region:latin america

  • Venezuela: Exodus of Doctors Bring Help to Latin America’s Poor - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-02-09/venezuela-exodus-of-doctors-bring-help-to-latin-america-s-poor

    An exodus of more than 22,000 physicians in the past five years is reshaping medicine in the region.
    […]
    If Guaido succeeds and Venezuela’s economy stirs to life, some of the 3 million people who left might return. For now, however, the human deluge offers regional governments an unexpected wellspring of talent.

    The influx offers an opportunity to strengthen public services in a region of deep inequality, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

    This is Latin America’s moment to utilize human capital from Venezuela, providing access outside of the capital cities and, in the meantime, helping the migrants find work,” Selee said. “It’s a win-win, but you have to make sure you provide a way for professionals to obtain credentials and get those professionals to areas where there is need for their services.


  • Your Complete Guide to the N.Y. Times’ Support of U.S.-Backed Coups in Latin America
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/your-complete-guide-to-the-n-y-times-support-of-u-s-backed-coups-in-latin-

    A survey of The New York Times archives shows the Times editorial board has supported 10 out of 12 American-backed coups in Latin America, with two editorials—those involving the 1983 Grenada invasion and the 2009 Honduras coup—ranging from ambiguous to reluctant opposition. The survey can be viewed here.

    Covert involvement of the United States, by the CIA or other intelligence services, isn’t mentioned in any of the Times’ editorials on any of the coups. Absent an open, undeniable U.S. military invasion (as in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada), things seem to happen in Latin American countries entirely on their own, with outside forces rarely, if ever, mentioned in the Times. Obviously, there are limits to what is “provable” in the immediate aftermath of such events (covert intervention is, by definition, covert), but the idea that the U.S. or other imperial actors could have stirred the pot, funded a junta or run weapons in any of the conflicts under the table is never entertained.

    (bourré de citations accablantes...) #venezuela #medias

    • More often than not, what one is left with, reading Times editorials on these coups, are racist, paternalistic “cycle of violence” cliches. Sigh, it’s just the way of things Over There. When reading these quotes, keep in mind the CIA supplied and funded the groups that ultimately killed these leaders:

      – Brazil 1964: “They have, throughout their history, suffered from a lack of first class rulers.”
      – Chile 1973: “No Chilean party or faction can escape some responsibility for the disaster, but a heavy share must be assigned to the unfortunate Dr. Allende himself.”
      – Argentina 1976: “It was typical of the cynicism with which many Argentines view their country’s politics that most people in Buenos Aires seemed more interested in a soccer telecast Tuesday night than in the ouster of President Isabel Martinez de Perlin by the armed forces. The script was familiar for this long‐anticipated coup.”

      See, it didn’t matter! It’s worth pointing out the military junta put in power by the CIA-contrived coup killed 10,000 to 30,000 Argentines from 1976 to 1983.


  • Before #Venezuela, US had long involvement in Latin America
    https://apnews.com/2ded14659982426c9b2552827734be83

    Ever since President James Monroe announced a sort of protectorate over the hemisphere in the early 19th century known as the Monroe Doctrine, the United States has involved itself in the daily affairs of nations across Latin America, often on behalf of North American commercial interests or to support right-leaning forces against leftist leaders.

    #amerique_latine #etats-unis


  • 24 janvier : Dr. Jill Stein
    https://twitter.com/DrJillStein/status/1088253786102091776

    US has backed right-wing coups up and down Latin America for 100+ years. Not one was about democracy. All have been to enrich the global elite. But we’re supposed to believe this time in Venezuela - which has the world’s largest oil reserves - is different?

    Tulsi Gabbard, 24 janvier :
    https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1088531713649713153

    The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders—so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.

    Le Représentant Ro Khanna le 24 janvier :
    https://twitter.com/RoKhanna/status/1088302692001300480

    With respect Senator Durbin, the US should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, polarized conflict. Let us support Uruguay, Mexico, & the Vatican’s efforts for a negotiated settlement & end sanctions that are making the hyperinflation worse.

    Important : Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a retouité le message de Ro Khanna. Ça a été sa première intervention sur le Vénézuela.

    Ocasio-Cortez a ensuite retouité ce message de John Hudson commentant la nomination d’Eliot Abrams :
    https://twitter.com/John_Hudson/status/1088912260398006272

    Mike Pompeo just named Eliot Abrams his new special envoy for Venezuela. Abrams plead guilty to withholding information from Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. Pompeo says Abrams will be in charge of “all things related to our efforts to restore Democracy in Venezuela.”

    Ilhan Omar, le 25 janvier :
    https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1088829238164246528

    We cannot hand pick leaders for other countries on behalf of multinational corporate interests. The legislature cannot seize power from the President, and Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared their actions unconstitutional.
    https://www.democracynow.org/2019/1/24/former_un_expert_the_us_is …

    suivi de :
    https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1088829933508534273

    If we really want to support the Venezuelan people, we can lift the economic sanctions that are inflicting suffering on innocent families, making it harder for them to access food and medicines, and deepening the economic crisis.

    We should support dialogue, not a coup!

    Pour l’anecdote (intéressante), Rania Khalek a commenté l’intervention d’Ilan Omar ainsi :
    https://twitter.com/RaniaKhalek/status/1088837438137688065

    This is the best and most detailed statement I’ve seen so far from a Democrat on Venezuela. @IlhanMN as well as her other colleagues who spoke out should be commended for opposing Trump’s coup attempt, this will surely provoke malicious attacks from the pro-war crowd. Very brave

    Message repris par Omar avec la réponse :
    https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1088838107389194241

    ✊🏽

    Alors tu t’en doutes, depuis c’est le déferlement de bouffées délirantes.


  • AP Exclusive : Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks
    https://apnews.com/d548c6a958ee4a1fb8479b242ddb82fd

    S’il était encore besoin de prouver le soutien US au coup d’Etat de Guaidó...

    The coalition of Latin American governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president came together over weeks of secret diplomacy that included whispered messages to activists under constant surveillance and a high-risk foreign trip by the opposition leader challenging President Nicolas Maduro for power, those involved in the talks said.

    In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.

    • https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/americas/donald-trump-venezuela-military-coup.html?module=inline

      The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.

      Establishing a clandestine channel with coup plotters in Venezuela was a big gamble for Washington, given its long history of covert intervention across Latin America. Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War.


  • Facebook Artist In Residence Program 5 Year Anniversary
    https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/09/173614/facebook-artist-in-residence-program

    Broken mirrors, multicolored string, silk organza, rhinestones, vinyl records, and dollhouse furniture are just some of the less-than-expected materials you’ll find in Facebook offices around the world. They hang from the walls, are suspended from light shafts, and decorate otherwise dark corners in 26 of the company’s offices.
    All of these materials are part of artwork that has been produced by members of Facebook’s Artist in Residence program (AIR), a project that began at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters in 2012 and has since expanded globally. This year, the program saw its largest expansion yet, arriving in offices in Asia and Latin America. Facebook is celebrating that growth and the program’s five-year anniversary with a new book, Open Form, which pulls together 225 of the pieces (the number created as of May 2017) under one binding.
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    While Facebook, like almost every other tech company, struggles with the gender gap, its Artist in Residence program is a bright spot. There is an almost equal ratio of male to female artists, with 114 men and 108 women included thus far. When you consider the fact that many museums are still called out for institutional sexism, this becomes even more impressive. While gender parity in one niche program doesn’t signal the end of the need for progress, it is still heartening to see.
    “Initially, it took work to try to achieve the gender split,” Drew Bennett, the founder and director of Facebook’s AIR program, told Refinery29. “But as my curatorial team and I have gone deeper, we’ve found we’re only naturally finding women we want to work with. It’s funny to get to that point where we’re like ’Oh, shoot, we should probably find a man.’”
    In Open Form, you’ll find work by Swoon, a mixed media artist who rose to fame for her street art; she created an image of a woman breastfeeding for Facebook’s Menlo Park office. Then there’s the colorful creation by Black Salt Collective, a group of four women who address contemporary non-linear identity in their work. Their piece includes various wheatpasted prints, featuring sayings such as “Your Body Your Ship” and “Respect And Protect The Black Woman.”
    Bennett argues that the art in Facebook’s offices is a bit different from what you’ll find in a typical corporate space, since the company puts a premium on finding artists whose work and creative process both reflects and challenges the beliefs of its employees.
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    “More traditionally, art would come in through a third party person and the artist would never visit the place where the art is,” Bennett said.
    This is also shown in how the program is run: When an artist is invited to join AIR, they work in the office, alongside everyone else, from the programmers to the janitors. Bennett refers to it as a “social model,” with the artist and those who will view the art on a daily basis interacting and seeing each other’s problem solving methods. This process is befitting of the social network’s ethos, and artists in the program seem to embrace it, too: Val Britton, a San Francisco-based artist who spent hours suspending 600 individually-cut pieces of paper from string inside a light shaft between floors, said the amount of engagement during the installation was the most enjoyable part of the process.
    Val Britton/Courtesy of Facebook.
    At the beginning of the AIR program, Bennett says he focused on looking for artists who “shared a sense of hacker spirit,” by using materials in innovative and expressive ways that mirrored the company’s value of experimentation. But as the program grew, that emphasis has shifted. Now, Bennett says he looks for those who “come from a culture or background that is not the predominant one” and will express a unique worldview in their art.
    “The greater diversity we can bring aesthetically and in terms of the identities of the artists, the better we can try to promote empathy in our spaces physically and visually,” he explains.
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    This thinking is in line with the shift in Facebook’s mission statement, which Mark Zuckerberg laid out at the beginning of 2017. Instead of simply connecting users with their already existing communities, the company’s redefined goal is to build an inclusive “global community,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post, where users are consistently exposed to new ideas.
    This mission is an aspirational one. Facebook can show diversity on its walls, but the desire to create an inclusive, diverse community still has a long way to go before it is realized online. In the past few weeks the company has reckoned with anti-Semitic ad targeting and the role it played in the 2016 presidential election. As these issues are addressed, the hope is that life will imitate art.

    #Facebook #Art_residence #Marketing #Blurb


  • Without Workers, We Wouldn’t Have Democracy
    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/01/capitalism-democracy-workers-movements-unions

    Autocratic elites do not voluntarily relinquish their political power — they only do so if pushed by those who are excluded from political power. Therefore, we have to understand “power constellations” if we want to understand the chances for the installation and survival of democracy. The power constellations we look at are power relations in civil society, between civil society and the state, and in the international economy and system of states.

    The power balance within civil society depends on the organizational power of subordinate groups (for example, workers). The power in the international system, both the international economy and politics, shapes the class structures and thus class alliances domestically, and it shapes external pressures.

    Take the example of Latin America. Latin America’s position in the international economy as a raw material exporter limited the degree of industrialization and thus the size and strength of the working class.

    In addition, the influence of the United States throughout the twentieth century systematically worked against democracy in Latin America. Any kind of serious socioeconomic reform was branded as “communist,” and opponents of these reformist governments were supported by the United States.


  • Gun Use Surges in Europe, Where Firearms Are Rare. Growing insecurity spurs more people to clear high bars for ownership

    When hundreds of women were sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in several German cities three years ago, Carolin Matthie decided it was time to defend herself. The 26-year-old Berlin student quickly applied for a gun permit, fearing many women would have the same idea and flood the application process.

    “If I don’t do it now, I will have to wait maybe another half year,” she recalls thinking.

    Gun ownership is rising across Europe, a continent that until recently faced far less gun crime and violence than much of the globe. Not long ago it was rare to see armed British police.

    The uptick was spurred in part by insecurity arising from terrorist attacks—many with firearms, and reflects government efforts to get illegal guns registered by offering amnesty to owners.

    Europe is still far from facing the gun prevalence and violence in Latin America or the U.S., which lead the world. World-wide civilian ownership of firearms rose 32% in the decade through 2017, to 857.3 million guns, according to the Small Arms Survey, a research project in Geneva. Europe accounts for less than 10% of the total.

    But Europe’s shift has been rapid, and notable in part because of strict national restrictions. In most European countries, gun permits require thorough background checks, monitored shooting practice and tests on regulations. In Belgium, France and Germany, most registered guns may only be used at shooting ranges. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges are extremely difficult to obtain.

    Strict registration requirements don’t account for—and may exacerbate—a surge in illegal weapons across the continent, experts say.

    Europe’s unregistered weapons outnumbered legal ones in 2017, 44.5 million to 34.2 million, according to the Small Arms Survey. Many illegal weapons come from one-time war zones, such as countries of the former Yugoslavia, and others are purchased online, including from vendors in the U.S.

    “Europe represents the largest market for arms trade on the dark web, generating revenues that are around five times higher than the U.S.,” concluded a recent Rand Corp. report.

    With more weapons comes more gun-related violence. National police statistics in France, Germany and Belgium show an uptick in gun law violations since 2015. Europe doesn’t have current continentwide statistics.

    Armed robbery and similar crimes often entail illicit guns, while legally registered firearms tend to appear in suicide and domestic-violence statistics, said Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute, a Belgian research center.

    “It’s clear that illegal guns are used mostly by criminals,” he said.

    In July 2016, an 18-year-old shooter killed nine people in Munich using a gun authorities concluded he bought illegally off the dark web.

    In Germany, the number of legally registered weapons rose roughly 10%, to 6.1 million, in the five years through 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Germany’s National Weapons Registry. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges more than tripled to 9,285, over the same five years.

    Permits for less lethal air-powered guns that resemble real guns and shoot tear gas or loud blanks to scare away potential attackers roughly doubled in the three years through the end of 2017, to 557,560, according to the registry.

    Ms. Matthie first bought an air gun, which her permit allowed her to carry with her.

    She has since become a sports shooter, using live ammunition at shooting ranges, and is now applying for a firearm permit. She posts a daily video blog where she advocates armed self-defense.

    In Belgium, firearm permits and membership in sport-shooting clubs has risen over the past three years.

    Belgian applications for shooting licenses almost doubled after the terrorist attacks by an Islamic State cell in Paris in Nov. 2015 and four months later in Brussels, offering “a clear indication of why people acquired them,” said Mr. Duquet.

    In Paris, the suicide bombers also used machine guns to mow down restaurant and nightclub patrons—weapons they acquired on the black market and were tracked to a shop in Slovakia.

    Belgium has for years tightened regulations in response to gun violence, such as a 2006 killing spree by an 18-year-old who legally acquired a rifle.

    “Before 2006, you could buy rifles simply by showing your ID,” recalled Sébastien de Thomaz, who owns two shooting ranges in Brussels and previously worked in a gun store.

    “They used to let me shoot with all my stepfather’s guns whenever I joined him at the range,” said Lionel Pennings, a Belgian artist who joins his stepfather at one of Mr. De Thomaz’s shooting ranges on Sundays.

    Mr. Pennings recalled that in the past he could easily fire a few rounds with his stepfather’s gun. “Now it’s much stricter,” he said. “You can only use the guns you have a permit for.”

    A Belgian would-be gun owner must pass almost a year of shooting and theory tests, plus psychological checks, said Mr. De Thomaz.

    The gun-range owner questions the impact of that policy. “With each terror attack, the legislation gets stricter,” he said. “For the black market, everything stays the same.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/gun-use-surges-in-europe-where-firearms-are-rare-11546857000

    #armes #Europe #statistiques #détention_d'armes #chiffres
    ping @albertocampiphoto @reka


  • Accelerated remittances growth to low- and middle-income countries in 2018

    Remittances to low- and middle-income countries grew rapidly and are projected to reach a new record in 2018, says the latest edition of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, released today.

    The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries will increase by 10.8 percent to reach $528 billion in 2018. This new record level follows robust growth of 7.8 percent in 2017. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 10.3 percent to $689 billion.

