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Trump signs executive order targeting college anti-Semitism, Israel boycotts
« Reply #14865 on: December 11, 2019, 07:06:00 PM »
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner pushed back on some early criticism of the measure, saying in an op-ed the action "does not define Jews as a nationality."

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that would effectively allow the government to interpret Judaism as both a race or nationality and a religion under federal law so that the Education Department can take direct action against what he views as anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Trump, joined by lawmakers and administration officials in addition to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, said the order "makes clear" that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would "apply to institutions that traffic in anti-Semitic hate."

Pointing to past bipartisan efforts to pass similar legislation, Trump said that "they didn't get it done," adding, "This year, there's no roadblock."

The interpretation would allow the Education Department to withhold funding from college or educational programs it believes are discriminating in an anti-Semitic way. The law states that the Education Department can take such action against a program that discriminates based "on the ground of race, color or national origin" — but not on religion.

The latest order comes largely in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians. The movement has become prominent on some campuses and resulted in actions that have left some Jewish students feeling targeted.

After wrapping up his address, Trump called upon the evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress to offer some words. Jeffress, who once said Jews were going to hell, said at the White House that Trump is "the most pro-faith president in history" and that God will "bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel."

Jeffress added that Trump is on the "right side of God."

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has provided Trump with favorable legal analysis, spoke next, saying there had been "no more important event in" the six decades he's spent on college campuses "to turn universities away from being bastions of hatred and discrimination than this executive order being signed today."

"It is a game changer," he added. "One of the most important events in the 2,000-year battle against anti-Semitism."

In supporting the order, the Trump administration appeared to be recognizing Jews as having a collective national origin — or, more specifically, extending protections to Jewish students from those who might attack them based on that perception. Amid a fierce debate over the measure's intent on that front, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, in a New York Times op-ed late Wednesday, said that the order "does not define Jews as a nationality."

A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that "the Domestic Policy Council began to focus on this issue in the late winter-spring of this year, when we were alarmed, frankly, at a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric, including, unfortunately, from leading political figures. ... We looked at the data and we saw that there's been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since 2013, and we began a policy process to figure out, specifically, what we could do on the subject."

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines anti-Semitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews," though “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic."

The definition also includes "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination," which lists “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor" among such denials.

Trump's order mirrors bipartisan legislation that stalled out in Congress, though critics have said the change could be used to stifle free speech and opposition to Israel's government.

Some Jewish leaders who said they had been shown a draft version of the order described the language ahead of its final release as not being materially different than that used for similar guidelines issued during previous administrations, such as President Barack Obama’s.

The White House had not released the final text for a full day following the initial announcement. White House officials earlier Wednesday would not confirm the draft language or respond to questions about ways in which the order itself — or the administration’s interpretation or enforcement of that order — might differ from previous actions.

"When news of the impending executive order leaked, many rushed to criticize it without understanding its purpose," Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, wrote in the Times op-ed. "The executive order does not define Jews as a nationality. It merely says that to the extent that Jews are discriminated against for ethnic, racial or national characteristics, they are entitled protection by the anti-discrimination law."

The executive order was criticized by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

"Trump’s anti-democratic, anti-Palestinian exec order would abuse federal funding to bully universities into suppressing freedom of speech in support of Palestinian rights," the Palestinian Campaign tweeted.

Some Jewish leaders were cool to the proposal as well.

"If President Trump truly wanted to address the scourge of anti-Semitism he helped to create, he would accept responsibility for his role emboldening white nationalism, perpetuating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and repeating stereotypes that have led to violence targeting Jews," Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement. "Instead, President Trump continues to view Israel and anti-Semitism solely through a political lens, which he attempts to use to his political advantage."

"This executive order, like the stalled congressional legislation it is based on, appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel," J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. "J Street is committed to fighting all forms of anti-Semitism — and we feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right."

Others were supportive. As The New York Times reported, the executive order was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League. The Republican Jewish Coalition praised the order, with its national chairman, former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., calling the change a "truly historic and important moment for Jewish Americans."

"President Trump has extended to Jewish students very strong, meaningful legal protection from anti-Semitic discrimination," he said. "Sadly, every day, Jewish students on college campuses face outrageous attacks on their Jewish identity and beliefs. The rapid increase in such incidents in recent years is of great concern."

The Orthodox Union, an Orthodox Judaism advocacy group, also praised the order, with President Mark Bane saying it "not only recognizes but also provides a course of legal action against the scourge of anti-Semitism that has for too long been festering on our nation’s college campuses."

"Those who seek to use our academic institutions as places to stoke anti-Jewish sentiment are now on notice: There will be consequences for their racism," he said.

Trump has positioned himself as staunchly pro-Israel throughout his presidency, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli and lambasting progressive Democratic lawmakers critical of the Israel and U.S. support for it.

The president has also been accused of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes and emboldening white supremacists. He came under criticism this weekend for comments he made in Florida to the Israeli American Council, in which he said Jews had no choice but to support him in the face of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million.

"A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You're brutal killers, not nice people at all," he said. "But you have to vote for me, you have no choice."

"You're not going to vote for the wealth tax. ... Even if you don't like me, some of you don't. Some of you I don't like at all actually. And you're going to be my biggest supporters because you'd be out of business in about 15 minutes if they get it."

The remarks drew cheers from the conservative-leaning crowd, but were met with condemnation from some Jewish groups.

Trump signed the order at the first of a pair of Hanukkah receptions at the White House Wednesday evening.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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'It is something deeper': David Datuna on why he ate the $120,000 banana
« Reply #14866 on: December 11, 2019, 07:18:19 PM »
The artist who ate Maurizio Cattelan’s work at Art Basel Miami talks about the concept behind his audacious stunt

David Datuna shows the remains of the artwork Comedian by Maurizio Cattelan.

Art Basel Miami highlights the best new work from the world’s contemporary artists, many of whom toil away at their craft, painstakingly, hoping to create something new and innovative under the sun. But naturally all anyone can talk about is the guy who taped a $120,000 banana to the wall and the other guy who ate it.

The initial piece, Comedian by the Italian-born artist Maurizio Cattelan, and the subsequent performance/action, Hungry Artist by Georgian-born David Datuna, may seem too ludicrous to even parody, but all parties are making a good show of taking the matter seriously. In its pre-masticated form, Cattelan claimed that he worked on Comedian for a year, before deciding on exactly how to let the banana manifest itself. (In earlier conceptions, it was made of resin, before the sculptor realized “the banana is supposed to be a banana”.) Gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin explained that the angle of the tape and shape of the fruit were “carefully considered”.

