• Les cafards sont devenus résistants à la quasi totalité des insecticides. Étude parue dans Nature diffusée sur RT

    Estudio advierte que las cucarachas se están volviendo imposibles de matar

    Probaron diferentes insecticidas en edificios de Indiana e Illinois, que alternaban cada mes. Encontraron que las poblaciones aumentaron o se mantuvieron estables

    Un grupo de investigadores expuso a cucarachas comunes a diferentes tipos de productos químicos durante seis meses, y encontraron que las poblaciones aumentaron o se mantuvieron estables.

    Las cucarachas están evolucionando rápidamente para ser resistentes a casi todo tipo de insecticida y pronto podrían ser casi imposible de matarlas solo con pesticidas, se desprende de un estudio publicado en la revista Nature difundido por el sitio web RT.

    En una búsqueda para determinar los métodos de erradicación más óptima de estos insectos, entomólogos de la Universidad Purdue de Indiana, Estados Unidos, establecieron un experimento para evaluar su resistencia a los pesticidas en generaciones sucesivas y analizaron concretamente la especie más común: la Blattella germanica, más conocida como cucaracha rubia o alemana.

  • Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking. Take a ride along the Punjabi American highway - Los Angeles Times

    By Jaweed Kaleem, Jun 27, 2019 -
    It’s 7:20 p.m. when he rolls into Spicy Bite, one of the newest restaurants here in rural northwest New Mexico. Locals in Milan, a town of 3,321, have barely heard of it.
    Punjabi-operated truck stops

    The building is small, single-story, built of corrugated metal sheets. There are seats for 20. The only advertising is spray-painted on concrete roadblocks in English and Punjabi. Next door is a diner and gas station; the county jail is across the road.

    Palwinder Singh orders creamy black lentils, chicken curry and roti, finishing it off with chai and cardamom rice pudding. After 13 hours on and off the road in his semi truck, he leans back in a booth as a Bollywood music video plays on TV.

    “This is like home,” says Pal, the name he uses on the road (said like “Paul”).

    There are 3.5 million truckers in the United States. California has 138,000, the second-most after Texas. Nearly half of those in California are immigrants, most from Mexico or Central America. But as drivers age toward retirement — the average American trucker is 55 — and a shortage grows, Sikh immigrants and their kids are increasingly taking up the job.

    Estimates of the number of Sikh truckers vary. In California alone, tens of thousands of truckers trace their heritage to India. The state is home to half of the Sikhs in the U.S. — members of a monotheistic faith with origins in 15th century India whose followers are best recognized by the uncut hair and turbans many men wear. At Sikh temples in Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, the majority of worshipers are truck drivers and their families.

    Over the last decade, Indian Americans have launched trucking schools, truck companies, truck washes, trucker temples and no-frills Indian restaurants modeled after truck stops back home, where Sikhs from the state of Punjab dominate the industry.

    “You used to see a guy with a turban and you would get excited,” says Pal, who is in his 15th year of trucking. “Today, you go to some stops and can convince yourself you are in India.”

    Three interstates — the I-5, I-80 and I-10 — are dotted with Indian-American-owned businesses catering to truckers. They start to appear as you drive east from Los Angeles, Reno and Phoenix, and often have the words “Bombay,” “Indian” or “Punjabi” on their storefront signs. But many, with names like Jay Bros (in Overton, Neb.) and Antelope Truck Stop Pronghorn (in Burns, Wyo.) are anonymous dots on a map unless you’re one of the many Sikhs who have memorized them as a road map to America.

    The best-known are along Interstate 40, which stretches from Barstow to North Carolina. The road, much of it alongside Historic Route 66, forms the backbone of the Sikh trucking world.

    It’s a route that Pal, 38, knows well. Three times a month, he makes the seven-day round trip between his Fontana home and Indiana, where he drops off loads and picks up new ones. Over his career, he’s driven 2 million miles and transported items as varied as frozen chickens and paper plates. These days, he mostly hauls chocolate, rice and fruits and vegetables from California farms. Today, it’s 103 containers of mixed produce, with mangoes, bell peppers, watermelons, yellow onions and peeled garlic among them. All are bound for a Kroger warehouse outside Indianapolis.

    Across the street from Spicy Bite, dozens of arriving drivers form a temporary village of 18-wheelers in a vast parking lot by the interstate. Most are white. Nearly all are men. More are older than younger.

    But every now and then there are Sikhs like Pal, with long salt-and-pepper beards, colorful turbans and thick Indian accents. They head straight toward Spicy Bite.

    Lines can form out the door at the restaurant, which opened two years ago outside the Petro Stopping Center, a longtime mainstay for truckers headed east.

    Pal makes a point to stop by the restaurant — even just for a “hello” — when he sleeps next door. The Sikh greeting is “Sat sri akaal.” It means “God is truth.” In trucking, where turnover is high, business uncertain and risk of accidents ever present, each day can feel like a leap of faith and an opportunity to give thanks.

    Punjabi Americans first appeared on the U.S. trucking scene in the 1980s after an anti-Sikh massacre in India left thousands dead around New Delhi, prompting many Sikhs to flee. More recently, Sikhs have migrated to Central America and applied for asylum at the Mexico border, citing persecution for their religion in India; some have also become truckers. Estimates of the overall U.S. Sikh population vary, placing the community’s size between 200,000 and 500,000.

    In recent years, corporations have pleaded for new truckers. Walmart kicked up salaries to attract drivers. Last year, the government announced a pilot program to lower the age for driving trucks from 21 to 18 for those with truck-driving training in the military. According to the American Trucking Assn., the trucker shortage could reach 100,000 within years.

    “Punjabis are filling the gap,” says Raman Dhillon, a former driver who last year founded the North American Punjabi Trucking Assn. The Fresno-based group advises drivers on regulations, offers insurance and tire discounts, and runs a magazine: Punjabi Trucking.

    Like trucking itself, where the threat of automation and the long hours away from home have made it hard to recruit drivers, the Punjabi trucking life isn’t always an easy sell. Three years ago, a group of Sikh truckers in California won a settlement from a national shipping company after saying it discriminated against their faith. The drivers, who followed Sikh traditions by wrapping their uncut hair in turbans, said bosses asked them to remove the turbans before providing hair and urine samples for pre-employment drug tests despite being told of the religious observance. The same year, police charged a man with vandalizing a semi truck at a Sikh temple in Buena Park. He’d scribbled the word “ISIS.”

    Still, Hindi- and Punjabi-language newspapers in the Eastern U.S. regularly run ads promising better wages, a more relaxed lifestyle and warm weather as a trucker out West. Talk to any group of Sikh drivers and you’ll find former cabbies, liquor store workers or convenience store cashiers who made the switch.

    How a rural Oklahoma truck stop became a destination for Sikh Punjabis crossing America »

    “Thirty years ago, it was hard to get into trucking because there were so few people like us in the business who could help you,” says Rashpal Dhindsa, a former trucker who runs Fontana-based Dhindsa Group of Companies, one of the oldest Sikh-owned U.S. trucking companies. When Pal first started, Dhindsa — now a close friend but then an acquaintance — gave him a $1,000 loan to cover training classes.

    It’s 6:36 a.m. the next day when the Petro Stopping Center switches from quiet darkness to rumbling engines. Pal flips on the headlights of his truck, a silver ’16 Volvo with a 500-horsepower engine. Inside the rig, he heats aloo gobi — spiced potatoes and cauliflower — that his wife prepared back home. He checks the thermostat to make sure his trailer isn’t too warm. He takes out a book wrapped in a blue cotton cloth that’s tucked by his driver’s seat, sits on a bed-turned-couch and reads a prayer in Punjabi for safety on the journey: There is only one God. Truth is His name…. You always protect us.

    He pulls east onto the highway as the sun rises.

    Truckers either drive in pairs or solo like Pal. Either way, it’s a quiet, lonely world.

    Still, Pal sees more of America in a week than some people will in their lives. Rolling California hills, spiky desert rock formations, the snow-dusted evergreens of northern Arizona, the fuzzy cacti in New Mexico and, in Albuquerque, hot air balloons rising over an orange sky. There’s also the seemingly endless fast food and Tex-Mex of Amarillo and the 19-story cross of Groom, Texas. There’s the traffic in Missouri. After hours of solitude on the road, it excites him.

    Pal’s not strict on dogma or doctrine, and he’s more spiritual than religious. Trucking has shown him that people are more similar than different no matter where you go. The best of all religions, he says, tend to teach the same thing — kindness to others, accepting whatever comes your way and appreciation for what’s in front of you on the road.

    “When I’m driving,” Pal says, “I see God through his creation.”

    His favorite sights are the farms. You spot them in Central California while picking up pallets of potatoes and berries, or in Illinois and Indiana while driving through the corn and soybean fields.

    They remind him of home, the rural outskirts of Patiala, India.

    Nobody in his family drove trucks. Still, to Pal, he’s continuing tradition. His father farmed potatoes, cauliflower, rice and tomatoes. As a child, Pal would ride tractors for fun with Dad. Today, instead of growing food, Pal transports it.

    He wasn’t always a trucker. After immigrating in 2001 with his younger brother, he settled in Canoga Park and worked nights at 7-Eleven. After he was robbed at gunpoint, a friend suggested trucking. Better pay, flexible hours — and less dangerous.

    Three years later, he started driving a rig he didn’t own while getting paid per mile. Today, he has his own company, two trucks between himself and his brother — also a driver — and bids on shipments directly with suppliers. Nationally, the average pay for a trucker is just above $43,000. Pal makes more than twice that.

    He uses the money to pay for the house he shares with his wife, Harjeet Kaur, 4-year-old son, brother and sister-in-law, nieces and parents. Kaur threads eyebrows at a salon and video chats with him during lunch breaks. Every week before he leaves, she packs a duffel bag of his ironed clothes and stacked containers of food for the road.

    “I love it,” Pal says about driving. “But there are always two sides of the coin, head and tail. If you love it, then you have to sacrifice everything. I have to stay away from home. But the thing is, this job pays me good.”

    The truck is fully equipped. From the road, you can see only driver and passenger seats. But behind them is a sleeper cab with a bed that’s 6-foot-7 by 3-foot-2.

    Pal likes to connect the TV sitting atop a mini-fridge to his phone to stream music videos when he’s alone. His favorite songs are by Sharry Maan, an Indian singer who topped charts two years ago with “Transportiye.” It tells the story of a Sikh American trucker who longs for his wife while on the road. At night, the table folds down to become a bed. Pal is just missing a bathroom and his family.

    The life of a Sikh trucker is one of contrasts. On one hand, you see the diversity of America. You encounter new immigrants from around the world working the same job as people who have been truckers for decades. All transport the food, paper and plastic that make the country run. But you also see the relics of the past and the reminders of how you, as a Sikh in 2019, still don’t entirely fit in.

    It’s 9:40 a.m. on Saturday when Pal pulls into Bowlin’s Flying C Ranch rest center in Encino, N.M., an hour past Albuquerque and two from Texas. Here, you can buy a $19,999 stuffed buffalo, Baja jackets and fake Native American moccasins made in China in a vast tourist stop attached to a Dairy Queen and an Exxon. “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood plays in the background.

    It reminds Pal of the time he was paying his bill at another gas station. A man suddenly shouted at customers to “get out, he’s going to blow up this place!” “I will not fight you,” Pal calmly replied. The man left. Those kinds of instances are rare, but Pal always senses their danger. Some of the most violent attacks on Sikhs this century have been at the hands of people who mistook them for Muslims or Arabs, including the case of a turban-wearing Sikh man in Arizona who was shot dead by a gunman four days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    For Pal, suspicious glances are more common. So are the truckers who think he’s new to the business or doesn’t speak English. None of it fazes him.

