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Brexit is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

The Intercept - Engl. - sam, 25/06/2016 - 17:48

The decision by UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Vincent Bevins, in an outstanding and concise analysis, wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very, wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years”; in particular, “since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.” The British journalist Tom Ewing, in a comprehensive Brexit explanation, said the same dynamic driving the UK vote prevails in Europe and North American as well: “the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact.”

In an interview with The New Statesman, the political philosopher Michael Sandel also said that the dynamics driving the pro-Brexit sentiment were now dominant throughout the west generally: “a large constituency of working-class voters feel that not only has the economy left them behind, but so has the culture, that the sources of their dignity, the dignity of labour, have been eroded and mocked by developments with globalisation, the rise of finance, the attention that is lavished by parties across the political spectrum on economic and financial elites, the technocratic emphasis of the established political parties.” After the market-venerating radicalism of Reagan and Thatcher, he said, “the centre left” – Blair and Clinton and various European parties – “managed to regain political office but failed to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy, which ­became empty and obsolete.”

Three Guardian writers sounded the similar themes about elite media ignorance, stemming from their homogeneity and detachment from the citizenry. John Harris quoted a Manchester voter as explaining that “if you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out,” and Harris added: “most of the media . . . failed to see this coming. . . . The alienation of the people charged with documenting the national mood from the people who actually define it is one of the ruptures that has led to this moment.” Gary Younge similarly denounced “a section of the London-based commentariat [that] anthropologised the British working class as though they were a lesser evolved breed from distant parts, all too often portraying them as bigots who did not know what was good for them.” Ian Jack’s article was headlined “In this Brexit vote, the poor turned on an elite who ignored them,” and he described how “gradually the sight of empty towns and shuttered shops became normalised or forgotten.” Headlines like this one from The Guardian were prescient but largely ignored:

Though there were some exceptions, establishment political and media elites in the UK were vehemently united against Brexit, but their decreed wisdom was ignored, even scorned. That has happened time and again. As their fundamental failures become more evident to all, these elites have lost credibility, lost influence, and lost the ability to dictate outcomes.

Just last year in the UK, Labour members chose someone to lead Tony Blair’s party – the authentically left-wing Jeremy Corbyn – who could not have been more intensely despised and patronized by almost every leading light of the British media and political class. In the U.S., the joyful rejection by Trump voters of the collective wisdom of the conservative establishment evidenced the same contempt for elite consensus. The enthusiastic and sustained rallying, especially by young voters, against beloved-by-the-establishment Hillary Clinton in favor of a 74-year-old socialist taken seriously by almost no DC elites reflected the same dynamic. Elite denunciations of the right-wing parties of Europe fall on deaf ears. Elites can’t stop, or even affect, any of these movements because they are, at bottom, revolts against their wisdom, authority and virtue.

In sum, the west’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding – all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer – in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate.

In 2011, NATO bombed Libya by pretending it was motivated by humanitarianism, only to ignore that country once the fun military triumph was celebrated, thus leaving a vacuum of anarchy and milita rule for years that spread instability through the region and fueled the refugee crisis. The U.S. and its European allies continue to invade, occupy and bomb predominantly Muslim countries while propping up their most brutal tyrants, then feign befuddlement about why anyone would want to attack them back, justifying erosions of basic liberties and more bombing campaigns each time someone does. The rise of ISIS and the foothold it seized in Iraq and Libya were the direct by-products of the west’s military actions (as even Tony Blair admitted regarding Iraq). Western societies continue to divert massive resources into military weaponry and prisons for their citizens, enriching the most powerful factions in the process, all while imposing harsh austerity on already suffering masses. In sum, western elites thrive while everyone else loses hope.

These are not random, isolated mistakes. They are the by-product of fundamental cultural pathologies within western elite circles – a deep rot. Why should institutions that have repeatedly authored such travesties, and spread such misery, continue to command respect and credibility? They shouldn’t, and they’re not. As Chris Hayes warned in his 2012 book Twilight of the Elites, “given both the scope and depth of this distrust [in elite institutions], it’s clear that we’re in the midst of something far grander and more perilous than just a crisis of government or a crisis of capitalism. We are in the midst of a broad and devastating crisis of authority.”

It’s natural – and inevitable – that malignant figures will try to exploit this vacuum of authority. All sorts of demagogues and extremists will try to re-direct mass anger for their own ends. Revolts against corrupt elite institutions can usher in reform and progress, but they can also create a space for the ugliest tribal impulses: xenophobia, authoritarianism, racism, fascism. One sees all of that, both good and bad, manifesting in the anti-establishment movements throughout the U.S., Europe, and the UK: including Brexit. All of this can be invigorating, or promising, or destabilizing, or dangerous: most likely a combination of all that.

The solution is not to subserviently cling to corrupt elite institutions out of fear of the alternatives. It is, instead, to help bury those institutions and their elite mavens and then fight for superior replacements. As Hayes put it in his book, the challenge is “directing the frustration, anger, and alienation we all feel into building a trans-ideological coalition that can actually dislodge the power of the post-meritocratic elite. One that marshals insurrectionist sentiment without succumbing to nihilism and manic, paranoid distrust.”

Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There is no one, unifying explanation for Brexit, or Trumpism, or the growing extremism of various stripes throughout the west, but this sense of angry impotence – an inability to see any option other than smashing those responsible for their plight –  is undoubtedly a major factor. As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, and Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.

Obviously, those who are the target of this anti-establishment rage – political, economic and media elites – are desperate to exonerate themselves, to demonstrate that they bear no responsibility for the suffering masses that are now refusing to be compliant and silent. The easiest course to achieve that goal is simply to demonize those with little power, wealth or possibility as stupid and racist: this is only happening because they are primitive and ignorant and hateful, not because they have any legitimate grievances or because I or my friends or my elite institutions have done anything wrong. As Vice’s Michael Tracy put it:

Elites' reaction to Brexit mimics their reaction to Trump: blame the amorality of ordinary people rather than reckon with elite failure

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) June 24, 2016

Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites – including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago – instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted and amoral.

Indeed, media reaction to the Brexit vote – filled with unreflective rage, condescension and contempt toward those who voted wrong – perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place. Media elites, by virtue of their position, adore the status quo. It rewards them, vests them with prestige and position, welcomes them into exclusive circles, allows them to be close to (if not themselves wielding) great power while traveling their country and the world, provides them with a platform, fills them with esteem and purpose. The same is true of academic elites, and financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.

Because of how generally satisfied they are with their lot, they regard with affection and respect the internationalist institutions that safeguard the west’s prevailing order: the World Bank and IMF, NATO and the west’s military forces, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the EU. While they express some piecemeal criticisms of each, they literally cannot comprehend how anyone would be fundamentally disillusioned by and angry with these institutions, let alone want to break from them. They are far removed from the suffering that causes those anti-establishment sentiments. So they search and search in vein for some rationale that could explain something like Brexit, or the establishment-condemning movements on the right and left, and can find only one way to process it: these people are not motivated by any legitimate grievances or economic suffering, but instead they are just broken, ungrateful, immoral, hateful, racist and ignorant.

Of course it is the case that some, perhaps much, of the support given to these anti-establishment movements is grounded in those sorts of ugly sentiments. But it’s also the case that their revered elite establishment institutions in finance, media and politics are driven by all sorts of equally ugly impulses, as the rotted fruit of their actions conclusively prove.

Even more important, the mechanism that western citizens are expected to use to express and rectify dissatisfaction – elections – has largely ceased to serve any correction function. As Hayes, in a widely cited tweet, put it this week about Brexit:

I don't want a future in which politics is primarily a battle between cosmopolitan finance capitalism and ethno-nationalist backlash.

— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 24, 2016

But that is exactly the choice presented not only by Brexit but also western elections generally, including the 2016 Clinton v. Trump General Election (just look at the powerful array of Wall Street tycoons and war-loving neocons which – long before Trump – viewed the former Democratic New York Senator and Secretary of State as their best hope for having their agenda and interests served). When democracy is preserved only in form, structured to change little to nothing about power distribution, people naturally seeks alternatives for the redress of their grievances, particularly when they suffer.

