June 4, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 1:01 PM


Who's Behind the Violence at George Floyd Protests in US? (Jamie Dettmer, June 04, 2020, Voice of America)

Meanwhile, members of the so-called "Boogaloo" movement -- an amorphous collective with far-right and far-left elements -- were seen at protests in some states, wearing their signature Hawaiian shirts, including in Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania. Some "Boogaloo" adherents are part of a broader movement of white supremacists called "accelerationists," who welcome civil disorder and want to foment violent political polarization, hoping it will end up toppling America's current political order.

Researchers at the Counter Extremism Project, an international policy organization formed to monitor and combat extremist groups, say white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been celebrating the past week of mayhem on the streets. On the Telegram channel of one violent neo-Nazi group, 5,500 followers reportedly were advised that a large protest would provide the perfect opportunity to commit a murder. Another Telegram channel said the time was right to attack synagogues with law enforcement being distracted by the civil unrest, according to CEP.

But it is unclear to what extent radical groups of left or right have been able to orchestrate violence.

New York's deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, John Miller, believes anarchist and radical left groups have been stoking the fury in his city. "Before the protests began," he told reporters, "organizers of certain anarchist groups set out to raise bail money and people who would be responsible to be raising bail money, they set out to recruit medics and medical teams with gear to deploy in anticipation of violent interactions with police."

He added: "They prepared to commit property damage and directed people who were following them that this should be done selectively and only in wealthier areas or at high-end stores run by corporate entities." One in seven of those arrested in New York for public order offenses has been from outside the city, which officials say is suspicious.

Law enforcement officials in several other states and cities contacted by VOA say they believe out-of-state actors seeded themselves within the overwhelmingly non-violent local community protesters. But they acknowledge they're still trying to assess how much those agitators have been able to steer the course of events on the streets. Some officials say it doesn't take much to spark conflagration and prod agitated, passionate crowds, setting up a reciprocal cycle of violence.

Analysts and researchers who follow radical groups say they have little doubt extremists were involved in the much bigger stew of unrest, anger and protest. "It will take time to unravel what extremist networks may or may not have been involved," Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice at California State University-San Bernardino and director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, told VOA.

"Some people being arrested appear to be affiliated to the hard left, but others seem to be from the far right. Some of these folks might just be thrill-seeking manipulators or are felonious opportunists and not just ideologues, others are idiosyncratic wildcards," he added. Distinguishing between them all can be difficult.

Posted by orrinj at 12:56 PM


Our duty to Hong Kong: the case for granting full British citizenship: The time has come to right an historic wrong (Fraser Nelson,  6 June 2020, Spectator)

 In 2014 pro-democracy protestors used umbrellas to defend themselves against the tear gas of the police: the protests failed, and umbrellas became a symbol of the movement. Beijing has meanwhile been sending over increasingly authoritarian legislation for Hong Kong authorities to approve. The extradition law brought 12,000 on to the streets in March. Last month, it proposed to make booing during the Chinese national anthem (a ruse beloved of Hong Kong football fans) punishable by five years' imprisonment. This bodes ill for the future, as does the growing military build-up in nearby Shen-zhen.

It's absurd now to think that Tories quivered at the idea of granting free movement to three million in Hong Kong, given that hundreds of millions of EU citizens had the same right. Britain has since proven itself to be the world's most successful melting pot, integrating five million migrants over the past decade, with none of the far-right political backlash seen on the Continent. It's hard to argue that there would be any problem in settling the Hong Kong Chinese, the best-educated and most highly skilled and productive immigrants any country could ask for. A 2016 study found that one in five Hong Kong adults planned to launch a business within the next three years.

The Brexit debate exposed several misunderstandings about concern over immigration. It's not that people feel Britain is 'full', a claim made even in 1984, when our islands accommodated ten million fewer people than they do now. The concern is about the ability to control immigration. Brexit has brought that control and, as a result, concern about immigration has plunged. Polls show Britain to be one of the most welcoming nations in the world.

At a time when countries compete for high-skilled people, Britain's moral duty and economic self-interest have become aligned.

Of course, open immigration is always both a moral duty and an economic opportunity.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How the Pandemic May Change Business for the Better, According to New Research (MARCEL SCHWANTES, 6/04/20, Inc.)

More so than any other factor, nearly half (47%) of CEOs said the crisis will fundamentally alter their organization's approach to remote work in the long term. But we've long been heading in that direction.

In fact, an earlier West Monroe poll found that 91% of employees agree they are just as productive working from home as they are in the office. Clearly, remote work has reached a tipping point, with the pandemic providing the final push needed to fully embrace this new way of working.

When asked how the current market crisis will create a lasting impact in the U.S. economy at large, one-third of CEOs agreed that a top factor will be increased agility and speed of work, such as more rapid decision-making and prioritization.

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly changed everyone's lives both personally and professionally, but it has also forced companies and executives to work with more focus and dedication than ever.

This pandemic is creating a situation of forced adaptation. For companies across industries, digital transformation is no longer something to plan for: it's now a daily mandate. Business leaders cannot afford to be complacent. Instead, they must rise to the unique challenge of this moment with an intentional evolution.

The pandemic can change business for the better -- if we embrace the agility it's creating.

