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Nobel Peace Prize Celebrating Tunisian Democracy Could Be Premature

The Intercept - Engl. - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 22:24

The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, a coalition of four distinct civil society groups that came together in 2013 and ultimately brokered a deal that kept Tunisia on the path to democracy.

Despite some criticism, the Quartet managed to keep the promise of the Arab Spring alive there, unlike in its neighboring countries: Libya, a nation that has faced two civil wars; Egypt, which has returned to brutal military rule; and Syria, where there seems to be no foreseeable end to the bloody civil war.

But Tunisia’s democratic future is not yet assured.

“This great news is one of celebration for the achievements of civil society and the Quartet,” Amna Guellali, a leading activist in Tunisia and Human Rights Watch researcher said. “But the celebration should not overshadow the many challenges and underlying problems that still lie at heart of transition while Tunisia is still very fragile and vulnerable.”

There are two pieces of legislation that alarm civil society activists: A counterterrorism law that was passed in July and an economic reconciliation bill that has been proposed by the government but not yet voted on.

After the June 26 terrorist attack at a beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia’s government faced valid criticism for not improving security measures after an earlier attack, March 18, at the Bardo Museum. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks, although the government blamed a local al-Qaeda affiliate.

The parliament responded by passing a counterterrorism law that included security measures meant to address the rising threats from radical Islamists. It includes prerogatives for security forces to detain individuals for up to 15 days incommunicado, conduct broad surveillance, and intercept communications. It also criminalizes “denigration” of security forces without detailing specifically what that means. These resemble security measures under the former dictator.

The other law, proposed by President Beji Caïd Essebsi and his cabinet this summer, would arguably give a free pass to many of the business and government figures widely seen to have contributed to the economic injustices that led to the Tunisian revolution in the first place.

The bill would allow individuals accused of financial corruption and embezzlement of public funds to simply pay what they stole from the government in exchange for the dropping of all charges and freedom to work in any government institution, “as long as such acts did not seek to achieve personal gain.”

Al Jazeera English quoted Samia Abbou, a member of parliament from the opposition Congress for the Republic Party (CRP) saying the law “could lead to the return of dictatorship.”

“If the law passes, from a symbolic point, it will send the wrong message to the world after winning the Nobel,” said Guellali. “The Nobel was a message of hope that only inclusive democracy with civil society is a way forward, and this law on impunity will send the opposite message that we are accepting corruption to give broad impunity to those who stole the wealth of this nation, like a last stroke for the Tunisian revolution.”

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Quartet — composed of the Tunisian General Labor Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers – “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

When fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself aflame in the fall of 2010, he sparked a revolution that in January 2011 ultimately ousted Tunisia’s dictator of 24 years, Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali. Tunisians took to the streets demanding social and economic justice and an end to the government’s financial corruption and cronyism. When democratic elections took place in October of that year, the moderate Islamist party Ennahda – composed of many individuals who were persecuted under the deposed dictator – was elected into power.

However, by the summer of 2013, two opposition leaders had been assassinated, and their killers remained on the loose. After Tunisian activists, lawmakers, and citizens again went to the streets in protest, the National Dialogue Quartet was formed.

The Quartet was intended to bring individuals from across civil society together to find a way to reconcile the Tunisian public’s demands for accountability with the democratically-elected government, and in that way preventing the democracy from being dismantled. They succeeded.

In December 2013, the Quartet reached a deal with the ruling Ennahda party. Ennahda would hand over its power to a technocratic government after the adoption of a constitution, while the party would still hold its seats in the National Constituent Assembly, where it held a majority. The new technocratic government would then make arrangements for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in the fall of 2014.

Now, Guellali said, “I’m cautiously optimistic…. We are not off the hook. In light of the Nobel that awarded civil society’s achievements in Tunisia, the strength of our civil society must prove itself now more than ever now that everybody’s watching.”

Kiran Alvi is a multimedia journalist currently based in Washington, after working for two years in Tunisia. You can follow her on Twitter @kiranalvi.

Caption: A protester wearing a Tunisian flag, makes his way past closed shops in the Casbah toward sporadic gunfire in Tunis, Tunisia, on Saturday, February 26, 2011.

The post Nobel Peace Prize Celebrating Tunisian Democracy Could Be Premature appeared first on The Intercept.

