quarta-feira, 31 de agosto de 2016
Trump foi recebido pelo “amigo” Peña Nieto, mas não se livrou dos protestos / VIDEO:Clinton Blasts Trump Mexico Visit on Trail
Trump foi recebido pelo “amigo” Peña Nieto, mas não se livrou dos protestos
João Ruela Ribeiro
31/08/2016 – 22:07
O clima amigável entre o candidato e o líder mexicano contrastou com as violentas críticas à surpreendente visita do magnata.
O candidato republicano à Casa Branca, Donald Trump, foi recebido esta quarta-feira com honras de chefe de Estado na Cidade do México pelo Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto. Em pleno palácio presidencial de Los Pinos, Trump pôde vestir o seu novo fato de estadista, falou dos desafios conjuntos entre os dois países e elogiou os mexicanos que moram nos EUA. Mas não se discutiu quem paga, afinal, o muro na fronteira prometido pelo magnata.
Peña Nieto esclareceu que o convite que fez a Trump serve para “superar mal entendidos” e falar sobre “o futuro partilhado” entre os dois países. No final, o Presidente mexicano disse que a conversa foi “aberta e construtiva” e chamou “amigo” a Donald Trump.
Nunca seria uma visita fácil para Donald Trump, depois de grande parte da sua campanha ter girado em torno de insultos ao país vizinho dos Estados Unidos. E, no México, isso não foi esquecido. Nas redes sociais circularam as mais diversas mensagens que variavam entre o gozo, o repúdio e até o ódio contra o candidato à Casa Branca.
A Assembleia Legislativa do Distrito Federal foi mais longe e declarou Trump persona non grata, num voto que contou com o apoio de todos os grupos parlamentares com a excepção do Partido Revolucionário Institucional de Peña Nieto. “Não podemos permitir que uma pessoa como Donald Trump insulte de forma permanente o povo do México, que viole a nossa soberania nacional”, afirmou o deputado estadual Mauricio Toledo.
Uma das reacções mais virulentas veio do ex-Presidente mexicano Vicente Fox, que disse que “Trump não é bem-vindo no México”. “Não permitimos que utilize o nosso país para os seus interesses próprios”, acrescentou o ex-chefe de Estado, que já antes se tinha envolvido numa polémica com o candidato republicano. Em Feveiro, Fox disse que o México nunca iria pagar “a merda do muro”, mas acabou por pedir desculpa e até convidou o candidato a visitar o México. Esta quarta-feira, a campanha do republicano relembrou este convite a Fox.
O anúncio da visita de Trump ao México apanhou o mundo de surpresa. Durante a corrida à nomeação como candidato republicano, o magnata caracterizou os imigrantes mexicanos ilegais como “violadores” e “assassinos”, chegando mesmo a sugerir que o Governo mexicano estava a enviar os seus cidadãos mais violentos de propósito para os Estados Unidos. O próprio Peña Nieto chegou a comparar a retórica de Trump à de Mussolini e de Hitler, durante uma entrevista em Março ao jornal Excelsior.
Enquanto Trump se reunia com Peña Nieto, Hillary Clinton aproveitava para lembrar ao eleitorado as posições do seu rival em relação à imigração. A equipa de campanha da candidata democrata publicou na conta de Twitter de Clinton um vídeo em castelhano que reúne algumas das declarações mais polémicas de Trump durante a campanha. “Escutámos claramente os comentários de Trump a demonizar os imigrantes à primeira vez, à segunda, à terceira…”
Uma das medidas mais polémicas do candidato republicano à Casa Branca é a construção de um muro na fronteira com o México e que seria o próprio Governo mexicano a financiá-lo, através de aumentos nos impostos sobre as remessas dos imigrantes. Mas, nas últimas semanas, foi notório um esforço de Trump para mostrar uma postura mais moderada no tema da imigração.
O projecto de expulsão dos 11 milhões de imigrantes sem documentação foi amenizado — agora, o candidato propõe forçar a saída apenas daqueles que tiverem cadastro. Na noite desta quarta-feira, Trump faz um muito aguardado discurso em Phoenix em que vai delinear as suas propostas para lidar com a imigração e tentar fazer uma quadratura do círculo: moderar o discurso para manter vivo um apelo abrangente o suficiente para disputar umas eleições presidenciais, ao mesmo tempo que não afasta alguns dos sectores mais radicais que estiveram na base da sua vitória nas eleições primárias republicanas.
A visita à Cidade do México está inserida na estratégia de moderação que tem sido privilegiada pela sua campanha. O convite partiu do Presidente mexicano — cujo gabinete garantiu ter enviado convite também a Hillary Clinton, apesar de não ter havido qualquer confirmação.
Mas ambos tinham algo a ganhar com o encontro, escreve o colunista do Guardian Daniel Peña. “Trump pretende voltar a ter mão no tema principal da sua campanha, a imigração, antes do grande discurso no Arizona. Peña Nieto, por seu lado, quer reverter a sua queda nas sondagens — está actualmente com 23% de popularidade segundo uma sondagem recente — ao parecer que está a enfrentar Trump.” Jorge Ramos, um dos jornalistas televisivos mais populares do país, resumiu o encontro: “É uma reunião entre duas das pessoas mais impopulares no México."
Trump takes risky gamble with Mexico trip / VIDEO:What You Need to Know About Trump's Meeting With Mexico's President
Trump takes risky gamble with Mexico trip
The nominee’s campaign is betting the trip will look presidential. But it could go very wrong.
Kyle Cheney and Ben Schreckinger
8/31/16, 10:13 PM CET
Donald Trump has spent years trashing Mexico as a corrupt enemy of the United States, whose government has looked the other way as drug dealers and criminals stream across the border. On Wednesday, he’ll step off a plane in Mexico City and confront a government and people that have followed his every utterance — and rejected them.
