with a visit to native-land.ca. Native Land is both a website and an app that seeks to map Indigenous languages, treaties, and territories across Turtle Island. You might type in New York, New York, for example, and find that the five boroughs are actually traditional Lenape and Haudenosaunee territory.
    On the website and in the app, you can enter the ZIP code or Canadian or American name for any town. The interactive map will zoom in on your inquiry, color-code it, and pull up data on the area’s Indigenous history, original language, and tribal ties.

    The project is run by Victor Temprano out of British Columbia, Canada. A self-described “settler,” he said that the idea came to him while driving near his home—traditional Squamish territory. He saw many signs in the English language with the Squamish original place names indicated in parentheses underneath. He thought to himself, “Why isn’t the English in brackets?”

    https://native-land.ca

    #cartographie #peuples_premiers #territoires #langage #Amérique


  • Antiochus IV Epiphanes - Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

    c. 215 BC – 164 BC Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC.

    Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt, his persecution of the Jews of Judea and Samaria, and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees.

    Antiochus was the first Seleucid king to use divine epithets on coins, perhaps inspired by the Bactrian Hellenistic kings who had earlier done so, or else building on the ruler cult that his father Antiochus the Great had codified within the Seleucid Empire. These epithets included Θεὸς Ἐπιφανής “manifest god”, and, after his defeat of Egypt , Νικηφόρος “bringer of victory”.

    Antiochus IV Epiphanes: The Antichrist of the Old Testament
    http://www.prophecyforum.com/antiochus.html

    taken as a whole Antiochus IV Epiphanes is undoubtedly one of the greatest prototypes of the Antichrist in all of God’s Word.

    #histoire #antisémitisme #antiquité #religion


  • “Crops and Agricultural Developments in Western Europe”

    One of the problems we meet when we are discussing “agriculture” today is that in the last 150 years, our idea of what the word means has changed beyond recognition. The term “agricultural revolution” has been put to much too many uses (and misuses). But what resulted from the development of machines, fertilizers, genetically selected crops and pesticides in Europe and North America from the middle of the 19th century on can properly be named a revolution. Yields have increased about ten times, and labour productivity by a factor 100 to 1000, according to the task concerned. Nothing like that is recorded from any other period in the past. True, assessing yields for older times is a rather tricky business. But the orders of magnitude are pretty well known. Figures given by Roman agricultural writers in the two last centuries B.C. are not very different from those known from 18th century sources, so it would be possible to assume that nothing really important did happen in between. Of course, it is not quite true. There were many changes. But there were also many things that did not change. The main difficulty is to draw a fair pictures of both, never forgetting that non-changes may be as significant and important as changes.

    http://www.francois-sigaut.com/index.php/publications-diverses/publications/12-articles-fond/326-2013d
    #histoire_de_l'agriculture #agriculture #semences #foin #évolution #changement

    • #François_Sigaut

      François Sigaut fait ses études secondaires à Reims, et après les classes préparatoires entre à l’Institut national agronomique en 1960. Il devient ingénieur agronome et part comme coopérant au Niger puis pratique son métier en France et en Algérie.

      Son observation des techniques agricoles traditionnelles le pousse à entreprendre une thèse d’ethnologie sur les techniques anciennes de préparation des champs, sous la direction de Lucien Bernot. En 1978, il est élu à l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales où il poursuit ses recherches sur les techniques agricoles préindustrielles et s’intéresse particulièrement aux outils et aux gestes.

      En tant que directeur d’études à l’EHESS, il a contribué à consolider, dans la foulée d’André Leroi-Gourhan et d’André-Georges Haudricourt, une nouvelle discipline : la technologie, conçue comme branche à part entière des sciences de l’homme1.

      Promoteur des institutions de conservation de notre patrimoine et des outils de notre culture depuis la préhistoire jusqu’à nos jours, il fut l’un des fondateurs de l’Association française des musées d’agriculture (AFMA) et était président en exercice de l’Association internationale des musées d’agriculture (AIMA). Membre de l’Académie d’agriculture de France, il était aussi le président de l’Association pour l’étude de l’histoire de l’agriculture (AEHA).


      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Sigaut


  • The Aggregate IQ Files, Part One : How a Political Engineering Firm Exposed Their Code Base
    https://www.upguard.com/breaches/aggregate-iq-part-one

    The UpGuard Cyber Team’s latest discovery of a data leak, involving the exposed IT assets of a data analytics firm based in British Columbia, Canada, presents significant questions for society about how technology can be used. In this first installment of a multipart series titled “The AIQ Files,” we begin to explain the importance of the data revealed from a publicly exposed AggregateIQ repository, and how it relates to recent US political history. Coming amidst a firestorm of scrutiny (...)