    “Everybody relates to us through Osama bin Laden because we look the same,” he says, driving across the plains toward the Texas Panhandle. “Or they think because my English sounds different that I am not smart. I know who I am.”

    Every day, he wears a silver bracelet that symbolizes a handcuff. “Remember, you are handcuffed to God. Remind yourself to not do bad things,” Pal says. It reminds him to be kind in the face of ignorance and hatred.

    At a Subway in Amarillo a few hours later, he grabs his go-to lunch when he’s taking a break from Indian food: a chicken sandwich on white bread with pepper jack, lettuce, tomato and onion. At home, the family is vegetarian. Pal relishes chances on the road to indulge in meat. He used to depend solely on his wife’s cooking. Today, he has other options. It’s a luxury to switch from homemade meals to Punjabi restaurants to fast food.

    Trucking has helped Pal find his faith. When he moved to the U.S., he used to shave, drink beer and not care much about religion. But as he got bored on the road, he started listening to religious sermons. Twelve years ago, he began to again grow his hair and quit alcohol; drinking it is against the faith’s traditions. Today, he schedules shipments around the temple calendar so he can attend Sikh celebrations with his family.

    “I don’t mind questions about my religion. But when people say to me, ‘Why do you not cut your hair?’ they are asking the wrong question,” Pal says. “The real question is, why do they cut their hair? God made us this way.”

    It’s 4:59 p.m. when he arrives in Sayre, Okla., at Truck Stop 40. A yellow Punjabi-language billboard advertises it as the I-40 starts to bend north in a rural region two hours from Oklahoma City.

    Among the oldest Sikh truck stops, it has a 24-hour vegetarian restaurant, convenience store, gas station and a housing trailer that functions as a temple — all spread over several acres.

    Pal has been coming here for more than decade, since it was a mechanic shop run by a Sikh former trucker who settled on the plot for its cheap land. When he has time, Pal lingers for a meal. But he’s in a rush to get to Joplin, Mo., for the night so he can make his drop-off the next day.

    He grabs a chai and heads to the temple. Resting on a small pillow upon the altar is the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. An audiotape plays prayers on a loop. A print of Guru Nanak, the faith’s founder, hangs on the wall.

    Pal prostrates and leaves a few dollar bills on the floor as a donation for upkeep. He prays for God to protect the temple, his family and himself on the 891 miles that remain until he hits the Indianapolis suburbs.

    “This feels like a long drive,” Pal says. “But it’s just a small part of the journey of life.”

    #USA #LKW #Transport #Immigration #Zuwanderung

  • YouTube Star Austin Jones Has Been Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Child Porn

    YouTube star Austin Jones was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Friday for persuading underage girls to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves. Jones, 26, of Bloomingdale, Illinois, pleaded guilty in February to one count of receipt of child pornography. He admitted in a plea agreement that in 2016 and 2017 he enticed six girls, as young as 14 years old, to produce and send the videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan.” “Production and receipt of child pornography are (...)

    #YouTube #pédophilie #pornographie

  • How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism - The Atlantic

    Alexis C. Madrigal - Jun 21, 2018

    A straw is a simple thing. It’s a tube, a conveyance mechanism for liquid. The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.

    Over the last several months, plastic straws have come under fire from environmental activists who rightly point out that disposable plastics have created a swirling, centuries-long ecological disaster that is brutally difficult to clean up. Bags were first against the wall, but municipalities from Oakland, California, (yup) to Surfside, Florida, (huh!) have started to restrict the use of plastic straws. Of course, now there is a movement afoot among conservatives to keep those plastics flowing for freedom. Meanwhile, disability advocates have pointed out that plastic straws, in particular, are important for people with physical limitations. “To me, it’s just lame liberal activism that in the end is nothing,” one activist told The Toronto Star. “We’re really kind of vilifying people who need straws.” Other environmentalists aren’t sure that banning straws is gonna do much, and point out that banning straws is not an entirely rigorous approach to global systems change, considering that a widely cited estimate for the magnitude of the problem was, umm, created by a smart 9-year-old.

    All this to say: The straw is officially part of the culture wars, and you might be thinking, “Gah, these contentious times we live in!” But the straw has always been dragged along by the currents of history, soaking up the era, shaping not its direction, but its texture.

    The invention of American industrialism, the creation of urban life, changing gender relations, public-health reform, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things—rolled out of extrusion machines, dispensed, pushed through lids, bent, dropped into the abyss.

    You can learn a lot about this country, and the dilemmas of contemporary capitalism, by taking a straw-eyed view.

    People have probably been drinking things through cylindrical tubes for as long as Homo sapiens has been around, and maybe before. Scientists observed orangutans demonstrating a preference for a straw-like tool over similar, less functional things. Ancient versions existed, too.

    But in 19th-century America, straws were straw, rye stalks, cut and dried. An alternative did not present itself widely until 1888. That year, Marvin Stone, a Washington, D.C., gentleman, was awarded a patent for an “artificial straw”—“a cheap, durable, and unobjectionable” substitute for natural straws, Stone wrote, “commonly used for the administration of medicines, beverages, etc.”

    Workmen created these early artificial straws by winding paper around a thin cylindrical form, then covering them in paraffin. Often, they were “colored in imitation of the natural straw.” Within a decade, these straws appeared often in newspaper items and advertisements across the country.
    A typical Stone straw ad from a newspaper in 1899 (Google Books)

    Advertising for the Stone straw describes its virtues and emphasizes the faults of the natural straw. Stone’s straws were free from TASTE and ODOR (natural straws were not). Stone’s straws were SWEET, CLEAN, and PERFECT (natural straws could be cracked or musty). You only had to use one Stone straw per drink (not always the case with natural straws).

    They worked. They were cheap. They were very popular and spawned many imitators because once an artificial straw had been conceived, it just wasn’t that hard to make them, tinkering with the process just enough to route around Stone’s patent. This could be read as a story of individual genius. America likes this kind of story.

    But in 1850, long before Stone, Abijah Fessenden patented a drinking tube with a filter attached to a vessel shaped like a spyglass. Disabled people were using drinking tubes in the mid-19th century, as attested to by a patent from 1870. These were artificial, high-value straws; rye was natural and disposable. But it wasn’t until the late 1880s that someone thought to create the disposable, artificial straw.


    Americans were primarily a rural people in the early 19th century. Cities had few restaurants until the 1830s and 1840s. Most that did exist were for very rich people. It took the emergence of a new urban life to spark the creation of the kind of eating and drinking establishment that would enshrine the straw in American culture: the soda fountain.

    Carbon dioxide had been isolated decades before, and soda water created with predictably palate-pleasing results, but the equipment to make it was expensive and unwieldy. It wasn’t until the the gas was readily available and cheap that the soda fountain became prevalent. In the 1870s, their technical refinement met a growing market of people who wanted a cold, sweet treat in the city.

    At the same time, the Civil War had intensified American industrialization. More and more people lived in cities and worked outside the home. Cities had saloons, but they were gendered spaces. As urban women fought for greater independence, they, too, wanted places to go. Soda fountains provided a key alternative. Given the female leadership of the late-19th-century temperance movement, soda fountains were drafted onto the side. Sodas were safe and clean. They were soft drinks.

    By 1911, an industry book proclaimed the soda fountain the very height of democratic propriety. “Today everybody, men, women and children, natives and foreigners, patronize the fountain” said The Practical Soda Fountain Guide.

    Temperance and public health grew up together in the disease-ridden cities of America, where despite the modern conveniences and excitements, mortality rates were higher than in the countryside. Straws became a key part of maintaining good hygiene and public health. They became, specifically, part of the answer to the scourge of unclean drinking glasses. Cities begin requiring the use of straws in the late 1890s. A Wisconsin paper noted in 1896 that already in many cities “ordinances have been issued making the use of wrapped drinking straws essential in public eating places.”

    But the laws that regulated health went further. A Kansas doctor campaigned against the widespread use of the “common cup,” which was ... a cup, that many people drank from. Bans began in Kansas and spread.
    The Cup Campaigner

    In many cases, this cup was eventually replaced by the water fountain (or paper cups). Some factories kept the common cup, but purchased straw dispensers that allowed all to partake individually. “The spectacle of groups of able-bodied men standing around drinking water through straws and out of a common, ordinary drinking cup, prompted no end of facetious comment,” read an item in the Shelbina Democrat of October 11, 1911.

    Cup and straw both had to be clean to assure no germs would assail the children (or the able-bodied men). So even the method by which straws were dispensed became an important hygienic indicator. “In some stores, customers are permitted to choose their own straws, and this system would work very well if customers would not finger the straws,” The Practical Soda Fountain Guide lamented.

    That led to the development of the straw dispenser, which has a deep lineage. Already, in 1911, the thing existed where you individually pop a straw into reach. That’s it, right below, with the rationale written in: “Protects straws from flies, dust, and microbes.”
    The Practical Soda Fountain Guide

    To people living through the early 20th century, the straw was a creation of the new public-health regime. “Due to the ‘Yankee mania for sanitation,’ the [American] output of artificial straws has increased from 165 million in 1901 to 4 billion a year at present,” the Battle Creek Enquirer wrote in May 1924. “A manufacturer pointed out yesterday that, laid end to end, these straws would build an ant’s subway 16 times around the world at the equator.”

    Four billion straws! There were only 114 million Americans at the time, so that’s 35 straws per capita (though some were exported).

    Of course, straw making was improving through all these decades—mechanizing, scaling up—but the straw itself basically stayed the same. According to Sidney Graham—who founded the National Soda Straw Company in 1931, and who competed against Stone and other early straw manufacturers—in a 1988 history of the straw:

    Straws were uniform up until the 1930s ... They were tan in color, thin, and exactly 8.5 inches long. Then someone in the soda-bottling business started marketing eight-ounce bottles, and straws grew to 10.5 inches. Various soda fountains began mixing malted milks, and the old straws were too thin. So we started making them thicker. Still, they were all tan in color, like the original straws.

    In the interwar years, however, major changes came to straws. In 1937, for example, Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straw at his brother’s soda shop in San Francisco, leading to the design that’s prevalent today.

    But what happened to the straw industry is far more interesting than its (limited) technical advances. Three of the biggest names in the industry—Friedman’s Flexi-Straw Company; the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, which made popular white straws; and Maryland Cup Corporation—have bumped around the last 80 years like corporate Forrest Gumps.

    As it turns out, all three companies’ histories intersect with each other, as well as with structural changes to the American economy. But first, we have to talk about McDonald’s.

    Let’s start with Ray Kroc, who built the McDonald’s empire. For about 16 years, beginning in 1922, he sold cups for the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation, rising to lead sales across the Midwest. “I don’t know what appealed to me so much about paper cups. Perhaps it was mostly because they were so innovative and upbeat,” Kroc recalled in his memoir, Grinding It Out. “But I sensed from the outset that paper cups were part of the way America was headed.”

    At first, selling cups was a tough job. Straws were cheap—you could get 100 for nine cents in the 1930s—but cups were many times more expensive. And besides, people could just wash glasses. Why would they need a paper cup? But America was tilting toward speed and disposability. And throwaway products were the future (“innovative and upbeat”). Soda fountains and their fast-food descendants were continuing to grow, spurring more sales of cups and straws. In the end, Kroc called the years between 1927 and 1937 “a decade of destiny for the paper-cup industry.”