    Remittance flows rose in all regions, most notably in Europe and Central Asia (20 percent) and South Asia (13.5 percent), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (9.8 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (9.3 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (9.1 percent), and East Asia and the Pacific (6.6 percent). Growth was driven by a stronger economy and employment situation in the United States and a rebound in outward flows from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation.

    Among major remittance recipients, India retains its top spot, with remittances expected to total $80 billion this year, followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each), and Egypt ($26 billion).

    As global growth is projected to moderate, future remittances to low- and middle-income countries are expected to grow moderately by 4 percent to reach $549 billion in 2019. Global remittances are expected to grow 3.7 percent to $715 billion in 2019.

    The Brief notes that the global average cost of sending $200 remains high at 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2018. Reducing remittance costs to 3 percent by 2030 is a global target under #Sustainable_Development_Goals (SDG) 10.7. Increasing the volume of remittances is also a global goal under the proposals for raising financing for the SDGs.

    https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/12/08/accelerated-remittances-growth-to-low-and-middle-income-countries-in-2018

    #remittances #migrations #statistiques #chiffres #2018 #coût #SDGs


  • The Plunder Continues « LRB blog
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/12/05/john-perry/the-plunder-continues

    In her new book, The Long Honduran Night, Dana Frank asks whether #Honduras should now be called a ‘failed state’. She argues that it shouldn’t, as it works perfectly for those who control it: landowners, drug traffickers, oligarchs and transnational corporations, the US-funded military and corrupt public officials. The Trump administration has seen Hernández as an ally in their project of restoring US influence in Latin America, promoting transnational capitalism and widening the reach of the US military.

    #Etats-Unis#élites#corruption



  • Venezuela’s Decline From Oil Powerhouse to Poorhouse
    https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-venezuela-oil

    Oil is at the center of the Venezuelan economy. It accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export revenues and bankrolls the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.

    Even with global prices rising above $80 a barrel last month, the nation’s output is sliding. The U.S. shale producers boosted supply by 23 percent in the past year, while in Venezuela, owner of the world’s largest oil reserves, civil unrest and an economic collapse caused production to fall by 37 percent.

    As Venezuela’s oil production plunges toward 1 million barrels a day, the lowest level in seven decades, the country is running out of cash to pay for food and medicine. Salaries can’t keep up with hyperinflation, last gauged at an absurd 1.37 million percent. Living in a country where the price of food can change within hours prompted more than 1.5 million Venezuelans to flee the country in the past 4 years.
    […]
    The situation got worse in August 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump imposed financial sanctions against Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA in a bid to punish Maduro for the economic mismanagement and endemic corruption.


    […]
    Venezuela’s dwindling production has reduced the country’s influence across Latin America. Where Venezuela once provided subsidized oil to neighbors, now it needs to hoard all it produces in order to be able to pay bondholders, as well as China and Russia, which have loaned almost $69 billion in the past decade in exchange for oil.

    So far, the government’s solution was a selective default that’s estimated at $6.1 billion of international securities. Loans granted by the Chinese Development Bank and Russian oil company Rosneft Oil Co PJSC have been either renegotiated or paid with delays. A bond that PDVSA continues to pay is one secured by its interest in Citgo, its money-earning U.S. refining arm.


    Short of cash, Venezuela pays its debts to China and India with oil. With output falling, Petroleos de Venezuela SA has starved its own refineries. While U.S. refineries are running close to their maximum, the ones in Venezuela are operating at less than a quarter of capacity. The result is fuel shortages, especially in the countryside, adding to the pain of Venezuelans.


  • https://www.auroraabrasive.com/7-inches-stainless-steel-cutting-disc
    The global consumption of abrasives will increase by 5.9 percent per year and will reach 38 billion by 2013. The first regions to achieve growth are Asia, the Middle East/Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The demand for abrasives in the four regions will exceed that of the United States, Japan and Western Europe.
    The consumption of abrasive tools is mainly due to the steady growth of the economy and the steady development of the industry, which leads to the continuous expansion of the production of durable consumer goods and the increase in investment in fixed assets. China, India and Russia account for a large share of the sales of abrasives. In particular, China will replace the United States as the world’s largest abrasives consumer market. It is estimated that by 2013, China’s consumption of abrasive tools will account for two-thirds of the global demand for new products. Sales in Thailand and Indonesia in Southeast Asia will also show good growth.

    The development of the global abrasives market is not optimistic compared with developing countries, its economic growth is weak, and the growth of durable consumer goods production is slow. It is expected that the demand for abrasives in the United States, Italy and France will grow by less than one percent by 2013, and the annual demand for abrasives in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom will decline. Luo Baihui believes that the final result is that the per capita consumption of purchased abrasives will increase as the production costs of various products increase. Sales of abrasives in Canada, South Korea and Spain are expected to grow steadily with the economy and demand will increase. In the industrialized regions, the industrial output of these three countries has been in a leading position.

    The consumer demand for global abrasive tools is mainly non-metallic abrasive products, including: fixed abrasives, coated abrasives and abrasives, polishing powders, etc. It is estimated that by 2013, the sales of non-metallic abrasives will occupy most of the market, which will exceed the sales of metal abrasives, such as shot peening, steel grit, wire brush and grinding wheel. The consumer durables market is undoubtedly the largest sales target for abrasives, accounting for two-thirds of all abrasive products.


  • The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211912418300361


    Fig. 3. Dietary emissions presented in A) food item groups (categories ‘Meat, eggs’ and ‘Dairy’ also include the emissions from feed production), B) production regions.

    Meat and egg consumption represents the largest share of food supply #emissions in all EU countries (Fig. 3A), ranging from 49% to 64% (EU average 56%), followed by the consumption of dairy products that account for 16–36% of the dietary emissions (EU average 27%). Direct consumption of cereals, rice, and maize account for 2–8% of the emissions (EU average 4%). Beverages and stimulants, and the consumption of vegetable oils for food account on average for less than 5% each. Emissions related to feed embedded in animal product consumption account for approximately 37% of the total emissions.

    Most emissions from the production and trade of the EU food supply are caused by the consumption of domestic products or imports from other European countries (EU average 64%) (Fig. 3B). Latin America (EU average 25%) is the second most important import region followed by Asia (EU average 7%) and Africa (EU average 3%). The dominance of domestic production and intra-EU trade is expected, as most of the emissions accounted in our study are related to animal product consumption. Animal products in the EU are generally produced in nearby countries, and food and feed crops are also traded from regions further away.

    #climat #agriculture


    • Fig. 2. Production- and trade-related dietary emissions of the average diets in EU countries.

      Emissions here account for the direct food consumption and the feed used in the production of the animal products that were consumed. Enteric fermentation (14–30%, EU average 22%) and manure management (15–25%, EU average 22%) are major emission sources followed by inorganic (8–26%, EU average 14%) and organic (2–6%, EU average 3%) fertilizer use (Fig. 2). International transportation emissions account only for approximately 6% of the emissions (3–20%). Non-CO2 emissions dominate the picture and account on average for over 60% of the total emissions. Land use change emissions account for on average 30% of the emissions (min 17% Latvia, max 43% the Netherlands).

    • #agriculture_et_climat

      Stocker du carbone dans le sol, un enjeu majeur - Revue Critique d’Ecologie Politique
      http://ecorev.org/spip.php?article920

      Le sol n’est pas seulement un milieu vivant support de la fertilité et de l’agronomie, c’est également un formidable « puits de carbone », c’est à dire qu’il est capable de fixer des quantités considérables de carbone sous forme de matière organique - à condition d’adopter des pratiques agricoles favorables. L’agronome Claude Aubert, co-fondateur des éditions Terre vivante et de la revue Les quatre saisons du jardinage, nous présente les données du problème et les principales solutions.

      Agriculture et climat - Revue Critique d’Ecologie Politique
      http://ecorev.org/spip.php?article959

      Fortement émettrice de gaz à effet de serre, l’agriculture est trop mal appréhendée à cet égard pour constituer un chantier important de lutte contre les dérèglements climatiques. C’est pourtant à cela que nous engage Diane Vandaele, en charge de ces questions au Réseau Action Climat.


  • Netizen Report: How WhatsApp (and $3 million) helped carry Brazil’s Jair #Bolsonaro to victory · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2018/11/01/netizen-report-how-whatsapp-and-3-million-helped-carry-brazils-jair-bo

    The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This report covers the events we tracked in October 2018.

    On October 28, Latin America’s largest democracy elected a president whose campaign was propelled by violence, vicious rumors of fraud and a cascade of online news and information that has proven to be false.

    #brésil #réseaux_sociaux #whatsapp


  • 56,800 migrant dead and missing : ’They are human beings’

    One by one, five to a grave, the coffins are buried in the red earth of this ill-kept corner of a South African cemetery. The scrawl on the cheap wood attests to their anonymity: “Unknown B/Male.”

    These men were migrants from elsewhere in Africa with next to nothing who sought a living in the thriving underground economy of Gauteng province, a name that roughly translates to “land of gold.” Instead of fortune, many found death, their bodies unnamed and unclaimed — more than 4,300 in Gauteng between 2014 and 2017 alone.

    Some of those lives ended here at the Olifantsvlei cemetery, in silence, among tufts of grass growing over tiny placards that read: Pauper Block. There are coffins so tiny that they could belong only to children.

    As migration worldwide soars to record highs, far less visible has been its toll: The tens of thousands of people who die or simply disappear during their journeys, never to be seen again. In most cases, nobody is keeping track: Barely counted in life, these people don’t register in death , as if they never lived at all.

    An Associated Press tally has documented at least 56,800 migrants dead or missing worldwide since 2014 — almost double the number found in the world’s only official attempt to try to count them, by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. The IOM toll as of Oct. 1 was more than 28,500. The AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, requesting forensic records, missing persons reports and death records, and sifting through data from thousands of interviews with migrants.

    The toll is the result of migration that is up 49 percent since the turn of the century, with more than 258 million international migrants in 2017, according to the United Nations. A growing number have drowned, died in deserts or fallen prey to traffickers, leaving their families to wonder what on earth happened to them. At the same time, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries around the world, like the one in Gauteng.

    The AP’s tally is still low. More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea. And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.

    The official U.N. toll focuses mostly on Europe, but even there cases fall through the cracks. The political tide is turning against migrants in Europe just as in the United States, where the government is cracking down heavily on caravans of Central Americans trying to get in . One result is that money is drying up for projects to track migration and its costs.

    For example, when more than 800 people died in an April 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Italy, Europe’s deadliest migrant sea disaster, Italian investigators pledged to identify them and find their families. More than three years later, under a new populist government, funding for this work is being cut off.

    Beyond Europe, information is even more scarce. Little is known about the toll in South America, where the Venezuelan migration is among the world’s biggest today, and in Asia, the top region for numbers of migrants.

    The result is that governments vastly underestimate the toll of migration, a major political and social issue in most of the world today.

    “No matter where you stand on the whole migration management debate....these are still human beings on the move,” said Bram Frouws, the head of the Mixed Migration Centre , based in Geneva, which has done surveys of more than 20,000 migrants in its 4Mi project since 2014. “Whether it’s refugees or people moving for jobs, they are human beings.”

    They leave behind families caught between hope and mourning, like that of Safi al-Bahri. Her son, Majdi Barhoumi, left their hometown of Ras Jebel, Tunisia, on May 7, 2011, headed for Europe in a small boat with a dozen other migrants. The boat sank and Barhoumi hasn’t been heard from since. In a sign of faith that he is still alive, his parents built an animal pen with a brood of hens, a few cows and a dog to stand watch until he returns.

    “I just wait for him. I always imagine him behind me, at home, in the market, everywhere,” said al-Bahari. “When I hear a voice at night, I think he’s come back. When I hear the sound of a motorcycle, I think my son is back.”

    ———————————————————————

    EUROPE: BOATS THAT NEVER ARRIVE

    Of the world’s migration crises, Europe’s has been the most cruelly visible. Images of the lifeless body of a Kurdish toddler on a beach, frozen tent camps in Eastern Europe, and a nearly numbing succession of deadly shipwrecks have been transmitted around the world, adding to the furor over migration.

    In the Mediterranean, scores of tankers, cargo boats, cruise ships and military vessels tower over tiny, crowded rafts powered by an outboard motor for a one-way trip. Even larger boats carrying hundreds of migrants may go down when soft breezes turn into battering winds and thrashing waves further from shore.

    Two shipwrecks and the deaths of at least 368 people off the coast of Italy in October 2013 prompted the IOM’s research into migrant deaths. The organization has focused on deaths in the Mediterranean, although its researchers plead for more data from elsewhere in the world. This year alone, the IOM has found more than 1,700 deaths in the waters that divide Africa and Europe.

    Like the lost Tunisians of Ras Jebel, most of them set off to look for work. Barhoumi, his friends, cousins and other would-be migrants camped in the seaside brush the night before their departure, listening to the crash of the waves that ultimately would sink their raft.

    Khalid Arfaoui had planned to be among them. When the group knocked at his door, it wasn’t fear that held him back, but a lack of cash. Everyone needed to chip in to pay for the boat, gas and supplies, and he was short about $100. So he sat inside and watched as they left for the beachside campsite where even today locals spend the night before embarking to Europe.

    Propelled by a feeble outboard motor and overburdened with its passengers, the rubber raft flipped, possibly after grazing rocks below the surface on an uninhabited island just offshore. Two bodies were retrieved. The lone survivor was found clinging to debris eight hours later.

    The Tunisian government has never tallied its missing, and the group never made it close enough to Europe to catch the attention of authorities there. So these migrants never have been counted among the dead and missing.

    “If I had gone with them, I’d be lost like the others,” Arfaoui said recently, standing on the rocky shoreline with a group of friends, all of whom vaguely planned to leave for Europe. “If I get the chance, I’ll do it. Even if I fear the sea and I know I might die, I’ll do it.”

    With him that day was 30-year-old Mounir Aguida, who had already made the trip once, drifting for 19 hours after the boat engine cut out. In late August this year, he crammed into another raft with seven friends, feeling the waves slam the flimsy bow. At the last minute he and another young man jumped out.

    “It didn’t feel right,” Aguida said.

    There has been no word from the other six — yet another group of Ras Jebel’s youth lost to the sea. With no shipwreck reported, no survivors to rescue and no bodies to identify, the six young men are not counted in any toll.

    In addition to watching its own youth flee, Tunisia and to a lesser degree neighboring Algeria are transit points for other Africans north bound for Europe. Tunisia has its own cemetery for unidentified migrants, as do Greece, Italy and Turkey. The one at Tunisia’s southern coast is tended by an unemployed sailor named Chamseddin Marzouk.

    Of around 400 bodies interred in the coastal graveyard since it opened in 2005, only one has ever been identified. As for the others who lie beneath piles of dirt, Marzouk couldn’t imagine how their families would ever learn their fate.

    “Their families may think that the person is still alive, or that he’ll return one day to visit,” Marzouk said. “They don’t know that those they await are buried here, in Zarzis, Tunisia.”

    ——————

    AFRICA: VANISHING WITHOUT A TRACE

    Despite talk of the ’waves’ of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, as many migrate within Africa — 16 million — as leave for Europe. In all, since 2014, at least 18,400 African migrants have died traveling within Africa, according to the figures compiled from AP and IOM records. That includes more than 4,300 unidentified bodies in a single South African province, and 8,700 whose traveling companions reported their disappearance en route out of the Horn of Africa in interviews with 4Mi.

    When people vanish while migrating in Africa, it is often without a trace. The IOM says the Sahara Desert may well have killed more migrants than the Mediterranean. But no one will ever know for sure in a region where borders are little more than lines drawn on maps and no government is searching an expanse as large as the continental United States. The harsh sun and swirling desert sands quickly decompose and bury bodies of migrants, so that even when they turn up, they are usually impossible to identify .

