When Canadian citizens sponsor Syrian refugees, things can get complicated

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Jodi Kantor, a New York Times journalist, has been reporting on   Syrian refugees in Canada who are   trying to come to grips with all they’ve lost. “The sponsors are extremely eager to help, but sometimes that eagerness can almost be a problem, because there are some boundary issues. Related: Some Canadians really want to sponsor Syrian refugees. Delegates from several other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the US, recently attended   sessions   to learn about how Canada’s program could be replicated in their countries. Kantor was there   when one Syrian refugee family met their sponsor family for the first time. Kantor is working on   a   multi-part series   about what the first year has been like for a few Syrian refugee families   that have been matched with private sponsors. “We [were] in   this airport hotel in Toronto, a group of Syrian refugees, a family that has only been in Canada for something like 48 hours, they don’t speak a lick of English, they come downstairs, and they are told through a translator, ‘These are your sponsors,’ and they are like, ‘What?’ The word doesn’t even mean anything to them,”   Kantor recounts. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with a Syrian refugee during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on July 1, 2016. 18, 2015. “The strong cultural tradition in Syria is that your kids are really supposed to listen to you. Credit:

Mark Blinch/Reuters

“I’m watching it kind of register for them,” Kantor says, “that these people they don’t know are going to adopt them for a year.”
The relationship between Syrian refugees and their sponsors can get complicated. A third of them got sponsors. Syrian refugees receive winter clothing as they arrive at the Pearson Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, on Dec. Credit:

Chris Wattie/Reuters

  Well, their kids have gotten to Canada, and [the Syrian parents]   say   that their kids are behaving like little lawyers and negotiators, kind of pushing back and questioning every decision, and the parents find it a little funny but also unnerving.”
Syrian refugees elsewhere could soon find themselves in similarly complicated   relationships with host families. These sponsors are ordinary Canadian citizens that have committed to do everything they can to help resettle a refugee family — from providing financial support   to   offering practical support, like helping with groceries, doctor’s appointments   and English lessons. 18, 2015. She’s also been reporting on how they have been building new homes   and starting new lives. Are these Syrian families even in a position to say no to certain things?”

A Syrian refugee holds his daughter as they arrive at the Pearson Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, on Dec. Listen to the full interview. “They find Canadian parenting so different,” she says. Turns out it’s harder than they thought. More than 35,000 thousand   Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 2015. “Imagine going on Google Earth, and trying to find your old house, and not being able to find it because   its   been bombed to smithereens.”Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Credit:

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Parenting is one thing that   refugee families and sponsor families often disagree over, Kantor says.

Germany finds itself in the center of the cyberstorm

Trump commented about Coldplay’s last album?”  
If the creator of such a bot wanted to spend a little time, effort and/or money, Neumann said his simple bot could be built out into an actual social bot army. This type of bot, Neumann explained, would create hashtags related to the president-elect and the band Coldplay. Now, if you just shake this reality, then this whole concept doesn’t work anymore. Germany is facing an unprecedented wave of cyberthreats. “What’s new is that anybody can do it in these social networks,” says Linus Neumann, a spokesman with the German Chaos Computer Club. … “It’s not only bad for democracy, it’s basically shaking the base [of] the whole concept that our democracy is founded on,” he says. And for one final example, German politician Renate Künast of the Green Party was forced to knock down a false quote attributed to her, which made her seem sympathetic to an Afghan migrant suspected of rape and murder. The process is remarkably easy. And it’s not just Russia and America,” Klingbeil adds. And he sketched out how this social media bot would work. Lars Klingbeil is a member of the German parliament from the Social Democratic Party who works on cybersecurity issues. Neumann spent five or 10 minutes downloading an open-source toolkit that helped him get started. It would tweet and re-tweet related stuff, attract followers   and pose leading questions such as, “Why hasn’t Mr. This network of Trump-Coldplay bots could then create exponentially more posts and be all that much more powerful. Credit:

Matthew Bell  

“What we’re seeing now is only the beginning,” Klingbeil says. Frank Hessenland contributed to this report. Klingbeil says other national governments are capable of carrying out large-scale cyberattacks. Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Nowadays, anyone can reach an enormous audience by creating a post on Facebook or Twitter that goes viral. After all, rumors, lies and propaganda have probably been around ever since people could talk. Klingbeil says he is not in favor of creating a government censorship body that would function like an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” But he says companies like Facebook need to be more responsible, and they need to be held accountable. In the interest of journalistic discovery, I asked Neumann if he could create a bot for fun that would, for instance, spread the false notion that Donald Trump enjoys the music of Coldplay. They’re sort of the good guys of the computer-hacking world. Because you can just hijack reality.”  
Neumann is skeptical about government initiatives that would try to stop fake news through censorship. “There is something like an objective outside world. Before that, nearly a million internet routers operated by Deutsche Telekom were taken offline in a malicious hack. If the public learns how to distinguish between reliable reporting and fake news, Neumann says, fake news will lose its power to influence people’s opinions. “That would be a vicious lie and fake news, of course, but we could,” Neumann says. To be clear, I asked Neumann not to unleash this thing into cyberspace for real. They detailed cooperation between German and US intelligence agencies. But it’s also true that the Americans are engaging in cyber-espionage.”
“They were listening to our chancellor’s mobile phone. It’s almost impossible to figure out who is responsible for disseminating this stuff, he says, because it’s so easy to cover your tracks. Social bots can spew forth all manner of content, malicious or otherwise, all by themselves. And here, says Neumann, is where we get to the heart of the threat. He supports new legislation that would impose hefty fines on social media sites if they fail to remove fake news posts quickly. What’s most important, Neumann says, is that people who get their news via social media sites need to be smarter about what they’re looking at. And the fact is, you don’t even have to be human. But it was instructive. The group calls itself Europe’s largest association of hackers. “I think this is a real threat to German democracy,” says Lars Klingbeil, a member of the German parliament with the Social Democratic Party, who works on cybersecurity issues. Early this month, almost 2,500 leaked documents were put online by WikiLeaks. The hope here, of course, would be that this fake information would take on a life of its own in the real world. In addition to the hacking, “there’s the problem of fake news, fake quotes and even fake videos floating around, and people believe this stuff, because they’re losing faith in traditional institutions.”  
Klingbeil says Germany needs new regulations for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. Asked about allegations from US and German intelligence agencies that say the Russians are behind at least some of this cybermalfeasance, Klingbeil says, “We are irritated about Russia influencing the US election campaign. And all these theories of liberal democracy … are founded on the idea that there is a reality. “There used to be some kind of barrier stopping you from reaching, let’s say, national interest with a claim that you make,” Neumann says. In this objective outside world, there are facts. There was a hack into the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union, the party of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. “These are strategic operations. Linus Neumann is with the Chaos Computer Club, a collective of computer hackers based in Berlin. And people are only starting to learn about them now.”
Some of what is going on here, with fake news and digital disinformation campaigns, is nothing new. They’ve been going on for some time.

Many Christian icons are made in China. But these come from Bethlehem.

Almost a decade later, he returned to help restore a church in the nearby Christian Palestinian town of Beit Jala. “If you’re paid $50 a week for the work, you haven’t got any money to buy the best materials, so icons end up being done on the cheap,” Knowles explains. It’s the first of its kind in the Middle East, and he says Bethlehem is its natural home. Vinny Talamas, a young English teacher, is a student here at the center, and he is excited to study with Knowles. Seeing possibilities which are perhaps being overlooked otherwise.”