    #AggregateIQ #CambridgeAnalytica #Facebook #algorithme #élections #manipulation #électeurs #prédictif #profiling (...)

    ##hacking


  • The Wild Ancient Greek Drinking Game That Required Throwing Wine - Gastro Obscura
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/kottabos-ancient-greek-wine-spilling-game

    Spilling red wine may be the ultimate party foul, especially if it lands on the host’s couch or carpet. But for the ancient Greeks, a party wasn’t good unless the wine flowed freely. The Greeks didn’t just fling their glasses of wine about willy-nilly, though. This game of wine-slinging—known as kottabos—had a discernible target, and both pride and prizes were on the line.

    Kottabos had two iterations. The preferred way to play, which is the iteration often depicted in plays and especially on pieces of pottery, involved a pole. Players would balance a small bronze disk, called a plastinx, on top of it. The goal was to flick dregs of one’s wine at the plastinx so that it would fall, making a clattering crash as it hit the manes, a metal plate or domed pan that lay roughly two-thirds down the pole. The competitors reclined on their couches, arranged in a square or circle around the pole a couple of yards away. Each then took turns launching their wine from their kylix, a shallow, circular vessel with a looping handle on each side.

    A less common version of the game featured players aiming at a number of small bowls, which floated in water within a larger basin. In this case, the object of the game was to sink as many of the small bowls as possible with the same arcing shots. Since it lacked the resounding clang of the plastinx striking the manes, this version of kottabos has been regarded as the quieter, more civilized way to play.

    Technique was essential to maintain elegant form, accuracy, and to avoid spilling on oneself. The player, sprawling on a drinking couch and propped up on their left elbow, placed two fingers through the loop of one handle and cast the wine dregs in a high arc toward the target. The technique has been likened to the motion of throwing a javelin, due to the way the player threaded their fingers through the handle the same way one held the leather strap used to throw the spear.


    Since they were on campus, Dr. Sharpe and her students used diluted grape juice rather than wine. “Within about half an hour there was diluted grape juice everywhere, which made me realize it must have gotten pretty messy,” she says. “You’re aiming at the target, but the funny thing is these symposia were typically held in a more-or-less square room, and you had participants on 3 ½ sides. So if you missed the target it wouldn’t have been surprising if you hit someone across the room.”

    Emily Moore and Mara Jean O’Hara, two West Chester University students, play kottabos in Dr. Sharpe’s class. Dr. Heather Sharpe

    The recreation also proved that the temptation to take a shot at a rival across the room must have been strong. In fact, in Aeschylus’s play Ostologoi (The Bone Collectors), Odysseus describes how during a game of kottabos, Eurymachus, one of Penelope’s suitors, repeatedly aimed his wine at Odysseus’s head, rather than at the plastinx, to humiliate him. And it seems that players took the game seriously, too, in spite of their casual reclining poses. “It’s funny because they did seem to be pretty competitive about this,” says Dr. Sharpe. “The Greeks, in a strange way, loved competing against each other, whether in the symposium or out in the gymnasium.”

    Nonetheless, these were not high stakes contests. A winner might typically receive a sweet as a prize. Playing for kisses or other favors from attending courtesans (hetairai, as they were called) was also a possibility. Vases portraying kottabos reveal that women played the game as hetairai, too.

    A hetaira plays kottabos. Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup / CC BY-SA 2.0

    But eroticism didn’t just stop at prizes. It was customary to dedicate one’s throw to a lover, with the implication that success at kottabos augured success in one’s love life. Others didn’t mince words. In one poem, Cratinus recalls a hetaira dedicating her shot to the Corinthian male organ: “It would kill her to drink wine with water in it. Instead she drinks down two pitchers of strong stuff, mixed one-to-one, and she calls out his name and tosses her wine lees from her ankule [kylix] in honor of the Corinthian dick.”
    It seems that kottabos’s free-wheeling nature and prizes weren’t enough to sustain it as a game, though. It eventually disappeared from artwork and plays, which suggests that it faded from popularity in the 4th century BC. The experiments of Dr. Sharpe and others aside, it seems unlikely to see a revival. Part of that might be due to how difficult it is to play, which doesn’t get any easier after players have had more than a few glasses of wine. The inevitable cleanup afterwards is a deterrent, too.


    A Kylix, shown from below. This one is housed at Berlin’s Altes Museum. Anagoria / CC BY 3.0

    Just ask Hugh Johnson, the wine expert and author, who once tried his hand at the game. “I have had a kottabos stand made, and practiced assiduously,” Johnson recalls in The Story of Wine. “From personal experience I can say it is not all easy … and it makes a terrible mess on the floor.”

    cc @tintin

    • Très intéressant !