TTIP: Berlin 10.10. - muß sein

Amazonas-Box/Frieden-etc. - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 18:23

Last Call ;-)

Sonderzüge sind gut: sie haben Platz!
Für die Berlinfahrt gibt es noch Tickets am Zug! also Geld einstecken - Ermäßigungen evtl. möglich?

Abfahrt heute nach Mitternacht (10.10. 0:23h) am Gleis 22 Hbf München

Im Zug dann die ganzen Demo-Infos ;-)

Rückfahrt Berlin Sa 18:42 / Rückkunft So. Nachts 2:28

mehr Links


Niemand hat die Absicht, autonome Roboter zu bewaffnen

IMI Tübingen - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 16:50
In der Auseinandersetzung um die Anschaffung bewaffneter Drohnen für die Bundeswehr spielt auch die Debatte um wachsende Autonomie unbemannter Systeme eine zentrale Rolle. Anlässlich der Eröffnung einer der wichtigsten Konferenzen zu Künstlicher Intelligenz (KI), der IJCAI (International Joint Conference on (…)

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12 Milliarden mehr als geplant für Rüstungsprojekte

RIB/DAKS - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 15:59

Das Verteidigungsministerium hat am 8. Oktober den zweiten Bericht zu Rüstungsangelegenheiten an den Verteidigungsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestages übersandt. Dieser Bericht, der an einen ersten, im März 2015 vorgelegten Bericht anknüpft, legt den Fokus auf das Jahr 2016.

Der aktuelle Bericht behandelt 19 besonders relevante Rüstungsprojekte, die einer umfangreichen Bestandsaufnahme und kontinuierlichen Risikoanalyse unterzogen wurden. In diesen 19 Projekten wurden bisher rund 330 Risiken und Probleme identifiziert – dabei 80 Risiken, die als hoch eingestuft werden. Das Finanzvolumen, das untersucht wird, beläuft sich auf rund 59 Milliarden Euro.

Die 19 größten Rüstungsprojekte der Bundeswehr haben durchschnittlich 41 Monate Verspätung und sind zusammen 12,6 Milliarden Euro teurer als geplant.

  • Das entspreche einer Kostensteigerung von 28 Prozent, heißt es in einem aktuellen Rüstungsbericht des Verteidigungsministeriums.
  • Die Verzögerung lag bei der letzten Bestandsaufnahme im Frühjahr noch bei 51 Monaten. Damals wurden aber nur 15 Projekte untersucht, bei denen Kostensteigerungen von 12,9 Milliarden Euro festgestellt wurden.
  • Auf der Prüfliste stehen unter anderem das Kampfflugzeug „Eurofighter“, der Schützenpanzer „Puma“, der Transportflieger A400M sowie die Hubschrauber NH90 und „Tiger“.

Den gesamten Bericht können Sie hier einsehen.

Government Likens Ending Bulk Surveillance to Opening Prison Gates

The Intercept - Engl. - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 01:46

A Justice Department prosecutor said Thursday that ordering the immediate end of bulk surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records would be as hasty as suddenly letting criminals out of prison.

“Public safety should be taken into consideration,” argued DOJ attorney Julia Berman, noting that in a 2011 Supreme Court ruling on prison overcrowding, the state of California was given two years to find a solution and relocate prisoners.

By comparison, she suggested, the six months Congress granted to the National Security Agency to stop indiscriminately collecting data on American phone calls was minimal.

Ending the bulk collection program even a few weeks before the current November 29 deadline would be an imminent risk to national security because it would create a dangerous “intelligence gap” during a period rife with fears of homegrown terrorism, she said.

The argument came during a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on plaintiff Larry Klayman’s request for a preliminary injunction that would immediately halt the NSA program that tracks who in the United States is calling who, when, and for how long.

The bulk telephony metadata program, which the NSA said was authorized under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, was closed down by Congress in June with the passage of new legislation—the USA Freedom Act. However, the new bill allowed for a grace period of six months in which the government could set up a less all-inclusive alternative..

Klayman, an idiosyncratic plaintiff with a history of accusing the government of lying, seemed a bit unsure about specifically what relief he sought at the Thursday hearing.

But he argued that the transition period granted to the NSA was too long. “One day of constitutional violation is one day too much,” he said in his opening remarks.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in May ruled that the bulk telephony program was illegal.

Judge Leon ruled in Klayman’s favor in 2013, calling the government’s spying “almost Orwellian.”

When Berman made her analogy to releasing prisoners en masse, Leon responded: “That’s really a very different kind of situation, don’t you think?”.