More importantly still – and directly contrary to what establishment liberals love to claim in order to demonize all who reject their authority – economic suffering and xenophobia/racism are not mutually exclusive; the opposite is true: the former fuels the latter, as sustained economic misery makes people more receptive to tribalistic scapegoating. That’s precisely why plutocratic policies that deprive huge portions of the population of basic opportunity and hope are so dangerous. Claiming that supporters of Brexit or Trump or Corbyn or Sanders or anti-establishment European parties on the left and right are motivated only by hatred but not genuine economic suffering and political oppression is a transparent tactic for exonerating status quo institutions and evading responsibility for doing anything about their core corruption.

Part of this spiteful media reaction to Brexit is grounded in a dreary combination of sloth and habit: a sizable portion of the establishment-liberal commentariat in the west has completely lost the ability to engage with any sort of dissent from their orthodoxies, or even to understand those who disagree with them. They are capable of nothing beyond adopting the most smug and self-satisfied posture, then spouting clichés to dismiss their critics as ignorant, benighted bigots. Like the people of the west who bomb Muslim countries and then express confusion that anyone wants to attack them back, the most simple-minded of these establishment media liberals are constantly enraged that the people they endlessly malign as ignorant haters refuse to vest them with the respect and credibility to which they are naturally entitled.

But there’s something deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: they are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: they are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it”; but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that – due their distance from them – they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists – like anyone else – tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the by-product of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Elites are usually elite for good reason, and tend to have better judgment than the average person. #confessyourunpopularopinion

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) December 4, 2013

Brexit was a tantrum — British voters had good reason to be angry, but what they did won't make anything better.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) June 24, 2016

Brexit – despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower – could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential benefit was generated by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: this is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

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FBI’s Secret Surveillance Tech Budget Is ‘Hundreds of Millions’

The Intercept - Engl. - sam, 25/06/2016 - 16:49

The FBI has “hundreds of millions of dollars” to spend on developing technology for use in both national security and domestic law enforcement investigations—but it won’t reveal the exact amount.

Deputy Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Burrell, spoke about the secretive budget of the Operational Technology Division—which focuses on all the bureau’s advanced investigative gizmos, from robots to surveillance tech to biometric scanners during a roundtable discussion on encryption technology.

In December 2015, The Washington Post reported the budget of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division at between $600 and $800 million, but officials refused to confirm the exact amount.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept on the division’s budget.

The intelligence community sponsored the roundtable on Thursday and Friday to spark discussion among academics, scientists, developers, and tech officials on the finer points of encryption—and to try to answer whether it’s technically possible to give law enforcement access to secure devices without compromising digital security.

The National Academies of Science, Technology, and Medicine hosted the workshop, which included Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the NSA, James Baker, the top lawyer for the FBI, tech officials from Apple, Microsoft, and other companies.

Burrell said the FBI divides its technical focuses into two areas—core IT capabilities, and the Operational Technology Division—which devotes resources to researching and developing technology “specifically for use in investigations.”

The division’s budget had to be put “into context,” Burrell stressed. Resources are split between tools developed for national security investigations versus domestic law enforcement. “Sometimes we’re not able to use the technology we develop for one side equally on the other,” because some technology is classified, he said.

The FBI has tried to keep evidence gleaned from its advanced, national security technology secret in court proceedings relating to domestic investigations—technology like Stingrays, which mimic cell phone powers to track location information of an entire geographical area. The FBI has even chosen to throw out legal prosecutions to hide its technical capabilities—a controversial decision that’s been criticized by advocates for transparency.

The bureau has also repeatedly stressed how challenging and expensive it is to develop capabilities to hack into devices rather than have a mandated access point in encryption. “Hacking devices…of course we do it, but it is slow,” Baker said in his concluding remarks. “It’s expensive, it’s very fragile.”

The FBI has requested over $100 million more dollars for its operational technology division and cyber division for 2017—pushing the grand total closer to a billion, if the Washington Post‘s figure is accurate. The FBI asked for over $85 million to bulk up its cyber offense and defense—and over $38 million to counter the problem encryption and other anonymity software poses during investigations through technological means.

“Of all kinds of government secrecy, budget secrecy is the least defensible,”Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy run by the Federation of American Scientists, wrote in an email to The Intercept. Publishing the budget is required by the Constitution, he pointed out.

Agencies often prefer not to divulge budget in order keep some programs below the radar, or because keeping the amounts secret “helps to obscure large increases or decreases in funding that could attract unwanted attention,” he said.

“But spending levels do not reveal operational information — about targets, or capabilities, or vulnerabilities — and therefore they should almost always be disclosed,” he concluded. The work done by the Operational Technology Division had received more attention after the 2015 San Bernadino shootings. Access to encrypted communications has become a national issue following the FBI’s battle with Apple over obtaining access to the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, which was encrypted.

Technology officials largely agree that giving any sort of “exceptional access” to software would damage an already fragile digital security regime experts have spent decades trying to improve.

During the first panel session, the conversation turned to what the FBI might be able to do instead of supporting mandated “backdoors” or security holes in products in order to intercept communications of suspects.

Baker, the bureau’s top lawyer, said the FBI’s technical capabilities are “finite” but “in some ways” are “better and increasing every day.”

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„Immer für ein Drama gut“ - sam, 25/06/2016 - 08:52

25. Juni 2016 –

Der Brexit kommt nicht völlig überraschend, sagt Wolfgang Kemp im Interview mit Hintergrund.  Der Kunsthistoriker war viele Jahre lang Professor an der Universität Hamburg und hat heute eine  Gastprofessur an der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. Er ist Autor vieler bekannter Bücher über Kunst und Architektur und ein hervorragender Kenner Englands. Zuletzt schrieb er Foreign Affairs. Die Abenteuer einiger Engländer in Deutschland 1900–1945. Hanser Verlag, München 2010.

Herr Kemp, wie haben Sie heute auf die Nachricht vom Brexit reagiert?

Meine erste Reaktion war: Das Insel-Klischee zu bemühen. Es hat ja eine reale Grundlage. In England entstand der Kapitalismus, die moderne industrielle


British Exit From EU Not Inevitable, Despite Referendum

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 24/06/2016 - 23:43

In the first hours after the British public voted to exit the European Union, amid all sorts of triumphal statements and recriminations, one declaration was notably absent: the formal notification to the EU that the United Kingdom intends to leave the organization, which is required to start the clock on negotiations for a departure.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the failed campaign to convince voters to stay in the EU, told the public that an exit would not happen soon, as he intended to resign in three months and leave it to his successor to decide “when to trigger Article 50″ of the union’s basic agreement, the Lisbon Treaty, which says that a member state has two years after declaring its desire to leave to negotiate the terms of its exit.

Has Article 50 been invoked yet?

— David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) June 24, 2016

Speaking to the press a short time later, the man considered most likely to be prime minister in October, Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, also seemed in no hurry to get the process started.

“In voting to leave the EU, it is vital to stress that there is no need for haste,” Johnson said, “and indeed, as the prime minister has just said, nothing will change over the short term, except that work will have to begin on how to give effect to the will of the people and to extricate this country from the the supranational system.”

Given that the popular mandate his side had just won was summed up in a single word on the backdrop behind him, “Leave,” it seemed odd that Johnson made no mention of the fastest way to get that process started, by pressing for an immediate Article 50 declaration.

Boris Johnson: "There is no need to invoke article 50."

— CNBC International (@CNBCi) June 24, 2016

That fact did not escape observers in other parts of Europe, like the former foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt.

Watching UK TV I find it striking how leading Brexit figures don't really want to trigger mechanism to leave the UK. Trying to delay.

— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 24, 2016

The reason could be that Johnson has something very different in mind: a negotiated compromise that would preserve most of the benefits of EU membership for British citizens and businesses but still satisfy the popular will to escape the attendant responsibilities and costs.