      Et, en tirant les fils de la citation,

      Either way, the humour of the fragment depends on the audience’s ability to recognise the allusion to Euripides’ Stheneboea here see Stheneboea’s mournful longing for her lover become a typical comic woman’s desire for wine and sex.

      avec https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sthénébée
      et, as usual, WP[en]
      Stheneboea - Wikipedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stheneboea

      Stheneboea (Greek: Σθενέβοια; the “strong cow” or “strong through cattle”)
      […]
      Stheneboea, “cattle queen”
      Stheneboea is one of a number of female figures named for their role as “cattle queens”; they include Phereboia (“bringing in cattle”), and Polyboia (“worth much cattle”). In archaic Greece cattle were a source of wealth and a demonstration of social pre-eminence; they also signified the numinous presence of Hera. Cattle-queens, betokening the command of a large bride-price, are as familiar in Gaelic mythology as they are in Greek myth.


  • Un porte-conteneur de 6350 EVP à la dérive au large de l’île de Vancouver à la suite d’un incendie dans les machines.

    Engine Room Fire Leaves MOL Boxship Adrift Off B.C.
    https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/engine-room-fire-leaves-mol-boxship-adrift-off-b-c

    The Canadian Coast Guard reported Thursday that the container ship MOL Prestige has suffered an engine room fire, setting her adrift about 200 nm to the southwest of Haida Gwaii. 

    At least three crewmembers were injured in the fire, and a helicopter crew dispatched by the Victoria rescue coordination center evacuated two individuals who had suffered burns to their hands. 21 crewmembers remain on board, and they still have electrical power from the ship’s emergency generator, according to Canadian Coast Guard spokesman John Rose. 

    The fire has been extinguished, and while the Prestige is still adrift, her situation is stable, Rose said. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier is on scene to assist, and a salvage tug is expected to arrive at 0800 hours Saturday.


  • What Happens When We Let Tech Care For Our Aging Parents | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/digital-puppy-seniors-nursing-homes

    Arlyn Anderson grasped her father’s hand and presented him with the choice. “A nursing home would be safer, Dad,” she told him, relaying the doctors’ advice. “It’s risky to live here alone—”

    “No way,” Jim interjected. He frowned at his daughter, his brow furrowed under a lop of white hair. At 91, he wanted to remain in the woodsy Minnesota cottage he and his wife had built on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, where she had died in his arms just a year before. His pontoon—which he insisted he could still navigate just fine—bobbed out front.

    Arlyn had moved from California back to Minnesota two decades earlier to be near her aging parents. Now, in 2013, she was fiftysomething, working as a personal coach, and finding that her father’s decline was all-consuming.

    Her father—an inventor, pilot, sailor, and general Mr. Fix-It; “a genius,” Arlyn says—started experiencing bouts of paranoia in his mid-eighties, a sign of Alzheimer’s. The disease had progressed, often causing his thoughts to vanish mid-sentence. But Jim would rather risk living alone than be cloistered in an institution, he told Arlyn and her older sister, Layney. A nursing home certainly wasn’t what Arlyn wanted for him either. But the daily churn of diapers and cleanups, the carousel of in-home aides, and the compounding financial strain (she had already taken out a reverse mortgage on Jim’s cottage to pay the caretakers) forced her to consider the possibility.

    Jim, slouched in his recliner, was determined to stay at home. “No way,” he repeated to his daughter, defiant. Her eyes welled up and she hugged him. “OK, Dad.” Arlyn’s house was a 40-minute drive from the cottage, and for months she had been relying on a patchwork of technology to keep tabs on her dad. She set an open laptop on the counter so she could chat with him on Skype. She installed two cameras, one in his kitchen and another in his bedroom, so she could check whether the caregiver had arrived, or God forbid, if her dad had fallen. So when she read in the newspaper about a new digi­tal eldercare service called CareCoach a few weeks after broaching the subject of the nursing home, it piqued her interest. For about $200 a month, a human-powered avatar would be available to watch over a homebound person 24 hours a day; Arlyn paid that same amount for just nine hours of in-home help. She signed up immediately.

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    A Google Nexus tablet arrived in the mail a week later. When Arlyn plugged it in, an animated German shepherd appeared onscreen, standing at attention on a digitized lawn. The brown dog looked cutesy and cartoonish, with a bubblegum-pink tongue and round, blue eyes.

