publishedmedium:the washington post


  • Les démocrates condamnent les propos jugés antisémites d’une de leurs élues | #États-Unis
    https://www.lapresse.ca/international/etats-unis/201902/11/01-5214325-les-democrates-condamnent-les-propos-juges-antisemites-dune-de-l

    Cette fille de réfugiés somaliens a provoqué un nouveau tollé dimanche soir répondant « l’#AIPAC  ! » à un message sur Twitter lui demandant « qui paie les responsables politiques américains pour être pro-#Israël ». 

    Elle avait auparavant affirmé que la controverse avait grandi « à cause des Benjamin », en référence au visage de Benjamin Franklin qui figure sur les billets de 100 dollars.

    « L’usage par la parlementaire Omar d’une rhétorique antisémite et d’accusations préjudiciables sur les partisans d’Israël sont profondément offensantes », ont affirmé dans un communiqué commun des responsables démocrates à la Chambre des représentants, dont la présidente de la chambre basse Nancy Pelosi.

    #corruption #corrompus #lobbying



  • Pendant que les décideurs français travaillent pour un système de couverture à l’américaine, des citoyens américains luttent pour un système à la française,

    The media is badly botching the #Medicare-for-all debate - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/30/media-is-badly-botching-medicare-all-debate

    Let me explain. There are any number of reasons you might oppose universal coverage. I happen to think they don’t add up to much, but you can make a case. Maybe you just don’t think it’s government’s job to make sure people are covered. What you cannot say, however, is that a universal system is unaffordable.

    That’s because there is one thing you absolutely, positively must do whenever you talk about the cost of a universal system — and that journalists almost never do when they’re asking questions. You have to compare what a universal system would cost to what we’re paying now.

    #couverture_maladie #Etats-unis


  • The Washington Post’s ‘three Pinocchios’ for AOC shows how incoherent mainstream ‘fact-checking’ really is – Alternet.org
    https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/the-washington-posts-three-pinocchios-for-aoc-shows-how-incoherent-mainstr

    But there’s something more complex happening here too, that’s probably best understood in terms of press scholar Daniel Hallin’s three-sphere model of how the media functions, from his 1986 book The Uncensored War. At the center is the sphere of consensus, mom-and-apple-pie country. Surrounding that, like a donut, is the sphere of legitimate debate, where journalists’ attention is usually focused, where there are two sides to every story and a need for objectivity and balance to be maintained.

    Beyond that, though, is the sphere of deviance, the outer darkness in which dwell “political actors and views which journalists and the political mainstream of society reject as unworthy of being heard.” The shoddy fact-checking directed at Ocasio-Cortez reflects a boundary-policing instinct, and an outdated one, considering that the entire political landscape has been irrevocably changed.

    To understand how shoddy it is — and the unspoken agenda involved — we need to take a closer look at the totality of what went down. Kessler was quoting from a snippet of AOC’s response to a question by Ta-Nehisi Coates in an MLK Day interview. The context is important, because context is everything in political discourse: What’s radical in one context is mom-and-apple-pie material in another.

    King, paradoxically, is both. The question asked and the answer given were both in King’s spirit — but not the mom-and-apple-pie version of him the media (and much of America) loves to celebrate. It more reflected the actual, radical Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke out against the “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” and said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

    So, read in context, everything AOC said was true, even if we accept Kessler’s factual counterclaims! The entire fact-checking ritual was a charade. As I suggested earlier, it was really a boundary-policing episode, meant to keep her “radical” ideas outside the sphere of legitimate debate by portraying her as untrustworthy. Further, it was meant to deter others from similar infractions while trying to break through the barriers excluding them from legitimacy. (See AOC’s related Twitter thread on “gravitas” here.)

    But the problem is that Kessler’s implied boundaries are not worth policing, or even recognizing. The whole system is in crisis, and the mainstream media’s assessment of what is deviant, what reflects normative consensus and what represents legitimate debate bears little or no relationship to reality. Take two other examples AOC has been associated with — raising top marginal tax rates to 70 percent and a Green New Deal. The first idea drew immediate majority support — 59 percent in a poll for the Hill, including 56 percent of rural voters and 45 percent of Republicans—and scorn from the 1 percent at Davos.

    Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell laughed at the idea (video here), and said he thought it would be bad for economic growth. “Name a country where that’s worked,” he responded. “Ever.” Sitting there with him was MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson, who supplied the example: the United States, throughout most of its post-World War II expansion. It was a rare, Marshall McLuhan-in-“Annie Hall” moment. Usually, when the super-rich or their sycophants spout off like that, truth does not intrude. Certainly not from the fact-checking media.

