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Leaked Elon Musk Email, Plus Tesla Firmware 2020.24.6 and Texas Gigafactory Hearing – TheStreet

Musk's Quarter-End Email

Electrek is reporting on a leaked email from Elon Musk to all Tesla employees on Monday afternoon as Tesla approaches the end of their second quarter on June 30th.

For many reasons, a great deal of Tesla execution worldwide is packed intothe final week of the quarter. It is very important that we go all out throughend of June 30 to ensure a good outcome. Wouldnt bring this up if not veryimportant.

Thanks Elon [sic] - Elon Musk

The more bullish faction of Tesla observers seem to believe Musk's email points to efforts to post a positive GAAP profit in Q2, the last remaining hurdle to Tesla's eligibility for inclusion in the S&P 500. However, Musk has recently expressed his belief that TSLA's stock price is too high, so investor excitement over potential share price upside as a result of S&P 500 inclusion is likely not all that important to Musk. If Tesla does not meet the requirements with their second quarter results, they are likely to qualify after Q3. Nevertheless, GAAP profitability in a quarter containing a global pandemic and lengthy factory downtime would be a significant and highly-motivating achievement to pursue regardless of the S&P 500 implications.

Before assuming Musk's email is bullish, it's also important to consider previously leaked quarter-end emails. InQ1 of 2019, a leaked Musk emaildiscussing quarter-end execution preceded tough delivery and production numbers, poor earnings, and a significant decline in TSLA's share price.

For the last ten days of the quarter, please consider your primary priority to be helping with vehicle deliveries. This applies to everyone. As challenges go, this is a good one to have, as we've built the cars and people have bought the cars, so we just need to get the cars to their new owners! - Elon Musk, Q1-2019

Though Tesla did face unprecedented delivery challenges with the international rollout of the Model 3 that quarter, deliveries were not the only pain point at the time. Teslas production in Q1 of 2019 was down roughly 9,400 vehicles compared to the prior quarter. Historically, Tesla's production has grown quarter-over-quarter with the previous largest quarter-over-quarter production decline being just ~1,600 vehicles back in Q3 of 2014.

That's not to say the email is necessarily a bearish signal. Leaked Musk emails have preceded plenty of strong quarterly results. Both points of view are important to consider for TSLA investors or, more precisely, traders.

Firmware 2020.24.6 Rollout

Tesla firmware version 2020.24.6 has begun rolling out as an over-the-air update. With the update,Tesla's "Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control" functionality no longer requires driver confirmation to continue straight through intersections with a green light, as long as there is the presence of a lead vehicle.

Teslascope has shared the full release noteswhich include "Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control" for Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Additionally, some variants of Model S/X vehicles will have their maximum charging rate increased to 225 kW.

Significant updates to camera functionality are included in this update as well. Drivers can now view the side repeater cameras on screen in addition to the rear-view camera for added scope of visibility. Interestingly, Tesla has also finally enabled some functionality from the interior cabin camera on Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.

Help Tesla continue to develop safer vehicles by sharing camera data from your vehicle. This update will allow you to enable the built-in cabin camera above the rearview mirror. If enabled, Tesla will automatically capture images and a short video clip just prior to a collision or safety event to help engineers develop safety features and enhancements in the future. As usual, you can adjust your data sharing preferences by tapping Controls > Safety & Security > DATA SHARING > Allow Cabin Camera Analytics. Note: Cabin camera images and video clips will not be associated with your VIN to protect your privacy. - Tesla

The primary purpose of this camera is to allow monitoring for a future Tesla Network robotaxi scenario, but Tesla has decided to put the camera to use in the meantime to help improve the safety of their vehicles.

Progress on Texas Gigafactory Proposal

Travis County held a hearing today with Tesla representatives, local officials, and the general public to discuss Tesla's factory and tax break proposal. Tesla explained their request for property tax relief was due to Texas including equipment in their property tax calculations. As a vehicle manufacturer, Tesla's equipment is some of the most expensive in the world, and Tesla feels the taxes on that equipment would be prohibitive to operating successfully in the Texas location. Tesla pointed more significant incentive offers from other states, but expressed their interest in Travis County for three main reasons.

As should be expected, public feedback was mixed with varying levels of enthusiasm. Another hearing is scheduled for next week and will be followed by further deliberation.

Writing assistance by Pranshu Agarwal

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Leaked Elon Musk Email, Plus Tesla Firmware 2020.24.6 and Texas Gigafactory Hearing - TheStreet

How to land a job at Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to the rocket company’s software team – CNBC

SpaceXsuccessfully launched two NASA astronautsinto orbit for the first time on May 30 and in doing so, CEO Elon Musk reached a milestone inhuman spaceflightandis one step closer to achievinghis Mars ambitions.

Six of the SpaceX software team members who helped "develop and deploy software that flew Dragon," aka the Crew Dragon capsule used to launch the astronauts,held a Reddit"Ask Me Anything" sessionon June 6.

"We are here to answer any questions you might have about Dragon, software and working at SpaceX," the team wrote on Reddit.

The job of each team member varied from managing software development for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 launch torunning flight software and cybersecurity and each shared a bit of advice on how to get a job at SpaceX.

Here are the team's best tips on getting a software job at SpaceX.

During the AMA, a Reddit user who identified as a high school student asked, "What can I do if I want to get a software job at SpaceX sometime in the future?"

"Get your CS [computer science] degree or something similar" to "really make sure you know how things work,"Jeff Dexter, who runs flight software and cybersecurity at SpaceX, said.

"[E]ngineers who do well at SpaceX are meticulous in their understanding of how their code works, how the network works, how Linux works, how the hardware works, etc.," he explained.

Plus, many of theopenengineeringandsoftware job listingsat SpaceXinclude a bachelor's degree or higher education as a basic requirement.

In addition to a degree, "get real world experience building things and solving hard problems, either through hobby projects or in internships (at SpaceX!)," Dexter advised.

For instance, SpaceX has "noticed particularly good crossover between video game development and what we do,"John Dietrick, leader of the software development effort for Demo-2, said on Reddit."There are a lot of similar math-heavy and performance-centric problems in the two spaces."

In fact, Musk has said his own love of video games inspired him to start programming when he was 12, hecoded a video game called "Blastar," which he latersold for $500to trade publication PC and Office Technology magazine.

While a degree or experience can help, neither is the end all, be all.

"Having different people with different backgrounds (education, experience, and culturally) is a big plus on the team," Matt Monson, who used to work on Dragon and now leads Starlink software, said. "Not much of the team, for example, comes from an aerospace background. Different points of view help us see problems from different angles, and that quite often helps us see solutions we wouldn't have otherwise seen."

When it comes down to it, "we're really looking for a couple things: talent (potential) and the right attitude (desire for self improvement, serving the team over being selfish)," Monson says. "These are more important than specific experience, and we expect to be investing in people to help them grow."

As Musk himself tweetedin February, in order to work at SpaceX, "A super hardcore work ethic, talent for building things, common sense & trustworthiness are required, the rest we can train."

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How to land a job at Elon Musk's SpaceX, according to the rocket company's software team - CNBC

Elon Musk Is Attempting to Revolutionize HVAC Systems – ACHR NEWS

Elon Musk Is Attempting to Revolutionize HVAC Systems | 2020-06-19 | ACHR News This website requires certain cookies to work and uses other cookies to help you have the best experience. By visiting this website, certain cookies have already been set, which you may delete and block. By closing this message or continuing to use our site, you agree to the use of cookies. Visit our updated privacy and cookie policy to learn more. This Website Uses CookiesBy closing this message or continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. Learn MoreThis website requires certain cookies to work and uses other cookies to help you have the best experience. By visiting this website, certain cookies have already been set, which you may delete and block. By closing this message or continuing to use our site, you agree to the use of cookies. Visit our updated privacy and cookie policy to learn more.

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Artist turns Elon Musks viral tweets into illustrations that are now part of a colouring book – The Indian Express

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 18, 2020 11:44:43 am The artistic interpretation of Elon Musks tweets has been turned into a colouring book for all. (Source: @_ill_ink/Twitter)

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk loves Twitter and has posted everything from cryptic tweets to memes, that have created buzz and controversy. One woman has now come up with artistic interpretations of these tweets and theyre part of a colouring book that costs $30 (Rs 2284).

Titled The Illuminated Tweets of Elon Musk, the 52-page colouring book has sketches based on the billionaire entrepreneurs tweets from July 2016 to May 2020. Colorado-based artist Salina Gomez, who is popularly known as Ill Ink online, has come up with the sketches that are arranged in a chronological order in the book. This is expected to allow people to understand the changes in Musks vision and development.

Musks Twitter feed, once I had found it, brought me a lot of joy, Gomez wrote on her Kickstarter page. I decided to take on the role of a gonzo editorial cartoonist reading the Musk Twitter Headlines, subjectively interpreting them in a whimsical, positive manner, all the while immersing myself in the Twitterverse experience.

I wanted to keep the book light-hearted. There is a page dedicated to a Jupiter is big tweet, which is literally just a huge drawing of Jupiter. Another image show group of people sitting around a huge table, with the planets sketched at the foreground based on Musks poll for Make the Mars technocracy real where over 92 per cent people voted for yes.

Another picture captures the excitement of Musks tweet which mentioned the first private passenger for a voyage around the moon, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Saying that mostly editorial cartoons focus on societal ills and corruption, the young illustrator said she wanted to set herself apart.

I wanted (and needed) to counterbalance the worlds problems with positive and hopeful content. Not only was Elon Musk the perfect person to focus the projects energy on, I wouldnt have even come up with the project if it werent for him. Musk is a once in a lifetime entrepreneur, engineer and visionary and I think it is right to say that this book is a byproduct of his profound determination to dream big, she added.

The crowdfunding campaign has created some buzz online already and the artist said she was overwhelmed with support.

(Source: illink/kickstarter)Promising rewards to fellow Musk followers, the artist has also created a special poster just for a campaign. Based on one of her favourite pages, the Cyborg Dragon poster is basically a whimsically coloured version of the April 2018 tweet: Oh btw Im building a cyborg dragon.

People who have backed the project and pledged to buy the book will receive their orders in time for Christmas. Gomez said she planned to send out 200 signed copies of her book starting October.

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Elon Musk Bitcoin vanity addresses used to scam users out of $2 million – ZDNet

Bitcoin giveaway scams have been around for more than two years, but a new twist in tactics has helped scammers make more than $2 million over the past two months from Elon Musk's name.

The new trick involves the use of Bitcoin vanity addresses in order to give the scam more credibility in the eyes of a suspicious user.

Vanity addresses are Bitcoin addresses that incorporate a custom word in the address itself -- such as "1MuskPsV7BnuvMuHGWmmXUyXKjxp3vLZX6" or "1ELonMUsKZzpVr5Xok8abiXhhqGbdrnK5C."

Over the past month, Justin Lister, CEO of cyber-security firm Adaptiv, has been tracking the use of Bitcoin vanity addresses abusing Elon Musk's name in giveaway scams.

Lister has been collecting the addresses with the help of BitcoinAbuse, a website where users can report Bitcoin addresses abused in ransomware, extortions, cybercrime, and online scams.

In a spreadsheet shared with ZDNet earlier this week, the Adaptiv CEO said he tracked down 66 addresses that have been reported by scammed users on BitcoinAbuse.

Lister said the 66 addresses received more than 201 in Bitcoin since being created in late April 2020.

Since receiving the spreadsheet from Lister earlier this week, a 67th Elon Musk vanity address was also submitted to the BitcoinAbuse website. This vanity address held an additional 13.9 Bitcoin, which brought the total to 214 Bitcoin, a sum that now stands over $2 million at today's exchange rate.

The $2 million sum is enormous if we take into consideration the low effort required to run one of these scams.

Because BitcoinAbuse also requires users to add a short description of where they encountered the Bitcoin address, this made investigating the source of some of these scams much easier.

Based on ZDNet's review, most of the Bitcoin vanity URLs had been shared with the help of YouTube live streams.

Hackers hijacked high follower-count YouTube accounts, changed the account name and its graphics to mimic the account of a celebrity or a trusted brand, and then launched a live stream to broadcast their scam.

The scam relied on tricking users into sending Bitcoin to the scammers' address, on the promise of doubling their profits, part of the giveaway -- usually organized on the occasion of an important event in the celebrity/brand's history.

In our investigation, we found that hackers had either renamed the channels to Elon Musk's name, the SpaceX brand, or news outlets such as Euronews, seeking credibility.

The Bitcoin address was usually embedded either in the live stream itself, and users had to scan it with a QR code reader, or users were asked to visit a dedicated "giveaway" website.