    Selling all those cups brought Kroc into contact with soda fountains, and eventually he went into business selling milkshake mixers. This led him to Southern California, where he saw the first McDonald’s in operation. He bought his way into the small company and deposed the original owners. With Kroc growing the brand, McDonald’s added 90 franchises between 1955 and 1959. By 1961, Kroc was fully in control of the company, and by 1968, there were 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants.
    The first McDonald’s that Ray Kroc opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, is now a museum dedicated to the burger chain. (Reuters/Frank Polich)

    The restaurant chain became a key customer for Maryland Cup, which began as an ice-cream-cone bakery in Boston. Its first nonfood product launched under a brand that became nationally famous, Sweetheart. That product? The straw. The name derived from the original packaging, which showed “two children sharing a milkshake, each drinking from a straw and their heads forming the two curved arcs of a heart.”

    After the war, the company went into cups, and later other kinds of packaging for the growing fast-food industry. It developed new products for McDonald’s, like those old foam clamshell packages that hamburgers used to come in. It also snatched up the Flexi-Straw Company—along with all its patents and rights—in 1969. Things were going great. The founder’s son-in-law was president of the company in Baltimore; one nephew of the founder ran the McDonald’s relationship; the other ran the plastics division.

    Because the future, at that point, had become plastics! In 1950, the world produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. By the late 1960s, that production had grown more than tenfold. Every product was being tried as a plastic thing, and so naturally, the straw became a plastic thing, too. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years for paper straws to lose their cultural salience.

    While functionally, paper and plastic straws might have seemed the same, to the keen observer who is the narrator of Nicholson Baker’s dazzling 1988 novel, The Mezzanine, the plastic and paper straw were not interchangeable. Paper did not float. Plastic did: “How could the straw engineers have made so elementary a mistake, designing a straw that weighed less than the sugar-water in which it was intended to stand? Madness!”

    Baker’s narrator wonders why the big fast-food chains like McDonald’s didn’t pressure the straw engineers into fixing this weighting mistake. “[The chains] must have had whole departments dedicated to exacting concessions from Sweetheart and Marcal,” Baker writes.

    But there was a problem: lids, which had come into vogue. Plastic straws could push through the little + slits in the cap. Paper ones could not. The restaurant chains committed fully to plastic straws.

    Baker goes on to imagine the ramifications, painting a miniature portrait of the process of path-dependent technological choice, which has helped shape everything from the width of railroad tracks to the layout of your keyboard. The power players went plastic, so everyone had to go plastic. “Suddenly the paper-goods distributor was offering the small restaurants floating plastic straws and only floating plastic straws, and was saying that this was the way all the big chains were going,” Baker writes. Sometimes it all works. Other times, a small pleasure is lost, or a tiny headache is created: “In this way the quality of life, through nobody’s fault, went down an eighth of a notch.”

    I can’t prove that this was the precise series of events that took hold among straw engineers, cup distributors, and McDonald’s. Most corporate decision-making of this kind simply doesn’t stick in the nets of history. Yet these differences influence the texture of life every single day, and ever more so, as the owners of corporations become ever further removed from the products they sell. Let’s just say that the logic Baker describes, the way he imagines the development and consequences of these forgettable technologies, squares with the histories that we do know. The very straw engineers that Baker describes might well have been working in the plastics division of the Maryland Cup Corporation, owners of the Sweetheart brand.

    Baker was writing in the 1980s, when straws of all kinds had begun to proliferate, and the American economic system entered a period of intense consolidation and financialization. A key component of this new form of capitalism was the “leveraged buyout,” in which private-equity firms descended on old companies, sliced them up, took out huge amounts of debt, and sold off the various components, “unlocking value” for their investors. You might remember this was how Mitt Romney made his fortune. Matt Taibbi described the model in acerbic but not inaccurate terms: “A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place.”

    Global competition and offshoring enabled by containerized trade was responsible for some of the trouble American manufacturing encountered in the 1970s and 1980s. But the wholesale restructuring of the economy by private-equity firms to narrow the beneficiaries of business operations contributed mightily to the resentments still resounding through the country today. The straw, like everything else, was swept along for the ride.

    In the early 1980s, Maryland Cup’s family-linked executives were on the glide path to retirement. Eighty family members held about half the company’s stock. In 1983, the company had $656 million in revenue, $32 million in profits, and 10,000 employees. It was the biggest disposable-food-product manufacturer in the nation, an empire built on cups, straws, and plastic silverware. The family was ready to cash out.

    The big paper and food companies circled Maryland Cup, but it was eventually sold for $534 million to Fort Howard, a paper company that had gone public in the early ’70s, and began to aggressively expand beyond its Wisconsin base.

    The sale was a boon for Maryland Cup’s shareholders, but the company did not fare well under the new management. Following the transaction, the Baltimore Sun relates, Maryland Cup executives flew to dinner with Fort Howard’s hard-charging CEO, Paul Schierl. He brought out a flip chart, on which he’d written the company’s “old” values—“service, quality, responding to customers.” He turned the page to show the company’s “new” values—“profits, profits, profits.” It’s like a scene out of Tommy Boy, or a socialist’s fever dream.

    Fort Howard forced deep cuts on the company. Some longtime managers quit. The trappings of the family company went out the window. No more executives dressing up as Santa Claus or local charitable contributions. And while Fort Howard was cutting people, it invested in expanding the company’s factories. This was just business. Schierl literally appeared at a sales meeting in a devil’s mask.

    Maryland Cup’s struggles intensified after the wave of departures that followed the acquisition. It needed customer volume to keep its new, bigger plants running, so Fort Howard snatched up the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation in 1986 for another $332 million. Surely there would be synergies. More layoffs came.

    Two years later, the private-equity guys struck. Morgan Stanley, which had helped broker Fort Howard’s deals, swept in and snatched the company for $3.9 billion in one of those famed leveraged buyouts. The whole enterprise was swept off the public markets and into their hands.

    One of their moves was to spin out the cup business as Sweetheart Holdings—along with a boatload of debt jettisoned out of Fort Howard. Just eight years inside Fort Howard and a turn through the private-equity wringer had turned a profitable company into one that still made money on operations in 1991, but was $95 million in the red because it was so loaded up with debt.

    The company made layoffs across the country. Retirement health-care benefits were cut, leaving older employees so livid they filed a class-action lawsuit. A huge Wilmington factory closed after McDonald’s got rid of its plastic clamshell packaging for hamburgers, citing environmental concerns over plastic.

    In 1993, the company was sold again to a different investment group, American Industrial Partners. Eventually, it was sold yet again to the Solo Cup Company, makers of one-third of the materials necessary for beer pong. And finally, in 2012, Solo was itself sold to Dart Container, a family-owned packaging company that sells a vast array of straws under the Solo brand.

    Fort Howard continued on, going back public in 1995, then merging with another paper company, James River, in 1997, to become Fort James. Just three years later, an even bigger paper company, Georgia Pacific, snatched up the combined entity. In 2005, Koch Industries bought the shares of all the companies, taking the company back private. They still make straws.

    While bulk capitalism pushes hundreds of millions of plain plastic straws through the American food system, there are also thousands of variations on the straw now, from the “krazy” whirling neon kind to a new natural straw made from rye stalks advertised on Kickstarter (the entrepreneur calls them “Straw Straws”). There are old-school paper straws and newfangled compostable plastic straws. Stone Straw, founded by the inventor of the artificial straw, even survives in some form as the straw-distributing subsidiary of a Canadian manufacturing concern. Basically, there’s never been a better time to be a straw consumer.

    Meanwhile, the country has shed manufacturing jobs for decades, straws contribute their share to a dire global environmental disaster, the economy continues to concentrate wealth among the very richest, and the sodas that pass through the nation’s straws are contributing to an obesity epidemic that threatens to erase many of the public health gains that were won in the 20th century. Local governments may legislate the use of the plastic straw, but they can’t do a thing about the vast system that’s attached to the straw, which created first disposable products, then companies, and finally people.

    The straw is the opposite of special. History has flowed around and through it, like thousands of other bits of material culture. What’s happened to the straw might not even be worth comment, and certainly not essay. But if it’s not clear by now, straws, in this story, are us, inevitable vessels of the times in which we live.

    #USA #histoire #capitalisme #alimentation #plastique

  • Air Pollution Crisis in Willowbrook, Ill., Exposes Toxic Racial Divide

    why DuPont first located the factory in St. John. “They looked at this community and did like they normally do,” said Taylor. “If we find a place where it’s just going to be Negroes, we can set up business there, we can set up shop there, because nobody cares about them.”

    #racisme_environnemental #États-Unis #cancer via @isskein

  • Vous avez peut-être suivi ça, Steve Salaita (américain d’origine Nicaraguayenne et Palestinienne), spécialiste entre autres du racisme anti-arabe aux USA, avait été embauché comme professeur de Science Politique à l’University of Illinois en 2013. Sa permanence avait été révoquée en 2015 à cause de quelques tweets critiques d’israel.

    Le processus avait été entaché d’irrégularités, mais Salaita avait négocié son départ contre une somme d’argent, ayant entre temps obtenu un poste à la American University of Beirut. Un an après, ce poste aussi n’avait pas été renouvelé et, black listé, aucune autre offre ne lui fut offerte.

    Aujourd’hui, il est chauffeur de bus, et il raconte cette expérience dans ce très beau texte (que je trouve quand même très triste) :

    An Honest Living
    Steve Salaita, le 17 février 2019

    You hear ex-professors say it all the time and I’ll add to the chorus: despite nagging precariousness, there’s something profoundly liberating about leaving academe, whereupon you are no longer obliged to give a shit about fashionable thinkers, network at the planet’s most boring parties, or quantify self-worth for scurrilous committees (and whereupon you are free to ignore the latest same-old controversy), for even when you know at the time that the place is toxic, only after you exit (spiritually, not physically) and write an essay or read a novel or complete some other task without considering its relevance to the fascist gods of assessment, or its irrelevance to a gang of cynical senior colleagues, do you realize exactly how insidious and pervasive is the industry’s culture of social control.

    There are tragic elements to this adventure, sure. A political symbolism informs my academic career. After months without work, my family suffered financial hardship. And I didn’t matriculate through 22nd grade in order to land a job that requires no college. Then again, neither did I attend so many years of college in order to be disabused of the notion that education is noble.

    I pitched honest living to my parents when I told them about the new job. Despite being aware of academe’s ruthless memory, they hoped that I’d one day be a professor again. They probably still do. In a better world, my redemption would happen in the United States. I wanted to quell that expectation. “Even if Harvard offered me a job I’d say no,” I proclaimed with earnest hyperbole.

    They feigned support but didn’t believe me. I understand why. It’s hard to imagine coming of age in reverse. Hollywood doesn’t make inspirational movies about struggling to overcome material comfort. We don’t aspire to the working class. Personal fulfillment occurs through economic uplift. We go from the outdoors to the office, from the ghetto to the high-rise, from the bar rail to the capital. That’s the dream, to become a celebrity or a tycoon or, in humbler fantasies, a bureaucrat. But forward progress as material comfort is cultivated through the ubiquitous lie that upward mobility equals righteousness. Honest living is a nice story we tell ourselves to rationalize privation, but in the real world money procures all the honesty we need.

    For immigrants, these myths can be acute. I could see my parents struggling between a filial instinct to nurture and an abrupt recognition of their failure. My mom, a retired high school teacher, seemed interested in the logistics of transporting students, but my dad, the original professor, clenched his hands and stared across the table. It’s the only time I’ve seen him avoid eye contact.

    #Steve_Salaita #USA #Palestine #université #criminalisation_des_militants #censure

  • Infographic: 4,000 Years Of Human History Captured In One Retro Chart

    If time is a river, the Histomap, created by John B. Sparks and first published by Rand McNally back in 1931, is a raging Mississippi. In that massive river of time, each of humanity’s great civilizations becomes a confluence that ebbs, wanes, and sometimes ebbs again, each a separate current in a river that inexorably rages down to the mouth of the present day.