    But the media’s failure is even more striking when it comes to climate change and the Green New Deal. It’s still a rarity for the media to treat climate science as firmly within the sphere of consensus, where all reputable researchers say it belongs.

    #Fact_checking #Médias


  • In latest attack on intelligence agencies, Trump ignores where they actually agree - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-claims-great-progress-on-isis-north-korea-after-intelligence-officials-present-less-optimistic-view/2019/01/30/e95b74c6-23b7-11e9-90cd-dedb0c92dc17_story.html

    Triggering the president’s rage was an annual congressional hearing on global security threats, a routine event at which intelligence agency heads testified that #Iran, while still a global menace, is complying with an international agreement designed to prevent the country from acquiring nuclear weapons. Trump ridiculed that assessment and the intelligence leaders themselves.

    “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “. . . They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran.”

    Trump added: “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

    #etats-unis

    • Donald Trump accuse le renseignement américain d’être « naïf » à propos de l’Iran
      https://www.20minutes.fr/monde/2439803-20190130-donald-trump-accuse-renseignement-americain-etre-naif-pro

      « Les membres des services de renseignement semblent être extrêmement passifs et naïfs concernant les dangers que représente l’Iran. Ils ont tort ! », a tweeté Donald Trump au lendemain des témoignages devant le Sénat de Gina Haspel, la directrice de la CIA, et de Dan Coats, le directeur du renseignement, qui dressaient le tableau annuel des grandes menaces mondiales.

      Selon Gina Haspel, l’Iran respecte toujours « techniquement » l’accord conclu en 2015 avec les grandes puissances pour l’empêcher de se doter de la bombe atomique, dont les Etats-Unis se sont retirés l’an dernier comme l’avait promis Donald Trump pendant sa campagne.

      Et si les Iraniens envisagent de « prendre leurs distances » avec ce texte, c’est, a-t-elle noté, en raison de l’absence de retombées économiques, Washington ayant rétabli des #sanctions draconiennes contre Téhéran après son retrait, qui avait suscité la colère des alliés européens des Etats-Unis.


  • They helped expose unsafe lead levels in Flint’s and in D.C.’s water. Then they turned on each other. - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/magazine/wp/2019/01/16/feature/they-helped-expose-unsafe-lead-levels-in-flints-and-in-d-c-s-water-then-they-turned-on-each-other/?noredirect=on

    Marc Edwards helped expose dangerous amounts of lead in the water in Flint and D.C. Now, some of the activists he worked with have turned against him.

    he issue of whether scientists should engage in activism has become more urgent in the Trump era. For decades, scientists have argued their work should be a nonpartisan affair. It’s a norm so deeply rooted that even scientists who participated in the 2017 March for Science on Earth Day espoused that ideal, saying they were there only in response to the administration’s attacks on science.

    Edwards argues scientists may have to assume an activist role when they witness communities facing powerful institutions, such as the state of Michigan. “I would prefer to be able to sit in the office, advise my students and do my research, and that would be enough, but it’s not,” Edwards told me in one of several lengthy phone conversations. Still, as a scientist, he’s not always comfortable having his work cast as activism. He prefers, he says, to call what he does “investigative science,” a blend of “science, investigative reporting and direct collaboration with members of affected communities.”

    A few months after that court appearance, the letter criticizing Edwards appeared. He later filed a defamation lawsuit against three of the activists who signed it: Lambrinidou, Schwartz and Melissa Mays, a mother of three in Flint. In his complaint, Edwards claimed that the trio organized a public smear campaign against him, questioning his scientific integrity and motives for working in Flint in social media posts and media interviews. He sought $3 million in damages, saying he has lost some of his grants, potentially preventing him from uncovering contaminated water in other places. Edwards chalks up the activists’ criticisms to professional jealousy and, in Lambrinidou’s case, romantic feelings that were not reciprocated.

    “The Defendants harbor various financial, professional and social incentives to make negative and damaging statements regarding Edwards and his work,” the lawsuit reads.

    In Flint, Edwards used public records requests to unearth emails showing that officials in Michigan knew the city’s water was contaminated long before they publicly admitted it. Lately, he has used that same strategy to get copies of emails he hopes will explain what caused the activists in Flint and in D.C. to turn on him. And he continues to use his blog to defend his reputation and update readers on his public spats with activists and other scientists.