Trump’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is one of the greatest gambles of the election for Trump. It comes as he trails in most polls and prepares to deliver a speech expected to repackage — and perhaps walk back — his controversial immigration policies after a year of calling for mass deportations and a 2,000-mile border wall with Mexico.
He’ll return from the trip in the evening and deliver his immigration address in Phoenix.
“If he can go down there and look statesmanlike while at the same time being firm for what he stands for, then I think it helps shape people’s perceptions of him as to what he would be like if he’s actually president,” said Steve Munisteri, a Republican consultant and former chairman of the Texas GOP. “This is a chance for him to demonstrate to the American people what it would be like to have Trump as president, what it would be like if he was dealing with foreign leaders.”
Republicans see the gambit as a high-risk, high-reward opportunity to change the terms of the election — but only if Trump can demonstrate presidential demeanor on the international stage. To that end, the joint press conference he intends to hold with Peña Nieto afterward offers a potential glimpse into what a Trump bilateral meeting would look like.
“He wants to establish a conversation with a neighboring country, a leader. And also to discuss the common problems and challenges that our country is facing,” said Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, on Wednesday morning.
It could be a hard sell in a country that Trump has long blamed for America’s illegal immigration problems. Over the years Trump – primarily on Twitter – has labeled Mexico an “enemy,” urged an American boycott, threatened to deduct foreign aid and feuded with former Mexican presidents about his plans to build a border wall. After hosting the 2007 Miss Universe Pageant in Mexico, Trump claimed a local businessman owed him money and that the Mexican court system had failed to force him to pay.
“Mexico is not a U.S. friend,” he tweeted last year, just before announcing his presidential bid.
Charlie Spies, a veteran GOP lawyer, sees the move as a simple play for swing-state white voters, rather than an attempt to appeal to minorities.
“Winning the Hispanic vote for Donald Trump is likely a lost cause, but the Caucasian swing voters he needs to be successful in target states will likely see this trip to Mexico as an important outreach effort,” he said. “He is doing a speech today that purports to outline an immigration policy that’s really a no win situation for him because he demagogued the issue for so long … Even if the president embarrasses him, and/or Trump loses his cool, no matter what happens, the visual of him on stage with a world leader elevates him.”
One complication already threatens to cloud Trump’s trip. Though Conway insisted Trump and Nieto would take questions from Mexican and American reporters, Trump’s traveling press corps was left stranded in Arizona, a break from precedent in modern presidential campaigns.
“Trump is setting a distressing precedent today,” tweeted the Associated Press’ Jill Colvin, a member of the Trump press corps. Others noted that Trump did provide for press to accompany him on his last international trip: a visit to his golf course in Scotland.
Peña Nieto invited both Trump and Hillary Clinton last week, and the Trump campaign scrambled to pull Wednesday’s meeting together, according to a person briefed by a senior Trump adviser.
“Trump realized this would be a brilliant time to do it and is trying to pull it together last minute,” a person close to the campaign who had been briefed by a campaign staffer said Tuesday night. “Would be a major power play. It’s like he’s already negotiating on behalf of America.”
The person suggested that the meeting could, for example, allow Trump to agree to deport only criminals if the Mexican president offered some sort of concession in return.
Mexican political leaders, including former President Vicente Fox, questioned why Peña Nieto would “legitimize” Trump by hosting him at the presidential palace. It’s raised the prospect that Peña Nieto, himself struggling amid unpopularity, could attempt to upstage Trump and denounce his anti-Mexico rhetoric.
“The most logical reason he would do this is so he could forcefully denounce Trump and try to reinforce his – elevate his standing among the Mexican voters,” Spies said.” If he doesn’t do that, then I agree with the criticism of people like former President Fox who believe that this is an honor that Donald Trump has not earned.”
After Trump announced the meeting, Peña Nieto confirmed it on Twitter, explaining in Spanish, “I believe in dialogue to promote the interests of Mexico in the world.” The meeting is scheduled to take place at the presidential palace in Mexico City, the New York Times reported.
Few political leaders in Mexico welcomed Trump’s visit. A former Mexican ambassador to the United States, Miguel Basañez Ebergenyi, tweeted that Trump presents the greatest danger to the Mexico-U.S. relationship in the past 50 years. “I deeply regret the invitation,” he wrote.
Conway, however, pronounced the meeting a “decisive presidential move,” while taking a shot at Clinton for not also accepting the invitation.
“We’re just happy the president invited him,” Conway told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday, adding, “I mean, I feel like she keeps following the leader here.”
Corey Lewandowski, who held Conway’s title until being fired amid a June leadership shakeup but still talks with Trump regularly, similarly called the Mexico visit “leadership.”
Lewandowski suggested that his former boss could change the tenor of his relationship with Mexico as a result of the trip.
“Look, it’s very, very possible that Mr. Trump goes down there, meets the president, says, hey, look, we have more things in common than we have apart. Let’s find a way that in 69 days from today when I’m elected president of the United States we can work together,” Lewandowski said.
Arguing that Trump would not back away from his position on the wall, Lewandowski said that proposal was an unbreakable starting point of negotiation
“We can work together, we can find a way that Mexico can find a way to start paying for that wall, but it is going to be built,” Lewandowski continued. “It’s 2,000 miles. We don’t need to build a wall all 2,000 miles. Maybe it’s 1,100 miles, because [of] the topography of the border. But that wall is going to get built. He’s never deviated from it. And the American people aren’t going to pay for it.”