    With a prosperous economy and stable government, South Africa draws more migrants than any other country in Africa. The government is a meticulous collector of fingerprints — nearly every legal resident and citizen has a file somewhere — so bodies without any records are assumed to have been living and working in the country illegally. The corpses are fingerprinted when possible, but there is no regular DNA collection.

    South Africa also has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and police are more focused on solving domestic cases than identifying migrants.

    “There’s logic to that, as sad as it is....You want to find the killer if you’re a policeman, because the killer could kill more people,” said Jeanine Vellema, the chief specialist of the province’s eight mortuaries. Migrant identification, meanwhile, is largely an issue for foreign families — and poor ones at that.

    Vellema has tried to patch into the police missing persons system, to build a system of electronic mortuary records and to establish a protocol where a DNA sample is taken from every set of remains that arrive at the morgue. She sighs: “Resources.” It’s a word that comes up 10 times in a half-hour conversation.

    So the bodies end up at Olifantsvlei or a cemetery like it, in unnamed graves. On a recent visit by AP, a series of open rectangles awaited the bodies of the unidentified and unclaimed. They did not wait long: a pickup truck drove up, piled with about 10 coffins, five per grave. There were at least 180 grave markers for the anonymous dead, with multiple bodies in each grave.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is working with Vellema, has started a pilot project with one Gauteng morgue to take detailed photos, fingerprints, dental information and DNA samples of unidentified bodies. That information goes to a database where, in theory, the bodies can be traced.

    “Every person has a right to their dignity. And to their identity,” said Stephen Fonseca, the ICRC regional forensic manager.

    ————————————

    THE UNITED STATES: “THAT’S HOW MY BROTHER USED TO SLEEP”

    More than 6,000 miles (9,000 kilometers) away, in the deserts that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, lie the bodies of migrants who perished trying to cross land as unforgiving as the waters of the Mediterranean. Many fled the violence and poverty of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Mexico. Some are found months or years later as mere skeletons. Others make a last, desperate phone call and are never heard from again.

    In 2010 the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and the local morgue in Pima County, Ariz., began to organize efforts to put names to the anonymous bodies found on both sides of the border. The “Border Project” has since identified more than 183 people — a fraction of the total.

    At least 3,861 migrants are dead and missing on the route from Mexico to the United States since 2014, according to the combined AP and IOM total. The tally includes missing person reports from the Colibri Center for Human Rights on the U.S. side as well as the Argentine group’s data from the Mexican side. The painstaking work of identification can take years, hampered by a lack of resources, official records and coordination between countries — and even between states.

    For many families of the missing, it is their only hope, but for the families of Juan Lorenzo Luna and Armando Reyes, that hope is fading.

    Luna, 27, and Reyes, 22, were brothers-in-law who left their small northern Mexico town of Gomez Palacio in August 2016. They had tried to cross to the U.S. four months earlier, but surrendered to border patrol agents in exhaustion and were deported.

    They knew they were risking their lives — Reyes’ father died migrating in 1995, and an uncle went missing in 2004. But Luna, a quiet family man, wanted to make enough money to buy a pickup truck and then return to his wife and two children. Reyes wanted a job where he wouldn’t get his shoes dirty and could give his newborn daughter a better life.

    Of the five who left Gomez Palacio together, two men made it to safety, and one man turned back. The only information he gave was that the brothers-in-law had stopped walking and planned to turn themselves in again. That is the last that is known of them.

    Officials told their families that they had scoured prisons and detention centers, but there was no sign of the missing men. Cesaria Orona even consulted a fortune teller about her missing son, Armando, and was told he had died in the desert.

    One weekend in June 2017, volunteers found eight bodies next to a military area of the Arizona desert and posted the images online in the hopes of finding family. Maria Elena Luna came across a Facebook photo of a decaying body found in an arid landscape dotted with cactus and shrubs, lying face-up with one leg bent outward. There was something horribly familiar about the pose.

    “That’s how my brother used to sleep,” she whispered.

    Along with the bodies, the volunteers found a credential of a boy from Guatemala, a photo and a piece of paper with a number written on it. The photo was of Juan Lorenzo Luna, and the number on the paper was for cousins of the family. But investigators warned that a wallet or credential could have been stolen, as migrants are frequently robbed.

    “We all cried,” Luna recalled. “But I said, we cannot be sure until we have the DNA test. Let’s wait.”

    Luna and Orona gave DNA samples to the Mexican government and the Argentine group. In November 2017, Orona received a letter from the Mexican government saying that there was the possibility of a match for Armando with some bone remains found in Nuevo Leon, a state that borders Texas. But the test was negative.

    The women are still waiting for results from the Argentine pathologists. Until then, their relatives remain among the uncounted.

    Orona holds out hope that the men may be locked up, or held by “bad people.” Every time Luna hears about clandestine graves or unidentified bodies in the news, the anguish is sharp.

    “Suddenly all the memories come back,” she said. “I do not want to think.”

    ————————

    SOUTH AMERICA: “NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT THIS IS A REALITY”

    The toll of the dead and the missing has been all but ignored in one of the largest population movements in the world today — that of nearly 2 million Venezuelans fleeing from their country’s collapse. These migrants have hopped buses across the borders, boarded flimsy boats in the Caribbean, and — when all else failed — walked for days along scorching highways and freezing mountain trails. Vulnerable to violence from drug cartels, hunger and illness that lingers even after reaching their destination, they have disappeared or died by the hundreds.

    “They can’t withstand a trip that hard, because the journey is very long,” said Carlos Valdes, director of neighboring Colombia’s national forensic institute. “And many times, they only eat once a day. They don’t eat. And they die.” Valdes said authorities don’t always recover the bodies of those who die, as some migrants who have entered the country illegally are afraid to seek help.

    Valdes believes hypothermia has killed some as they trek through the mountain tundra region, but he had no idea how many. One migrant told the AP he saw a family burying someone wrapped in a white blanket with red flowers along the frigid journey.

    Marta Duque, 55, has had a front seat to the Venezuela migration crisis from her home in Pamplona, Colombia. She opens her doors nightly to provide shelter for families with young children. Pamplona is one of the last cities migrants reach before venturing up a frigid mountain paramo, one of the most dangerous parts of the trip for migrants traveling by foot. Temperatures dip well below freezing.

    She said inaction from authorities has forced citizens like her to step in.

    “Everyone just seems to pass the ball,” she said. “No one wants to admit this is a reality.”

    Those deaths are uncounted, as are dozens in the sea. Also uncounted are those reported missing in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In all at least 3,410 Venezuelans have been reported missing or dead in a migration within Latin America whose dangers have gone relatively unnoticed; many of the dead perished from illnesses on the rise in Venezuela that easily would have found treatment in better times.

    Among the missing is Randy Javier Gutierrez, who was walking through Colombia with a cousin and his aunt in hopes of reaching Peru to reunite with his mother.

    Gutierrez’s mother, Mariela Gamboa, said that a driver offered a ride to the two women, but refused to take her son. The women agreed to wait for him at the bus station in Cali, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) ahead, but he never arrived. Messages sent to his phone since that day four months ago have gone unread.

    “I’m very worried,” his mother said. “I don’t even know what to do.”

    ———————————

    ASIA: A VAST UNKNOWN

    The region with the largest overall migration, Asia, also has the least information on the fate of those who disappear after leaving their homelands. Governments are unwilling or unable to account for citizens who leave for elsewhere in the region or in the Mideast, two of the most common destinations, although there’s a growing push to do so.

    Asians make up 40 percent of the world’s migrants, and more than half of them never leave the region. The Associated Press was able to document more than 8,200 migrants who disappeared or died after leaving home in Asia and the Mideast, including thousands in the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Thirteen of the top 20 migration pathways from Asia take place within the region. These include Indian workers heading to the United Arab Emirates, Bangladeshis heading to India, Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar, and Afghans crossing the nearest border to escape war. But with large-scale smuggling and trafficking of labor, and violent displacements, the low numbers of dead and missing indicate not safe travel but rather a vast unknown.

    Almass was just 14 when his widowed mother reluctantly sent him and his 11-year-old brother from their home in Khost, Afghanistan, into that unknown. The payment for their trip was supposed to get them away from the Taliban and all the way to Germany via a chain of smugglers. The pair crammed first into a pickup with around 40 people, walked for a few days at the border, crammed into a car, waited a bit in Tehran, and walked a few more days.

    His brother Murtaza was exhausted by the time they reached the Iran-Turkey border. But the smuggler said it wasn’t the time to rest — there were at least two border posts nearby and the risk that children far younger travelling with them would make noise.

    Almass was carrying a baby in his arms and holding his brother’s hand when they heard the shout of Iranian guards. Bullets whistled past as he tumbled head over heels into a ravine and lost consciousness.

    Alone all that day and the next, Almass stumbled upon three other boys in the ravine who had also become separated from the group, then another four. No one had seen his brother. And although the younger boy had his ID, it had been up to Almass to memorize the crucial contact information for the smuggler.

    When Almass eventually called home, from Turkey, he couldn’t bear to tell his mother what had happened. He said Murtaza couldn’t come to the phone but sent his love.

    That was in early 2014. Almass, who is now 18, hasn’t spoken to his family since.

    Almass said he searched for his brother among the 2,773 children reported to the Red Cross as missing en route to Europe. He also looked for himself among the 2,097 adults reported missing by children. They weren’t on the list.

    With one of the world’s longest-running exoduses, Afghans face particular dangers in bordering countries that are neither safe nor welcoming. Over a period of 10 months from June 2017 to April 2018, 4Mi carried out a total of 962 interviews with Afghan migrants and refugees in their native languages around the world, systematically asking a series of questions about the specific dangers they had faced and what they had witnessed.

    A total of 247 migrant deaths were witnessed by the interviewed migrants, who reported seeing people killed in violence from security forces or starving to death. The effort is the first time any organization has successfully captured the perils facing Afghans in transit to destinations in Asia and Europe.

    Almass made it from Asia to Europe and speaks halting French now to the woman who has given him a home in a drafty 400-year-old farmhouse in France’s Limousin region. But his family is lost to him. Their phone number in Afghanistan no longer works, their village is overrun with Taliban, and he has no idea how to find them — or the child whose hand slipped from his grasp four years ago.

    “I don’t know now where they are,” he said, his face anguished, as he sat on a sun-dappled bench. “They also don’t know where I am.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/global-lost-56800-migrants-dead-missing-years-58890913
    #décès #morts #migrations #réfugiés #asile #statistiques #chiffres #monde #Europe #Asie #Amérique_latine #Afrique #USA #Etats-Unis #2014 #2015 #2016 #2017 #2018
    ping @reka @simplicissimus


  • Bolsonaro’s victory and the debacle of Brazil’s Workers Party - World Socialist Web Site

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/10/31/pers-o31.html

    Bolsonaro’s victory and the debacle of Brazil’s Workers Party
    31 October 2018

    The election last Sunday of Jair Bolsonaro, the fascistic and buffoonish former army captain and seven-term federal legislator from Rio de Janeiro, poses a serious threat to the working class in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

    Having won 55 percent of the vote—compared to 44 percent for his opponent, Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores–PT) candidate Fernando Haddad—Bolsonaro has already begun to assemble what will unquestionably be the most right-wing Brazilian government since the end of the two-decade-long military dictatorship that came to power in a US-backed coup in 1964.

    #brésil


  • The Everyday Consumption of “#Whiteness”: The #Gaikokujin-fū (Foreign-Like) Hair Trend in Japan

    In feminist literature, the beauty and the fashion industries have at times been criticized for being one of the means through which women are objectified.1 Likewise, Critical Race Studies have often pinpointed how the existence of a global beauty industry has the effect of propagating Eurocentric beauty ideals.2 Throughout this article I aim to explore the complicated ways in which beauty and racialized categories intersect in Japan through an analysis of the female-targeted hair trend of the gaikokujin-fū (foreigner-like) hair.

    Essentialism is what prompts us to divide the world into two, “us” versus “them,” negating all that is in between the two categories or even changes within the categories themselves. Although this binary thinking has been subject to criticism by various disciplines, such as Critical Race Studies and Postcolonial Studies, it is still among the dominant ways in which human relations are performed in Japanese society. The essentialistic opposing duality between Foreignness and Japaneseness has been constructed in post-war Japan through widespread discourses known by the name nihonjinron (lit. the theories on the Japanese).3 Even though it could be understood as a powerful reply to American racism towards the Japanese, nihonjinron only confirms stereotypes by reversing their value, from negative to positive. Moreover, these theories have had the effect of emphasizing Japanese racial and cultural purity through the alienation and exoticization of the other, most often represented by the white “Westerner”4 (obeijin, seiyōjin, hakujin).

    The ambivalent exoticism that surrounds the foreigner (gaikokujin) has made it possible for racialised categories and consumerism to intersect in the archipelago. The beauty industry is particularly susceptible to the segmentation between “self” and “other,” and the global white hegemony has a certain influence over it. However, as Miller rightly observes, dominant beauty standards in Japan are equally influenced by local values of “Japaneseness.”5 Torigoe goes even farther: in her essay, she positions whiteness as a power relation and through her analysis she demonstrates how white women are constructed as Others in Japanese media representations, thus creating “a racial ladder that places Japanese people on top.”6 The link between whiteness and widespread beauty practices has been criticized also in studies of the neighbouring country of Korea, with scholars arguing that cosmetic surgeries in the country are successful only if they enhance the body’s natural “Koreanness.”7

    My aim in this paper is to tackle the capitalistic commercialization and fetishization of whiteness in contemporary Japan. As it will become clear throughout the analysis, the Japanese beauty industry is creating a particular image of whiteness that is suitable to the consumers’ needs and desires: this toned-down, less threating way of becoming “foreigner-like” is marketed as an accessory that far from overriding one’s natural features, is instrumental in accentuating and valorizing them. Investigating the peculiar position of this beauty trend, which has been affected by the influence of the two contrasting hegemonic discourses of white supremacy and the purity/superiority of the Japanese race, might be helpful in shedding some light on the increasingly complicated ways the concept of race is being constructed in a setting that has been often considered “other” to the Eurocentric gaze.

    Whiteness and the Global Beauty Industry

    Beauty is an important practice in our daily life, and as such it has been at the center of animated discussions about its social function. Seen as one of the practices through which gender is performed, it has been put into scrutiny by feminist literature. The approach used to analyze beauty has been dualistic. On the one hand, the beauty and fashion industries have been criticized for being among the reasons of women’s subordination, depriving them financially8 and imposing on them male normative standards of beauty.9 On the other, it has been cited as one of the ways in which female consumers could express their individuality in an oppressive world.10

    The increasingly globalized beauty and fashion industries have also been subjects of criticism from the viewpoint of Critical Race Studies. It is not uncommon to hear that these industries are guilty of spreading Eurocentric tastes, thus privileging pale-skinned, thin women with light hair.11 The massive sale of skin-whitening creams in Asia and Africa as well as the creation of new beauty standards that privilege thinness over traditionally preferred plump forms are often cited to defend this argument. At the same time, there have been instances in which this denouncing of Eurocentrism itself has been charged guilty of the same evil. Practices such as plastic surgery in South Korea and Japanese preference for white skin have been often criticized as being born out of the desire to be “Western”: these analyses have been contested as simplistic and ignoring the cultural significance of local standards of beauty in shaping beauty ideals.12

    Answers to these diatribes have not been yet found.13 It is nonetheless clear that beauty practices articulate a series of complex understandings about gender and race, often oscillating between particularisms and universalisms. Throughout this article I would like to contribute to this ongoing discussion analyzing how pre-existing notions of race and gender intersect and are re-shaped in a newly emerging trend aptly called gaikokujin-fū (foreigner-like) hair.