    I asked Edwards if he thought, looking back, that he had been a bit naive not to have anticipated the reaction to his findings that lead levels in Flint’s water had fallen to safe levels. He says he had expected a backlash but not what he views as a concerted effort to destroy his professional reputation. He stands by his actions, which he perceives as truth telling. “It comes down to duty versus self-preservation,” he says. “In a post-truth world, science has become just another weapon of tribal warfare, and rising above that takes courage.”

    #Flint #Lanceurs_alerte #Crises_internes #Activisme


  • Even as Greeks protest, a pro-Europe deal in the Balkans nears the finish line - The Washington Post

    Décidément les grecs ont du mal avec la Macédoine voisine qui entend garder son nom... et ça fait trente ans que ça dure.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/even-as-greeks-protest-a-pro-europe-deal-in-the-balkans-nears-the-finish-line/2019/01/20/b5011524-1b5a-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html

    For months, a proposed deal to end three decades of rivalry between Greece and Macedonia has teetered on the brink of failure. The leaders spearheading the agreement in both countries have been accused of betrayal. They’ve faced street protests and opposition allegedly fomented by Russia. Days ago, after some defections from the ruling coalition, Greece’s prime minister barely survived a no-confidence vote.

    But the agreement faces only one more hurdle, a vote in Greece’s Parliament that is expected this week. U.S. officials and political analysts are increasingly optimistic that one of Europe’s most enduring political fights is about to officially end, with Macedonia changing its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Greece, in turn, would drop its long-standing opposition and allow its tiny neighbor to join NATO and the European Union.

    #grèce #macédoine #terrioire #manipulation #propagande #nationalisme #toponymie #nom #sémiologie #histoire



  • A Progressive Web App in Vue #tutorial , Part 1 — The Vue App
    https://hackernoon.com/a-progressive-web-app-in-vue-tutorial-part-1-the-vue-app-f9231b032a0b?so

    The BasicsBuild a Progressive Web App In #vuejs, from Zero to Hero!The concept of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) is a framework agnostic approach which seeks to combine discoverability and accessibility of a website with the functionality of a native app.Since couple of years I see an increasing interest technologies which bridge the gap between web- and native-apps.In 2018 PWAs have made a great step towards mainstream adoption. By now, plenty of companies like Pinterest, Uber, Twitter, Trivago, The Washington Post, Starbucks, have already created PWAs to run parallel to their native apps.The reason is obvious, plenty of these companies report very promising numbers, mostly as astonishing as the 97 percent of increase in conversions Trivago has seen.Why should we start developing PWAs now?In (...)

    #web-development #pwa #javascript


  • Is Tech Too Easy to Use ?
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/12/technology/tech-friction-frictionless.html

    Seven years ago, a younger and more carefree Mark Zuckerberg went onstage at Facebook’s annual developer conference and announced a major change to the social network’s design. Until then, apps connected to Facebook would regularly ask users if they wanted to publish their latest activity to their feed on the social network. Those pop-up messages — from apps like Spotify, Netflix and The Washington Post — were annoying, Mr. Zuckerberg said, so the company had created a new category of apps (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #Facebook #Twitter #manipulation #solutionnisme #marketing #Jigsaw


  • Judge Richard Goldstone suffered for turning his back on Gaza – but not as much as the Palestinians he betrayed | The Independent

    by Robert Fisk

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/israel-gaza-war-judge-richard-goldstone-palestinian-conflict-a8709211
    https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2010/02/02/00/310761.bin

    When a hero lets you down, the betrayal lasts forever. I’m not alone, I know, when I say that Richard Goldstone was a hero of mine – a most formidable, brilliant and brave judge who finally spoke truth to power in the Middle East. And then recanted like a frightened political prisoner, with protestations of love for the nation whose war crimes he so courageously exposed.

    Now, after years of virtual silence, the man who confronted Israel and Hamas with their unforgivable violence after the 2008-09 Gaza war has found a defender in a little known but eloquent academic. Judge Goldstone, a Jewish South African, was denounced by Israelis and their supporters as “evil” and a “quisling” after he listed the evidence of Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians of Gaza (around 1,300 dead, most of them civilians), and of Hamas’ numerically fewer crimes (13 Israeli dead, three of them civilians, plus a number of Palestinian “informer” executions).
    Professor Daniel Terris, a Brandeis University scholar admired for his work on law and ethics, calls his new book The Trials of Richard Goldstone. Good title, but no cigar. ​

    Terris is eminently fair. Perhaps he is too fair. He treats far too gently the column that Goldstone wrote for the Washington Post, in which the judge effectively undermined the research and conclusions of his own report that he and three others wrote about the Gaza war. The book recalls how Richard Falk, a Princeton law professor and former UN rapporteur on human rights in Gaza and the West Bank, described Goldstone’s retraction as “a personal tragedy for such a distinguished international civil servant”. I think Falk was right.