It is traditional for major party presidential nominees to travel to foreign countries to demonstrate their ability to perform on a world stage, but neither candidate has put together a traditional sojourn abroad this year. In June, Trump traveled to his golf courses in Scotland and Ireland and held press conferences, which were designed largely to promote the properties there, but he did not hold meetings with local leaders or other political events. Late last year, Trump canceled plans to visit Israel amid reports that it would provoke unrest among Palestinians and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was uninterested in meeting with him.
Clinton, who traveled the world more extensively than any prior secretary of state during her tenure in the Obama administration, has not announced plans for any campaign trips abroad.
In a statement, Clinton’s campaign reiterated some of Trump’s previous statements about Mexicans and immigration, including calling some Mexicans “rapists.”
“What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions,” Clinton’s campaign said.
Such trips traditionally are high-stakes affairs that carry both risks and opportunities. In 2008, images of the throngs of Germans who cheered Barack Obama as he spoke at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate helped solidify his image at home as a transcendent figure. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s summer trip to Europe was marred by multiple memorable gaffes, including his criticism of London’s performance as a summer Olympics host.
But just hours before the meeting is set to take place, Trump, who has rarely shied from risk in this campaign, tweeted, “I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow.”
Because Mexico relies heavily on trade with United States and remittances from Mexican citizens living in the U.S., Trump’s vows to deport undocumented immigrants and adopt more protectionist trade policies have shaken the Mexican government.
In March, Peña Nieto compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, but he has since struck a more conciliatory tone, acknowledging that he will have to work with Trump if the Republican nominee is elected president.
Nick Gass contributed to this report.
Kyle Cheney and
Burkini não, obrigada
Em praias francesas decidiram interditar o burkini – que deveria chamar-se ‘burbanho’, porque de bikini não tem nada
24 de agosto 2016
Imagine a leitora ou o leitor que, numa situação de tortura, o carrasco lhe pergunta: prefere levar dois pares de estalos ou fazer um jogo de vólei na praia, debaixo do sol de Verão, com um fato preto a cobri-la/o da cabeça aos tornozelos?
A situação é caricata, antes de mais por inverosímil: na tortura, não há escolha – embora possa haver simulacros de escolha que constituem, em si mesmos, um requinte suplementar de tortura.
O caso clássico da perversão da liberdade de escolha numa forma de tortura continuada é o de A Escolha de Sofia (romance de William Styron, filme de Alan J. Pakula), em que um soldado nazi força uma prisioneira de um campo de concentração a seleccionar um dos seus dois filhos pequenos para ser morto; caso a mãe se recusasse a escolher, mataria os dois.
Sofia decide a sobrevivência de um dos filhos (o rapaz, claro; esta escolha, que o dia-a-dia das relações entre mães e filhos ou filhas tantas vezes confirma, seria um tema correlativo deste) e vive o resto da vida torturada pela culpa.
Não tenho dúvida de que preferiria que me aplicassem uns estalos a que me obrigassem a correr à torreira do sol metida num escafandro.
Quando vemos uma pessoa a bater noutra, sabemos que se trata de uma situação de violência. Mas a imagem de um par de jogadoras de vólei egípcias naquela fatiota torturante disputando a bola sobre a rede a um par de jogadoras alemãs em bikini correu mundo como glorioso postal do multiculturalismo, da diversidade e da tolerância.
A mim, essa imagem choca-me: o corpo das atletas egípcias é feito da mesma carne que o de qualquer um de nós. Os donos de escravos também alegavam que a capacidade de sofrimento dos negros era diferente da dos brancos.
O islamismo fundamentalista entende que a mulher é um ser ontologicamente diferente do homem, uma criatura cujo corpo promove o pecado e que por isso esse corpo deve ser socialmente apagado. Em 2016, muitas décadas depois da Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos, estas considerações não são admissíveis, e não deveriam ser acatadas pelo Comité Olímpico.
Há meia-dúzia de anos, a Federação Internacional de Natação decidiu proibir uns fatos de banho ‘milagrosos’ que ajudavam a aumentar a velocidade, a flutuabilidade e a resistência dos atletas, a bem da igualdade de condições entre todos os participantes nas competições. Por que é que os códigos de equidade na indumentária competitiva não se aplicam do mesmo modo em todas as modalidades?
O argumento apresentado de que o uso daqueles trajes foi ‘escolha’ das atletas egípcias (aliás, de uma delas; a outra teve de se conformar a acatar a ‘escolha’, pelos vistos mais válida, da parceira) não colhe.
Se um atleta não pode escolher roupa que lhe amplie as capacidades, também não deve poder escolher roupa que lhas diminua.
Mas a questão vai mais fundo, e é a seguinte: só se pode falar de escolha quando se parte da liberdade.
Pergunto-me que liberdade de decisão sobre o seu corpo tem uma mulher criada e educada nos preceitos do Islão, à qual desde o nascimento foi dito que uma mulher destapada é uma pecadora destinada à condenação eterna, e que, se o fizer, será, no mínimo, repudiada pela família.
Na Europa, a discriminação de género não é admissível.
No entanto, o jornal francês Libération publicava há dias uma reportagem em que revelava existirem em França, hoje, cerca de 50 mil mulheres vítimas de mutilação genital.
No início de agosto, uma associação de mulheres muçulmanas tentou alugar um parque aquático do sul de França para realizar nele o ‘dia do burkini’, um dia em que só mulheres nesse traje poderiam frequentar o parque, que seria interdito aos homens e às crianças do sexo masculino com mais de dez anos. Uma mãe com um filho de onze anos já não poderia levá-lo consigo para esse excepcional banho.