But we're not reporting on something new here, with multiple of these fake Elon Musk giveaway live streams making the news this month alone [1, 2].

Bitcoin giveaway scams abusing the Elon Musk and SpaceX names have been going on all month, ever since SpaceX and Musk made the news last month for the company's first successful rocket launch carrying a live NASA astronaut crew.

Bitcoin and Ethereum giveaway scams have been around since at least February 2018, when the first such case was reported. Since then, the trick has gotten old and users have gotten better at spotting the scammers.

The role of the Bitcoin vanity address was to give more credibility to the scam and make it look authentic, similar to how "verified profiles" give more authenticity to accounts on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Bitcoin network doesn't have a way to "verify" addresses, so vanity addresses, which are hard to come by, are the closest thing to a "verified" Bitcoin address.

The trick of using Elon Musk vanity addresses was, obviously, successful, helping crooks net more than $2 million, but it wasn't the only one.

ZDNet also found other vanity addresses submitted to the BitcoinAbuse database and reported as being abused in similar YouTube-based giveaway scams.

We similarly found vanity addresses for SpaceX and Bill Gates. Both have been used in similar YouTube-hosted giveaway scams, with the Gates-themed addresses holding more than $100,000 in stolen funds.

In addition, we also found another Bitcoin vanity address that was not available on the BitcoinAbuse website. This one had been used for a giveaway scam that tried to take advantage of the recent launch of the Play Station 5 gaming console. Luckily, no user fell victim to such a scam.

Similar scams abusing Linus Torvald and Mark Zuckerberg's names have also been reported, along with brands like Facebook, Twitter, and even the UN.

As long as these scams have a giant return-on-investment and crooks make more than they spend setting up the scam, the "giveaway" scourge will continue to haunt cryptocurrency owners.

Users should be wary as these scams aren't limited to YouTube live streams only, and have been also spotted on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more recently on TikTok -- similarly by hacking into high-follower profiles and broadcasting the scam for a short period.

In most cases, these scams are powered by hacked accounts sold on hacking forums for prices going from $5 to thousands, depending on the follower count. Taking into account that some scammers are making as much as $180,000 a day, the scams are most likely to go on for years, or until users stop falling for the scams.

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Why Intelligent Minds Like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs Embrace the Rule of Awkward Silence – Inc.

Love them or hate them, Elon Musk and Steve Jobsare known astwo of the most brilliant minds the business world has ever seen.

Yet, despite their ability to process information, think critically, and identify key insights--many of which helped Tesla and Apple reach valuations into the billions of dollars--both men became known foran unexpectedhabit:

They've embraced the rule of awkward silence.

The rule of awkward silence is simple: When faced with a challenging question, instead of answering, you pause and think deeply about how you want to answer.

But make no mistake, this is no short pause. You might go five, 10, or even 15 seconds before offering a response. Which, if you're not used to doing it, will feel very awkward--at first.

Garrett Reisman, an engineer and former astronaut who left NASA to join SpaceX, described how Musk uses this technique ina recent interview.

"If you pose to [Elon] a serious question," says Reisman, "he'll consider it. And he'll kind of go into this, almost like a trance--he'll stare off into space and you can see the wheels turning. And he's focusing all of his intellect, which is considerable, on this one question."

You can actually see this happen almost anytime Musk himself gives an interview. In fact, it's not uncommon for Musk to take from between five to even 15seconds to think before giving an answer. (Just check out the 20:00 mark of this interview.)

Apple co-founder Jobs was known to do the same. In fact, there's a perfect example captured on video over 20 years ago.

It was 1997, and Jobs had just returned to Apple after being ousted from the company over a decade earlier. He was conducting a Q&A at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference when an audience member took a shot at him, telling Jobs, "You don't know what you're talking about" and sarcastically asking what the famous founder had been working on for the past seven years.

He takes a sip of water ... and sits.

After making a short joke, he pauses again.

This time for eight seconds.

What follows, after Jobs reflects on the question and contemplates the criticism, inwhat amounts to20 seconds of awkward silence, isa masterful demonstration of how to respond to an insult. (Ibroke down Jobs's entire response here,if you're interested.)

As these examples illustrate, the rule of awkward silence is a great tool of critical thinking. It can help you to give deeper, more analytical, more thoughtful answers. It can help you get to root problems more effectively, which leads to greater understanding.

But the rule of awkward silence offers another major advantage, and it has muchto do with the way our brains process emotions.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions--and the rule of awkward silence is a great way to show it.

When it comes to calm and rational thought, we typically engage a part of our brain known as the prefrontal cortex. But when we feel attacked or under pressure, we engage another part of our brain known as the amygdala, which tends to take over in a type of "emotional hijack."

That's not always bad, as our emotions can help us get out of difficult situations.

The problem comes when those emotions go unchecked, and we say or do things that we later regret.

Think back to the example of Steve Jobsresponding to the insult. This was one of Jobs's first major appearances after rejoining Apple. By the time he left many years previous, he had built a reputation as being arrogantand unable to work well with others. With the wrong response,he could have lost the confidence of his company, investors, and the public before his turnaround plans got underway.

Instead, by embracing the rule of awkward silence, he was able to keep his emotions under control and deliver a perfect response.

Think also about Musk's interview style, and the lessons we learn from it.

When it comes to answering challenging questions, you might be tempted to just spit out anything, even if doesn't make much sense. Or, you might say what you think the other person wants to hear instead of what you truly believe.

But is that what you really want? Or would you prefer to take some seconds to pause, to think things through, and then to respond in a way you're proud of later?

So, the next time someone asks you a challenging question, try to take your time before giving an answer. In doing so, you will:

The more you practice, the awkward pause won't feel so awkward anymore--andthe more you will be able tomake emotions work for you, instead of against you.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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Why Intelligent Minds Like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs Embrace the Rule of Awkward Silence - Inc.

Elon Musk denies threesome with Amber Heard and Cara Delevingne – Page Six

Elon Musk has denied allegations that he was involved in an alleged three-way affair with his ex Amber Heard and model Cara Delevingne.

The Tesla billionaire gave an exclusive statement to Page Six after astonishing new claims were made in depositions in the defamation case between Heard and her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

It was claimed in legal depositions that Heard, Musk and Delevingne were allegedly involved in a secret three-way relationship in 2016. It was also alleged that Heards affair with SpaceX entrepreneur Musk started before she split with Depp in May of that year.

But the Tesla billionaire exclusively told Page Six of the threesome allegations with the model and actress, Cara and I are friends, but weve never been intimate. She would confirm this.

Also, I wish to confirm again that Amber and I only started going out about a month after her divorce filing. I dont think I was ever even in the vicinity of Amber during their marriage!

Musk continued to Page Six, referring to Depps dogged legal pursuit of Heard following their 2017 divorce, Regarding this lawsuit, I would recommend that everyone involved bury the hatchet and move on.

Life is too short for such extended negativity. Nobody is going to say, after its all over, that they wished the court battle had lasted longer!

Depp filed a $50 million defamation suit against Heard in Virginia in 2019 after she wrote a Washington Post op-ed describing her experience as the victim of domestic violence, without naming him. He is also suing a London newspaper that called him a wife-beater in an opinion piece.

Depp strongly denies any violence against Heard, alleging that her claims are a hoax and he was instead victimized by her.

The Virginia filing describes the couples rocky 15-month marriage, and states that one month after their marriage, Heard was spending time in a new relationship with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Then on Wednesday, a deposition in the case emerged in which it was claimed that Heard had an alleged three-way affair with Musk and Delevingne.

Josh Drew the ex-husband of Raquel Rocky Pennington, Heards best friend contended in a deposition led by Depps attorney, Benjamin Chew, that Musk, 48, slept with Heard and Delevingne at Depps Los Angeles penthouse in late 2016 following Heard and Depps split.

In a leaked video of Drews deposition, Chew asks, Did Rocky tell you Amber Heard was having an affair with Carla Delevingne while she was still married to Johnny Depp? Drew responds, Yes.

Did she ever tell you in words or substance while Amber was still married to Johnny Depp that the three of them, Amber Heard, Elon Musk and Carla Delevingne, spent the night together? Chew asks, and Drew responds, Yes, adding he cant remember the specific date of the alleged mnage--trois.

The lawyer then contends, So they were having a three-way affair, correct? Drew replies, My understanding, yes.

Delevingne has said she identifies as pansexual. Heard, who has dated both men and women, when asked if she identified as bisexual, responded, I dont identify as anything I like who I like.

A source close to Heard said that she and model Delevingne are longtime friends and it wasnt unusual for them to spend time together.

Reps for Heard declined comment, and a spokesperson for Delevingne didnt get back to us.

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Elon Musk denies threesome with Amber Heard and Cara Delevingne - Page Six

Column: Tesla’s reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others – Andy Home – Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The unpredictable Elon Musk strikes again.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks onstage during a delivery event for Tesla China-made Model 3 cars at its factory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Just when his electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla seemed to be pivoting away from using cobalt in its batteries, it signs a long-term supply deal for the controversial metal with Glencore.

This from the man who has vowed to eliminate cobalt from the Tesla product mix because of its financial cost and the reputational cost of a metal associated with child labour and poor safety conditions at artisanal mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the worlds dominant producer.

Teslas not the first auto company to lock in future cobalt supplies with a miner. BMW did the same last year, also with Glencore as well as with the Bou-Azzer mine in Morocco.

But Tesla is the standard-bearer for the EV revolution and its deal with Glencore has strategic significance for the global battery raw materials supply chain.

Its a boost for cobalts prospects, both in terms of physical demand and, more importantly, in the apparent admission that cobalt isnt going away as a battery material any time soon.

Its also a warning to other auto companies that if they want cobalt, theyre going to have to take control over their own supply chain.

Tesla and its battery partner Panasonic have until now largely used a nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) formula in their lithium-ion batteries.

Other automotive companies targeting the passenger vehicle market have adopted nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) technology.

Everyone has been trying to reduce the amount of cobalt in the metallic mix. Cobalt is expensive, currently trading around $33,000 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. It has a history of volatility both in terms of price and supply, which is dominated by production, both official-sector and artisanal, in the Congo.

The human cost of artisanal mining also weighs heavy on an industry that is driving towards a green and socially responsible future.

Teslas desire to shift away from cobalt usage seemed to be borne out by the revelation its new Chinese plant would use cobalt-free batteries.

Lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries have been around a long time, are cheaper than cobalt-containing batteries, but lack energy density. The biggest market is China, where they are used in vehicles that dont need extensive range or high performance, such as municipal garbage trucks.

However, it seems that Chinese LFP battery makers such as Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) have been quietly improving the technology to the point that Tesla is now interested in using it in its Model 3 cars in China.

But its also clear from the Glencore deal that Tesla, however reluctantly, is going to continue using cobalt in other markets.

Teslas willingness to consider a range of battery types is testament that the EV revolution is going to be characterised by multiple chemistries depending on vehicle type and geographic market.

And some of them at least are going to use cobalt.

GRAPHIC: Tesla's reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others - here

Teslas deal to buy 6,000 tonnes per year of cobalt from Glencores Congo operations is a double boost for the market, representing a long-term affirmation of demand and a short-term way of clearing excess stocks.

The cobalt market has yet to recover from the crash that followed the price boom of 2017-2018 as too much supply, particularly from the Congos artisanal sector, swamped demand.

Glencore last year placed its Mutanda mine in the Congo on two-year care and maintenance, while its Katanga mine was carrying stocks of almost 13,000 tonnes at the end of 2019.

Those stocks have weighed heavily on the price. Fastmarkets assessment of standard-grade cobalt currently sits at an 11-month low of $14.75 per kilogram ($30,250 per tonne)

However, Glencore has recently concluded a flurry of supply deals with battery-makers and now with Tesla, signalling the company has placed a strategic focus on forward selling its built-up hydroxide stocks, according to analysts at Roskill.

The research house estimates that Glencore has now locked in sales representing around 82% of production at Katanga. That, combined with Mutanda on care and maintenance, significantly reduces the volumes of cobalt available in the open market.

That may translate into an accelerated price recovery when the next EV-led demand surge happens.

It also means theres potentially less around for everyone else. There are several new cobalt mines in the planning or development stage but the Congo and its artisanal miners are going to remain the dominant supplier for the foreseeable future.

That simple fact explains why Tesla has moved directly to ensure its own supply with the largest non-Chinese producer in the country.

Other automotive makers may well take heed.

Teslas move directly to take responsibility for its cobalt supply isnt without risk.

Glencore may be a London-listed multinational, but its not immune to the negative headlines that go with doing business in the Congo.