Ian Knowles founded the Bethlehem Icon Center in 2012. But ever since the Palestinian uprising in the year 2000, it has been devoid of tourists for most of the year. But Knowles wants to help Palestinians do something different, by making a living producing their own religious artwork. “Ian has taught us that it’s primarily how we see reality, and so we’ve been retraining our eyes and part of that is our interior life, too, being more attentive to how we view nature, how we view the human person,” Talamas says. Knowles says his long-term plan is to hand over control of the icon center to a Palestinian director. The idea is not to sell the work in souvenir shops, but to work on commission and sell pieces online, or at the icon center. “I want you to work on a whole face of Jesus,” Knowles tells the class. Bethlehem is the place of the icon.”
Knowles visited this city for the first time in 1999 as a pilgrim. How is this right?” Knowles asks. They commissioned one piece of work for a chapel in Birmingham, England, and this past summer, three students collaborated on another one that sold to a medieval cathedral, also in the UK. “We’re trying to do something which respects local people, respects —   isn’t a colonialist project,” he says. “So, when we do icons, we’re doing them because God has given us the icon of himself, and we can just copy and perpetuate what he’s begun.”
“It should be here in Bethlehem. The street used to be a magnet for pilgrims. That project led him to start teaching iconography in a space he rented from Bethlehem University. They don’t pay tuition, but they do have to bring their own tools. Kwais?” Knowles tells the students, using the Arabic word for “good.”
The face of Jesus, in art-school lingo, is called the Mandylion.  

Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Throughout the course, students learn how to make their own natural dyes for use in paints. They grind stones from around Bethlehem to produce certain colors, and they use egg yolks and vodka to make others. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Knowles founded the center back in 2012. It’s one of the most important images here at the Bethlehem Icon Center, which houses a school, chapel and visitor center. On this day, students Vinny, Khuloud, Joanne and Samar are standing in front of their canvases with pencils in hand. Knowles hopes the center will help change that, and he wants visitors to be able to meet the local Palestinians who produce these icons. Then he got to thinking about building something more permanent. And so you end up with mediocre stuff, which is sold simply to make a bit of money.”  
“It feeds into this whole corrosive attitude that Bethlehem is just about making money from tourists.”

Palestinian students are shown here at work in the Bethlehem Icon Center. “Even people who are very talented don’t have time to invest in their talent, to train.  

Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

The icon center is located in a small refurbished stone building on Star Street, believed by some to be part of the route taken by Mary and Joseph just before the birth of Jesus. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

At the school, students can take one-week courses or even do a three-year program in Christian iconography. “This is sacred art. “The artists, they can’t even feed their children. The economy in Bethlehem, which is only a short drive from Jerusalem, depends heavily on the tourism business. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa   Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Many of the icons in Bethlehem’s tourist shops are cheap knockoffs, imported from places like China or Greece. “OK? Here is Ian Knowles (center) working with some of his Palestinian students at the Bethlehem Icon Center. This is Bethlehem, there’s a spiritual imperative which says you don’t act in this way.”
Bethlehem is not a desperately poor place, but the unemployment rate here is about 20 percent, which is the highest in the West Bank. Ian Knowles was first captivated by Christian icons as a teenager, during a trip to Greece. “It’s a place where they can learn, they can ask questions, they can interact with the people doing it,” Knowles says. “It’s just me sharing a few skills I have. Some of Knowles’ art students have already shown signs of being business savvy. “He supplements that with a lot of theology and even some anatomy in a way of bringing out the fullness of what iconography is.”

Students learn how to make egg tempera, a kind of paint, using egg yolk, vodka, water and some natural pigments. These days, the 54-year-old British expert on religious art is busy working with Palestinian art students in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, helping them learn an ancient style of iconography. “This is the place where you get the first physical image of God ever in history,” says Knowles. “And it becomes a living relationship between the pilgrims and the people who live here.”

In Orthodox Churches, the image of the face of Jesus is known as a Mandylion.

What it’s like to be the victim of a Russian online smear campaign

— and as I’m not running for president, frankly who cares. There was no way to correct the stories —   to whom would I complain? Elements of it could have been lifted out of a spy novel, but the basic idea was quite simple: In the wake of the invasion of Crimea, when I was writing quite a bit about Ukraine, nasty little articles about me started appearing on Russia-based websites. We talked with Warsaw-based journalist Anne Applebaum about what it’s like to be   on the receiving end of a personal fake news attack. But it was eye-opening to watch the stories move through a well-oiled system, one that had been constructed for exactly this sort of purpose. That’s in part because of disinformation designed to confuse the news consumer. And yet no one was really outraged until now. We were told in October that material subsequently passed on to WikiLeaks came from the same source. Once you have understood its power, you stop laughing. Why? You can read the rest of Applebaum’s column   at The Washington Post. It’s getting harder to tell. The technique was the same as that used by people who later dressed up the stories from the emails of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta: mix truth and lies — my book contract and royalties were described as mysterious income from questionable sources — make ludicrous claims, pass on the lies to other Russian-backed websites, and then watch them pass it on again. If I was slightly ahead of the curve, it’s only because I saw it firsthand. I have a theory: Until you have seen for yourself how 21st-century disinformation works, you laugh at the very idea of it. A couple of years ago, I was the focus of a smear campaign. Here’s an excerpt from her recent column in The Washington Post:  
We were told in June that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by Russians. The process finally peaked in November 2015, when WikiLeaks — out of the blue — tweeted one of the articles to its 4 million followers … What’s true and what’s not? Eventually the articles about me were echoed or quoted in a dozen places: on quasi-respectable websites with ties to Russian business, on Russia Today, and on pro-Russian American websites like Ron Paul’s Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Numerous articles were written about these leaks and about Donald Trump’s many Russian connections.

Food has played an important role in America’s social justice movements

“It’s the way to hold on to the memory of our ancestors, stay connected to family and our Southern traditions, all while changing the diet and feeding the soldiers.”
The topic of food and its role in social justice movements has also become a focus of arts organizations. Bendele is determined to instill the concept of down-home global vegan cooking as a way to teach African Americans that eating healthy is not a rejection of black soul food culture, but a healthy alternative. At a shared co-op kitchen near downtown Detroit, Nezza Bendele chops, mixes and bakes. She says she feels she has to do this work. Members of the Black Panther Party organized one of the first school breakfast programs in the country. “Workers tell me, ‘I used to have a family, I used to have a home, Thanksgiving used to be at my house, I had all the things people had in the ’70s and ’80s.’”
He admits that the food he cooks isn’t a fix to inequality, lost jobs or lower wages, but it is a commitment to supporting activists and people in their own struggle — that, he says, is the essence of any social movement. Mama Myrtle Curtis, a co-founder of a nonprofit that provides monthly classes on how to cook delicious, local, seasonal food, was the presenter. She says that “recent food movements   are usually formed by white people with economic means,” which means discussion of food and agricultural movements are constructed and publicized mostly by white folks. In the 1950s and ’60s, black women played a significant role in the advancement of colored people. Some “urban-ag” leaders like Curtis have focused exclusively on nurturing African Americans to grow their own food and be leaders in food justice and food security in Detroit. “Cooking and eating food is what we do as people, it’s where important discussions around politics, justice and humanity happens.” She made fresh biscuits with plantain syrup. Food and justice. Bendele is part of Detroit’s racial equity movement, but instead of protesting, her work is in the kitchen. “As Napoleon said, an army marches on its stomach,” he says. “They need energy,” she says of the activists. Bendele regularly cooks at organizing events and social justice gatherings. She’s cooking for an event for social activists who fight mass shutoffs, tax foreclosures and the unequal distribution of large swaths of land.  
Dorceta Taylor is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. Curtis’ work is about cooking, but her greatest emphasis is on growing fresh, healthy food — a central premise of black advancement. “[White folks] don’t have language around food inequality and resist to understand how access to food ties to structural inequality.”  
“For blacks and Native Americans, links to food go back to the slave days when we did not have sovereignty,” says Taylor. “If our community is not healthy, we can’t keep fighting,” she says. Unions were instrumental in creating the black middle class in Detroit, and the concerted effort to dismantle labor unions in the last two decades has left workers in economic disaster. “We have to change the way the folks think about food and how it’s rooted in food justice and food sovereignty,” says Curtis. One of the main topics? “In the beginning, [there] were huge meals for about 1,000 people,” says Rehberg. “We have something to contribute in our food,” says Rehberg. Newly refurbished buildings, a Whole Foods grocery store and bars with $12 cocktails surround the once vibrant urban space. The Charles H. Home cooks and backdoor restaurants fueled the activists marching for change.  
“Georgia Gilmore was one of many women who, when their employers found out they were in the movement, was fired,” says Frederick Opie, a professor of history and foodways at Babson College and author of the book, “Southern Food and Civil Rights.” “Women like Gilmore competitively cooked and baked goods to sell to black and white folks, and used the money to keep the Civil Rights Movement alive.”
Opie says food is a critical component to activism. Cooperatives like Wobbly Kitchen are providing homemade meals for Detroit’s “forgotten workers” — manufacturing employees who once had a decent standard of living and now live in poverty.  
A breakout session was held in the kitchen of the museum, instead of a conference room. “They get to decide what the movement is,” says Taylor. She says women like Bendele and Curtis are changing the current discourse around justice and food. Wright Museum of African American History and ArtChangeUS, a program of the California Institute of the Arts, recently held a conference in Detroit. “If there is no food, the movement will end.”
In Oakland, California, in 1968, the Black Panthers were pioneers of the Free Breakfast movement. Although multimillion-dollar development projects are a short, walking distance away, the park is still a gathering place for the city’s low-income community. The park sits in the middle of two of the most developed neighborhoods in Detroit. The collective is made up of former union members who began cooking during a contentious Detroit newspaper strike from July 1995 to February 1997. “You can’t fight a revolution if you’re hungry or malnourished.”
A black, vegan chef for more than three decades, Bendele is using her knowledge to nutritiously feed the community. She does it with the ease of someone who has long mastered the art of being in a kitchen.  
From Standing Rock to Occupy Wall Street, food has long had a prominent role in justice movements. About a mile from the Wright Museum, Jim Rehberg from the Wobbly Kitchen collective, hosts biweekly Sunday meals in Cass Park. “Our community can’t reach its full potential if we are eating Hot Cheetos for breakfast.”
Yet her commitment to cooking and teaching about healthy food doesn’t come without opposition. “We want to get people back in the kitchen and away from fast food.” Fast food chains disproportionately target black children, and community elders say this is as important as water shutoffs. “We live in a city that had thousands and thousand of jobs,” says Rehberg. Bendele says “African Americans can be resistant to my food because eating soul food is a way to stay connected to culture and heritage.”
Soul food is connected to historical events and has social significance.