Poucos dias depois, várias praias francesas decidiram interditar o uso do burkini – que deveria chamar-se, vá, ‘burbanho’, porque de bikini não tem nada.
Disse Laurence Rossignol, ministra francesa dos Direitos da Mulher : «O burkini não é uma nova linha de swimwear, é a versão de praia de uma burka e tem a mesma lógica: esconder os corpos das mulheres para que possam ser controladas. O burkini tem um objetivo. Esse objetivo é dissimular, esconder os corpos das mulheres para esconder as mulheres, e o lugar em que isso coloca as mulheres é um lugar que eu combato, que outros antes de mim combateram, e que tem algo de profundamente arcaico».
Manuel Valls, o primeiro- ministro francês, explicou ao jornal La Provence que o burkini «é a tradução de um projeto político, de contra-sociedade, fundado nomeadamente na subserviência da mulher», acrescentando: «Há a ideia de que, por natureza, as mulheres seriam impúdicas, impuras, e que portanto deveriam estar completamente cobertas. Isso não é compatível com os valores da França e da República». Valores, oui.
Angela Merkel’s soft offensive
Fourth and final term would focus on securing her place in history — by ‘fixing’ Europe.
9/1/16, 5:24 AM CET
BERLIN — Berlin’s government quarter was hot with speculation this week about the “K-Frage,” a long-running political parlor game over whether Angela Merkel will pursue another run for Germany’s chancellery.
Though few seriously doubt Merkel wants a chance at an era-crowning fourth term as Kanzlerin, behind-the-scenes squabbling in her conservative alliance over the timing of an announcement has fed theories of a Plan B.
Even as her allies and adversaries parse her public statements and body language for clues of her plans, Merkel has quietly begun laying the groundwork for another four-year term, her political allies say. A familiar question is already dominating those deliberations: How to fix Europe?
If Merkel has spent most of her time in office putting out fires across the Continent, from the financial crisis and Greece to the refugee influx, her next and likely final term would focus on a subject close to any longtime leader’s heart — legacy. Securing that place in history will depend in large part on whether Merkel succeeds in putting Europe on steadier ground.
“Time is not on the side of integration but of regression” — Josef Janning, ECFR
A combination of economic weakness and the widespread impression that Brussels and/or Berlin are to blame for national ills has eroded confidence in the bloc, fueling populist movements from Spain to Sweden. If the EU continues to unravel in the coming years, Merkel, the Continent’s preeminent political figure, will be remembered as the leader who lost Europe.
While Berlin believes Europe has made strides in improving its regulatory framework and preparing for shocks like the debt crisis, Merkel’s camp also acknowledges that much more needs to be done to restore trust in the EU. Brexit, they say, could be the catalyst to turn the tide.
“In Berlin people realize it’s important to seize the moment because it may not come back,” said Josef Janning, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “Time is not on the side of integration but of regression.”
That Merkel recognizes she has a limited time frame for action was evident last week when she met 15 national European leaders in an effort to begin building consensus in key areas. The shuttle diplomacy, which took the chancellor from the deck of an Italian aircraft carrier to Tallin and points between, was partly a confidence building exercise ahead of this month’s informal summit in Bratislava. Her message: Berlin listens.
A common complaint among Europe’s smaller members is that large countries, led by Berlin, bigfoot them in the EU decision-making process. That fear has strengthened the various regional blocs within the EU, such as Scandanavia, the Baltics or the so-called Visegrád group of Central European states.
Indeed, it was a common rejection of Merkel’s refugee policy that led to the often-fractious Visegrád group’s recent renaissance.
In Germany, Merkel’s swing through Eastern Europe was widely seen as a failure because she didn’t convince countries to accept any refugees. Yet that was never her plan. Recognizing that countries like Poland and Hungary wouldn’t back down, the German leader focused the talks on areas of common ground, in particular how to improve security with more intelligence sharing, securing the EU’s borders and preserving the bloc’s refugee pact with Turkey.
Another area of agreement: Brexit. Like Germany, Eastern European countries have little interest in pursuing a punitive approach with the U.K. during the Brexit talks and reject calls from France and other western countries for a hard line. While Berlin wants to safeguard the massive investments German companies such as Siemens and BMW have made in the U.K., Eastern European states like Poland and Romania want to protect the status of their citizens there and the remittances they send home.
“Merkel’s aim here was to repair Berlin’s ties with Eastern Europe that have been strained by the refugee crisis,” said Joerg Forbrig, an analyst with the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. in Berlin. “That’s important for the atmosphere within the EU.”
With the U.K. essentially out of the EU decision-making, she will try to build broader coalitions on important questions.
Merkel’s diplomatic offensive was also a sign that with the U.K. essentially out of the EU decision-making, she will try to build broader coalitions on important questions. She no longer believes Germany and France, even together with Italy which has joined their recent meetings, can act as a motor for the EU, analysts say. In addition to the loss of economic muscle in both France and Italy in recent years, Merkel’s position in key areas, in particular economic and fiscal policy, is often far removed from those in Paris and Rome.
For Merkel, meetings between the three are as much as about reining in French and Italian hopes for freer spending as they are about setting the EU’s agenda.
“She’s not trying to win them over to her course but trying to prevent them from running wild,” Janning said.
For the German leader, the Bratislava summit marks the start of what promises to the arduous task of restoring confidence in an EU plagued by weak leadership and competing national agendas. While even her critics say she is the only leader with the stature to tackle the bloc’s catalog of ills, they also complain that Germany’s political and economic dominance is at the root of many of the EU’s problems.
Even with the clock ticking, Merkel — ever the physicist — insists Europe study the problem before taking action.
“What we need to do is take stock of where we are,” she said this week in an interview the German television. “Instead of rushing into action, one should calmly deliberate.”