    Us/Others in Japan: The Essentialization of the Foreign
    Japan and the tan’itsu minzoku

    It is not uncommon to hear that Japan is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world. In Japanese, the locution tan’itsu minzoku (single/unique ethnic group, people, nation), was often used as a slogan when comparing the archipelago with significantly multi-ethnic countries such as the USA.14 The notion of Japan as a mono-ethnic country is being starkly criticized in recent years:15 minorities such as the zainichi Koreans and Chinese who have been living in the country since the end of the second world war, the conspicuous populations of foreign immigrants from Asia and Latin America, as well as mixed-race people, who were thought of as a social problem until these last ten years,16 have been making their voices heard. In the following paragraphs, I will trace how the idea of a racially homogeneous Japan was constructed.

    The word minzoku (ethnic group, people, nation) first appeared in the Japanese language in the Taishō Period (1912-1926), as an alternative to the term jinshū (race).17 The concept of race did not exist prior to the Meiji period (1868-1912), when it was introduced by scholars as one of the ideas from the “West” that would have helped Japan become a modernized nation.18 It could be argued that while the opening up of Japan after the sakoku period was not the first time that the Japanese government had to interact with people of different racial features,19 it was the first time that the idea of racial hierarchies were introduced to the country. Japanese scholars recognized themselves to be part of the ōshoku jinshū (“yellow race”), hierarchically subordinate to the “white race.”20 With rising nationalism and the beginning of the colonization project during the Taishō period, the need arose for a concept that could further differentiate the Japanese people from the neighboring Asian countries such as the newly annexed Taiwan and Korea:21 the newly created minzoku fit this purpose well. Scholar Kawai Yuko compared the term to the German concept of Volk, which indicates a group whose identity is defined by shared language and culture. These traits are racialized, as they are defined as being “biological,” a natural component of the member of the ethnic group who acquires them at birth.22 It was the attribution of these intrinsic qualities that allowed the members of the naichi (mainland Japan) to be assigned in a superior position to the gaichi (colonies). Interestingly, the nationalistic discourse of the pre-war and of the war period had the double intent of both establishing Japanese supremacy and legitimizing its role as a “guide” for the colonies grounding it in their racial affinities: unlike the conquerors from Europe, the Japanese were of similar breed.

    These hierarchies were ultimately dissociated from the term minzoku after the end of the Second World War, when it was appropriated by Leftist discourse. Opposing it to ta-minzoku (multiethnic nation or people)23

    that at the time implied divisions and inequalities and was perceived as a characteristic of the Japanese Empire, Left-leaning intellectuals advocated a tan’itsu minzoku nation based on equality. The Leftist discourse emphasized the need of the “Japanese minzoku” to stand up to the American occupation, but the term gradually lost its critical nuance when Japan reached economic prosperity and tan’itsu minzoku came to mean racial homogeneity as a unique characteristic of Japanese society, advocated by the Right.24

    Self-Orientalism

    The term minzoku might have “lost his Volk-ish qualities,”25 but homogeneity in Japan is also perceived to be of a cultural nature. Sociologists Mouer and Sugimoto26 lament that many Japanese people believe to be the carriers of an “unique” and essentialized cultural heritage, that renders them completely alien to foreigners. According to the two scholars, the distinctive qualities that have been usually (self-)ascribed to Japanese people are the following: a weak individuality, the tendency to act in groups, and the tendency to privilege harmony in social situations.27 Essentialized “Japaneseness” is a mixture of these psychological traits with the products of Japanese history and culture. The perception that Japaneseness is ever unchanging and a cultural given of each Japanese individual was further increased by the popularity of the nihonjinron discourse editorial genre, which gained mass-media prominence in the archipelago after the 1970s along with Japan’s economic growth.28 Drawing on Said’s notion of Orientalism,29 Miller states that “in the case of Japan, we have to deal […] with the spectacle of a culture vigorously determined to orientalize itself.”30 According to Roy Miller, Japan has effectively constructed Japaneseness through a process of self-othering, which he refers to as self-Orientalism. The nihonjinron publications were very much influenced by cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s highly influential “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” published in 1946. Benedict’s study of the “Japanese people” is based on the assumption that the USA and Japan are polar opposites where the former stands for modernity and individualism whereas the latter is characterized by tradition and groupism.31

    Japanese anthropologists and psychoanalysts, such as Nakane and Doi32 further contributed to the study of Japaneseness, never once challenging the polar opposition between the “Japanese” and the “Westernerners.”

    It would seem contradictory at first for a large number of people in Japan to have this tendency to think and consume their own culture through stereotypes. However, Iwabuchi draws attention to the fact that Japan’s self-Orientalism is not just a passive acceptance of “Western” values but is in fact used to assert the nation’s cultural superiority. It remains nonetheless profoundly complicit with Euro-American Orientalism insofar that it is an essentializing and reifying process: it erases all internal differences and external similarities.33 This essentialization that Japan is capitalizing on proves fundamental for the “West,” as it is the tool through which it maintains its cultural hegemony.

    Images of the Foreigner

    Images of the foreigner are not equal, and they form an important node in the (self-)Orientalistic relations that Japan entertains with the rest of the world. An essentialized view of both the Euro-American and Asian foreigner functions in different ways as a counterweight to the “we-Japanese” (ware ware Nihonjin) rhethoric.

    In the Japanese language, gaikokujin (foreigner) refers to every person who doesn’t have the same nationality as the country she/he lives in.34 The term gaikokujin does not have racial connotations and can be used to effectively describe anyone that is not a Japanese citizen. However, the racially-charged related term gaijin35 refers especially to the “white” foreigner.36 Written very similarly to gaikokujin, the word gaijin actually has a different origin and the double meaning of “foreigner” and “outsider.” The word carries strong implications of “othering,” and refers to the construction of the Europe and America as other to the young nation-state in the Meiji period, during which knowledge was routinely imported from the “West.”37 Thus, gaijin and the representation of foreigners-as-other came to reflect the dominant hierarchies of nineteenth-century “Western” knowledge.38

    Putting every white-skinned individual in the same category functions as a strategy to create the antithetical “West” that is so important as a marker of difference in self-Orientalism: it serves to create an “Other” that makes it possible to recognize the “Self.”39 At the same time, it perpetuates the perception of whiteness as the dominant position in America and Europe. In her analysis on the use of foreigner models in Japanese advertisements, Creighton notes that representation of gaijin positions them both as a source of innovation and style and as a potential moral threat.40

    This splitting is not uncommon when dealing with representations of the Other. What generates it is the fetishistic component that is always present in the stereotype.41 Bhabha argues that this characteristic allows the Other to be understood in a contradictory way as a source of both pleasure and anxiety for the Non-Other. Stuart Hall draws on Bhabha’s theories to state that the stereotype makes it so that this binary description can be the only way in which is possible to think of the Other–they generate essentialized identities.42 In the Japanese context, the gaijin, fulfilling his role as a racially visible minority,43 is thus inscribed in the double definition of source of disruption and person to admire (akogare no taishō).

    Whiteness in the Japanese Context

    Akogare (admiration, longing, desire) is a word that young women44 in Japan often use when talking about the “white, Western” foreigner. Kelsky explains that the word indicates the longing for something that is impossible to obtain and she maintains that “it is a rather precise gloss […] of the term “desire” in Lacanian usage. […] Desire arises from lack and finds expression in the fetish. The fetish substitutes the thing that is desired but impossible to obtain.”45 Fulfilment of this unattainable desire can be realized through activities such as participation in English conversation classes and engaging in conversation with “Western” people.46 The consumption of “Western” images and representations as well as everyday practices associated with the Euro-American foreigner could also be considered a fetish that substitutes the unattainable object of desire. In this sense, the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend might be for the producers one such way of catering to young Japanese women’s akogare for the “Western” world.

    Gaikokujin-fū is inextricably connected to gaijin, “white” foreigners. For instance, the Hair Encyclopedia section of the website Hotpepper Beauty reports two entries with the keyword gaikokujin-fū: gaikokujin-fū karā (foreigner-like color) and gaikokujin-fū asshu (foreigner-like ash). The “color” entry states the following:

    Gaikokujin-fū karā means, as the name suggests, a dye that colors the hair in a tint similar to that of foreigners. The word “foreigner” here mostly stands for people with white skin and blond hair that are usually called “American” and “European.”47

    Similarly, the “ash” entry explains the following:

    The coloring that aims for the kind of blond hair with little red pigments that is often found among Americans is called gaikokujin-fū asshu.

    Asshu means “grey” and its characteristic is to give a slightly dull (dark?) impression. It fits well with many hairstyles ranging from short cuts to long hair, and it can be done in a way to make you look like a “western” hāfu (mixed race individual).

    It is clear from these descriptions that the term gaikokujin-fū is racially charged. What hairdresser discourse is trying to reproduce is a kind of hair color associated with America and Europe’s Caucasian population. They are selling “whiteness.”

    Writing from the viewpoint of multicultural England, Dyer writes that the study of the representation of white people is important because “as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm.”49 White discourse is ubiquitous, and it is precisely this unmarked invisibility that makes it a position of dominance. The representation of people belonging to minority groups is inevitably marked or tied to their race or skin color, but Caucasians are often “just people.” At the base of white privilege there is this characteristic of universality that is implied in whiteness.

    The marked positioning of the white foreigner in Japanese society would seem an exception to this rule. Torigoe, while acknowledging that the Japanese media “saturated [her] with images of young white females as the standard of beauty,”50 analyzes in her article how white beauty actually embodies values such as overt sexual attractiveness that would be considered deviant or over the top by standard societal norms.51 Likewise, Russell points to the scrutiny that the bodies of the white female woman receive on Japanese mass media, dominated by a male gaze. White females become subject to the sexual curiosity of the Japanese male, and being accompanied by one of them often makes him look more sophisticated and competitive in a globalized world.52 As the most easily, less controversially portrayed Other through which Japanese self-identity is created, the white individual is often subject to stereotyping and essentialization. Russell notes this happening in both advertisement and the portrayal of white local celebrities, that assume even “whiter” characteristics in order to better market their persona in the Japanese television environment.

    However, it is my opinion that we must be careful to not be exceedingly uncritical of the marginality that Caucasians are subject to in Japanese society. I argue that whiteness is in an ambiguous position in the Japanese context: it would be wrong to say that in the archipelago white people do not benefit from the privileges that have accompanied their racialization up to the present times. The othering processes that whites are subject to is more often than not related to them being brought up and representing a different culture than to their racial difference.54 The word hakujin (lit. white person) is barely used in everyday conversation, whereas it is more common to hear the term kokujin (lit. black person): white people are not reduced to their racial characteristics in the same way as black people might be.55 Whiteness might not be the completely hegemonic in the Japanese context, but the country does not exist in a vacuum, and its standards have been influenced by the globally hegemonic white euro-centric values to some extent.

    To reiterate, white people in the Japanese archipelago experience the contradictory position of being a visible minority subject to reifying “othering” processes while at the same time reaping many of the benefits and privileges that are usually associated with the color of their skin. They are socially and politically located at the margins but are a hegemonic presence in the aesthetic consciousness as an ideal to which aspire to. In the following sections, I will expand on gaikokujin’s ambiguous location by looking at the ways in which whiteness is consumed through the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend.

    Producing Whiteness: Selling gaikokujin-fū Hair
    Creating the “New”

    In order to understand the meanings shaping the catchphrase gaikokujin-fū, I have used a mixture of different approaches. My research began by applying the methods of Visual Analysis56 to the latest online promotional material. I have tried to semiotically analyze the pictures on the websites in relation to the copywriting. In addition, I have complemented it with fieldwork, interviewing a total of seven hairdressers and four girls aged from 20 to 2457 in the period between April and June 2017. It was while doing fieldwork that I realized how important social networking is for the establishment of contemporary trends: this is frequently acknowledged also in the press by textually referencing hashtags.58 Instagram is a very important part of Japanese girls’ everyday life, and is used both as a tool for self-expression/self-promotion as well as a compass to navigate the ever-growing ocean of lifestyle trends. Japanese internet spaces had been previously analyzed as relatively closed spaces created and accessed by predominantly Japanese people, and this had implications on how online discourses about races were carried on.59 However, being a predominantly visual medium, Instagram also functions as a site where information can, to a large extent, overcome language barriers.

    The gaikokujin-fū hashtag counts 499,103 posts on Instagram, whereas 381,615 pictures have been tagged gaikokujin-fū karā.60 Most of them are published by professional whose aim is to publicize their work, and it is not uncommon to find pricing and information for booking in the description.

    Scrolling down the results of the Instagram search, it is easy to notice the high number of back and profile shots; what the hairdressers are trying to show through these pictures is their hairdressing skills. By cutting out the face they are putting the hair itself at the center of the viewer’s attention and eliminating any possibility of identification. The aim here is to sell “whiteness” as an object. The trendsetters are capitalizing on a term (gaikokujin-fū) that has already an appealing meaning outside the field of hair coloring, and that is usually associated with the wider desire or longing (akogare) for “Western” people, culture and lifestyle.

    To the non-initiated, the term gaikokujin-fū might indicate anything that is not “Japanese like” such as curly hair, or blonde hair. However, it became clear when speaking to my hairdresser informants that they only used the term referring to the ash-like coloring. Professionals in the field are reclaiming it to define a new, emerging niche of products that only started appearing a couple of years ago.61 In doing so, Japanese hairdressers are creating a new kind of “whiteness” that goes beyond the “Western” cultural conception of white as blonde and blue-eyed, in order to make it more acceptable to Japanese societal standards. In fact, fair hair is considered extremely unnatural.62 The advantage that ash brown hair has over blonde is the relatively darker shade that allows consumers to stand out without being completely out of place.63

    However, gaikokujin-fū hair comes at a cost. All of my informants told me during the interviews that the colors usually associated with this trend involve dyes have a blue or green base, and are very difficult to recreate on most people of the East Asia whose naturally black hair has a red base. The difficulty they experienced in reproducing the Ash (asshu) and Matt colors on Japanese hair constituted a fundamental charm point for hair technicians, and precisely because of this being able to produce a neat ash coloring might be considered synonymous with keeping on pace with the last technology in hair dying. The Wella “Illumina Color”64 series came out in September 2015, while Throw,65 a Japanese-produced series of hair dyes that eliminate the reddish undertones of Japanese black hair, went on sale very recently in June 2016.66 Another Japanese maker, Milbon, released its “Addichty Color”67 series as recently as February 2017. The globally dominant but locally peripheral whiteness has been “appropriated” and domesticated by Japanese hairdressers as a propeller of the latest trends, as a vital tool in creating the “new.”

    To summarize, the technological developments in hair dyes certainly gave a big push to the popularizing of the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend. Moreover, in a very chicken-and-egg-like fashion, the technological advancing itself was at the same time motivated by the admiration and desire towards Euro-American countries. However, this desire for “Westerness” does not entail adopting whiteness in its essentialized “purest” form,68 as that would have negative implications in the context of Japanese society. Rather, Japanese trendsetters have operated a selection and chosen the variant of whiteness that would be different enough to allow the creation of the “latest” while minimizing its more threatening aspects.
    Branding the “New”

    In the previous section I mentioned the fact that most of pictures posted on the social network Instagram serve to amplify and diffuse existing values for consumption, and constantly refer to a set of meanings that are generated elsewhere reifying them. Throughout this section I will examine the production of these values through the branding of the aforementioned hair dye brands: Wella’s “Illumina Color,” THROW, and Milbon’s “Addichty Color.”

    Wella’s “Illumina Color” offers an interesting case study as it is produced by an American multinational brand. Comparing the Japanese website with the international one, it is clear that we have before our eyes a prime example of “glocalization.”69 While on the international webpage70 the eye-catch is a picture of a white, blue-eyed blonde woman that sports an intricate braided hairstyle with some purplish accents in the braid, the Japanese71 version features a hāfu-like72 young woman with long, flowing straight dark brown hair. The description of the product also contains the suggestive sentence “even the hard and visible hair typical of the Japanese [can become] of a pale, soft color.” The keywords here are the terms hard (katai) and soft (yawaraka). Hardness is defined as being a characteristic typical of the Japanese hair texture (nihonjin tokuyū) and it is opposed to the desired effect, softness. The sentence implies by contrasting the two terms that softness is not a characteristic of Japanese hair, and the assumption could be taken further to understand that it is a quality typical of the “foreign.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the international webpage contains no such reference and instead vaguely praises the hair dye’s ability to provide a light color. The visuals of the latter are consistent with Dyer’s definition of whiteness.