While Cattelan certainly has an impish sense of humor, he isn’t someone who barged on to the scene with a bag of groceries. He has had a long career pushing boundaries that include golden toilets (yes, the one recently stolen from Blenheim Palace was his), taxidermy, waxworks of John F Kennedy, the pope and Hitler, and large sculptures of extended middle fingers. When the banana was taped to the wall, it quickly sold for $120,000, followed by another. A third was up for bid to a museum at $150,000 before David Datuna hit the Miami Beach convention center.

Datuna is not just another prankster looking for a potassium fix. He proudly tells me via telephone that he is one of only two artists to have had shows at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery while still alive. His mixed-media sculptures often include eyeglasses as a motif, and in recent years he has done site-specific political work, such as laying out blocks of ice to spell Trump in New York’s Union Square, which would later melt. (This action was inspired by the withdrawal from the Paris agreement.) In 2022 in Qatar, timed for the World Cup, he is planning, as he calls it, the largest art installation incorporating artificial intelligence that has ever happened.

There was near pandemonium from selfie-takers around Comedian in Miami, and when Datuna saw it (and saw it was from Cattelan) he thought it was great. But when he Googled it and saw the asking price it took “about 15 or 20 minutes” to conceive of “the answer I must give to him and to the art world”.

“Warhol put banana on a canvas,” Datuna says with his Georgian accent. “Cattelan takes a real banana and puts it on the wall. David took banana from the wall and ate it!”

Datuna called his performance piece Hungry Artist and it quickly went viral. He did not have permission from Cattelan or the Perrotin Gallery.

Below is a further transcript of our phone conversation, edited for clarity.

Have you met Maurizio Cattelan?

No, but I follow him, he is a great artist.

Has he reached out to you since this past weekend?


It’s plausible you will meet him some day on the contemporary art circuit, though. Would it be a warm meeting?

I would love to meet him. I think he is a genius. Art is about comedy, about fun, about tragedy, about emotions. He played this very well. I love the banana of Andy Warhol, but I think Cattelan has put the banana on a different level.

What I don’t like, however, is that a banana costs 20 cents. I think it is a good idea to put it in a museum if it is free to watch. But when you sell it for $120,000? Then decide to make a second and third edition, and that third edition is $150,000? It is silly, and not good for our contemporary life.

I have travelled in 67 countries around the world in the last three years, and I see how people live. Millions are dying without food. Then he puts three bananas on the wall for half a million dollars?

So you felt compelled to do something?

Cattelan beat Andy Warhol. Maybe I shouldn’t say beat, but brought it to another level. I began to think: “What can I do with this banana? How can I bring it to yet another level?” And how to do it also with comedy? So I ate the banana. It is something deeper.

It’s like the story of Picasso and Modigliani, when they were having problems. Modigliani’s girlfriend gave Picasso some pieces and in the next week or two they had a group exhibition and what happened was Picasso painted his art on top of Modigliani’s art. He just left small pieces that you could recognize as Modigliani but it was Picasso. This is the same thing what happens now, but in a concept. Concept gets another concept.

Do you eat a lot of bananas?

About once a year. I do not really like them.

If you could tell Maurizio “next time, put this kind of fruit on the wall” what would you choose?

Next time Maurizio won’t put any fruit on a wall. Go on the internet now and you see everyone is doing this now. But I am no banana eater.

The gallery owner stressed that without an artist’s certificate, the banana just reverts to being a regular banana. Do you subscribe to this theory of artistic transubstantiation?

This has happened before, with Damien Hirst’s sharks that needed to be replaced. It is the idea that is important.

I hate to be vulgar, but it is a part of life: everything one eats eventually leaves the body. Did you feel a sense of artistic fulfillment when the banana left your body?

I felt, in my body, not part of the banana, but part of Maurizio.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Australia climate change: Thousands rally in Sydney amid bushfires
« Reply #14867 on: December 11, 2019, 07:24:40 PM »

Organisers say some 20,000 people took part in the "climate emergency rally"

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Sydney to demand urgent action on climate change amid an extreme bushfire season that has brought hazardous smoke to the city.

It came a day after a thick haze caused chaos in the harbour city, setting off smoke alarms and marring visibility.

Protesters, many wearing face masks, accused the government of inaction.

But Australia's government has defended its policies and argued that climate change is not solely to blame.

"Certainly climate change is a factor, there is no question, but also it is important to note that most of these fires have been caused by 'Little Lucifers'," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told ABC, referring to arsonists.

What happened at the protest?
Organisers estimated that some 20,000 people joined Wednesday's protest march. They accused successive governments of failing to address the "approaching climate emergency".

"Now the result is here: unprecedented drought, bushfires, and now a massive health crisis, with millions choking, with no escape, and severe consequences for people's immediate and long term health," they wrote on a Facebook page for the event.

Protesters held up signs and chanted as they gathered outside Sydney's Town Hall.

"They [the government] are to blame for our largest city being poisoned and rather than taking meaningful action, they are fast-tracking new coal mines," Chloe Rafferty, an organiser for the Uni Students for Climate Change group holding the march, told Reuters news agency.

"We are here because we care about the future of our children and their children's children. We are going to send a message to our leaders in our country: that we are now going to stand up to say we are here and we have had enough," another protester said.

What is the background?
Bushfires have been raging for weeks in Australia, killing six people, destroying more than 700 homes and burning millions of acres of land.

The blazes have brought "hazardous" air quality levels to Sydney. The haze on Tuesday was described by many people as the thickest to blanket the city amid this year's fire crisis.

Some residents reported breathing problems and said they were "choking" on the smoke.

Sydney residents are also facing the city's toughest water restrictions in more than a decade amid a severe drought.

What is Australia doing about climate change?
Australia has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions rates in the world due largely to its reliance on coal-fired power plants.

In June, the government gave final approval for construction to begin on a controversial coal mine in the state of Queensland. Environmental campaigners said they feared it could pave the way for six other mines to be approved in the area.

Under the Paris climate agreement, Australia has pledged to cut emissions by 26% to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030.

But while Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated the government's commitment to meeting this target, the United Nations last year warned that it was not on track to do so.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Stephen Colbert’s Take on the Articles of Impeachment Against Donald Trump
« Reply #14868 on: December 12, 2019, 07:53:02 AM »
Stephen Colbert seems to be exuberantly joyful about the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. On Wednesday’s episode of “The Late Show”, he made an amusing joke about the latest hearings on Donald Trump. This is something you should definitely see for yourself. The imagery you can never forget!

This bit was shown during the beginning of his monologue when Stephen noted that the impeachment hearings were held on Wednesday night rather than a daytime session by the Judiciary Committee.