Merkel: 'Germany will remain Germany'
Published: 31 Aug 2016 11:44 GMT+02:00
One year after Angela Merkel first declared "we can do this," leading to a huge uptick in refugees applying for asylum, the Chancellor reflected this week on her policies and the future of Germany.
In an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung published online on Tuesday, Merkel seemed as resolute as ever about the decision to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries.
When she first uttered her now often repeated - and mocked - mantra of “we can do this” one year ago, she said she never expected those few words to make such an impact.
“If you asked me before if I would introduce a distinctive phrase that would be quoted many times over, I would not have thought of this phrase.”
At the same time, she said that she used the phrase with “deep conviction… and with the awareness that we were dealing with a difficult and big task.” Merkel said that it was clear there were many hurdles and fears that she needed to dismantle.
Merkel also pointed out that Germany has not always been as proactive as it could be in helping refugees in the not so distant past. She said that after Germany took in a record number of refugees in the early 1990s from former Yugoslavia, the country was hesitant to do the same in the years that followed.
“We in Germany have also long ignored the problem,” the Chancellor said.
“In 2004 and 2005, many refugees came and we let Spain and others at the outer borders deal with it.
“After having taken in so many refugees during the Yugoslavian war, Germany was happy that it was now dealing with other priorities.”
Merkel has also recently faced a drop in approval ratings following several violent attacks in July that involved perpetrators who had sought asylum in Germany. In Würzburg, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked a family on a train with an axe. Within the same week, a Syrian man blew himself up in Ansbach, injuring a dozen others.
German media later reported that both had been in contact with members of Isis.
The Chancellor said that it was “completely understandable” that there has been “unease and concern” following the attacks.
She said it showed that, among refugees there are some who did not arrive with pure intentions. This makes integration a huge challenge, she added.
But she also continued to reject the notion that there was a direct connection between terrorism and having so many refugees in the country.
“It is simply false that terrorism only first came here through refugees. It was already here, especially with the suspected terrorists that we have been monitoring.”
She maintained as well that the hundreds of thousands of refugees remaining in Germany would not change the character of the country.
“Germany will remain Germany, with all that we love and hold dear.”
The country has always undergone change since its inception, Merkel said, but she would not let Germany lose the values and principles that make it attractive.
"These are reflected in our liberality, our democracy, our constitutional state, and in our overwhelming commitment to a social market economy, through which our economic strength can absorb those who are weakest."
Tipping point for the German far-right / Merkel admits mistakes made in Germany, EU with refugee crisis
Tipping point for the German far-right
Alternative for Germany vying for first place in regional election.
8/31/16, 5:23 AM CET
SCHWERIN, Germany — The German political establishment’s worst nightmare could become reality this weekend when voters head to the polls for an election in the northeast: the far-right Alternative for Germany might, for the first time, become the most powerful party in a state.
To make matters worse, it could happen in Angela Merkel’s back yard.
The refugee crisis continues to dominate the political landscape across Germany, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the country’s most sparsely-populated state, and home to Angela Merkel’s constituency, is no exception. The AfD has used the crisis to woo disaffected voters and makes it very clear who it thinks is responsible for the country’s problems: Merkel.
“The refugee crisis has helped us, there’s little question about that,” Leif-Erik Holm, the AfD’s lead candidate in the regional election, said.
Holm’s party is polling at 21 percent, behind the Social Democrats (28 percent) and Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats (22 percent), but party officials are confident of a bounce on election day. It’s happened before: in March in Saxony-Anhalt the AfD was polling at 19 percent and won 24 percent. It finished second in that ballot and hopes to go one further this time.
Whatever happens, the AfD will almost certainly enter its ninth state parliament out of 16. Number 10 will likely follow two weeks later when voters go to the polls in Berlin, where the AfD is polling at 10 percent.
The changing face of German politics was on display when Merkel traveled to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in mid-August to meet with farmers, traditionally staunch supporters of her conservatives.
The chancellor was well prepared, telling farmers she would support their use of the weedkiller glyphosate, answering questions about security regulations, and describing in great detail how impressed she was by a combine harvester in front of the farm. The farmers weren’t angry, but they were concerned.
“I’m not just a farmer, I am also a worried citizen,” one man told Merkel, without explaining what he was worried about. “Please use your power so that our children will have a safe future.”
The chancellor is aware that, as her popularity has been decreasing, her new far-right rival is trying to capitalize on these hard-to-explain fears.
At a campaign event in Schwerin a day later, Björn Höcke, the leading light of the AfD’s right wing, spoke in the main square. The former teacher was asked to give his opinions on education, but went much further, being cheered for comments such as “I would like to live in a democratic state based on the rule of law. This is why I say ‘No’ to a multicultural society,” and “we can’t take this unbearable dictator of a chancellor anymore.”
The event ended with the crowd chanting “Merkel muss weg” (Merkel has to go).
The AfD doesn’t really do local issues. It’s happier to hammer home the anti-immigration message with slogans such as “Stop the asylum chaos.”
“National topics clearly dominate these state elections,“ said the AfD’s Holm. The former radio host is more softly-spoken than Höcke, but he leaves no doubt about his ultra-conservative stance.
“First, it was the Euro-Retterei, the [flawed] rescue of the euro, then it was the energy transformation with Merkel overtaking even the Green Party, and then — which marks the low point — the refugee crisis, which caused a fear among people about what else might come,” he said. “Those crises were managed poorly, and there was no conservative alternative [to the ruling parties.]”
Wounded big beasts
For decades, the two main parties — the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats — have fought it out to see who can lead a coalition government, both at state and national level. For a decade, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has been governed by a “grand coalition” of SPD and CDU.
