• Israel’s New War of Attrition on Jerusalem’s Palestinians - Original

    The settlers have their own underhand methods. With the authorities’ connivance, they have forged documents to seize Palestinian homes closest to Al Aqsa. In other cases, the settlers have recruited Arab collaborators to dupe other Palestinians into selling their homes.

    Once they gain a foothold, the settlers typically turn the appropriated home into an armed compound. Noise blares out into the early hours, Palestinian neighbors are subjected to regular police raids and excrement is left in their doorways.

    After the recent sale to settlers of a home strategically located in the Old City’s Muslim quarter, the Palestinian Authority set up a commission of inquiry to investigate. But the PA is near-powerless to stop this looting after #Israel passed a law in 1995 denying it any role in Jerusalem.

    The same measure is now being vigorously enforced against the few residents trying to stop the settler banditry.

    Adnan Ghaith, Jerusalem’s governor and a Silwan resident, was arrested last week for a second time and banned from entering the West Bank and meeting PA officials. Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem, is under a six-month travel ban by Israel.

    Last week dozens of Palestinians were arrested in Jerusalem, accused of working for the PA to stop house sales to the settlers.

    It is a quiet campaign of attrition, designed to wear down Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents. The hope is that they will eventually despair and relocate to the city’s distant suburbs outside the wall or into the West Bank.

    What Palestinians in #Jerusalem urgently need is a reason for hope – and a clear signal that other countries will not join the US in abandoning them.

    #vol #pillage #banditisme #crimes #impunité

  • The Horror of the Check Engine Light and the Joy of Fixing It
    Cette petite hstoire nous met dans la tête d’un utilisateur d’automobiles. On apprend beaucoup sur son addiction et comment il fait pour se procurer sa drogue dans une qualité satisfaisante.

    It was lightly snowing, the kind of snow that doesn’t stick but turns everything into a horrible slush. It was December of 2017. I was picking up my coworker, Raph, double parked outside his old apartment. We were headed out to Long Island. It was two weeks after I bought the car. The check engine light came on.


    You can probably imagine the things going through my head. You’re a moron. You bought this thing and less than a month later it’s crap. It’s going to be expensive. Your mom told you to just take out a loan and buy a Honda. Your wife wanted a Civic, because she had one, and it was always reliable. You didn’t get the Civic. You had to get this thing. You had to get rear-wheel-drive and a straight-six and a wagon and “fun.” Idiot.

    The snow kept coming down.

    Raph got in the car, and immediately I blurted out that the check engine light just came on. We were headed to Tuning Works, about 30 miles away, to take care of a leaky valve cover gasket I knew about when I bought the car. It’s the shop that does a lot of work on the wildest rides at H2Oi every year, and they’ve won a ton of awards.

    The 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross I just bought was going to be my baby, I decided. It was only going to get the best of the best, a model of preventive maintenance. So while everyone else was going to the nearest random mechanic they could find, I was going to the place with the awards. I’d be taking better care of this car than anyone. Because there was no way in hell I’d be caught with a check engine light.

    But there it was. Its amber glow was staring right at me. Unblinking, unfeeling. A yellow-orange engine with a lightning bolt going through it, as if to say “the whole beating heart of this machine is dead. You just bought it, too. $10,250 straight down the drain.”

    While I was rapidly filling with self-loathing and shame, Raph did his best to be sympathetic, as much as a man who had previously owned a car that had been rolled multiple times with a rusted floor pan and a shopping cart wheel for a gas pedal could be sympathetic over a CEL.

    “It’s probably fine,” he said.

    It probably was fine. I’m a completely inept mechanic, but I knew that the only major lights you had to worry about in a modern car was the oil warning light and maybe, maybe, the temperature warning light. If those things are blazing or flashing at you, it’s a short time before you get permanent damage, so you better pull over quick. Almost everything else could be fixed eventually. A check engine light is usually nothing too much to worry about, but in that moment, having just bought the thing, it might as well have been dead.

    And even then, a check engine light is woefully inadequate. I had paid for a pre-purchase inspection at a Lexus dealership before I bought the car, and that came back pretty much perfect. So in my hubris, I neglected to put an OBD-II reader in the car that could immediately tell me what was wrong. I started running through worst-case scenarios, most of which involved conjurings from my wildly overactive imagination of the engine exploding or all four wheels simultaneously falling off.

    We were headed to a mechanic anyway, though. If I could nurse the car the 30 miles there, I’d be fine. (“Nursing it” consisted of driving absolutely normally, just being worried the whole time.)

    The guys at Tuning Works replaced my suspension bushing, while I fidgeted in their waiting area. They kindly reassured me that they’d check the CEL, and not to worry. They’d tell me what was wrong after they finished everything else.

    It felt like days, weeks. It was probably only an hour or two.
    Photo: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik

    But when Rich from Tuning Works finally emerged, he told me it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. The computer was spitting out code “P0440" - the emissions evaporation control system. Essentially, somewhere along the fuel system, gasoline vapors were slowly drifting away. I mean, they shouldn’t be drifting away if everything was operating normally, but this little issue wouldn’t kill anybody.

    My car wasn’t going to explode. The wheels weren’t going to fall off. It was probably just the fuel filler cap. Replace that and the light should go away.

    I was grateful for the advice, much in the same way my rabbi growing up told me I wasn’t going to be immediately smitten by God for occasionally tasting bacon. A small fix and everything should be fine.

    Of course, it was only probably the fuel filler cap. If I wanted to know definitively, that would involve a smoke test, which would cost more money, because of the labor. Rich offered, but I declined. It was a fuel filler cap, who needs more testing?

    Tuning Works cleared the code, my valve cover gasket was fixed anew, and off I went. I bought a new filler cap at Autozone on the way home. The check engine light was dark. My momentary panic was gone. Everything was good.

    Three weeks later, the light turned on again.

    God damn it.

    I went and checked the code. Again, P0440. The evaporation emissions control system. Whatever. It was probably because I got an aftermarket fuel filler cap, not an OEM one. Another trip to the Zone, and I popped the $8 cap off, and slapped on a $22 fuel filler cap, right from the original manufacturer. All problems in the world go away if you throw enough money at them. That’s just a rule of life.

    Three weeks later, again, it turned on again. The check engine light was no longer staring at me, unblinking, unfeeling. Now it was taunting me. I’d clear the code, and it would disappear for a little while. It would always come back though. Sometimes two weeks would go by, sometimes three. But it was there. I would clear it just to get a momentary peace of mind. Maybe, with it temporarily turned off, I could convince myself that my new-to-me car wasn’t broken, that I wasn’t an idiot. But of course, I couldn’t.

    Months would go by, and I could never quite fall entirely in love with the car. A car that, to me, was lovely in every single way except for one. It was torquey and quick and it had a straight six and wonderful hydraulic steering and it was a wagon. And it had a check engine light. It was splendid and great and wrong. It was Zinaida Serebriakova’s At the Dressing Table, if the table had just a little bit of vomit on it.

    I started searching for what could be causing the P0440 code on the internet. The fuel filler cap, the mostly likely cause, I think we could rule out. But if it wasn’t that, it could be anyone of a number of things. One person on a Lexus forum got the code when they parked their car for a while, and mice chewed through a hose. Others had problems with something known as a Vacuum Switching Valve. Leaky fuel tanks. Parts that some other mechanic had worked on but hadn’t installed properly.

    The one I dreaded most was one that also seemed endemic to the first generation of the Lexus IS300. People on the forums consistently lamented a failure in something known as the “charcoal canister,” which is pretty much what it sounds like. A little canister filled with activated charcoal that absorbed any vapors from the fuel system. The other possible problems on the car I could probably fix myself, with a limited set of tools in an apartment building garage. The charcoal canister, on the bottom of the car towards the back, I could not. At the very least, the car probably needed to be on a lift. I don’t have a lift.

    Worse than that, the charcoal canister was pretty much the most expensive part in the entire system. A hose is a hose, but a charcoal vapor canister could cost nearly $500. Most people with the same problem said that they spent nearly $1,000 getting it fixed. I didn’t want to spend $1,000. I have lots of other things I’d like to spend $1,000 on.