UN Security Council postpones vote on Israeli settlements

Diplomats said it could happen on Friday. “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed,” the Republican said in a statement. A similar resolution was vetoed by the United States in 2011, and it remained unclear whether Washington would take a different approach this time, possibly abstaining to allow the measure to pass, but without US support. The report was to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014. Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations described the proposed measure as the “peak of hypocrisy” arguing that it will “only reward the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror.”
The measure calls for “immediate steps” to prevent acts of violence against civilians, but does not specifically single out the Palestinians to stop incitement, as demanded by Israel. Under Netanyahu’s government, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone. “This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” Trump added. Israeli settlements are seen as major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. The United States joined the European Union, the United Nations and Russia in calling for a halt to Jewish settlements in a report released in October by the so-called diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East. Obama’s administration has expressed mounting anger over Israeli settlement policy and speculation has grown that he could launch a final initiative before leaving. “We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the council,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement. The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months. France set January 15 as the date for an international conference to re-launch the peace process and “reaffirm the necessity of having two states,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said. The move prompted immediate calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the United States to use its veto power at the Security Council to block the resolution. The text stresses that halting settlements was “essential for salvaging the two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground.”
UN diplomats have for weeks speculated as to whether the administration of President Barack Obama would decide to refrain from using its veto to defend its closest ally in the Middle East. Trump, who campaigned on a promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said in a statement that Washington should use its veto to block the resolution. The UN Security Council on Thursday postponed a vote on a draft resolution demanding that Israel halt its settlement activities as President-elect Donald Trump weighed in and said the United States should veto the measure. Egypt requested the delay to allow time for consultations, but no new time or date for the vote was scheduled. Saving the two-state solution
The draft resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” that would see an independent state of Palestine co-exist alongside Israel. Trump has chosen as ambassador to Israel the hardliner David Friedman, a man who has said Washington will not pressure Israel to curtail settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Egypt circulated the draft late Wednesday and a vote was initially scheduled for Thursday. Some in the Israeli government view Trump’s victory as an opportunity to expand settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian land occupied by Israel for nearly 50 years. “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” he said.

Nigeria seizes shipment of fake plastic rice as food prices soar

A suspect has been arrested over the haul of 102 bags of the fake   rice, which officials warned Wednesday was dangerous for human consumption. “We have done a preliminary analysis of the plastic   rice. Nigeria has seized over 100 bags of plastic   rice smuggled into the country, where prices of the staple food are rocketing ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Nigeria has banned   rice   imports as it seeks to boost local production. Its   cost   is more than double   what it was in December last year. Haruna said the plastic   rice   was to be sold ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities, with the price for the popular Nigerian staple hitting the roof because of galloping inflation. Nigeria’s inflation stood at 18.5 percent in November, its 13th consecutive monthly rise, driven by higher food prices. They are suspected to have been smuggled or illegally shipped in from China through Lagos port, a senior customs official in Nigeria’s commercial hub told AFP. The bags, branded “Best Tomato   Rice,”   had no date of manufacture and were intercepted Monday in the Ikeja area of the sprawling city, the official said on condition of anonymity. The customs service has sent the fake   rice   to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for further analysis. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it,” Ikeja area customs controller Mohammed Haruna was quoted as saying.

The Syrian army says they have fully retaken Aleppo

“The last four buses carrying terrorists and their families arrived in Ramussa,” a district south of Aleppo controlled by government forces, the channel said. The evacuation agreement was brokered by Russia, which launched air strikes in support of Assad’s regime last year, and Turkey, which has supported some rebel groups. The announcement came shortly after state television reported that the last convoy carrying rebels and civilians had left eastern Aleppo. “Thanks to the blood of our martyrs and the sacrifices of our valiant armed forces as well as allied forces … The Syrian army announced on Thursday that the country’s second city Aleppo has been fully recaptured from rebel fighters, the government’s biggest victory in the nearly six-year civil war. the general command of the armed forces announces the return of security to Aleppo after its release from terrorism and terrorists, and the departure of those who stayed there,” the army said in a statement. The United Nations said it had deployed observers to monitor the final evacuations, under a Security Council resolution adopted on Monday. Ahmed Qorra Ali, an official with the rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, confirmed that “the last convoy has left the rebel-controlled area.”
Earlier, the Red Cross said that more than 4,000 fighters had left rebel-held areas of the city in the “last stages” of the evacuation. Rebel forces, who seized control of east Aleppo in 2012, agreed to withdraw from the bastion after a month-long army offensive that drove them from more than 90 percent of their former territory.

How to save forests? Run them like a business, says this former Wall Street man.

The government owns it. The World Bank estimates the fires cost the country about $16 billion. And just last month, the Katingan Project got its final major government permit. “All pioneers, they either make it or they don’t make it. I’m still very optimistic that we will make it.”
Hartono hopes to finally start selling carbon credits next year. Then there’s the science: Measuring the carbon stored in the company’s 600 square miles of peat forest took two years, and then the methodology had to be verified by an independent carbon credit certification body called the VCS. “It has almost been nine years and we are still not making revenue. These patrols are popular in the villages that border the protected area. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

A big criticism of projects like Hartono’s is that they cut forests off from the people who’ve lived in and worked them for generations. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

But though Hartono says he’s been gaining the trust of communities year by year, his company has yet to make any money off of carbon credits. “I thought that in two years, we should be selling credits,” Hartono says. “Unlike the typical mineral soil,” Hartono says, “peat soil is actually dead wood, leaves and logs that become part of the soil.”