    She and Layney visited their dad later that week, tablet in hand. Following the instructions, Arlyn uploaded dozens of pictures to the service’s online portal: images of family members, Jim’s boat, and some of his inventions, like a computer terminal known as the Teleray and a seismic surveillance system used to detect footsteps during the Vietnam War. The setup complete, Arlyn clutched the tablet, summoning the nerve to introduce her dad to the dog. Her initial instinct that the service could be the perfect companion for a former technologist had splintered into needling doubts. Was she tricking him? Infantilizing him?

    Tired of her sister’s waffling, Layney finally snatched the tablet and presented it to their dad, who was sitting in his armchair. “Here, Dad, we got you this.” The dog blinked its saucer eyes and then, in Google’s female text-to-speech voice, started to talk. Before Alzheimer’s had taken hold, Jim would have wanted to know exactly how the service worked. But in recent months he’d come to believe that TV characters were interacting with him: A show’s villain had shot a gun at him, he said; Katie Couric was his friend. When faced with an onscreen character that actually was talking to him, Jim readily chatted back.

    Jim named his dog Pony. Arlyn perched the tablet upright on a table in Jim’s living room, where he could see it from the couch or his recliner. Within a week Jim and Pony had settled into a routine, exchanging pleasantries several times a day. Every 15 minutes or so Pony would wake up and look for Jim, calling his name if he was out of view. Sometimes Jim would “pet” the sleeping dog onscreen with his finger to rustle her awake. His touch would send an instantaneous alert to the human caretaker behind the avatar, prompting the CareCoach worker to launch the tablet’s audio and video stream. “How are you, Jim?” Pony would chirp. The dog reminded him which of his daughters or in-person caretakers would be visiting that day to do the tasks that an onscreen dog couldn’t: prepare meals, change Jim’s sheets, drive him to a senior center. “We’ll wait together,” Pony would say. Often she’d read poetry aloud, discuss the news, or watch TV with him. “You look handsome, Jim!” Pony remarked after watching him shave with his electric razor. “You look pretty,” he replied. Sometimes Pony would hold up a photo of Jim’s daughters or his inventions between her paws, prompting him to talk about his past. The dog complimented Jim’s red sweater and cheered him on when he struggled to buckle his watch in the morning. He reciprocated by petting the screen with his index finger, sending hearts floating up from the dog’s head. “I love you, Jim!” Pony told him a month after they first met—something CareCoach operators often tell the people they are monitoring. Jim turned to Arlyn and gloated, “She does! She thinks I’m real good!”

    About 1,500 miles south of Lake Minnetonka, in Monterrey, Mexico, Rodrigo Rochin opens his laptop in his home office and logs in to the CareCoach dashboard to make his rounds. He talks baseball with a New Jersey man watching the Yankees; chats with a woman in South Carolina who calls him Peanut (she places a cookie in front of her tablet for him to “eat”); and greets Jim, one of his regulars, who sips coffee while looking out over a lake.

    Rodrigo is 35 years old, the son of a surgeon. He’s a fan of the Spurs and the Cowboys, a former international business student, and a bit of an introvert, happy to retreat into his sparsely decorated home office each morning. He grew up crossing the border to attend school in McAllen, Texas, honing the English that he now uses to chat with elderly people in the United States. Rodrigo found CareCoach on an online freelancing platform and was hired in December 2012 as one of the company’s earliest contractors, role-playing 36 hours a week as one of the service’s avatars.

    After watching her dad interact with Pony, Arlyn’s reservations about outsourcing her father’s companionship vanished.

    In person, Rodrigo is soft-spoken, with wire spectacles and a beard. He lives with his wife and two basset hounds, Bob and Cleo, in Nuevo León’s capital city. But the people on the other side of the screen don’t know that. They don’t know his name—or, in the case of those like Jim who have dementia, that he even exists. It’s his job to be invisible. If Rodrigo’s clients ask where he’s from, he might say MIT (the CareCoach software was created by two graduates of the school), but if anyone asks where their pet actually is, he replies in character: “Here with you.”

    Rodrigo is one of a dozen CareCoach employees in Latin America and the Philippines. The contractors check on the service’s seniors through the tablet’s camera a few times an hour. (When they do, the dog or cat avatar they embody appears to wake up.) To talk, they type into the dashboard and their words are voiced robotically through the tablet, designed to give their charges the impression that they’re chatting with a friendly pet. Like all the CareCoach workers, Rodrigo keeps meticulous notes on the people he watches over so he can coordinate their care with other workers and deepen his relationship with them over time—this person likes to listen to Adele, this one prefers Elvis, this woman likes to hear Bible verses while she cooks. In one client’s file, he wrote a note explaining that the correct response to “See you later, alligator” is “After a while, crocodile.” These logs are all available to the customer’s social workers or adult children, wherever they may live. Arlyn started checking Pony’s log between visits with her dad several times a week. “Jim says I’m a really nice person,” reads one early entry made during the Minnesota winter. “I told Jim that he was my best friend. I am so happy.”