    So I just sort of ignored it. I stopped clearing the codes. Every time I’d get in the car, that little light was there, a constant reminder of my own failures. And who among us, in this day and age, doesn’t live with one of those?

    Mine just happened to be on my car.

    I knew I had to get it fixed at some point. The “at some point” was actually pretty definite, too, since I had read that a car couldn’t pass a state emissions inspection in New York with a check engine light such as this one. I had until December 2018, one year from when I bought the car. I kept driving with it. I road-tripped the Lexus to New England, and to Pennsylvania, and to my mom’s and my dad’s and my aunt’s and my uncle’s and to the grocery store and to work and to car shows and everywhere else people drive. I take the subway to get to work, and occasionally drove press cars for work, so I only put on about 7,000 miles on it during the first year that I owned it. For 7,000 miles, I just lived with the light, looking back at me.

    With December and an upcoming state inspection approaching, though, I knew it needed to get fixed sooner rather than later. I’m not sure I even cared about the upcoming state inspection, to be honest. I just wanted that unblinking light gone.

    This time, I didn’t drive all the way out to Tuning Works. I was tired. I went to the shop two blocks from my apartment. The people in there are friendly, and it’s open 24 hours, seven days a week. It was a Sunday morning, 8 AM. I pulled the car into the garage, and told them I needed a smoke test.

    “That’ll be $65,” they replied. I paid it. I didn’t care. I needed to be sure.

    I watched through the glass window of the shop’s waiting room, into the mechanic bay. I saw them put my car on a lift, then poke and prod all around the area where the fuel tank was.

    After about an hour, the mechanic came over to me. He had that look and that walk and that tone that doctors use when they give you bad news. He was blunt but with a tinge of sympathy. It was the charcoal canister. And because I had insisted on a rear-wheel-drive car, it was going to be even pricier. A front-wheel-drive car, he explained, could have the job done in 30 minutes. But a rear-wheel-drive car would be longer, with much of the fuel system in the rear along with a differential and a driveshaft and all that comes with it. Two or three hours of labor.

    The total cost estimate was $750. That’s a good chunk of change less than the $1,000 I thought it would cost, but still, it would hurt my wallet. I picked the car up from the mechanic last night, my wallet $816.56 lighter after taxes.

    But weirdly, I almost didn’t care. Yeah, that was approaching the price of one of those Cheap-As-Hell European Vacations, but I wasn’t paying for a charcoal canister and three hours of a learned man’s time. I wasn’t even paying for peace of mind. What I was buying was no check engine lights, no constant reminders, no unceasing light getting in between me and rear-wheel drive and a straight six and a wagon and fun, satisfying fun.

    I was paying for the ability to finally, finally, fall fully and deeply in love with my car.

    #littérature #automobilisme

  • Botched Israeli operation in Gaza endangers human rights groups - Palestinians

    If it turns out that the IDF invented a fictitious aid group for the operation, from now on it can be expected that every real new organization will find it difficult to be trusted by the authorities and residents in the Gaza Strip

    Amira Hass
    Nov 25, 2018

    If members of the Israeli special operations force that Hamas exposed in the Gaza Strip this month indeed impersonated aid workers, as Walla news and the Israel Television News Company reported, it will reinforce and even retroactively justify Hamas’ longtime suspicions.
    Hamas has in the past claimed that, consciously or not, international humanitarian organizations assist Israel’s Shin Bet security service and the Israeli military.
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    This is exactly what the employees of foreign aid organizations, as well as Palestinian ones with some foreign staff, fear. A senior employee in one of these organizations told Haaretz that if Israel has abused the network of international or local aid groups, it could undermine the critical activities of organizations large and small: The Hamas government that controls the Gaza Strip might take precautions that will interfere with their entry into the Strip and their work.
    “No one will listen to the protest of a small organization on the exploitation of humanitarian activity,” he said. “Large organizations need to make their voices heard.”

    The bodies of four of the six men killed during an Israeli raid on Khan Younis in a hospital morgue in Gaza, on Sunday, November 11, 2018AFP
    Foreigners who entered the Gaza Strip last week reported more exacting questioning than usual at Hamas’ border control position and strict identity checks of passengers at checkpoints within the Strip.

    A Westerner who visits the Strip frequently told Haaretz they sense some suspicion on the part of ordinary Gazans toward foreigners — and not for the first time.
    What is interesting is that Palestinian media outlets did not publish the suspicions about the Israel special force impersonating aid workers: In other words, Hamas did not raise this claim publicly.
    According to versions heard in the Gaza Strip, the members of the unit carried forged Palestinian ID cards, presumably of Gazans, and said they had food distribution coupons. It also seems they spent a number of days in the Strip before they were exposed.
    Working for an aid organization is a logical and convenient cover story. As part of the strict limits on movement by Israel, foreigners and Palestinians who are not residents of the Strip, who work for international aid organizations (and foreign journalists) are among the few who receive entry permits into the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinian militants of Hamas’ military wing attend the funeral of seven Palestinians, killed during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza, in Khan Younis, on November 12, 2018.AFP
    Hamas senior official Moussa Abu Marzouk was quoted as hinting that the entry of the unit was made possible through a checkpoint of the Palestinian Authority, at the Erez border crossing.
    His statement fed the constant suspicions against the PA’s security services of cooperation and help for the Israeli security forces. But knowing how the official entry process into the Gaza Strip from Israel works raises doubts about the feasibility of this scenario.
    In addition to navigating the bureaucracy of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to obtain an entry permit from Israel, foreigners seeking to enter the Gaza Strip must also coordinate their travel in advance with the Hamas authorities.
    To enter officially through the Erez crossing, you must submit full identification details, including details on the purpose of the visit and the organization and identity of contact persons inside the Gaza Strip.
    >> How Hamas sold out Gaza for cash from Qatar and collaboration with Israel | Opinion
    The military unit’s entry through Erez would have required Israel to use the name of a well-known aid organization, which would not raise any suspicions. Did the Israel Defense Forces use the name of an organization such as UNRWA or an Italian aid group funded by the European Union, for example?
    And if it turns out that to carry out the mission, the IDF invented a fictitious aid group a long time ago, and in doing so received the help of COGAT, from now on it can be expected that every real new organization will find it difficult to be trusted by the authorities and residents in the Gaza Strip.
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    On entry to the Gaza Strip, those who receive permits go through four checkpoints: On the Israel side of the crossing, at the first registration position of the PA on the other side of the crossing, at the checkpoint of the PA police, which was once the Hamas checkpoint and was handed over to the PA about a year ago when it was attempted to establish a reconciliation government, and at the new registration position of Hamas, which has restarted operations these last few months.
    Even those bearing Palestinian identity cards — which according to reports the members of the unit carried — must pass through the posts of the PA and Hamas and answer questions. At the Hamas position, suitcases are not always checked, but a person who often enters the Gaza Strip told Haaretz that the check — even if only to search for alcohol — is always a risk to be taken into account.
    It is hard to believe that the members of the Israeli military unit would have entered Gaza without weapons, on one hand, or would have risked exposure, on the other, he said. 
    One gets the impression from media reports that Hamas and the IDF are both busy competing over who was humiliated more by the exposure of the unit’s operations. What is certain is that making humanitarian aid into a tool in the service of Israeli military intelligence contributes to the feeling of vulnerability and isolation of the Strip.

  • How Hamas sold out Gaza for cash from Qatar and collaboration with Israel

    Israel’s botched military incursion saved Hamas from the nightmare of being branded as ’sell-outs’. Now feted as resistance heroes, it won’t be long before Hamas’ betrayal of the Palestinian national movement is exposed again

    Muhammad Shehada
    Nov 22, 2018 7:04 PM

    Earlier this month, Hamas was confronted by one of its worst nightmares. The Palestinian mainstream began to brand Hamas with the same slurs that Hamas itself uses to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority. 
    "They sold us out!” Gazans began to whisper, after Hamas reached a limited set of understandings with Israel in early November. Its conditions required Hamas to distance Gazan protesters hundreds of meters away from the separation fence with Israel and actively prevent the weekly tire-burning and incendiary kite-flying associated with what have become weekly protests.
    In return for this calm, Israel allowed a restoration of the status quo ante – an inherently unstable and destabilizing situation that had led to the outbreak of popular rage in the first place. 