A fire tower on the southern edge of a protected area in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia helps fire patrols spot smoke. “It’s about, how can we provide livelihoods for communities so therefore they don’t cut the forest. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Some see it as a test case for the kind of large, for-profit conservation projects needed to help slow global warming. “This makes life more difficult,” he says, “because I don’t have any income from it anymore. In the wet season, they clear firebreaks and build look-out posts. Wildfires in Indonesia last year cloaked huge parts of the country in black smoke for months. They use the forest like their families have for generations: They log it, they burn it, and they drain it for agriculture.  
“He came to me with this idea [that] you can actually protect rainforest and make money out of it,” Hartono says. He grew up in Indonesia but went to college and business school in New York. All I can do now is fish.”
“For young people who get jobs with [the Katingan Project], its impact is quite positive,” Masdansyah says. So Hartono set up the Katingan Project with his college friend-turned-business partner Kusumaatmadja, to capitalize on the emerging market. For a businessman used to the lightning-fast pace of Wall Street, that’s been difficult. “It would emit about 6 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent,” Hartono says. “Showing that a project like this can work and at the same time be financially viable is essential to being able to scale up and do this on multiple continents.”  
Balancing the needs of people and the forest
Saving the forest isn’t as easy as simply buying up land and not cutting down the trees, as Hartono has learned in the nine years since he started the Katingan Project. They create jobs and help prevent wildfires that destroy crops like rubber trees and pineapple plants. “Which is in this case close to about 5 million cars a year.”
Hartono’s job is to prevent that from happening. “We welcome the Katingan Project,” says a man named Bahrudin, the secretary of a village that borders the protected land. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

The layers of wood and decomposing leaves create a forest floor so thick it bounces when Hartono steps on it. About 43,000 people live in dozens of villages surrounding the project’s land. “The more I learned, the story’s actually not about the climate change,” Hartono says. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Under broiling tropical sun, small teams patrol the borders of the protected area, looking for wisps of smoke that are the only evidence of huge underground fires. The haze kept kids from school and caused a spike in respiratory problems. “This is the risk of being a pioneer,” Hartono says. “Suddenly my JP Morgan head blipped and said, ‘This is just like real estate,” Hartono says. Now that the land is inside the Katingan Project boundaries, he can’t farm the way he used to. If I would have known that this was going to be this complex, I would have walked away.”
Hartono attributes the slow start to the fact that this type of project is so new in Indonesia. Conflict over land tenure complicates conservation plans
The Katingan Project manages the land. The combination of new conservation laws and the presence of the Katingan Project has cut people off from what they consider to be their land. He did a stint on Wall Street, working in real estate for JP Morgan. Fire patrol leader Mohlazin clears a fire break near the Katingan Project’s protected area. “He gives people a platform to talk about what they want for their community, and then helps them work toward it.”
The key to conservation is in the people, not the land  
Hartono himself says he started this business focused on carbon credits and climate change. “But for old men like me, life is more difficult.”

Dharsono Hartono, far left, speaks at a community meeting in a village bordering the Katingan Project’s protected area in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.   
“When there’s no water, you can just throw a match and they’ll just catch fire,” Hartono says of peat forests. Indonesian conservationists say the slow launch of Hartono’s carbon credit project has allowed him to work closely with community members to develop alternatives to slash and burn agriculture and logging. Hartono knows that all over Indonesia, this carbon-rich type of forest is being burned or cleared for palm oil or paper pulp plantations. “We’re happy.”
Bahrudin and many of his neighbors are rubber farmers, and a big fire last year wiped out some of his village’s crop. “If you manage it properly, there will be value, there will be appreciation, you can make money out of it.”
The idea of making money on forest preservation was relatively new in 2007, but it was about to take off. Getting the right government permits has been a bureaucratic nightmare. But other parts of the Katingtan Project’s fire control plan are more controversial. It signaled that national governments may soon start buying carbon credits to offset their countries’ pollution. But when he looks down from the fire tower with his businessman’s eye, Hartono is more interested in the soil than anything he could plant in it. If that happened on his land, one wayward spark could cost Hartono’s company millions. “Now I can’t do anything with my land,” says a man named Masdansyah, who lives in a riverside village built on stilts and boardwalks. Read more here. All those decomposing plants contain lots of carbon, which means peat forests store more greenhouse gases than a regular tropical rainforest. An unlikely conservationist
Hartono doesn’t have the background of a typical conservationist.  
His company won’t be the first to sell carbon credits based on forest protection — forest carbon was an $88 million   industry last year — but Hartono’s is one of the largest and most ambitious projects of its kind in the world. He used to harvest trees and burn a plot of land   for farming outside of town. If the forest in front of Hartono were converted to plantations like much of Borneo already has been, tons of carbon would be freed from the soil and released into the atmosphere, where it would contribute to global warming. But because it’s taken nearly a decade for Hartono to launch his business, some in the Indonesian conservation community say he’s put in the time to make sure local communities don’t get left behind when their backyards are converted into protected areas. A coconut farmer in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan climbs a tree to harvest coconut nectar that will be made into sugar. So he’s set up fire patrols in 19 villages surrounding Katingan Project land. Hartono is good at asking questions, and is just as comfortable talking to local farmers about their new cover crops as he is talking with investors. This story is part of The World’s Fighting for Forests series from Indonesia. And that is a problem. A big UN meeting in Indonesia that same year flagged forest preservation as a key way to fight climate change. They don’t burn the forest.”
Along with hiring people for fire patrols, the Katingan Project is teaching farmers alternatives to slash and burn agriculture and trying to develop a coconut sugar industry in one town bordering the protected area. He is the CEO and co-founder of the Katingan Project, which manages 600 square miles of land in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. Anything that could prevent another blaze has his approval. “We need to show that projects like this can work at very large scale,” says Alex Lord, project manager at Permian Global, an investment firm backing the Katingan Project. Hartono was back in Indonesia by 2007, when an old Cornell friend named Rezal Kusumaatmadja approached him with the idea of protecting forests for a profit. But some residents in the surrounding towns have long considered portions of it theirs in a traditional land tenure system. That certification finally came through in October this year. “Dharsono knows how to approach the people, he listens to people’s needs,” says Happy Rezkiana, a regional environmental official in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. And to make sure his company turns a profit along the way.  
The project aims to protect the peat forest, then sell carbon credits based on the amount of greenhouse gasses they can keep sequestered in the ground. The sun is just starting to dip toward the horizon in Indonesian Borneo, and Dharsono Hartono is standing on a fire tower, looking out over a peat forest falling into shadow.

Southeast Asia is experiencing a thrilling wave of species discovery

Another “Klingon Newt” resting by the Thai-Myanmar border. But they no longer have to reach its shores via creaky sailboats. “Not many people would immediately notice [the Klingon newt] if they came across it in the forest. “There are still a lot of unexplored areas,” says Jimmy Borah, a Southeast Asia-based program manager with the World Wildlife Fund. “But if you look deeply, you’d be surprised by how many species you can find,” Borah says. (Researchers have already dubbed it the “Ziggy Stardust” snake.)

Researchers call this recently found creature the “Ziggy Stardust” snake. Ideally, the Klingon newt will persevere — but if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be the first creature to get wiped out within a mere decade of its discovery. As the term “sixth extinction” suggests, there were five others in the past. They might say, ‘This snake has a rainbow on its head so that’ll give you power.’ It’s pretty easy to convince consumers.”
At this point, there’s no way of knowing how many Klingon newts or Ziggy Stardust snakes are wriggling around Southeast Asia. Humans clock in around 30 percent. The world’s scientists know that places such as Madagascar, for example, are rife with undocumented creatures. The newt’s toes and tail are creamsicle orange, a striking contrast to its ochre-brown torso. Its head is shaped like a hexagon. In fact, if you exclude small critters, most hot-blooded creatures standing on the Earth’s surface live their entire lives in captivity. Credit:

Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund. They’re severely outnumbered by domesticated animals such as dogs and chickens. Credit:

Wikimedia Commons/Penprapa Wut

This is not just an Asian phenomenon. Researchers aren’t certain how many species go extinct each year; after all, we don’t know how many we haven’t yet discovered. But they do know it’s highly sensitive to man-made poisons in the form of pesticides. Now it’s among a wave of species discovered in and around the Mekong River. “Whenever a new species is discovered,” Borah says, “illegal wildlife traders will think, ‘Oh, there’s a new species here. This pace is owed in large part to technology: online archiving, precision DNA tests and cheap flights to remote lands. Centuries after we began cataloging plants and animals in earnest, humans are still finding loads of new ones. Researchers such as Borah also worry about another human threat: jungle poachers. Credit:

Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund

This type of creature would be easy to market within a global illicit wildlife trade — centered in Asia — that rakes in an estimated $10 billion per year. Thanks to humans, much of the planet’s sentient life is now narrowed down to a band of lifeforms that we like to eat. Or rather, a Klingon’s forehead that somehow sprouted tiny limbs. It dwells near the Thai-Myanmar border in a province called Chiang Rai. Scientists don’t know much about the newt at this point. Many ecologists believe the world is now suffering through the “sixth extinction,” a catastrophic mass death of species. Yet they’re pitted against humanity’s destructive hand in a race to catalogue as many species as possible before they’re eradicated. “Whenever a new species is discovered,” Borah says, “it becomes easy for poachers to throw out some new superstitious idea. Until recently, this creature — full name, tylototriton anguliceps — was one of them. Harari puts it succinctly: “Homo Sapiens has rewritten the rules of the game. This single ape species has managed within 70,000 years to change the global ecosystem in radical and unprecedented ways.”
So what does all this mean for creatures like the little Klingon newt? Those catastrophes were caused by ice ages and asteroids. But the river is, in fact, a great giver of life — much of it slithering. According to the macro-historian Yuval Noah Harari, livestock accounts for roughly 60 percent of the Earth’s biomass, at least when it comes to animals larger than a few pounds. Maybe we can sell it for our own profit.’”
He cites the example of a snake, recently discovered in Laos, with brilliant irridescent colors shimmering on its head. Scientists trudging through the Greater Mekong region are finding a surprising number of previously uncatalogued species. Actually spotting new creatures means sticking your nose in rotting logs or checking under rocks — both choice hangouts for the Klingon lizard. For biologists, tracking down and identifying new species is easier than ever before. But this one is brought on by human activity. Wild animals? The sort of creatures usually evoked by the word “wild animal” — say, a tiger or a fox — are increasingly hard to find. All together, the creature looks remarkably like a Klingon. In fact, in a good year, we can rack up as many as 20,000 newly discovered species. Most people would think, ‘Oh, it’s just a lizard.’ But there are people looking for new species that can spot all kinds of morphological differences.”
Scientists who hunt new species are enjoying what some environmentalists call a “golden age of discovery.” When it comes to wildlife preservation — often a horribly depressing subject — this is a rare bit of upbeat news. Maybe 10 percent. At this point, neither are fully protected by the core international treaties that attempt to protect wildlife from smugglers. Its causes are varied but involve climate change, deforestation, poaching and industrial farming. The jungles of Southeast Asia are teeming with undiscovered species. But some estimates suggest the planet loses 150 per day. “There’s a lot of energy involved in finding new species,” Borah says. But its defining feature is a craggy ridge of bones along its back and skull. But don’t get too comfortable. In the minds of many Americans, the river recalls death; its delta region saw gruesome battles following the US invasion of Vietnam. “We’re finding more than two per week.”

A 2011 map of the Mekong River, highlighting its fertile delta.

How a major American museum gave its exhibits a dye job — for authenticity’s sake

In the next year, the team will host a workshop on retreating mammal hair, designed for museum professionals and other conservators who care for historic taxidermy. As an aid to their inquiry, the team acquired a time-traveling device of sorts: an accelerated aging chamber, which artificially speeds up the toll that time would naturally take on an object. “We’re coming up with ways of representing what we’ve found — different visual representations of how to ‘rank the dyes’” based on how lightfast they are, Ritchie says. For example, in the bison exhibit, “the painted specimens and the background were still nice and brown, [but] then the taxidermy specimens had faded to about a blond color,” Ritchie says.  

Fran Ritchie inspecting dyed quartz plates in front of the accelerated aging chamber. They applied different dye solutions onto quartz plates — which are inert, durable, and optically pure — and then placed the plates into the chamber and blasted them with the “equivalent of three suns’ worth of energy,” says Ritchie. To that end, they’re mixing the dyes with a variety of solvents—including acetone, ethanol, and isopropanol—to find out which combinations are the most stable after airbrushing onto animal hair. The museum conservators found that if they mixed these powdered dyes with a solvent but left out the binder, they produced a lightfast (that is, fade-resistant) medium that looked natural when airbrushed onto hair.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH/F.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH Natural Science Conservation

The new bulbs revealed one glaring problem in particular concerning the taxidermied animals, some of which had been on display since 1942: Their scientific accuracy was quite literally   fading away. “We’re hoping this will tell us whether hair makes a good dye go bad — if a lightfast dye becomes a non-lightfast dye due to hair interaction,” Ritchie says. “Of course, in nature, animals are different colors. Commercial dyes generally require a lot of water, which can warp the skin, and acrylic paints make the hair feel matted and stiff, she says. Then they’ll use a spectrophotometer to measure how much light the hair transmits or reflects (faded dye won’t reflect as much light). The team’s main objective is to test and rank the metal complex dyes by their lightfastness. Using these dyes, the AMNH completed the renovation of the Hall of North American Mammals in 2012. Such   chemicals consist of dye molecules and a   transition metal   ion, like chromium, copper, or cobalt (the ion makes the dye soluble so that it can react with fiber). The bison diorama, before and after re-dyeing, in the Hall of North American Mammals. “You really need to know how materials will degrade over time, how they’ll interact with each other over time, and what can be the most stable so that you don’t risk harming your precious object by something that you did to it.”
This story was first published by Science Friday with Ira Flatow. The conservators weren’t sure how long the dyes would last before the animals would have to be re-treated, however. That’s when museum conservators realized that their displays could use a makeover. Ritchie

By the time the project wraps up next fall, the team hopes to have collected enough data to inform the creation of a set of openly accessible best practices for retreating mammal taxidermy in museums in the future. “I liken it to when you do renovations or re-do your living room in your own home, and you might replace the blinds or the couch, and then when you do that, you realize you should really take a look at everything else,” says Fran Ritchie, a project conservator at the museum. The team is now moving on to a second phase of testing, which will involve   spraying the most promising dyes onto white deer hair and exposing those samples to the aging chamber. After that, the conservators plan to spray dye onto bison hair, stick those samples into the chamber, and then use a Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy machine to see if the dye degrades the hair. They also compared the aged plates to dyed swatches exposed to the museum lights, to better determine what the real-time equivalent is to a stint in the aging chamber. Finnin

Using the machine, conservators have already completed an initial phase of testing, which entailed studying   how the dyes weather on their own, before being sprayed onto hair. The museum   found its solution in metal complex dyes, which are often used in printing inks. It’s possible that these standards might become a sort of protocol for recoloring and retreatment practices for natural history museums as well as art institutions, says Ritchie.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH/D.  

Project intern Caitlin Richeson preparing fur cup samples using fox hair. The chamber is equipped with three xenon arc lamps that mimic daylight, and settings for adjusting the relative humidity and temperature inside. But there is a certain point where it gets out of the natural realm of that species, and that’s the point that the museum had reached.”
Reviving the color of the animals’ fur would require a more tailored approach than historic restoration methods. “There’s very little published information about this, and so we’re really hoping to contribute to the field of art conservation in general through this project,” Ritchie says. In 2011, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City changed out the light bulbs illuminating the dioramas in the Hall of North American Mammals in an effort to conserve energy. To find out, they partnered with the Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in 2013, bringing together a team of conservators, scientists, and consulting taxidermists, with additional support from curators and exhibition staff. Just like humans, their hair color can vary. In the past, museum taxidermists might have used acrylic paint or commercial dyes like those found in the drugstore, but such products would be harmful to the fragile hide of their mounted specimens, Ritchie explains.