Stephen Colbert said, “That’s right, it’s impeachment: After dark.”
“Ooh, Congressman Nadler, my presidential power has been badly abused. Why don’t you just pound? That. Gavel.”

He further adds, “And I promise you, I’ll yield back my time.”
Colbert later brought up the MAGA rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
He said, “Obviously because Pennsylvania is a critical swing state and not because he’s a big baby who likes candy.”

He goes on further to play a clip of Trump saying “Hersey chocolate, I like Hershey chocolate.”

Watch the whole clip below.

2 minute video

« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 07:54:40 AM by knarf »
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Troops have been deployed to India's ethnically diverse northeastern states of Assam and Tripura, amid violent protests against the passing of a controversial and far-reaching law that offers a path to Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which was passed by the country's parliament on Wednesday, has been described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government as a means of protecting vulnerable groups from persecution.
Critics, however, say the bill marginalizes Muslims and undermines the country's secular constitution. Others say it risks bringing an unwanted influx of immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan into India's northern states.

Security personnel use batons to disperse students protesting against the government's Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), in Guwahati on December 11, 2019.

In Assam and Tripura, angry protesters marched through major cities Wednesday night and Thursday, holding flaming torches and setting alight car tires and piles of cardboard.
Indigenous groups in both states fear naturalizing large numbers of immigrants will change the region's demographics and way of life, fearing the impact on jobs, government subsidies and education.
India's northeast is home to more than 200 distinct indigenous minority groups. Both Assam and Tripura share a border with Bangladesh and some see the arrival of foreigners as a cultural threat regardless of religion; for others, anti-immigrant sentiment remains closely tied to religious divisions.
Images from the protests show crowds chanting slogans and holding signs that read, "We are Assamese and proud" and "Tripura is not the dumping ground of illegal migrants."

Police arrested and clashed with the protesters, using batons and firing tear gas. About 1,800 people have been detained in Tripura since Wednesday, according to Rajiv Singh of the Tripura police force.
On Thursday, Indian military and paramilitary forces were deployed across the two states. In the Assam capital of Guwahati, the state's largest and most important city, authorities have shut down the internet "for an indefinite period," and announced a curfew.
But thousands defied the curfew Thursday after the All Assam Students Union (AASU) asked people to gather at Latasil cricket ground for a public meeting. Local celebrities joined the students, using anti-Modi, anti-CAB and anti-government slogans.
Following the end of the procession, protesters dispersed into small groups and some were later tear-gassed. Earlier in the morning, police had tried to stop the protests by firing tear gas shells and stun guns.
The AASU has announced a mass hunger strike in Guwahati Friday and have asked people to join them.
Transit has also been affected by the unrest, with two domestic airlines canceling all flights to Assam Thursday.
National and local leaders are now calling for calm and order, with Modi appealing directly to Assam residents.
"I want to assure them -- no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow," said Modi.
The bill, which will now be sent to the President to be signed into law, was approved in India's upper house Wednesday by a margin of 125-105, having previously passed the lower house 311-80.

People walk past vehicles set on fire by demonstrators protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Guwahati, India, Wednesday, December 11,

Promise 'rings hollow'
Opponents of the bill say it is another example of how Modi and his his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have pushed an agenda of Hindu nationalism onto secular India, a country of 1.3 billion people, at the expense of the Muslim population.
The BJP, which was re-elected in May, has its roots in India's Hindu right-wing movement, many followers of which see India as a Hindu nation.
In August, the Indian government stripped the majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status, essentially giving New Delhi more control over the region's affairs. That same month, nearly 2 million people in India's Assam were left off a controversial new National Register of Citizens, which critics feared could be used to justify religious discrimination against Muslims in the state.
And last month, India's top court gave Hindus permission to build a temple on a disputed centuries-old holy site, which holds significance for both Hindus and Muslims. The ruling on the Ayodhya site was seen as a blow to Muslims and came at a time when Muslims increasingly see themselves as second-class citizens.
The BJP maintain the bill is about protecting religious minorities by allowing them to become citizens.
India's Home Minister Amit Shah said in a tweet Wednesday that the bill "will allow India to open its doors to minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are facing religious persecution."

"It is well known that those minorities who chose to make Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan their home had to constantly live in the fear of extinction," Shah said. "This amended legislation by Modi government will allow India to extend them dignity and an opportunity to rebuild their lives."
But opponents say India's claims that the citizenship law aims to protect religious minorities "rings hollow" because it excludes Muslim minorities who face persecution in neighboring countries, including the Ahmadiyya from Pakistan, Rohingya from Myanmar, and the Tamil from Sri Lanka.
"The bill uses the language of refuge and sanctuary, but discriminates on religious grounds in violation of international law," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, Shah said that Muslims "will not benefit from this amendment because they have not been persecuted on the basis of religion."
Speaking to Parliament on Wednesday, he added: "Who are you worried about? Should we make the Muslims coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan citizens of the country? What do you want -- that we give every Muslim coming from any anywhere in the world citizenship? ... The country cannot function this way."
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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The Arctic is increasingly at risk as temperatures warm and sea ice melts away, NOAA warns in its annual report card on the state of this crucial ecosystem. At the end of a very dense, very lengthy report loaded with scores of scientific stats, the seemingly abstract science of climate change collides with the sobering humanity of its impacts, with the words: "The world from our childhood is no longer here."

In that one sentence, quoted from an essay titled "Voices from the Front Lines of a Changing Bering Sea," ten indigenous tribe members sum up the central message of the report — the fundamental and systemic change threatening their homeland.

The report documents rapidly rising temperatures, vanishing sea ice and thawing permafrost. Its scientific findings are echoed in the words of these keen observers of nature, who write, "The Bering Sea is undergoing changes that have never been observed in our lifetimes, but were foreseen by our elders decades ago."

The Arctic climate is changing faster than any other place on Earth. And while the changes are felt most dramatically above 60 degrees north latitude, the ripple effects are felt all across the U.S. and other parts of the world in the form of magnified extreme weather.

Dr. Judah Cohen of MIT studies how changing Arctic conditions impact weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. As a specific example, Cohen explains, "There is a remarkable relationship between Arctic temperatures and severe winter weather in the northeastern U.S. The risk for severe winter weather is greatest when the Arctic is at its warmest."   

Since 1900, the Arctic has warmed more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit — a remarkable amount, two to three times the global average. According to NOAA's Arctic Report Card, the past year's Arctic air temperatures tied for the second highest with 2015-16, and temperatures for the past six years (2014 to 2019) all exceeded previous records since 1900.