It is under intense regulatory scrutiny; the Swiss Attorney Generals Office (OAG) last week joining the list of ongoing investigations into its conduct in the country.

Last year saw the death of 43 illegal miners on Glencores Kamoto concession, a human tragedy that was compounded by the governments decision to send in the army to forcibly clear the area.

Tesla, though, has evidently decided the risk of not getting enough future cobalt outweighs the potential reputational risks of taking supply directly from the Congo.

Such direct mine sourcing is not the norm for auto companies. They dont, for example, directly buy the iron ore that goes into the steel they use. Or the bauxite that makes the aluminium.

But cobalt is different. Theres not much around and too much of what is around comes from the Congo.

The EV revolution may have been stalled by COVID-19, but the build-out of battery manufacturing capacity has continued uninterrupted.

And with the European Union in particular focusing its industrial stimulus package on green technology, the next EV wave may already be building.

Teslas reluctant commitment to cobalt is a warning sign for other automakers they may have to do the same if they want to be sure theyve got enough of the stuff to meet that coming demand surge.

(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)

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Column: Tesla's reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others - Andy Home - Reuters

Visualizing the True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest – Visual Capitalist

With the 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaching, many people will be glued to the 24-hour news cycle to stay up to date on political developments. Yet, when searching for facts, our own cognitive biases often get in the way.

If this isnt problematic enough, third parties can also take advantage of these biases to influence our thinking. The media, for example, can exploit our tendency to assign stereotypes to others by only providing catchy, surface-level information. Once established in our minds, these generalizations can be tough to shake off.

Such tactics can have a powerful influence on public opinion if applied consistently to a broad audience. To help us avoid these mental pitfalls, todays infographic from PredictIt lists common cognitive biases that influence the realm of politics, beginning with the Big Cs.

People exhibit confirmation bias when they seek information that only affirms their pre-existing beliefs. This can cause them to become overly rigid in their political opinions, even when presented with conflicting ideas or evidence.

When too many people fall victim to this bias, progress towards solving complex sociopolitical issues is thwarted. Thats because solving these issues in a bipartisan system requires cooperation from both sides of the spectrum.

A reluctance towards establishing a common ground is already widespread in America. According to a 2019 survey, 70% of Democrats believed their partys leaders should stand up to President Trump, even if less gets done in Washington. Conversely, 51% of Republicans believed that Trump should stand up to Democrats.

In light of these developments, researchers have conducted studies to determine if the issue of confirmation bias is as prevalent as it seems. In one experiment, participants chose to either support or oppose a given sociopolitical issue. They were then presented with evidence that was conflicting, affirming, or a combination of both.

In all scenarios, participants were most likely to stick with their initial decisions. Of those presented with conflicting evidence, just one in five changed their stance. Furthermore, participants who maintained their initial positions became even more confident in the superiority of their decisiona testament to how influential confirmation bias can be.

Coverage bias, in the context of politics, is a form of media bias where certain politicians or topics are disproportionately covered. In some cases, media outlets can even twist stories to fit a certain narrative.

For example, research from the University of South Florida analyzed media coverage on President Trumps 2017 travel ban. It was discovered that primetime media hosts covered the ban through completely different perspectives.

Each host varied drastically in tone, phrasing, and facts of emphasis, [] presenting each issue in a manner that aligns with a specific partisan agenda.

Josepher, Bryce (2017)

Charting the ideological placement of each sources audience can help us gain a better understanding of the coverage bias at work. In other words, where do people on the left, middle, and right get their news?

The horizontal axis in this graphic corresponds to the Ideological Consistency Scale, which is composed of 10 questions. For each question, respondents are assigned a -1 for a liberal response, +1 for a conservative response, or a 0 for other responses. A summation of these scores places a respondent into one of five categories:

Overcoming coverage biaswhich dovetails into other biases like confirmation biasmay require us to follow a wider variety of sources, even those we may not initially agree with.

Concision bias is a type of bias where politicians or the media selectively focus on aspects of information that are easy to get across. In the process, more nuanced and delicate views get omitted from popular discourse.

A common application of concision bias is the use of sound bites, which are short clips that can be taken out of a politicians speech. When played in isolation, these clips may leave out important context for the audience.

Without the proper context, multi-faceted issues can become extremely polarizing, and may be a reason for the growing partisan divide in America. In fact, there is less overlap in the political values of Republicans and Democrats than ever previously measured.

In 1994, just 64% of Republicans were more conservative than the median Democrat. By 2017, that margin had grown considerably, to 95% of Republicans. The same trend can be found on the other end of the spectrum. Whereas 70% of Democrats were more liberal than the median Republican in 1994, this proportion increased to 97% by 2017.

Achieving full self-awareness can be difficult, especially when new biases emerge in our constantly evolving world. So where do we begin?

Simply remembering these mental pitfalls exist can be a great startafter all, we cant fix what we dont know. Individuals concerned about the upcoming presidential election may find it useful to focus their attention on the Big Cs, as these biases can play a significant role in shaping political beliefs. Maintaining an open mindset and diversifying the media sources we follow are two tactics that may act as a hedge.

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Visualizing the True Size of Land Masses from Largest to Smallest - Visual Capitalist

Harris’s path on police reform littered with land mines | TheHill – The Hill

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPrimaries renew fears about Democratic unity in presidential race The Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth Tulsa becomes battleground in latest Trump controversy MORE (D-Calif.), the front-runner to be former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBolton defends not testifying: 'I don't think it would have made a difference' Bolton says he hopes history will remember Trump 'as a one-term president' Green Party nominee says Sanders, progressives have failed to pull Democrats to the left MOREs running mate, will be a major influence on deciding whether Democrats decide to cut a deal with Senate Republicans on police reform next week.

Harris, along with Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday MORE (D-N.J.), is a lead sponsor of a joint Senate-House Democratic police reform proposal, which would ban chokeholds, no-knock drug warrants forfederal drug cases and reform the doctrine of qualified immunity that shields police officers from lawsuits.

For anything to get done in Congress on police reform, Harris will have to sign off on a deal with Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSunday shows - Bolton's bombshell book reverberates Tim Scott: Police 'need more resources, not less resources' to compel reform Tim Scott: 'I do wish that Mr. Bolton would have come into the House under oath and testified' MORE (R-S.C.), who is the lead sponsor of Republican legislation that would incentivize police departments to abandon chokeholds but not mandate it. His bill would only collect data on no-knock warrants and let qualified immunity stand.

Booker and Scott have talked regularly in recent days on finding middle ground, but Harris, as of Friday, had not had any direct conversations with Scott. Theyve traded voicemails, a sign of Harriss lack of enthusiasm for the GOP proposal.

He and I have been playing phone tag since I think the first time I called him was Friday of last week, Harris said.

She said Scotts bill doesnt meet the moment, and I urge him to adopt our bill as a much more relevant opportunity to correct whats wrong with the system.

Booker indicated Thursday that hes unlikely to cut a deal without Harris.

Kamalas my full partner on this and so we are locked in, he said. Kamala and I are open and communicating and we are doing this together.

If Harris agrees to a compromise bill that civil rights advocates view as too weak, she risks getting criticized by groups on the left, something that could hurt her chances of being named to the presidential ticket.

Harris also has to tread carefully as a former prosecutor who had to defend her record earlier this year during the Democratic presidential primary.

Lara Bazelon, a law professor and the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, opined in The New York Timesin January oflast year that Harris was not a progressive prosecutor.

Bazeloncriticized Harris ahead of the primary for fighting tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that the professor said had been secured through official misconduct.

She reiterated some of her criticisms of Harriss record from 2004 to 2015 in an article published in The Appeal in December after Harris ended her presidential campaign

But Bazelon told Politico this month that Harris in recent years has positioned herself on the right side of law enforcement issues.

I dont think theres the interest or the oxygen to re-litigate it, she said of Harriss work as a prosecutor. Shes positioned herself in the last couple of years as someone who really is on the right side of these issues and that carries weight.

She called Harriss law enforcement record a net neutral.

Any billHarrissupports must counterthe negative narrative that emerged during the primaryand not give critics more ammunition, said Democratic strategist Steve Jarding.

Jarding says Harris needs to be bold.

This is a chance for her to show that she can take the lead and she can be an asset on the ticket, he said.

When youre attorney general and effectively a prosecutor, theres a chance in this climate that could hurt you. We saw it with [Sen.] Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSusan Rice calls Trump administration 'racist to its core,' says Senate backers belong in 'trash heap of history' Overnight Defense: Navy won't reinstate fired captain | Dems probe use of federal officers in DC | Air Force appoints woman as top noncommissioned officer The Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth MORE, he said.

Jarding said if he were Harris, I would be less concerned about getting it passed, warning that if Harris agrees to water down Democratic reforms to get a bill through the Senate, then I think she would look worse.

It would play into the critics who said she was too harsh as attorney general when it came to people of color, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi on Trump testing remarks: 'The American people are owed answers' Low voter registration poses a threat to American democracy Primaries renew fears about Democratic unity in presidential race MORE (R-Ky.) made clear last week that he has little interest in moving much more in the direction of Booker and Harriss police reform bill.

They want to basically... federalize all of these issues, he said, vowing the Senate-House Democratic proposal is going nowhere in the Senate.

The other thing Harris has to be wary of is the likelihood that any legislation passed by Congress, even if it falls short of what advocates of police reform on the left are calling for, would be seized by President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project launches new ad hitting Trump over rally turnout Bolton defends not testifying: 'I don't think it would have made a difference' Bolton says he hopes history will remember Trump 'as a one-term president' MORE as a major accomplishment and touted during his race against Biden.

Trump in recent days has trumpeted his signing of the First Step Act criminal justice reform bill in 2018, legislation that according to one of its lead sponsors, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinWhat Juneteenth celebrations and marches looked like across the US Overnight Defense: Navy won't reinstate fired captain | Dems probe use of federal officers in DC | Air Force appoints woman as top noncommissioned officer Top DHS official: Trump instructed agency to 'restart the DACA process' MORE (D-Ill.), Trump had little interest in moving until his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerFormer Sen. Kaufman to run Biden transition team Bolton book shows nastiness rules at Trump White House Schumer faces tough choice on police reform MORE stepped in and championed.

Robert Borosage, the co-founder of Campaign for Americas Future, a liberal advocacy group, said Harris has to walk a line.

She has to make it clear that if there is a bill that emerges its only the beginning and it is simply, not even a down payment, but a first step, he said.

But Borosage noted that Harris is also under some pressure to get something moving. Simply nixing the legislation Scott and his GOP colleagues introduced last week may leave fellow Democrats disappointed.

I do think people are ready for things to move, he said.

Borosage said if Harris can move a modest bill with bipartisan Senate support and makes it clear that it was all she could get from Republicans but that she had a broader multipoint reform bill, "I think she can navigate it.

But its tricky, he cautioned.

One such Democrat is Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi on Trump testing remarks: 'The American people are owed answers' Sunday shows - Bolton's bombshell book reverberates Schiff says committee chairs, Pelosi discussing potential Bolton testimony MORE (Calif.), who told reporters that she would like to enter into a bicameral negotiation on any police reform bill that emerges from the Senate.

Borosage cautioned that Harris still has to prove herself to the partys liberal base.

Shes seen as somebody who ran out of the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBolton defends not testifying: 'I don't think it would have made a difference' Green Party nominee says Sanders, progressives have failed to pull Democrats to the left Bolton book puts spotlight on Pompeo-Trump relationship MORE posture and made a few gestures to the left early and then backed away from them, he said, citing Harriss evolution to the center on the issue of Medicare for All.

I dont think anyone on the left sees her as a progressive in the Sanders-Warren tradition, he added, referring to Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGreen Party nominee says Sanders, progressives have failed to pull Democrats to the left Editor of American Conservative warns of more civil unrest if populist concerns go unaddressed Primaries renew fears about Democratic unity in presidential race MORE (I-Vt.) and ElizabethWarren (D-Mass.), who ran the best with progressives in the primary.

This story was updated at 11:37 to reflect Lara Bazelon's more recent remarks about Harris.

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Harris's path on police reform littered with land mines | TheHill - The Hill

Trump is about to land his 200th federal judge. The impact will last ‘generations.’ – NBC News

WASHINGTON Justin Walker epitomizes the conservative judicial project. He became a federal judge at 37 with sterling right-wing credentials and no trial experience. Eight months later, he has been promoted to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a frequent feeder to the Supreme Court.

Walker's confirmation Thursday by a Senate vote of 51-42 puts President Donald Trump one shy of his 200th judicial confirmation, which is teed up for next week. It's a number not achieved by any president at this stage of his administration in four decades.