    After watching her dad interact with Pony, Arlyn’s reservations about outsourcing her father’s companionship vanished. Having Pony there eased her anxiety about leaving Jim alone, and the virtual dog’s small talk lightened the mood.

    Pony was not only assisting Jim’s human caretakers but also inadvertently keeping an eye on them. Months before, in broken sentences, Jim had complained to Arlyn that his in-home aide had called him a bastard. Arlyn, desperate for help and unsure of her father’s recollection, gave her a second chance. Three weeks after arriving in the house, Pony woke up to see the same caretaker, impatient. “Come on, Jim!” the aide yelled. “Hurry up!” Alarmed, Pony asked why she was screaming and checked to see if Jim was OK. The pet—actually, Rodrigo—later reported the aide’s behavior to CareCoach’s CEO, Victor Wang, who emailed Arlyn about the incident. (The caretaker knew there was a human watching her through the tablet, Arlyn says, but may not have known the extent of the person’s contact with Jim’s family behind the scenes.) Arlyn fired the short-tempered aide and started searching for a replacement. Pony watched as she and Jim conducted the interviews and approved of the person Arlyn hired. “I got to meet her,” the pet wrote. “She seems really nice.”

    Pony—friend and guard dog—would stay.
    Grant Cornett

    Victor Wang grew up feeding his Tama­got­chis and coding choose-your-own-­adventure games in QBasic on the family PC. His parents moved from Taiwan to suburban Vancouver, British Columbia, when Wang was a year old, and his grandmother, whom he called Lao Lao in Mandarin, would frequently call from Taiwan. After her husband died, Lao Lao would often tell Wang’s mom that she was lonely, pleading with her daughter to come to Taiwan to live with her. As she grew older, she threatened suicide. When Wang was 11, his mother moved back home for two years to care for her. He thinks of that time as the honey-­sandwich years, the food his overwhelmed father packed him each day for lunch. Wang missed his mother, he says, but adds, “I was never raised to be particularly expressive of my emotions.”

    At 17, Wang left home to study mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia. He joined the Canadian Army Reserve, serving as an engineer on a maintenance platoon while working on his undergraduate degree. But he scrapped his military future when, at 22, he was admitted to MIT’s master’s program in mechanical engineering. Wang wrote his dissertation on human-machine interaction, studying a robotic arm maneuvered by astronauts on the International Space Station. He was particularly intrigued by the prospect of harnessing tech to perform tasks from a distance: At an MIT entrepreneurship competition, he pitched the idea of training workers in India to remotely operate the buffers that sweep US factory floors.

    In 2011, when he was 24, his grandmother was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a disease that affects the areas of the brain associated with memory and movement. On Skype calls from his MIT apartment, Wang watched as his grandmother grew increasingly debilitated. After one call, a thought struck him: If he could tap remote labor to sweep far-off floors, why not use it to comfort Lao Lao and others like her?

    Wang started researching the looming caretaker shortage in the US—between 2010 and 2030, the population of those older than 80 is projected to rise 79 percent, but the number of family caregivers available is expected to increase just 1 percent.

    In 2012 Wang recruited his cofounder, a fellow MIT student working on her computer science doctorate named Shuo Deng, to build CareCoach’s technology. They agreed that AI speech technology was too rudimentary for an avatar capable of spontaneous conversation tailored to subtle mood and behavioral cues. For that, they would need humans.

    Older people like Jim often don’t speak clearly or linearly, and those with dementia can’t be expected to troubleshoot a machine that misunderstands. “When you match someone not fully coherent with a device that’s not fully coherent, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Wang says. Pony, on the other hand, was an expert at deciphering Jim’s needs. Once, Pony noticed that Jim was holding onto furniture for support, as if he were dizzy. The pet persuaded him to sit down, then called Arlyn. Deng figures it’ll take about 20 years for AI to be able to master that kind of personal interaction and recognition. That said, the CareCoach system is already deploying some automated abilities. Five years ago, when Jim was introduced to Pony, the offshore workers behind the camera had to type every response; today CareCoach’s software creates roughly one out of every five sentences the pet speaks. Wang aims to standardize care by having the software manage more of the patients’ regular reminders—prodding them to take their medicine, urging them to eat well and stay hydrated. CareCoach workers are part free­wheeling raconteurs, part human natural-­language processors, listening to and deciphering their charges’ speech patterns or nudging the person back on track if they veer off topic. The company recently began recording conversations to better train its software in senior speech recognition.