According to Rick Thoman, a longtime Alaska climate scientist, in just the past 50 years mainland Alaska winter temperatures have surged 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mid-winter (Dec-Feb) Alaska regional temperature trends over the past 50 years from @NOAANCEIclimate climate division data. Yes, winters on average now are much milder than 50 years ago. Yes, the math is correct. #akwx #Arctic #ClimateChange @Climatologist49 @IARC_Alaska @YJRosen

— Rick Thoman (@AlaskaWx) December 8, 2019
This dramatic warming is rapidly melting sea ice, which typically acts as a cooler of sorts, regulating the Arctic and keeping it cold. But in the past 40 years, the loss of Arctic sea ice extent has increased by 50 percent relative to average values, as measured at its yearly lowest point in the month of September. In September of this year, sea ice cover was tied for the second lowest in the 41-year satellite record.

The oldest, thickest ice in the Arctic Ocean, greater than 4 years old, now makes up just a small fraction of the sea ice cover. In fact, in March 1985, 33% of the ice cover was very old ice, but in March of this year old ice constituted only 1.2%. This thinner ice is more fragile, making it easier for storms to break it apart.

While the melting and breakup of ice may not seem like a big deal, its significance is profound. That's because the mirror-like ice surface reflects most sunlight back into space. But less ice exposes darker water, which absorbs 10 times more light and accelerates Arctic heating. This feedback loop is enhancing a phenomenon called Arctic amplification.

A recent study illustrates just how significant Arctic amplification can be. In a future scenario keeping global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) — the goal of the Paris climate agreement — the Arctic will experience 13 degrees Fahrenheit of warming during winter. This all but ensures the extreme record low sea ice experienced on the Bering Sea and across much of the Arctic in recent years will become a typical yearly event.

The heating is not just limited to air temperatures. August mean sea surface temperatures in 2019 were up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1982–2010 average in most of the waters, like the Bering Sea, which lie near the Arctic's perimeter.

CBS News asked one of the authors of the 2019 Arctic Report Card, Dr. James Overland, what he considers the most stunning finding of this year's report. He replied, "The lack of sea ice formation in the winter Bering Sea is beyond experience and its effect has cascaded through the ecosystem."

These startling changes in the ocean are causing indigenous people in the region, who depend on a reliable ecosystem, great concern for the health of their fisheries. Recently they have noticed changes in fish migration timing and patterns. The Arctic Report Card finds that in the past two years, cod and pollock were found hundreds of miles north of their typical homes.

On land, conditions are changing so fast that the icy ground, called permafrost, which supports infrastructure and people, is literally giving way. "We are seeing coastal landslides, large sinkholes and methane bubbling up through our ponds in summer," the indigenous authors write. It's that last part, methane release, or greenhouse gases in general, that extends far beyond the Arctic.

That's because permafrost soils, composed partially of carbon-rich organic matter, contain at least two times the amount of carbon than there is currently in the atmosphere. Because of warming, permafrost is no longer a net sink for carbon; it has become a net emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Dr. Ted Schuur is the author of the permafrost section of the report. He says these emission signals are "kind of like a 'canary in a coal mine' telling us that permafrost ecosystems are out of historical balance, and are starting to cause climate change to happen faster." This is yet another feedback which accelerates Arctic amplification.

That acceleration is vividly illustrated by melting water cascading into the ocean from Greenland.  According to a separate study released Tuesday, Greenland is shedding ice seven times faster than in the 1990s. This pace is on the high end of the warming scenarios laid out by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As a result, the study estimates that 40 million more people worldwide will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2100, for a total of 400 million.

The Arctic Report Card makes clear that what happens in the Arctic will not stay in the Arctic — the changes reverberate all around the world and will only accelerate as the globe continues to heat. But the ones most at risk right now are the indigenous people who count on knowledge passed through the generations.

"The world from our childhood is no longer here. Our young children today are seeing so much change, but it is difficult for them to understand the pace. We are losing so much of our culture and connections to the resources from our ocean and lands," they write.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Capitalist Profits vs Mental Health
« Reply #14871 on: December 12, 2019, 02:01:19 PM »
Some of the most vulnerable people in society are placed in mental health treatment centers for trauma, mental illness, and behavioral or developmental challenges. I recently worked for an “Advanced Behavioral Health” center in Colorado, caring for children and teens suffering from suicidal or homicidal tendencies. Working with at-risk youth, staff are often put in hands-on situations to prevent patients from harming themselves or someone else. In the crises that arise, it is common for members of staff to find themselves faced with dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening situations.

We once had a patient run off campus and jump in front of oncoming traffic. Another staff member and I had to physically put ourselves at risk to maintain their safety. Despite the risks involved, most of us are passionate about caregiving and understand that the position we often find ourselves in is part of helping others.

Given these stakes, one might imagine that the dedicated workers in our field would be compensated with a livable wage, affordable healthcare plans, and resources for therapeutic processing. Under capitalism, this is not the case. The reality of the market system also rears its ugly head in the realm of mental health. In a rational society, this field would be built around quality care and compassion. Under capitalism, it is characterized by exploitation, corruption, and a single-minded pursuit of profits.

The administration I recently worked for fits this description, and had high turnover rates to show for it. They were recently sued for denying staff their lawful right to a break every four hours. In addition to this, our treatment center was consistently short-staffed, leaving our units without the proper support needed for the success of treatment. Our managers did not offer to lend a hand to work on the floor. They would say “good luck!” and go home to enjoy their weekend. We were expected to complete all our usual tasks in addition to helping with non-stop crises. We were treated like “warm bodies” that were easily replaceable. Managers often threatened to charge employees with neglect if they left campus for being sick or for a family emergency.

High turnover rates result in a lack of consistency for our patients in treatment. Patients need structure so they can learn coping skills and work on healing and relationship building. Our patients often struggle to place trust in staff, as they have seen so many clinicians, therapists, and direct support employees come and go.

The administration’s mission statement reads “we hold respect for children and great care is taken to ensure the safety, security, and comfort necessary for personal growth.” They are obviously out of touch with the fact that when they fail to support their staff, they are also failing their patients. In reality, the only fundamental concern for which “great care is taken to ensure” is that the profits keep rolling in—the capitalists have no interest in the effects short-staffing has on treatment.

During my employment, fun activities were often cancelled or interrupted because I was forced to pause and run to a crisis call. During a short-staffing crisis, you are lucky to receive any staff support at all, making it extremely dangerous for all staff and patients on campus. I’ve personally called for staff three times during a dangerous crisis and was left with no support, having to go hands-on by myself to protect a patient from being hurt. The administration’s obsession with cost-cutting has resulted in negative long-term effects for both patients and staff, leaving some of them traumatized.