The AfD claims there is no longer a difference between the two big beasts, thanks to Merkel’s “social democratization” of her party as she opened the doors to refugees from Syria and the wider Middle East.
“We basically replace the old CDU, because Ms. Merkel moved it too far to the left,” Holm said, echoing comments from the national party leadership.
A crowd at an AfD Campaign event in Schwerin, Germany, in mid-August. Two men are holding up a sign that reads “Lying press — USA Warmonger Nr. 1 — Ami, go home!” | Janosch Delcker
A crowd at an AfD Campaign event in Schwerin, Germany, in mid-August. Two men are holding up a sign that reads “Lying press — USA Warmonger Nr. 1 — Ami, go home!” | Janosch Delcker
“For ten years, there has been a potential for a right-wing populist party,” said Tim Bleis, who works for an advice center for victims of right-wing violence in Rostock, the largest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The state has form in voting for the Right. At the last state elections, in 2011, the extreme-right NPD won 6 percent of the votes to remain in the state parliament, where it has been since 2006. The threshold is 6 percent.
However, the NPD, which openly expresses Neo-Nazi views, is stigmatized, and the other parties agreed on a policy called “Schweriner Weg,” essentially an agreement to ignore the party.
Back then, the AfD didn’t even exist.
The AfD has morphed into an ultraconservative, anti-immigrant party that appeals to those who harbor right-wing views.
It’s come a long way in a very short space of time. Founded in 2013 as a protest party against the largely German-funded bailouts for indebted eurozone countries, the AfD has morphed into an ultraconservative, anti-immigrant party that appeals to those who harbor right-wing views, Bleis said, but were repelled by the extreme nature of the NPD, as well as those wanting to rebel against the establishment.
At the AfD campaign event in Schwerin, there were protesters holding up signs against the “lying press” and the “warmonger United States.” One man was wearing a T-shirt that said “Großdeutschland,” which describes Germany’s pre-World-War-II borders.
An architect from Hamburg, who refused to give his name, said he was there to complain about what he called the “step-by-step Islamization” of Germany. One woman said she wanted to protest against “gender mainstreaming,” such as school children being taught about homosexuality.
The only common denominator seemed to be their disapproval of the current government’s refugee policy.
Worried about the rapid rise of the far-right, state officials from both major parties are trying to distance themselves from decisions taken by the national government in Berlin during the refugee crisis.
“To this day, Merkel pretends that Germany could take in everyone who’s persecuted. That’s disconnected from reality,” Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state premier Erwin Sellering of the SPD told Welt newspaper. Sellering declined to be interviewed for this article.
Lorenz Caffier, the candidate for Merkel’s conservatives, has repeatedly tried to paint his party as a stronghold of domestic security by pressing ahead with law-and-order policy ideas, such as a burqa ban.
It’s an uphill battle for both parties. The SPD won 35 percent of the vote in 2011 and is on course for 28 percent this time, and the CDU is polling at 22 percent, down from a historic low of 23 percent last time.
‘I have my doubts’
Out on the campaign trail, the big two are sticking to their guns.
“The difference from the CDU is obvious: the SPD speaks out for the man in the street,” Rainer Albrecht, a member of the SPD in the state parliament, told a passerby who asked him about the difference between the two parties as Albrecht handed out flyers by a shopping center on the outskirts of Rostock.
“I have my doubts,” the man replied.
Behind Albrecht, a handful of SPD volunteers folded flyers and handed out lollipops. Every one of them was unhappy at the leadership of Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister and vice chancellor.
Earlier this year, Gabriel made a policy decision that enraged the local party faithful: he decided to raise taxes on petrol even though gas prices had fallen. This caused outrage in a predominantly rural state where many rely on their cars.
“Now people tell us, ‘They are raising taxes, and at the same time there’s enough money for all the refugees,” one of the SPD volunteers said.
It takes about five minutes to drive from where Albrecht was campaigning to the Rostock neighborhood of Groß Klein, which made headlines in early August when the city decided to move young asylum seekers out of an apartment after far-right extremists rioted in front of their house.
By mid-August, there were campaign posters for the AfD and the NPD on every street lamp in the main street that cuts through the neighborhood of Soviet-era apartment blocks.
“I’m not a Nazi, but I will vote for the AfD because something has to change,” said one Rostock woman, who refused to give her name.
If the AfD becomes the strongest party in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the other parties will almost certainly club together to block it. But the effect will still be huge.
“If we end up becoming the strongest party in the parliament, this will have an enormous effect [on the national stage],” the AfD’s Leif-Erik Holm said. “There also seems to be pressure now [on Merkel] to move further towards our direction — the question is if she wants to do that.”
Merkel admits mistakes made in Germany, EU with refugee crisis
By Erik Kirschbaum and Andrea Shalal | BERLIN
Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:56pm EDT
Germany and other European Union countries turned a blind eye to the refugee crisis building on its external borders for too long, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a German newspaper interview to be published on Wednesday.
Merkel, who has faced criticism in Germany for launching her policies of welcoming refugees a year ago, also told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Germany and the EU will need patience and endurance in dealing with migration of people to Europe.
"There are political issues that one can see coming but don't really register with people at that certain moment - and in Germany we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution," she said.
Merkel made the comments in an unusually self-critical analysis that appeared to be timed to the one-year anniversary on Wednesday of her now-famous statement "wir schaffen das", or "we can do this", when asked about the rising tide of refugees.
Her conservative party is expected to take a beating in two regional elections next month in part due to her refugee policies.
She said Germany, which has taken in most of the more than 1 million refugees from the Middle East and Asia who arrived in the EU in the past year, had let Spain and other EU border countries deal with the refugees on their own.