And Berman was unable to cite any evidence that the bulk collection prevented any sort of terrorist attack, or that ending it now would be a serious threat.

“That’s a problem I had before—wonderful high lofty expressions, general vague terms…but [the government] did not share a single example,” Leon said.

Klayman, whose arguments consisted mostly of accusing the government of lying and violating the law, decided by the end of the hearing that he actually wanted the entire USA Freedom Act stricken from the books—because he insisted that Congress, in allowing an unconstitutional program to proceed, had violated the Constitution itself.

Judge Leon promised a ruling “as soon as possible.”

Caption: Plaintiff Larry Klayman in 2014. 

The post Government Likens Ending Bulk Surveillance to Opening Prison Gates appeared first on The Intercept.

Maßstäbe setzen

German Foreign Policy - Fr, 09/10/2015 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Vor der Berliner Großdemonstration gegen das Freihandelsabkommen TTIP am morgigen Samstag intensivieren Wirtschaft und Politik ihre PR-Anstrengungen für den heftig kritisierten Vertrag. Die bundesdeutschen Konzerne erwarten von der Übereinkunft Einsparungen in Milliardenhöhe. Vor allem durch den Abbau von Zöllen und die Vereinheitlichung von Vorschriften auf Kosten des Verbraucherschutzes wollen die Unternehmen von TTIP profitieren. Angesichts ähnlicher Freihandelsprojekte in anderen Teilen der Welt mahnen Manager und Politiker zu einem raschen Abschluss der Verhandlungen, um selbst Standards für den Welthandel setzen zu können, anstatt sich anderen Ländern anpassen zu müssen; vor allem das transpazifische Freihandelsabkommen TPP, das Nordamerika mit Teilen Ost- und Südostasiens, Südamerikas und der Pazifikregion zusammenschließt, gilt als Konkurrenz. Wissenschaftler warnen indes vor einer Welt, die in unterschiedliche, miteinander rivalisierende Handelsblöcke zerfällt; dies berge, heißt es, ein erhebliches Konfliktpotenzial.

DuPont Found Liable in Teflon Toxin Trial

The Intercept - Engl. - Do, 08/10/2015 - 18:40

A JURY HAS FOUND DUPONT liable for negligence in the case of Carla Bartlett, taking less than a day to award $1.6 million to the Ohio woman who developed kidney cancer after drinking water contaminated with a chemical formerly used to make Teflon. The jury declined to give Bartlett punitive damages in the federal case. Instead, the award included $1.1 million for negligence as well as $500,000 for emotional distress.

“This is brilliant,” one of Bartlett’s attorneys, Mike Papantonio, said of the verdict. “It’s exactly what we wanted.” Papantonio emphasized that Bartlett’s case, the first of more than 3,500 personal injury and wrongful death suits filed on behalf of people in West Virginia and Ohio who were exposed to C8, had been chosen by DuPont as the first to be tried and involved less egregious injuries than many others yet to be heard.

“They picked this case with the idea that it was the most winnable. Strategically they never dreamed we’d win this case,” said Papantonio, who predicts that other C8 suits in the pipeline will result in punitive damages. “Really, it’s just a matter of time.”

In a statement, DuPont said it expected to appeal the verdict and emphasized that “safety and environmental stewardship are core values at DuPont.”

CARLA BARTLETT LIVED much of her life in Coolville, Ohio, a tiny town a few miles across the Ohio River from a DuPont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. After years of drinking water that had been contaminated with C8, Bartlett, who is now 51, was diagnosed with a tumor on her kidney in 1997 and underwent a painful surgery that involved removing part of one of her ribs along with the tumor.

Bartlett’s attorneys argued that while she and tens of thousands of people living near Parkersburg, West Virginia, were drinking water contaminated with C8, DuPont was actively working to ensure they didn’t “connect the dots” about the chemical. One DuPont PowerPoint presented by Papantonio described the company’s strategy of keeping sensitive information from government agencies, community organizations, and “disgruntled employees.”

DuPont’s lawyers, for their part, denied any responsibility for Bartlett’s illness. “Nobody at DuPont expected that Mrs. Bartlett or anyone else in the community would be hurt,” said Damond Mace, who emphasized that the company couldn’t have predicted that scientists would find a probable link between C8 and kidney cancer, as they did in 2012.