A few months ago, a teenager was admitted for sexually aggressive behavior and homicidal tendencies. The sexual offenders unit (which specializes in a specific treatment plan tailored to those behaviors) did not have a bed available. Instead of referring this patient to another facility—and missing out on a “paying customer”—they placed him on a unit he did not belong on, one that was specifically for vulnerable autistic teens in treatment for trauma.

Predictably, it was not long before this patient began physically abusing other patients and staff—all during a short-staffing crisis. I was repeatedly denied staff support when calling for it and was forced to put myself in the face of danger, resulting in me getting beat up and assaulted several times. My coworkers and I raised our concerns with management over this patient’s placement and how it endangered other patients, and we requested more staff support on the unit. We were met with indifference and the strict expectation to continue on with no change. This led several members of staff to resign.

This aggressive patient continued to attack several of our patients and staff, and management continued to deny us the support needed to keep everyone safe. Eventually, he sexually assaulted his roommate, an autistic patient suffering depression. This patient came to us for treatment and was failed by the administration. It wasn’t until after the victim’s parents called, threatening to press charges and removing their child from the program, that the administrators placed that teen in the correct unit.

It became very clear to me that the concerns and safety of the patients and staff carried no weight with the company—as long as the clients’ insurance companies kept paying the bills.

These horrific and traumatic experiences are the result of a system that revolves around the relentless accumulation of capital for a minority of society—at the expense of everything and everyone else. The crisis of mental health is one of many symptoms of capitalism’s inability to meet human needs—and is in large part caused by it. Only a democratically planned and administered economy can provide the care and recovery that so many patients desperately need, while offering workers safe conditions and wages commensurate to the difficulty of the work we do.
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Failure to tackle climate crisis will lead to economic disaster, UN chief warns
« Reply #14872 on: December 13, 2019, 08:15:20 AM »
MADRID  — Failure to tackle global warming could result in economic disaster, the United Nations Secretary-General warned Thursday in Madrid, as negotiators at the UN climate talks remained deadlocked over key issues.

António Guterres said unrestrained climate change would allow only the “survival of the richest,” while former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the “absence of leadership” from Washington was a big obstacle in the talks.

“It’s very difficult to get this done if the United States of America isn’t there,” the veteran diplomat told The Associated Press during an interview in the Spanish capital, adding that he felt negotiators were holding their breath until the next U.S. presidential election at the end of 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has begun the process of abandoning an ambitious 2015 global deal forged by his predecessor Barack Obama that aimed to contain rising temperatures on the planet. Officially the U.S. leaves the Paris accord on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the U.S. election.

“I think Glasgow is already more of a target in many people’s minds here, and that handicaps the process slightly,” Kerry said, referring to the venue of next year’s UN climate summit.

In Madrid, “there will be accomplishments, there’ll be some forward progress, but really, everyone knows that the crunch is going to come next year with the raising ambition issue,” he added.

Scientists say countries need to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050 at the latest to ensure global temperatures don’t rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century.

Not giving up on that goal, UN chief Guterres urged officials from almost 200 countries to embrace the economic opportunities that come with cutting greenhouse gases rather than focus on the risks to existing industries dependent on fossil fuels.

“For too long, vested interests have peddled the false story that economic growth and tackling climate change are incompatible,” the UN chief said. “This is nonsense.”

“In fact, failing to tackle global heating is a sure-fire recipe for economic disaster,” Guterres added.

He cited a study showing that shifting to a low-carbon economy could create 65 million new jobs worldwide by 2030 and boost growth by $26 trillion dollars.

“This transition needs to be done to benefit everybody,” Guterres said. “And not doing this transition will only allow, as I said, the survival of the richest.”

At the talks, vulnerable countries expressed outrage over Australia’s bid to hold onto piles of emissions vouchers left over from a now-discredited system that could allow it to meet its climate commitments without reducing pollution.

Asked about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent assertion that his country was part of the “Pacific family,” the economy minister of Fiji responded that “when you have family members you also have some black sheep members too in the family.”

“At the moment, it would seem that they appear to be far from eating at the same table,” Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told reporters in Madrid, adding that he hoped Australia would “let go of their current position.”

Small, low-lying islands like Fiji are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms and sea-level rise worsened by climate change.

Simon Stiell, environment minister of the Caribbean island of Grenada, warned that some countries at the UN meeting “are losing sight of the bigger picture as if there is no climate emergency.”

“This inaction is costing the lives of our people and impacting the lives and the livelihoods of millions around the world,” Stiell said. “We need to stop talking. We know what must be done.”

Talks to agree rules for global carbon markets and aid for poor countries already affected by climate change have made little progress in recent days.

Bas Eickhout, an influential Green Party lawmaker in the European Parliament, said maintaining the “integrity” of the 2015 Paris climate accord was a priority for the 28-nation bloc. Some negotiators have expressed concern that loopholes in a deal about international carbon markets could allow some countries to claim emissions reductions on paper that haven’t actually been made.

“In that sense, from a European perspective, we are absolutely clear that: better no deal than a bad deal,” said Eickhout.

The summit’s president, Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, urged delegates to find “no excuses for not reaching agreements” and added that the world’s “youth and women” were demanding action, “one that is equal to the historical challenge that we are facing.”

“I call on you to work together to be able to give a positive response tomorrow,” she said.

Separately, two former top U.S. officials signaled that in the absence of leadership from the U.S., Beijing had an opportunity to champion global leadership in fighting climate change if the world’s second largest economy reconsiders its current promotion of coal.

“It would be down to China’s everlasting credit if this policy of financing the construction of so many new coal plants in other countries could respectfully be reviewed and reconsidered,” Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president, told China’s top climate official in Madrid, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment Zhao Yinming.

Kerry, who as the U.S. top diplomat paved the way for the Paris accord by brokering a U.S.-China climate agreement in 2014, told the AP that Beijing’s reliance on coal “will undo a lot of the good that’s been done,” but added that Chinese involvement in fighting climate change “is critical.”

He also said the Trump administration’s trade war with China is dragging possible solutions to the fight against climate change.

“The absence of the United States to work with China as an effective partner is a huge loss to the acceleration process we need,” he said. “It really is sad to see our country absent in many ways in terms of leadership.”
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Biden calls Boris Johnson 'a physical and emotional clone' of Trump
« Reply #14873 on: December 13, 2019, 08:20:41 AM »
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a "physical and emotional clone" of President Trump while speaking at a fundraiser after hearing news of Johnson's Conservative Party winning a majority in Parliament.

The Democratic presidential candidate also said that Johnson was able to win because the rival Labour Party had moved too far left.

"Boris Johnson is winning in a walk,” Biden said Thursday, predicting that headlines would say, “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”

“You’re also going to see people saying, my god, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president, is able to win,” Biden added.