How Putin has created the mirage of media pluralism in Russia

 
These developments have been especially troubling given the state of other media options in Russia. He says Timchenko was replaced with a new editor-in-chief, “who was known to be, so-to-speak, the Kremlin’s guy.”
Those still working inside Russia have had many more difficulties, says Gorbachev.  
Gorbachev says there are any number of ways journalists are under threat — “either through your business, like hurting your business — your media business — or the primary business of your owner. America Abroad   is an award-winning documentary radio program that takes an in-depth look at one critical issue in international affairs and US   foreign policy every month.  
“The internet is still relatively free. If you want, if I could use the expression nourishing of civil society, the democratic idea, democratic culture, ideas that would be useful in public policy for opposition parties and politicians, either not so much or he who pursues those courses runs afoul of authorities and can be pressured, intimidated   or end up in jail.”
Anne Garrels, a former NPR foreign correspondent, says it’s still possible to find independent news online but it comes with a few big caveats. It’s a very effective way of dealing with it.”
But despite these risks, Gorbachev notes   that there are still some journalists doing good work. Not at all like the Soviet Union, lots on offer. He has decided that mass media is very important in Russia, television.   
“Putin is not the leader of the Soviet Union and that is meant in more ways than one. This is not a communist totalitarian state in a pre-high-tech era where he could block, and jam, and manage, and control the information space. What he’s done is he’s created the image or the idea of pluralism.”
Still, Gedmin says print publications are limited in their scope of coverage. In Russia, while some direct censorship does occur, a bigger issue is self-censorship; people are afraid of the ramifications of writing or saying something that may offend the government. It was founded in 2014 by Galina Timchenko, the former head of lenta.ru, one of Russia’s biggest news websites. He notes in November, Igor Sechin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of the state-owned oil company Rosneft, won a high-profile lawsuit against the Russian newspaper Vedomosti. But what has he done?  

A screenshot of the article in the Russian newspaper Vedomosti   about Igor Sechin, says in Russian, “Material removed by the court.”  

Credit:

Screenshot  

Gorbachev considers the verdict against Vedomosti   an affront to all Russian journalists. Or through direct censorship, blocking some websites or demanding some websites that, for example, they delete articles because of privacy violations.”
Meduza covers Russian politics from Latvia, outside the reach of the Russian government. Gorbachev notes that if Sechin, one of the most powerful men in the country, can hide behind libel laws, that makes it nearly impossible to hold accountable any of Russia’s elite. Timchenko was fired following Lenta’s publication of an interview with a Ukrainian far-right nationalist leader, which included a link to a profile that a media regulator said promoted “ethnic hatred.” Gorbachev was also working at Lenta at the time. Sechin was incensed that the paper published a story about an expensive country house he owns.  
“I think I painted a pretty grim picture, I wouldn’t say that it’s as grim as it may seem. You can follow them on   Facebook, talk to them on   Twitter, and subscribe to their   weekly newsletter   for updates. There are, not many, but, a bunch of very good independent news organizations in Russia, like newspapers, websites that do investigative stuff, dig things about corruption and power abuse.”
The question remains, how long will these organizations be able to last? There are discussions there, but anybody who begins to become too popular, who begins to challenge the authorities in a real way, will certainly find himself under threat, usually by the tax police. He says that because much of television and radio is state-run, print is one of the last bastions of independent journalism. 41. Freedom of the press is a right ingrained in Americans. The US was No. According to Reporters Without Borders, in 2016 Russia ranked 148 out of 180 nations in terms of press freedom. In Russia, press freedoms can’t be taken for granted. He has decided that small print publications with modest circulation where intellectuals publish is less important, tolerate that a little bit.  
“There ain’t much to it when you scratch the surface because, in Russia, if you want to have information about cars, or sports, or fashion, or entertainment, or travel, there’s lots of it. The court found the article violated Sechin’s right to privacy and not only ordered the online article removed but also demanded all surviving copies of the newspaper containing the article be destroyed. He   and many of his colleagues quit their jobs after Timchenko’s firing, because they felt they would not be allowed to be independent. “The Russian judicial system is pretty much very corrupted and mostly controlled by the government,” says Gorbachev. “It’s harder than before to practice independent journalism, just because there are a lot of ways that the government can basically confront you,” says Aleksandr Gorbachev, features editor at Meduza, an independent news outlet. Jeffrey Gedmin is a nonresident senior fellow for the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Germany struggles with the issue of deportations

Schuster says another thing migrants can do to avoid deportation is relocate to a more liberal jurisdiction within Germany, such as Berlin, where authorities are reluctant to put people on the path to quick deportation.  

Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Deporting people from Germany can appear to be extremely slow, costly and complicated. “When you look at the German mentality, on one side there is great humanity and respect for people’s well-being,” Schuster says. Wasem said that doesn’t mean, however, that the prison is not a necessary part of the overall immigration system. “You have to look at every single case,” Wasem says. This means an estimated 550,000 people living across the country right now are facing deportation orders. “What would we do if we were born somewhere else?”  

Peter Wasem says Germany is only beginning to seriously discuss immigration and what to do about hundreds of thousands of people facing possible deportation. “It’s important in a liberal, constitutional country to see every single case and make sure that there is no inhumanity. Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Peter Wasem knows about deportation. “But on the other hand, Germans value order, discipline and law.”  
“You can’t deny this. While it has the   capacity for 100 prisoners, only 12 people were being held there on the day that I visited. “Of course you have to deport,” Wasem says. The far-right Alternative for Germany party — or AfD, as it’s known — is already making political hay out of the immigration issue. These critics say Afghanistan is too dangerous for Germany to be sending people there. “But we have to make sure that those who need support, need our help, who need to stay here because they would be killed or tortured in their home countries, [that they] stay here.”  
“We are talking about human beings,” he adds. “Because if you don’t deport [anyone], no one is leaving voluntarily.”  
Even if the prison was entirely empty, he says it would still serve the important purpose: “To show [that] you are confident about the deportation [system], that you are strong.”  

The prison at the Eisenhüttenstadt Refugee Center can hold up to 100 prisoners, but it has been mostly empty   in recent months. They also offered a reward of more $100,000 for information leading to his arrest. And many of them are still receiving public assistance. If migrants lose or throw away their identity papers, that can make it difficult to identify them and have them sent out of the country. Last week, for instance, when authorities put about 50 Afghans on a charter flight to Afghanistan, protesters showed up at the Frankfurt airport. If people become sick, pregnant   or they injure themselves just before their deportation date, that can put the process on hold. This fact is going to fuel an already intense debate about the large number of people who have entered Germany recently and failed to win official permission to stay in the country as refugees. But others see the problem differently. Wasem is the director of the deportation prison in Eisenhüttenstadt, about 80 miles east of Berlin, which handles immigration cases for the German state of Brandenburg. The terrorism suspect had reportedly applied for asylum in Germany but had been rejected, and was facing a deportation order. AfD supporters say this week’s deadly attack in Berlin was a direct result of Merkel’s lax policies on immigration. That takes time, and you always have cases where you [must] decide you can’t deport them right now.”  
At the current pace, it would take decades for Germany to deport the bulk of those people in the country facing deportation orders. One segment of the German public argues that stepping up the pace of deportations would be a mistake. But as someone who actually carries out deportations, Wasem says there is one thing that he hopes the German public will keep in mind. They would point to the fact that 12,000 people from Afghanistan residing in Germany have been given deportation orders. But the prison that Wasem runs is mostly empty. But he says numerous hurdles for deporting people whose applications for asylum have been rejected will remain in place. But in the first half of this year, only 18 were deported. Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. In 2016, Wasem says his staff has helped deport about 170 people and facilitated about 500 voluntary departures. About a million people have entered Germany in the last one to two years, and more than half of them have had their applications for asylum rejected. PRI.org

Authorities said they were looking for Anis Amri, a Tunisian man in his 20s who could be armed and dangerous. Peter Wasem, head of deportation at the Eisenhüttenstadt Refugee Center, gives a tour of the prison used to hold deportees. And if you ignore the law, it creates great tension in German society.”  
Schuster is working on a plan to tighten security and immigration procedures along Germany’s borders. German police went public on Wednesday with the name of their main suspect in Monday’s truck attack that killed 12 people and injured nearly 50 more at a Christmas market in west Berlin. For many Germans, one detail about Amri’s story will jump out: his immigration status. But Wasem says there are some good reasons for that. “We need to make sure that those who are harming us, those who are not supposed to be here, [they] need to leave the country,” Wasem says. “It can’t stay that way,” says Armin Schuster, a member of the German parliament from the Christian Democratic Union, the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit:

Shane McMillan   “There needs to be a more honest political discussion about what to do” with these hundreds of thousands of people, Schuster says.