  • Fascism in Chicago | WTTW Chicago

    September 6, 2018 - by Daniel Hautzinger - Last year, a pair of Chicago aldermen proposed renaming a Chicago street to honor the journalist and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, and in July of this year the proposal was approved for a stretch of Congress Parkway. But Congress wasn’t the street originally considered for renaming; rather, it was Balbo Drive.

    7th Street became Balbo Drive in 1934, in recognition of Italo Balbo, a leading Italian Fascist under Benito Mussolini. There’s also Balbo Monument east of Soldier Field, a 2,000-year-old column donated by Mussolini to the city the same year. Why does Chicago have a street and monument honoring a Fascist?

    In 1933, Balbo led twenty-four seaplanes on a pioneering sixteen-day transatlantic journey from Rome to Chicago, flying over the Century of Progress World’s Fair before landing in Lake Michigan near Navy Pier. Balbo and the pilots were celebrated by Chicago’s high society over the next three days. Chief Blackhorn of the Sioux, who was participating in the World’s Fair, granted Balbo a headdress and christened him “Chief Flying Eagle;” Balbo gave the Chief a Fascist medallion in return. He and his pilots then continued on to New York City. Balbo was featured on the cover of Time magazine and had lunch with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    The following year, Mussolini sent the column to Chicago to commemorate Balbo’s flight, and it was installed in front of the Fair’s Italian Pavilion. 40,000 people attended its unveiling, and a speech by Balbo was broadcast by radio from Italy. After the defeat of the Fascists in World War II and the revelation of their crimes, Italy’s ambassador to the United States suggested that marks of respect on the column to Balbo and the Fascist government be removed. Despite those changes, the monument still stands, and Balbo Drive retains its name despite the proposal to change it, being a point of pride for many Italian Americans in Chicago.

    The World’s Fair was also the site of a subtle protest against fascism in Europe, when a pageant dramatizing Jewish religious history took place in Soldier Field in July of 1933. According to the Chicago Daily News, the event drew 150,000 people of various faiths, and the “spiritual kinship” and “fine fellowship” between Christians and Jews there would “carry rebuke to those who oppress the Jew” in “Hitler’s Germany.”

    Two years later, Soldier Field saw a different kind of demonstration that does not seem to have been explicitly anti-Semitic but did feature the Nazi swastika. In 1936, a “German Day” rally included a march with both the American flag and a flag bearing the swastika. But the German American community in Chicago mostly laid low during World War II, careful to conceal their ethnicity and avoid experiencing some of the anti-German sentiment they had already experienced during World War I. However, in 1939 a rally in Merrimac Park supporting the German-American Bund, an organization sympathetic to Nazism and Hitler, attracted several thousand people.

    Decades later, a tiny flare-up of support for fascism in Chicagoland attracted outsized national attention. In 1977, a small neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Party of America sought to hold a demonstration in the northern suburb of Skokie, which had a large population of Jewish people, including some 7,000 survivors of the Holocaust. The suburb originally planned on letting the demonstration happen and moving on, but was convinced by members of its Jewish community to prevent it. (In 1966, the head of the American Nazi Party came to Chicago to march against Martin Luther King, Jr. as Dr. King protested unfair housing practices in the city.)

    After passing ordinances that would prevent the demonstration, Skokie was challenged in court by the neo-Nazis, who were supported by the legal backing of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU did not support the views of the group, but rather sought to protect the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. David Goldberger, the ACLU lawyer who led the case, was Jewish.

    30,000 members of the ACLU resigned in protest, and financial support for the organization dropped precipitately. Yet the lawyers persevered, fearing that any denial of free speech was a slippery slope. Through various courts, injunctions, and proposed legislation, the neo-Nazis eventually won the case, which even made it to the Supreme Court.

    But the neo-Nazis never demonstrated in Skokie. Instead, they staged two marches in Chicago, one downtown and one in Marquette Park. Counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the ten or twenty neo-Nazis in both cases. The leader who spearheaded the marches and garnered the media’s attention during the Skokie case was later convicted for child molestation. (The hapless National Socialist Party of America is famously satirized in the 1980 film Blues Brothers.)

    In the wake of the Skokie case, Illinois became the first state to mandate Holocaust education in schools. And in 2009, Skokie became the site of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, an implicit rebuke to the attempted Nazi demonstrations of three decades prior.

    #USA #Chicago #fascisme

  • #interview with #kaggle GrandMaster: Dr Bojan Tunguz

    Interview with Kaggle GrandMaster, Data Scientist: Dr. Bojan TunguzPart 14 of The series where I interview my heroes.Index to “Interviews with ML Heroes”In this very interview, I’m super excited talking to another great kaggler: The Discussions grandmaster: (kaggle: @tunguz, ranked #3), Kernels (Ranked #10) and Competitions Master (Ranked #23): Dr. Bojan TunguzDr. Bojan Tunguz holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the University of Illinois and a masters in Physics from Stanford University.He is currently working as a Data Scientist at, before he had worked at Figure as a Data Scientist and at ZestFinance as a Machine Learning Modeler.About the Series:I have very recently started making some progress with my Self-Taught Machine Learning Journey. But to be honest, it wouldn’t be (...)

    #artificial-intelligence #machine-learning #deep-learning

  • All the president’s men: what to make of Trump’s bizarre new painting | Hannah Jane Parkinson | Opinion | The Guardian

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, unless it’s a shredded Banksy, obviously, which is worth around £1m. But how to put a value on the majestic artwork Donald Trump was revealed to have gracing the wall outside the Oval Office, as eagle-eyed viewers of 60 Minutes spotted?

    So far, we know of two other “artworks” that Trump has: that Photoshopped picture of his inauguration crowd (dude, let it go), and the electoral college map. It is no wonder Trump wanted to spruce the place up in his own way, given that he referred to the White House as “a dump”. I still cackle at this, given its sheer, disparaging rudeness – like how when Location, Location, Location’s Phil shows a couple around a three-bedroom semi with a north-facing garden, Kirstie mugs to the camera and draws an imaginary knife across her throat.

    #on_est_en_2018 #allégorie #images #propagande #représentation

  • Facebook devra bien affronter une class action sur la reconnaissance faciale

    En 2015, un groupe d’utilisateurs de Facebook d’Illinois avait déposé une demande de recours collectif. En ligne de mire, la reconnaissance faciale automatique pour alimenter les suggestions dans les identifications de photos. Aux États-Unis, toute class action doit d’abord être entérinée par un juge pour pouvoir continuer. C’est l’étape qu’elle vient de franchir avec l’accord du juge fédéral James Donato dans un tribunal de Californie. Selon Reuters, il a estimé que le recours était le moyen le plus (...)

    #Facebook #biométrie #procès #facial

    • Qualifier Israël de régime d’apartheid est-il erroné ou excessif ? La Commission économique et sociale pour l’Asie occidentale des Nations Unies a voulu en avoir le cœur net en confiant une étude sur le sujet à deux universitaires. Publié en 2017, le rapport de Richard Falk, ancien rapporteur spécial de l’ONU sur les territoires occupés, et de Virginia Tilley, professeure étasunienne spécialisée dans les conflits à caractère racial ou ethnique, est pourtant passé presque inaperçu.

      Et pour cause : postée sur le site des Nations Unies, l’étude en a vite été retirée : « Notre rapport a été validé par les Nations Unies et nous n’avons reçu aucune critique sur le fond. Mais, mis sous pression par Israël et ses soutiens, le secrétaire général de l’ONU a prétexté que le texte n’avait pas été soumis selon les règles de procédures. Ce qui est faux », assure Virginia Tilley au Courrier. La spécialiste était de passage fin mars à Genève pour y donner une conférence à l’Institut des hautes études internationales et du développement.
      « Actes inhumains »

      Il faut dire que les conclusions du rapport n’y vont pas par quatre chemins : « Les preuves disponibles établissent au-delà de tout doute raisonnable qu’Israël est coupable de politiques et de pratiques qui constituent le crime d’apartheid tel que défini juridiquement dans le droit international. » Pour les auteurs de l’étude, l’apartheid s’applique selon eux tant aux Palestiniens des territoires occupés et de la bande de Gaza, à ceux qui vivent à Jérusalem-Est et en Israël, qu’aux réfugiés demeurant dans d’autres pays. « Tous ces éléments que nous voyions au départ comme séparés, compartimentés, proviennent d’une même logique première : la discrimination raciale », précise Virginia Tilley.

      C’est dans les territoires occupés et à Gaza, où vivent quelque 4,6 millions de Palestiniens, que l’apartheid apparait plus clairement, estime la professeure : « Là, il y a deux systèmes très distincts : un mur qui sépare les populations, des routes réservées aux juifs (colons), des lois civiles pour les juifs, d’autres – militaires – pour les arabes, des tribunaux pour les juifs, d’autres pour les Palestiniens. C’est une séparation totale ». A cela s’ajoutent « une gestion discriminatoire de terres et de l’aménagement du territoire par des institutions nationales juives chargées d’administrer les ‘terres d’Etat’ dans l’intérêt de la population juive », et les « actes inhumains quotidiennement et systématiquement pratiqués par Israël en Cisjordanie », constate le document.

      Et c’est là que la similarité avec l’Afrique du Sud est la plus forte, estime Virgina Tilley, qui a vécu et mené des études sur l’apartheid dans ce pays : « Les Israéliens ont appris énormément sur le système des bantoustans et ont importé les méthodes d’Afrique du Sud. Quand j’y travaillais, des membres du gouvernement me racontaient que chaque fois qu’Ariel Sharon leur rendait visite, il posait beaucoup de questions sur ces régions autonomes réservées aux Noirs. » La séparation de la Cisjordanie en zones A, B et C s’inspirerait directement du système sud-africain. « De nombreuses dispositions des accords d’Oslo sont calquées sur les Constitutions des bantoustans, point par point. »
      Lois discriminatoires

      La situation des quelque 1,7 million de Palestiniens qui résident en Israël même est très différente de celle qui prévalait en Afrique du Sud. Mais les « arabes » y sont également soumis à l’apartheid selon les deux experts. « Leur situation peut porter à confusion car ils sont des citoyens d’Israël et peuvent voter, prévient Virgina Tilley. Mais ils sont soumis à des lois discriminatoires, lesquelles assurent que les citoyens juifs ont des privilèges : accès aux terres et à des emplois, à des logements subventionnés, de meilleurs salaires, des protections diverses, etc. Tous types d’avantages basés sur le fait d’être juif. Les Palestiniens et arabes en sont exclus. »

      Le rapport ajoute : « Cette politique de domination se manifeste aussi dans la qualité inférieure des services, dans des lois de zonage restrictif et des allocations budgétaires limitées pour les collectivités palestiniennes. » Les citoyens juifs disposent d’un statut supérieur à celui de leurs homologues non juifs, ils ont la nationalité (le’um), alors que les autres n’ont « que » la citoyenneté (ezrahut).

      Si les arabes israéliens ont le droit de vote, ils ne peuvent contester la législation qui maintient le « régime racial », précise l’étude. « C’est illégal en Israël car ils n’ont pas le droit de créer un parti politique qui s’oppose aux lois qui font d’eux des citoyens de seconde classe », précise Virginia Tilley.