Boris Johnson says UK won't "pull up the drawbridge", starting the tricky task of telling people who voted for this that they can't have it.

— Robert Hutton (@RobDotHutton) June 24, 2016

"Boris Johnson said the result would not mean "pulling up the drawbridge"." He is assuming the hinge is on our side. #Brexit

— Farah Mendlesohn (@effjayem) June 24, 2016

In this context, it is important to keep two things in mind. First, it was Johnson himself who suggested, when he joined the Leave campaign in February, that a vote to depart could be used as a stick to negotiate not a full departure from the EU, but a better deal for the UK. “There is only one way to get the change we need, and that is to vote to go, because all EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says ‘No,'” Johnson wrote then. “It is time to seek a new relationship, in which we manage to extricate ourselves from most of the supranational elements.”

Second, as the legal blogger David Allen Green has explained clearly, the measure Britons just voted for “was an advisory not a mandatory referendum,” meaning that it is not legally binding on the government. No matter who the prime minister is, he or she is not required by the outcome to trigger Article 50. And, despite what senior figures in the EU and its other states might say, there is no way for them to force the UK to invoke Article 50.

First full business day after Brexit vote comes to an end.

No Article 50 notification.

Get used to this…

— David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) June 24, 2016

Brexit, Article 50, and the start of a political stalemate

New post by me, at @FT:

— David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) June 24, 2016

Most significant political event today was something which did not happen.

No Article 50 notification.

And now less likely every day.

— David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) June 24, 2016

What all this means in practice is that, while it would be political suicide for any leader to try to avoid acting to satisfy the popular will expressed at the ballot box, there is some wiggle room for a new government to try to find a compromise arrangement that would satisfy a larger share of the population than just the slim majority of voters who demanded separation.

As he makes up his mind on whether to seek the premiership, and considers how to appeal to the nearly half of the British population that wanted to stay in the EU, Johnson did not have to go far to get a sense of the seething outrage in parts of the country, like London, that voted overwhelmingly against leaving. Walking out of his home on Friday, Johnson was booed and jeered by some of his neighbors, who chanted, “scum” and “traitor.”

Boris leaves his house to crowds shouting 'scum' #EUref @LBC

— Charlotte Wright (@LBC_Charlotte) June 24, 2016

He might also have caught his father, Stanley Johnson, appearing on television on Friday to discuss the results, wearing a T-shirt with the word “Remain” on it, making it clear that even within the politician’s own family, pro-Europe sentiment was strong.

“He is going to, I hope, put his name forward as one of the possible candidates” says Stanley Johnson

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 24, 2016

Then there is also the fact that, as Matthew Parris notes in a column on the bizarre politics of what comes next in London’s Times, “about 160 of the 650 MPs elected last year want Britain to leave the EU. The overwhelming majority of Westminster MPs believes that leaving would be a mistake. Many believe it would be a very grave mistake. Not a few believe it would be calamitous.” Because of that, Parris observes, “Our experiment in direct democracy is hurtling towards our tradition of representative democracy like some giant asteroid towards a moon.”

While it is hard to predict just what the mood in the country might be three months from now, there were also signs of an ugly current of xenophobia inspired by the Leave campaign’s rhetoric against immigration that a new prime minister will have to reckon with.

Retired builder in Barnsley says he voted to "send them foreigners home." Tough time to be a migrant.

— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) June 24, 2016

Just arrived at a 78% Muslim school. White man stood making victory signs at families walking past. This is the racism we have legitimised.

— Dr Karen Bateson (@KarenJBateson) June 24, 2016

After the financial markets reacted to the vote for a British exit from the EU as predicted, with a sharp drop in the value of the British pound, some Leave voters instantly regretted their decisions.

Been hearing people like this all day, and they're making me just more angry

— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) June 24, 2016

So, as the BBC explained concisely, at this stage it remains entirely possible that the deal eventually worked out could result in an association agreement that is not all that different from full membership in the EU.

On the other side of the negotiating table, though, will be European leaders eager to ensure that a deal with the British is not so favorable for the defectors that it might encourage separatists in other nations.

.@mrjamesob brilliantly comparing Gove & Johnson attitude to Europe to that bloke that dumps you but wants to continue shagging.

— Natasha Devon (@NatashaDevonMBE) June 24, 2016

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Hillary Clinton’s Likely Defense Chief Says She Did Not Advocate U.S. Ground Troops in Syria

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 24/06/2016 - 19:04

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy said Wednesday that she does not advocate sending U.S. ground troops to Syria to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

On Monday, Defense One, the national security and defense news outlet of Atlantic Media, reported that Flournoy had “called for ‘limited military coercion’ to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a ‘no bombing’ zone over parts of Syria held by U.S.-backed rebels.”

Reporter Patrick Tucker interpreted those comments, which Flournoy made at a Center for New American Security conference, to mean that she “said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.”

That report was widely cited elsewhere, including in a post by The Intercept‘s co-founding editor, Glenn Greenwald.

After publication, Flournoy wrote a letter to the editor of Defense One denying that she advocates for “putting U.S. combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power.”

Tucker told The Intercept that Defense One did not issue a correction because they felt they accurately reported Flournoy’s policy position. “Strike weapons at standoff distance is troops,” said Tucker. “Those are military personnel. That is U.S. military power – at war with the Assad regime. There is just no way around it.”

He added: “We took a very inclusive use of the word ‘troops,’ one that matched the literal definition of ‘troops,’ but nowhere do we ever suggest or say ‘ground troops.'”

Flournoy did not deny the entire report that she favors increased U.S. intervention; for instance, she acknowledged her support for U.S. “strikes using standoff weapons – to retaliate against Syrian military targets” to enforce the no-bomb zone.

She wrote that she believes this would create “more favorable conditions on the ground for a negotiated political settlement.”

The potential Pentagon chief also wrote that she wants to increase “U.S. military support to moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting ISIS and the Assad regime.”

In the comments that Defense One initially quoted, Flournoy distinguished her proposed policy from a no-fly zone – a policy Clinton endorsed in December – explaining that “you’re not having air craft drill holes in the sky. You’re not having to take out the entire civilian air defense system.” In 2015, Flournoy called the military dimensions of Obama’s strategy in Syria “under-resourced, while many of the non-military lines of operation remain underdeveloped.”

Flournoy’s stated foreign policy position would still increase U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war beyond what President Obama and top military officials have been willing to commit.

When asked in October 2015 if the U.S. was going to allow Russian forces to continue to bomb U.S.-supported moderate opposition forces, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded, “The president has made quite clear that Syria is not going to turn into a proxy war between Russia and the United States. That certainly would not be consistent with our interests.”

Flournoy’s reiterated willingness to engage directly with Syrian and proxy forces, coupled with Donald Trump’s commitment to send U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS, signals almost-inevitable military escalation in the Syrian conflict once Obama leaves office.

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The post Hillary Clinton’s Likely Defense Chief Says She Did Not Advocate U.S. Ground Troops in Syria appeared first on The Intercept.

What We’re Reading and Streaming This Summer

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 24/06/2016 - 16:41

The Empire Trilogy
By J.G. Farrell

Over the past few summers I’ve been making my way through the Empire Trilogy by J.G. Farrell. These books have it all: the wit and romantic intrigue of great English novels; characters to love, hate, pity, and laugh at; feuds and uprisings leading to horrifically gruesome clashes and blood-soaked justice. Each one is set in a different country — Troubles takes place in a crumbling hotel catering to rich Englishmen in County Wexford, Ireland; The Siege of Krishnapur in a fictional colonial British town in India; and The Singapore Grip in that city as it faces an invasion by the Japanese army. All the books share the same preoccupation: the decaying British empire, which is like a character in itself — smug, arrogant, dissolute, intoxicated with power but beset with anxiety, unable to ignore the terrifying signs that its time is almost up.
— Betsy Reed


Baghdad Central
By Elliott Colla

The best detective novels typically feature admirable but flawed heroes searching for truth in a gritty, crime-ridden city. Now suppose the flawed hero is a former Ba’athist police inspector and the place is post-invasion Baghdad. In Baghdad Central, Elliott Colla, who teaches Arabic literature at Georgetown University, turns the modern detective novel on its head by placing the action in the middle of America’s doomed efforts to remake Iraq’s police and security forces after the 2003 invasion. Muhsin al-Khafaji, a poetry-loving former police inspector, is initially mistaken for the three of diamonds in the famed “deck of cards” (used to help U.S. forces hunt down Iraq’s most wanted) and then recruited by the Americans to help remake the country’s gutted police force. Filled with misguided American bureaucrats and murdered translators, Baghdad Central reminds its readers at every turn of the human cost of war for Iraqis.
— Sharon Weinberger


World War Z
By Max Brooks

Last summer, I took my first real time off of work in many years and rediscovered the pure joy of reading fiction. My favorite book was recommended by our editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, on last year’s reading list: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. It was superb and remarkably prophetic in understanding the times in which we live, despite being set in Germany in World War II. It has much to say about surveillance and the power of the state.