Why Montreal has a Charlie Brown Christmas tree

PRI.org

In fact, it was supposed to rival the Christmas tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center. It was supposed to be Canada’s tallest Christmas tree.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. pic.twitter.com/5Cph8IACdc
— Adrian Speyer (@adrianspeyer) December 11, 2016
“It’s quite bent and obviously missing a lot of branches,” New York Times   Canada correspondent Ian Austen said. Montreal’s ugly Charlie Brown Xmas tree isn’t so bad at night, but a bit lopsided. He wrote about the tree’s shortcomings. I think it’s awesome. “It was a classic story of over-ambition and lack of money,” says Austen. A giant balsam fir tree in the Canadian city of Montreal is being compared to that   classic Charlie Brown Christmas tree. #KissMeImUgly #Sapingate #SapinHaters.”
But just like Charlie Brown’s tree, there is some love for this one. @UglyTreeMTL
— Johnnycanuck (@johnmerrithew) December 17, 2016
#Montreal must embrace its awful #ChristmasTree. And it didn’t hold up well on that journey. One sad tree in Montreal   pic.twitter.com/jYu1d0qTXo
— Brad Yule (@BradYule) December 8, 2016
Leave it to Montreal to install a tree so ugly it makes international news. Turn the fail into a win. “Come see the exact opposite of the #NewYork Rockafeller Tree!”
— Tim Parent (@timparent) December 7, 2016
Hey! A small tree delivery company in Montreal wanted to put up a festive tree that would be the largest in Canada. Branches fell off along the way, and now it’s become the subject of ridicule on social media. We kinda like our giant albeit crooked Christmas tree…that’s why we’re Montreal
— Andres Manniste (@amanniste) December 17, 2016 Montreal has its own Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But it fell a bit short and more than a bit skinny. Get over it! The 88-foot tree is not only droopy, gangly and lopsided, but decorated with mini red triangles that are the logo for a home goods store. But the tree that was chosen had to be hauled on a flatbed truck from southern Ontario. Not exactly an artistic masterpiece. — Marco Sav (@MarcoSav93) December 8, 2016
It even has its own mock Twitter account:   @sapinlaid, which translates to “ugly fir.” Tweets say things like: “I am thin and unkempt and poorly decorated and that’s all.

Syrian refugees in Canada face their first month without state money

And resettlement workers say that refugees who have private sponsors tend to settle in to their new home faster than government-sponsored arrivals. McCall says everyone in the group was nervous about taking on the family. Starting in January, Ghader will earn her own paycheck as an Arabic teacher. The family now has enough money saved to buy a car so that Mourad can start a third job, driving for Uber. But for most of the refugees, the arrival of “month 13” in Canada will likely mean continued struggle. PRI.org

Among the first to arrive were Hamzeh Mourad, his wife Ghader Bsmar and their two small children, Hoda, 7, and Feras, 5. After meeting the family at Toronto’s international airport, McCall and Monahan took the Mourads to a friend’s home where they stayed over the Christmas holidays. It was a point of pride for Hamzeh to be able to support his family on his own. The sponsor group met with the couple several times to talk about the issue before Hamzeh finally relented. A group of seven friends organized by Toronto residents Ashley McCall and her husband Chris Monahan have guided the Mourads every step of the way since the family arrived in Toronto last December. Ghader says her family was nervous too but that they quickly settled in. She says that in Syria, family comes first and it was enough for her husband to work so she could stay home with the children. The family is Muslim and it was their first Christmas. The Mourads escaped from Homs after Ghader’s youngest sister was killed by a roadside bomb. Khuloud Baranbo with her new winter coat, bought at a Black Friday sale. But as month 13 approaches, Radwan and Khuloud worry they may have to give up classes so they can support the family. Within six weeks, he was stocking shelves at a Middle Eastern grocery store in Toronto. That was enough for Hamzeh could save his earnings, which will allow the family to live independently once the sponsorship ends this month. They are sponsored by the Canadian government, which pays them a monthly allowance to cover living expenses. He says he’s willing to take any job he has to, and that could mean the end of his English studies and possibly his ambitions. After a year together, the Mourads and their sponsors say they feel more like family than friends and that even when the formal part of the sponsorship ends, they expect to remain close. Feras and Houda Mourad celebrating Halloween in Toronto. More than 35,700 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since then-newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the first planeloads at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport last December.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. “Maybe, like now in a restaurant, wash dishes. “If I have good English, I have a lot of choices. Their son, Feras, was just 2 years old, and had been diagnosed with leukemia, so they went to Jordan for medical care. “I’d really like to be an expert or researcher in physics laboratories because I love experiments and physics,” she says. I don’t like to stay at one level in life. Radwan attends a class with about 20 students from around the world at Mohawk Community College in Hamilton. “This money that comes from the government, it covers just one month. Radwan Baranbo has been living in Canada for a year now, taking English classes five days a week. And I have good job. Credit:

Anita Elash

His father, Ahmed Baranbo, has multiple sclerosis so the family has extra expenses. Things are looking up for the family. “If I don’t have English I have [little] choices,” he says. The government covers the tuition as part of its program to help refugees and new immigrants settle in Canada. As soon as his English is good enough, he wants to pursue an MBA and work in finance. He says he’s confident that working three jobs is just a temporary measure and that he’ll find better work once his English improves. They enrolled the children in school, signed up the adults for English classes and helped Hamzeh find work. The Canadian government invited them to resettle here last February. Khuloud taught physics at Damascus University and hopes to pursue her PhD in Canada.       
The Baranbos are a close-knit family, and education and self-improvement are a big priority. Credit:

Courtesy of the Mourad Family

Even so, life in Canada has been a big adjustment for both Hamzeh and Ghader. Taking on a third job is an important move for Mourad and his family. In Syria, Hamzeh helped manage his family’s businesses. They have to count every penny to make ends meet. “I’m very happy because I feel like businesswoman,” Ghader says. They say that’s because most private sponsorship groups provide ready-made connections to the community and an ongoing source of financial and social support. “It was, you know, anxious that everything turn out and it felt like a big responsibility,” she says. When they woke up on Christmas morning they were surprised and delighted to find gifts from Santa Clause outside their door. Baranbo, 31, says the allowance barely pays for the essentials now. “It’s good if we have maybe 100 [Canadian dollars]   on the 27th day of the month,” Radwan says. Hoda is earning good marks in school and Feras’ leukemia has gone into remission. Soon afterward, he took a second part-time job at a bakery that specializes in Indian sweets. They arrived in Canada with only their clothes and $800. He says his future in Canada depends on it. Credit:

Anita Elash

All four siblings started studying English full-time shortly after they arrived. I will make lots good money,” Radwan says. They went to Jordan to try to build a new life. Chris Monahan (far left) and Ashley McCaal (near left) sponsored   Ghader   Bsmar (near right) and Hamzeh Mourad (far right) after the Syrian family   arrived last December. For many refugees, the first year of financial support barely covers the necessities. And even with Hamzeh working three blue-collar jobs, he resisted the idea that Ghader might also have to work. So she also has to work in order to provide a better future for the children. Later in 2017, she’s going to college to study social work. Not more, not higher position. But welfare payments are even lower and as recipients try to adapt to Canadian life, they can face significant financial difficulties. He clearly enjoys learning English and is proud to say that he finally understands grammar. “We lost our home, we lost our houses and we lost our jobs, me and my sister and my dad, we lost everything there,” Radwan says. Credit:

Anita Elash

The sponsors have helped the Mourads with everything since. But life in Canada is more expensive and one salary isn’t enough. But for the Mourads and thousands of other families who arrived early in the Canadian program, that support is now coming to an end. Radwan says they don’t want to apply for welfare, because they’ve already taken enough from the government. Mourad wanted to support his family, so as soon as he learned to use the subway, he went straight to work. Refugees receive financial support from either the Canadian government or private sponsors for a full year after they arrive. Not extra things to save it.”
The Baranbos left Damascus in 2013 as Syria’s civil war intensified. Perhaps most importantly, they raised $43,000 (US$32,000) for the family. She says there were scented candles everywhere. Radwan Baranbo and his family arrived in Hamilton, Ontario last February. The father, Ahmed, 61, was a businessman in Damascus. Government studies show that up to 80 percent of refugees do that. They can apply for social assistance once the official program ends. Radwan and his oldest sister, Khuloud, both have part-time jobs that pay the minimum wage   — CA$11.40. Welfare payments would be even lower. I like to improve my life and improve my skill to be better.”
Canada has a program that allows private citizens to sponsor refugee families. Her family counts their pennies to make ends meet in Canada. Radwan’s current class focuses on communication skills, everything from good grammar to talking on the phone to learning how to drop a hint. But he worries he’ll have to give that up once his family’s refugee assistance ends.           
Mourad sees a bright future ahead.