The meteoric rise of Walker, a Harvard J.D., was aided by his Kentucky ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a family friend for whom he once interned, and his outspoken conservatism just two years ago he called the 2012 Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obamacare "catastrophic."

"He's sort of the classic case. They've designed their perfect judicial nominee: He's young, white, male and incredibly conservative with a record of activism to back it up," said Chris Kang, a co-founder of the progressive group Demand Justice and former deputy counsel to President Barack Obama.

"This is all part of the broader Republican plan to take politically minded people and put them into judgeships, thereby making sure that the rulings that come out are going to be more political, more partisan and less committed to the rule of law," Kang said.

The push to install young and ideologically rigid judges, spearheaded by the Federalist Society, a network of conservative lawyers and activists, is poised to steer the law rightward on cultural issues like abortion rights and civil rights to the economic policy rooted in the authority to legislate and regulate.

Trump has been something of a bystander in his own towering judicial legacy, delegating the task to McConnell and activists on a mission to curtail legislative and regulatory authority. Most of his nominees are in their 40s or 50s, while some are older, and others, like Walker and 4th Circuit Judge Allison Rushing, are in their 30s.

"That impact will last generations," said David McIntosh, a co-founder and board member of the Federalist Society who runs the conservative group Club For Growth. "It's one of the most, if not the most, significant achievements of the president."

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McIntosh said Trump's picks are true believers in Justice Antonin Scalia's philosophy that "judges should be bound by the original intent of the Constitution," referring to the conservative icon who helped steer the legal debate to the right during his three decades on the Supreme Court. Scalia died in 2016.

The judges were picked as part of an ideological war against the progressive vision of a "living Constitution," a belief that the document was crafted with broad language to adapt to changes in society that the framers could not have foreseen.

While liberals were relieved this week by two Supreme Court decisions, one that upheld LGBTQ workplace rights and the other temporarily keeping alive the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young immigrants, conservative legal experts said the two decisions were narrow and don't set back the movement's larger goals.

In total, Trump has appointed more than one-fifth of the entire judiciary, which may exceed one-fourth this year. While his Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, have solidified a slim 5-4 conservative majority, his impact on federal circuit courts has been enormous. He has flipped the majority for Republicans on three circuits, which have the last word on a vast majority of federal cases.

The Senate is poised to confirm Trump's 53rd circuit judge next week. Obama landed 55 circuit judges in all of his eight years.

Trump "realizes he's not a lawyer and that, unlike in some other areas, judges have gotten continually good press for him for his base," said John McGinnis, a constitutional law professor at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law. "So it's not surprising that he isn't changing a successful strategy. He sees that it's working."

McConnell has made judges the Senate's top priority, scorching various obstacles in his path. He has eliminated the "blue slip" courtesy that lets home-state senators hold up circuit court nominees. He nuked the Supreme Court filibuster after Democrats used it to try to block Gorsuch. He has stiff-armed senators with threats to work through holidays. And he has soldiered on under the radar as crises like the coronavirus pandemic or Trump's various self-inflicted controversies dominate the headlines.

McConnell's actions represent the latest escalation of a judicial war that dates back decades. He warned Democrats in 2013 that they would regret eliminating the 60-vote threshold for lower court judges to confirm stalled Obama nominees.

Roger Pilon, a Federalist Society member and a constitutional scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the judges are "far and away" Trump's biggest accomplishment. The new crop of judges see the Constitution as "a document of law," he said, and not "a political document and empty vessel to be filled by transient majorities."

"We are today in a world of two fundamentally different conceptions of the Constitution, and the people that Trump has been nominating and that the Senate has confirmed are deeply informed about this contrast," Pilon said. "And they almost entirely stand on one side of it, and it's not the side that the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee stand on."

"That's why the battle has been so vicious," he said.

Liberal and conservative experts say the Trump-appointed judiciary has the potential to push American law rightward on many consequential issues, including religious exemptions, campaign finance, guns, affirmative action, civil rights and abortion rights.

Another cause conservatives are optimistic about is scrapping the doctrine of "Chevron deference," which would restrict the power of federal agencies to make rules, a tool that progressives often rely on.

Pilon said the goal is "to start rolling back the modern administrative state, the executive state." He said a conservative judiciary can also chip away at broad federal powers rooted in the New Deal era that imposed economic rules and created safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare.

"Economic liberty, in short, is an area where these Trump judges are going to be very important in the future," he said. "Yes, I do see us moving in this direction."

Progressives, however, fear Trump's court picks will haunt them for years to come.

"It's a devastating impact," Kang said. "Not just for the sheer number of judges, but for the fact that they serve for the rest of their lives."

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Trump is about to land his 200th federal judge. The impact will last 'generations.' - NBC News

Tribune Editorial: Make DACA the law of the land – Salt Lake Tribune

Our system, most specifically members of Congress, have been handed an opportunity to finally get this right. All of us should insist that they do just that, and with all deliberate speed.

Dreamers, by the policy definition of President Obamas Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, are people who were brought illegally to the United States from another nation, mostly in Central and South America, when they were children.

They are, by definition, innocent bystanders in our nations bitter and often cruel immigration policy disputes. In general, they are as American as any of us, in many cases speaking only English, fully steeped in American culture. They are students at, or graduates of, our schools and universities, members or veterans of our armed forces, and have no memory of or connections with the land of their birth.

The sitting president has, at times, exhibited sympathy for the plight of the Dreamers and, at other times, shown brutal disdain for their hopes and humanity. His Department of Homeland Security issued a policy order aimed overturning DACA and clearing the way for deporting hundreds of thousands of them to nations where they would be lost and alone.

In its 5-4 ruling Thursday, the court made a point of saying that it was offering no opinion on whether DACA or its reversal was the better policy. The opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the four members of the courts liberal wing, was based on the letter of a law requiring such decisions to hew to a set of procedural requirements which, the chief found, the administration failed to do.

The administration did not even consider the fact that many thousands of people living in the United States had made serious life plans -- going to college, launching businesses, starting families -- based on the promise of DACA. Many of them are the essential workers who have powered us through the COVID-19 pandemic, and suffered a disproportionate share of its damage.

Taking away that lifeboat without at least going through the required steps made the removal of DACA, in lawyer-speak, arbitrary and capricious, and therefore void.

The bad news is that the court has provided the administration with a road map to cancel DACA again, and this time make it stick, by laying out the whys and wherefores of its move in a way that will be no less cruel but much better able to stand up to judicial review.

Unless Congress moves quickly to pass a bill making DACA, or policy very much like it, not just an executive pronouncement but the law of the land. Such a bill passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 237-187, but has yet to be taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Ben McAdams, the lone Democrat in the Utah delegation, rightly voted for that measure. Rep. John Curtis joined the two other Republican House members from Utah in opposing it, yet he spoke Thursday of an opportunity to finally resolve the issue.

Utahs senators, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, have offered little that is hopeful on the matter. Romney has yet to walk back any of his remarks about being more of an immigration hard-liner even than the president. And Lee, as is his wont, is droning on about Obamas executive overreach.

But offering DACA protection, and adding a legal path to citizenship, is an idea supported by the public, by long-time champions of immigration reform such as Utahs former Sen. Orrin Hatch, as well as politicians at all levels and of all ideological stripes and business interests that include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and top management at Apple and Microsoft.

It could be said that the Supreme Court punted on this issue, kicking it back to the democratic process where it belongs. Good.

Now, let us show the wisdom and humanity that democracy is capable of, and welcome the Dreamers, once and for all time.

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Tribune Editorial: Make DACA the law of the land - Salt Lake Tribune

With the World Focused on the Pandemic, Israel Prepares to Annex Large Swaths of the West Bank – The Intercept – First Look Media

Israel is planning a move on July 1 that the international community has long regarded as one of the gravest assaults on the international order and international law: annexation of land that does not belong to it. The annexation plan developed by the Netanyahu government in consultation with the Trump administration would declare not only the decades-old settlements in the West Bank which the U.N. Security Council in 2016 declared illegalto be permanent Israeli land, but also other swaths of Palestinianterritory, including the Jordan Valley, that is central to Palestinian agriculture.

There are multiple reasons why Israel is not just willing but seemingly eager to incur condemnations from the international community by proceeding with this plan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is beset by political problems as he struggles to form a governing coalition for a new term and, even more importantly, by legal problems as he stands trial on felony charges of bribery and fraud. Emboldening the Israeli population and causing them to unite behind him in the face of international denunciations could distract attention away from those crises and solidify his hold on power.

Most importantly, Israel has become increasingly xenophobic, expansionist, militaristic, hostile to Arabs, and fascistic over the last decade. Aside from the Trump administration, its primary allies are no longer liberal democracies but Arab despots and far-right political movements in Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin America.

Illustrating the cultural and political shift among younger Israelis in particular, Netanyahus son, Yair, this week advocated that all minorities be removed cleansed from Tel Aviv. The Israeli left and even center are virtually nonexistent. That is the climate that now shapes Israels identity. Annexation oflarge chunksof the West Bank is, if anything, too moderate for a growing far-right Israeli movement that believes, on religious and militaristic grounds, that they are the owners of all of Palestine.

Regardless of motives, it is virtually certain that annexation of any part of the West Bank would trigger intense pressure in the west to impose serious sanctions on Israel. The last significant annexation took place in 2014, when Russia declared Crimea a formal part of its country, and that event triggered multi-level sanctions from the west despite the fact that a large majority of people in Crimea wanted to be part of Russia rather than Ukraine. Palestinians, needless to say, are virtually unanimous in their opposition to further control over their land and their lives by a foreign occupying government that grants them no political rights of any kind. Any attempt by the west to avoid sanctioning a post-annexation Israel would destroy whatever residual credibilityis vested in their claims of a consistent system of international law.

This weeks SYSTEM UPDATE episode explores the implications of Israels annexation plan: what the fall-out would be both in Palestine and in the international community. This issue deserves far more attention that it has received, particularly in the U.S. where, pursuant to a 2016 agreement between the Obama and Netanyahu governments, billions of dollars in taxpayer money are transferred every year to the Israelis that enable this aggression.

Joining me to explorethese questions is the long-time Palestinian human rights activist Omar Barghouti, one of the co-founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is almost certain to see increased support if annexation occurs.

The episode debuts today at 2:00 p.m. on The Intercepts YouTube channel. A transcript will be posted below after the shows airing, and audio-only version will be available on Saturday

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With the World Focused on the Pandemic, Israel Prepares to Annex Large Swaths of the West Bank - The Intercept - First Look Media

Japan to revise security strategy with halt to Aegis Ashore system : The Asahi Shimbun – Asahi Shimbun

Japan's decision to withdraw from a U.S.-developed land-based ballistic missile system will herald the first rewriting of its National Security Strategy, according to a high-ranking government source.

The newstrategy will reflect growing concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic andinclude measures for a post-corona world as well as steps to strengthen the nations economic security, the source said.

Future discussions will also focus on the ballistic missile threat from North Korea, which was the rationale for installing the now-scrapped land-based Aegis Ashore interceptor missile system, as well as China's growing maritime advances in the region.

The latest moves stem from Defense Minister Taro Konos announcement on June 15 that he was halting plans to deploy theAegis Ashore system due to spiraling costs and time needed to ensure the safety of local communities that were to host it.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a June 18 news conference, said "concentrated discussions" would be held from this summer to augment Japans ballistic missile defense structure in light of the decision to junk the Aegis Ashore system.

The decision to withdraw from the Aegis Ashore system will be made next week by the four relevant Cabinet ministers within the National Security Council (NSC).

Discussions will begin in the NSC from late June regarding steps that need to be taken to bolster the nations missile defense system. The discussions will continue until the end of September when government ministries and agencies are required to present their requests for the fiscal 2021 budget.

The government will then ask a panel of experts to hold discussions related to a revising of the National Security Strategy, which was first compiled in December 2013 by the Abe Cabinet.

The strategy is expected to be revised by year-end, along with changes to the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Medium-Term Defense Program, which spells out the defense equipment needed by the Self-Defense Forces.

In addition to ballistic missile defense, some of the key topics to be discussed for a new National Security Strategy related to a post-corona world will likely be strengthening the supply chain for medical care products and equipment as well as measures to handle future pandemics, including restrictions on entry into Japan.

Among the topics related to economic security that will likely be discussed are preventing leaks of advanced technology, securing maritime interests and dealing with cyber-attacks.

A sensitive area of likely discussions will be what to do about attacking enemy military bases.

The government position since 1956 has been that even under the pacifist Constitution, an attack on enemy bases would be considered within Japans range of self-defense if it was the only way to prevent the destruction of the nation.