    Unlike Wella, Milbon and beauty experience are Japanese companies, and their products ORDEVE Addichty and THROW are only geared to the Japanese marketplace. Milbon’s ORDEVE Addichty dye series is the most recent of the two. The product’s promotional webpage is almost entirely composed of pictures: the top half features 14 moving pictures, two for each of the seven colours available. The pictures slide in a way that shows the customer all the four sides of the model’s bust up, and each one of the girls is holding a sign with the name of the product. To the center left, we see a GIF image with the name of the brand in the roman and Japanese alphabet, accompanied by the catchphrase hajimete mitsukaru, atarashii watashirashisa (“I found it for the first time, a new way of being myself”), that slides into another text-filled picture that explains the concepts behind the branding.

    Occidental-like (ōbeijin) voluminous hair with a shine (tsuya) never seen before. This incredible feeling of translucence (tōmeikan) that even shows on your Instagram [pictures], will receive a lot of likes from everybody. Let’s find the charm of a freer myself with Addichty color!

    The red-diminishing dyes are here associated with both physical and ideological characteristics identified as “Western,” like the “feeling of translucence” (tōmeikan)73 and “freedom” (jiyū). The word tōmeikan is a constant of technical descriptions of gaikokujin-fū and it is generally very difficult for the hairdressers to explain what does it mean. My hairdresser informant N. quickly explained to me that having translucent hair means to have a hair color that has a low red component. Informants H. and S., also hair professionals, further explained that translucency is a characteristic typical of hair that seems to be semi-transparent when hit by light. While in the English-speaking world it would certainly be unusual to positively describe somebody’s hair as translucent, tōmeikan is a positive adjective often used as a compliment in other different contexts and it indicates clarity and brightness. In fact, the Japanese Daijisen dictionary lists two definitions for translucent, the second of which reads “clear, without impurities.”74 It is perhaps in relation to this meaning that the melanin-filled black core of the Japanese hair is considered “heavy” (omoi) and strong. Reddish and lighter brown colors are also defined in the same way. What is more, even hair colors at the other end of the spectrum can be “muddy”(nigori no aru): blonde hair is also described as such.75 It is clear that while tōmeikan is a quality of “occidental hair,” it is not a characteristic of all the shades that are usually associated with whiteness.

    In the last sentence, “freedom” is linked to charm (miryoku) and the individual. These three concepts are also very often associated with the foreigner. The freedom of the gaijin is a freedom from social constraints and from the sameness that pervades dominant representations of Japaneseness.76 Individualism is further emphasized by the pronoun “myself,” which in the original Japanese is a possessive pronoun to the word “charm” (miryoku). As a word, miryoku has an openly sexual connotation, and because of this it might be linked to the concept of “foreignness.” As Torigoe found out in her analysis of Japanese advertisements, white women are often represented as a sexualized counterpart to the more innocent Japanese woman.77 Gaikokujin-fū hair offers customers the possibility to become closer to obtaining this sexiness, that distances the self from the monotone standards of society.

    Of the three, THROW is possibly the most interesting to analyze, mostly because of the huge quantity of content they released in order to strengthen the brand image. In addition to the incredibly detailed homepage, they are constantly releasing new media contents related to gaikokujin-fū coloring on their “THROW Journal.”78

    The “story” page of the website serves as an explanation of the brand identity. It is a vertically designed page heavy on images, possibly designed to be optimally visualized in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The first image that the viewer encounters is that of a girl whose brown hair is flowing in the wind, which results in some strands covering the features of her pale-white face. This makes it hard to understand her nationality and makes it so that all the attention is focused on the light, airy qualities of the hair. As I said before, “lightness” (karusa) is associated to translucency and is one of the characteristics at the center of the marketing of gaikokujin-fū. This picture very clearly renders those sensations in a way that is very pleasant to the eye and indeed invites consumption.

    Under the picture we find a very short narration that complements it. In bigger characters, the words dare de mo nai, watashi ni naru, that roughly translates as “I’ll become a myself, that is nobody else.” Here again we find an emphasis on individuality and difference. Scrolling down, we find the following paragraph written in a smaller font:

    I leave my body to the blowing wind.

    My hair is enveloped in light, and is filled by the pleasant air.

    What I needed was this [facial] expression.

    I got rid of what I did not need, and refreshingly freed my mind.

    Gracefully, freely.

    I should just enjoy myself more.79

    Unlike the tagline in the Addichty webpage, THROW’s brand identity is here described in ideological terms only. Once again, “freedom” is the central theme, and is associated with a sensation of freshness (kaze, “the wind”; also, the onomatopoeia sutto, here rendered as “refreshingly”). The image of release is further emphasized by the fact that “I” of this text is in close contact with nature: her skin feels the wind, she is shrouded in light and breathes pure air. But what is the subject being released from? The fourth and the last line would suggest that she is being trapped by social constraints, something akin to the Freudian super-ego, that somehow renders her unable to enjoy herself for what she really is. My literal translation of the sixth line makes it hard to understand the hedonistic implications of its meaning: what the original Japanese implies is not simply that she should “have fun,” but she should be finding pleasure in what she is and not what she is expected to be. It is perhaps strange to the eyes of the Euro-American observer accustomed to the discourse of white supremacy that the consumption of whiteness comes with an invitation to spontaneity. The whiteness being sold here is certainly perceived in a radically different way from the Eurocentric “West,” where it is associated with self-constraint.80 It is being marketed to the Japanese public in a way that reminds the portrayal of minorities in the white-dominated world,81 and that makes it particularly appealing to the archipelago’s consumers.

    Listening to the producers’ interviews, it becomes clear for them that the red pigments of the hair, as a symbol of this self-Orientalistically represented “Japaneseness” are represented as a further constraint. Producer Kimura Naoto speaks of a “liberation from redness for the women who hate it”;82 fellow member of the production team Horiuchi brings up the ever-present desire in Japanese women to “become like foreigners,”83 but neither of the two explains the connection between the deletion of red pigments from the hair and the possibility of becoming foreigner-like. It is perhaps this lack of an explicit connection in an explanation from an expert that makes it perceived as an “obvious truth.” In fact, nobody seems to refer to the fact that red undertones are common overseas as well, not to mention the existence of redheads in predominantly Caucasian regions. By hiding these facts, the red pigments are constructed as something that is peculiarly Japanese and juxtaposed to the exclusively foreign blue pigments, further contributing to the essentializing of the gaikokujin that propels self-Orientalism.

    Consuming Whiteness: Gaikokujin-fū and Everyday Life

    To understand the ways that gaikokujin-fū was being interpreted and consumed I conducted fieldwork for two months (April-June 2017) in Tokyo. Engaging in participant observation proved to be relatively easy, since superficial conversation about beauty trends is one of the most common ways that young women around my age use to socialize. Most of my peers were very quick to react every time I lightly introduced the subject. However, due to the perceived “lightness” of the topic, not many people showed to be willing to talk prolongedly about it. This prompted me to supplement the fieldwork with semi-structured interviews I conducted with four people aged 20-22.

    The general reaction to the gaikokujin-fū buzzword was one of recognition–the existence of the trend was acknowledged both by people who were actually familiar with it as well as by others who were not really interested but had seen the phrase and recognized a more general idea behind it. As the reader might expect after having gone through the previous chapter, consumers of gaikokujin-fū hair all brought up the difficulties they had in obtaining the desired results. When I first contacted K., a 23-year-old university student in Tokyo, she told me to wait till the following week for the interview since she had an appointment to dye her hair of an ash-like color. Seven days later, I was surprised to see that her hair had not changed much. Turns out that her virgin hair was a very difficult base to work with: having never bleached it, it proved to be very resistant to blue-green dyes. Dying the hair of an ash-like color would have been impossible as the naturally red pigments of the hair would have completely nullified the effect.

    Whiteness as Empowerment, Whiteness as Difference

    K. was nonetheless very accommodating and answered my questions very enthusiastically. To her, the word gaikokujin had indeed a very positive meaning, and she specifically associated it to difference. My informant used a very harsh word when talking about her fellow Japanese: to her, Japanese style equals mass-production. Her image of Japan was perfectly congruent with those described by Mouer and Sugimoto in their critique of Nihonjinron. “Ordinary” Japanese girls were, in her opinion, the cutesy and quiet girls with straight black hair and bangs covering their foreheads. Why did she feel attracted to gaikokujin-fū in the first place? K. felt that the “traditional” Japanese image was constraining, and she had both very physical and empirical reasons (she does not like face with bangs) as well as a specific ideological background. It is worth nothing here that K. has had since her childhood a very strong akogare towards “Western countries”: she has studied English since she was a small child and is now studying Italian, which led her to spend a year abroad in the University of Venice. Moreover, she attended a very liberal protestant high school in Tokyo, where students were allowed to dye their hair and had no obligation to wear the school uniform. She herself stated that the liberal environment she was brought up in had a huge influence on her view of the world and thus she did not feel the need to “conform.” K. speaks from a privileged position that allowed her to glimpse a “different” world, in which she is promised freedom. In a similar fashion to the representations I analysed in the previous chapter, “Western” foreign becomes a symbol of liberation from the societal constraints of a traditionalistic society.

    The liberating qualities of the akogare towards the essentialized “Western” foreign have been brought up in previous research as a space for young women to astray themselves from the hierarchies of everyday life. The link between freedom and diversity was indeed particularly strong in K., who feels somehow “oppressed” by certain aspects of society. However, this is far from being a universal mode of consumption: in fact, the other three girls never even mentioned anything ideological. To S., a 22-year-old girl I met while studying in Tokyo two years ago, dying her hair of an ash-like hue was an act genuinely finalized to the enhancement of her beauty: she thought the color made her face look brighter. While she too stated during the interview that foreigners are viewed as cool and fashionable, she did not allude to a desire to “become” one nor she mentioned any ideological values associated with them that she emphasized with. In her everyday practice, whiteness is consumed as a tool regardless of its hegemonic signified. Informants A. and H. talked about the trend in a similar way. H. initially dyed her hair because she liked how cute ash hair looked on her favourite model, and had little more to say other than that. Her friend A., who recently graduated from a fashion school, confessed that in her environment standing out was more the rule than a subversive act. Her ash phase was brief and followed by even more explosive hues such as blue and pink. S., A., and H., were very much less conscious of their ways of consumption, but, as French theorist Michel de Certeau argues,84 it is precisely the aimlessness of their wandering that make their practices subvert the hegemony established by the global white supremacy. Having gaikokujin-fū hair is one of the strategies that Japanese women have at their disposition to attain beauty, and while it is trendy, it is far from being superior to different styles. Whiteness becomes an accessory that enhances the natural beauty of the self, and it is not employed to override one’s original racial features but rather to enrich them through the display of individuality. Under this light, it is possible to see the consumption of foreign-like hair as an unconscious tentative of overcoming the racialized barriers that might generate uncanny feelings in the eyes of the “white” spectator.

    Subdued Subversion and the Ambiguities of Consumption

    There are however at least two factors that complicate the consumption of gaikokujin-fū hair, making it a multifaceted and complex process. Firstly, during my interview with K. we discussed the differences between this and other fashion trends that tend to refuse the stereotypical sameness of the constructed Japanese image. K. suggested the existence of an even more individualistic trend–Harajuku–style fashion. The Harajuku district of Tokyo is famous world-wide for hosting a wide range of colourful subcultures,85 which my interviewee described with terms such as dokusouteki (creative) and yancha (mischievous). Harajuku fashion is individuality taken to such a level in which it becomes even more openly contestant of society. S. described these subcultures as referencing the image of “an invented fantasy world, completely out of touch with reality.” The gaikokujin-fū hair colour is indeed a way to break out of the “factory mould,” but it is a relatively tame way of doing it as it is the consumption of a domesticized otherness. As I also pointed out during the analysis of the production processes, the aesthetics of the trend are largely shaped in relation to societal norms and purposely do not excessively break out of them. Especially in its darker tones, foreign-like ash hair is visually closer (albeit chemically harder to obtain) than platinum blonde, and it is precisely in these shades that the hue is being consumed by girls like K. and S.

    Furthermore, one could say that Gaikokujin-fū hues can at times be experimentations instrumental to the formation of one’s identity. H. and S. both explained that they tried out ash dyes as a phase, only then to move on to something that they thought better reflected their own selves. In both cases, that meant going back to their natural black color and to darker tones. H., in particular, after spending her three years of freedom in university experimenting with various hues, finally concluded in her fourth and final year that natural black hair was “what suits Japanese people best.”. After trying out the “Other” and recognizing it as such, her identification acted as what Stuart Hall might have called a suture between her as an acting subject and the discursive practices of “Japaneseness.”86 As “foreignness,” and whiteness as one of its variants, cannot be easily conceived outside the dominant self-Orientalistic discourses, even gaikokujin-fū is inevitably bound to the essentialized “Japaneseness” of the Nihonjinron. This is only worsened by the fact that foreign-like hair colors are a product in the beauty market: they need to be marketed to the consumers, and this necessitates simplification. Essentialization and the reinforcement of self-Orientalism are the high prices that one must pay for the consumption of the other, and constitute a big limitation of its subversive power.

    Conclusion

    I have attempted to analyse the ways in which whiteness is produced and consumed in Japan, a country with significant economic and cultural power that does not have a significant Caucasian population. I have chosen as the topic a feature of the human body that is usually considered peripherical to the construction of racialized categories, and I have attempted to demonstrate how it becomes central in the production of an occidentalistic image of “whiteness” in the Japanese Archipelago.

    What this trend helps us to understand is the complexities and multiplicities of whiteness. By shedding some light on the way that hairdressers in Japan construct and sell the gaikokujin-fū trend we become aware of the fact that an aspect such as hair color that we do not usually pay much attention to in relation to this racialized category can be central when the same is consumed in a different setting. It is significant that what is being marketed here it is a slightly different paradigm from the Eurocentric or conventional idea of “white” people, that sees at its center blonde-haired, fair-skinned people with blue or green eyes: whiteness is mitigated and familiarized in order to make it more desirable to wider audiences. Its localized production and its consumption as a disposable accessory might be taken as challenging to the global dominance of Caucasian aesthetic.

    Acting in the (locally) ambiguous field of racial representations,87 hairdressers in Japan are creating their own whiteness, one that is starkly defined by what is socially acceptable and what is rejected.88 It thus becomes apparent the fact that racialized categories are nothing but discourses, constantly morphing in relation to time and space. The existence of a different whiteness created by and for the use of people who are not considered as belonging to this racialized category creates conflict with the discourse of a global, hegemonic whiteness by demonstrating its artificiality and construction.

    However, the use of the word gaikokujin inevitably generates ambivalent meanings. The trend becomes linked to the discourse of “foreignness” and the desires associated with it. Eventually, it ends up reproducing the essentialist and reifying stereotypes that are creating through the occidentalistic (and self-Orientalistic) practices of nihonjinron. The trend potentially reinforces the “us/them” barriers that are at the basis of essentialistic thought by juxtaposing the desired “foreign hair” as a polar opposite of the more conservative and traditional “Japanese hair.”

    To reiterate, gaikokujin-fū might be subversive on the global scale, but it is nonetheless an expression of the oppressive mainstream on the local level, as it restates notions of difference and exclusivity that form the basis for social exclusion of phenotypically alien foreigners. Unfortunately, the practices of marketing necessitate simplifications, and makes it is hard to achieve what I believe would be the most subversive action: the elimination of these reifying barriers. It is imperative that we start to think about ways to talk about race and culture in a non-essentializing manner while maintaining an anti-white-centric stance.