The one downside of how effectively W, Ben and the UR dealt with the credit crunch was it made the Recession so shallow and brief that it did not force much significant change.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


White House tweets rumor that an LA Chabad house is fueling antifa (PHILISSA CRAMER and BEN SALES, 6/03/20, JTA)

A Los Angeles synagogue found itself having to deny misinformation about the George Floyd protests after a rumor spread -- and was briefly amplified by the White House -- that its security barriers were actually tools for looters.

Chabad of Sherman Oaks installed vertical barriers filled with rocks last year in a move aimed at increasing security. The barriers, called bollards, are meant to stop people from ramming vehicles into people and buildings.

But when unrest moved through Los Angeles this week, so did rumors that the rocks were actually planted to provide supplies for looters. Even after the synagogue dismantled the barriers and rebutted the rumors, the White House amplified the misinformation in a video that it tweeted and deleted Wednesday afternoon.

To be a Nativist/Nationalist requires both anti-Semitism--because Jews--and pro-Zionism--because Palestinians.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Hydroxychloroquine drug fails to prevent coronavirus in a rigorous study (Associated Press, 6/02/20)

A malaria drug President Donald Trump took to try to prevent COVID-19 proved ineffective for that in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease.

Results published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


To understand Zionism, we must see it as both a liberation and colonial project
The debate on antisemitism often ignores Zionism's settler colonial features and exceptionalizes Israel. Challenging that discourse is not antisemitic. (Alon Confino and Amos Goldberg, June 3, 2020, +972)

It was not uncommon for Jews to recognize as early as the 1920s and 1930s that Arab resistance to the Zionist movement, and later Israel, did not derive from antisemitism but rather from their opposition to the colonization of Palestine. For example, the Zionist leader and founder of the Revisionist movement, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, recognized Zionism's colonial features and offered an honest explanation of the Palestinians' motivations for rejecting it.

"My readers have a general idea of the history of colonization in other countries," Jabotinsky wrote in his 1923 essay "The Iron Wall." "I suggest that they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonization being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent. The native populations [...] have always stubbornly resisted the colonists."

Haim Kaplan, a devoted Zionist from Warsaw, wrote in his diary in the same spirit in 1936. Reflecting on the Great Arab Revolt in Palestine, where his two children lived at the time, Kaplan observed that the talk of a renewed Arab antisemitism was little more than Zionist propaganda. From their perspective, the Arabs were right: Zionism dispelled them from their land, and the movement's adherents should be regarded as the side that waged war on the local population.

Despite these assessments, figures like Jabotinsky and Kaplan still had their reasons for justifying Zionism. In many countries today, including Israel, their critical observations of the movement would have been denounced as antisemitic. But they were right.

Robust scholarship has shown that Zionism has featured settler colonial elements. Zionists sought to build an overseas community, bounded by ties of identity and a shared past, in a land they viewed as empty or inhabited by natives that they regarded as less civilized than themselves. They wanted not so much to govern or exploit the natives, but to replace them as a political community. A key question that many historians are debating is how dominant settler colonialism has been compared to Zionism's other characteristics.

Approaching Zionism as one settler colonial movement among others does not necessarily negate the pursuit of justice embedded in Zionism, in which the Jews deserve a homeland of their own in the modern world. It also does not necessarily deny Israel's "right to exist," just as the recognition of the United States, Canada, and Australia as settler colonial states does not negate their right to exist.

It does, however, make Zionism's duality clear: it is both a national liberation movement designed to provide a sovereign haven for Jews fleeing antisemitism, and where Holocaust survivors could rebuild their lives; and it is a settler colonial project that has created a hierarchical relationship between Jews and Palestinians based on segregation and discrimination.

The duality is why Israel is diverging from the West.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Police Union Bosses to Biden: You're Pissing Us Off (Scott Bixby, Jun. 04, 2020, Daily Beast)

As protesters around the country demand large-scale criminal justice reform in response to the high-profile deaths of black people killed by law enforcement in recent years, Joe Biden's public embrace of their platform has aggravated some of the most vocal and politically powerful organized labor organizations in the country: police unions.

Loyal supporters since Biden shepherded landmark crime legislation through Congress in the 1990s, police unions and their rank-and-file members are feeling increasingly alienated by the former vice president as the political winds have shifted--and as calls for permanent criminal justice reform have become Democratic orthodoxy.

Welcome Democrats, to union-busting.

Press pass offering little defense for journalists caught in the U.S. fray (Associated Press, 6/03/20)

Press passes and television cameras, once-powerful symbols of neutrality that helped protect journalists working in combat zones, are providing little defense for reporters and crews covering the escalating urban conflict in the United States.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, an online project sponsored in part by the U.S. Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists, had documented more than 180 separate incidents since protests erupted late last week in Minneapolis before rapidly spreading to urban centers large and small across the country.

"It's one thing for reporters to get sort of caught in the crossfire, which happens to reporters in hot zones all the time," said Roy Gutterman, a journalism professor and director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at New York's Syracuse University.

On Monday night in Syracuse, a veteran photographer reported being shoved to the ground by an officer who went out of his way to confront him even though he was nowhere near the formation, Gutterman said.