  • The U.S. put a Yemeni warlord on a terrorist list. One of its close allies is still arming him. - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-us-put-a-yemeni-warlord-on-a-terrorist-list-one-of-its-close-allies-is-still-arming-him/2018/12/28/f3c4fb5b-f366-4570-b27b-75a3ed0f0f52_story.html

    TAIZ, Yemen — In 2017, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a powerful Yemeni Islamist warlord, accusing him of being a “prominent military instructor” and fundraiser for #al-Qaeda who had also at one point “served with” the Islamic State and financed its forces.

    But Abu al-Abbas is not on the run. He is not even in hiding.

    By his own admission, Abbas continues to receive millions of dollars in weapons and financial support for his fighters from one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, the United Arab Emirates [..]

    #émirats_arabes_unis#modérés#etats-unis


  • Jerry Falwell Jr. can’t imagine Trump ‘doing anything that’s not good for the country’ - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/jerry-falwell-jr-cant-imagine-trump-doing-anything-thats-not-good-for-the-country/2018/12/21/6affc4c4-f19e-11e8-80d0-f7e1948d55f4_story.html

    It’s a distortion of the teaching of Christ to say Jesus taught love and forgiveness and therefore the United States as a nation should be loving and forgiving, and just hand over everything we have to every other part of the world. That’s not what Jesus taught.

    #évangélistes #Etats-unis


  • U.S. alone in its opposition to parts of a U.N. draft resolution addressing violence against girls - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/12/18/latest-un-draft-resolution-america-has-problem-with-one-condemning-v

    In the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, the United States found itself once again isolated on the world stage on two matters that are essential to women’s rights. It was the only country that opposed nonbinding language in a draft resolution designed to tackle violence against girls and women, as well as sexual harassment. It was also almost alone in its opposition to language used in another draft resolution against early and forced marriage — only the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru felt comfortable with being on Washington’s side this time. (Nauru is most commonly associated with an Australian offshore migrant camp, where children and other refugees are being held under inhumane conditions, according to rights groups.)

    In both cases, the United States’ opposition on Monday was triggered by references to “sexual and reproductive health,” which the U.S. delegation implied could “suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our administration,” according to Reuters. U.S. statements also indicated that there were concerns about the resolution conflating “physical violence against women with sexual harassment.”

    http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media2/20306224/item-70-a-a-73-585-draft-resolution-i-pp23-op14-op17-and-op18

    http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media2/20306221/item-29-a-73-582-draft-resolution-iii-op8-d-and-op11.pdf

    #violence #filles #femmes #etats-unis


  • 7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion - The Washington Post

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/7-year-old-migrant-girl-taken-into-border-patrol-custody-dies-of-dehydration-exhaustion/2018/12/13/8909e356-ff03-11e8-862a-b6a6f3ce8199_story.html

    December 13 at 9:55 PM

    A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

    The child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States.

    #états-unis #frintières #enfants #enfance #meurtre


  • CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi - WSJ
    Conclusion that Mohammad ‘probably ordered’ killing relies in part on 11 messages he sent to adviser who oversaw hit squad around time it killed journalist

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/cia-intercepts-underpin-assessment-saudi-crown-prince-targeted-khashoggi-154364

    WASHINGTON—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment.

    The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” according to the assessment, a communication that it states “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi.”

    Mr. Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership who lived in Virginia and wrote columns for the Washington Post, was killed by Saudi operatives on Oct. 2 shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he sought papers needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

    Excerpts of the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment, which cites electronic intercepts and other clandestine information, were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    The CIA last month concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, and President Trump and leaders in Congress were briefed on intelligence gathered by the spy agency. Mr. Trump afterward questioned the CIA’s conclusion about the prince, saying “maybe he did; and maybe he didn’t.”

    The previously unreported excerpts reviewed by the Journal state that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.” It added: “To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”

    The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.

    It is unclear from the excerpts whether the 2017 comments regarding luring Mr. Khashoggi to a third country cited in the assessment are from Prince Mohammed directly, or from someone else describing his remarks.