The government interpretation until now has been that the Constitution does not prevent the possessing of the capability to attack enemy bases. However, it was always assumed the U.S. military would jump into the breach if such an emergency arose.

However, some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Partyhave called for Japan to possess such capabilities, and future discussions with the U.S. Pentagon may include the possibility of a new division of roles related to this issue

Discussions about the National Security Strategy were needed even before the decision to withdraw from the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, given the rapidly changing security environment surrounding Japan.

Not only has North Korea sharply improved its ballistic missile technology, but China has also been making major maritime advances. New domains of security such as space and cyberspace have also emerged in recent years.

(Yuki Nikaido and Ryo Aibara contributed to this article.)

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Japan to revise security strategy with halt to Aegis Ashore system : The Asahi Shimbun - Asahi Shimbun

How my colonial smugness evaporated with one explosive revelation – Stuff.co.nz

OPINION: Although the Black Lives Matter protests have been far more vociferous in the US than here, and more statues have been pulled down, New Zealanders are increasingly aware of the arguments about our colonial heritage.

As I watched images of the Hamilton statue being removed by the council after repeated requests by iwi, and I read that the name of the city may be a shared Hamilton/Kirikiriroa, I smugly thought to myself how lucky I was not to have oppressive, colonial skeletons in my Pkeh closet.

Getty-Images

A defaced statue of Sir George Grey in Albert Park, Auckland. One of Dave Armstrong's tpuna was fired by Governor Grey as Protector of the Aborigines because he was too liberal.

You see, I have a perfect whakapapa of liberal and considerate colonial settlers who did nothing but work hard and help the locals. My ancestors didnt come here, like Captain Cook did, and kill Mori. I am no relation to Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his cronies in the New Zealand Company who cajoled and tricked their way into providing masses of land to colonial settlers in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

READ MORE:* Vandalism of Sir George Grey statue 'misdirected anger', historian says* New Zealand has long history of attacks on statues* West Coast man appeals for great grandfather's statue to remain * Who are New Zealand's statues, monuments and places named after?* Two monuments to 'sexual predators and colonisers' could be scrapped in Wellington

There are no relatives in my whakapapa of the dastardly Governor Grey, who invaded the Waikato to 'protect' Pkh Aucklanders in a massive deceptive land grab that made Blair and Bushs 'weapons of mass destruction' pale into insignificance. Even better, one of my tpuna was fired by Governor Grey as Protector of the Aborigines because he was too liberal.

Yes, despite being 100% Pkeh, I am 100% pure. There are no colonising white supremacist skeletons in my closet. I am descended from George Clarke, a kind Anglican missionary who built the biggest farm, at the time, in New Zealand in the Far North. He built a wonderful Mission House at Waimate North and was on good terms with many locals, including Hongi Hika (whom he called 'Shongi').

George even unsuccessfully tried to stop Shongi from raiding iwi further down the island. The great man Charles Darwin visited Waimate in 1831 and wrote about it in Voyage of the Beagle. 'At Waimate there are three large houses, where the missionary gentlemen, Messrs. Williams, Davies, and Clarke, reside.'

Supplied

Dave Armstrong: ''My ancestors didnt come here, like Captain Cook did, and kill Mori.''

Darwin didnt think much of New Zealand but he liked my tpunas farm. 'I look back but to one bright spot, and that is Waimate, with its Christian inhabitants.''

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography even said that 'unlike most of his compatriots in New Zealand, George Clarke had a genuine sympathy for the Mori people''. Yay! OK, that entry was probably written by a Pkh with heaps of unconscious bias, but not bad. If there was a statue of Clarke next to Cook or Grey or Picton or Wakefield or Hamilton, youd definitely take them out first.

But recently I wanted to check the meaning of the Mori word mtau. The excellent online dictionary I use always gives a definition followed by a sentence in Mori using the word. Mtau means clever or knowledgeable and the following sentence gave context.

'He tangata mtau ki te waihanga p a Hri Karaka'. 'George Clarke was a knowledgeable person at making guns'. What the flintlock? A gunsmith?

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Dave Armstrong frets about the role his ancestors played in the colonisation of New Zealand.

Funny how Dad, who was so proud of his one notable ancestor in among the gambling addicts and fraudsters, never told us that our tpuna had this particular talent. But surely Hri only made guns for good people?

When the Imperial Forces tried to storm Pene Tauis P at Ohaeawai, just a musket shot away from Waimate North, George Clarkes son in a fit of conscious bias worked as an interpreter for the British. But surely Hri Karaka would have told his fellow Brits to get lost if they wanted him to fix a couple of muskets for the assault in a hurry? Yeah right.

OK, so maybe Im not quite as 100% pure as I thought. But a further examination of my whakapapa on my mothers side finds some good hearty Scandinavian immigrants. No gunsmiths, no land grabbers, just a dedicated bunch of Scandis in the Wairarapa helping to chop down one of the largest stands of native forest in the country when they werent making patchwork quilts. If you cant find a huia today, you can partly thank them.

As a progressive liberal, I fretfully sleep and fitfully dream about the role my ancestors played in the colonisation of New Zealand. Yet Im still not sure where I stand on the statue issue.

But I do know that most of the people who say, 'its just history, we shouldnt change it' are the same ones who have resisted commemorating the New Zealand Wars and teaching our history in schools.

The Its just history crowd love commemorating Gallipoli and buying into its 'birth of the nation' myth while refusing to accept that the battle sites of rkau, Gate P, Ruapekapeka and countless others are just as worthy of study.

Whether you want to pull statues down or leave them standing is up to you. In the meantime, to try to improve our mtauranga about our colonial history, to understand how and why it happened, is possibly the best thing we could do.

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How my colonial smugness evaporated with one explosive revelation - Stuff.co.nz

President says he will renew effort to end DACA protections – – KUSI

June 22, 2020

Posted: June 22, 2020

Updated: 8:31 AM

AP

(AP) President Donald Trump said Friday he will renew his effort to end legal protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Trump denounced a Supreme Court ruling that the administration improperly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017. Splitting with Trump and judicial conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices inthe 5-4 vote Thursday.

Through executive action, Trump could still take away the ability of 650,000 young immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. And with no legislative answer in sight in Congress, uncertainty continues for many immigrants who know no other home except America.

Immigration attorney Esther Valdes joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss the ruling and what the administrations next steps might be.

In a tweet Friday, Trump said, The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won. They punted, much like in a football game (where hopefully they would stand for our great American Flag). We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly.

Many believe Trump could modify the rescinding of DACA in the same way he changed a travel ban on mostly Muslim countries. The ban was upheld by the Supreme Court after two revisions in over a year, including adding North Koreans and some Venezuelan officials to the ban.

In a 5-4 opinion with a stark rebuke from liberal justices, the high court found that Trump was well within a presidents considerable authority over immigration and the responsibility for keeping the nation safe.

Groups that support DACA said they will remain on guard against further action by Trump.

Whats important to note: NOTHING has changed since yesterday and wont change unless SCOTUS decides otherwise, the immigration legal services provider and advocacy group RAICES, based in Texas, wrote on Twitter. Well remain vigilant & ready to fight anything that may come.

Hareth Andrade, a national staffer with Mi Familia Vota, an organization that focuses on voter engagement, said the presidents tweet is a sore loser remark. Andrade is also a DACA recipient.

This appeal tactic will only run out the time he has left as president, she said. Our movement knows better, we have deeply organized our communities, and for now, have a SCOTUS decision on our side to keep our DACA benefits intact.

Megan Essaheb, director of immigration advocacy for the Washington-based nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said that while Trump can still terminate DACA, he could also choose to support legislation that provides legal status to recipients along with 300,000 people who have temporary status and the estimated 11 million who are in the U.S. without permission.

If he chooses cruelty, it will be on him, Essaheb said.

The Trump administration says its moving forward against DACA, even though experts say there isnt enough time to knock down the program before the November election.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president has vowed to take care of DACA far better than the Democrats ever did.

We want to find a compassionate way to do this, McEnany said.

Were going to move as quickly as we can to put options in front of the president, Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Fox & Friends.

That still leaves open the appropriate solution which the Supreme Court mentioned, and that is that Congress step up to the plate, he said.

Activists are vowing to keep fighting for a long-term solution for young immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States when they were children. They not only face a White House thats prioritized immigration restrictions but also a divided Congress that is not expected to pass legislation providing a path to citizenship anytime soon.

The high court decision on Thursday elicited surprise, joy and some apprehension from immigrants and advocates who know its only a temporary development.

This is a huge victory for us, Diana Rodriguez, a 22-year-old DACA recipient, said through tears.

Rodriguez, who works with the New York Immigration Coalition, said she hasnt been back to Mexico since she was brought to the U.S. at age 2. The ruling meansyoung immigrantscan keep working, providing for their families and making a difference in this country, she said.

But the work isnt over, Rodriguez said: We cant stop right now, we have to continue fighting.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, appeared satisfied to let the courts decision stand as the law of the land for now.

While some Republicans asserted that now is the time for Congress to clarify the immigration system, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear that Democrats were done with their legislation before the summer break and had little interest in meeting GOP demands to fund Trumps long-promised border wall as part of any comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden said that if elected, he would send lawmakers proposed legislation on his first day in office to make DACA protections permanent.

For now, immigrants who are part of DACA will keep their protections, but there are tens of thousands of others who could have enrolled if Trump didnt halt the program three years ago.

The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that about 66,000 young immigrants meet the age requirement of 15 to join the program but havent been able to do so because the government has only been renewing two-year permits for those already enrolled.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hasnt signaled whether it will accept any new applications and its unlikely the Trump administration would do so without being forced by the courts. Still, pro-DACA organizations are encouraging those who qualify to file first-time applications.

Biden, meanwhile, has promised to send legislation to Congresscodifying DACA on his first day as president, if elected.

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President says he will renew effort to end DACA protections - - KUSI

Delhis urban planners must stop ignoring the shoddy infrastructure in its 135 urban villages – Scroll.in

Many of the landmarks of Paras Tyagis life remain the same in Budhela village in Delhi where he grew up: the house he lived in, the school that he, his father and grandfather attended, the homes of neighbours he knew as a child.

But the farmland that Tyagis grandfather once owned is long gone, a pond that the cattle used to drink from has been filled in and walled off, and around the village, high-rise apartment and office blocks and a Metro station have sprung up.

Budhela is one of 135 urban villages in Delhi, settlements that are exempted from building codes and excluded from its plans leaving nearly a million people, most of whom have no titles to their homes, without a blueprint for the future.

We are among Delhis oldest residents, yet we are losing what we had and suffering from pollution, congestion and gentrification, said Tyagi, co-founder of the Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment, a public policy non-profit. Urban villages provide housing options for low-income families and migrant workers, commercial spaces for factory outlets and upscale markets, but they are largely neglected and desperately in need of infrastructure upgrades.

Large parts of Delhi were once agricultural. As these were acquired by authorities, some residents stayed on in adjacent areas that came to be known as lal dora, or red thread in the Hindi language, for the red line that demarcated them.

Some lal dora lands were designated as urban villages small islands in the constantly changing metropolis growing in number from 20 in 1962, when Delhis first master plan was made, to 135 today. The city also has scores of rural villages.

Lacking property records, the governance structure of their rural counterparts and left off the citys plans, Delhis urban villages are largely run by influential families, with little oversight by civic authorities, residents and urban experts say.

As pressure increases to integrate lal dora lands into the citys master plan, authorities must consider their unique character and history, said Kanchi Kohli, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank in Delhi.

Lal Dora areas have grown exponentially with risky and inadequate civic infrastructure. These areas need to be a part of Delhis urban planning, but their inclusion has been and continues to be a complex process, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Any attempt to integrate them into the master plan will need to protect them from land grabs, and be a careful, informed process that looks at class stratification and historical marginalisation.

Almost 70% of the worlds population will live in urban areas by 2050, according to estimates by the United Nations. In India, as elsewhere, rapid urbanisation is putting pressure on governments to build more apartment blocks and metro rail networks, which has led to the razing of old buildings and neighbourhoods.

Cities risk losing not just their history and heritage, but also the traditional knowledge that is key to promoting inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience, according to urban experts. This is particularly true of large cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, which every day draw thousands of migrants from Indias villages looking for better economic opportunities.

Faced with a critical shortage of affordable housing in the cities, many settle in slums and other informal settlements, which lack basic amenities such as drinking water and toilets.

In Delhi, urban villages with lower rents compared to flats, and with better amenities than slums, have become the preferred option for students, migrant workers and small businesses that often rent the ground floor of the low-rise buildings.