      Quant aux 300 000 Palestiniens de Jérusalem-Est, ils sont encore plus mal lotis : « Ils sont victimes d’expulsions et de démolitions de leurs maisons décidées par Israël dans le cadre de sa politique ‘d’équilibre démographique’ en faveur des résidents juifs. » Ses habitants arabes ne disposent que du statut de « résident permanent » et peuvent être expulsés vers la Cisjordanie, et perdre jusqu’à leur droit de visite dans la ville, « s’ils s’identifient politiquement, de manière ostentatoire aux Palestiniens des territoires occupés », indique la professeure.
      La solution d’un Etat démocratique pour tous

      Les Palestiniens réfugiés à l’étranger, entre 5 et 8 millions, seraient victimes d’apartheid en raison du refus d’Israël de les laisser rentrer chez eux, expliquent Richard Falk et Virginia Tilley : « Cela fait partie intégrante du système d’oppression et de domination du peuple palestinien dans son ensemble, estiment-ils. Le refus du droit au retour fait en sorte que la population palestinienne ne croisse pas au point de menacer le contrôle par Israël du territoire [occupé] ni de fournir aux Palestiniens citoyens d’Israël le poids démographique nécessaire pour obtenir les pleins droits démocratiques, éliminant par là le caractère juif de l’Etat d’Israël. »

      Pour les deux universitaires, seul l’établissement d’un Etat démocratique pour tous sur l’ensemble du territoire d’Israël et de Palestine est à même d’en finir avec l’apartheid, et donc, de régler la cause du conflit (lire ci-dessous). Une solution que préconise Virginia Tilley depuis la publication de son livre sur la question en 2005, The One State solution.

      #apartheid #Israël #mots #terminologie #rapport #ONU #discriminations #vocabulaire

    • ESCWA Launches Report on Israeli Practices Towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

      United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Rima Khalaf pointed out today that it is not an easy matter for a United Nations entity to conclude that a State has established an apartheid regime. In recent years, some have labelled Israeli practices as racist, while others have warned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid State. A few have raised the question as to whether in fact it already has.

      Khalaf’s remarks were given during a press conference held this afternoon at the UN House, in Beirut, when she launched a report by ESCWA on “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid.”

      Khalaf noted that Israel, encouraged by the international community’s disregard for its continual violations of international law, has succeeded over the past decades in imposing and maintaining an apartheid regime that works on two levels. First, the political and geographic fragmentation of the Palestinian people which enfeebles their capacity for resistance and makes it almost impossible for them to change the reality on the ground. Secondly, the oppression of all Palestinians through an array of laws, policies and practices that ensure domination of them by a racial group and serve to maintain the regime.

      The Executive Secretary stressed that the importance of this report is not limited to the fact that it is the first of its kind published by a United Nations body, clearly concluding that Israel is a racial State that has established an apartheid regime. It also provides fresh insight into the cause of the Palestinian people and into how to achieve peace.

      Khalaf maintained that the report shows that there can be no solution, be it in the form of two States, or following any other regional or international approach, as long as the apartheid regime imposed by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole has not been dismantled. Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Not only does international law prohibit that crime, it obliges States and international bodies, and even individuals and private institutions, to take measures to combat it wherever it is committed and to punish its perpetrators. The solution therefore lies in implementing international law, applying the principles of non-discrimination, upholding the right of peoples to self-determination and achieving justice.

      Khalaf concluded that the report recognizes that only a ruling by an international tribunal would lend its conclusion that Israel is an apartheid State greater authority. It recommends the revival of the United Nations Centre against Apartheid and the Special Committee against Apartheid, the work of both of which came to an end by 1994, when the world believed that it had rid itself of apartheid with its demise in South Africa. It also calls on States, Governments and institutions to support boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives and other activities aimed at ending the Israeli regime of apartheid.

      The report was prepared, at the request of ESCWA, by two specialists renowned for their expertise in the field: Richard Falk, a former United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University; and Virginia Tilley, a researcher and professor of political science at Southern Illinois University with a wealth of experience in Israeli policy analysis.

      Two former special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Falk and his predecessor, John Dugard, raised in their reports the issue of whether Israel has actually become an apartheid State and recommended that it be examined more closely. About two years ago, member States requested that the ESCWA secretariat prepare a study on the matter. At the Commission’s twenty-ninth session, held in Doha, Qatar in December 2016, member States adopted a resolution stressing the need to complete the study and disseminate it widely.

      The report concludes, on the basis of scholarly enquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel has imposed a regime of apartheid on the Palestinian people as a whole, wherever they may be. A regime that affects Palestinians in Israel itself, in the territory occupied in 1967 and in the diaspora.

      During the press conference, Khalaf gave the floor to Falk and Tilley who participated by video conference. Falk said that this study concludes with clarity and conviction that Israel is guilty of the international crime of apartheid as a result of the manner in which exerts control over the Palestinian people in their varying circumstances. It reached this important conclusion by treating contentions of Israeli responsibility for the crime of apartheid by rigorously applying the definition of apartheid under international law.

      Falk added that the study calls, above all, on the various bodies of the United Nations to consider the analysis and conclusions of this study, and on that basis endorse the central finding of apartheid, and further explore what practical measures might be taken to uphold the purpose of the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It should also be appreciated that apartheid is a crime of the greatest magnitude, treated by customary international law as peremptory norm, that is a legal standard that is unconditionally valid, applies universally, and cannot be disavowed by governments or international institutions.

      For her part, Dr Tilley noted that it has become entirely clear that “we are no longer talking about risk of apartheid but practice of apartheid. There is an urgency for a response as Palestinians are currently suffering from this regime. There are many references to apartheid in polemics on the Israel-Palestine conflict.” She added that reference for a finding of apartheid in Israel-Palestine is not South Africa but International Law. She concluded that the key finding is that Israel has designed its apartheid regime around a strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people geographically and legally.

      Lien pour télécharger le rapport:

    • #Emmett_Till

      Emmett Louis « Bobo » Till, né le 25 juillet 1941 à Chicago en Illinois et mort le 28 août 1955 à Money au Mississippi, est un adolescent afro-américain qui fut brutalement assassiné dans la région du delta du Mississippi aux États-Unis. Son meurtre fut l’un des principaux événements à l’origine de la création du mouvement afro-américain des droits civiques.

      Les principaux suspects du crime, Roy Bryant et son demi-frère J.W. Milam, furent acquittés. Ils avouèrent plus tard être les coupables du meurtre de l’adolescent.

    • #James_Lawson (ou #Jim_Lawson) :

      James Morris Lawson, Jr. (born September 22, 1928) is an American activist and university professor. He was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the Civil Rights Movement.[1] During the 1960s, he served as a mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.[2][3] He was expelled from Vanderbilt University for his Civil Rights activism in 1960, and later served as the pastor in Los Angeles, California for 25 years.


      The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR or #FOR) is the name used by a number of religious nonviolent organizations, particularly in English-speaking countries. They are linked by affiliation to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR).

    • #Nashville_Student_Movement

      The Nashville Student Movement was an organization that challenged racial segregation in Nashville, Tennessee during the Civil Rights Movement. It was created during workshops in nonviolence taught by James Lawson. The students from this organization initiated the Nashville sit-ins in 1960. They were regarded as the most disciplined and effective of the student movement participants during 1960.[1]

    • Sit-ins de Nashville

      Les sit-ins de Nashville, qui ont eu lieu du 13 février au 10 mai 1960, font partie d’une campagne d’actions directes non-violentes pour mettre fin à la ségrégation raciale aux comptoirs des restaurants du centre-ville de Nashville, dans le Tennessee. La campagne des sit-ins, qui a été coordonnée par le mouvement étudiant de Nashville et le Nashville Christian Leadership Councel, est importante de par son succès immédiat et l’importance accordée à la non-violence. Tout au long de la campagne, les sit-ins ont eu lieu dans différents magasins situés au cœur du centre financier de Nashville. Les participants, dont la majorité était des étudiants Afro-Américains, étaient souvent victimes d’agressions physiques et verbales de la part des passants. Malgré leur refus de répondre à ces attaques, plus de 150 étudiants sont arrêtés pour avoir refusé de libérer leur place à des comptoirs de restaurants alors que la police leur a ordonnés de le faire. Lors des procès, les étudiants sont représentés par un groupe de 13 avocats dirigé par Z. Alexander Looby (en) Le 19 avril, la maison d’Alexander Looby est la cible d’une attaque à la bombe, mais ni lui ni sa famille ne sont blessés. Plus tard, ce même jour, presque 4000 personnes marchent jusqu’à la mairie de Nashville pour parler avec le maire Ben West (en) de l’augmentation des violences. Lorsqu’on lui demandé s’il pense qu’il faut mettre fin à la ségrégation dans les comptoirs de la ville, il répond par l’affirmatif. Un accord est trouvé entre les propriétaires des restaurants et les participants aux manifestations durant la première semaine de mai. Le 10 mai, six restaurants du centre-ville servent des clients noirs à leur comptoir pour la première fois. Même si cette première campagne a permis de mettre fin à la ségrégation dans les restaurants du centre-ville, d’autres manifestations et sit-ins continuent d’avoir lieu dans le reste de la ville, jusqu’au vote du Civil Rights Act de 1964, qui permet de mettre fin à la ségrégation raciale à travers l’ensemble des États-Unis. La plupart des organisateurs de ces sit-ins ont par la suite joué un rôle important dans le mouvement des droits civiques.

      #cartographie des lieux visés par les sit-in à Nashville :

    • #Student_Nonviolent_Coordinating_Committee

      Le Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ou SNCC (littéralement « Comité de coordination non-violent des étudiants ») est l’un des principaux organismes du mouvement afro-américain des droits civiques dans les années 1960.

      Il est né en 1960 lors d’assemblées étudiantes menées par Ella Baker à l’université Shaw de Raleigh, en Caroline du Nord. Avant de contribuer à la formation de la SNCC, Baker avait été la directrice de la Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Toutefois, cela ne signifiait pas que le SNCC soit une association dépendante de la SCLC. Au contraire, au lieu d’être très proche d’autres organisations comme la SCLC ou le NAACP, l’objectif du SNCC était de fonctionner indépendamment. Deux cents étudiants afro-américains étaient présents lors du premier meeting, parmi lesquels Stokely Carmichael de l’université Howard. Celui-ci dirigea la branche militante du groupe lors de sa scission à la fin des années 1960. Les membres du SNCC se faisaient appeler les « troupes de choc de la révolution. »

      Le SNCC joua un rôle de premier plan dans les Freedom rides, la révolte de Washington en 1963 ou encore le Freedom Summer du Mississippi. À la fin des années 1960, sous l’impulsion de leaders comme Stokely Carmichael, le SNCC se concentra sur le Black Power et la lutte contre la guerre du Viêt Nam. Comme d’autres organismes de l’époque, le SNCC a également joué un rôle important dans le quartier de Harlem où les populations afro-américaines étaient victimes de ségrégation raciale. En 1969 la SNCC a officiellement changé de nom pour Student National Coordinating Committee afin de refléter l’élargissement de ses stratégies. Cependant, le mouvement disparut dans les années 1970.

    • John Lewis (homme politique)

      John Robert Lewis, né le 21 février 1940 à Troy (Alabama), est un militant et homme politique américain. Figure du Mouvement afro-américain des droits civiques, il est depuis la fin des années 1980 membre de la Chambre des représentants des États-Unis sous la bannière du Parti démocrate.

  • L’éruption volcanique massive de Toba sur l’île de Sumatra, il y a environ 74000 ans, n’a pas provoqué un « hiver volcanique » de six ans en Afrique de l’Est et provoqué ainsi la chute de la population humaine de la région.

    L’éruption de Toba a eu lieu il y a 73 000 ans (±4 000 ans) sur le site actuel du lac Toba (île de Sumatra en Indonésie). C’est la dernière et la plus importante des quatre éruptions qu’a connues ce volcan au cours du Quaternaire.