What I have to offer this year is a book I stumbled upon quite by accident about five years ago when I found myself in a remote place with no computer or phone and a lot of time. It is World War Z by Max Brooks. Before you groan and tell me how awful the Brad Pitt film was, let me tell you: I agree. It was total shit — and it bore almost no resemblance to the brilliant book upon which it was supposedly based. Technically, World War Z is considered a “zombie book,” but if it was, I probably would not have read past the first chapter. It is so much more than that. It is about how different societies confront pandemics. It imagines a world ravaged by a rare strand of what is initially believed to be rabies and how nation states, weak and powerful, large and small, confront it.

There are some amazing concepts — North Korea orders all citizens to have their teeth removed; the U.S. predictably believes it can declare a military war on zombies; Cuba and Israel implement quarantines. One of the most entertaining aspects of the book is how the elite in the U.S. become the most vulnerable and pathetic. Their workers — the people who do construction and plumbing and manual labor — are more fit for survival during the apocalyptic events than those who underpaid them and systematically took their labor for granted. There is also an awesome little subplot of a bunch of B-list celebrities stuck in a mansion where they are filming a reality show; one of them seems based on Puff Daddy, or whatever he goes by these days. If you haven’t read it or were turned off by Brad Pitt being chased by CGI-created zombies who run as fast as cheetahs, pick it up.
— Jeremy Scahill


Numero Zero
By Umberto Eco

In the post-modern newsroom of Domani (Tomorrow), nobody actually produces any “content” that readers will ever see. A collection of disrupted journalists is building a newspaper that the billionaire “Commendatore” may or may not care about. So plunged into the abyss of meaningless work, hack writer Colonna falls into the arms of Maia who teaches him a thing or three about the disaggregated life, while their colleague Braggadocio pursues conspiracies about Mussolini’s survival in hiding. Umberto Eco’s final novel combines history, mystery, and satire, but no connection to The Intercept.
— Margot Williams


Map: Collected and Last Poems
By Wislawa Szymborska

Noble Prize-winning Wislawa Szymborska’s Map: Collected and Last Poems was published in 2015, just a few years after the Polish poet’s death. I read Szymborska because of her perfect, plain language. I read her because she never shouts, she doesn’t judge, she isn’t right, and she isn’t wrong. Her poem “There Are Those Who” describes exactly what her work isn’t:

They set their stamp on single truths,
toss unnecessary facts into the shredder
and unfamiliar persons
into previously designated files

They think as long as it takes,
not a second more,
since doubt lies lurking behind that second.

And the poem tells you exactly what her work is: a quiet perspective on a chaotic, maddening, heartbreaking, and finely discerned world.
— Lynn Dombek


Signs Preceding the End of the World
By Yuri Herrera

One of the books that stayed with me this year is Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. It’s a brief, crisp novel — something you can finish in a day. But it conjures a landscape. Of feeling, colors, people. A journey. Recently translated into English, Herrera’s central character, Makina, moves at the intersection of language, nation, family, and capital — destabilizing many of the easy lines drawn between us.
— Josh Begley


A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Marlon James

I picked this up before a road trip across Jamaica because I love using novels as guide books, but this is so much more than a masterful tribute to this beautiful, brutal country (though it is that, too). It’s an epic portrait of very much nonfictional Cold War politics, postcolonial violence, and the creation — for U.S. interests — of the war on drugs. Spanning across decades and countries, it has it all: corrupt CIA agents, bragging journalists, ghosts of slain politicians, Bob Marley, and rival gangs in 1970s Kingston and 1990s New York City. It’s not brief, and I lost count of the killings by the end of the first few chapters, but it’s the best book I’ve read this year.
— Alice Speri


The Sympathizer
By Viet Thanh Nguyen

This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, The Sympathizer takes us from the fall of Saigon to the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California and back. Written in lyrical, often humorous prose, the book follows a Eurasian “bastard” sleeper agent inside the South Vietnamese government and government-in-exile. An epistolary novel in the form of a confession to the Communist commandant at the camp where the agent ultimately ends up, no one and no party looks good here, but it is a surprisingly enjoyable ride.
— Lynn Oberlander


Paths of Glory
By Humphrey Cobb

Cobb’s novel about French soldiers in World War I is a masterclass in describing how military leadership, almost by definition, fails those in its charge. Cobb, an American who fought in the war, describes its senselessness for soldiers and a fate that condemns enlisted and junior officers to the whims of vainglorious generals. David Simon has cited this novel as a blueprint for The Wire — enough of a recommendation for me — and he writes an introduction in the latest edition. The novel was also adapted for a film of the same name by Stanley Kubrick.
— Matthew Cole


By Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley’s final book, Island, doesn’t win points for subtlety, but neither did his most famous novel, Brave New World. As heavy-handed as Huxley’s writing may be, few authors can create such fascinating worlds that bring political and philosophical ideologies to life. If Brave New World is one side of Huxley’s vision of the world — a dystopian hellscape where the government controls every aspect of society — Island offers the opposite: a slice of utopia in the fictional Pacific island of Pala, where its inhabitants live in peace by blending together the best of Eastern and Western philosophies. The island of Pala is a beautiful reminder of what humanity could have looked like if colonialism and capitalism never came to pass.
— Travis Mannon



Brazillionaires: Wealth, Power, Decadence, and Hope in an American Country
By Alex Cuadros

This book by a former Bloomberg reporter is richly reported and examines the flamboyant, uber-powerful and often-crazy billionaire class that has arisen, and now dominates, political and cultural life in the world’s fifth most populous country. It’s extremely entertaining and compelling on its own terms, but it also potently illustrates how billionaires generally — in the U.S. and in the Western world — have amassed extraordinary power with virtually no accountability. Particularly with the political crisis engulfing Brazil, the imminent Olympics, and the struggle for the political soul of that country, Cuadros’s book is a must-read.
— Glenn Greenwald


Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices From the Afghan War
By Svetlana Alexievich

Like many people, I found my way to the incredible work of Svetlana Alexievich after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year. This book is a collection of oral accounts that illuminate the disaster of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and raise some disturbing parallels with our current venture there. But what really got to me is the way Alexievich uses women’s voices; it’s so uncommon in writing about war. This summer I’m looking forward to reading her newly translated book Secondhand Time.
— Cora Currier


Border Cantos
By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo

In Border Cantos, Richard Misrach turns his camera on the increasingly militarized and haunted landscape of the Southwest border country straddling America and Mexico. Misrach’s images of camera towers and the strangely discontinuous segments of the border fence alternate with desperate signs of flight: backpacks, shoes, toothbrushes, wallets, underwear, and baby dolls litter the dusty trails that wind through the deserts and mountains of the border zone. Scarecrow-like effigies, constructed of clothing and other artifacts discarded by migrants, rise up as reminders of the thousands who did not survive.
— Roger Hodge


The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics
By Andrew Small

The military and political relationship between China and Pakistan is one of the least examined yet most consequential geopolitical alignments in Asia. This book offers a deeply researched look at the history of these countries’ strategic ties, as well as the dynamics that have deepened their cooperation in recent years. Andrew Small is a genuine expert who draws on a range of primary source materials and interviews from the region to sketch the outlines and future direction of this alignment. He manages to do so in a way that’s accessible and engaging, which makes this book a must-read for those interested in China, Pakistan, and the dynamics of America’s forthcoming “Pivot to Asia.”
— Murtaza Hussain


Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
By Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

If you wind up on Dr. Judy Melinek’s autopsy table, it’s pretty obviously not a great thing. For starters, you’re dead. But more to the point, you’ve met a demise that left questions in its wake. Certainly, the criminal justice system deals with lots of death — much of it violent and untimely. But understanding death, and particularly its manner and cause — two questions that medical examiners like Melinek are charged with answering — are crucial to the system and key to deciding which deaths are in fact the result of crimes.