    Although the problem of essentialization cannot be resolved by looking at representation only, by looking at how the product is effectively consumed in everyday life we might find that these semi-conscious practices already offer some hints on how to overcome the barriers that reification builds around us. It is indeed true that consumers answer to the “call” of the marketers, and that they identify themselves to some extent with the images of racialized whiteness created by the beauty industry. However, what the interviews revealed is that often times the link between image and product is broken in the immediacy of consumption. By using whiteness as an accessory, some of the consumers open up a space in which they contest the seriousness and rigidity of racialized categories–a space that allows hybridity to exist.


    http://zapruderworld.org/journal/archive/volume-4/the-everyday-consumption-of-whiteness-the-gaikokujin-fu-foreign-like-
    #corps #beauté #femmes #géographie_culturelle #japon #cheveux #identité #altérité #orientalisme #blancheur #hakujin #blancs #représentation


  • Words matter. Is it @AP style to call migrants an “army”—above a photo of mothers tending to their infants and toddlers, no less? This is not only incorrect, but it enables a racist narrative sold by this @POTUS and his supporters. Armies invade. These people are running away.


    https://twitter.com/JamilSmith/status/1054163071785037824
    #armée #terminologie #préjugés #invasion #afflux #mots #vocabulaire #migrations #réfugiés #médias #journalisme #presse

    • #Polly_Pallister-Wilkins sur la marche de migrants qui a lieu en Amérique centrale...

      Dear media reporting on the Central American migrant caravan, can you please be attentive to how you talk about it? 1/n
      People are walking, walking not pouring, flowing, or streaming. Walking. They are walking along roads, they will be tired, hungry, their feet will hurt, they will have blisters and sore joints. They are not a natural liquid phenomenon governed by the force of gravity. 2/n
      Their walking is conditioned by the infrastructures they move along like roads, the physical geographies they traverse like hills and rivers and the human controls they encounter like border controls and police checkpoints. 3/n
      All of these things are risky, they make the walk, the journey more difficult and dangerous, esepcially the police checkpoints and the border controls. These risks are the reason they are travelling as a caravan, as a large group attempting to minimise the risks of controls 4/n
      And the risks from gangs and criminals that migrants on their journeys routinely face. Their journey is a deeply embodied one, and one that is deeply conditioned both by the violence they are leaving and the violence of the journey itself. 5/n
      So media please try and reflect this in your storytelling. These people are not a river obeying gravity. They have made an active yet conditioned choice to move. When they encounter a block in their path this can be deadly. It can detain, deport, injure, rape, or kill. 6/n
      And these blockages are not boulders in a riverbed around which the river flows. These blockages, these #checkpoints, border controls or police patrols are human blockages, they are not natural. So please try and reflect the political structures of this journey. Please. End/
      Addendum: there is a long history of caravans as a form political resistance in Central America.

      https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1054267257944227840
      #marche #migrations #Honduras #Amérique_centrale #mots #vocabulaire #terminologie #média #journalisme #presse #caravane #métaphores_liquides #risque #gravité #mouvement #contrôles_frontaliers #blocages #barrières #résistance #Mexique

    • Migrants travel in groups for a simple reason: safety

      A caravan of Central American migrants traveling to through Mexico to the United States to seek asylum is about halfway through its journey.

      The caravan began on Oct. 13 in Honduras with 200 people. As it has moved through Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, its ranks have grown to over 7,000, according to an estimate by the International Organization of Migration.

      The migrants have been joined by representatives from humanitarian organizations like the Mexican Red Cross providing medical assistance and human rights groups that monitor the situation.

      Journalists are there, too, and their reporting has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.

      He has claimed that the caravan’s ranks probably hide Middle Eastern terrorists. Trump later acknowledged there is no evidence of this, but conservative media outlets have nevertheless spread the message.

      It is reasonable for Americans to have security concerns about immigration. But as a scholar of forced migration, I believe it’s also important to consider why migrants travel in groups: their own safety.
      Safety in numbers

      The Central Americans in the caravan, like hundreds of thousands of people who flee the region each year, are escaping extreme violence, lack of economic opportunity and growing environmental problems, including drought and floods, back home.

      Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have some of the world’s highest murder rates. According to Doctors Without Borders, which provides medical care in crisis zones, 68 percent of the migrants and refugees it surveyed in Mexico had experienced violence. Nearly one-third of women were sexually abused.

      Whether crossing Central America, the Sahara desert or the mountains of Afghanistan, migrants are regularly extorted by criminals, militias and corrupt immigration officials who know migrants make easy targets: They carry cash but not weapons.

      Large groups increase migrants’ chance of safe passage, and they provide some sense of community and solidarity on the journey, as migrants themselves report.
      Publicizing the dangers they flee

      Large groups of migrants also attract media coverage. As journalists write about why people are on the move, they shed light on Central America’s many troubles.

      Yet headlines about huge migrant caravans may misrepresent trends at the U.S.-Mexico border, where migration is actually decreasing.

      While the number of Central American families and children seeking asylum in the U.S. has increased in the past two years, Mexican economic migrants are crossing the border at historically low levels.

      And while most migrant caravan members hope to seek asylum in the U.S., recent history shows many will stay in Mexico.

      In response to Trump’s immigration crackdown, Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to welcome Central American refugees — and try to keep them safe.


      https://theconversation.com/migrants-travel-in-groups-for-a-simple-reason-safety-105621

      #sécurité

    • Trump’s Caravan Hysteria Led to This

      The president and his supporters insisted that several thousand Honduran migrants were a looming menace—and the Pittsburgh gunman took that seriously.

      On Tuesday, October 16, President Donald Trump started tweeting.

      “The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”

      “We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!”

      Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted:

      “Spoke to President Hernandez of Honduras about the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. Delivered strong message from @POTUS: no more aid if caravan is not stopped. Told him U.S. will not tolerate this blatant disregard for our border & sovereignty.”

      The apparent impetus for this outrage was a segment on Fox News that morning that detailed a migrant caravan thousands of miles away in Honduras. The caravan, which began sometime in mid-October, is made up of refugees fleeing violence in their home country. Over the next few weeks, Trump did his best to turn the caravan into a national emergency. Trump falsely told his supporters that there were “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan, a claim that had no basis in fact and that was meant to imply that terrorists were hiding in the caravan—one falsehood placed on another. Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered more troops to the border. A Fox News host took it upon herself to ask Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen whether there was “any scenario under which if people force their way across the border they could be shot at,” to which Nielsen responded, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people.”

      Pence told Fox News on Friday, “What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela … So the American people, I think, see through this—they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.”

      The Department of Homeland Security’s Twitter account “confirmed” that within the caravan are people who are “gang members or have significant criminal histories,” without offering evidence of any such ties. Trump sought to blame the opposition party for the caravan’s existence. “Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!” Trump tweeted on October 22. “Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”

      In the right-wing fever swamps, where the president’s every word is worshipped, commenters began amplifying Trump’s exhortations with new details. Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida wondered whether George Soros—the wealthy Jewish philanthropist whom Trump and several members of the U.S. Senate blamed for the protests against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and who was recently targeted with a bomb—was behind the migrant caravan. NRATV, the propaganda organ of the National Rifle Association, linked two Republican obsessions, voter fraud and immigration. Chuck Holton told NRATV’s viewers that Soros was sending the caravan to the United States so the migrants could vote: “It’s telling that a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with a Hungarian-born billionaire and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north in the thousands.” On CNN, the conservative commentator Matt Schlapp pointedly asked the anchor Alisyn Camerota, “Who’s paying for the caravan? Alisyn, who’s paying for the caravan?,” before later answering his own question: “Because of the liberal judges and other people that intercede, including George Soros, we have too much chaos at our southern border.” On Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, one guest said, “These individuals are not immigrants—these are people that are invading our country,” as another guest asserted they were seeking “the destruction of American society and culture.”

      Peter Beinart: Trump shut programs to counter violent extremists

      In the meantime, much of the mainstream press abetted Trump’s effort to make the midterm election a referendum on the caravan. Popular news podcasts devoted entire episodes to the caravan. It remained on the front pages of major media websites. It was an overwhelming topic of conversation on cable news, where Trumpists freely spread disinformation about the threat the migrants posed, while news anchors displayed exasperation over their false claims, only to invite them back on the next day’s newscast to do it all over again.

      In reality, the caravan was thousands of miles and weeks away from the U.S. border, shrinking in size, and unlikely to reach the U.S. before the election. If the migrants reach the U.S., they have the right under U.S. law to apply for asylum at a port of entry. If their claims are not accepted, they will be turned away. There is no national emergency; there is no ominous threat. There is only a group of desperate people looking for a better life, who have a right to request asylum in the United States and have no right to stay if their claims are rejected. Trump is reportedly aware that his claims about the caravan are false. An administration official told the Daily Beast simply, “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 percent accurate … this is the play.” The “play” was to demonize vulnerable people with falsehoods in order to frighten Trump’s base to the polls.

      Nevertheless, some took the claims of the president and his allies seriously. On Saturday morning, Shabbat morning, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people. The massacre capped off a week of terrorism, in which one man mailed bombs to nearly a dozen Trump critics and another killed two black people in a grocery store after failing to force his way into a black church.

      Before committing the Tree of Life massacre, the shooter, who blamed Jews for the caravan of “invaders” and who raged about it on social media, made it clear that he was furious at HIAS, founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish group that helps resettle refugees in the United States. He shared posts on Gab, a social-media site popular with the alt-right, expressing alarm at the sight of “massive human caravans of young men from Honduras and El Salvador invading America thru our unsecured southern border.” And then he wrote, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

      The people killed on Saturday were killed for trying to make the world a better place, as their faith exhorts them to do. The history of the Jewish people is one of displacement, statelessness, and persecution. What groups like HIAS do in helping refugees, they do with the knowledge that comes from a history of being the targets of demagogues who persecute minorities in pursuit of power.

      Ordinarily, a politician cannot be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, politicians don’t praise supporters who have mercilessly beaten a Latino man as “very passionate.” Ordinarily, they don’t offer to pay supporters’ legal bills if they assault protesters on the other side. They don’t praise acts of violence against the media. They don’t defend neo-Nazi rioters as “fine people.” They don’t justify sending bombs to their critics by blaming the media for airing criticism. Ordinarily, there is no historic surge in anti-Semitism, much of it targeted at Jewish critics, coinciding with a politician’s rise. And ordinarily, presidents do not blatantly exploit their authority in an effort to terrify white Americans into voting for their party. For the past few decades, most American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have been careful not to urge their supporters to take matters into their own hands. Trump did everything he could to fan the flames, and nothing to restrain those who might take him at his word.

      Many of Trump’s defenders argue that his rhetoric is mere shtick—that his attacks, however cruel, aren’t taken 100 percent seriously by his supporters. But to make this argument is to concede that following Trump’s statements to their logical conclusion could lead to violence against his targets, and it is only because most do not take it that way that the political violence committed on Trump’s behalf is as limited as it currently is.

      The Tree of Life shooter criticized Trump for not being racist or anti-Semitic enough. But with respect to the caravan, the shooter merely followed the logic of the president and his allies: He was willing to do whatever was necessary to prevent an “invasion” of Latinos planned by perfidious Jews, a treasonous attempt to seek “the destruction of American society and culture.”

      The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. There is no political gesture, no public statement, and no alteration in rhetoric or behavior that will change this fact. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day. But he chose to act on Saturday, and he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the president himself chose to spread and that his followers chose to amplify.

      As for those who aided the president in his propaganda campaign, who enabled him to prey on racist fears to fabricate a national emergency, who said to themselves, “This is the play”? Every single one of them bears some responsibility for what followed. Their condemnations of anti-Semitism are meaningless. Their thoughts and prayers are worthless. Their condolences are irrelevant. They can never undo what they have done, and what they have done will never be forgotten.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/caravan-lie-sparked-massacre-american-jews/574213

    • Latin American asylum seekers hit US policy “wall”

      Trump’s new restrictions mean long waits simply to register claims.

      The movement of thousands of Central American asylum seekers and migrants north from Honduras towards the southern border of the United States has precipitated threats from US President Donald Trump – ahead of next week’s midterm elections – to block the group’s entry by deploying troops to the US-Mexican border.

      Under international law the United States is obligated to allow asylum seekers to enter and file claims. However, immigration officials at the country’s southern border have for months been shifting toward legally dubious practices that restrict people’s ability to file asylum claims.

      “Make no mistake, the administration is building a wall – one made of restrictionist policy rather than brick and mortar,” said Jason Boyd, policy counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

      As a result, hundreds, possibly thousands, of asylum seekers have been left waiting for extended periods of time on the Mexican side of the border in need of shelter and basic services. Firm numbers for those affected are difficult to come by because no one is counting.

      Some of those turned away explore potentially dangerous alternatives. Aid and advocacy groups as well as the Department of Homeland Security say the wait has likely pushed some to attempt to enter the United States illegally, either with smugglers or on their own via perilous desert routes.

      While some of those in the so-called “migrant caravan” are searching for economic opportunity, others are fleeing gang violence, gender-based violence, political repression or unrest – all increasingly common factors in Central America and Mexico that push people to leave their homes.
      Menacing phone calls

      When people from the migrant caravan reach the southern border of the United States, they may find themselves in a similar position to Dolores Alzuri, 47, from Michoacan, a state in central Mexico.

      In late September, she was camped out with her husband, daughter, granddaughter, and aunt on the Mexican side of the DeConcini port of entry separating the twin cities of Nogales – one in the Mexican state of Sonora, the other in the US state of Arizona.

      Alzuri and her family were waiting for their turn to claim asylum in the United States, with only a police report in hand as proof of the threats they faced back home. Camping beside them on the pedestrian walkway just outside the grated metal door leading to the United States, nine other families waited to do the same.

      Over the preceding month Alzuri had received several menacing phone calls from strangers demanding money. In Michoacan, and many other parts of Mexico where criminal gangs have a strong presence, almost anybody can receive calls like these. You don’t know who’s on the other end of the line, Alzuri explained, but you do know the consequences of not following their orders.

      “If you do not give [money] to them, they kidnap you or they kidnap your family,” Alzuri said. “They destroy you. They kill you. That is why it is so scary to be in this country.”

      Other people she knew had received similar calls. She also knew that those who didn’t pay ended up dead – pictures of their bodies posted on Facebook as a macabre warning of what happens to those who resist.

      Fearing a similar fate, Alzuri packed her bags and her family and travelled north to ask for asylum in the United States. A friend had been granted asylum about nine months ago, and she had seen on television that other people were going, too. It seemed like the only way out.

      “I had a problem,” she said, referring to the phone calls. “They asked us for money, and since we did not give them money, they threatened us.”

      Before leaving her home, Alzuri said she filed a police report. But the authorities didn’t care enough to act on it, she said. “They are not going to risk their life for mine.”
      No way out

      Despite the danger at home, Alzuri and others in similar situations face an increasingly difficult time applying for asylum in the United States. At the Nogales crossing, asylum seekers must now wait up to a month simply to be allowed to set foot inside a border office where they can register their claims, aid workers there say.

      Those waiting are stuck in territory on the Mexican side that is controlled by gangs similar to the ones many are fleeing, though local aid groups have scrambled to find space in shelters, especially for women and children, so people will be safer while they wait.

      The situation hasn’t always been like this.

      In the past, asylum seekers were almost always admitted to register their claims the same day they arrived at the border. Since May, however, there has been a marked slowdown in registration.