Some, like Hauz Khas and Shahpur Jat, which abut upscale neighbourhoods, have lured designer boutiques and trendy cafes and bars a reflection of how land use in urban villages has been altered over the years, sometimes illegally, said Kohli.

A scheme to improve civic services in urban villages was launched by the Delhi Development Authority in 1979, and then transferred to the Municipal Corporation. A committee set up by the federal housing ministry to study integrating lal dora areas into the Delhi Master Plan to 2021, noted in its 2007 report that urban villages had not seen the desired and expected improvements of urbanisation.

It recommended modern, decent living accommodation for residents, proper amenities, a liberal land-use policy, and updated property records.

Delhis Master Plan to 2021 noted that redevelopment of urban villages was a critical focus area, but failed to provide a separate legal framework, said Ruchita Gupta, an assistant professor at the School for Planning and Architecture in Delhi.

If we bring urban villages under the same planning model, we will get the same high-density buildings, she said. These settlements have their own indigenous character, and a cultural and historical value. Can we work with the existing fabric, and make customised norms with the involvement of the community?

Leenu Sehgal, a planning commissioner at the Delhi Development Authority, said it was drafting new laws for the management of urban villages. We are re-examining all aspects, from sanitation to building codes, and we will have a framework in the next Master Plan to 2041, she said, without giving further details.

Across India, cities have been slow to meet the needs of people living in informal settlements, with only a few introducing laws to upgrade housing and provide amenities a task made more urgent by the spread of the coronavirus in slums.

Last year, the federal government said it would legalise nearly 2,000 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, upgrading infrastructure and giving more than four million poor residents the right to own their homes.

In Budhela, a settlement of 350 households and about 4,500 people, there is growing discontent with the narrow lanes that get waterlogged in the rains, the open drains and lack of green spaces.

Residents are also frustrated by their inability to use their homes as collateral for bank loans, as most do not have titles. The process of registering for one is too onerous and costly, Tyagi said. We are asking for just the basics, so we can live with dignity and respect, he said, pointing to piles of trash lying by the road.

But the lal dora is no mans land no one in the city wants to take responsibility. We dont know what the future is.

This article first appeared on Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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Delhis urban planners must stop ignoring the shoddy infrastructure in its 135 urban villages - Scroll.in

Move to annex parts of West Bank could come as early as July 1 – jewishpresstampa

People gather to stage a demonstration to protest against the annexation plan of the Jordan Valley, located in the occupied West Bank and illegal Jewish settlements in West Bank, Tel Aviv, Israel on June 6, 2020. Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

While the world has had its attention fixed on the George Floyd protests and the ongoing threat of COVID-19, a political development with monumental implications has been brewing in the Middle East: Israels potential annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his supporters during multiple election campaigns last year that he would make areas outside of the countrys borders part of the state. Now his chance is fast approaching.

The terms of a government coalition deal he struck with political rival Benny Gantz allow Netanyahu to put annexation to a government vote as early as July 1. The pair reportedly differ over details, but the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is trying to broker an agreement.

What happens with annexation has potentially steep stakes for Israels relationship with the United States, with its allies in Europe and beyond, and with American Jews. Some of the countrys fiercest supporters oppose Netanyahus annexation push.

Giant posters on buildings in Jerusalem feature photos of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and President Donald Trump, beneath slogans supporting West Bank annexation and opposing a Palestinian state. They were hung by the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which is split on Netanyahus annexation plan. Ahmad Gharbali/AFP via Getty Images

The opposition and other factors complicate the chances of annexation happening on July 1, but the possibility remains on the table. So heres what you need to know before that important date.

What could happen July 1

Netanyahu, who has opposed a Palestinian state during most of his career, sees annexation as a way to safeguard Israels control over parts of the West Bank, which much of the Israeli right views as Israels historical heartland. Annexation has also been a key demand of Netanyahus base, so he would see this as a major political victory.

If the prime minister had his way, he would immediately try to annex the land that Israel was allotted under the Trump administrations Middle East peace proposal in January approximately 30 percent of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. He could put the idea up for a vote either in parliament or his own Cabinet, according to the coalition agreement.

But he may be starting small. According to a Times of Israel report, Netanyahu currently plans to annex just a small portion of West Bank territory on July 1 namely the land occupied by over 100 Jewish settlements.

The rest could come later, but the limited approach for now reportedly stems from the fact that a U.S.- Israeli team is still determining the exact lines of territory described in the peace deal. (The Palestinians have been unequivocal in their rejection of the plan.)

The mapping process and the time it takes could be up to Jared Kushner, Trumps point person on the entire Middle East project. While Friedman pushed early on for annexation to happen as quickly as possible the ambassador is an outspoken supporter of the settlements and has close ties to them Kushner has been more hesitant. An Israeli TV station reported last week that the U.S. administration, caught up in handling the George Floyd protests and the coronavirus pandemic, wants to greatly slow the process of annexation, although Friedmans intervention suggests continued interest in making it happen.

Supporters and opponents

The right wing of Israeli politics is a major backer. That includes even Netanyahus other bitter rival, Avigdor Liberman, the hawkish head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.So does the Trump administration, which authored the peace plan that essentially gave Netanyahu the green light for annexation.

The administrations supporters, including many evangelical Christians who have a religious interest in the West Bank territory remaining under Israeli control, also support the move.

Many right-wing leaders, politicians and organizations in the U.S. support the move as well.

But outside of the right wing in Israel and the U.S., its difficult to find much support.

The speculation about annexation has already prompted a wave of critical responses from liberal Jewish groups, whose opposition might be expected to U.S. politicians and world leaders, as well as prominent Jews who dont always weigh in on politics. In the United States, the caution around annexation has been bipartisan, with Republicans and Democrats alike warning late last year that such a move would threaten efforts to reach a two-state solution.

Some of the more centrist pro- Israel groups, such as AIPAC the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the largest Israel lobbying group in the U.S., have yet to show their cards. The issue puts groups like AIPAC in a delicate position does it support Israel at all costs, or does it draw a line on actions it believes endangers the Jewish states future?

So far, AIPAC has remained publicly silent about annexation. But according to two sources a donor and congressional aide AIPAC is privately telling lawmakers that as long as they dont push to limit the United States aid to Israel, they can criticize the annexation plan without risking tensions or a clash with the lobby group.

In a statement to JTA, AIPAC spokesman Adam Harris said, AIPAC does not encourage members of Congress to criticize the government of Israel. Our role is to strengthen the relationship between the two allies.

In another twist, several Israeli settler leaders, mayors and other activists whose homes would become part of Israel under annexation oppose the move. They say annexation would stunt settlement expansion and freeze the currently disparate settlements, which are sprinkled across the West Bank, in an insecure position. They also oppose a Palestinian state of any borders.

Either the settlements have a future or the Palestinian state does but not both, right-wing lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, who at one point pushed for annexation, told the New York Times earlier this month.

Possible consequences

If Netanyahu plows ahead with annexation without winning over some of his critics at home and abroad, there could be consequences for Israel.

Most of the international community sees the settlements as part of an illegal Israeli occupation of land that could make up a Palestinian state. Annexation would also be viewed as illegal according to United Nations standards, just as Russias annexation of Crimea was in 2014, for example.

The move would certainly trigger intense international condemnation, and even a possible shakeup in international allegiances. While many European and other countries including the United States under President Obama have disagreed with Netanyahu over policy, they have held on to hope of a future two-state solution. Annexation would at least alter what the traditional two-state solution looks like.

Politicians in some countries, including at least one staunch ally of Israel, have already called for sanctions on Israel if it carries out annexation as threatened.

For the more than 400,000 Israelis who live in the settlements and are full citizens, the specifics of post-annexation governance are still unclear. But its undeniable that the move would shape the contours of future peace efforts in the region, as Israel would unequivocally see the West Bank settlements as part of the official state in any negotiations with the Palestinians.

Those negotiations would almost certainly be set back by annexation. The Palestinians have already renounced their responsibilities agreed to under the Oslo Accords, the 1993 agreement that established security cooperation between them and the Israelis and launched the peace process. (Serious, direct talks have not happened for more than six years.) They say that unilateral annexation, which both sides agreed to forgo in the accords, is a deal breaker when it comes to negotiating with Israel on anything moving forward.

Neighboring Jordan could be next to back away from security agreements with Israel, as the countrys king has said it will bring massive conflict. The Arab League also has issued a warning to Israel. Some have speculated annexation could spark Palestinian violence in the area as well.

We dont want things to reach a point of no return, Hussein al-Sheikh, a close adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told the New York Times earlier this month. Annexation means no return in the relationship with Israel.

JTA staff writer Ron Kampeas contributed to this story.

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Move to annex parts of West Bank could come as early as July 1 - jewishpresstampa

The remarkable life and legacy of indigenous leader Berta Cceras – Salon

Quebec City, April 2001 Every head of state from the Americas, except Fidel Castro, was in Quebec City for negotiationson the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a proposed duty-free zone stretching from Canada to Chile, excluding Cuba. Although it was lauded as revolutionary by big business, many believed the neoliberal FTAA (ALCA in Spanish) would only intensify poverty and inequality across the region and threaten the survival of rural and indigenous communities. It was a crisp spring day and Berta Cceras was there wrapped up, pumped and ready to resist on behalf of the Lencas, her indigenous group.

Tens of thousands of spirited protesters armed with drums, flutes, confetti and canny banners had descended on the picturesque French colonial city in eastern Canada, determined to force the continent's leaders to pay attention. Amid the colorful crowd were indigenous leaders, environmental groups, trade unions, students, fringe political parties and anti-poverty campaigners, all ready for open debate and direct action. A giant catapult was being winched up to launch teddy bears towards the summit site, in contrast to the secretive negotiations taking place inside.

Berta was with the Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro. They had travelled to Quebec up the east coast as part of a speaking tour organized by Rights Action, a not-for-profit group investigating the impact of North American trade, economic and security policies in Central America. "Berta's family history and early experiences fostered a clear local-to-global perspective,"said Rights Action's Grahame Russell. "She understood that free trade agreements were just the latest repackaged tool of repression, a new twist on the same exploitative economic model imposed on Central America for hundreds of years."

Berta told audiences in Toronto and Montreal: "Free trade deals are legal tools to impose a model that advocates taking control over the planet's natural resources for profit."She went on: "I don't accept a system that must destroy some in order to thrive. Cutting down forests our ancestors protected for centuries cannot be called development . . . we need to fight this oppressive political and economic model together. This is our problem."

Details were already emerging about the Plan Panama Puebla (PPP), a US-inspired Mexican brainchild, soon to be launched as the missing development piece of the neo-liberal jigsaw puzzle. It was extolled as the mother of all development projects, tackling poverty by opening up the "backward"Mesoamerican region to the global market. The two central pillars of PPP were transport infrastructure a network of highways, dry canals and ports to speed up the movement of freely traded products and energy liberalization: specifically, an increased capacity to generate energy by constructing dozens of dams and gas and oil pipelines, and then transport it further and faster by connecting the region's energy grids from North America to Colombia (a sort of NAFTACAFTA energy grid).

The multibillion-dollar, mainly publicly funded, project promoted and depended on a momentous shift of the region's economy, from small-scale farming to agro-industry and manufacturing, and expanding private control over natural resources. It included the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which sounds like a good thing a mammoth protected nature reserve but in reality involved patenting the genetic codes of plants and animals in the second biggest bank of bio-genetic resources in the world. Why? To provide essential raw material for biotechnologies that could revolutionize medicines and food production, but without sharing economic benefits with local people. You could call it corporate bio-piracy.

PPP enthusiasts such as the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, considered this the only way to lift rural communities out of entrenched poverty. However, the Zapatistas and the Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA) the fledgling regional coalition where Berta and Gustavo first met saw PPP as a poverty plan masquerading as development, which would force thousands of rural families to migrate to overcrowded cities or north to the US. Auctioning off rivers, seabeds, fertile plains and forests to the private sector threatened to raze or prohibit access to vast swathes of the ancestral land and natural resources that define the economic, social and cultural survival of countless rural and indigenous peoples.

In Honduras, Berta warned back in 2001 that PPP would be a death sentence for the Lenca people, and the Agua Zarca dam turned out to be a perfect example of this.

Berta was right: it was the PPP that killed her, according to Annie Bird.