In her book, Melinek (who authored the book with her husband, Mitchell) takes her readers inside the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner and into the details of the training that turned her into a medical examiner. Melinek is both intense and empathetic as she relates the stories of how the New Yorkers who wound up on her table met their demise; her retelling of the effort to identify the deceased in the wake of the 9/11 attacks is especially revealing. But Melinek is also witty (she’s a great follow on Twitter — @drjudymelinek) and blends intensity with humor in a book that takes readers on an entirely absorbing ride through the forensic science behind life and death.
— Jordan Smith


Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
By Joby Warrick

Earlier this spring, I picked up a copy of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by journalist Joby Warrick, in hopes of better understanding the formation of the extremist group that has dominated international headlines in recent years. I was not disappointed. Black Flags, which earned Warrick a Pulitzer Prize not long after I started reading it, offers an immensely readable account of how the Jordanian-born fanatic Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the U.S. invasion of Iraq came together to lay the groundwork for the terrorist organization we know today. While no single book could be expected to capture that entire tale, Black Flags, particularly in its earlier sections, makes important contributions to filling in a crucial period in the ongoing history of the war on terror.
— Ryan Devereaux


Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond
By Marc Lamont Hill

It’s been evident for some time that America’s key institutions, and its core ostensible principles, are rapidly eroding. The brunt of this degradation is borne overwhelmingly by the nation’s marginalized, poor, and powerless communities. This book provides a comprehensive look at the effects, where police are shooting unarmed minority citizens and their drinking water is literally poisoned. How this can happen in the world’s richest country is both a mystery and a disgrace. This book seeks to solve the former while sounding a clarion call about the latter, and it succeeds in doing both. It’s a sometimes depressing read, but that’s necessary medicine. And it will constantly energize you and never bore you.
— Glenn Greenwald


Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World
By David Vine

Anthropologist David Vine chronicles how the Pentagon’s archipelago of 800-plus military bases worldwide has become an end unto itself — costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and achieving very little. Vine tells stories of the human cost of this global military presence — of an entire civilization forced off its island home, of sex-trafficking markets that service U.S. bases, and even of the Pentagon’s tendency to contract with the violent Sicilian mafia.
— Alex Emmons


Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil
By Timothy Mitchell

Is it possible that the particularities of coal extraction and transport — and not, say, the grip of enlightenment thought — enabled modern mass democracy? That’s the premise of Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy, which argues that the unique ability of coal workers to bring industrial society to a halt gave crucial leverage to their egalitarian demands. The transition to oil, on the other hand, established a global supply chain far more amenable to oligarchic control. Intercept readers will enjoy Mitchell’s detours through the international monetary system, the global arms market, and the U.S.’s erratic embrace and disavowal of various fundamentalist regimes in the greater Middle East.
— John Thomason


Politics and the English Language
By George Orwell

It’s not a coincidence that more people approve of torture when you call it “enhanced interrogation,” or that “targeted killing” has a better favorability rating than an assassination campaign. George Orwell attacks political phrases of this sort in his famous essay Politics and the English Language — an essential annual re-read for any consumer of the news. Orwell uses examples from his times (“bombing colonial villages” becomes “pacification”) to show that when newspapers adopt these expressions, they creep into our vocabulary and manipulate the way we think about government.
— Alex Emmons


Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education
By Mychal Denzel Smith

“American racism will take some of our lives while holding others of us up as exemplars of success,” Smith writes in the introduction to Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, describing a framework that reduces black figures to either “martyrs” or “tokens.” Who might Trayvon Martin have grown up to be, he asks, had he lived to define himself on his own terms? Smith brings sharp cultural analysis to events from LeBron James’s “decision” to the election of Barack Obama and draws on defining moments of his own coming of age to open up conversations about black male identity.
— Andrea Jones



Rami Malek in “Mr. Robot.”

Photo: USA Network

Mr. Robot

It was a hot summer night in Las Vegas. Thousands of hackers flooded the city, excitedly making party plans for the first night of DEF CON 23, the world’s largest annual hacker convention. But a small group of friends and I skipped out on partying that night in favor of something better: A new episode of Mr. Robot had aired the night before, and we were dying to know what happened. Mr. Robot is a cyberpunk television drama about a socially anxious, paranoid, delusional, drug-addicted, and incredibly talented hacker who, along with the anarchist hacktivist collective fsociety, works to delete the world’s debt. As a computer security engineer myself, I’m excited about Mr. Robot because it’s pioneering a brand new genre of hacker shows, where all of the vulnerabilities and exploits are authentic, and all of the tools are familiar to those of us who dabble in Kali Linux. The second season premiers July 13 in the U.S.
— Micah Lee


Photo: Netflix

Black Mirror

The best dystopian fiction is uncomfortable to consume because of what it shows us about the present. This British series explores the dark side of technology that either already exists or could in the near future. A common theme is public humiliation mixed with private turmoil. Each episode could stand alone as a short film, with a different cast and theme. It’s a disturbing piece of satire that shows how technology can be used to destroy privacy, decency, and relationships.
— Rubina Fillion


Jean-Louis Trintignant in “The Conformist.”

Image: Paramount

The Conformist

Bernardo Bertolucci’s exploration into the psychology of political affinities recounts the unraveling of Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a fascist sympathizer and member of the secret police in Mussolini’s Italy. Under the shadow of the rise and fall of Mussolini’s dictatorship, Clerici’s ambivalence toward the very political system he defends — and even kills for — provides a rich and visually singular examination of personal and societal conflict under surveillance and oppression. An all-time great of 1970s Italian cinema, The Conformist is as awe-inspiring as it is historically transcendent.
— Miriam Pensack


Ulrich Muhe in “The Lives of Others.”

Photo: Sony Pictures

The Lives of Others
Sony Pictures

My colleague Peter Maass wrote an excellent piece about an NSA analyst-turned-in-house philosopher who was initially skeptical of surveillance but came to embrace full observation. The Stasi agent at the center of The Lives of Others has the opposite journey: Gerd Wiesler monitors a potentially subversive writer whose apartment is bugged, Wiesler eventually learns, only because a senior government official covets the writer’s girlfriend. Over the eavesdropping period, Wiesler learns as much about himself and the state to which he has pledged allegiance as he does about the writer whose privacy he invades.
— Charlotte Greensit


Ian Richardson in “House of Cards.”

Photo: BBC

House of Cards

Netflix’s political drama House of Cards has been a hit since its premier in 2013. But fewer Americans know about its ’90s British antecedent, the three-part BBC miniseries of the same name. Both series show the brutality of realpolitik through the eyes of a monstrous (yet infuriatingly charming) main character. Both of these men treat bewitched audiences to sly wit through the fourth wall, at the expense of their woefully inadequate colleagues. But while Netflix’s House of Cards is more melodrama than anything else, the BBC’s version provides a deep and often heartbreaking look at the impacts of neoliberalism, something largely ignored by American television in general. Much like the BBC series’ sole American character, the American remake is simple, loud, bloated, without subtlety — albeit undeniably entertaining to watch.
— Moiz Syed


Helen Mirren in “Eye in the Sky.”