    CareCoach found its first customer in December 2012, and in 2014 Wang moved from Massachusetts to Silicon Valley, renting a tiny office space on a lusterless stretch of Millbrae near the San Francisco airport. Four employees congregate in one room with a view of the parking lot, while Wang and his wife, Brittany, a program manager he met at a gerontology conference, work in the foyer. Eight tablets with sleeping pets onscreen are lined up for testing before being shipped to their respective seniors. The avatars inhale and exhale, lending an eerie sense of life to their digital kennel.

    CareCoach conveys the perceptiveness and emotional intelligence of the humans powering it but masquerades as an animated app.

    Wang spends much of his time on the road, touting his product’s health benefits at medical conferences and in hospital executive suites. Onstage at a gerontology summit in San Francisco last summer, he deftly impersonated the strained, raspy voice of an elderly man talking to a CareCoach pet while Brittany stealthily cued the replies from her laptop in the audience. The company’s tablets are used by hospitals and health plans across Massachusetts, California, New York, South Carolina, Florida, and Washington state. Between corporate and individual customers, CareCoach’s avatars have interacted with hundreds of users in the US. “The goal,” Wang says, “is not to have a little family business that just breaks even.”

    The fastest growth would come through hospital units and health plans specializing in high-need and elderly patients, and he makes the argument that his avatars cut health care costs. (A private room in a nursing home can run more than $7,500 a month.) Preliminary research has been promising, though limited. In a study conducted by Pace University at a Manhattan housing project and a Queens hospital, CareCoach’s avatars were found to reduce subjects’ loneliness, delirium, and falls. A health provider in Massachusetts was able to replace a man’s 11 weekly in-home nurse visits with a CareCoach tablet, which diligently reminded him to take his medications. (The man told nurses that the pet’s nagging reminded him of having his wife back in the house. “It’s kind of like a complaint, but he loves it at the same time,” the project’s lead says.) Still, the feelings aren’t always so cordial: In the Pace University study, some aggravated seniors with dementia lashed out and hit the tablet. In response, the onscreen pet sheds tears and tries to calm the person.

    More troubling, perhaps, were the people who grew too fiercely attached to their digi­tal pets. At the conclusion of a University of Washington CareCoach pilot study, one woman became so distraught at the thought of parting with her avatar that she signed up for the service, paying the fee herself. (The company gave her a reduced rate.) A user in Massachusetts told her caretakers she’d cancel an upcoming vacation to Maine unless her digital cat could come along.

    We’re still in the infancy of understanding the complexities of aging humans’ relationship with technology. Sherry Turkle, a professor of social studies, science, and technology at MIT and a frequent critic of tech that replaces human communication, described interactions between elderly people and robotic babies, dogs, and seals in her 2011 book, Alone Together. She came to view roboticized eldercare as a cop-out, one that would ultimately degrade human connection. “This kind of app—in all of its slickness and all its ‘what could possibly be wrong with it?’ mentality—is making us forget what we really know about what makes older people feel sustained,” she says: caring, interpersonal relationships. The question is whether an attentive avatar makes a comparable substitute. Turkle sees it as a last resort. “The assumption is that it’s always cheaper and easier to build an app than to have a conversation,” she says. “We allow technologists to propose the unthinkable and convince us the unthinkable is actually the inevitable.”

    But for many families, providing long-term in-person care is simply unsustainable. The average family caregiver has a job outside the home and spends about 20 hours a week caring for a parent, according to AARP. Nearly two-thirds of such caregivers are women. Among eldercare experts, there’s a resignation that the demographics of an aging America will make technological solutions unavoidable. The number of those older than 65 with a disability is projected to rise from 11 million to 18 million from 2010 to 2030. Given the option, having a digital companion may be preferable to being alone. Early research shows that lonely and vulnerable elders like Jim seem content to communicate with robots. Joseph Coughlin, director of MIT’s AgeLab, is pragmatic. “I would always prefer the human touch over a robot,” he says. “But if there’s no human available, I would take high tech in lieu of high touch.”

    CareCoach is a disorienting amalgam of both. The service conveys the perceptiveness and emotional intelligence of the humans powering it but masquerades as an animated app. If a person is incapable of consenting to CareCoach’s monitoring, then someone must do so on their behalf. But the more disconcerting issue is how cognizant these seniors are of being watched over by strangers. Wang considers his product “a trade-off between utility and privacy.” His workers are trained to duck out during baths and clothing changes.

    Some CareCoach users insist on greater control. A woman in Washington state, for example, put a piece of tape over her CareCoach tablet’s camera to dictate when she could be viewed. Other customers like Jim, who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or other diseases, might not realize they are being watched. Once, when he was temporarily placed in a rehabilitation clinic after a fall, a nurse tending to him asked Arlyn what made the avatar work. “You mean there’s someone overseas looking at us?” she yelped, within earshot of Jim. (Arlyn isn’t sure whether her dad remembered the incident later.) By default, the app explains to patients that someone is surveilling them when it’s first introduced. But the family members of personal users, like Arlyn, can make their own call.