    Other “benefits” of the agreement included a meaningless expansion of the fishing zone for few months, restoring the heavily-restricted entry of relief aid and commercial merchandise to Gaza, instead of the full-on closure of previous months, and a tentative six-month supply of Qatari fuel and money to pay Hamas’ government employees. Basically, a return to square one. 
    skip - Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza
    Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza - דלג

    The disaffected whispers quickly became a popular current, which took overt form when the Qatari ambassador visited Gaza. He was met with angry cries of “collaborator,” as young Gazans threw stones at his vehicle after the ambassador was seen instructing a senior Hamas leader with the words: “We want calm today...we want calm.”
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    Hamas leaders didn’t dare show their faces to the people for several days following, and the movement’s popular base had a very hard time arguing that the agreement with Israel - which offered no fundamental improvement of condition – and sweetened by Qatari cash wasn’t a complete sell-out by Hamas. 
    Inside Hamas, there was evident anxiety about public outrage, not least in the form of social media activism, using Arabic hashtags equivalents to #sell-outs. One typical message reads: “[Suddenly] burning tires have became ‘unhealthy’ and [approaching] the electronic fence is suicide! #sell-outs.”

    Social media is clearly less easy to police than street protests. Even so, there was a small protest by young Gazans in Khan Younis where this “sell-out” hashtag became a shouted slogan; the demonstrators accused Hamas of betrayal.
    But relief for Hamas was at hand – and it was Israel who handed the movement an easy victory on a gold plate last week. That was the botched operation by Israel thwarted by Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, which cost the life of a lieutenant colonel from an IDF elite unit.
    The ensuing retaliation for Israel’s incursion, led by the Islamic Jihad (prodded into action by Iran), who launched 400 improvised rockets into Israel, was intended to draw a bold red line of deterrence, signaling that the Israeli army cannot do as it pleases in Gaza. 
    For days after this last escalation, Hamas leaders rejoiced: that exhibition of muscle power proved their moral superiority over the “collaborationist” Palestinian Authority. Boasting about its heroic engagement in the last escalation, Hamas easily managed to silence its critics by showing that the “armed resistance” is still working actively to keep Gaza safe and victorious. Those are of course mostly nominal “victories.”

    But their campaign was effective in terms of changing the political atmosphere. Now that the apparatus of the Muqawama had “restored our dignity,” further criticism of Hamas’ political and administrative conduct in Gaza was delegitimized again. Criticism of Hamas became equivalent to undermining the overall Palestinian national struggle for liberation.

    Unsurprisingly that silenced the popular outrage about Hamas’ initial agreement of trading Gaza’s sacrifices over the last seven months for a meager supply of aid and money. The few who continued to accuse Hamas of selling out were promptly showered by footage of the resistance’s attacks on Israel, or reports about Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation, for which Hamas claimed credit, coming as it did a day after a Hamas leader demanded he resigned. 
    Mission accomplished, a piece of cake. Now it was time for Hamas to return to business, strengthened by a renewed shield of resistance-immunity that branded criticism as betrayal.
    Although Hamas leaders have admitted the reality: no more fundamental cease-fire is being negotiated, and so no fundamental improvements for Gaza can be expected - it continues to sell Gazans the delusion that their decade of endurance is finally bearing fruit and soon, more prosperity, employment and hope will trickle down to the masses.
    What has actually trickled down so far are temporary and symbolic painkillers, not an actual end to Gaza’s pain.

    Hamas agreed to give a small share of the Qatari spoils to 50,000 poor Gazan families; $100 for each household. They agreed to creating temporary employment programs for 5,000 young university graduates with the aspirational title of Tomoh (“Ambition”). They promised to keep up the fight until Gaza is no longer unlivable, and Hamas leaders pledged with their honor to continue the Gaza Great Return March until the protests’ main goal - lifting the blockade - was achieved.
    But does that really mean anything when the protests are kept at hundreds of meters’ distance from the fence, essentially providing the “Gazan silence” Netanyahu wants? When no pressure is applied anymore on the Israeli government to create a sense of urgency for action to end the disastrous situation in Gaza? And when Hamas continues to avoid any compromises about administering the Gaza Strip to the PA in order to conclude a decade of Palestinian division, and consecutive failures?
    That Hamas is desperately avoiding war is indeed both notable and worthy, as well as its keenness to prevent further causalities amongst protesters, having already suffered 200 deaths and more than 20,000 wounded by the IDF. That genuine motivation though is mixed with more cynical ones – the protests are now politically more inconvenient for Hamas, and the casualty rate is becoming too expensive to sustain.
    Yet one must think, at what price is Hamas doing this? And for what purpose? If the price of Gaza’s sacrifices is solely to maintain Hamas’ rule, and the motive of working to alleviate pressure on Gaza is to consolidate its authority, then every Gazan has been sold out, and in broad daylight.

    Only if Hamas resumes the process of Palestinian reconciliation and a democratic process in Gaza would those actions be meaningful. Otherwise, demanding that the world accepts Hamas’ rule over Gaza as a fait accompli – while what a Hamas-controlled Gaza cannot achieve, most critically lifting the blockade, is a blunt betrayal of Palestinian martyrdom.
    It means compromising Palestinian statehood in return for creating an autonomous non-sovereign enclave in which Hamas could freely exercise its autocratic rule indefinitely over an immiserated and starving population.
    Which, according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is what Hamas has always wanted since rising to power in 2009: an interim Palestinian state in Gaza under permanent Hamas rule, not solving the wider conflict but rather obliterating in practice the prospect of a two state solution.
    It remains to be seen if the calls of “sell-outs” will return to Gaza’s social networks and streets, not least if Hamas’ obduracy and appetite for power end up selling out any prospect of a formally recognized State of Palestine.
    Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2

    Muhammad Shehada

  • Justin Sun’s Tron: The past, present and future price analysis

    Source: Google imagesUnderstanding TRONJustin sun’s TRON is a decentralized #blockchain platform that supports high throughput smart contracts that target the Internet, Media and Entertainment markets across the globe. Tron serves as an excellent social media platform, allowing users to freely exchange thoughts, ideas, media without the interference of any middlemen.The Expertise of the team:Source: Inwara’s #ico databaseThis project is led by the CEO, Justin Sun, who previously worked at Ripple as Chief Representative, Advisor and founded Peiwo in 2013, one of the largest live streaming apps in China. His educational background includes the University of Pennsylvania, Peking University, and Hupan University which was created by Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group.As per the company (...)

    #ico-review #tron-ico #justin-sun

  • In Superstar Cities, the Rich Get Richer, and They Get Amazon - The New York Times

    In that sense, we look naïve in even raising the question that this could have gone to a different kind of Midwestern, heartland place,” Mr. Muro said. “There wasn’t really an alternative.”

    By choosing to go where high-skilled workers and other prosperous companies already are, Amazon will effectively ensure that more companies follow it in turn. Opportunity will concentrate further. The differences between, say, New York and Scranton, Pa., will widen. This divergence, underway for about 30 years, has accelerated since the Great Recession.

    (…) “The divide between prosperous and distressed regions is growing wider. And it’s because of things like this.”

    #concentration #technologie #inégalités #territoires


    Philly anarcho-punk/folk troubadours Mischief Brew celebrate their fifteenth year not with a champagne toast, but by barreling into the bar and slamming down This Is Not For Children, their fourth studio album and debut on Alternative Tentacles Records. Recorded at Permanent Hearing Damage by Steve Roche—who recorded many of the band’s early releases including “Songs From Under the Sink”—it breathes and bleeds a tough spirit that could only have been born in the streets, bars and empty warehouses of Philadelphia, PA. Songs about everything from squatting to baseball to horror director William Castle (which is how the album gets its name).
    #Mischief_Brew #anarcho-punk #bandcamp

  • The Abandoned Mine Problem: Who Should Bear the Burden?

    Thousands of abandoned and orphaned mines dot the American West. They pose a danger to both public and environmental health, and responsible parties are difficult to find, differentiate, or hold accountable. Why do inactive mines continue to pose safety hazards and pollute our waterways? The laws in place simply don’t have teeth. The Gold King Mine wastewater spill in southwestern Colorado in 2015 was a good reminder of the scope of the problem of abandoned and orphaned mines and how our current regulatory framework falls short.