Photo: Bleecker Street

Eye in the Sky
Bleecker Street

Eye in the Sky is the first major cinematic release I’ve seen that attempts to confront the many legal, moral, and ethical issues raised by drone technology. It was directed by Academy Award-winner Gavin Hood, who assembled a strong cast that includes Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, and Aaron Paul (yes, Jesse from Breaking Bad). The movie revolves around a single fictional incident involving a group of al Shabaab militants who are tracked down to a compound in a busy district of Nairobi, Kenya. The militants are high on Obama’s “kill list,” but there’s a quandary: Among the group are British and American citizens. There are also many innocent bystanders in the vicinity, including young children. As a U.S. drone equipped with hellfire missiles scans the scene from above, high-ranking British and American officials debate the political consequences of approving a strike and argue over whether it would be legal and moral to do so.

There are some factual weaknesses in the storyline – a British military officer is in command of American drone pilots, which is unrealistic, as is the prospect of a U.S. drone attack in the middle of Nairobi. But nitpicking aside, the movie is well-delivered and effective, humanizing a debate about drone warfare that is often overly abstract and technocratic.
— Ryan Gallagher


Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage in “Game of Thrones.”

Photo: HBO

Game of Thrones

All websites are legally required to talk about Game of Thrones, and I’ve been assigned to bring The Intercept into compliance. By far best thing about the show is its depiction of how people seek power (mindlessly and mechanically, like a robot flower growing toward the sun) and what power’s like after the glorious moment you seize it (boring and horrible). The subtlest moment of this went by so quickly in the second season I’ve never seen anyone mention it. Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf son of the richest lord in the country, describes how his brother was made the youngest Kingsguard in history and his sister became queen at 19 — yet because his father hated Tyrion, he put him in charge of his city’s drains and sewers. But that’s a fantastic, fascinating job, a trillion times better than being a knight or royalty. You get to think both abstractly and concretely about something of visceral, immediate importance to thousands of people — and Tyrion’s great at it. To me, Tyrion’s story will always be tragic because he doesn’t recognize this and gets willingly sucked back into the pointless, idiotic struggle for power.
— Jon Schwarz


Image: Icarus Films

Nostalgia for the Light

This remarkable documentary from Patricio Guzmán — the great Chilean filmmaker whose most famous work, The Battle of Chile, gave a close-up look at the CIA-backed coup that deposed Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 — follows two groups of people looking into the past in the country’s Atacama Desert: astronomers who search the skies for clues to the origins of the universe using powerful telescopes, and relatives of political prisoners disappeared by the Pinochet regime in the 1970s, using their hands to scrape the dry earth for the remains of their loved ones.
— Robert Mackey


Photo: Criterion Collection

Always for Pleasure
The Criterion Collection

Les Blank’s insistently joyful documentaries serve as an antidote to the worsening news that overwhelms our various screens. He takes the rhythms of everyday life as his primary focus: His biopics of musicians are as much about daily routines in odd corners of America as his film about garlic (Garlic Is as Good as 10 Mothers) is subtly musical. The 14 films collected in this boxset explore the streets of New Orleans and the depths of bayou country, gatherings of hippies and Polish-American polka dancers, and the craft of conga percussionists and country fiddlers with warmth, wry humor, and humanity.
— Talya Cooper


Andrew West and Leven Rambin in “Walter.”

Photo: Entertainment One

Entertainment One

Don’t watch the trailer, don’t read any reviews — except this one! — just walk blindly into this underwatched 2015 indie gem. Director Anna Mastro, writer Paul Shoulberg, and lead Andrew West deliver a tale of a young man who is confident he knows every earthly being’s place in the hereafter, but ends up re-evaluating his place in the present. The film’s evolving plot concludes with a deeply moving message and ends up being far more relevant to the lives of its viewers than it has any right to be.
— Zaid Jilani


Eldar Skar in “Occupied.”

Photo by: Aksel Jermstad


Drop what you’re doing and watch Occupied, a 10-part Norwegian political thriller that’s a combination of The West Wing and The Parallax View set in Oslo. In the near future, Russia gradually takes over Norway for its oil reserves. Norway’s prime minister and a variety of other characters (a reporter, a chef, a bodyguard) have to decide whether to collaborate or take to the forests in rebellion. You’ll even like the design aesthetic of this drama — cool Scandinavian. Even better, it’s based on an idea from the novelist Jo Nesbo.
— Peter Maass


Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in “The Night Manager.”

Photo: BBC

The Night Manager

Most TV shows and movies in the spy genre are boringly predictable. The Night Manager is a bit different, and that’s why I enjoyed it. The
six-part British miniseries, produced by the BBC and starring Tom Hiddleston, is based on a 1993 John le Carré novel. It has all the characteristics you’d expect from a le Carré yarn: There’s a sociopathic megalomaniac, a crusading young spook, thuggish mercenaries, murder, explosions, a dangerous romance, etc. But it has been updated and set against a modern geopolitical backdrop — the Arab Spring is playing out in the background — and it has a bit more nuance and detail than conventional British spy productions. Unlike the Bond franchise, for instance, which always portrays the British government as a relentless force for good, The Night Manager tells a more complex story, with corrupt elements inside the intelligence community conspiring to help sell weapons to despots in the Middle East. As the narrative develops, an internal power struggle within the government unravels, which makes for compelling viewing.
— Ryan Gallagher


Gian Maria Volontè in “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.”

Image: Vera Films

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Elio Petri’s 1970 film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is a classic satire of a police state, in which a high-ranking Italian officer decides to test the rule of law by committing a murder and leaving a clear trail to himself. It is a dark, bizarre study of bureaucratic and psychological power, set to a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (of Spaghetti Western fame).
— Cora Currier


By Anohni

Queue up a few Intercept articles and play Anohni’s Hopelessness. Read the Drone Papers to the tune of “Drone Bomb Me” (“Let me be the one — the one that you choose from above”). For Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith’s ongoing coverage of the Richard Glossip fiasco, try “Execution” (“Pleease don’t have mercy … Sometimes a feeling is reason enough”). And with “Manufacturing Terror,” a story about an environmental activist enamored with his FBI informant, you’ll want the track “Watch Me” (I know you love me because you’re always watchin’ me — daddy; Protectin’ me from e-vil; Protectin’ me from ter-ro-rism”). No electronic pop could better match the act of reading about state-sponsored killings by the pool.
— Alleen Brown

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The post What We’re Reading and Streaming This Summer appeared first on The Intercept.

New Campaign from Germany – Dissolve NATO

No to NATO - ven, 24/06/2016 - 16:01
The English Version is coming soon!


Neoliberalismus ...

Amazonas-Box/Frieden-etc. - ven, 24/06/2016 - 15:25

Neoliberalismus ist "Politik aus einem Guß", und die SPD ist uneingeschränkt dabei!

Grundsätzliche Weichenstellungen, alle in die verkehrte Richtung!

- Erbschaftssteuer - füttere die Reichen!
- Gesundheitskarte - Deine Gesundheitsdaten Daten gehen Dich nix an
- Smart Meter - deine Privatheit werden wir schon killen, wir sind dabei, wann immer Du Strom verbrauchst
- Überwachungsgesetze en Masse, alle Schranken fallen
- Demagogen a la de Maiziere in der Regierung ..
- Straßenbau privatisieren, Geldgeschenke für Investoren zu Lasten der Allgemeinheit ..
- Fracking, der Boden ist sicher .. für Investoren
- regelmäßig neue Bundeswehreinsätze
- Neue Anfrüstung & Rekorde beim Rüstungsexport

das ist natürlich unvollständig, haben die eigentlich irgend etwas richtig gemacht?

Übrigens: bezahle ich mit meinem Glasfasertarif bei M-Net die Smartmeter-Einführung mit?
Welche Stromanbieter leisten evtl. Widerstand?
habe ich Einfluß auf die Smartmeter ..