At the anti-capitalist gathering in downtown Quebec City, people had had enough of talking. It was time for direct action. But the summit organizers were determined to shield political leaders from the deafening crowds branded as anarchists by Canadian intelligence. A three-metre-high concrete and wire partition was erected around Parliament Hill as a first line of defence. Hundreds of riot cops unleashed a wave of brutality the protesters weren't prepared for. Tear gas engulfed the city in dense, eye-stinging smoke. So much of it was fired that it seeped into the summit hall, forcing delegates to take cover. Berta and Gustavo stood in front of parliament facing the impenetrable chain of riot cops, among protesters drumming and singing. It struck Berta that the demonstration was too far back. "Hermano! Let's get closer. Vamos,"she shouted, grinning at Gustavo, grabbing one end of the blue and white Honduran flag. Gustavo seized the other end and they rushed forward into a cold jet of water from a cannon behind police lines. They were pushed back and soaked, the flag went flying. But Berta jumped up and yelled, "Let's go again."This time, blinding tear gas forced the pair back. But they surged forward again and again, recalled Gustavo. "That was Berta. Always tenacious and always willing to put herself in the middle of every act of resistance. She never lost that energy."

* * *

COPINH in English, theCouncil of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras was founded as a grassroots organization, and managed to stay true to its roots partly because Berta was never power-hungry. Whenever possible, everywhere she went, busloads of COPINH members went with her, meaning she and the organization evolved together. At one anti-FTAA meeting in Cuba, Gustavo and Berta were invited as speakers and put up in a fancy Havana hotel. Berta preferred the cheaper digs with the rest of the COPINH faction. "COPINH was never a closed shop,"recalls Alba Marconi, who worked alongside Berta for over a decade. "For Berta, sharing ideas and experiences was fundamental to ensure COPINH was a true grass-roots organization where the power and energy came from its base."

Berta's early years were filled with Cold War drama and meeting the guerrillas seeking sanctuary at her family home. She grew up looking beyond borders, and in COPINH connected the dots between far-flung boardrooms and parliaments and everyday struggles in Lenca communities. Berta wasn't an avid reader or particularly academic: bearing four children at a young age and launching a new organization made university impossible, and her children agree that studying wasn't her thing. But she was an avid learner, an insatiable sponge, who evolved through experiences and through the people she met and debated with late into the night. Her ability to cite community struggles in Kurdistan, Brazil, Guatemala or Canada to explain big issues like capitalism, militarization and patriarchy was impressive. "I always remember Berta," said Gustavo, "with an open notebook under her arm and a pen in her hand, taking constant notes, absorbing everything, and encouraging COPINH colleagues to learn and grow alongside her."

Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA)

Berta first met Gustavo Castro in 2000, at a three-day event in San Cristobal de las Casas, a colonial city in the Mexican state of Chiapas (site of the Zapatista uprising that six years earlier had inspired COPINH). It was a ground-breaking confluence of diverse movements from across the Americas and Caribbean, with the aim of formulating a unified political strategy. No easy task, but COMPA united as an anti-capitalist coalition at a time when identifying as such still carried the risk of being branded as communist. Berta, then twenty-nine, was assigned a high-profile role alongside Gustavo to draft the coalition's message of intent. The six agreed objectives were struggle for gender equality, indigenous rights and sustainable rural development, and against the FTAA, militarization, and external debt and structural adjustment policies imposed by international banks under the Washington Consensus.

Berta demonstrated intelligence, sharp analysis and political know-how beyond her years, alongside an indomitable 'yes we can' attitude. 'Berta helped make Honduras visible,' said Gustavo. "Until then, its social movements, political struggles and resistance were largely unknown to the rest of the region."

COMPA served as a bridge connecting communities across the continent during six intense years of resistance. The collective produced educational radio soaps, worksheets, books, and videos about PPP, biodiversity and free trade which Berta took back to her base in Honduras. COPINH travelled to Guatemala, where Canadian mines were already polluting water sources and displacing communities; Guatemalans gave workshops in La Esperanza on genetic modification and crop diversity. This fluid exchange of ideas and experiences across borders was pioneering. Over time, the central themes evolved through spin-offs such as the COMPA women's collective where gender equality developed into a broader anti-patriarchal model that Berta sought to integrate into COPINH.

Berta and Salvador separated around 2000, but continued to lead the organization together. In its second decade, COPINH's national profile declined as the indigenous struggle consolidated on the back of important wins. But its international profile grew as it evolved into an organization whose struggle identified with the anti-globalization movement opposed to the neo-liberal economic model. Berta's involvement in COMPA helped her develop a deeper, more structural understanding of the role of international financial institutions and free trade agreements in local land struggles, forced migration, biodiversity and natural resources. COMPA's six original objectives remained central to Berta's struggle to the end.

Every conflict in Latin America is, at its heart, about land. Why? Because the distribution of land is directly linked to the distribution of wealth. In Honduras, both are scandalously unequal. This is the most unequal country in Latin America, with the most regressive tax system, and the gap between the richest few and the poor majority keeps growing. Over two-thirds of the population live in poverty. While big cities are marked by gang violence and precarious employment and living conditions, the great majority of the poor are landless peasant farmers and indigenous or Afro-descendant Garifuna and Miskitu peoples. The most arable plains are in the hands of a few: approximately 70 per cent of farmers hold only 10 per cent of land in small plots, while 1 per cent of farmers hold 25 per cent in massive estates. Redressing land inequalities was a central issue for Berta and COPINH, and that meant taking on the country's elites.

The Elites

Las elites, las familias, la oligarquia, los turcos . . . catch-all terms used interchangeably for the small group of transnational families whose vast wealth and political power allow them to influence, some would say dictate, public policies to benefit their economic interests. The origin and trajectory of the Honduran elite are unique in the region. These ten or so families played only a supporting role during the first half of the twentieth century, when Honduras was subservient to US capital and geopolitical objectives. Back then, local landowning elites who got rich and powerful primarily from timber, cattle, cotton and sugar plantations, and mining were still the biggest cojones in town, yet they were in fact the poorest and politically weakest rural elites in Central America. So, in the 1990s, unlike their peers in Guatemala and El Salvador, Honduran landowners found themselves outwitted and unable to evolve fast enough to take advantage of globalization and international capital. Instead, waiting in the wings was the incipient bourgeoisie, composed largely of Christian Palestinians (mostly from Bethlehem) and eastern European Jews.

The ethnic mix of this elite class most with surnames like Kattan, Canahuati, Nasser, Kafati, Atala, Larach and Facusse is the result of the liberal migration policies of the late nineteenth century. With the Ottoman Empire in decline, there was a wave of migration of Christian Palestinians to Central America, and a handful of families settled in Honduras during the 1870s and 1880s, when the liberal government was trying to attract immigrants with knowledge of modern agricultural techniques to jump-start the economy. Most came via Turkey, where they sought refuge first with Turkish passports, hence the umbrella term "turcos"for them all. But the new arrivals rejected generous farming incentives in favor of commerce, to slowly establish themselves as the new merchant class. Initially, they jostled for market position in the shadow of Americans who controlled trade through general stores stocked with cheap merchandise arriving on empty banana cargo ships. But the Arabs brought knowledge of external markets lacking among local landowners, and quickly applied commercial rules (buy cheap, sell dear) to the import-export market. The traders accumulated wealth independent of politics, until the late 1980s and early 1990s when structural adjustment policies free-market privatization programsfavoring big business were imposed by international financiers to guarantee loans and debt payments (aka the Washington Consensus). This sparked a massive transfer of state wealth to the private sector, and opened up unparalleled access to global markets, credit and political power for the transnational merchant elites. Soon they were acting not unlike the banana companies, running Honduras like a collection of private fiefdoms and 'counselling' presidents, ambassadors and the military.

The main gold-rush industries to emerge were manufacturing in the maquilas, African palm oil for biofuels and processed food, and coastal tourism. Then, armed with their new capacity to amass capital, the elites smartly diversified, opening banks, newspapers and meat processing plants, as well as investing heavily in energy projects and mines. The locally prominent landowners didn't miss out entirely on the benefits of globalization: by positioning themselves as the bridge between international investors and new transnational elites, they became the boots on the ground, so to speak, in both business and politics. This economic and power shift happened hot on the heels of the US-backed counterinsurgency war which alleged military and business interests determined to protect the status quo. The most formidable manifestation of this symbiotic relationship was the anti-communist, some say fascist, Association for the Progress of Honduras (APROH), founded in 1983. This club, joined by most major Honduran industrialists, promoted deregulation, free trade and a ruthless response to social movements demanding better wages and conditions. APROH's founding president was General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, commander of Battalion 3-16.

Since then, the rural poverty generated by land inequality has been compounded by climate change and natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch in 1998; rising food prices; systematic land grabs by agribusiness and tourism developers; and shocking levels of violence perpetrated by state security services and private militias contracted by organized criminal gangs, corrupt politicians and seemingly reputable businesses, at times all working together.

Paradoxically, it was this complex set of harsh conditions which sparked new grassroots social and political movements like COPINH and campesino collectives challenging land distribution in the Bajo Aguan. This pitted the campesinos against feudal king and political heavyweight Miguel Facusse Barjum.

Facusse trained as an aeronautical engineer in Indiana, in the American Midwest, and started his career by converting war planes into commercial carriers, but he built his fortune and notoriety through Dinant Chemicals. In the 1980s, during the Contra years, he served as chief economic adviser to the Liberal president Roberto Suazo Cordova and vice-president of APROH; he even endorsed selling off Honduras to foreign investors to resolve its fiscal woes. This was Facusse's breakthrough decade, a time when political connections and capitalist instinct helped him take lucrative advantage of a controversial debt restructuring programme. This, and other economic policies blueprinted in the Facusse Memorandum, acted as a springboard to convert the evolving merchant class into a cash-rich globally oriented agro-industrial bourgeoisie, perfectly positioned for foreign investors.

But Miguel Facusse was no political ideologue. He believed in making money, and that is what drew him to the fertile Bajo Aguan.The Bajo Aguan was dominated by banana plantations in the first half of the twentieth century, but the population and crop production nosedived in 1974 after Hurricane Fifi destroyed everything, including the railway, and the fruit moguls abandoned the region. Fifi accelerated major agrarian reforms designed by military dictator General Lopez Arellano, who used public funds and post-hurricane international aid to rebuild the region and entice landless peasants to farm uncultivated plains in exchange for community land titles. The general became an unlikely campesino hero, sanctioning technical and financial support to more than 4,000 farming families organized into eighty-four cooperatives. It paid off: by the 1980s the lower Aguan valley was one of the most diverse crop regions in Honduras, known as the grain basket of Central America. But the glory days were short-lived thanks to the imposition of inedible, invasive African palms.

The lofty palm species was aggressively promoted from the early 1990s by World Bankfunded modernization programmes. The palms were lauded as the ultimate cash crop which would finally lift peasant farmers out of poverty. Then the official line changed: campesinos were no longer capable of farming palms, because they were too tall and required machinery to extract the fruit and oil. Technical assistance and credit from the government plummeted just as global prices crashed, a devastating combination which asphyxiated the farmers. This wasn't down to Lady Luck: the plan was always to let the cooperatives fail, affirmed campesino leader Yoni Rivas. Waiting in the wings to pounce was Facusse.

Agrarian law prohibits collective or ejidal legal titles from being sold or mortgaged without permission from the National Agrarian Institute (INA). To circumvent this inconvenience, President Callejas approved a municipal law in 1993 which allowed local governments to sell land titles for a period of three months only. This they did via hundreds of small trans-actions benefiting a handful of powerful businessmen, who had woken up to the profit potential of exporting palm oil for biofuels and processed food. The sales were rushed through with total disregard for ejidal and ancestral land titles owned by Garifuna communities. How did they get the deeds? Some campesinos sold up for the money, but far more were duped or intimidated into signing over the land. The wannabe palm magnates made alliances with local politicians to convince cooperative leaders that there was no hope of competing with modernization, so best to sell up and move on. To deal with those who couldn't be convinced, the cooperatives were infiltrated and divided, and secret meetings known as misas negras (black masses) were convened under menacing military supervision. And if that failed, stubborn campesino leaders were tortured, abducted and killed, starting with the president and treasurer of the San Isidro cooperative in 1990. In other words, good old-fashioned corporate counterinsurgency.

Thousands of campesino families were evicted: they went from being landowners to pawns on their own land a starting gun for a protracted bloody struggle that has yet to end. Facusse was the biggest beneficiary, gaining control over large swathes of Aguan and beyond for industrial palm oil production. The other major winners were the Salvadoran Reynaldo Canales and the Nicaraguan-born Rene Morales, whose legal affairs were handled by lawyer Roberto Pacheco Reyes, who later became the secretary of the Agua Zarca dam company, DESA. The three men rapidly acquired the majority of the cooperatives and began importing unregulated armed private security guards to work alongside the military to protect their interests. This toxic mix of ambition, political connections, bullish tactics and military alliances helped turned the Aguan into one of the deadliest parts of the country. The violence was fuelled by the West's drive for "clean energy." The big fat clean energy lie. But as always, it's about the land.

