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September 29 2013

Power and money : Wealthy politicians | The Economist

Power and money : Wealthy politicians | The Economist

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21586883-wealthy-politicians?fsrc=scn%2Ffb%2Fwl%2Fpe%2Fwealthypoliticians

Argent et politique :) Une approche intéressante

Many Americans grumble about the wealth of their politicians, but they are paupers compared with their Chinese counterparts. The 50 richest members of America’s Congress are worth $1.6 billion in all. In China, the wealthiest 50 delegates to the National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, control $94.7 billion.

http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/print-edition/20130928_CNC970.png

Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, is the richest man in Congress, with $355m. China’s richest delegate is Zong Qinghou, boss of Hangzhou Wahaha Group, a drinks-maker, whose wealth is almost $19 billion (including assets distributed to family). Last year Mr Zong was China’s richest man, but was overtaken by Wang Jianlin, who is not a member of the NPC. Wealth can bring problems wherever you are. On September 20th, a man, angry at being refused a job, attacked Mr Zong with a knife near his home in Hangzhou. Mr Zong survived, with nasty cuts to his hand.

#etats-unis

September 14 2013

In Syria, Israel finds a 'blessed war'€™

In Syria, Israel finds a ’blessed war’€™
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/14/in-syria-israel-findsaablessedwara.html

So why has the Israeli government expended so much energy pressing Washington to draw a red line on the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons, and why was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the key outfit of America’s pro-Israel lobby, pressing Congress to authorize military force? The answer is not just about Syria. Indeed, in a press release calling for U.S. intervention, AIPAC homed in not on Damascus but Tehran, stating, “As we witness unthinkable horror in Syria, the urgency of stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions is paramount.”

Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and Netanyahu confidant, put it more succinctly when he declared, “The very fact that the U.S. was getting ready to act militarily in Syria is positive with regards to the situation in Iran. Confidence in an American commitment that Iran won’t get the bomb has been strengthened.”

Since Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria, Israeli media have depicted him as a weak, dithering figure who has failed to demonstrate “seriousness” in the face of evil. With U.S. missile strikes on hold, and possibly off the table, the Israeli government has begun disseminating threats that it will take matters into its own hands — by bombing Iran, not Syria.

But even if the U.S. fails to intervene, the Israelis can take heart in knowing that the “blessed war” will continue well into the future.

September 08 2013

AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action - Haaretz

AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action - Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.545661

The influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will deploy hundreds of activists next week to win support in Congress for military action in Syria, amid an intense White House effort to convince wavering U.S. lawmakers to vote for limited strikes.

“We plan a major lobbying effort with about 250 activists in Washington to meet with their senators and representatives,” an AIPAC source said on Saturday.

Congressional aides said they expected the meetings and calls on Tuesday, as President Barack Obama and officials from his administration make their case for missile strikes over the apparent use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The vote on action in Syria is a significant political test for Obama and a major push by AIPAC, considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, could provide a boost.

The U.S. Senate is due to vote on a resolution to authorize the use of military force as early as Wednesday. Leaders of the House of Representatives have not yet said when they would vote beyond saying consideration of an authorization is “possible” sometime this week.

Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Assad’s government in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.

But many Republicans and several of Obama’s fellow Democrats have not been enthused about the prospect, partly because war-weary Americans strongly oppose getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.

Pro-Israel groups had largely kept a low profile on Syria as the Obama administration sought to build its case for limited strikes after last month’s attack on rebel-held areas outside Damascus.

Supporters of the groups and government sources acknowledged they had made it known that they supported U.S. action, concerned about instability in neighboring Syria and what message inaction might send to Assad’s ally, Iran.

But they had generally wanted the debate to focus on U.S. national security rather than how a decision to attack Syria might help Israel, a reflection of their sensitivity to being seen as rooting for the United States to go to war.

September 07 2013

Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces - NYTimes.com

Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces - NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/world/middleeast/pentagon-is-ordered-to-expand-potential-targets-in-syria-with-a-focus-on-fo

President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action.

Poll : Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria | The Onion - America's Finest…

Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria | The Onion - America’s Finest News Source
http://www.theonion.com/articles/poll-majority-of-americans-approve-of-sending-cong,33752

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”

“In fact, my preference would have been for Congress to be deployed months ago,” she added (...) regardless of whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons or not.

In fact, 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria.