„Offen für Austerität, Grenzen zu für Flüchtlinge“ - ven, 24/06/2016 - 14:50

Europarat debattiert über Griechenland und Türkei – ein Gespräch mit der Bundestagsabgeordneten Annette Groth -

Von REDAKTION, 24. Juni 2016 -

Bei der diesjährigen Tagung des Europarates gehörte auch der griechische Regierungschef Alexis Tsipras hier mit dem Generalsekretär des Europarates, dem Norweger Thorbjørn Jagland zu den Hauptrednern. (Foto:

Die Situation für die Flüchtlinge – insbesondere für die Kinder – in Griechenland und der Türkei ist unvermindert schlimm. Das macht die Bundestagsabgeordnete der Linken, Annette Groth, aus Anlass der Jahrestagung des Europarates in Straßburg in dieser Woche deutlich. Groth


Brexit Vote Could Unravel Not Just the European Union, but the United Kingdom Too

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 24/06/2016 - 11:58

As it became clear, early Friday morning, that Britons had voted to leave the European Union, a far-right nationalist politician, Nigel Farage, told cheering supporters that the goal of his once-fringe United Kingdom Independence Party had finally been met.

"Let June 23rd go down in history as our independence day." @Nigel_Farage speaks with Leave well in front.

— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 24, 2016

“Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” Farage declared. The victory, he added, was one for “honesty, decency and belief in nation,” achieved, “without a single bullet being fired.”

That last claim struck a nerve with those for whom the defining event of the referendum campaign was the horrifying assassination, with three bullets, of Jo Cox, an internationalist, pro-European legislator whose killer shouted “Britain first” and “Keep Britain independent,” as he shot and stabbed her to death.

Farage and his colleagues were quickly congratulated by the leaders of nationalist, far-right parties in the Netherlands and France, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, who both called for similar referendums in their countries.

Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU

— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) June 24, 2016

Victoire de la liberté ! Comme je le demande depuis des années, il faut maintenant le même référendum en France et dans les pays de l'UE MLP

— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) June 24, 2016

Closer to home, however, another part of Farage’s statement seemed at odds with the mood in some parts of the country. Namely, his confidant assertion that citizens of the United Kingdom comprise a single nation. As the results were tallied, it became obvious that there was a clear disparity of outcomes across the kingdom’s four nations: while England and Wales voted to leave the EU, Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to stay in it, which raised the possibility that the decision to withdraw from one union could trigger the imminent collapse of another.

A total of 33,568,184 votes were cast in the #EURefResults. Here's how councils voted throughout the UK #BrexitVote

— Press Association (@PA) June 24, 2016

In England, 2/3 who consider themselves “more English than British” voted L; 2/3 of “more Brit than Eng” voted R

— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) June 24, 2016

England and Wales one country on these results; Scotland another

— Tom Clark (@guardian_clark) June 24, 2016

To start with, as many observers in Scotland noted, their nation, which rejected independence in another referendum just two years ago, partly out of a desire to remain in the EU, voted overwhelmingly against the decision to leave. That led to widespread speculation that the Scottish National Party, which rules the local government, could now demand a second referendum on independence soon.

Scotland voted to Remain by 62% to 38%. Every area of Scotland voted to stay. That's an overwhelming mandate. #letscotlandstay

— Adam Ramsay (@AdamRamsay) June 24, 2016

SCOTLAND VOTES REMAIN: 62% vote in favour of staying in the EU, with all local authorities backing ‘Remain’. #EUref

— The SNP (@theSNP) June 24, 2016

Scotland will seek independence now. Cameron's legacy will be breaking up two unions. Neither needed to happen.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 24, 2016

also the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom: Scotland should Take Its Country Back.

— Simon Schama (@simon_schama) June 24, 2016

Hours later, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, told reporters that she would do everything she could to make sure that her nation’s vote to be part of the EU was honored, and “an independence referendum is now highly likely.”

Video – Nicola Sturgeon says a new Scotland independence referendum is 'on the table' #EURefResults #BrexitVote

— 5News (@5_News) June 24, 2016

Sturgeon also mentioned that she had spoken with the leader of another part of the UK that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, and they promised to work together.

Nicola Sturgeon says she has spoken to London mayor Sadiq Khan and there is "clear common cause" between London and Scotland.

— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) June 24, 2016

That statement prompted a wave of jokes about London declaring its independence too, but also some serious suggestions that the pro-European forces might still fight to keep the UK in the EU in some form.

Why did Sturgeon mention Sadiq Khan in speech on post-Brexit Scottish referendum? Are we going to get a vote to make London a city-state? ????????

— Jessica S (@jess_sinc) June 24, 2016

Scotland and London (sturgeon and Khan) will join forces to try to keep UK in single Market- that's my prediction

— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) June 24, 2016

As if any more fuel was needed to add to this fire, Donald Trump arrived in Scotland on Friday morning to promote one of his golf courses, and told waiting reporters that the British exit from Europe was “a great thing.”

'The UK took back their country-that's a great thing' #Trump #Trump2016 @PA

— Mark McLaughlin (@mark_mclaughlin) June 24, 2016

Trump, whose mother was from Scotland, seemed oblivious to nationalist sentiment there, telling reporters the vote meant, “basically, they took back their country.”

Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016

He also displayed little sympathy for fears about the country’s economy prompted by the sharp drop in the value of the pound overnight, once the direction of the vote became clear — arguing that it would be good for business at his golf course.

Asked about market freefall, Trump says: "When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, to be honest."

— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) June 24, 2016

WATCH: Trump is happy the stock market is crashing because it’s good for his golf course

— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) June 24, 2016

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, which also voted against leaving the EU by a clear majority, the nationalist Sinn Fein party called for an immediate referendum on unification with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the economic union.

Local result – Northern Ireland votes to Remain. Full results: #EURef

— BBC Referendum (@BBCReferendum) June 24, 2016

BREAKING: Sinn Fein says "British government has forfeited any mandate to represent economic or political interests of people in N Ireland"

— Marc Mallett (@MarcMallett_UTV) June 24, 2016

Time for a border poll, just waiting on Scotland to kick off the process. I would rather be part of a United Ireland than a divided kingdom!

— Brendan Marshall (@IrishSeminarian) June 24, 2016

Martin McGuiness to Sky News:"The landscape of this island (Ireland) has changed irrevocably, both politically and economically."

— Robert Nisbet (@RobNisbetSky) June 24, 2016

“This outcome tonight dramatically changes the political landscape here in the north of Ireland and we will be intensifying our case for the calling of a border poll” on a united Ireland, the party’s chairman, Declan Kearney, said on Friday morning.

“The British government as a direct result have forfeited any mandate to represent the interests of people here in the north of Ireland in circumstances where the north is dragged out of Europe as a result of a vote to leave,” he added.

If the United Kingdom does leave the EU — after what was, legally, just an advisory referendum — Northern Ireland will be the only part of the country to share a land border with the economic bloc, reintroducing the need for immigration and customs controls with the Republic of Ireland that were phased out in recent years.

Sinn Fein was a party to the Good Friday agreement of 1998, which ended decades of violence by devolving power to a regional assembly and acknowledging that the two parts of Ireland could eventually be united. As part of that agreement, the British government’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland is obliged to call a referendum on dissolving the border between the two parts of Ireland once there is clear evidence of public opinion opinion favoring Irish unity.

As Brendan Donnolly, a former member of the European Parliament, wrote recently, “it is not by chance that in the Good Friday agreement… so much emphasis is laid on the membership of both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the European Union.” Under that arrangement, the border has become as invisible as one between two American states.

“To install physical checkpoints along the border would instantly undermine a hard-won peace, and the psychological impact alone would be catastrophic,” Kathryn Gaw, a Belfast-based journalist wrote this week. “A return of those barricaded towers and armed checkpoints will stir up emotional memories for many Northern Irish people who witnessed years of violence in border towns such as Newry, Omagh and Derry, and there is a very real fear that they may lead to a resurgence of dissident activity.”

Although the unionist strongholds in Ulster voted to leave the EU on Thursday, the difficulty of living once again with physical barriers between the two parts of the island could make it seem more attractive to be part of a European Ireland than an inward-looking UK.