    En effet une partie de l’hypothèse de la catastrophe de Toba suggère que l’éruption avait provoqué une diminution des populations humaines.

    En 1993, la journaliste scientifique américaine Ann Gibbons suggéra une corrélation entre l’éruption et le goulet d’étranglement de population de l’évolution humaine.Michael R. Rampino de l’université de New York et Stephen Self de l’université d’Hawaï à Mānoa apportèrent leur soutien à cette idée. En 1998, la théorie d’un goulet d’étranglement génétique causé par la super-éruption du Toba fut développée par Stanley H. Ambrose de l’Université de l’Illinois à Urbana-Champaig
    Aujourd’hui, « c’est la première recherche qui fournit des preuves directes des effets de l’éruption de Toba sur la végétation juste avant et juste après l’éruption », a déclaré l’auteur principal Chad L. Yost, candidat au doctorat au Département des géosciences de l’Université d’Arizona.

    #Préhistoire #Afrique_de_l'est #Toba #évolution #74000BP

  • Vox’s US Government-Linked Experts Present Options for Korea: Sanctions or War | FAIR

    [...] #Vox wrote: “Five experts discuss what a war on the Korean peninsula would look like, how close we are to conflict, and the terrifying consequences.”

    Who are those five experts opining on the prospects of a new war?

    Andrew C. Weber, a former US assistant secretary of defense
    Jung Pak, a former CIA analyst on North Korea
    Dave Maxwell, a retired US Army colonel
    Tammy Duckworth, a US senator representing Illinois
    Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, which is bankrolled by the US government

    That is to say, four of the five experts cited by Vox directly worked for the government. The fifth expert works at a think tank that is substantially financed by the Pentagon and does research contract work for it.

    #propagande_guerrière #etats-unis #fraude

  • Derrière l’application de Google qui trouve votre sosie artistique, du digital labor (gratuit) pour entraîner son IA de reconnaissance faciale

    (Le seul article un peu critique que j’ai trouvé provient donc de

    La dernière version de l’application Google Arts & Culture est l’une des plus populaires du moment aux États-Unis. La raison ? L’ajout d’une fonctionnalité permettant aux utilisateurs de découvrir quel est leur sosie artistique. Intitulée "Is your portrait in a museum ?" ("Votre portrait se trouve-t-il dans un musée ?"), elle propose de comparer un selfie à des portraits célèbres réalisés par des peintres de renom.

    L’expérience repose sur la technologie de reconnaissance faciale Face Net. Développée par #Google, elle scanne la photo envoyée par l’utilisateur pour créer une empreinte numérique de son #visage et la comparer aux 70.000 œuvres de sa base de données. Une fois les correspondances trouvées, les résultats les plus pertinents sont affichés avec leur pourcentage de ressemblance.

    Cette fonction a largement emballé les internautes américains. Depuis sa mise à jour mi-décembre, #Google_Arts_&_Culture truste les premières places des applications les plus téléchargées aux États-Unis sur l’App Store d’Apple et le Play Store de Google. Disponible uniquement outre-Atlantique, elle fait l’objet d’une expérimentation par Google.

    (…) Devant la popularité de l’application, certaines voix se sont élevées aux États-Unis pour mettre en garde le public contre le véritable objectif poursuivi par Google. "Le stagiaire de Google qui a inventé cette application pour tromper les utilisateurs en les incitant à envoyer des images pour remplir sa base de données de reconnaissance faciale a certainement eu une promotion", a observé sur Twitter l’analyste politique, Yousef Munayyer. "Personne ne s’inquiète d’abandonner les données de son visage à Google ou vous estimez tous que c’est déjà le cas ?", s’est aussi émue l’actrice et activiste américaine, Alyssa Milano.

    Google propose régulièrement des outils ludiques et gratuits aux internautes pour faire la démonstration de ses progrès dans l’intelligence artificielle. Ces programmes permettent aussi à l’entreprise américaine de mettre ses réseaux de neurones artificiels à l’épreuve de neurones humains afin de les perfectionner à peu de frais. Les programmes Quick Draw ! et AutoDraw visaient notamment à améliorer la #reconnaissance_visuelle de ses algorithmes. La société utilise aussi la reconnaissance des caractères des #Captcha pour aider ses robots à déchiffrer les pages de livres mal conservés sur Google Book et les indexer par la suite à son moteur de recherche.


    Interrogé par plusieurs médias américains sur la portée réelle de son application « Arts & Culture », Google se veut rassurant. Selon la firme américaine, les photos téléchargées par les utilisateurs ne sont pas utilisées à d’autres fins et sont effacées une fois trouvées les correspondances avec des œuvres d’art. La dernière expérience du géant américain illustre à nouveau les craintes suscitées par les progrès rapides de l’#intelligence_artificielle et plus particulièrement de la #reconnaissance_faciale, dont les applications ont pris une place grandissante dans nos vies ces derniers mois.

    Apple a fait entrer cette technologie dans la vie de millions d’utilisateurs cet automne en intégrant le dispositif #Face_ID à l’iPhone X pour déverrouiller l’appareil d’un simple regard. Dans le sillage de la pomme, un grand nombre de constructeurs travaille à généraliser ce système sur des smartphones à moindre prix. Facebook a recours à la reconnaissance faciale depuis décembre pour traquer les usurpations d’identité sur sa plateforme. Google l’utilise déjà dans son service Photos, utilisé par 500 millions d’utilisateurs, capable depuis peu de reconnaître les animaux de compagnies.

    Les défenseurs des libertés craignent que la généralisation de la reconnaissance faciale dans des outils utilisés à si grande échelle ne glisse vers une utilisation plus large par les publicitaires ou les autorités. En Chine, cette technologie est déjà utilisée pour surveiller les citoyens dans les endroits publics. 170 millions de caméras de surveillance sont installées à travers le pays. Un nombre qui doit atteindre 400 millions à horizon 2020. La plupart sont dotées de programmes d’intelligence artificielle pour analyser les données en temps réel et inciter les individus à ne pas déroger à la norme édictée par le pouvoir.

    #digital_labor #IA

    Et puis cf. le thread d’@antoniocasilli sur son fil Twitter :

    Avez-vous déjà vu, partagé, commenté les « art selfies » de l’appli @googlearts ? Savez-vous qu’ils utilisent votre visage pour constituer un fichier biométrique ? J’en veux pour preuve qu’ils ne sont pas disponibles en Illinois—état où les lois sur la biométrie sont plus strictes.

    • Version optimiste, ft. John Berger :

      In one way, the art selfie app might be seen as a fulfillment of Berger’s effort to demystify the art of the past. As an alternative to museums and other institutions that reinforce old hierarchies, Berger offered the pinboard hanging on the wall of an office or living room, where people stick images that appeal to them: paintings, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other visual detritus. “On each board all the images belong to the same language and all are more or less equal within it, because they have been chosen in a highly personal way to match and express the experience of the room’s inhabitant,” Berger writes. “Logically, these boards should replace museums.” (As the critic Ben Davis has noted, today’s equivalent of the pinboard collage might be Tumblr or Instagram.)

      Yet in Berger’s story this flattening represents the people prying away power from “a cultural hierarchy of relic specialists.” Google Arts & Culture is overseen by a new cadre of specialists: the programmers and technology executives responsible for the coded gaze. Today the Google Cultural Institute, which released the Arts & Culture app, boasts more than forty-five thousand art works scanned in partnership with over sixty museums. What does it mean that our cultural history, like everything else, is increasingly under the watchful eye of a giant corporation whose business model rests on data mining? One dystopian possibility offered by critics in the wake of the Google selfie app was that Google was using all of the millions of unflattering photos to train its algorithms. Google has denied this. But the training goes both ways. As Google scans and processes more of the world’s cultural artifacts, it will be easier than ever to find ourselves in history, so long as we offer ourselves up to the computer’s gaze.

      Version réaliste, par Evgeny Morozov :

      Google vient de lancer une plateforme d’IA destinée aux entreprises qui veulent mettre en œuvre une infrastructure d’apprentissage automatique (machine learning) de afin de construire leurs propres modèles (contre rétribution, bien entendu). Il sait pertinemment qu’il est toujours rentable de s’attirer la sympathie des utilisateurs, par exemple en leur donnant des outils d’IA pour trouver des œuvres d’art qui ressemblent à leur visage (1). Ces instruments gagnent ainsi en précision et peuvent ensuite être vendus aux entreprises. Mais pour combien de temps encore Google aura-t-il besoin de cobayes ?

  • The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action (excerpt) by Audre Lorde

    I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

    I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger. Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

    In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.

    I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

    What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?

    And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, “Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”

    In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, of some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.

    And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

    Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

    For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone can we survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.

    And it is never without fear — of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgment, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death. And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die. It is very good for establishing perspective.

    We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

    The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.

    (Originally delivered at the Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. First published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980)

  • In 1907, Indiana became the first state to pass a law permitting the sterilization of “confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles and rapists.” The Ishmaels were invoked in the drafting of the legislation, under which over 2,300 people were sterilized.

    Meet the Ishmaels, America’s ‘worst’ family
    Eugenicists studied this band of ‘paupers, beggars and thieves, criminals, prostitutes, wanderers.’

    The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair was christened “A Century of Progress.” A lot had changed since the first world’s fair in 1893: zeppelins soared, Ford’s assembly line had brought automobiles to the masses, and pre-fabricated homes were the wave of the future.

    And eugenics was now considered by many to be a legitimate science. As such, it received its own exhibit at the fair. One panel in the eugenics exhibit showed the genealogy of the best family in America: the Roosevelts. Juxtaposed to that was another panel, showing the genealogy of the worst family in America: the Ishmaels.

    “Among certain charity workers and eugenicists at the time,” says Nathaniel Deutsch, a history professor at UC Santa Cruz and author of Inventing America’s “Worst” Family, “any poor white Upland Southerner living in or around Indianapolis could just be called an Ishmaelite or a member of the Tribe of Ishmael as a way of stigmatizing them.”

    By the 1930s, the term “Tribe of Ishmael” had come to designate thousands of people who were not all part of the biological same family — though eugenicists sought to prove hereditary connections between them. They were “a group of degenerates found in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa,” claimed a leaflet from roughly 1921, which tallied 10,000 so-called Ishmaelites. They were “paupers, beggars and thieves, criminals, prostitutes, wanderers.” The leaflet conceded that “some have become good citizens,” but “the great majority are still mating like to like and producing unsocial offspring.”

  • How Far Can You Abstract a Map? - Atlas Obscura

    Can you guess which city is depicted above? If you look closely, there are plenty of clues: the big arterial river, the blocky buildings crowded onto the pier, the carefully plotted streets overlaid by the occasional loop of highway.

    Do you have it? This is Chicago, Illinois, as viewed in Morphology, an exploratory cartographic tool on the Mapzen platform that eschews common communicative elements like color and symbols. Instead, it seeks to show the world, and all its constituent parts, as a series of carefully chosen lines.

    #cartographie #généralisation #sémiologie

  • Environnement : comment Trump tente de museler les scientifiques américains

    L’Agence de protection de l’environnement (EPA) subit de plein fouet l’offensive de la Maison Blanche pour saper la préservation de la nature et du climat au profit de l’industrie.

    Le candidat Donald Trump s’y était engagé dès février 2016 : « Le département de la protection environnementale : nous allons nous en débarrasser dans presque toutes ses formes », même si on conservera « quelques friandises ». Promesse tenue : sous la houlette de Scott Pruitt, climatosceptique notoire de l’Oklahoma, l’Agence américaine de protection de l’environnement (EPA) se saborde consciencieusement et démantèle les régulations environnementales adoptées sous Barack Obama.