September 05 2013

Onward Into Syria, Blindly : The New Yorker

Onward Into Syria, Blindly : The New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2013/09/onward-into-syria-blindly.html?mbid=social_retweet

Four days on and President Obama’s gambit of going to Congress for approval of military action in Syria is working out pretty well for him. Senator John McCain, his opponent in the 2008 campaign, is standing shoulder to shoulder with him. Secretary of State John Kerry is busy making allusions to Munich, and the skeptics in the Pentagon are keeping their doubts to themselves. The pro-bombing side is clearly on top. Ranged against it, an unlikely alliance of Tea Party Republicans, liberal Democrats, and war-weary moderates is making little progress.

But while the war party may have the votes, the skeptics still have the stronger arguments.

August 28 2013

India's malnourished : A mess of pottage | The Economist

India’s malnourished: A mess of pottage | The Economist

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21584042-huge-cheap-food-scheme-influence-voters-will-not-end-malnutrition-mess-pottage?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/amessofpottage

“HISTORIC” and “unparalleled” were the words Sonia Gandhi, boss of the ruling Congress party, used to describe India’s new food law at a launch in Delhi on August 20th. She promised an end to hunger for the poor. More accurate terms for the law and its introduction would be “expedient” and “chaotic”.

http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/290-width/images/print-edition/P/20130824_ASP002_0.jpg

The scheme aims to reach 800m of India’s 1.2 billion people, giving each a monthly dole of 5 kilos of rice or wheat, at a nominal price. That makes it the world’s biggest serving of subsidised food. Yet it has been launched amid confusion, cynicism and claims of fiscal irresponsibility.

#inde #malnutrition #alimentation

August 26 2013

The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities Has the NYPD's Demographics Unit Stopped Any Terror…

The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities
Has the NYPD’s Demographics Unit Stopped Any Terror Plots ? — New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/news/features/nypd-demographics-unit-2013-9/#print

Pire que la #surveillance de la #NSA, celle (toujours en cours malgré sa fracassante inefficacité) des #musulmans (et plus au passage) des #Etats-Unis par le #NYPD,

(...)

The activities [NYPD Ray] Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration. It was a proactive approach, but, in constitutional terms, a novel one.

To reinvent the Intelligence Division, Kelly called on David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer who was a year into a post-retirement stint with the Wall Street insurance giant American International Group. Kelly offered a rare opportunity not just to return to intelligence work but also to build something from scratch—in effect, the city’s own CIA.

(...)

Cohen eagerly accepted. Cohen didn’t come alone. To build his new program, Cohen wanted someone by his side with access to the most sensitive intelligence, someone who could play a role in day-to-day operations. With a phone call to Langley, Cohen persuaded CIA director George Tenet to lend him Larry Sanchez. Like Cohen, Sanchez was an analyst who’d come up through the ranks. Unlike Cohen, Sanchez still had a blue CIA badge and the privileges that came with it.

(...)

Cohen and Sanchez’s appointments represented a major shift in mind-set at the NYPD. Police are trained to uphold the law. By comparison, CIA officers are trained to subvert laws and operate undetected in places where the Constitution doesn’t apply. They are forbidden from doing this in America.

(...)

Sanchez told colleagues that he had borrowed the idea from Israeli methods of controlling the military-occupied West Bank, the swath of land captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. But the proposal ignored some important differences between the U.S. and Israel. Brooklyn and Queens, for instance, were not occupied territories or disputed land. There was no security wall being erected in New York City. And, where Muslims are concerned, no one would choose Israel as a model of civil liberties.

Nevertheless, Cohen liked the idea. (...)

(...)

Inside the NYPD, the document was regarded as a masterwork and the foundation for everything the department would build subsequently. It was part autobiography, part history, and part ideology. One senior NYPD official took to calling it Cohen’s Mein Kampf.

(...)

Most important for the secretly planned Demographics Unit, Haight ruled: “For the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally.”

(...)

To accomplish their goals, however, Cohen and Sanchez needed to go far beyond what the FBI could do. (...)

Far from raising concerns about a police department taking it upon itself to reconsider constitutional rights, Congress enthusiastically embraced Cohen’s views.

(...)

About once a week, they filed reports on conversations they’d eavesdropped on. Nobody trained the rakers on what exactly qualified as suspicious, so they reported anything they heard. (...)

(...)