Biden has positioned himself as a more centrist candidate, different from other front-runners such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who are part of the Democratic Party's progressive wing.

The former vice president made the comments during a South San Francisco fundraiser hosted by technology entrepreneur Jon Fisher and clothing boutique owner Darla Fisher, who are married.

About 40 donors attended the event held at South San Francisco’s National Bioskills Laboratories.

Biden is among the top contenders in the crowded Democratic presidential field, consistently polling in the top spot in the run up to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.
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Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Henry Tang has distanced himself from a poem delivered by his niece expressing support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.

Tang’s office told the media on Friday that the piece represented the “personal opinion” of Stefani Kuo, the daughter of his brother-in-law.

A video of Kuo delivering her poem “2047” went viral on social media this week after being posted online by the group New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong.

Her six-minute video mentions the deaths of students Alex Chow, Chan Yin-lam, sieges at university campuses and other high-profile controversies from the protests, which have entered their seventh month.

“I wanted to write a beautiful poem, but another student has died,” she said. “I have watched countless videos of cracked skulls and broken bones, taunted citizens and last breaths, innocent screams from children on the street.”

According to her website, Kuo is a New York-based playwright, poet and actress who graduated from Yale University. She is also a member of the writers’ group Interstate 73 with Page 73.

She is the granddaughter of Stanley Kuo, one of the 20th-century textile magnates in Hong Kong. She became a family relative of former top official Tang after he married her aunt Lisa Kuo.

Kuo started her poem by saying she has been imagining herself dead: “Hands splayed out with a bullet in my chest. I imagine the police arresting me for wearing black, the government making me disappear for writing this poem,” she said.

“I was born in 1995 in British colonial Hong Kong and most of my life has been a ticking time bomb of censorship and surveillance, autocracy and propaganda.”

In her poem, Kuo also criticised the United States and Western powers for not supporting Hong Kong, saying that neither the United Nations nor any government was “bold enough to forgo Chinese money” and stand up against China.

“[The US] is a country founded on freedom and democracy, voices of the people and the right to vote. So why does it feel like it’s laying in bed with a communist regime?” she said.

In an interview with Taiwan news outlet Central News Agency, Kuo said that she wrote the poem after being invited to a poetry reading in New York, and recorded the video at a friend’s suggestion.
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Ontario removing cap on number of pot shops, opening up market for retailers
« Reply #14875 on: December 13, 2019, 08:38:27 AM »
Individual companies will be allowed to own up to 75 retail stores by September 2021

Ontario is removing the cap on the number of pot shops in the province and nixing some qualification requirements for would-be retailers in a bid to clamp down on the number of illegal stores, sources tell CBC News.

Attorney General Doug Downey announced details of the changes weeks after the government first signalled its intention to open the cannabis market.

Downey said the lottery system, first implemented to help the emerging retail market contend with a major supply shortage, and since criticized as a cumbersome process preventing the province from staying competitive, will be eliminated on Jan. 1.

As part of the move, the province says it will be issuing approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations starting in April 2020.

"In response to the federal government's decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible," said Downey in a news release. "We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe."

Until now, prospective retailers were required to demonstrate having a $50,000 letter of credit and pay a $6,000 non-refundable fee as part of their application, which had to be submitted within five days of being picked through a lottery system.

Lawyers for several disqualified shops had disputed whether the qualifications were fair.

Anyone with criminal convictions on certain cannabis-related offences or those who have ties to organized crime will still be barred from getting a licence. Managers and employees at licensed retailers will also be required to complete approved training.

Individual companies will also be allowed to own up to 75 retail stores by September 2021.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will begin accepting applications from prospective retailers on Jan. 6.

The new rules will also allow legal cannabis producers to enter the retail market by opening shops on their premises.

Downey said the primary issue that made the lottery necessary no longer applies.

"The supply issue has been resolved," he said. "We have some really good fundamentals in terms of rules and regulations, and we've seen them work."

The supply shortfall and the lottery system kept the government well shy of its stated goal of having as many as 1,000 cannabis retailers throughout the province. The first lottery saw just 25 licenses issued province-wide, with a further 50 awarded in a second round.

Critics have described the system as excessively slow, arguing the lack of private retail options has prevented the province from making inroads against the illegal weed market.

A group of rejected pot-shop applicants spoke out against the lottery system in court, critiquing the application process in a legal challenge that was ultimately dismissed.

Ontario's opposition parties did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Cannabis consultant Omar Khan hailed the move as a positive step. He said it will help eradicate the illegal market and provide consumers with access to safe and regulated products.

Khan said the price of legal pot will be a key factor.

"As the government moves forward with this new licensing system it should also look at ways to enhance the online consumer experience and find ways to empower retailers to be better able to compete with illegal operators on price," he said in a statement.
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Russia jails Jehovah's Witness adherent for six years over extremism
« Reply #14876 on: December 13, 2019, 08:42:12 AM »
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court jailed a Jehovah’s Witness adherent for six years on Friday after finding him guilty of extremist activity, part of a crackdown on the group that human rights activists say violates religious freedom.

A court in Penza, around 350 miles (563 km) southeast of Moscow, said in a statement it had jailed Vladimir Alushkin, 55, after an investigation had shown he was continuing to run a local branch of the U.S.-headquartered Christian denomination despite the group being outlawed as extremist in Russia.

It said it had also handed suspended two-year prison sentences to five other adherents.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.

“Vladimir’s six-year prison sentence is one of the harshest imposed on one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since the 2017 ban,” said Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the group.

“Russian authorities have remained obstinate in the face of repeated criticism from prominent international bodies and human rights advocates. The current state of religious freedom in Russia is reminiscent of Soviet times.”

Russia’s Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the group was an “extremist” organization and ordered it to disband, a decision that was followed by a crackdown which has seen dozens of adherents detained and hundreds hit with criminal charges.

Alushkin was detained in July last year after what Lopes said was a raid on his home conducted by a dozen masked police officers with assault rifles.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say Russia’s constitution guarantees their right to exercise freedom of religion and deny wrongdoing.

President Vladimir Putin said last year he did not understand why authorities were pursuing the group and called for the matter to be analyzed. But the Kremlin has said since that the group remains illegal under current legislation and has declined to confirm whether the law will be changed or not.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, and rejection of military service and blood transfusions. The group has about 170,000 followers in Russia, and 8 million worldwide.

Rachel Denber of New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Russian authorities to halt its crackdown on the group.