    There are three laws that generally govern mining law in the United States: the 1872 Mining Law, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). These laws lack concrete measures to prevent mine spills from occurring as well as reliable methods to ensure that all mines receive the necessary attention in the case of a spill (or better yet, to prevent one). In addition, these laws can create liabilities and disincentives on parties who might otherwise be willing to come in and remediate the mine on their own. However, some states are turning towards a non-traditional form of legislation: Good Samaritan laws, in which citizens, companies, and organizations would be not liable in the case they decide to take on the task of cleaning up acid mine drainage.

    The abandoned mine problem in the United States is striking. Specifically, hard rock mines (including metals like gold, silver, iron, copper, and zinc) are predominant in the West as a result of the discovery of gold and silver during the era of western expansion. Up until the 1970s, the federal government engaged in little oversight on mining across much of the West. During the mining era, there were few expectations about environmental safeguards, and as a result, historic mining operations often went largely unregulated. Before the 1970s, it was common for mining companies to abandon mine sites after mineral extraction was completed or no longer profitable. The land was often left exposed, with waste materials in piles or dumped into mine cavities and pits. At the time, mining companies had no requirement to restore mine lands to their original condition. Today, it is almost impossible to hold these mine owners financially responsible because records of original ownership have been lost and accountable individuals have long passed away. There are over 500,000 abandoned hardrock mine sites across the nation, and the cost for cleaning up these inactive mines is estimated to be between $33 and 72 billion dollars. Today, these abandoned mines are capable of polluting adjacent streams, lakes, and groundwater with high volumes of toxic waste. In doing so, contamination from spills has the potential to—and often does—harm marine ecosystems, poison local drinking water, and pose serious health risks to local communities.

    What Laws Are in Place?

    The Mining Law of 1872, or the General Mining Law, governs the transfer of rights to mine gold, silver, copper, uranium and other hardrock minerals from federal lands. Under the law, citizens may enter and explore the public domain, and if they find valuable mineral deposits, they may obtain title to the land through the Department of the Interior. The law has jurisdictional coverage over 270 million acres of publicly owned land, which is almost one-fourth of all land in the United States. In essence, mining companies are able to search for minerals without any authorization from any government agency. The law contains little to no environmental protections for using use of the land and it does not include any royalty or bonding provisions (to help fund cleanup in case of an accident). As a result, many have criticized the law for giving away public land to private companies practically for free, leaving the public to bear the burden for cleaning up the spills. Since there is no requirement to pay royalties or report extraction volume, the government does not keep track of the volume of hardrock minerals being extracted from federal public lands each year. Consequently, this aspect of mines is largely unchecked and has disparate effects.

    But the issue of abandoned mines has not entirely been overlooked. In September 2017, Senator Tom Udall (Arizona) introduced legislation to reform the General Mining Law and address many of the above-mention criticisms. If passed, the legislation would help fund clean-up activities through fees and royalties. In March 2018, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the issue of abandoned mines.

    The Clean Water Act (CWA) is aimed at restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Act splits the responsibility to state agencies and some responsibility to the EPA to carry out the regulatory purposes. The Act requires would-be polluters to obtain a permit for any kind of discharge of a pollutant from a point source (such as mine waste) into the navigable waters of the United States. While the structure of the Act enforces a basic foundation for protecting water resources, one consequence of the permitting system is that parties who own or attempt to clean up mines will likely become subject to its extensive permitting requirements and face liability. This being said, when parties do attempt to clean up mines, their actions could still constitute a violation of the CWA. Under the Act, a party seeking to engage in cleanup activity would need a permit regardless of whether their actions aggravate or improve the water quality.

    CERCLA allows for the cleanup of sites that are already contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. It is also referred to as the “Superfund,” due to the large fund that it created for cleanup of contaminated sites. CERCLA is intended to spread the cost of cleanup among responsible parties, and allows the government to undertake cleanup of contaminated property or compel private parties to undertake the cleanup themselves. Like the CWA, CERCLA creates potential liability for parties that might attempt to clean up abandoned mines, which usually takes form of lawsuits. Under 107(a)(4)(B), private parties can recover from a potential responsible party (PRP) for the cleanup costs they “directly incur.” Under this broad liability scheme, people who own property containing hazardous substances can be held liable for enormous cleanup costs even though they were not involved in any hazardous waste disposal activities. Even with some liability defense for certain types of innocent landowners and bonafide prospective purchaser, CERCLA has in effect discouraged the purchase and reuse of properties that may be contaminated. As a result, the overwhelming costs of cleanups (and potential liability) have been the primary restraining factors for people otherwise interested in reusing and restoring contaminated properties.

    Good Samaritan Legislation

    There has been no shortage of offered fixes to the problem of abandoned and orphaned mines, but one solution that has seemed to be getting more traction recently is the idea of Good Samaritan legislation. While potential liability under the CWA and CERCLA has discouraged parties from cleaning up abandoned mines or reusing and restoring contaminated properties, Good Samaritan legislation may provide new hope for parties who want to attempt to clean up mines but do not have the resources to take on the liability that might accompany cleanup efforts. These parties may include citizens, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and mining companies.

    Pennsylvania implemented the Environmental Good Samaritan Act in 1999 and has completed fifty projects since. Those protected by this legislation include individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. The Act protects them if they meet several requirements, including they that did not cause/create the abandoned mineral extraction land or water pollution, and that they provide equipment and/or materials for the project. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers and reviews project proposals to determine project eligibility. While the Act has been used for mine reclamation in the past, DEP has also applied it to other environmental remediation projects, achieving success so far. In 2017, the Act has been applied to two oil and gas well projects, which are estimated to have saved DEP $60,000 to $85,000, in addition to administrative cost savings related to contract development and management. Three more projects are currently under review.

    Recently, members of Congress have made efforts to enact something similar at the federal level. In 2016, three members of the Colorado delegation to Congress proposed the Good Samaritan Cleanup of Orphan Mines Act of 2016 with the help of environmental groups Trout Unlimited and Earthworks. The bill, ultimately, was not successful.

    The practical reality of Good Samaritan legislation is that most parties who are interested in cleaning up the spills will not have the funds to effectuate a successful cleanup. While Good Samaritan laws appear to be a reasonable way to encourage cleanups, they are not enough to solve the multifaceted abandoned mine issue that has a variety of stakeholders- including the mining companies who are often let off the hook. This is why most environmental advocates tend to reject Good Samaritan proposals, as they distract from the bigger picture that the mining companies are causing the spills and are not taking responsibility to clean them up. While the EPA has issued guidance on Good Samaritan laws, few parties are willing to proceed with cleanup projects because the EPA has failed to engage in regulatory rulemaking and enforce law on the subject.

    This being said, Good Samaritan legislation alone will not solve the abandoned and orphaned mine issue. Conservation groups have proposed increased liability for mining companies. At the state level, conservation groups like San Juan Citizens Alliance and Conservation Colorado have supported the

    Thus, what seems to be the closest thing to an answer to the abandoned and orphaned mine problem is some sort of combination of many proposed solutions: Good Samaritan laws, imposition of royalties, creation of a hardrock reclamation fund, etc. At this point, the main question is where resources should be allocated and at what cost, especially amidst federal laws and agencies that often disagree on how and to what extent…” to protect the environment.
    #mines #abandon #fermeture #extractivisme #pollution #mines_abandonnées #environnement #santé

    ping @albertocampiphoto @daphne

  • Un épisode étonnant de l’histoire de la #radio aux États-Unis, raconté dans #99_percent_invisible. Une petite antenne commerciale, pour faire sa promotion à l’occasion d’un changement de projet éditorial, lance un concours : celui qui réussit à rester le plus longtemps possible perché sur la plateforme d’accès à un grand panneau publicitaire gagnera une maison préfabriquée. Sauf qu’on est en 1982, que c’est la crise, et que certains sont prêts à rester beaucoup plus de temps que prévu pour avoir un logement à eux. Le concours, de petit évènement local, finit au bout de quelques mois par faire la Une de la presse nationale : il contredit singulièrement les belles paroles du président Reagan sur le #rêve_américain.