      US Custom and Border Protection (CBP), the federal law enforcement agency responsible for screening people as they enter the country, says delays are due to a lack of capacity and space. But asylum advocates say similar numbers have arrived in previous years without causing a delay and the real reason for the slowdown is that CBP has shifted resources away from processing asylum seekers – not just in Nogales but across the southern US border – resulting in people being forced to wait for long periods or turned away altogether.

      This is happening despite the insistence of high-ranking Trump administration officials that asylum seekers present themselves at ports of entry or face criminal prosecution for crossing the border irregularly. Such contradictory policies, asylum advocates argue, are part of a broad-based effort by the Trump administration to dramatically reduce the number of people able to seek protection in the United States.

      “Our legal understanding is that they have the legal obligation to process asylum seekers as they arrive,” said Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Nogales-based NGO. “There’s no room in the law for what they are doing right now.”
      A system in crisis

      In the past decade, migration across the southern border of the United States has undergone a dramatic change. Every year since the late 1970s US Border Patrol agents apprehended close to a million or more undocumented migrants entering the country. In 2007, that number began to fall, and last year there were just over 310,000 apprehensions – the lowest number since 1971.

      At the same time, the proportion of people entering the United States from the southern border to claim asylum has increased. Ten years ago, one out of every 100 people crossing the border was seeking humanitarian protection, according to a recent report published by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a non-partisan think tank in Washington DC. Today that number is about one in three.

      According to Boyd of AILA, the increase is being driven by ongoing humanitarian emergencies in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, an area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. These countries have some of the highest homicide rates in the world and are wracked by gang violence, gender-based violence, extortion, and extra-judicial killings. “Many of the individuals and families arriving at the US southern border are literally fleeing for their lives,” said Boyd.

      But the system that is supposed to provide them protection is in crisis. Beginning in 2010 the number of asylum requests lodged in the United States started to balloon, mirroring an upward trend in global displacement. Last year, 79,000 people approached the US border saying they had a credible fear of returning to their home country, compared to 9,000 at the beginning of the decade.

      The increase in credible-fear claims, as well as asylum requests made by people already in the United States, has strained the system to a “crisis point”, according to the MPI report. This has led to a backlog of around 320,000 cases in US immigration courts and people having to wait many months, if not years, to receive a hearing and a decision.
      Crackdown

      Senior officials in the Trump administration, including the president, have consistently lumped asylum seekers and economic migrants together, positing that the United States is being “invaded” by a “massive influx of illegal aliens” across the southern border, and that the asylum system is subject to “systematic abuse” by people looking to gain easy entry to the country.

      People working on the ground with asylum seekers refute this. Eduardo Garcia is a communication coordinator at SOA Watch, an organisation that monitors the humanitarian impact of US policy in Latin America. He has spent time in Nogales speaking with people waiting to claim asylum.

      “The stories of many of the people we have talked to… are stories of people fleeing gang violence, are stories of people fleeing because one of their sons was killed, because one of their sons was threatened, because one of their family members [was] raped,” he said. “They have said they cannot go back to their countries. If they are sent back they are going to be killed.”

      Still, the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration – responsible for the recent child-separation crisis – has also included measures that have restricted access to asylum in the United States.

      In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would begin criminally prosecuting everyone who irregularly crossed the US southern border, including asylum seekers. In June, that policy was followed by a decision that the United States would no longer consider gang and sexual violence – precisely the reasons so many people flee the Northern Triangle – as legitimate grounds for asylum. Around the same time, CBP appears to have deprioritised the processing of asylum seekers at ports of entry in favour of other responsibilities, leading to the long waits and people being turned away, according to humanitarian workers and a recent report by the DHS’s Office of Inspector General.

      And even as these restrictive policies were being put in place, Trump administration officials have been encouraging asylum seekers to try. “If you’re seeking asylum, go to a port of entry,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in an 18 June press conference. “You do not need to break the law of the United States to seek asylum.”

      Nogales, Mexico

      “I came here with the hope that if I asked for asylum I could be in the United States,” said Modesto, a 54-year-old from Chimaltenango, Guatemala. In mid-September he was sitting in a mess hall run a couple hundred meters from the US border run by KBI, which provides humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

      Modesto had already been in Nogales, Sonora for several months. Like Dolores Alzuri, he fled his home because criminal gangs had tried to extort money from him. “I worked a lot and was making a living in my country,” Modesto explained. “The problem in particular with the gangs is that they don’t let you work… If you have money they extort you. If you don’t have money they want to recruit you.” And people who don’t cooperate: “They’re dead,” he added.

      The situation Modesto found when he arrived in Nogales, Sonora was far from what he expected. For starters, there was the long wait at the border. But he also discovered that – as an adult travelling with his 18-year-old son – even once he entered the United States he would likely end up in a detention centre while his case slowly made its way through the overburdened immigration courts – a practice that has also increased under the Trump administration. “I don’t want to cross… and spend a year in prison when my family needs my help,” he said.

      Modesto is in some ways an exception, according to Williams of KBI. Many of the people arriving in Nogales, Sonora are families with children. Once in the United States they will likely be released from immigration detention with ankle monitoring bracelets to track their movements. These people often choose to wait and to claim asylum at the port of entry when there is space.

      After more than 100 people piled up to wait at the border in May, local humanitarian groups set up a system to organise and keep track of whose turn it was to submit an asylum claim to US immigration officials. They also scrambled to find spaces in shelters so people were not sleeping on the walkway over the weeks they needed to wait.

      Now, only people who are likely to enter soon are camped on the walkway. When IRIN visited, about 40 asylum seekers – mostly women and children – sat on one side of the walkway as a steady stream of people heading to the United States filtered by on the other. Some of the asylum seekers were new arrivals waiting to be taken to a shelter, while others had been sleeping there for days on thin mats waiting for their turn. Volunteers handed out clean clothing and served pasta, as a CBP agent opened and closed the metal gate leading to the United States, just a few tantalisingly short feet away.

      The slowdown of processing “leaves people stranded – in really dangerous situations sometimes – on the other side of the border, and completely violates our obligations under both domestic and international law,” said Katharina Obser, a senior policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, an NGO that advocates for women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.

      As a result, some people arrive, find out about the wait, and leave. “We’re fairly certain that those are individuals who then end up crossing the border through other means,” Williams said.

      The DHS Office of the Inspector General came to a similar conclusion, finding that the contradiction between Trump administration rhetoric and policy “may have led asylum seekers at ports of entry to attempt illegal border crossings.”
      Border-wide

      The situation in Nogales, Sonora is far from isolated, according to Boyd of the AILA. “Recent turnbacks of vulnerable asylum seekers have been documented throughout the US southern border,” he said, including at many ports of entry in Texas and California. In those states, asylum seekers have reported being stopped as they approach the border and told they cannot enter because immigration officials don’t have the capacity to process their claims.

      “Turnbacks form part of a comprehensive set of practices and policies advanced under this administration that appears aimed at shutting out asylum seekers from the United States,” Boyd continued.

      Meanwhile, people like Dolores Alzuri – and most likely some of the thousands of Central Americans who are travelling north from Honduras in the hope of claiming asylum – are left with little choice but to wait. Moving somewhere else in Mexico or returning home is not an option, said Alzuri. “The violence is the same in every state,” she said. And crossing the desert, “that’s a big danger.”

      She and her family don’t have a back-up plan. “Let’s hope that I do get [asylum], because I really do need it,” she said. “You don’t live comfortably in your own country anymore. You live in fear that something will happen to you. You can’t walk around on the streets because you feel that you’re being followed.”

      https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/10/29/latin-american-asylum-seekers-hit-us-policy-wall
      #USA #Etats-Unis #fermeture_des_frontières #Mexique

      Commentaire Emmanuel Blanchar via la mailing-list Migreurop:

      Un article intéressant car il rappelle opportunément que la « caravane des migrants » en route vers les Etats-Unis est également composée de nombreuses personnes qui souhaiteraient pouvoir déposer des demandes d’asile. Or, si la frontières Mexique-USA est loin d’être encore mûrées, un mur administratif empêche déjà que les demandes d’asile puisse être déposées et traitées dans le respect des droits des requérant.e.s.

      #mur_administratif #asile

    • No es una caravana, es un dolor que camina

      La caravana de migrantes es sólo la primera manifestación pública y masiva de la crisis humanitaria en la que vive la mayoría de la población; negada por el gobierno, por la oligarquía, embajadas, organizaciones de la sociedad civil y por algunas agencias de cooperación que le hacen comparsa a la dictadura.

      Esta crisis humanitaria es provocada por el modelo económico neoliberal impuesto a sangre y fuego, que sólo pobreza y violencia ha llevado a las comunidades, que ante la ausencia de oportunidades y ante el acoso de los grupos criminales no tienen otra alternativa que la peligrosa e incierta ruta migratoria; prefieren morir en el camino que en sus barrios y colonias.

      El infierno en que se ha convertido Honduras tiene varios responsables. En primer el lugar el imperialismo, que a través de su embajada promueve la inestabilidad política en el país con el apoyo directo al dictador, que para granjearse ese apoyo les ha entregado el país, hasta el grado del despojo y de la ignominia, como puede observarse en los foros internacionales.

      Otro responsable es el dictador, que además de la incertidumbre que genera en lo económico, en lo político y en lo social, ha profundizado y llevado al extremo las políticas neoliberales, despojando de sus recursos a comunidades enteras, para dárselas a las transnacionales, principalmente norteamericanas y canadienses.

      La oligarquía corrupta, mediocre, salvaje, inepta y rapaz también es responsable de esta crisis humanitaria, quien se ha acostumbrado a vivir del presupuesto nacional a tal grado de convertir al Estado en su patrimonio, por medio de un ejército de ocupación, de diputados y presidentes serviles y títeres, que toman las decisiones no para el pueblo, sino que para sus insaciables intereses.

      Hay otro actor importante en esta crisis y es el Ejército Nacional, fiel sirviente de los intereses imperiales y de la oligarquía, que sólo sirve para consumir una gran tajada del presupuesto nacional y más que un ejército defensor y garante de la soberanía nacional es una fuerza de ocupación; listo para asesinar, torturar y matar aquellos que se oponen al dictador, al imperio y la oligarquía.

      Desgraciadamente esta caravana la conforman los miserables, los desheredados de la tierra, los parias: “los que crían querubes para el presidio y serafines para el burdel” como dijo en su poema, Los Parias, el poeta mexicano Salvador Díaz Mirón.

      Estos miserables y desheredados no huyen de la patria, la aman, la adoran y la llevan convertida en un dolor sobre sus hombros, huyen de los verdugos y carniceros que nos gobiernan y de los otros responsables de esta crisis humanitaria. Los que huyen aman a esta tierra más que los que nos quedamos.

      https://criterio.hn/2018/10/29/no-es-una-caravana-es-un-dolor-que-camina
      #douleur


  • Top 5 industries Where Accelerators are Investing in Latin America
    https://hackernoon.com/top-5-industries-where-accelerators-are-investing-in-latin-america-c33a6

    Venture capital investments in Latin America have already surpassed US$600 million for the first half of 2018. This is significant, given that the amount of venture capital investment annually from 2013 to 2017 was around US$500 million, according to the Latin American Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LAVCA).We can deduce that this significant rise of investment is largely from the increase of foreign and corporate investors in Latin America, as well as the strengthening presence of Latin American accelerators.Accelerators are vital programs that help startups in the early stages of their businesses. The programs often have a highly competitive application process, and accept startups in cohort batches one or more times per year. Typically, a seed investment is offered (...)

    #venture-capital #latin-american-startups #latin-america #startup-ideas #startup


  • Angry Bear » The Continuing Dominance of the #Dollar
    https://angrybearblog.com/2018/10/the-continuing-dominance-of-the-dollar.html

    An article by Fernando Eguren Martin, Mayukh Mukhopadhyay and Carlos van Hombeeck of the Bank of England in the BOE’s Quarterly Bulletin documents the different international roles of the dollar. First, it continues to be the main currency in central bank reserves, with a share of about 70% of total holdings. Second, the dollar is used as an invoicing currency for many international transactions, such as commodity sales. Third, firms outside the U.S. obtain funding through dollar-denominated bank loans and debts.

    The use of the dollar for finance has also been examined by Iñaki Aldasoro and Torsten Ehlers of the Bank for International Settlements in an article in the BIS Quarterly Review. They report a rise in the use of international debt securities, driven primarily by dollar denominated debt issued by non-U.S. residents. The increase in such funding is particularly noticeable in emerging markets economies in Asia and Latin America. This debt includes sovereign bonds issued by governments that sought to lock in low interest rates.


  • Bernie Sanders cites Israel’s nation-state law in slamming Trump for inspiring authoritarianism

    ’There’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms,’ said Sanders

    JTA
    Oct 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bernie-sanders-cites-israel-s-nation-state-law-in-slamming-trump-1

    In a major foreign policy speech identifying an emerging authoritarian strain around the world, Bernie Sanders included the passage of Israel’s nation-state law as an example of President Donald Trump’s inspiring anti-democratic moves.
    “It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the right-wing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States,” Sanders said Tuesday in a speech to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to gain and hold on to power.”
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    Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, said Trump by himself was not responsible for the rise of authoritarianism but was spurring it forward.
    “While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms,” said Sanders.
    He cited as examples the rise in popularity of a far right-wing politician in Brazil, increased repression in Saudi Arabia, and policies of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    >> There’s a reason the opposition didn’t attend the nation-state protest | Opinion
    “It’s also hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have taken a number of steps— including passing the recent ‘Nation State law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution, and ignoring the economic catastrophe in Gaza — if Netanyahu wasn’t confident that Trump would support him,” Sanders said.


  • Latin American and Caribbean countries sign historic treaty giving environmental rights the same status as human rights | UN Environment
    https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/latin-american-and-caribbean-countries-sign-historic-treaty-giving

    Within 24 hours of its opening, fourteen nations signed the Escazú Agreement; with one more signing the next day. This treaty enacts binding provisions for States to equip their citizens with information, judicial corrections and spaces for public participation in environmental matters concerning them. The Escazú Agreement’s official name is the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters.

    “The fact that fourteen countries have already signed today is extraordinary” stated Epsy Campbell Barr, the Vice President of Costa Rica.

    The agreement is not only the first environmental treaty for the Latin America and Caribbean region. It is also:

    At the forefront of environmental democracy with only one other regional treaty on environmental democracy: Europe’s Aarhus Convention
    The only treaty to have emerged from Rio+20
    The first time a legal agreement includes an Article on environmental human rights defenders (Article 9)

    The Latin America and Caribbean region is home to numerous multifaceted conflicts involving communities opposing business and government interest that threaten their environment,livelihoods and ancestral lands. Global Witness reports that Latin America and the Caribbean has consistently the highest number of murders of environmental defenders in the world. [...]

    In an emotional ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 27 September 2018, Heads of State and ministers from the following countries signed the Agreement: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay. The Dominican Republic and Haiti added their signatures to the legal instrument later the same day and Paraguay signed on the following day.

    #traité #environnement #Amérique_latine #Caraïbes


  • Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/17/can-mark-zuckerberg-fix-facebook-before-it-breaks-democracy

    Since 2011, Zuckerberg has lived in a century-old white clapboard Craftsman in the Crescent Park neighborhood, an enclave of giant oaks and historic homes not far from Stanford University. The house, which cost seven million dollars, affords him a sense of sanctuary. It’s set back from the road, shielded by hedges, a wall, and mature trees. Guests enter through an arched wooden gate and follow a long gravel path to a front lawn with a saltwater pool in the center. The year after Zuckerberg bought the house, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, held their wedding in the back yard, which encompasses gardens, a pond, and a shaded pavilion. Since then, they have had two children, and acquired a seven-hundred-acre estate in Hawaii, a ski retreat in Montana, and a four-story town house on Liberty Hill, in San Francisco. But the family’s full-time residence is here, a ten-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters.