Bartlett’s attorneys responded with voluminous internal communications showing the company did in fact foresee the damage they would later inflict. In one DuPont document, a summary of a 1984 meeting about C8, a DuPont employee concluded that “we are already liable for the past 32 years of operation.”

The presentation of historical documents was designed to convince the jury that the company acted irresponsibly, even given the information that was available before Bartlett’s diagnosis. Bartlett’s lawyers laid out a clear timeline that began in the 1950s, when DuPont first learned of the chemical’s potential toxicity. By 1966, some DuPont employees realized that C8 was seeping into groundwater. By 1980, after the company instituted regular testing of its own employees, DuPont had evidence that C8 was present in workers’ blood — and within two more years there was evidence that the contamination persisted in human tissues. By 1984, according to testimony, DuPont’s own testing had established that C8 had leaked into local drinking water. In 1989, DuPont knew that C8 caused testicular tumors in rats — and even classified C8 as a possible carcinogen. But rather than reporting these developments, Mike Papantonio told the jury, “They hid this information from the public for at least 16 years.”

At any of these junctures, DuPont might have decided to stop using the chemical, said Papantonio, who repeatedly referred to a graph showing the spread of C8 contamination in the Ohio River, along with mounting evidence of the chemical’s harm. Instead, he emphasized in his closing arguments, DuPont actually increased production for years, even as it learned more about the dangers the chemical posed.

The company could have easily disposed of its C8 waste differently, Bartlett’s attorneys argued. As evidence, they produced a 1985 memo and a manufacturer’s information sheet from 3M, the company that sold C8 to DuPont until 2000, both of which clearly stated that the chemical should have been either incinerated or placed in a landfill designed for hazardous waste. Bartlett’s lawyers also revealed documents showing that DuPont did in fact follow 3M’s directive in its facilities in Japan, China, and the Netherlands, where it burned C8 waste.

In Parkersburg, however, DuPont chose to pump C8 through its smokestacks, bury it in unlined landfills, and dump up to 50,000 pounds a year directly into the Ohio River. The attorneys also presented evidence that switching to incineration would have cost the Parkersburg plant less than .2 percent of its annual operating costs. “The only reason they didn’t do it was because they wanted to save money,” Papantonio told the jury. Later, he added: “We wouldn’t be here today if it were incinerated.”

ARGUABLY THE MOST MOVING testimony came from Bartlett herself, a mother of two who described her daily routine of drinking iced tea that she unwittingly made with contaminated water, the physical pain of her ordeal, and her fear of a recurrence. Bartlett cried while on the stand and traced a huge line across her body where she has a scar from her surgery, saying, “It’s very big, and it’s very ugly.”

But it was testimony from two of DuPont’s own witnesses, who admitted to having high levels of C8 in their own bodies, that may have been even more damaging. Anthony Playtis, who was occupational health coordinator at the DuPont plant in Parkersburg, said that in 1994 C8 was measured in his blood at 400 parts per billion (ppb), a level that is roughly 100 times the national average. The retired DuPont worker went on to dismiss the notion that the measurement was cause for concern. “I knew there were a lot of other people who had much higher levels, and so I didn’t think mine was anything to worry about,” he said. Also, Playtis noted, “Everything is toxic.”

As part of a group of DuPont employees who measured C8 levels in local drinking water, Playtis took a sample from his home in 1988 that measured 2.2 ppb — more than double the safe level the company had set internally. But neither he nor anyone else at DuPont reported the elevated C8 readings to the public or to regulators until 1999. During those years, local children were splashing in backyard pools and community members were watering their vegetable gardens with the stuff.

Another former DuPont employee, Paul Bossert, who served as plant manager in Parkersburg from 2000 to 2005, made a point of mentioning that he drank the plant’s water, which had elevated levels of C8, and acknowledged that the chemical had been measured in his own blood at 85 ppb. Upon cross-examination, however, Bossert admitted that he had high cholesterol and a potentially cancerous “spot” on his kidney. Both conditions are among the six approved by a panel of scientists as grounds for personal injury cases such as Bartlett’s.

The jury didn’t have to make a decision about whether Bossert’s health conditions were caused by C8, but they did have to try to determine if the chemical caused Bartlett’s cancer, and they were given specific instructions about how to do so. According to the terms of a 2005 class-action settlement over the contamination that spawned these cases, they had to accept as fact that drinking C8 for at least a year at the level of .05 ppb or above, as Bartlett did, can cause cancer.