    Saudi Arabia has acknowledged Mr. Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate. But it has denied Prince Mohammed had any role and blamed the operation on rogue operatives. The Saudi Public Prosecutor’s office last month announced charges against 11 Saudis in connection with Mr. Khashoggi’s death, saying it would seek the death penalty in five cases. The office didn’t release their names.

    The U.S. Treasury Department in mid-November slapped sanctions on 17 Saudis whom it linked to the killing. But Mr. Trump, in a statement days later, said he intended to maintain strong relations with the crown prince because of Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Iran, its investments in the U.S. and its role in the oil market.

    The Trump administration’s posture has angered many in Congress, and the intercepts and intelligence gathered by the CIA may complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain relations with Prince Mohammed, the de facto leader one of the world’s biggest oil producers. The two are among the world’s leaders meeting this weekend in Buenos Aires for a summit of Group of 20 nations.

    Earlier this week, the Senate voted to begin consideration of a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for a Saudi-led military coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen, with senators venting their frustration over Mr. Trump’s reluctance to hold Prince Mohammed responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.


  • MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace bursts out laughing as she tries to read Trump’s incoherent ramblings from his latest interview | Alternet
    https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/msnbcs-nicolle-wallace-bursts-out-laughing-she-tries-read-trumps-incoheren

    En prime une vidéo totalement hilarante (enfin, un rire jaune : c’est le Président des Etats-Unis !).

    « Je crois à mon instinct plus qu’à la science et aux faits ». Terrible message de Donald Trump. Porte ouverte au fascisme : tout devient une questionde foi, de croyance. Rien ne ressort des faits et de la recherche.

    President Donald Trump’s standing as commander-in-chief has devolved into such self-parody that even as his remarks reveal darkly troubling attitudes, some observers can’t help but laugh at their sheer absurdity.

    MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace had that problem Wednesday as she tried to read out portions of Trump’s rambling and deluded mess of an interview with the Washington Post, which was published Tuesday.

    “I’m not happy with the Fed," Trump said in the interview. "They’re making a mistake because I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

    #Post_truth #Fake_news #Croyance #Fascisme


  • Un article qui date de MARS dernier, écrit par un #journaliste du quotidien, donnant la parole à des #néocons, à une époque où Trump voulait encore se retirer de #Syrie,

    In Syria, we ‘took the oil.’ Now Trump wants to give it to Iran. - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2018/03/30/in-syria-we-took-the-oil-now-trump-wants-to-give-it-to-iran

    “We have this 30 percent slice of Syria, which is probably where 90 percent of the pre-war oil production took place,” said David Adesnik, director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “This is leverage.”


  • Cheap Words | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/cheap-words

    Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business.

    Recently, Amazon even started creating its own “content”—publishing books. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.S. history. Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.

    According to Marcus, Amazon executives considered publishing people “antediluvian losers with rotary phones and inventory systems designed in 1968 and warehouses full of crap.” Publishers kept no data on customers, making their bets on books a matter of instinct rather than metrics. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. There was “a general feeling that the New York publishing business was just this cloistered, Gilded Age antique just barely getting by in a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of commerce, but when Amazon waded into this they would show publishing how it was done.”

    During the 1999 holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. “These were not incipient best-sellers,” Marcus writes. “They were creatures from the black lagoon of the remainder table”—Christmas recipes and the like, selected with no apparent thought. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Weathervane fell into an oblivion so complete that there’s no trace of it on the Internet. (Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it.) Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again.

    Around this time, a group called the “personalization team,” or P13N, started to replace editorial suggestions for readers with algorithms that used customers’ history to make recommendations for future purchases. At Amazon, “personalization” meant data analytics and statistical probability. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. Tim Appelo, the entertainment editor at the time, said, “You could be the Platonic ideal of the reviewer, and you would not beat even those rather crude early algorithms.” Amazon’s departments competed with one another almost as fiercely as they did with other companies. According to Brad Stone, a trash-talking sign was hung on a wall in the P13N office: “people forget that john henry died in the end.” Machines defeated human beings.

    In December, 1999, at the height of the dot-com mania, Time named Bezos its Person of the Year. “Amazon isn’t about technology or even commerce,” the breathless cover article announced. “Amazon is, like every other site on the Web, a content play.” Yet this was the moment, Marcus said, when “content” people were “on the way out.” Although the writers and the editors made the site more interesting, and easier to navigate, they didn’t bring more customers.