"Back then, we also rejected a proportional distribution of the refugees," she said.
Merkel said Germany had not supported models such as the Frontex European border agency that would have impinged on the sovereignty of the EU member states. "We said we would deal with the problem at our airports since we don't have any other external EU boundaries. But that doesn't work."
The three-term chancellor said refugees will be a long-term issue.
"We didn't embrace the problem in an appropriate way," she added. "That goes as well for protecting the external border of the Schengen area," she said, referring to the EU's passport-free and frontier-free zone.
Merkel said the EU needed to improve cooperation with and dramatically increase development aid to countries in Africa as well as Turkey and other troubled regions.
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Merkel said Germany had long been content to focus on other problems after years of welcoming refugees from the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. "I cannot deny that," she said.
She admonished German politicians to express themselves in moderate terms and not participate in the current ratcheting up of rhetoric about threats.
A number of Germans had always had a certain racism toward foreigners and were willing to commit violent acts for that cause, but that tendency had grown over the past year, she said.
The German leader, the daughter of pastor, also cautioned against equating all migrants with terrorists. "It's simply incorrect to say that terrorism came only with the refugees," she said. "It was already here in myriad forms and with the various potential attackers that we have been watching."
(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alison Williams)
The rise of robots: forget evil AI – the real risk is far more insidious
It’s far more likely that robots would inadvertently harm or frustrate humans while carrying out our orders than they would rise up against us
Olivia Solon in San Francisco
Tuesday 30 August 2016 14.00 BST
When we look at the rise of artificial intelligence, it’s easy to get carried away with dystopian visions of sentient machines that rebel against their human creators. Fictional baddies such as the Terminator’s Skynet or Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey have a lot to answer for.
However, the real risk posed by AI – at least in the near term – is much more insidious. It’s far more likely that robots would inadvertently harm or frustrate humans while carrying out our orders than they would become conscious and rise up against us. In recognition of this, the University of California, Berkeley has this week launched a center to focus on building people-pleasing AIs.
The Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence, launched this week with $5.5m in funding from the Open Philanthropy Project, is lead by computer science professor and artificial intelligence pioneer Stuart Russell. He’s quick to dispel any “unreasonable and melodramatic” comparisons to the threats posed in science fiction.
“The risk doesn’t come from machines suddenly developing spontaneous malevolent consciousness,” he said. “It’s important that we’re not trying to prevent that from happening because there’s absolutely no understanding of consciousness whatsoever.”
Russell is well known in the artificial intelligence community and in 2015 penned an open letter calling for researchers to look beyond the goal of simply making AI more capable and powerful to think about maximizing its social benefit. The letter has been signed by more than 8,000 scientists and entrepreneurs including physicist Stephen Hawking, entrepreneur Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“The potential benefits [of AI research] are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable,” the letter reads.
“Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.”
It’s precisely this thinking that underpins the new center.
Up until now, AI has primarily been applied to very limited contexts such as playing Chess or Go or recognizing objects in images, where there isn’t much scope for the system to do much damage. As they start to make decisions on our behalf within the real world, the stakes are much higher.
Technology is killing the myth of human centrality – let's embrace our demotion
“As soon as you put things in the real world, with self-driving cars, digital assistants … as soon as they buy things on your behalf, turn down appointments, then they have to align with human values,” Russell said.
He uses autonomous vehicles to illustrate the type of problem the center will try to solve. Someone building a self-driving car might instruct it never to go through a red light, but the machine might then hack into the traffic light control system so that all of the lights are changed to green. In this case the car would be obeying orders but in a way that humans didn’t expect or intend. Similarly, an artificially intelligent hedge fund designed to maximize the value of its portfolio could be incentivized to short consumer stocks, buy long on defence stocks and then start a war – as suggested by Elon Musk in Werner Herzog’s latest documentary.
“Even when you think you’ve put fences around what an AI system can do it will tend to find loopholes just as we do with our tax laws. You want an AI system that isn’t motivated to find loopholes,” Russell said.
“The problem isn’t consciousness, but competence. You make machines that are incredibly competent at achieving objectives and they will cause accidents in trying to achieve those objectives.”
To address this, Russell and his colleagues at the center propose making AI systems that observe human behavior and try to work out what the human’s objective is, then behave accordingly and learn from mistakes. So instead of trying to give the machine a long list of rules to follow, the machine is told that its main objective is to do what the human wants them to do.
It sounds simple, but it’s not how engineers have been building systems for the past 50 years.
But if AI systems can be designed to learn from humans in this way, it should ensure that they remain under human control even when they develop capabilities that exceed our own.
In addition to watching humans directly using cameras and other sensors, robots can learn about us by reading history books, legal documents, novels, newspaper stories as well as by watching videos and movies. From this they can start to build up an understanding of human values.
It won’t be easy for machines. “People are irrational, inconsistent, weak-willed, computationally limited, heterogenous and sometimes downright evil,” Russell said.
“Some are vegetarians and some really like a nice juicy steak. And the fact that we don’t behave anything close to perfectly is a serious difficulty.”
terça-feira, 30 de agosto de 2016
Editorial / PÚBLICO
Um homem sério
30/08/2016 – 19:38
Todos tínhamos percebido menos Pedro Santana Lopes. Agora, o Tribunal Europeu dos Direitos Humanos veio explicar: era apenas ironia.