    C’est à écouter ici : « Billboard Boys : The Greatest Radio Contest of All Time »

    The year was 1982, and in the small city of #Allentown on the eastern edge of Pennsylvania sat an AM radio station called #WSAN. For years, it had broadcast country music to the surrounding Lehigh Valley — an area known for malls, manufacturing and Mack Trucks.

    WSAN was about to undergo a complete identity change, from a country station and to a “nostalgia” station — meaning Big Band, and soft hits from the 1950s. They wanted a gimmick to hook new listeners, so WSAN decided to launch a good old-fashioned endurance contest, reminiscent of the pole sitting stunts or dance marathons popular in the 1920s. They secured a local sponsor, Love Homes, to donate a prize: a single-wide modular home worth $18,000.

    For the contest, three people would ascend 30 feet up a ladder to a platform running under a WSAN billboard. Whoever stayed up the longest would walk away with the new home. They called it the “You’ll Love To Live With Us” contest. It seemed like a simple marketing strategy, but WSAN had grossly underestimated just how much people would endure for a little economic security.

    #audio #podcast #histoire #pauvreté #États-Unis #logement

  • Prison inmates will soon be reading ebooks—but that’s not a good thing — Quartz

    Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced that inmates would no longer be able to receive physical books from outside organizations or inmate’s families. Instead, the state’s prison system would be switching to ebooks. These will be available on tablets sold by prison telecommunications giant GTL.

    The book ban was part of an announcement about security measures aimed at limiting contraband flowing into Pennsylvania’s prisons.

    • Je retrouve pas l’annonce il y a quelques jours du changement de prestataire pour la musique dans des prisons ricaines. Avec interdiction pour les détenus d’écouter la musique via un autre prestataire. Et toutes les musiques qu’ils avaient achetées en passant par le prestataire précédent, il me semble qu’elles étaient ainsi perdues.

      L’idée que des « mesures de sécurité » dans les prisons se consacrent à « limiter la contrebande » en interdisant des livres, c’est assez symptomatique d’un pays où les élites, de toute façon, ne lisent jamais de livres.

    • Ah, je l’ai : Former Inmates Lose Their Right To Listen | Future of Music Coalition

      But some former federal prisoners are now arguing that their access to music has been wrongly compromised after leaving the prison walls behind. In a recent complaint, five former inmates allege that SanDisk Corp. and Advanced Technologies Group LLC (ATG) are taking advantage of an exclusive contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to financially exploit this vulnerable population at a time when their focus should be on successful reintegration into society. In the class action suit, filed in a United States District Court in Michigan, the former inmates assert claims for Sherman Antitrust Act violations, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, conversion, unconscionability and violations of state consumer protection laws. 

      Beginning in 2012, federal prisoners have been allowed to purchase MP3 music players with certain features disabled such as the external memory slot and the integrated microphone. They have a limited range of music to choose from—explicit, violent or racially charged songs are not available. Prison officials have hailed this program as potentially helping with safety and reducing recidivism. At $.80- $1.80 per song, inmates can spend as much as $1,200 to $2,700 on music before reaching their MP3 Player’s full capacity. But, the lawsuit alleges, inmates are not informed during their initial purchase is that unless they also purchase a post-release MP3 player from ATG upon their release, they won’t have access to any of the songs or other audio files that they purchased during their incarceration. In addition, the former inmates have a limited period during which they may recover the purchased music collection, thus if a former inmate does not buy a SanDisk post release MP3 player from ATG within one year of release from prison, their purchase amount of possibly $2,700 will be lost, and they can’t transfer their files to another device.

      The former inmates have little choice in the matter, because SanDisk’s Sansa Clip + is their only option; BOP’s contract gave ATG the exclusive right to supply prison-restricted MP3 players and MP3 music and audio files to inmates in BOP facilities. SanDisk is also the exclusive supplier of post-release MP3 player, so the only way the former inmates can retain access to their purchased music after release is to purchase another MP3 player from SanDisk. Imagine being required to buy an iPod twice in order to listen to the possibly several thousand songs you already paid iTunes for or lose them. To add insult to injury, it’s an MP3 player that costs $40 at Walmart, but $110 through this program. That’s predatory pricing that recalls the debate over the shockingly high cost of prison phone calls which recently prompted action by the FCC after years of hard work by a coalition of activists including MAG-Net, Center for Media Justice, and others.

  • No Shots Fired
    In coercive control, men use guns to threaten, manipulate, and traumatize their intimate partners, without ever pulling a trigger.

    Abusive partners don’t need a gun to govern their victims, but a gun makes a ruthless tool of intimidation. A husband might keep one on the mantel in the living room, where he and his wife watch TV. A boyfriend might polish his weapon during arguments. While asking his partner where she’s been, a guy might casually remove his coat to reveal a pistol clipped to his belt. “This [phenomenon] is almost exclusively male on female,” says Susan B. Sorenson, PhD, executive director of the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse in Relationships at the University of Pennsylvania. “When you have a gun, you can control someone without touching them, without even speaking a word.”

    Indeed, a lethal weapon allows an abuser to easily establish a “regime of domination,” as Stark calls it — and in a country with an estimated 270 million firearms, countless women are at risk. One 2016 study found that some 4.5 million women have been coerced or bullied with a gun by an intimate partner. In a separate (as yet unpublished) survey, Tami Sullivan, PhD, the director of Family-Violence Research at Yale, found that 33 percent of women in the Greater New Haven, Connecticut, area who were victims of abuse had also been menaced with a firearm. “And that doesn’t count the implied stuff, like when he cleans the gun in front of them,” says Sullivan.

    While experts recognize coercive control as a legitimate form of domestic abuse, the threat itself can be hard to describe to friends and family, let alone the police. There are no bruises or bullet wounds, and after constant manipulation, a victim may wonder if she’s seeing danger that’s not really there. Or she may become too terrified to act at all.

  • The Oslo Accords: An Excuse for War Crimes.

    when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords, it also signed off on the implementation of a dual set of laws based on nationality, which meant that the PA’s laws could only be applied to Palestinians while Israel maintained exclusive personal jurisdiction over Israelis in all criminal and civil matters, even for offenses committed in areas under PA jurisdiction. In other words, Israeli civilian and criminal law, but not Israeli military law, applies to Israelis irrespective of whether they are in the areas of the PA, in Area C, or in Israel; while Palestinians in areas A and B are subject to Palestinian civil laws and Israeli military law, irrespective of whether they are in Areas A, B, or C. In short, the PLO agreed to apartheid.

    Thus, for example, an Israeli who harms or kills a Palestinian in Area A or B cannot be tried for their actions, while Palestinians living in Area C must obtain Israeli permits in order to construct an additional room in their house or even erect a tent or solar panels. Most absurdly, in cases where an Israeli and Palestinian commit the exact same crime, the rights guaranteed to them and the punishment meted out differ substantially.

    [From the Journal of Palestine Studies | Mahmud Darwish’s Allegorical Critique of Oslo]

    At the same time, PA laws were solely designed to focus on matters falling within the areas of PA control but not in relation to matters affecting Palestinians beyond those areas. For example, the PA has never made any pronouncements or issued any injunctions in relation to Israel’s theft of Palestinian land, focusing instead on internal matters.

    Meanwhile, the Israeli legal system, far from challenging Israel’s occupation, vacillated between rubber-stamping the occupation – as seen in the cases involving home demolitions – and outright refusal to confront the occupation. For example, Israel’s courts have refused to hear challenges to Israeli settlement construction on the grounds that these are issues better left to politicians and not the courts.

    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the changes in legal landscape is on the international level. While the Oslo Accords state that negotiations will lead to the “implementation of resolutions 242 and 338,” the mere fact that they engaged in a negotiation process over borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and refugees indicate that these matters are up for “compromise.” And, this has been the result: while it is clear that settlements are war crimes, the annexation of Jerusalem is illegal, Israel has no right to one inch of occupied territory and that Palestinians have a legal right to return, the Oslo Accords transformed these rights to mere issues to be negotiated.

    Oft-repeated statements from representatives of the international community highlight that Israeli “unilateral actions will not be recognized” and that the occupation “can only be resolved through negotiations.” Stated differently, representatives of the international community are effectively saying that they will recognize those settlements – those war crimes – that the PLO agrees to. This is akin to saying that there are no international standards – no objective laws – but that consent, no matter how it is obtained, can excuse any illegal act.