Although DuPont’s attorneys were not permitted to dispute the fact that C8 can cause cancer, they did question whether it had caused Carla Bartlett’s particular illness. “Just because C-8 is capable of causing cancer does not mean that it did cause Mrs. Bartlett’s kidney cancer,” DuPont attorney Damond Mace said. Instead, he argued that Bartlett’s cancer that was caused by her obesity.

The $1.6 million verdict is only one of several problems now facing DuPont. Since March the company’s stock is down more than 30 percent, and on Monday CEO Ellen Kullman announced she was stepping down, leaving DuPont without a succession plan.

Some observers who are familiar with the company’s long history in Parkersburg believe Kullman’s departure is tied to C8. Jeffrey Dugas, campaign manager of Keep Your Promises DuPont, a local nonprofit devoted to holding the company accountable, said the company’s mishandling of the chemical — the contamination, the cover-up, and now the bruising legal fight that just concluded in Columbus — hasn’t served anyone well.

“This whole process of trying to wiggle out of its responsibilities has hurt everyone involved,” said Dugas. “The latest victim is Ellen Kullman. But mid-Ohio residents have been suffering for over a decade.”

As the first of six bellwether cases, Bartlett’s verdict is seen as an important predictor of the thousands of C8 claims that may yet come to trial. The next case, in which the plaintiff has ulcerative colitis, is scheduled to be heard in Columbus in late November. The future of Chemours, the chemical company that was recently spun off from DuPont, may also hinge on the outcome of these trials.

With C8 present in water far beyond the Ohio Valley, where Bartlett and other plaintiffs in the current crop of plaintiffs were contaminated, the implications of the Bartlett case may be far wider. Papantonio, who tried some of the first asbestos cases, sees that litigation, which has cost industry more than $50 billion to date, as a possible model.

“This is starting out just like those cases,” said Papantonio. “If I was in charge of this company, I’d be worried.”

For more on C8 and DuPont, see The Intercept’s 3-part investigation.

The post DuPont Found Liable in Teflon Toxin Trial appeared first on The Intercept.

[Kolumbien] Politische Gefangene und Friedensprozess

Indymedia antimil - Do, 08/10/2015 - 07:48
von: Solidaridad am: 08.10.2015 - 07:48

Kolumbien stellt sich der Weltöffentlichkeit gerne als ein Land vor, welches eine lange demokratische Tradition besitzt. In Wahrheit jedoch sind soziale Ungerechtigkeit, Armut und Repression in einem von einer reichen Minderheit regierten Staat an der Tagesordnung. Ausdruck dessen sind ein über 50-jähriger bewaffneter Konflikt und die hohe Anzahl von politischen Gefangenen.

Eine neue Ära in Mittelost (II)

German Foreign Policy - Do, 08/10/2015 - 00:00
Deutsche Unternehmen bahnen die ersten Großinvestitionen in Iran nach dem Ende der Sanktionen und milliardenschwere Erdgasgeschäfte mit Teheran an. Mehrere Wirtschaftsdelegationen haben dazu in den vergangenen Wochen Iran bereist. Das Bundesland Bayern wird in Kürze eine neue Wirtschaftsrepräsentanz in der iranischen Hauptstadt eröffnen. Zum einen geht es um den mittelöstlichen Absatzmarkt. Iran sei "die Herzkammer eines Wirtschaftsraums, der über die Grenzen hinweg 400 Millionen Menschen umfasst", heißt es in Wirtschaftskreisen. So will der Volkswagen-Konzern mit dem Verkauf von Autos in Iran Einbrüche auf wichtigen Märkten, insbesondere in China und Brasilien, wettmachen. Zum anderen zielen die Bemühungen Berlins und Brüssels darauf ab, sich iranisches Erdgas zu sichern. Vom Jahr 2030 an sollten 25 bis 35 Milliarden Kubikmeter iranischen Erdgases jährlich in die EU verkauft werden - vermutlich als Flüssiggas, heißt es in der EU-Kommission. Die BASF-Erdgastochter Wintershall ist interessiert. Der Wirtschaftsminister des Bundeslandes Niedersachsen hat in den vergangenen Tagen in Teheran ein deutsch-iranisches Joint Venture zum Bau einer Flüssiggasanlage in Wilhelmshaven vorgeschlagen. All dies geschieht zu einer Zeit, zu der der Konflikt um Syrien, in dem Iran neben Russland gegen den Westen steht, eskaliert.


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