    Pour cela, il faut agir sur les hommes. Scott Pruitt mène donc une véritable guérilla contre des fonctionnaires et des scientifiques qui lui sont hostiles. Dans une atmosphère paranoïaque, il a fait déminer pour 3 000 dollars (2 500 euros) son bureau pour vérifier qu’il n’y avait pas de micro caché et s’est fait financer pour 25 000 dollars une cabine de télécommunications sécurisée pour pouvoir s’entretenir confidentiellement avec la Maison Blanche. Victime de menaces et sous protection policière rapprochée, Scott Pruitt agit sur quatre axes : découragement des salariés, voire intimidation, même s’il n’y est officiellement pour rien ; recomposition des comités scientifiques en y nommant des défenseurs des industries polluantes ; réduction au silence des scientifiques ; sabrage du budget et des effectifs.

    Les salariés intimidés par une officine ultraconservatrice

    La syndicaliste Nicole Cantello, par exemple, raconte sa mésaventure. Ce 15 février, cette avocate salariée de l’EPA depuis vingt-six ans est devant son ordinateur. Soudain, elle voit apparaître une demande de recherche de ses courriels : tous ceux qui mentionnent le nom de Pruitt. Cette requête ne tombe pas par hasard. Dix jours plus tôt, le 6 février, elle a organisé une manifestation à Chicago contre la nomination par Donald Trump de M. Pruitt. Bien sûr, rien n’émane de l’EPA ou de M. Pruitt. La demande d’information a été formulée par le juriste Allan Blutstein, qui dirige America Rising, une officine ultraconservatrice qui aide les républicains à constituer des dossiers. « J’étais stressée. J’ai pensé qu’ils voulaient me discréditer », s’est alors inquiétée Mme Cantello.

    Tous ceux qui se sont opposés publiquement à M. Pruitt sont dans le collimateur d’America Rising. Michael Cox (Etat de Washington) figurait sur la liste noire pour avoir envoyé lors de son départ à la retraite une lettre ouverte cinglante à M. Pruitt, tout comme Gary Morton, qui avait manifesté contre les coupes budgétaires à Philadelphie. « C’est une chasse aux sorcières contre les employés de l’EPA qui ne font que tenter de protéger la santé humaine et l’environnement. Ils essaient de nous intimider et de nous réduire au silence », a accusé Gary Morton dans le New York Times.

    Dans sa vingtaine de requêtes, Allan Blutstein revendique avoir « été à la pêche » en visant ceux qui disaient du mal de M. Pruitt, des syndicalistes mais pas toujours, pour vérifier s’ils violaient les règles de l’EPA. Le problème, c’est qu’il a le droit en sa faveur, comme l’explique Nicole Cantello. « Nous avons la loi sur la liberté d’information, et chacun peut demander mes mails. C’est légitime si c’est pour savoir si je fais bien mon travail », nous confie-t-elle, en sa qualité de syndicaliste, en communiquant par adresse mail et téléphone privés.

    C’est ce même droit qu’utilisent les médias pour avoir accès à l’agenda détaillé de M. Pruitt. L’affaire a cependant tourné au scandale quand on a découvert que l’EPA avait signé un contrat – depuis annulé — de « surveillance médiatique » de 120 000 dollars avec une société associée à America Rising.

    Des comités scientifiques probusiness

    Scott Pruitt excelle dans l’art d’utiliser les armes de ses adversaires. On accuse les entreprises dont il écoute les avis d’être en conflit d’intérêts. Il use de ce même argument pour chasser des comités scientifiques chargés de conseiller l’EPA, ceux qui bénéficiaient de subventions de la part de cette dernière. « Nous devons nous concentrer sur la science, pas sur la science politique », a déclaré M. Pruitt en octobre. La manœuvre permet d’exclure les scientifiques financés sur fonds publics. Donna Kenski en a été la victime. Cette démocrate travaille pour une agence de Chicago qui analyse la qualité de l’air des grands lacs et reçoit indirectement de l’EPA, par l’intermédiaire de l’Etat de l’Illinois, 900 000 dollars. Son mandat de trois ans au sein de cet organisme a été révoqué prématurément. Elle avait été nommée à l’époque contre l’avis du sénateur de l’Oklahoma, le climatosceptique James Inhofe.

    Ces départs permettent de faire de la place aux défenseurs des entreprises. Ainsi, Michael Honeycutt a été nommé président du bureau de conseil scientifique de l’EPA. Ce toxicologue texan est connu pour avoir jugé excessives les normes sur l’ozone fixées par l’agence environnementale et a cosigné une étude accusant celle-ci d’avoir exagéré les bénéfices sur la santé d’un air plus pur. Il retrouvera dans ce comité le Californien Robert Phalen, célèbre pour avoir estimé que « l’air moderne est un peu trop pur pour une santé optimale », mais aussi l’ancien directeur de recherche de l’entreprise pétrolière de l’Oklahoma Phillips 66, ou encore l’ancien responsable environnement de la compagnie d’électricité d’Atlanta Southern Co, l’un des plus gros émetteurs de CO2 des Etats-Unis.

    Les comités scientifiques s’ouvrent à des gens « qui croient que le travail de l’EPA est de stimuler l’économie américaine, car elle est plus importante que la santé de gens et l’environnement », déplore un scientifique réduit au silence.

    Pour nommer les cadres dirigeants de l’EPA, une confirmation du Sénat est souvent nécessaire : William Wehrum a ainsi été investi de justesse pour (dé)réguler la protection de l’air, alors qu’il a longtemps défendu les entreprises pétrolières. Mais Michael Dourson, qui a par le passé été payé pour critiquer des études scientifiques défavorables à ses clients de la chimie et du pétrole, a dû renoncer à prendre en charge la direction des risques chimiques et de pollution.

    Les scientifiques réduits au silence

    C’était en septembre. Un colloque devait se tenir à Rhode Island sur les conséquences du réchauffement climatique qui affecte la baie de Narragansett, le plus grand estuaire de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, situé entre Boston et New York. Trois scientifiques de l’EPA devaient y prendre la parole mais, à la dernière minute, la direction le leur a interdit, au prétexte qu’il ne s’agissait pas d’un événement EPA. Une trentaine de manifestants ont protesté, avec des pancartes : « La science, pas le silence ».

    Les consultations de l’agence perdent désormais en crédibilité et servent de plate-forme politique. Pour annuler la loi sur l’air de Barack Obama, qui aurait pu servir de feuille de route pour respecter l’accord de Paris, l’EPA a tenu une séance publique en Virginie-Occidentale, dans un bassin minier. M. Pruitt vient de rajouter trois réunions, dont une à Gillette, capitale charbonnière du Wyoming.

    Le budget sabré, les salariés désertent

    Au printemps, M. Trump a indiqué qu’il voulait diminuer de 30 % le budget de l’EPA, qui atteignait 8 milliards de dollars en 2017, et réduire ses effectifs de 3 200 personnes sur un total de 15 000. La Chambre a proposé une réduction de 8 % et le Sénat de 2 %, soit environ 150 millions de dollars. Mais les budgets consacrés à l’eau, à l’environnement, au climat sont ciblés et baissent de 10 % environ. Faute d’accord, le budget 2017 est provisoirement reconduit à un niveau ayant baissé de plus de 20 % depuis le début de la décennie.

    La voie budgétaire ne sera peut-être même pas nécessaire, car le travail de sape de Scott Pruitt porte ses fruits, comme l’a révélé, le 22 décembre, le New York Times. Depuis que Donald Trump est au pouvoir, 700 personnes ont quitté l’agence – retraite, démission, transaction –, dont plus de 200 scientifiques : une centaine de spécialistes de la protection de l’environnement et 9 directeurs de départements. Sur les 129 embauches de l’année, seules 22 sont des scientifiques ou des étudiants scientifiques.

    De surcroît, M. Pruitt n’a que 150 inspecteurs chargés de faire respecter la réglementation, alors que la loi exige un minimum de 200. Et l’EPA ne veut plus prendre en charge les frais du ministère de la justice, qui est son bras armé pour attaquer les contrevenants. L’atmosphère est crépusculaire. Comme 20 personnes non remplacées de son bureau de San Francisco, Lynda Deschambault est partie de l’agence au bout de vingt-six années. Elle a confié son désarroi au New York Times : « Le bureau était une morgue. »

  • US fire death toll in 2017 reaches 2,152 - World Socialist Web Site

    As the holidays approach there has been a heart wrenching increase in fire deaths of children, highlighting the deplorable housing conditions and systemic poverty within the US. The US Fire Administration (USFA) collects information on civilian casualties due to fire and reports that as of this writing, 2152 people have lost their lives in fires. The prior year’s total was 2,290.

    The three states most impacted in November were Texas, with 21 lives lost, Illinois with 16, and California losing 14. Texas had the most fatalities for all of 2016 - 132. The state’s toll stands at 126 thus far in 2017.

    The house fire crisis disproportionately impacts the working class, which faces substandard housing conditions, as well as declining living standards.

    #états-unis #inégalités #incendies #désastres_domestiques

  • Sujets ou objets ? Détenus et expérimentation humaine Barron H. Lerner docteur en médecine, docteur en philosophie

    Source : Academic Commons – Columbia University, le 03/05/2007

    Dans les années 50, les détenus de ce qu’on appelait alors, à Philadelphie, la prison Holmesburg, ont reçu des inoculations de condyloma acuminatum [verrues ano-génitales], de candidoses cutanées et de virus causant verrues, herpès simplex et zona. [1] Pour participer à cette recherche et à des études les exposant à la dioxine et à des produits de guerre chimique, on les a payés jusqu’à 1500 $ par mois. Entre 1963 et 1971, des chercheurs d’Oregon et de Washington ont irradié des prisonniers sains et leur ont prélevé à plusieurs reprises des échantillons de biopsie des testicules ; ces hommes ont par la suite fait état d’éruptions, de desquamation et d’ampoules sur le scrotum, ainsi que de difficultés sexuelles. [2] Des centaines d’expériences similaires ont incité le gouvernement fédéral à interdire strictement en 1978 la recherche impliquant des prisonniers. Le message était : de telles méthodes de recherche sont fondamentalement abusives et par conséquent immorales.

    Un récent rapport de l’Institut de Médecine (l’OIM) a pourtant rouvert cette porte close, en avançant que non seulement une telle recherche peut être effectuée de façon acceptable, mais que les prisonniers méritent d’être inclus dans des études au moins ceux qui pourraient en profiter directement. L’analyse des justifications aux restrictions américaines à la recherche en prison et à ses applications peut offrir des lignes directrices aux actuels débats politiques.

    On connaît depuis longtemps la vulnérabilité des prisonniers aux abus. Dès 1906, par exemple, les critiques ont noté à quel point il aurait été difficile à des prisonniers de refuser de participer à une expérience sur le choléra qui a finalement tué 13 hommes. [3] Cependant, les enquêteurs cherchaient périodiquement « des volontaires » parmi de telles populations captives dont le placement en institution offrait aux chercheurs l’accès à des sujets peu susceptibles d’échapper au suivi.

    De telles recherches n’ont pour la plupart pas cherché à profiter aux participants. En 1915, par exemple, le chercheur du service de santé publique Joseph Goldberger a inoculé la pellagre à des prisonniers du Mississippi sains, auxquels la liberté conditionnelle a été offerte en échange de leur participation. Ceux qui se sont inscrits ont éprouvé des symptômes très graves de la maladie, y compris diarrhée, éruption cutanée et confusion mentale. [3] Goldberger a, cependant, prouvé son hypothèse que la pellagre était une maladie de carence vitaminique qui pourrait être guérie par l’ingestion de vitamine B, à présent connue comme acide nicotinique. Grâce à ce travail, comme la découverte de l’insuline et des premiers agents antimicrobiens, l’entre-deux-guerres a été une époque d’avancées pour la recherche scientifique.