    Occasionally, Zuckerberg records a Facebook video from the back yard or the dinner table, as is expected of a man who built his fortune exhorting employees to keep “pushing the world in the direction of making it a more open and transparent place.” But his appetite for personal openness is limited. Although Zuckerberg is the most famous entrepreneur of his generation, he remains elusive to everyone but a small circle of family and friends, and his efforts to protect his privacy inevitably attract attention. The local press has chronicled his feud with a developer who announced plans to build a mansion that would look into Zuckerberg’s master bedroom. After a legal fight, the developer gave up, and Zuckerberg spent forty-four million dollars to buy the houses surrounding his. Over the years, he has come to believe that he will always be the subject of criticism. “We’re not—pick your noncontroversial business—selling dog food, although I think that people who do that probably say there is controversy in that, too, but this is an inherently cultural thing,” he told me, of his business. “It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal.”

    At the same time, former Facebook executives, echoing a growing body of research, began to voice misgivings about the company’s role in exacerbating isolation, outrage, and addictive behaviors. One of the largest studies, published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed the Facebook use of more than five thousand people over three years and found that higher use correlated with self-reported declines in physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. At an event in November, 2017, Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, called himself a “conscientious objector” to social media, saying, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” A few days later, Chamath Palihapitiya, the former vice-president of user growth, told an audience at Stanford, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works—no civil discourse, no coöperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Palihapitiya, a prominent Silicon Valley figure who worked at Facebook from 2007 to 2011, said, “I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds.” Of his children, he added, “They’re not allowed to use this shit.” (Facebook replied to the remarks in a statement, noting that Palihapitiya had left six years earlier, and adding, “Facebook was a very different company back then.”)

    In March, Facebook was confronted with an even larger scandal: the Times and the British newspaper the Observer reported that a researcher had gained access to the personal information of Facebook users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy hired by Trump and other Republicans which advertised using “psychographic” techniques to manipulate voter behavior. In all, the personal data of eighty-seven million people had been harvested. Moreover, Facebook had known of the problem since December of 2015 but had said nothing to users or regulators. The company acknowledged the breach only after the press discovered it.

    We spoke at his home, at his office, and by phone. I also interviewed four dozen people inside and outside the company about its culture, his performance, and his decision-making. I found Zuckerberg straining, not always coherently, to grasp problems for which he was plainly unprepared. These are not technical puzzles to be cracked in the middle of the night but some of the subtlest aspects of human affairs, including the meaning of truth, the limits of free speech, and the origins of violence.

    Zuckerberg is now at the center of a full-fledged debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders. Leslie Berlin, a historian of technology at Stanford, told me, “For a long time, Silicon Valley enjoyed an unencumbered embrace in America. And now everyone says, Is this a trick? And the question Mark Zuckerberg is dealing with is: Should my company be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people? Nobody in the history of technology has dealt with that.”

    In 2002, Zuckerberg went to Harvard, where he embraced the hacker mystique, which celebrates brilliance in pursuit of disruption. “The ‘fuck you’ to those in power was very strong,” the longtime friend said. In 2004, as a sophomore, he embarked on the project whose origin story is now well known: the founding of Thefacebook.com with four fellow-students (“the” was dropped the following year); the legal battles over ownership, including a suit filed by twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, accusing Zuckerberg of stealing their idea; the disclosure of embarrassing messages in which Zuckerberg mocked users for giving him so much data (“they ‘trust me.’ dumb fucks,” he wrote); his regrets about those remarks, and his efforts, in the years afterward, to convince the world that he has left that mind-set behind.

    New hires learned that a crucial measure of the company’s performance was how many people had logged in to Facebook on six of the previous seven days, a measurement known as L6/7. “You could say it’s how many people love this service so much they use it six out of seven days,” Parakilas, who left the company in 2012, said. “But, if your job is to get that number up, at some point you run out of good, purely positive ways. You start thinking about ‘Well, what are the dark patterns that I can use to get people to log back in?’ ”

    Facebook engineers became a new breed of behaviorists, tweaking levers of vanity and passion and susceptibility. The real-world effects were striking. In 2012, when Chan was in medical school, she and Zuckerberg discussed a critical shortage of organs for transplant, inspiring Zuckerberg to add a small, powerful nudge on Facebook: if people indicated that they were organ donors, it triggered a notification to friends, and, in turn, a cascade of social pressure. Researchers later found that, on the first day the feature appeared, it increased official organ-donor enrollment more than twentyfold nationwide.

    Sean Parker later described the company’s expertise as “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” The goal: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Facebook engineers discovered that people find it nearly impossible not to log in after receiving an e-mail saying that someone has uploaded a picture of them. Facebook also discovered its power to affect people’s political behavior. Researchers found that, during the 2010 midterm elections, Facebook was able to prod users to vote simply by feeding them pictures of friends who had already voted, and by giving them the option to click on an “I Voted” button. The technique boosted turnout by three hundred and forty thousand people—more than four times the number of votes separating Trump and Clinton in key states in the 2016 race. It became a running joke among employees that Facebook could tilt an election just by choosing where to deploy its “I Voted” button.

    These powers of social engineering could be put to dubious purposes. In 2012, Facebook data scientists used nearly seven hundred thousand people as guinea pigs, feeding them happy or sad posts to test whether emotion is contagious on social media. (They concluded that it is.) When the findings were published, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they caused an uproar among users, many of whom were horrified that their emotions may have been surreptitiously manipulated. In an apology, one of the scientists wrote, “In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

    Facebook was, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, becoming a pioneer in “ persuasive technology.

    Facebook had adopted a buccaneering motto, “Move fast and break things,” which celebrated the idea that it was better to be flawed and first than careful and perfect. Andrew Bosworth, a former Harvard teaching assistant who is now one of Zuckerberg’s longest-serving lieutenants and a member of his inner circle, explained, “A failure can be a form of success. It’s not the form you want, but it can be a useful thing to how you learn.” In Zuckerberg’s view, skeptics were often just fogies and scolds. “There’s always someone who wants to slow you down,” he said in a commencement address at Harvard last year. “In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.”

    In contrast to a traditional foundation, an L.L.C. can lobby and give money to politicians, without as strict a legal requirement to disclose activities. In other words, rather than trying to win over politicians and citizens in places like Newark, Zuckerberg and Chan could help elect politicians who agree with them, and rally the public directly by running ads and supporting advocacy groups. (A spokesperson for C.Z.I. said that it has given no money to candidates; it has supported ballot initiatives through a 501(c)(4) social-welfare organization.) “The whole point of the L.L.C. structure is to allow a coördinated attack,” Rob Reich, a co-director of Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, told me. The structure has gained popularity in Silicon Valley but has been criticized for allowing wealthy individuals to orchestrate large-scale social agendas behind closed doors. Reich said, “There should be much greater transparency, so that it’s not dark. That’s not a criticism of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a criticism of the law.”

    La question des langues est fondamentale quand il s’agit de réseaux sociaux

    Beginning in 2013, a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fuelling attacks on the Rohingya. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the Rwandan genocide. In 2016, C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit, published a detailed analysis of Facebook usage in Myanmar, and described a “campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims.” Facebook officials said that they were hiring more Burmese-language reviewers to take down dangerous content, but the company repeatedly declined to say how many had actually been hired. By last March, the situation had become dire: almost a million Rohingya had fled the country, and more than a hundred thousand were confined to internal camps. The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U.N. has deemed a genocide, said, “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it was originally intended.” Afterward, when pressed, Zuckerberg repeated the claim that Facebook was “hiring dozens” of additional Burmese-language content reviewers.

    More than three months later, I asked Jes Kaliebe Petersen, the C.E.O. of Phandeeyar, a tech hub in Myanmar, if there had been any progress. “We haven’t seen any tangible change from Facebook,” he told me. “We don’t know how much content is being reported. We don’t know how many people at Facebook speak Burmese. The situation is getting worse and worse here.”

    I saw Zuckerberg the following morning, and asked him what was taking so long. He replied, “I think, fundamentally, we’ve been slow at the same thing in a number of areas, because it’s actually the same problem. But, yeah, I think the situation in Myanmar is terrible.” It was a frustrating and evasive reply. I asked him to specify the problem. He said, “Across the board, the solution to this is we need to move from what is fundamentally a reactive model to a model where we are using technical systems to flag things to a much larger number of people who speak all the native languages around the world and who can just capture much more of the content.”

    Lecture des journaux ou des aggrégateurs ?

    once asked Zuckerberg what he reads to get the news. “I probably mostly read aggregators,” he said. “I definitely follow Techmeme”—a roundup of headlines about his industry—“and the media and political equivalents of that, just for awareness.” He went on, “There’s really no newspaper that I pick up and read front to back. Well, that might be true of most people these days—most people don’t read the physical paper—but there aren’t many news Web sites where I go to browse.”

    A couple of days later, he called me and asked to revisit the subject. “I felt like my answers were kind of vague, because I didn’t necessarily feel like it was appropriate for me to get into which specific organizations or reporters I read and follow,” he said. “I guess what I tried to convey, although I’m not sure if this came across clearly, is that the job of uncovering new facts and doing it in a trusted way is just an absolutely critical function for society.”

    Zuckerberg and Sandberg have attributed their mistakes to excessive optimism, a blindness to the darker applications of their service. But that explanation ignores their fixation on growth, and their unwillingness to heed warnings. Zuckerberg resisted calls to reorganize the company around a new understanding of privacy, or to reconsider the depth of data it collects for advertisers.

    Antitrust

    In barely two years, the mood in Washington had shifted. Internet companies and entrepreneurs, formerly valorized as the vanguard of American ingenuity and the astronauts of our time, were being compared to Standard Oil and other monopolists of the Gilded Age. This spring, the Wall Street Journal published an article that began, “Imagine a not-too-distant future in which trustbusters force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.” It was accompanied by a sepia-toned illustration in which portraits of Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and other tech C.E.O.s had been grafted onto overstuffed torsos meant to evoke the robber barons. In 1915, Louis Brandeis, the reformer and future Supreme Court Justice, testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of corporations large enough that they could achieve a level of near-sovereignty “so powerful that the ordinary social and industrial forces existing are insufficient to cope with it.” He called this the “curse of bigness.” Tim Wu, a Columbia law-school professor and the author of a forthcoming book inspired by Brandeis’s phrase, told me, “Today, no sector exemplifies more clearly the threat of bigness to democracy than Big Tech.” He added, “When a concentrated private power has such control over what we see and hear, it has a power that rivals or exceeds that of elected government.”

    When I asked Zuckerberg whether policymakers might try to break up Facebook, he replied, adamantly, that such a move would be a mistake. The field is “extremely competitive,” he told me. “I think sometimes people get into this mode of ‘Well, there’s not, like, an exact replacement for Facebook.’ Well, actually, that makes it more competitive, because what we really are is a system of different things: we compete with Twitter as a broadcast medium; we compete with Snapchat as a broadcast medium; we do messaging, and iMessage is default-installed on every iPhone.” He acknowledged the deeper concern. “There’s this other question, which is just, laws aside, how do we feel about these tech companies being big?” he said. But he argued that efforts to “curtail” the growth of Facebook or other Silicon Valley heavyweights would cede the field to China. “I think that anything that we’re doing to constrain them will, first, have an impact on how successful we can be in other places,” he said. “I wouldn’t worry in the near term about Chinese companies or anyone else winning in the U.S., for the most part. But there are all these places where there are day-to-day more competitive situations—in Southeast Asia, across Europe, Latin America, lots of different places.”

    The rough consensus in Washington is that regulators are unlikely to try to break up Facebook. The F.T.C. will almost certainly fine the company for violations, and may consider blocking it from buying big potential competitors, but, as a former F.T.C. commissioner told me, “in the United States you’re allowed to have a monopoly position, as long as you achieve it and maintain it without doing illegal things.”

    Facebook is encountering tougher treatment in Europe, where antitrust laws are stronger and the history of fascism makes people especially wary of intrusions on privacy. One of the most formidable critics of Silicon Valley is the European Union’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

    In Vestager’s view, a healthy market should produce competitors to Facebook that position themselves as ethical alternatives, collecting less data and seeking a smaller share of user attention. “We need social media that will allow us to have a nonaddictive, advertising-free space,” she said. “You’re more than welcome to be successful and to dramatically outgrow your competitors if customers like your product. But, if you grow to be dominant, you have a special responsibility not to misuse your dominant position to make it very difficult for others to compete against you and to attract potential customers. Of course, we keep an eye on it. If we get worried, we will start looking.”

    Modération

    As hard as it is to curb election propaganda, Zuckerberg’s most intractable problem may lie elsewhere—in the struggle over which opinions can appear on Facebook, which cannot, and who gets to decide. As an engineer, Zuckerberg never wanted to wade into the realm of content. Initially, Facebook tried blocking certain kinds of material, such as posts featuring nudity, but it was forced to create long lists of exceptions, including images of breast-feeding, “acts of protest,” and works of art. Once Facebook became a venue for political debate, the problem exploded. In April, in a call with investment analysts, Zuckerberg said glumly that it was proving “easier to build an A.I. system to detect a nipple than what is hate speech.”

    The cult of growth leads to the curse of bigness: every day, a billion things were being posted to Facebook. At any given moment, a Facebook “content moderator” was deciding whether a post in, say, Sri Lanka met the standard of hate speech or whether a dispute over Korean politics had crossed the line into bullying. Zuckerberg sought to avoid banning users, preferring to be a “platform for all ideas.” But he needed to prevent Facebook from becoming a swamp of hoaxes and abuse. His solution was to ban “hate speech” and impose lesser punishments for “misinformation,” a broad category that ranged from crude deceptions to simple mistakes. Facebook tried to develop rules about how the punishments would be applied, but each idiosyncratic scenario prompted more rules, and over time they became byzantine. According to Facebook training slides published by the Guardian last year, moderators were told that it was permissible to say “You are such a Jew” but not permissible to say “Irish are the best, but really French sucks,” because the latter was defining another people as “inferiors.” Users could not write “Migrants are scum,” because it is dehumanizing, but they could write “Keep the horny migrant teen-agers away from our daughters.” The distinctions were explained to trainees in arcane formulas such as “Not Protected + Quasi protected = not protected.”

    It will hardly be the last quandary of this sort. Facebook’s free-speech dilemmas have no simple answers—you don’t have to be a fan of Alex Jones to be unnerved by the company’s extraordinary power to silence a voice when it chooses, or, for that matter, to amplify others, to pull the levers of what we see, hear, and experience. Zuckerberg is hoping to erect a scalable system, an orderly decision tree that accounts for every eventuality and exception, but the boundaries of speech are a bedevilling problem that defies mechanistic fixes. The Supreme Court, defining obscenity, landed on “I know it when I see it.” For now, Facebook is making do with a Rube Goldberg machine of policies and improvisations, and opportunists are relishing it. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, seized on the ban of Jones as a fascist assault on conservatives. In a moment that was rich even by Cruz’s standards, he quoted Martin Niemöller’s famous lines about the Holocaust, saying, “As the poem goes, you know, ‘First they came for Alex Jones.’ ”

    #Facebook #Histoire_numérique


  • Designs for the #Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds

    In Designs for the Pluriverse Arturo Escobar presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design’s world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth. Noting that most design—from consumer goods and digital technologies to built environments—currently serves capitalist ends, Escobar argues for the development of an “autonomous design” that eschews commercial and modernizing aims in favor of more collaborative and placed-based approaches. Such design attends to questions of environment, experience, and politics while focusing on the production of human experience based on the radical interdependence of all beings. Mapping autonomous design’s principles to the history of decolonial efforts of indigenous and Afro-descended people in Latin America, Escobar shows how refiguring current design practices could lead to the creation of more just and sustainable social orders.


    https://www.dukeupress.edu/designs-for-the-pluriverse
    #Escobar #Arturo_Escobar #interdépendance #autonomie #livre