“Alushkin and the others have done nothing wrong. They have the right to freedom of worship,” Denber wrote on social media after his sentencing. “Russia should reverse the ‘extremist’ designation against Jehovah’s Witnesses. And drop charges against all and free those in custody.”
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Children born now face longer period of ill health in old age
« Reply #14877 on: December 13, 2019, 08:47:49 AM »
ONS study finds growth in healthy life expectancy has not kept up with greater longevity

Children born today are likely to spend a larger proportion of their lives in poor health than their grandparents.

They will also benefit from substantially smaller increases in their life expectancy than those born just a few years earlier, in the first decade of the 21st century.

But new data from the Office for National Statistics has also shown that those aged 65 are seeing their healthy life expectancy increase: men in England and Wales aged 65 have gained 31.5 weeks of life, and 33.5 weeks of healthy life, since 2009. Women of the same age have gained 17.4 weeks of life and 23.3 weeks of healthy life over the same period.

In contrast, the proportion of life expected to be spent in good health in the UK has decreased between 2009-11 and 2016-18, from 79.9% to 79.5% for males and from 77.4% to 76.7% for females.

The data showed that Richmond-upon-Thames has the highest male healthy life expectancy at birth in the UK of almost 72 years; almost 19 years longer than men in Blackpool, who have a healthy life expectancy of just over 53 years.

In England, the lowest healthy life expectancy for baby girls is in Nottingham at just over 54 years. The highest healthy life expectancy for baby girls is in Wokingham at just over 72 years: a gap of 18 years.

“We as a society are failing our children and grandchildren disgracefully on intergenerational fairness grounds if we cannot give them the same healthy life prospects as enjoyed by older generations today,” said Liz Emerson, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation. “To change these outcomes we must end childhood deprivation in all its forms and that means prioritising funding for children.”

Aideen Young, evidence manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, agreed: “These inequalities are unacceptable and much more must be done to ensure that the opportunity of longer lives is shared equally. Tackling health inequalities at all ages must be a top priority for whoever forms the next government.”

Large gains previously seen in average UK life expectancy at birth have decreased since 2012, leading to years being knocked off official projections of children’s life expectancies.

Life expectancies are rising faster in London than in any other part of the country – increasing by almost six months between 2013 and 2015 – the research showed. But, nationwide, the life expectancy for babies increased by just 1.7 months for boys and 1.1 months for girls between 2011 and 2018.

This compares with the period between 2001 and 2006, when life expectancy across the UK grew by 12.3 months for boys and 9.3 months for girls.

“The size of the life expectancy gain between 2013 and 2018 is small by historical standards,” said an ONS spokesperson. “A decade earlier, life expectancy was growing 6.5 times faster for males and 8.2 times faster for females. The trajectory observed in more recent periods suggests a slower rate of improvement in the future because of more recent mortality trends.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director from Age UK, said: “We should not forget that in spite of these improvements people are still living in failing health for a large proportion of their later lives. Many of these people are lacking adequate support to live well.”

Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “We know from other data that many older people in England face more than a decade of poor health, during which time they are likely to need some form of social care. This could mean facing a bill of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in care costs, which they would be forced to pay in full if they have savings of more than £23,250.”
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Ex-premier elected Algerian president; thousands march in protest
« Reply #14878 on: December 13, 2019, 02:20:48 PM »
ALGIERS (Reuters) - A former prime minister was elected Algeria’s new president in a vote the authorities hope will end months of turmoil, but protesters who toppled his predecessor marched again on Friday, vowing their movement would not stop.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 74, campaigned as a technocrat who had proven his integrity by being sacked for falling out with powerful business tycoons after just three months serving as prime minister in 2017 under veteran ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tebboune called on Friday for a dialogue with the opposition protest movement, saying at a news conference he would start consultations on a new constitution to be approved by referendum and extended his hand to them “to open a new page”.

But the protesters marching in Algiers see him as beholden to the same shadowy, military-backed elite that has ruled Algeria for decades, and quickly rejected his victory.

Thousands crowded central Algiers despite a heavy police presence, suggesting the new leader may struggle to quell the uprising that ended Bouteflika’s two-decade rule in April.

“The country is ours and we do what we want”, they chanted, while holding up a banner that read: “We will not stop!”

According to official results, Tebboune, who served in a number of cabinet posts under Bouteflika including two stints as housing minister, won the election with more than 50% of the vote, avoiding the need for a run-off against any of four other senior former officials sanctioned to stand.

Authorities said turnout was 40%, a figure they said vindicated the decision to hold the election in the face of a boycott by the protesters.

The army argues that the only way to move the country forward after demonstrators brought down Bouteflika is to elect a successor. But protesters saw the contest as an illegitimate sham intended to keep the old ruling elite in place.

“We have toppled Bouteflika, and we will topple all the system’s men. We won’t give up,” said Riad Mekersi, 24, who has participated in weekly protests for 10 months.

“I cannot accept this vote because I do not recognize the corrupt system,” said Salim Rahmoun, 27. He was holding an Algerian flag and a plaque reading “No vote with the gang.”

Tebboune supporters gathered outside the conference center where his victory was announced, chanting “congratulations to Algeria”.

“All Algerians should be optimistic,” said a young man who gave only his first name, Abdelaziz, because his neighbors rejected the election. “The protesters should stay at home.”

Protesters marched in cities and towns across Algeria throughout Thursday’s election, in some places clashing with police, who tried to disperse them with baton charges.

The election body said some nine million Algerians took part, though some protesters said they believed the figure was false, and there were no foreign observers to monitor the vote.

“The turnout is satisfying and it will give the new president enough backing to implement his reforms,” said Ahmed Mizab, a commentator on state television, saying it showed the decision to hold the elections was “propitious and right”.

The electoral body head, Mohamed Charfi, said the vote had “opened a new page”, achieving the democracy people had demanded in their uprising.

Whatever happens to the protests, Tebboune will face trying times. Nearly all Algerian state revenues come from oil and gas exports, which have declined in price and volume. The government has already approved a 2020 budget with a 9% cut in spending.

Tebboune has tried to harness the protest movement as a source of support for reform while rejecting its message that the entire ruling elite should go. He vowed during the campaign to “separate money from politics”.

He has used the circumstances of his brief premiership to polish his credentials as a man of integrity who stood up to members of Bouteflika’s coterie, many of whom are now jailed facing corruption charges.

However, his own son was also arrested in the post-Bouteflika purge and is awaiting trial for graft. Tebboune supporters said his son’s plight proved his independence.
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‘They will lock us up or just kill us’: Muslims fearful in West Bengal
« Reply #14879 on: December 13, 2019, 02:32:28 PM »
BJP politicians have said ‘no Hindu family will have to leave India’ after national register of citizens

Protesters against the National Register of Citizens in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

It was 81 days ago that Kamal Hussain Mondal, a 32-year-old brick factory worker from a remote village in West Bengal, took his own life. He had been a carefree man and attentive father to his two young sons, and was known throughout Soladana village for his devotion to his wife Khayrun Nahar Bibi. The pair had been married for 13 years but she spoke of their “puppy love”. He would feed her with his hands at mealtimes and on Sundays he would take her out on the back of his bicycle, telling others he loved simply riding through the fields together and chatting.