    La Seconde Guerre mondiale a transformé l’expérimentation contestable sur des prisonniers en une entreprise artisanale. Tandis que d’autres Américains risquaient leurs vies sur les champs de bataille, les prisonniers ont joué leur rôle en participant à des études qui les ont exposés à la blennorragie, à la gangrène gazeuse, à la dengue et à la malaria. [1] L’urgence de la guerre a conduit à délaisser toute considération de consentement digne de ce nom.

    Il est ironique que le plus important coup de pouce qu’ait reçu une pareille expérimentation fût une conséquence, après-guerre, du procès de Nuremberg au cours duquel vingt médecins nazis furent jugés et qui a donné naissance au Code de Nuremberg, un ensemble de principes ayant pour but d’interdire l’expérimentation sur des humains sans leur consentement. Quand les avocats de la défense ont laissé entendre que les scientifiques américains avaient mené pendant la guerre des recherches analogues à celles des nazis, un témoin à charge, Andrew C. Ivy, a cité des expériences sur la malaria impliquant des prisonniers de l’Illinois comme un exemple de recherche non coercitive « idéale ». La publication en 1948 des conclusions d’Ivy a aidé à institutionnaliser l’expérimentation en prison pour le quart de siècle suivant. [4]

    C’est une expérience impliquant une autre population vulnérable qui a interrompu la recherche en prison. En 1972, un journaliste d’Associated Press a dévoilé que des hommes noirs pauvres du Sud atteints de syphilis avaient été délibérément laissés sans traitement pendant 40 ans, afin que les chercheurs puissent étudier le cours naturel de la maladie. Dans le contexte de la campagne pour les droits civils et des protestations contre la guerre du Viêtnam, une telle recherche a été condamnée. Le scandale a conduit à la formation de la Commission nationale pour la Protection des sujets humains de recherche biomédicale et comportementale et finalement au Rapport Belmont, qui a recommandé de réorganiser l’expérimentation humaine en appliquant les principes de respect des personnes, de non-malfaisance et de justice.

    Dans le cas des recherches en prison, le nouveau cadre se révèle particulièrement restrictif. En 1978, le ministère de la Santé et des Services à la personne (DHHS) a adopté des règles qui ont limité de plusieurs façons la recherche financée au niveau fédéral impliquant des prisonniers, en stipulant, par exemple, que les expériences ne pourraient faire courir qu’un risque minimal aux sujets. La préoccupation primordiale était que les prisons sont des environnements en eux-mêmes coercitifs dans lesquels un consentement éclairé ne peut jamais être obtenu. Le fait que des recherches offrent récompense financière, allègement de l’ennui et perspective d’une obtention de liberté conditionnelle plus rapide les rend même encore plus problématiques.

    Telle était l’opinion qui dominait jusqu’à 2004, lorsque le DHHS a demandé à l’OIM de revoir sa position à ce sujet. En août 2006, l’OIM a publié son rapport qui a reconnu qu’il serait judicieux de laisser la situation en l’état. Par exemple, la population carcérale américaine comprend un nombre disproportionné de personnes vulnérables : les membres de groupes minoritaires, ceux atteints de maladie mentale, d’infection au VIH et autres maladies infectieuses graves. Les prisons sont généralement surchargées et leurs services médicaux sont insuffisants. Tous ces facteurs ont suggéré que n’importe quel allègement des restrictions pourrait mener à la répétition des précédentes erreurs.

    La commission de l’OIM, bien que sensible aux « abus déraisonnables » du passé, a cependant conseillé que des expériences comportant plus de risques que le risque minimal soient autorisées, sous réserve que des études impliquant des médicaments ou autres interventions biomédicales devaient apporter un bénéfice potentiel aux prisonniers. La commission a aussi conseillé plusieurs garde-fous, comme la création d’une base de données publique des expériences en prison, la limitation de la recherche aux interventions ayant démontré innocuité et efficacité, l’assurance que les études incluent une majorité de sujets non prisonniers et l’exigence que les propositions de recherche soient examinées par des comités de contrôle institutionnels comprenant des représentants des prisonniers.

    La décision de la commission est valable pour plusieurs raisons. La première pourrait être qualifiée d’historique. Pendant la plus grande partie du 20e siècle, malgré les découvertes de Nuremberg et d’autres avertissements ponctuels, l’expérimentation humaine a été largement considérée comme « une bonne chose », qui ferait avancer la science et bénéficierait à la santé. La réaction de retournement contre l’expérimentation en prison est survenue dans les années 70, quand l’autorité était mise en question dans toute la société. Aucun mécanisme n’était en place pour garantir les droits de sujets vulnérables. Interdire toute recherche risquée dans les prisons était donc judicieux.

    On a l’habitude de dire que ceux qui ignorent l’histoire sont condamnés à la répéter. Mais la décision de conserver les actuelles restrictions à cause des abus du passé conduirait à négliger plusieurs importants développements. Depuis 1978, un réseau de comités de révision institutionnels a été établi dans les instituts nationaux de santé, dans d’autres organismes gouvernementaux et des sites de recherche universitaire par tout le pays. Avec « le consentement éclairé » à présent entré dans le langage commun, les sujets d’étude sont plus conscients de leurs droits. Et, en grande partie à la suite du travail des militants de la lutte contre le sida et contre le cancer du sein, des personnes malades et à risques, même celles qui appartiennent aux populations potentiellement vulnérables, poursuivent à présent activement leur participation aux protocoles de recherche. Bien que tous ces développements ne soient pas clairement positifs, les ignorer eux et les opportunités qu’ils peuvent offrir aux prisonniers devrait être une attitude de régression. Comme dit le rapport de l’OIM, « Le respect des prisonniers exige aussi la reconnaissance de leur autonomie. »

    Un autre argument en faveur de l’assouplissement des restrictions est l’assertion que toute recherche en milieu carcéral est problématique pourrait ne pas être correcte. À la lumière des abus, les critiques ont tout naturellement soutenu que l’expérimentation humaine en prison a échoué parce qu’elle a lieu dans un environnement coercitif qui dénature n’importe quelle possibilité de consentement éclairé. Mais c’est une théorie qui peut et doit être examinée empiriquement par des études formelles du processus de consentement dans les prisons. De plus, comme le philosophe Carl Cohen en a débattu, la recherche à l’extérieur des prisons a souvent tout autant d’éléments coercitifs – si on admet que la coercition est employée, elle peut ne pas avoir grand-chose à voir avec la condition de prisonnier. [5]

    Finalement, rétablir, puis contrôler la recherche en prison offrirait à la société l’opportunité d’un contrôle continu et d’une réévaluation. En effet, la commission de l’OIM a trouvé que beaucoup de recherches non réglementées en prison avaient été menées sans tenir compte des directives de 1978. Nombre d’expériences tristement célèbres en prison ont impliqué la tromperie active des participants à l’étude – un abus facile à éviter si l’initiative entière est menée honnêtement. Il est même possible que de telles recherches, en ouvrant une fenêtre sur la vie carcérale, attirent utilement l’attention sur les lacunes des services médicaux en prison.

    Les nouvelles réglementations doivent cependant être abordées avec appréhension. Comme le sociologue Erving Goffman l’a montré dans son livre de 1961 « Asiles, “des institutions totales” », des prisons peuvent se moquer totalement des droits de leurs habitants. Peut-être devrait-on exiger de toute personne qui s’engage dans une recherche à l’intérieur des murs d’une prison qu’il lise ce livre.

    Le docteur Lerner est maître de conférence de médecine et de santé publique à l’Université Columbia, New York.
    1. Hornblum AM. They were cheap and available : prisoners as research subjects in twentieth century America (Ils étaient bon marché et disponibles : les prisonniers comme sujets de recherche dans l’Amérique du vingtième siècle). BMJ 1997 ; 315:1437-41.
    2. Welsome E. The plutonium files : America’s secret medical experiments in the Cold War (Les dossiers du plutonium : les expériences médicales secrètes de l’Amérique pendant la guerre froide). New York : Delta, 1999:362-82.
    3. Lederer SE. Subjected to science : human experimentation in America before the Second World War (Soumis à la science : l’expérimentation humaine en Amérique avant la Seconde Guerre mondiale). Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
    4. Harkness JM. Nuremberg and the issue of wartime experiments on US prisoners : the Green Committee. (Nuremberg et la question des expérimentations en temps de guerre sur des prisonniers américains : le Comité Vert) JAMA 1996 ;276:1672-5.
    5. Cohen C. Medical experimentation on prisoners (L’Expérimentation médicale sur les prisonniers). Perspect Biol Med 1978 ;21:357-72.

    Source : Academic Commons – Columbia University, le 03/05/2007, lien

  • When a black fighter won ‘the fight of the century,’ race riots erupted across America

    On Independence Day, 1910, race riots ignited across America. Jack Johnson, a black boxer, had defeated the white Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight fight in the middle of the Reno desert. Cities around the nation, including Houston, New York, St. Louis, Omaha, New Orleans, Little Rock, and Los Angeles, erupted with the anger and vindication of a racially divided country.

    The day after, newspapers set on the difficult task of tallying the aftermath. “One man was shot in Arkansas, two negroes were killed at Lake Providence, La.; one negro was killed at Mounds, Ill., and a negro fatally wounded in Roundeye, Va.,” reported one local newspaper, explaining that “the tension that existed everywhere vented itself out chiefly in street shuffles.”

    A report from Houston read, “Charles Williams, a negro fight enthusiast, had his throat slashed from ear to ear on a streetcar by a white man, having announced too vociferously his appreciation of Jack Johnson’s victory in Reno.”

    In Manhattan’s San Juan Hill neighborhood, a mob set fire to a black tenement, while blocking the doorway to prevent the occupants’ escape. In St. Louis, a black crowd marched the streets, pushing No one knows how many died in the wake of Johnson-Jeffries fight, but records show between 11 and 26 were killed. Likely hundreds were assaulted or beaten. To quell the disturbance, cities barred the fight video from being shown in theaters, and Congress tried to pass a bill to ban the screening of all boxing films.

    William Pickens, president of the all-black Talladega College, was heartened by the symbolic victory, acknowledging it came at a great cost. “It was a good deal better for Johnson to win and a few negroes to be killed in body for it,” he said, “than for Johnson to have lost and negroes to have been killed in spirit by the preachments of inferiority from the combined white press.”

    As Johnson biographer Geoffrey C. Ward pointed out, “No event yielded such widespread racial violence until the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fifty-eight years later.”whites off the sidewalk and harassing them, before being clubbed and dispersed by police.

    In Washington, two white men were fatally stabbed by black men, with 236 people arrested in that city alone. And in Omaha, a black man was smothered to death in a barber’s chair, while in Wheeling, West Virginia, a black man driving an expensive car — just as the playboyish Jack Johnson was famous for — was beset by a mob and hanged.

  • #Richard_Estes - 73 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy

    #photographie #réalisme #art

    Considered a founder of the Photorealist movement, Richard Estes is best known for his paintings of city scenes in New York. Compiling his compositions from multiple source photographs, Estes reconstructs reality in highly convincing renderings. He often incorporates reflective surfaces, such as shop windows and shiny cars, yielding mirrored imagery that serves to enhance what the naked eye is capable of perceiving. In Double Self-Portrait (1976), for example, the artist and an entire street scene behind him are reflected in meticulous detail against the glass façade of a diner.

    American, b. 1932, Kewanee, Illinois