    Arlyn quickly stopped worrying about whether she was deceiving her dad. Telling Jim about the human on the other side of the screen “would have blown the whole charm of it,” she says. Her mother had Alzheimer’s as well, and Arlyn had learned how to navigate the disease: Make her mom feel safe; don’t confuse her with details she’d have trouble understanding. The same went for her dad. “Once they stop asking,” Arlyn says, “I don’t think they need to know anymore.” At the time, Youa Vang, one of Jim’s regular in-­person caretakers, didn’t comprehend the truth about Pony either. “I thought it was like Siri,” she said when told later that it was a human in Mexico who had watched Jim and typed in the words Pony spoke. She chuckled. “If I knew someone was there, I may have been a little more creeped out.”

    Even CareCoach users like Arlyn who are completely aware of the person on the other end of the dashboard tend to experience the avatar as something between human, pet, and machine—what some roboticists call a third ontological category. The care­takers seem to blur that line too: One day Pony told Jim that she dreamed she could turn into a real health aide, almost like Pinoc­chio wishing to be a real boy.

    Most of CareCoach’s 12 contractors reside in the Philippines, Venezuela, or Mexico. To undercut the cost of in-person help, Wang posts English-language ads on freelancing job sites where foreign workers advertise rates as low as $2 an hour. Though he won’t disclose his workers’ hourly wages, Wang claims the company bases its salaries on factors such as what a registered nurse would make in the CareCoach employee’s home country, their language proficiencies, and the cost of their internet connection.

    The growing network includes people like Jill Paragas, a CareCoach worker who lives in a subdivision on Luzon island in the Philippines. Paragas is 35 years old and a college graduate. She earns about the same being an avatar as she did in her former call center job, where she consoled Americans irate about credit card charges. (“They wanted to, like, burn the company down or kill me,” she says with a mirthful laugh.) She works nights to coincide with the US daytime, typing messages to seniors while her 6-year-old son sleeps nearby.

    Even when Jim grew stubborn or paranoid with his daughters, he always viewed Pony as a friend.

    Before hiring her, Wang interviewed Paragas via video, then vetted her with an international criminal background check. He gives all applicants a personality test for certain traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. As part of the CareCoach training program, Paragas earned certifications in delirium and dementia care from the Alzheimer’s Association, trained in US health care ethics and privacy, and learned strategies for counseling those with addictions. All this, Wang says, “so we don’t get anyone who’s, like, crazy.” CareCoach hires only about 1 percent of its applicants.

    Paragas understands that this is a complicated business. She’s befuddled by the absence of family members around her aging clients. “In my culture, we really love to take care of our parents,” she says. “That’s why I’m like, ‘She is already old, why is she alone?’ ” Paragas has no doubt that, for some people, she’s their most significant daily relationship. Some of her charges tell her that they couldn’t live without her. Even when Jim grew stubborn or paranoid with his daughters, he always viewed Pony as a friend. Arlyn quickly realized that she had gained a valuable ally.
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    As time went on, the father, daughter, and family pet grew closer. When the snow finally melted, Arlyn carried the tablet to the picnic table on the patio so they could eat lunch overlooking the lake. Even as Jim’s speech became increasingly stunted, Pony could coax him to talk about his past, recounting fishing trips or how he built the house to face the sun so it would be warmer in winter. When Arlyn took her dad around the lake in her sailboat, Jim brought Pony along. (“I saw mostly sky,” Rodrigo recalls.)

    One day, while Jim and Arlyn were sitting on the cottage’s paisley couch, Pony held up a photograph of Jim’s wife, Dorothy, between her paws. It had been more than a year since his wife’s death, and Jim hardly mentioned her anymore; he struggled to form coherent sentences. That day, though, he gazed at the photo fondly. “I still love her,” he declared. Arlyn rubbed his shoulder, clasping her hand over her mouth to stifle tears. “I am getting emotional too,” Pony said. Then Jim leaned toward the picture of his deceased wife and petted her face with his finger, the same way he would to awaken a sleeping Pony.

    When Arlyn first signed up for the service, she hadn’t anticipated that she would end up loving—yes, loving, she says, in the sincerest sense of the word—the avatar as well. She taught Pony to say “Yeah, sure, you betcha” and “don’t-cha know” like a Minnesotan, which made her laugh even more than her dad. When Arlyn collapsed onto the couch after a long day of caretaking, Pony piped up from her perch on the table:

    “Arnie, how are you?”