“He promised he would look after us for ever,” says Bibi. “But after he heard about NRC, everything changed and he fell into a deep despair. He told me: all Muslims are going to be driven from India now. They will lock us up or just kill us. Just wait and see.”

In mid-September, news that the government planned to carry out a National Register of Citizens (NRC) across India, to be implemented first in West Bengal, began to spread in this tiny village. The exercise will mean that every person in the country will have to prove they or their ancestors are citizens of India, rather than “infiltrators” from Bangladesh or Pakistan, and they will have to have the documentary evidence to back up their claim. According to the government, those who can not prove it will be sent to detention centres and face deportation.

The BJP government insists that this vast bureaucratic endeavour is merely a long-overdue bid to count and identify citizens in India and to tackle illegal immigration. However the overwhelming fear among Muslims is that there is a far more sinister communal motive behind the exercise. The BJP openly subscribe to a Hindu nationalist agenda, aiming to establish the world’s largest democracy as a Hindu rather than secular state as enshrined in the constitution. The party’s past five years in power has seen the nation become divided down communal lines, with anti-Muslim hatred stirred up in the process. Since September, as several BJP politicians publicly vowed that “no Hindu will have to leave India because of NRC”, the Muslim community of West Bengal and beyond has grown increasingly worried that the NRC exercise seemed only to target them.

According to multiple accounts heard by the Guardian, over the past two months in villages across West Bengal, the RSS – the Hindu nationalist organisation that spawned the BJP – has also been conducting a covert campaign using its grassroots networks to reassure all Hindu households that they have nothing to worry about with the NRC, even if they have no supporting documents.

This week, the worst fears of the Muslim community were confirmed. A citizenship amendment bill (CAB), which was passed easily by parliament’s lower house on Monday and by the upper house at midnight on Wednesday, granted citizenship to migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – but not if they are Muslim. It was signed into law early on Thursday morning.

The implications of this amendment are enormous. Should the NRC be carried out, it means that Muslims found without the correct documents will face the threat of being declared an illegal alien. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains are protected.

“This amendment undermines the entire secular foundations of India, it violates the constitution which states that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of identity and it threatens the very basis of Indian democracy,” says Kanhaiya Kumar, a student activist leading the charge against the NRC. “But most of all it sows communal poison and hatred by writing into law that Muslims are second-class citizens.”

The climate of fear that has seeped into Muslim communities across India since the nationwide NRC was proposed is increasingly palpable. In poorer communities in particular, it is common for people to have none of the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship, with the paperwork lost to flooding or fires or simply carelessness. Others have documents with incorrect information on them.

In Mondal’s case, it became too much to bear. While his family had only ever lived in India, he realised he was missing several key documents including his father’s birth certificate, while his own name was spelt differently across the paperwork he did have. “For almost a week he did not sleep or eat and he would stay up all night looking up NRC on his phone,” says Bibi. “He became very depressed, he would sit with his head against the wall or lie down on the floor in despair, telling me that we would certainly be driven out.”

Mondal had attempted to get his documents corrected online at the local cyber cafe, but struggled due to his illiteracy, and as the week went on, anxiety began to consume him. By that Saturday he had become quiet and withdrawn, only speaking to repeat his fears of being taken away, and when he slipped out of their bed at 4am on Sunday, Bibi presumed he was going to the market for an early cup of tea to ease his restlessness. But at 5.30am she was shaken awake by her sister-in-law. Mondal had killed himself.

Wiping away tears with her headscarf, Bibi said their youngest son, five-year-old Asadun, was still struggling to understand what had happened. “He keeps asking me if we get all the documents sorted, will my father come back?” she says. To date, at least 6 people have killed themselves in West Bengal over concerns related to the NRC.

The concerns are not unfounded. An NRC exercise was recently carried out in Assam, which resulted in 1.9 million people being left off the citizenship list for reasons as minor as spelling mistakes on their documents, and some for no definable reason at all. So-called “illegals” are due to be sent to detention centres at the end of December.

The Assam NRC was not initially designed to be rolled out nationwide; rather, it was originally based on decades-old legislation to help protect the indigenous Assamese people, both Muslim and Hindu. However, critics say it has been hijacked by the BJP as a way to sow religious discord and was reframed by the party as a means to weed out illegal Muslims. Observers note that it was only after discovering that 1.5 million Hindus in Assam had been left off the citizenship list that the BJP was prompted to introduce this week’s amendment, to ensure that if the NRC was rolled out nationwide, no more Hindus could be declared illegal.

Aparajita Bhuyan, BJP state spokesperson in Assam, was adamant that the measure was “not anti-Muslim” but added that all those Hindus in Assam found to be illegal would be given citizenship, while “after the Muslim illegal immigrants are identified in Assam, the government will decide what action would be taken against them.”

While 10 new detention centres are currently being built in Assam, and even more in West Bengal, questions remain over what the BJP government intends to do with the millions of detainees it will have on its hands after the NRC is rolled out. While it has publicly spoken of deportation, this will be impossible because neither Bangladesh, Pakistan nor Afghanistan has agreed to take them. It will similarly be too costly and impractical to keep everyone in prisons. One suggestion, already being proposed to companies in Assam, is that the detainees could be used as a huge cheap labour force in factories and industrial plants.

Days after the citizenship bill was first passed by parliament at the start of this week, its effect in stoking communal tensions was already evident. In the small West Bengal village of Ramnathpur, home to a predominately Muslim population, villagers spoke of “simmering tension’” that had arisen lately between Muslims and Hindus. “We are panicking because India is adopting the hate politics of Nazi Germany and we Muslims are the target,” said Maruf Hossain, 25.

Dilip Ghosh, president of the BJP in West Bengal, said the fear in the Muslim community was unfounded. “Muslims are perhaps scared because some groups or parties are misleading them on this issue,” said Ghosh. “Our prime minister and home minister have clearly said that Muslims should not have any reason to worry. All our [BJP] party leaders are also assuring them they should not be scared. This bill deals only with the non-Muslim minorities from the neighbouring countries. The bill has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. All Indian Muslims will remain citizens of this country.”

Yet it is not just those in rural communities that there is concern. One Muslim professor, who asked to remain unnamed out of fear of the authorities, said a “communal poison” had seeped into society in the past few months. “Muslims in India have a gun to their head now,” he said.

NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)