    The fact that Amazon once devoted significant space on its site to editorial judgments—to thinking and writing—would be an obscure footnote if not for certain turns in the company’s more recent history. According to one insider, around 2008—when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business. Authors started to be considered among the company’s most important customers. By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. These difficulties offended Bezos’s ideal of “seamless” commerce. “The company despises friction in the marketplace,” the Amazon insider said. “It’s easier for us to sell books and make books happen if we do it our way and not deal with others. It’s a tech-industry thing: ‘We think we can do it better.’ ” If you could control the content, you controlled everything.

    Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers. Amazon demanded ever-larger co-op fees and better shipping terms; publishers knew that they would stop being favored by the site’s recommendation algorithms if they didn’t comply. Eventually, they all did. (Few customers realize that the results generated by Amazon’s search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.)

    In late 2007, at a press conference in New York, Bezos unveiled the Kindle, a simple, lightweight device that—in a crucial improvement over previous e-readers—could store as many as two hundred books, downloaded from Amazon’s 3G network. Bezos announced that the price of best-sellers and new titles would be nine-ninety-nine, regardless of length or quality—a figure that Bezos, inspired by Apple’s sale of songs on iTunes for ninety-nine cents, basically pulled out of thin air. Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. “We didn’t want to let that cat out of the bag,” Steele said.

    The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. Bookstores that depended on hardcover sales—from Barnes & Noble and Borders (which liquidated its business in 2011) to Rainy Day Books in Kansas City—glimpsed their possible doom. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, 2008, which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs.

    By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim. Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition.

    Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Apple wanted a deal with each of the Big Six houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) that would allow the publishers to set the retail price of titles on iBooks, with Apple taking a thirty-per-cent commission on each sale. This was known as the “agency model,” and, in some ways, it offered the publishers a worse deal than selling wholesale to Amazon. But it gave publishers control over pricing and a way to challenge Amazon’s grip on the market. Apple’s terms included the provision that it could match the price of any rival, which induced the publishers to impose the agency model on all digital retailers, including Amazon.

    Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. (Random House was the holdout.) Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. In an e-mail to a friend, Sargent wrote, “Am on my way out to Seattle to get my ass kicked by Amazon.”

    Sargent’s gesture didn’t seem to matter much to the Amazon executives, who were used to imposing their own terms. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication. The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. The next day, Amazon removed the buy buttons from Macmillan’s print and digital titles on its site, only to restore them a week later, under heavy criticism. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents.

    Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. Eventually, all the publishers settled with the government. (Macmillan was the last, after Sargent learned that potential damages could far exceed the equity value of the company.) Macmillan was obliged to pay twenty million dollars, and Penguin seventy-five million—enormous sums in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins.

    Apple fought the charges, and the case went to trial last June. Grandinetti, Sargent, and others testified in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. As proof of collusion, the government presented evidence of e-mails, phone calls, and dinners among the Big Six publishers during their negotiations with Apple. Sargent and other executives acknowledged that they wanted higher prices for e-books, but they argued that the evidence showed them only to be competitors in an incestuous business, not conspirators. On July 10th, Judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor.

    Apple, facing up to eight hundred and forty million dollars in damages, has appealed. As Apple and the publishers see it, the ruling ignored the context of the case: when the key events occurred, Amazon effectively had a monopoly in digital books and was selling them so cheaply that it resembled predatory pricing—a barrier to entry for potential competitors. Since then, Amazon’s share of the e-book market has dropped, levelling off at about sixty-five per cent, with the rest going largely to Apple and to Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. In other words, before the feds stepped in, the agency model introduced competition to the market. But the court’s decision reflected a trend in legal thinking among liberals and conservatives alike, going back to the seventies, that looks at antitrust cases from the perspective of consumers, not producers: what matters is lowering prices, even if that goal comes at the expense of competition.

    With Amazon’s patented 1-Click shopping, which already knows your address and credit-card information, there’s just you and the buy button; transactions are as quick and thoughtless as scratching an itch. “It’s sort of a masturbatory culture,” the marketing executive said. If you pay seventy-nine dollars annually to become an Amazon Prime member, a box with the Amazon smile appears at your door two days after you click, with free shipping. Amazon’s next frontier is same-day delivery: first in certain American cities, then throughout the U.S., then the world. In December, the company patented “anticipatory shipping,” which will use your shopping data to put items that you don’t yet know you want to buy, but will soon enough, on a truck or in a warehouse near you.

    Amazon employs or subcontracts tens of thousands of warehouse workers, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers describe the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to eleven miles per shift around a million-square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as thirty-three seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress expert said, “The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.” The company says that its warehouse jobs are “similar to jobs in many other industries.”