Surveillance turned out to be habit-forming. Cohen and Sanchez’s efforts also reached beyond the Muslim community. Undercover officers traveled the country, keeping tabs on liberal protest groups like Time’s Up and the Friends of Brad Will. Police infiltrated demonstrations and collected information about antiwar groups and those that marched against police brutality. (...)

(...)

Confirmation that the activities of the Demographics Unit went far beyond what federal agencies were permitted to do was provided by the FBI itself. Once, Sanchez tried to peddle the Demographics reports to the FBI. But when Bureau lawyers in New York learned about the reports, they refused. The Demographics detectives, the FBI concluded, were effectively acting as undercover officers, targeting businesses without cause and collecting information related to politics and religion. Accepting the NYPD’s reports would violate FBI rules.

Cohen told his officers the FBI had its rules and the NYPD had its own. He was no longer constrained by the politicians. The NYPD was governed by the City Council, which had effectively given Kelly carte blanche to run the department as he saw fit.

In the fall of 2005, a senior CIA officer named Margaret Henoch attended a briefing with Sanchez and other NYPD officials. The meeting was a wide-ranging discussion of the NYPD’s new capabilities, including its Demographics Unit.

Henoch had a reputation as a skeptic. During the run-up to the Iraq War, when CIA analysts concluded that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, they put a lot of stock in statements by an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball. (...)

She didn’t see how the Demographics reports could be used to draw conclusions. “I think this is a really impressive collection of what’s where, but I don’t understand how it helps you,” Henoch told the NYPD brass. If it was useful, she figured, maybe the CIA could replicate it. But she didn’t understand how collecting troves of information on local businesses and religious affiliations helped find terrorists.

She asked if there was some success story that summed up the program’s usefulness in its first two years. When she didn’t get an answer, she assumed that the NYPD was being coy with a potential rival. Even in the post-9/11 era, intelligence agencies often jealously guarded their secrets.

“I figured they were just lying to me,” Henoch recalled. It did not occur to her that there might not be any stories to tell.

(...)

“At the very least, we can eliminate this guy from our list if he’s not a terrorist,” (...) “And we can find out who the terrorists are. And that’s your job.”

The truth, though, was that raking didn’t eliminate anybody from a list. It just expanded the NYPD’s files. (...)

(...)

Because the rakers never received specialized training, their reports contained numerous errors. Sephardic Jews and Lebanese Christians were mistaken for Syrian Muslims.

The reports began looking the same (...). No matter how detailed, they never matured into criminal cases. If terrorist cells operated in New York, (...), why weren’t the police making arrests? That’s how they’d dismantled drug gangs in the Bronx. Gang members, like terrorists, were secretive, insular, and dangerous. (...)

(...)

Whatever the shortcomings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act oversight system, at least there is, theoretically, a check on the agency’s activities. But in New York City, for Muslim citizens and activists of many stripes, there is no such outside system meant to safeguard their privacy. The NYPD conducts its oversight in-house. City Hall doesn’t review intelligence programs the way Congress does. Courts can step in to settle questions about constitutionality, but only if somebody finds out about programs that are designed to remain secret forever.

In 2010, the Demographics Unit was renamed the Zone Assessment Unit over fears about how the title would be perceived if it leaked out. But *rakers still troll Muslim neighborhoods, filing an average of four new reports every day, searching for hot spots. The Muslim community is marbled with fear, afraid to speak openly because an informant could be lurking near.

Kelly is unapologetic. Like the department’s use of the tactic known as stop-and-frisk, raking is a tactic Kelly maintains is legal. He said the program is operating just as it always has. “Nothing” has changed, Kelly boasted to The Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

(...) [but] now, the lawyers [are] arguing that Kelly and Cohen, in their effort to keep the city safe, have crossed constitutional lines. Regardless of the outcome, the NYPD’s programs are likely to join waterboarding, secret prisons, and NSA wiretapping as emblems of post-9/11 America, when security justified many practices that would not have been tolerated before.

July 30 2013

Al-Qaeda Backers Found With U.S. Contracts in Afghanistan - Bloomberg

#Al-Qaeda Backers Found With U.S. Contracts in #Afghanistan - Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-30/al-qaeda-backers-found-with-u-s-contracts-in-afghanistan.html

Supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts, and American officials are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the agreements, according to an independent agency monitoring spending.
The U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office has declined to act in 43 such cases, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said today in a letter accompanying a quarterly report to Congress.
Attachment: Inspector General’s Summary
“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko said.

voilà qui devrait plaire à @nidal :)

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