  • Army, UPENN uncover ways to better predict viral information | U.S. Army Research Laboratory

    Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have forecasted what content will get passed along repeatedly. In an article published in August 2018 in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researchers analyzed the brain responses of 40 people as they read real New York Times health article headlines and abstracts. They found that those who don’t regularly read the news were best able to predict the popularity of those articles among real readers.

    dédicace spéciale à tous les paranoïaques :)

    il y a tellement de choses dans cet article, je ne sais même pas par où commencer…

    #mémétique #armée #manipulation #NYT #recherche #journalisme

    • Un copain me répond : « Intéressant de voir que les gens qui s’intéressent à ce domaine (la santé) ont tous une activation du cortex frontal ventro-médian, comparé aux gens qui s’en foutent un peu mais qui de temps en temps vont se faire accrocher par un titre qui les concerne. Je ne sais pas ce que ça peut être, mais je ne serais pas surpris, comme dans l’exemple donné dans l’image, que ça ait rapport avec quelques chose de fondamental du point de vue évolutif, donc survie, peur, danger, sexe, etc. Au fond, les publicitaires et les gens de com’ savent ça depuis longtemps, mais on le voit là dans un motif général d’activation cérébrale. Pas de quoi fouetter un chat, mais puisque l’armée est en train de perdre du temps avec ça, alors laissons-les faire... »

      #cerveau #USA

  • Public Opinion Poll No (69) Press-Release | PCPSR
    12 September 2018

    As Fatah and Hamas lose popular support and more than 60% demand the resignation of president Abbas, and as half of the public views the PA as a burden on the Palestinian people, two-thirds reject a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, three-quarters view conditions today as worse than those prevailing before the Oslo agreement, and 90% view the Trump Administration as biased in favor of Israel; and despite the ending of US aid to UNRWA and the PA, 60% oppose resumption of contacts with the Administration and a majority expects US efforts to fail in shutting down UNRWA


  • UNRWA’s teaspoon of fish oil and glass of milk: The protective framework that millions of Palestinians remember
    Even if the United States and Israel manage to scuttle the refugee agency’s efforts, this assault strengthens the ties that bind Palestinians – despite their weakening political leadership
    Amira Hass Sep 08, 2018 12:40 PM

    Gazans in their 50s still remember, with a smile and a bit of disgust, the glass of milk and the spoonful of fish oil they had to drink at UNRWA schools every morning. As adults, they’re able to appreciate the supportive framework the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees gave them, and which that daily dose reflected.

    A resident of the Gaza Strip’s Al-Shati refugee camp, who studied math at Birzeit University in the West Bank in the 1980s, said half the students in his class were from Gaza, and most were refugees. “It’s thanks to the omega-3 in the oil they got from UNRWA,” he joked.

    The children of Gaza’s old-time residents, who aren’t refugees, envied the refugee children because UNRWA schools were considered better than government ones and even provided free notebooks and writing implements including crayons. But the difference also apparently stems from the refugees’ aspirational mantra. After the immediate trauma of losing their land and property, they educated their children in that mantra’s spirit: Study, because now education is your land.

    Good early education (compared to their surroundings, as one graduate of the UNRWA system stressed) was the basic service UNRWA gave and still gives Palestinian refugees, alongside health care. Most UNRWA employees, some 30,000 people in several different countries, work in these two departments. When residents of refugee camps have more employment opportunities, they have less need of services like food packages. And when UNRWA has to invest in emergency services, this weakens its essential education and health services.

    Even though the United States stopped its financial support for UNRWA, the new school year opened on schedule last week in the agency’s 711 elementary schools located in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. Every day, 526,000 Palestinian students leave there homes in these diverse lands’ almost 60 refugee camps and attend schools with uniform characteristics – doors and windowsills painted turquoise, the UN flag, a few trees in the schoolyard with whitewashed trunks, photographs of the tent camps of 1949 on the walls.

    These uniform characteristics have been maintained for almost seven decades. Millions of Palestinian children became acquainted with the UN flag before that of their host country, or even that of Palestine, and before they encountered the Star of David that they learned to hate so deeply as a symbol of daily military violence. They saw the characteristic turquoise whenever they went to the refugee camp’s clinic or ate lunch in the dining hall reserved for children of unemployed parents.

    The spontaneous architectural process that these camps underwent is also similar – from rows of tents with taps and toilets at the outskirts; less organized rows of a few rooms around an interior courtyard, which stole a few centimeters from the alleys and made them even narrower; the multistory buildings that arose in the 1990s to house grown-up children. The savings of family members who found jobs made this possible (in Gaza, the West Bank and pre-civil war Syria much more than in Lebanon).

    Beyond the clan

    The refugee camps initially maintained geographic divisions among the original villages from which residents were expelled, and even subdivisions among extended families. But with time, and marriages between people from different villages, these divisions blurred.

    In a society that to this day retains both ties of loyalty and material ties to the extended family, the refugee camps created more modern communities because they expanded the bounds of foundational social loyalties beyond the ties of blood – that is, the family and the clan – to a large group of people who were living through the same difficult experience and had to make do with living spaces several times smaller than what they or their parents had before. The social and national consciousness of a shared fate that goes beyond the shared fate of family members and village members was bolstered there, beyond any doubt.

    This happened even before the Palestinian political organizations became established. Until the Palestinian Authority was created, these organizations weren’t just a vehicle for resistance to Israel and the occupation, but also a kind of super-clans that created their own internal loyalties and developed networks of mutual aid and protection.

    The Palestinian dialect was also preserved in the camps, and people from different villages or regions even preserved their own unique accents. Over time, the Palestinian accent in every host country has absorbed some of the country’s unique variety of Arabic, but it’s still easy to tell a Palestinian in these countries by his accent.

    Some refugee camps underwent a similar sociological process of absorbing poor people who weren’t refugees. That happened in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, before the civil war destroyed it, in several camps in Lebanon and in the Shoafat camp in Jerusalem. But at the same time, anyone who could left the camps.

    Residents of the West Bank’s Deheisheh camp built an offshoot of their camp on the other side of the road, and today it’s a large, separate community called Doha (named for the capital of Qatar, which helped finance the purchase of the land from Beit Jala residents). The Shabura and Jabalya camps in Gaza also have offshoots that are slightly more spacious. But the ties to and affection for the camp – no less than for the village of origin – remain.

    The uniform framework UNRWA has provided for millions of Palestinian in the camps over the last 70 years has undoubtedly helped them retain these affinities. But had it not been for UNRWA, would they have assimilated completely into their different environments (especially outside Palestine) and forgotten that they are Palestinians, as anti-UNRWA propagandists hope or claim?

    There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in South America who aren’t refugees (they mostly emigrated voluntarily) and never lived in refugee camps. But they haven’t abandoned their Palestinian identity. It has even strengthened among the second and third generations, along with their political consciousness. And if they don’t speak Arabic, they’re trying to learn it now.

    Collapse of traditional political system

    Without UNRWA, would the Palestinian refugees not have maintained their emotional ties to their towns and villages of origin? Would they not have made this the basis of their political demand for a right of return?

    Anyone who thinks so is confusing the framework with the content. Even if the United States and Israel manage to destroy the framework, UNRWA, this political and material assault is merely strengthening the ties that bind Palestinians to one another. This is happening despite, and in parallel with, the collapse of the traditional political system of the past 60 years that united Palestinians wherever they lived, inside and outside the refugee camps.

    The parties that comprised the PLO are either nonexistent or weak, divided and strife-ridden. The PLO itself has lost its virtue of being an organization that nurtured Palestinian identity and culture and tried to create a system of social and economic solidarity. It has become a thin shell of gray, anonymous bureaucrats and is completely dependent on the Palestinian Authority.

    The PA, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas admitted, fulfills its purpose of coordinating with Israel on security issues. It’s a provider of jobs pretending to be a political leadership. It’s also feuding with its rival, Hamas, and that group’s government in Gaza.