Um dos piores males humanos, não circunscrito a Portugal, mas abundante q.b. entre nós, é a auto-consideração. Os portugueses levam-se muito a sério, têm demasiadas certezas absolutas e ofendem-se por pouco. A história dos duelos não é mais do que a história dos homens com excesso de auto-consideração. De todas as figuras retóricas, a ironia é a mais incompreendida. Em 2004 Santana Lopes teve essa dificuldade. Viu numa ironia um insulto capaz de pôr em causa, “de forma grave e séria”, o seu bom nome pessoal e profissional e, além disso, a sua capacidade para ser primeiro-ministro. Esta era a frase: “Será um delírio provocado por consumo de drogas duras, uma nova originalidade nacional ou apenas um disparate sem nome?” Santana Lopes é um homem sério e com homens assim não se brinca. Pediu 150 mil euros. O tribunal deu-lhe razão, mas baixou para 30 mil. Doze anos depois, o Tribunal Europeu dos Direitos Humanos veio dizer o contrário e lembrar que o jornalista quis, “como é evidente”, ser irónico. E apenas isso.
Can We Save Venice Before It’s Too Late?
By SALVATORE SETTIS
August 29, 2016
PISA, Italy — A deadly plague haunts Venice, and it’s not the cholera to which Thomas Mann’s character Gustav von Aschenbach succumbed in the Nobel laureate’s 1912 novella “Death in Venice.” A rapacious tourist monoculture threatens Venice’s existence, decimating the historic city and turning the Queen of the Adriatic into a Disneyfied shopping mall.
Millions of tourists pour into Venice’s streets and canals each year, profoundly altering the population and the economy, as many native citizens are banished from the island city and those who remain have no choice but to serve in hotels, restaurants and shops selling glass souvenirs and carnival masks.
Tourism is tearing apart Venice’s social fabric, cohesion and civic culture, growing ever more predatory. The number of visitors to the city may rise even further now that international travelers are avoiding destinations like Turkey and Tunisia because of fears of terrorism and unrest. This means that the 2,400 hotels and other overnight accommodations the city now has no longer satisfy the travel industry’s appetites. The total number of guest quarters in Venice’s historic center could reach 50,000 and take it over entirely.
Just along the Grand Canal, Venice’s main waterway, the last 15 years have seen the closure of state institutions, judicial offices, banks, the German Consulate, medical practices and stores to make way for 16 new hotels.
Alarm at this state of affairs led to last month’s decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to place Venice on its World Heritage in Danger list unless substantial progress to halt the degradation of the city and its ecosystem is made by next February. Unesco has so far stripped only one city of its status as a heritage site from the more than 1,000 on the list: Dresden, after German authorities ignored Unesco’s 2009 recommendations against building a bridge over the River Elbe that marred the Baroque urban ensemble. Will Venice be next to attain this ignominious status?
In its July report, Unesco’s committee on heritage sites expressed “extreme concern” about “the combination of ongoing transformations and proposed projects threatening irreversible changes to the overall relationship between the City and its Lagoon,” which would, in its thinking, erode the integrity of Venice.
Unesco’s ultimatum stems from several longstanding problems. First, the increasing imbalance between the number of the city’s inhabitants (which plummeted from 174,808 in 1951 to 56,311 in 2014, the most recent year for which numbers are available) and the tourists. Proposed large-scale development, including new deepwater navigation channels and a subway running under the lagoon, would hasten erosion and strain the fragile ecological-urban system that has grown up around Venice.
For now, gigantic cruise liners regularly parade in front of Piazza San Marco, the city’s main public square, mocking the achievements of the last 1,500 years. To mention but one, the M.S.C. Divina is 222 feet high, twice as tall as the Doge’s Palace, a landmark of the city that was built in the 14th century. At times, a dozen liners have entered the lagoon in a single day.
The inept response of the Italian authorities to the very real problems facing Venice gives little hope that this situation will change anytime soon. After the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia in January 2012 off the coast of Tuscany left 32 people dead, the Italian government ruled that megaships must stay at least two miles from shore to prevent similar occurrences in the future. But the Italian government, predictably, failed to stand up to the big money promised by the tourist companies: A loophole to that law was created just for Venice. A cruise liner running ashore in the Piazza San Marco would wreck centuries of irreplaceable history.
Furthermore, after a corruption scandal over a multibillion-dollar lagoon barrier project forced Mayor Giorgio Orsoni to resign in June 2014, he was replaced a year later by Luigi Brugnaro, a booster of Venice’s tourism. Mr. Brugnaro not only fully welcomes the gargantuan ships but has even proposed the sale of millions of dollars of art from the city’s museums to help manage Venice’s ballooning debt.
The destruction of Venice is not in Italy’s best interest, yet the authorities remain paralyzed. Local authorities — the city and the region — are at odds with the government in Rome. Regardless, they have failed to diversify the city’s economy, meaning that any changes would put the few remaining Venetians out of work. To renew Venice’s economic life, new policies are strongly needed, aimed at encouraging young people to stay in the historic city, encouraging manufacturing and generating opportunities for creative jobs — from research to universities and the art world — while reutilizing vacant buildings.
No effective provision on Venice’s behalf has been enforced so far by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, although protection of environment and cultural heritage is among the fundamental principles of the Italian Constitution. Nor are authorities developing any project whatsoever aimed not just at preserving the monuments of Venice, but at ensuring its citizens a future worth living.
If Italy is to spare Venice from further violation by the new plague devouring its beauty and collective memory, it must first review its overall priorities and, abiding by its own Constitution, place cultural heritage, education and research before petty business.
Salvatore Settis is the chairman of the Louvre Museum’s scientific advisory council and the author of the forthcoming book “If Venice Dies.”
If you’ve visited Venice or another historical site this summer and found it in need of repair, care or conservation, we’d like to see your view of it, taken from a unique angle. Post on Instagram using the hashtag #OurHeritageInDanger.