    When I spoke with Grandinetti, he expressed sympathy for publishers faced with upheaval. “The move to people reading digitally and buying books digitally is the single biggest change that any of us in the book business will experience in our time,” he said. “Because the change is particularly big in size, and because we happen to be a leader in making it, a lot of that fear gets projected onto us.” Bezos also argues that Amazon’s role is simply to usher in inevitable change. After giving “60 Minutes” a first glimpse of Amazon drone delivery, Bezos told Charlie Rose, “Amazon is not happening to bookselling. The future is happening to bookselling.”

    In Grandinetti’s view, the Kindle “has helped the book business make a more orderly transition to a mixed print and digital world than perhaps any other medium.” Compared with people who work in music, movies, and newspapers, he said, authors are well positioned to thrive. The old print world of scarcity—with a limited number of publishers and editors selecting which manuscripts to publish, and a limited number of bookstores selecting which titles to carry—is yielding to a world of digital abundance. Grandinetti told me that, in these new circumstances, a publisher’s job “is to build a megaphone.”

    After the Kindle came out, the company established Amazon Publishing, which is now a profitable empire of digital works: in addition to Kindle Singles, it has mystery, thriller, romance, and Christian lines; it publishes translations and reprints; it has a self-service fan-fiction platform; and it offers an extremely popular self-publishing platform. Authors become Amazon partners, earning up to seventy per cent in royalties, as opposed to the fifteen per cent that authors typically make on hardcovers. Bezos touts the biggest successes, such as Theresa Ragan, whose self-published thrillers and romances have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. But one survey found that half of all self-published authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.

    Every year, Fine distributes grants of twenty-five thousand dollars, on average, to dozens of hard-up literary organizations. Beneficiaries include the pen American Center, the Loft Literary Center, in Minneapolis, and the magazine Poets & Writers. “For Amazon, it’s the cost of doing business, like criminal penalties for banks,” the arts manager said, suggesting that the money keeps potential critics quiet. Like liberal Democrats taking Wall Street campaign contributions, the nonprofits don’t advertise the grants. When the Best Translated Book Award received money from Amazon, Dennis Johnson, of Melville House, which had received the prize that year, announced that his firm would no longer compete for it. “Every translator in America wrote me saying I was a son of a bitch,” Johnson said. A few nonprofit heads privately told him, “I wanted to speak out, but I might have taken four thousand dollars from them, too.” A year later, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, Fine shook Johnson’s hand, saying, “I just wanted to thank you—that was the best publicity we could have had.” (Fine denies this.)

    By producing its own original work, Amazon can sell more devices and sign up more Prime members—a major source of revenue. While the company was building the Kindle, it started a digital store for streaming music and videos, and, around the same time it launched Amazon Publishing, it created Amazon Studios.

    The division pursued an unusual way of producing television series, using its strength in data collection. Amazon invited writers to submit scripts on its Web site—“an open platform for content creators,” as Bill Carr, the vice-president for digital music and video, put it. Five thousand scripts poured in, and Amazon chose to develop fourteen into pilots. Last spring, Amazon put the pilots on its site, where customers could review them and answer a detailed questionnaire. (“Please rate the following aspects of this show: The humor, the characters . . . ”) More than a million customers watched. Engineers also developed software, called Amazon Storyteller, which scriptwriters can use to create a “storyboard animatic”—a cartoon rendition of a script’s plot—allowing pilots to be visualized without the expense of filming. The difficulty, according to Carr, is to “get the right feedback and the right data, and, of the many, many data points that I can collect from customers, which ones can tell you, ‘This is the one’?”

    Bezos applying his “take no prisoners” pragmatism to the Post: “There are conflicts of interest with Amazon’s many contracts with the government, and he’s got so many policy issues going, like sales tax.” One ex-employee who worked closely with Bezos warned, “At Amazon, drawing a distinction between content people and business people is a foreign concept.”

    Perhaps buying the Post was meant to be a good civic deed. Bezos has a family foundation, but he has hardly involved himself in philanthropy. In 2010, Charlie Rose asked him what he thought of Bill Gates’s challenge to other billionaires to give away most of their wealth. Bezos didn’t answer. Instead, he launched into a monologue on the virtue of markets in solving social problems, and somehow ended up touting the Kindle.

    Bezos bought a newspaper for much the same reason that he has invested money in a project for commercial space travel: the intellectual challenge. With the Post, the challenge is to turn around a money-losing enterprise in a damaged industry, and perhaps to show a way for newspapers to thrive again.