    Hamas is even weaker financially. And it maintains its image as a resistance movement mainly in the eyes of those who haven’t experienced the results of its military adventures and delusions on their own skin – that is, people who don’t live in Gaza but in the West Bank or the diaspora.

    In this situation, the framework that U.S. President Donald Trump and former Labor MK Einat Wilf want to destroy remains what it has been for 70 years – an economic and, to some extent, social stabilizer.

    UNRWA’s budget totals $1.2 billion. Its regular budget is $567 million, of which $450 million goes for education, and another $400 million is an emergency budget, of which 90 percent goes to Gaza. That enormous sum reflects the state of this tiny coastal enclave and the ruinous impact of Israel’s assaults and, even more, its restrictions on movement and trade that have left half the workforce unemployed. The rest of UNRWA’s budget is earmarked for various projects (for instance, in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared camp, or what remains of Gaza’s reconstruction).

    Eight months ago, when the United States first slashed its contribution by $300 million, UNRWA’s budget deficit was almost $500 million. With great effort, and with countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates contributing $50 million each for the first time, the deficit has shrunk to $270 million.

    UNRWA had to immediately cut its emergency services, of which one of the most important is the Cash for Work program that provides temporary jobs for unemployed Gazans. Other emergency projects were also suspended: psychological treatment for people traumatized by Israeli attacks; help for the Bedouin in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control; help for farmers whose lands and income are imprisoned on the other side of the separation barrier; mobile clinics. What is still being funded is the distribution of food and sanitary products such as diapers to 1 million Gazans once every three months.

    Because of the cuts, UNRWA couldn’t renew the contracts of 160 temporary workers in Gaza. It also reduced the salaries of several hundred people employed on its emergency projects.

    The big question is what will happen to its 2019 budget, and whether UNRWA will have to cut or even close its education and health services.

  • Toyota invests $500 million in Uber

    Eine halbe Milliarde Spielgeld steckt Toyota in vermeintliche Innovation. Kein Wunder, denn nur autonome Fahrzeuge versprechen auf längere Zeit den Markt für PKW am Leben zu erhalten. Das ist konsequent aus der Perspekzive eines der prößten Problemproduzenten der Welt . Toyota setzt darauf, dass Probleme, die durch die massenhafte Verbreitung von Karaftfahrzeugen entstehen sollen durch bessere Kraftfahrzeige gelöst werden können. Jede realistische Problemlösung würde die Abschaffung der Kfz-Produzenten bedeuten. Dagegen wird Spielgeld in die Kriegskasse des Gesellschaftszerstörers Uber gepumpt. Lösungen für menschenfreundliche Umwelt und Gesellschaftsformen werden so nicht befördert. Lemminge allesamt.

    Toyota just placed a big bet on autonomous vehicles.
    The automaker announced on Monday that it is investing $500 million in Uber and working more closely with the company to accelerate the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles. Uber plans to retrofit Toyota Sienna minivans with its autonomous technology and begin real-world testing in 2021.

    The deal gives Toyota a key partner in a field that is growing rapidly, and comes on the same day that four of the automaker’s suppliers announced a partnership to develop some of the software underpinning autonomous vehicles.

    “This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company,” Shigeki Tomoyama, the president of Toyota Connected Company, said in a statement.

    Automakers and tech companies continue scrambling to position themselves for a future in which car ownership gives way to mobility as a service. That’s led to a growing number of partnerships as companies like Toyota realize they don’t know much about ridesharing and companies like Uber discover that building cars is hard.

    Other tech and auto companies have forged similar arrangements. Waymo, for example, buys vehicles from Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover.

    “We’re seeing marriages of companies of complementary abilities,” said Brian Collie of Boston Consulting Group. “Partnerships are quite necessary and create value toward bringing mobility as a service to the market faster.”

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, shakes hands with Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota Connected Company.
    Uber leads the world in ridesharing, which gives it an edge in finding an audience for autonomous vehicles. Uber could create a ready market for Toyota self-driving cars through its app, which is used by millions of people.

    Monday’s announcement builds on an existing partnership. During the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, the two companies announced e-Palette, an autonomous vehicle concept that could be used for everything from pizza delivery to ridesharing.

    Toyota’s latest infusion of cash provides Uber with an unreserved endorsement of a self-driving car program rocked by a lawsuit from Google and the death of a pedestrian in Arizona in March. Uber shuttered its research and development efforts in Arizona in May, and only recently returned to the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It still has not started testing its cars again in autonomous mode.

    Related: How free self-driving car rides could change everything

    This isn’t Toyota’s first move into the space. In 2015, it said it would invest $1 billion in the Toyota Research Institute artificial intelligence lab. Institute CEO Gill Pratt said in a statement Monday that the Uber partnership would accelerate efforts to deliver autonomous technology.

    Toyota’s financial investment will also prove useful given the high costs of running a self-driving car program. Engineers who specialize in the technology are rare and command salaries of several hundred thousand dollars a year. Maintaining a large fleet of test vehicles brings additional costs.

    In May, SoftBank invested $2.25 billion in Cruise, the self-driving startup of General Motors. That just goes to show that even the biggest companies need partners.

    #Uber #Wirtschaft

  • Bias detectives : the researchers striving to make algorithms fair

    As machine learning infiltrates society, scientists are trying to help ward off injustice. In 2015, a worried father asked Rhema Vaithianathan a question that still weighs on her mind. A small crowd had gathered in a basement room in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to hear her explain how software might tackle child abuse. Each day, the area’s hotline receives dozens of calls from people who suspect that a child is in danger ; some of these are then flagged by call-centre staff for investigation. (...)

    #algorithme #manipulation #[fr]Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données_(RGPD)[en]General_Data_Protection_Regulation_(GDPR)[nl]General_Data_Protection_Regulation_(GDPR) #famille #surveillance (...)

    ##[fr]Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données__RGPD_[en]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_[nl]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_ ##discrimination

  • Report identifies more than 1,000 victims of priest abuse

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — More than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — were molested by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, while senior church officials took steps to cover it up, according to a landmark grand jury report released Tuesday.

    The grand jury said it believes the “real number” of abused children might be “in the thousands” since some records were lost and victims were afraid to come forward. The report said more than 300 clergy committed the abuse over a period decades, beginning in the mid-1950s.

  • Why ’Dancing In The Street’ Gets The People Going : NPR

    Mark Kurlansky, author of the book Ready For a Brand New Beat: How “Dancing in the Street” Became the Anthem for a Changing America, says that at the time, those campaigning for equal rights were split on strategy — between Dr. King’s nonviolence, and the Black Power movements exemplified by Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Ture), the Black Panthers and Malcolm X’s Black Muslims. It was on the latter side that “Dancing in the Street” began to show a new potential.

    What makes the song an anthem is the ring of authenticity: a cry from the heart of summer in a big city, boiling with energy, turmoil and hope.

    “1964 was the year when Malcolm X famously said, ’We will get our rights by any means necessary. It really was the year that the black liberation movement was under a shift from the civil rights movement to the Black Power movement,” he says. “The people in the Black Power movement used this song for rallies because it got people worked up and got them going.”

    Mark Kurlansky also notes the litany of cities woven into the song: ’They’re dancing in Chicago, down in New Orleans, up in New York City ... Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore and D.C. now," and ending with, "Can’t forget the Motor City.’ “Every city they list where they were dancing,” he says, “was a city with a militant black neighborhood, and a city where, eventually riots, broke out.”

    Martha Reeves wants it to be known, “I had nothing to do with that. I just sang the song and in my heart, I was visualizing people actually dancing in the street. I wasn’t singing, you know, doom and gloom when the sun go down, let’s kill everybody and go steal their property, and break into stores and carry refrigerators home on your back.”

    But she also says the song reminds her of the trials she faced as a black teen in Detroit, before the modern civil rights movement began.

    “We couldn’t stand on street corners and sing,” she recalls, “because there was a police unit called the Big Four. It was usually four big white men, and they had clubs and guns. And if they caught a group of black people standing on the corner singing doo-wop ... they would jump out of the car and attack you, arrest you, or run to your house, because they didn’t want blacks gathering. So ’Dancing in the Street’ is all of that to me.”
    On ’Fanfare For The Common Man,’ An Anthem For The American Century
    American Anthem
    On ’Fanfare For The Common Man,’ An Anthem For The American Century

    Mark Kurlansky believes that “Dancing in the Street” has grown into an American anthem over six decades because its irresistible beat and engaging images let people find their own message in the song. He says that co-writer Mickey Stevenson “saw it as a song about integration: about how young black people and young white people could go out on the street and be together.”