Then the coup happened.

Adapted from Who Killed Berta Cceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender's Battle for the Planet by Nina Lakhani, out through Verso Books.

More here:

The remarkable life and legacy of indigenous leader Berta Cceras - Salon

From Prison to the Halls of Power: A Politician’s Son Lobbies to Let People on Parole Vote – Lost Coast Outpost

Esteban Nunez visits the Capitol to advocate for voting rights for Californians on parole. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

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In early March, before the pandemic closed the state Capitol to visitors, Esteban Nez led former prisoners through the regal building where his father was once one of Californias most powerful politicians.

He exuded know-how, his shiny loafers clicking across marble floors as they moved toward an elevator. Down a hallway. Into the office of a lawmaker they hoped to convince to grant voting rights to Californians released from prison, but still on parole.

Not long ago, Nez himself had been one of them.

As you know, Im personally impacted, Nez told a legislative aide, inviting others to share their rehabilitation stories.

Nez didnt say much more about himself at that meeting. He didnt have to.

The 31-year-old son of Fabian Nez, a former Democratic Assembly speaker, Esteban Nez is well-known by insiders as the beneficiary of one of Californias most notorious acts of clemency. His fathers bipartisan friendship with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger helped Nez win early release after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in a 2008 knife fight that injured two men and killed Luis Santos, a 22-year-old college student.

On Schwarzeneggers last night in office in 2011, he announced cutting Nezs 16-year prison sentence to seven years, saying the term was excessive because Nez did not inflict the fatal stab. Schwarzenegger later acknowledged he had also acted to help a friend. The Republican governors decision infuriated the victims parents and led the California Republican Party to formally rebuke Schwarzenegger for sending the wrong message to potential criminals with connections to those in power.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, shown on June 13, 2007, became friendly while working together at the Capitol. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo

The younger Nez was released from prison in 2016 and is now a regular at the statehouse where, in tailored suits and sleek black hair, he resembles a taller version of his father. Soft-spoken and quick to acknowledge the damage that I personally caused, Nez combines an inmates understanding of prison with a politicians understanding of the Capitol. As a policy director for the criminal justice nonprofit program Cut50, Nez is part of the tide pushing Californias penal system from tough-on-crime laws toward giving criminals a second chance.

His focus this year, as the pandemic replaced in-person lobbying with Zoom meetings: voting rights for Californians on parole, a period of government supervision for criminal offenders that typically lasts about three years. A measure asking voters to do that cleared the Assembly and faces final votes in the Senate this week if approved, it will land on the November ballot.

Nezs transition underscores Californias increasingly liberal shift on criminal justice he credits the leader of a prison rehabilitation program with inspiring him to pursue an advocacy career. But it also reflects the reality of Sacramento, where family ties run deep inside the Capitol.

I think I do have a unique opportunity to use the doors that my father has worked hard to open, for the greater good, Nez said.

He said he hopes he can help other people in the way that I was helped.

Fabian Nez, now a partner at a prominent lobbying firm, declined to be interviewed for this article but said he is proud of his sons work.

The effort to allow California parolees to vote is part of a broader nationwide push to restore voting rights to people with criminal histories. Recently Nevada, Colorado, New York and Florida have expanded voting rights for felons. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow people to vote as soon as theyre released from prison, even while on parole, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In 2016, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law allowing people in local jails to vote. But granting voting rights to parolees from state prisons requires voter approval. The last time they changed the rules about who can vote was in 1974, approving a measure allowing felons to vote only after completing both prison and parole.

That leaves about 40,000 Californians who have completed their prison sentences unable to vote while on parole, according to an analysis of the pending measure, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6.

Parole by definition is not punishment its to help reintegrate people back into the mainstream. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty

Nez is part of a large coalition of civil rights advocates that have been pushing for this change for the last three years. Its taken on heightened urgency now, amid widespread protests against racism and calls to revamp the criminal justice system following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. With African Americans overrepresented among parolees making up 26% of the parole population but only 6% of California adults the measure is a top priority for the Legislatures Black caucus.

Parole by definition is not punishment its to help reintegrate people back into the mainstream, said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, the Sacramento Democrat who wrote ACA 6.

Parolees are many times working, paying taxes, raising their family, doing right. And they cant vote on policies that affect their lives.

The measure raises questions about how far California should go in reducing consequences for crimes.

Its a matter not of prejudice or denying a right its about justice, GOP state Sen. Jim Nielsen said at a recent hearing. Historically, justice has required a forfeiture of voting because of the severity of the impact of crime on society and on individuals.

Parole is a transition between incarceration and freedom that involves many restrictions intended to incentivize further appropriate behavior, argue conservative election watchdogs cited as opponents in the bill analysis.

He never completed the sentence he was handed down because he was able, through political favors, to change things in his favor. Nina Salarno, Crime Victims United

An advocate for crime victims opposes the policy and the messenger.

We have somebody lobbying behind it that has not even taken responsibilities for the violent crime he committed, said Nina Salarno Besselman, a board member of Crime Victims United.

He never completed the sentence he was handed down because he was able, through political favors, to change things in his favor.

As an attorney, Salarno represented the parents of the man killed in the fight with Nez and his friends in a lawsuit against Schwarzenegger. They alleged that his commutation violated a victims rights law, but an appeals court ruled in 2015 that while Schwarzeneggers conduct could be seen as deserving of censure and grossly unjust, it was not illegal.

The victims father called Nez a total abuser of the system.

I dont think people that committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote, Fred Santos said. Because they violated other citizens rights, they should not have their rights.

Santos, a Bay Area software engineer, is resentful that Nez is trying to earn more rights for criminals while he and his wife still grieve for their son. The family visits Luis grave several times a year, Santos said, on Christmas, Valentines Day, his birthday and the anniversary of his murder. They return at the start of every football and basketball season to adorn the gravesite for Luis favorite teams: black and silver for the Raiders, blue and gold for the Warriors.

People get together and talk to their children; we go to the cemetery and put flowers and decorate, Santos said. Thats as much as we can do.

From left: Brigida, Kathy, Luis and Fred Santos pose for a family portrait. Photo courtesy of Fred Santos

Luis was going to college in San Diego when a 19-year-old Nez and three friends traveled there from Sacramento for a weekend of partying in October 2008. Prosecutors alleged that Nez and his buddies drank heavily, then grew angry when they were turned away from a party near San Diego State University. A fight erupted.

I jumped in when I saw my friend on the floor and he had a stab wound in his leg, Nez said in an interview with CalMatters. Had I seen Luis bleeding out, I would not have jumped in.

Nez and his friends returned to Sacramento, burned the clothes theyd worn and tossed their knives into a river.

Two months later, they were arrested. Two pled guilty to conspiracy and assault. As the trial drew near for Nez and the other friend, Ryan Jett, the pair pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for the two men injured and voluntary manslaughter for Santos death. The district attorney announced that both men admitted responsibility for Santos death, and both were sentenced to 16 years.

Fred Santos said he holds them equally culpable because it was a mob attack.

But Schwarzenegger drew several distinctions in his commutation. Jett stabbed Santos once through the chest, severing his heart, he wrote, while Nez aided and abetted but was not the actual killer. The governor also noted that Nez had no prior criminal history, while Jett had multiple convictions.

I saw it on the ticker and I just started crying. Esteban Nez

Nezs supporters say he and Jett never should have gotten the same sentence.

The case became highly politicized, said Kevin de Leon, a former state Senate leader who has known Nez since he was a baby because he is close friends with his father.

There is no question that Esteban had to pay a price, as well as the other young men, because of the tragic outcome But theres always been this gross narrative that he was the one that stabbed (Santos), when he wasnt.

While in prison, Nez was aware of the clemency efforts, but says he was caught by surprise in January 2011 when he learned his sentence had been reduced while watching the news with his cellmate.

I saw it on the ticker and I just started crying, Nez said.

The Santos family also learned of it from the media a shock that deepened their pain. The fight Esteban Nez took part in stabbed my son in his heart, Fred Santos said. And Fabian Nez stabbed us in our back.

The pain doesnt go away. We are serving a life sentence. Victims father Fred Santos

The incident led to a new state law that requires a governor to notify prosecutors at least 10 days before shortening a criminal sentence, so that prosecutors can inform victims families.

The pain doesnt go away, Fred Santos said. We are serving a life sentence.

Nez has not apologized to the Santos family, but said hed like to someday.

Santos said he wouldnt accept an apology now. He and his wife just want Nez not to hurt anyone else, and to make his court-ordered restitution payments to them so that each month he remembers their loss.

At Mule Creek State Prison east of Sacramento, Nez was focused on survival. The young man who had once dined with his family at Arnold Schwarzeneggers home was now a prison cook making 16 cents an hour.

Everybody knew my father was a politician, Nez said. For people inside, it was like I had a life that I squandered away, which I understand and respect. And for correctional officers, I think it was like, Oh, youre in our house now. Let me show you how it goes down in here.

I think there was just a lot of desire to humble me.

When he found out he had only a few years left in prison, Nez said he started reading self-help books from his mother and analyzing his childhood. He was determined to, in his words, figure out whats wrong, where I fell short, what mistakes I made, what influenced those decisions.

He connected with Scott Budnick, a Hollywood producer who runs rehabilitation programs in California prisons through the Anti-Recidivism Coalition he founded.

I met him in a large group of incarcerated men, Budnick wrote in an email to CalMatters, and right away he stated that he wanted to use this experience to work with kids and be a mentor, so they would never have to see the inside of a prison, and would have the support to go into college instead. He has maintained that focus and commitment to being of service to others and helping others find a better path.

Released in 2016, Nez remembers telling his parole agent his plans for his first day of freedom. First up: steak and shrimp. Next: enroll in college and register to vote.

You cant vote, Nez recalls the agent telling him. Youre legally not allowed to vote because youre on parole.

Nez had sworn to himself that he would not follow his fathers path into politics. The thought of walking into the Capitol filled him with shame, a reminder of both the crime that sent him to prison and the political connections that helped set him free.

Esteban Nunez meets with legislative aides to advocate for voting rights for parolees on March 9, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

I wanted to pretend like it never happened, Nez said. I wanted to live under the radar.

He moved in with his mom in the Sacramento suburbs and began studying to become a mechanical engineer. But he was haunted by calls from his friends who were still locked up.

They would ask like, Whats it like? How are you? And I just couldnt bring myself to answer, Nez said.

I felt guilty that I was out here, able to be with my family, when I knew there were people who were in very similar situations, like myself, and still inside.

Soon he decided that instead of ignoring his criminal past and political connections, he wanted to make the most of them. He called Budnick. The Anti-Recidivism Coalition encourages formerly incarcerated people to advocate for changes to the system; it took him on as an intern. Over the next three years Nez was promoted to policy coordinator.

We at ARC believe that those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions, Budnick said. Because of Estebans experience in prison, he is an incredible guide to those that are navigating their own change.

As an advocate now making about $80,000 a year, Nez has pushed for new state laws that prohibit prosecuting youth under age 16 as adults and repealed prosecutors power to file murder charges against people who didnt directly kill someone, but were involved in a felony that led to a death. He also worked to qualify a ballot measure permitting prisoners and parolees to vote. When it failed to get enough signatures, Nez and fellow advocates narrowed the scope to parolees only, and asked the Legislature to put it on the ballot instead.

Assemblyman McCarty agreed to carry the measure. He had gotten to know Nez and found his transformation compelling.

He acknowledged that he had all kinds of privileges that other people did not, so he was able to get a second chance, McCarty said. He noticed that a lot of people in the justice system did not. And he was going to use his life and his opportunity to be back in the mainstream to work on these issues.

A key piece of Nezs work is encouraging people who have committed crimes to become more civically engaged. Nez believes they will make better choices if they feel more invested in society.

Voting is really like the most traditional way that somebody can voice their opinions, he said.

Nez was unable to vote in the 2016 presidential election because he was on parole. It had ended by the midterm election, so he cast a ballot in 2018. And then, on a blue-skied day in March, Nez tucked his 2020 primary ballot into its envelope. The sun was out, a breeze wafted through the trees. He headed to a polling place in downtown Sacramento, joined by friends who also were discharged from parole in recent years.

United once by their criminal status, they are united now by their work to change the justice system. Together, with broad smiles, they dropped their ballots into the box.

From left: April Greyson, Michael Mendoza and Esteban Nunez submit their presidential primary election ballots at the California Museum in Sacramento on March 2, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

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CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

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From Prison to the Halls of Power: A Politician's Son Lobbies to Let People on Parole Vote - Lost Coast Outpost


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