Another alternative, as the Irish journalist Peter Geoghegan suggested, is that the island of Ireland could continue to function without a border, but anyone traveling from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK would have to pass through immigration and customs checks. Such an arrangement would be short of formal unification, but help prevent backsliding in the peace process.

Interesting times.

— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) June 24, 2016

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The post Brexit Vote Could Unravel Not Just the European Union, but the United Kingdom Too appeared first on The Intercept.

Spuren der Verwüstung - ven, 24/06/2016 - 11:50

Im kurdischen Cizre hat sich das Leben der Menschen noch lange nicht normalisiert. Die Regierung Erdoğan lässt die vom türkischen Militär zerschossenen und zerbombten Häuser abreißen – um Beweise zu zerstören und die Stadt anschließend besser unter ihre Kontrolle bringen. -


Noch immer ist die Situation der Menschen in der kurdischen Stadt Cizre gekennzeichnet durch Unsicherheit und das Fehlen jeglicher Perspektive. Sie versuchen, ihren Alltag an einen Ausnahmezustand anzupassen, der eigentlich vorüber sein sollte. Das türkische Militär hat seinen Einsatz als erfolgreich beendet erklärt – aber ein „Erfolg“ sieht anders aus:


Good bye England!

Rationalgalerie - ven, 24/06/2016 - 02:00
Guten Morgen Deutschland : Von allen öffentlichen Lippen tropft, nach dem Brexit, eine neue Europäsche Union: Jetzt müsse sie aber sozialer werden, jetzt müsse man aber den kleinen Leuten mal den Sinn der EU erklären, jetzt müssen man aber mal die EU besser machen....

Der erste Austritt

German Foreign Policy - ven, 24/06/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Das gestrige Votum der britischen Bevölkerung für den EU-Austritt ihres Landes erschüttert die EU und die Pläne Berlins, den Staatenbund für die eigene Weltmachtpolitik zu nutzen. Laut aktuellem Stand haben sich bei einer Wahlbeteiligung von 72 Prozent annähernd 52 Prozent der britischen Wähler für den Abschied aus dem Bündnis ausgesprochen. Das Votum wiegt für Berlin nicht nur deshalb schwer, weil nun die zweitgrößte Volkswirtschaft nach Deutschland und eine herausragende militärische Macht die EU verlässt und damit für eine über das europäische Bündnis operierende Weltpolitik nicht mehr zur Verfügung steht. Darüber hinaus droht eine Kettenreaktion: Auch in anderen EU-Staaten wird die Forderung nach einem Referendum laut; die zunehmende Unbeliebtheit der EU in einer ganzen Reihe von Mitgliedsländern stärkt zentrifugale Kräfte. Die schwedische Außenministerin warnt explizit vor einem "Spill-over-Effekt", der zum Beispiel zu einem schwedischen EU-Austritt führen könnte. In deutschen Medien wird die Forderung laut, das Referendum zu ignorieren und das britische Parlament für den Verbleib in der EU votieren zu lassen. Berlin leitet inzwischen erste Schritte ein, seine nationalen Positionen zu stärken - unabhängig von der EU.

FBI and Police are Knocking on Activists’ Doors Ahead of Republican National Convention

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 23/06/2016 - 22:10

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have been knocking on the doors of activists and community organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, asking about their plans for the Republican National Convention in July.

As the city gears up to welcome an estimated 50,000 visitors, and an unknown number of protesters, some of the preparations and restrictions put in place by officials have angered civil rights activists. But the latest string of unannounced home visits by local and federal police mark a significant escalation in officials’ efforts to stifle protest, they say.

“The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing the home visits.

More than a dozen people in the Cleveland area have reported being visited this week by local police, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service.

Michael Nelson, an attorney and the president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, said that police officers visited the parents of one of his clients, a young woman who was among 71 people arrested in May 2015 following the acquittal of a police officer in the deaths of two unarmed people.

When the parents asked whether their daughter was in trouble and why they wanted to speak with her, the officers replied that they wanted to ask “about any information she might have about anybody engaging in violence, planning violence for the RNC.” Nelson and others have asked for a meeting with the agencies involved in the door knocks.

“Maybe we need to have a discussion about the Constitution,” he told The Intercept. “Last time we heard of anything like this was when Dr. King and J. Edgar Hoover were around.”

The FBI confirmed that visits have taken place. “In preparation for the upcoming RNC the FBI along with our federal, state, and local partners has been working collaboratively with members of the community,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s Cleveland field office told The Intercept. “As part of this preparation law enforcement is reaching out to individuals known in the community who may have information that could help ensure a safe and secure environment during the RNC.” Cleveland’s police department did not respond to requests for comment.

Maggie Rice, an organizer with Food Not Bombs, said that members of her group were visited by police but felt too “rattled” to speak to a reporter. The group is not planning to stage protests but has applied for permits to be in the RNC event zone in order to feed both protesters and Cleveland residents dealing with disruptions to public transportation and services like Meals on Wheels.

“A lot of Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents will be at risk,” Rice said. “The idea that the FBI would be coming in, knocking on our doors and asking questions of people that they know are not involved in organizing any protests and that are basically a humanitarian organization is completely unacceptable and very disturbing.”

“One FBI agent and one plainclothes Cleveland police officer, both white men, showed up and started asking questions about other Food Not Bombs members and our activities,” Rice said. “I personally believe that this is an attempt to intimidate because they know we play a vital role in helping people stay out longer and have their voices heard.”

In other visits, officers asked about people’s previous addresses, political and social affiliation, and convention plans, according to the NLG. “We are concerned these visits will chill the free speech activities of individuals wishing to lawfully protest,” said Rosnick. “And that individuals who are not planning to be involved in the RNC are being harassed due to their associations.”

The group is holding free legal training sessions for local activists and residents and has been monitoring law enforcement preparations ahead of the convention. To Cleveland organizers, the recent door knocks are just a reminder that they are being watched.

“Cleveland is no stranger to FBI interference and FBI entrapment,” said Rice. “I’d say most Cleveland activists and support organizations like ours are aware that every room we’re in probably has an FBI agent in it. And we act accordingly.”

Top photo: “FBI Police Car” by Tony Hisgett using CC BY 2.0

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The post FBI and Police are Knocking on Activists’ Doors Ahead of Republican National Convention appeared first on The Intercept.

[KI] 350 Antimilitarist*innen auf der Straße gegen die “Kiel Conference” 2016

Indymedia antimil - jeu, 23/06/2016 - 21:18
von: RESIST! Antimilitaristisches Bündnis gegen die "Kiel Conference" am: 23.06.2016 - 21:18

Am Dienstag, 21. Juni sind in der Schleswig-Holsteinischen Landeshauptstadt etwa 350 Antimilitarist*innen gegen die “Kiel Conference” 2016 auf die Straße gegangen. Bei der NATO-Veranstaltung Mal im Düsternbrooker Maritim Hotel Bellevue, die in diesem Jahr zum zweiten stattfand, handelt es sich um ein hochrangiges Treffen von Militär, Wissenschaft und Politik, auf dem die Kriegsstrategien von morgen geplant werden.

Der berechnete Mensch - jeu, 23/06/2016 - 20:50

Kai Schlieter hat ein wichtiges Buch über die bedrohliche Seite Künstlicher Intelligenz geschrieben -

Von THOMAS WAGNER, 23. Juni 2016 -

Auch im vergangenen Jahr gehörten Stofftiere und Puppen zu den beliebtesten Spielzeugen, die Eltern ihrem Nachwuchs unter den Weihnachtsbaum legten. Erfreulich, dass in einer rasant sich verändernden Welt doch etwas gleich bleibt, mag manch einer denken. Doch Vorsicht! Die Schattenseiten der modernen Informationstechnologien machen auch vor der vermeintlich noch heilen Kinderwelt nicht halt. So hat die Firma Mattel den Prototyp einer Barbie entwickelt, „die nicht nur schön blond ist, sondern auch tolle Ohren hat und Gespräche im Kinderzimmer aufzeichnet“.



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