    Alone, Arlyn petted the screen—the way Pony nuzzled her finger was weirdly therapeutic—and told the pet how hard it was to watch her dad lose his identity.

    “I’m here for you,” Pony said. “I love you, Arnie.”

    When she recalls her own attachment to the dog, Arlyn insists her connection wouldn’t have developed if Pony was simply high-functioning AI. “You could feel Pony’s heart,” she says. But she preferred to think of Pony as her father did—a friendly pet—rather than a person on the other end of a webcam. “Even though that person probably had a relationship to me,” she says, “I had a relationship with the avatar.”

    Still, she sometimes wonders about the person on the other side of the screen. She sits up straight and rests her hand over her heart. “This is completely vulnerable, but my thought is: Did Pony really care about me and my dad?” She tears up, then laughs ruefully at herself, knowing how weird it all sounds. “Did this really happen? Was it really a relationship, or were they just playing solitaire and typing cute things?” She sighs. “But it seemed like they cared.”

    When Jim turned 92 that August, as friends belted out “Happy Birthday” around the dinner table, Pony spoke the lyrics along with them. Jim blew out the single candle on his cake. “I wish you good health, Jim,” Pony said, “and many more birthdays to come.”

    In Monterrey, Mexico, when Rodrigo talks about his unusual job, his friends ask if he’s ever lost a client. His reply: Yes.

    In early March 2014, Jim fell and hit his head on his way to the bathroom. A caretaker sleeping over that night found him and called an ambulance, and Pony woke up when the paramedics arrived. The dog told them Jim’s date of birth and offered to call his daughters as they carried him out on a stretcher.

    Jim was checked into a hospital, then into the nursing home he’d so wanted to avoid. The Wi-Fi there was spotty, which made it difficult for Jim and Pony to connect. Nurses would often turn Jim’s tablet to face the wall. The CareCoach logs from those months chronicle a series of communication misfires. “I miss Jim a lot,” Pony wrote. “I hope he is doing good all the time.” One day, in a rare moment of connectivity, Pony suggested he and Jim go sailing that summer, just like the good old days. “That sounds good,” Jim said.
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    That July, in an email from Wang, Rodrigo learned that Jim had died in his sleep. Sitting before his laptop, Rodrigo bowed his head and recited a silent Lord’s Prayer for Jim, in Spanish. He prayed that his friend would be accepted into heaven. “I know it’s going to sound weird, but I had a certain friendship with him,” he says. “I felt like I actually met him. I feel like I’ve met them.” In the year and a half that he had known them, Arlyn and Jim talked to him regularly. Jim had taken Rodrigo on a sailboat ride. Rodrigo had read him poetry and learned about his rich past. They had celebrated birthdays and holidays together as family. As Pony, Rodrigo had said “Yeah, sure, you betcha” countless times.

    That day, for weeks afterward, and even now when a senior will do something that reminds him of Jim, Rodrigo says he feels a pang. “I still care about them,” he says. After her dad’s death, Arlyn emailed Victor Wang to say she wanted to honor the workers for their care. Wang forwarded her email to Rodrigo and the rest of Pony’s team. On July 29, 2014, Arlyn carried Pony to Jim’s funeral, placing the tablet facing forward on the pew beside her. She invited any workers behind Pony who wanted to attend to log in.

    A year later, Arlyn finally deleted the CareCoach service from the tablet—it felt like a kind of second burial. She still sighs, “Pony!” when the voice of her old friend gives her directions as she drives around Minneapolis, reincarnated in Google Maps.

    After saying his prayer for Jim, Rodrigo heaved a sigh and logged in to the CareCoach dashboard to make his rounds. He ducked into living rooms, kitchens, and hospital rooms around the United States—seeing if all was well, seeing if anybody needed to talk.


  • You’re Descended from Royalty and So Is Everybody Else - Issue 56: Perspective
    http://nautil.us/issue/56/perspective/youre-descended-from-royalty-and-so-is-everybody-else

    Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks, Holy Roman Emperor, the great European conciliator; your ancestor. I am making an assumption that you are broadly of European descent, which is not statistically unreasonable but certainly not definitive. If you’re not, be patient, and we’ll come to your own very regal ancestry soon enough. Along with Alexander and Alfred, Charlemagne is one of a handful of kings who gets awarded the post-nominal accolade “the Great.” His early life remains mysterious and the stories are assembled from various sources, but it seems he was born around 742 B.C., just at the time when the Plague of Justinian was dispatching millions at the eastern edge of the moribund Roman Empire. The precise place of his birth is also unknown, but it’s likely to be in a town (...)