  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Message to the Democratic Party | The New Yorker

    After winning the Democratic primary in New York’s Fourteenth Congressional District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now a national political figure. On Wednesday, she made a series of media appearances, including spots on CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Later in the day, Stephen Colbert hailed her win, joking that when he was twenty-eight he got his first can opener. On Thursday, she appeared on Colbert’s show, and an article in the Times described her as “an instant political rock star.”

    Ocasio-Cortez deserves all the attention she’s getting, but it’s important not to focus only on her personal traits: her age, her gender, her ethnicity, and her inspiring life story. As she pointed out in her post-victory interviews, she ran on a platform that transcended these things. “Our campaign was focussed on just a laser-focussed message of economic, social, and racial dignity for working-class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx,” she told Mika Brzezinski, of “Morning Joe.”

    Listen to the speeches of Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio; or of Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia; or of Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Ted Cruz in Texas; or of Conor Lamb, who won a special election in western Pennsylvania earlier this year; or of Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot who recently won the Democratic primary in New Jersey’s Republican-held Eleventh Congressional District. To be sure, these Democrats are attacking Trump and talking about immigration and the Supreme Court. But their main focus is on promoting social and economic empowerment for people living in their districts.

    That is the traditional Democratic Party message, and it is one that never grows old. Every so often, however, it needs to be renewed and adapted to new circumstances. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just demonstrated how to do this.


  • Opinion | The Millennial Socialists Are Coming - The New York Times

    In May, three young progressive women running for the state Legislature in Pennsylvania, each endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, won decisive primary victories over men heavily favored by the political establishment. Two of the women, Summer Lee, 30, and Sara Innamorato, 32, ousted incumbents, the distant cousins Dom Costa and Paul Costa, members of an iconic Pennsylvania political family.

    On Twitter, Trump has fantasized about a red wave that will sweep even more Republicans into power in November and reinforce his rule. But the real red wave may be democratic socialism’s growing political influence, especially among young people. “She really showed that you can run on these issues and win,” Maria Svart, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, said about Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, which includes Medicare for All, abolishing the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and a federal jobs guarantee.

    The D.S.A., to which Ocasio-Cortez belongs, is the largest socialist organization in America. Its growth has exploded since the 2016 election — when, of course, avowed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders ran in the Democratic primary — from 7,000 members to more than 37,000. It’s an activist group rather than a political party, working with Democrats in the electoral realm while also agitating against injustice from the outside.

    Many of the D.S.A.’s goals, reflected in Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, are indistinguishable from those of progressive democrats. But if the D.S.A. is happy to work alongside liberals, its members are generally serious about the “socialist” part of democratic socialist. Its constitution envisions “a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships.”

    Talk of popular control of the means of production is anathema to many older Democrats, even very liberal ones. It plays a lot better with the young; one recent survey shows that 61 percent of Democrats between 18 and 34 view socialism positively. The combination of the Great Recession, the rising cost of education, the unreliability of health insurance and the growing precariousness of the workplace has left young people with gnawing material insecurity. They have no memory of the widespread failure of Communism, but the failures of capitalism are all around them.

    The D.S.A. alone neither claims nor deserves sole credit for the victories of candidates it endorses. Many groups came together behind Ocasio-Cortez, including the populist Brand New Congress and local chapters of the resistance group Indivisible. Nor was the D.S.A. the prime mover behind the Fiedler, Lee and Innamorato wins, though it helped in all of them.

    Indeed, while there’s a lot of talk about an ideological civil war among Democrats, on the ground, boundaries seem more fluid. In Pennsylvania recently, I met with moderate suburban resistance activists who’d volunteered for Innamorato, thrilled to support a young woman who could help revitalize the Democratic Party.

    alking to Cohen and others from the D.S.A.’s Pittsburgh chapter, which has more than 620 members, I was struck by the work they put into building community. On some days that public schools are closed, the D.S.A.’s socialist-feminist committee puts on all-day events with child care and free lunches. Like several other chapters, the Pittsburgh D.S.A. holds clinics where members change people’s burned-out car brake lights for free, helping them avoid unnecessary police run-ins while making inroads into the community. A local mechanic named Metal Mary helped train them.

    Democratic socialist chapters have constant streams of meetings and social events, creating an antidote to the isolation that’s epidemic in American life. “Everything is highly individualized, and it is isolating,” Svart said. “People are very, very lonely. Suicide rates have gone up astronomically. And we do create a community for folks.” This fusion of politics and communal life isn’t so different from what the Christian right has offered its adherents. Such social capital is something no amount of campaign spending can buy.

    #Politique_USA #Democratic_socialists_of_america

  • Greece’s Energean reportedly in talks to develop Gaza’s natural gas fields
    Sources say bringing Gaza Marine into production would benefit Israel, too
    Ora Coren - Jun 25, 2018 10:25 AM -

    Energean, the Green energy company that is developing Israel’s offshore Karish and Tanin oil fields, is negotiating with the Palestinian Authority to develop fields offshore the Gaza Strip, sources in the local energy industry told TheMarker on Sunday.

    The sources said that the discussions have revolved around the commercial aspects of Energean’s taking over development of the fields after Royal Dutch Shell said in March it was giving up its stake in the undeveloped license.

    Energean declined to comment. “Developing Karish and exploring the blocks adjacent to it are our highest priorities. We avoid commenting on rumors concerning our operations and when there is something to announce we will do so officially,” the company said.

    Located about 30 kilometers off the Gaza coast, Gaza Marine has long been seen as a golden opportunity for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority to join the Mediterranean gas bonanza, providing a major source of income to reduce its reliance on foreign aid.

    However, no work advanced on the field amid repeated wars with Israel, the blockade and ongoing rivalry between Hamas and the PA over control of Gaza. Shell had been struggling to find a buyer for its 55% stake in Gaza Marine, which it took over as part of its acquisition of BG Group in 2016.

    With Shell’s exit, the Palestine Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, remains the sole shareholder. The field is estimated to hold over 30 to 35 billion cubic meters of natural gas, the equivalent of Spain’s consumption in 2016.

    Israel’s Energy Ministry has reportedly been kept abreast of the talks, but refused on Sunday to comment on them. Any development of the field would require Israel’s approval, but at least one official said that Israel would benefit economically from it.

    “The matter has been under discussion in the government for a long time. If they develop the Palestinian reservoir and it’s connected to Israel it would create competition for Tamar,” said one source, referring to Israel’s single gas field now in operation, a monopoly that has been the source of chronic controversy.

    “It would also reduce the burden on Israel Electric Corporation, which today is supplying power to Gaza,” said the source, who asked not to be named. “It’s a small field, but the Gaza power plant has minimal needs. So whoever develops [Gaza Marine] will also want to sell Gaza gas to Israel.”

    The source said that converting electricity generation to clean natural gas would also reduce air pollution in Gaza and ensure a more reliable energy supply to the enclave, which now gets only a few hours of power daily.

    The only problem – and the source said it could be a fatal one – is that the PA would be entitled to royalties from the gas.

    Although Gaza Marine is small, the gas doesn’t lie deep beneath the seabed and development could probably be completed within three years.

    With reporting by Reuters.


  • When Bad Things Happen in Slow Motion - Issue 61: Coordinates

    Nothing focuses the mind like a moment of peril. John Hockenberry, the heavily-decorated journalist and commentator, had one of those nearly four decades ago. Yet it has never left him, and it always plays out in his memory, as he puts it, “in super slo-mo.” “About 38 years ago, I was on a road in Pennsylvania. I was sleeping in the back of a car. I woke up. The driver of the car was also asleep,” Hockenberry recounted from his wheelchair in early June at this year’s World Science Festival in New York as he opened up a panel discussion on time perception.“ The car was veering off the road. The passenger next to her reached over very slowly, it seemed, grabbed the wheel, and pulled that wheel as hard as she could … and the car veers to the right. And very slowly we hit the guardrail, the car (...)