    Lately, digital titles have levelled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to—they are too busy doing other things with their devices—but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich. “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value,” Johnson said. “It’s a widget.”

    There are two ways to think about this. Amazon believes that its approach encourages ever more people to tell their stories to ever more people, and turns writers into entrepreneurs; the price per unit might be cheap, but the higher number of units sold, and the accompanying royalties, will make authors wealthier. Jane Friedman, of Open Road, is unfazed by the prospect that Amazon might destroy the old model of publishing. “They are practicing the American Dream—competition is good!” she told me. Publishers, meanwhile, “have been banks for authors. Advances have been very high.” In Friedman’s view, selling digital books at low prices will democratize reading: “What do you want as an author—to sell books to as few people as possible for as much as possible, or for as little as possible to as many readers as possible?”

    The answer seems self-evident, but there is a more skeptical view. Several editors, agents, and authors told me that the money for serious fiction and nonfiction has eroded dramatically in recent years; advances on mid-list titles—books that are expected to sell modestly but whose quality gives them a strong chance of enduring—have declined by a quarter.

    #Amazon


  • Saudis used Israeli spyware to track Khashoggi: Snowden - World News

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/saudis-used-israeli-spyware-to-track-khashoggi-snowden-138669

    Software made by an Israeli cyber security firm was used to track murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower claimed Nov. 7.

    Addressing a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel via a video call from Russia, Edward Snowden said Pegasus spyware sold to governments by NSO Group Technologies was used to track opponents.

    “The Saudis, of course, knew that Khashoggi was going to go to the consulate, as he got an appointment. But how did they know his intention and plans?”

    Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.


    • Exclusive: Khashoggi sons issue emotional appeal for the return of their father’s body
      By Nic Robertson, CNN
      https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/04/middleeast/salah-khashoggi-abdullah-khashoggi-intl/index.html

      Updated 0004 GMT (0804 HKT) November 5, 2018

      (...) Khashoggi was labeled as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and a dangerous Islamist in phone calls the Saudi crown prince had with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and John Bolton, national security adviser, according to reports in both the Washington Post and New York Times. The Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terror group in many Arab nations, but not the US or Europe, has long been seen as an existential threat by the desert kingdom’s leaders.
      ‘It’s just labels and people not doing their homework properly, and reading his article and going in depth. It’s easier to stick a label on him,’ Abdullah said, when asked about the Muslim Brotherhood claim.
      Asked how Khashoggi should be remembered, Salah replied, ‘as a moderate man who has common values with everyone... a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential.’
      “Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through.”
      Reflecting on their father’s career as a journalist, they say Khashoggi was ‘like a rock and roll star’ when they were out with him in Saudi Arabia.
      ‘He was a public figure that was liked by everyone else,’ Salah said. ‘You don’t see that much in media, in print media.’ (...)

      #Jamal_Khashoggi


  • Khashoggi murder: Saudi prince ’said he was dangerous Islamist’ - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-46067959

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the US he considered murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be a dangerous Islamist, media reports say.

    Prince Mohammed’s reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted he had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    Saudi Arabia has denied the reports in the Washington Post and New York Times.

    A Saudi national and well-known critic of Saudi rulers, Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered on 2 October.

    #arabie_saoudite #de_plus_en_plus_gore


  • Report: Netanyahu asked Trump to stick with Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi murder - Middle East News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/netanyahu-asked-trump-to-stick-with-saudi-crown-prince-after-khashoggi-murd

    WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked senior officials in the Trump White House to continue supporting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    Citing U.S. officials, the report stated that Netanyahu described the Crown Prince as a “strategic ally” in the Middle East.

    The report said that a similar message was conveyed to the White House by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.


  • Startling new research* finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/10/31/startling-new-research-finds-large-buildup-heat-oceans-suggesting-fa

    In the scientific realm, the new findings help resolve long-running doubts about the rate of the warming of the oceans before 2007, when reliable measurements from devices called “Argo floats” were put to use worldwide. Before that, differing types of temperature records — and an overall lack of them — contributed to murkiness about how quickly the oceans were heating up.

    The higher-than-expected amount of heat in the oceans means more heat is being retained within Earth’s climate system each year, rather than escaping into space. In essence, more heat in the oceans signals that global warming is more advanced than scientists thought.

    “We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted,” said Resplandy, who published the work with experts from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and several other institutions in the United States, China, France and Germany. “But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already.”

    *Quantification of #ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O 2 and CO 2 composition | Nature
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0651-8

    #climat