Protecting Indonesia’s forests, one doctor’s appointment at a time

Becoming part of the community
What is clear is that after a decade, Webb has become a beloved figure in the community. Indonesia has lost about a quarter of its forests in the past   25 years. “I think one of the best things that she did was that she created a great team,”   Nirmala said.  

Credit:

Kuang Keng Kuek Ser / PRI

“It’s like an earthquake in your feet,” Webb says. People trust their doctors and then they listen to us.”  
Join us on Thursday, Dec. Kinari Webb performs an exam at her clinic in Indonesia. “Right now, I’m just thinking about one thing: I want my wife to be well again,” Masdi says. And reduced deforestation also means less climate-warming carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere when the forest is cut. Webb’s colleague Nirmala says here, in a place better known for its endangered orangutans than the poor health of its residents, putting people first has been key to Webb’s success. The clinic and conservation team together require more than 100 people to run, and the remote forested areas most in need of protection from logging are some of the hardest places to reach with health care infrastructure. And the health of both were linked. “Why should I pay more than the others when I didn’t do anything bad in my village, I never was a logger?,” Utari says some people say. You can see that in Sukadana today. Webb says back in the ’90s, you would constantly hear chainsaws buzzing away inside the park, and feel the trees falling. Because when her neighbors in the jungle town of Sukadana could get to the doctor, Webb learned they often paid for their health care and travel expenses by illegally cutting and selling timber from the nearby national park. In Sukadana, sometimes patients who have to pay full price for their care argue with the hospital’s cashier Nani Utari, saying that this system is unfair. And I couldn’t understand it until I had this moment of shock.”
Webb grew up without a lot of money in what she calls a small hippie town in New Mexico. Kinari Webb, founder of Health in Harmony. Credit:

Courtesy of Kinari Webb

But Webb isn’t easily deterred. Right now, from their base in the town of Sukadana, Webb’s team is protecting only a tiny area: More than 10 parks the size of Gunung Palung National Park could fit inside the land that’s deforested in just one year in Indonesia. [Webb]   really could pass the work to us.”
That actually happened about five years ago when a freak encounter with a box jellyfish left Webb bedridden for two years and forced her to hand over day-to-day operations of the clinic to her local staff. “He looked at me with the fear of death in his eyes,” Webb says. But at that moment, she realized her former home was nowhere near as remote or removed as she’d thought. Kinari Webb, founder of Health in Harmony and the ASRI clinic. Kinari Webb, founder of the ASRI clinic, known by the acronym for its Indonesian name, Alam Sehat Lestari. “Some people were suspicious of this Westerner,” says ASRI’s current executive director Dr. So he was scared. In a village on the western edge of Borneo, there’s a small hospital where people come from miles around to get treatment for everything from a broken arm to a heart attack.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. But then, all that changed. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

And no matter the currency they use, patients get a 70 percent discount if they live in an area where illegal logging activity has stopped. A winding path to opening a health clinic
Webb was inspired to create this clinic when she took a year off   college in the 1990s to study orangutans deep in the Indonesian jungle. It hasn’t happened yet, so he’s still paying full price at the clinic. “You can feel the shaking of the earth when they land.”
Seeing first-hand the connection between health care and logging in Indonesia pushed Webb to abandon her college idea of becoming the next Jane Goodall. Webb has largely handed off day-to-day operations of the clinic to her Indonesian staff, and now splits her time between Indonesia and the US, where she raises money for the hospital through the non-profit organization Health in Harmony. As a passionate but slightly scattered college student, Webb thought it would be the first step toward a career in primatology. This is your chance to talk to the loggers to try to get them to stop.”
The whole clinic was founded on this idea of creating social pressure to stop logging. Monica Nirmala. “If he loses his hand, or the function of his hand, he will die,” Webb says she realized. Patches that have been burned for gardens sit smoldering by the roadside. It was just a small cut, so his reaction stunned Webb.  
“But I think by providing health care and also linking them to conservation work, it’s really effective. Many of the narrow roads in the region are flanked by cleared land. But there’s another thing that sets this one-story, metal-roofed clinic apart: how patients pay for their health care. Credit:

Courtesy of Kinari Webb

“There’s this one thing that happened to me that just really shifted where I thought I was going with my life,” Webb says. “Even if you’re not doing the logging,” Utari says, “the deforestation impacts you. That wasn’t always the case for this American woman in a remote part of Borneo. “Sometimes people do not really accept conservation organizations because they think that we only care about the forest, we don’t care about the people,” Nirmala says. It’s worked on a man named Masdi, who brought his wife to the clinic last month to be treated for a heart attack. An Indonesian colleague cut his hand when a machete slipped. Her colleague had never had a tetanus shot, and the nearest good hospital was more than 20 hours away. Recognizing the connection between health and the environment
The endangered orangutans Webb had been interested in in college get a lot of attention in Borneo. Webb’s mission is to improve the health of local residents while creating social pressure to stop illegal logging in and around the park, which is a haven for wildlife like the endangered Bornean orangutan. But he says because ASRI is such a good clinic, he doesn’t care. “Ninety-nine percent of [ASRI employees]   are Indonesian,   only one American works here. “I actually believed that the best way to save rainforests and to save orangutans was going to be to provide health care,” Webb says. About 60,000 residents of dozens of villages on the edge of the nearby Gunung Palung National Park are eligible for the discounts. She uses these protests as teaching moments. 22 for a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) featuring Dr. Instead, she decided to go to medical school. It’s hard to know how much of that change is due to Webb’s work. Local conservation experts say the orangutan habitat within the national park has remained relatively protected since Webb’s clinic opened. There have been other efforts to discourage illegal logging over the last several years. PRI.org

Good health care in a remote town like Sukadana, in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, is hard to come by. Skeptics say this is one of the limitations of Webb’s model, and something that would make it hard to reproduce elsewhere. Her team is currently scouting locations to expand to a second location. When Webb explains her clinic, she frames the donations that allow for cheaper health care as a “thank-you gift” from the international community to Indonesians who have the power to protect the forest. He says he’s talked to his neighbors to try to convince them to stop logging. “So that people don’t have to log in order to pay for health care.”
Patients can pay with manure, seedlings, handicrafts including hand-woven baskets, or their labor. Labor-intensive methods mean it may be hard to scale up
ASRI staff monitors logging in the villages surrounding the Gunung Palung National Park, keeping detailed spreadsheets of how many loggers live in different sub-districts and   other evidence of illegal logging. “They were thinking that [her clinic]   might be a Christian mission or something like that.”
But Nirmala says that distrust has melted away, in large part because the clinic treats and employs people of all backgrounds and religions, and has become part of the community. But on that day more than 20 years ago, Webb realized that the people who lived in this remote town needed help too. It’s an increasingly vital safe zone for roughly 2,500 endangered Bornean orangutans, but as all the good timber surrounding the park was cut, even that protected area came under threat. “One of my neighbors in Sukadana, he cut down 60 trees to pay for a C-section,” Webb says of a more recent episode. “Truly terrified. In ASRI’s courtyard, seedlings that patients have used to pay for healthcare are a sign of what’s different about this clinic. Still, her data show that in that tiny patch, logging has gone down in the nearly 10 years that Webb’s clinic has been in operation. Read more:   Indonesia’s forests are key for saving orangutans — and slowing climate change
Rising up in the middle of all that is Gunung Palung National Park. That dropped to 450 after the clinic had been in operation for five years, and today, Webb says fewer than 200 people (that’s individuals, not households) in villages bordering the national park are loggers. “You can pay with non-cash means,” says Dr. Find more stories here. According to ASRI data, when the clinic opened, there were an estimated 1,350 logging households around the national park. This story is part of a series on social entrepreneurs working to limit or reverse deforestation in Indonesia. It’s about 400 square miles of jungle, an island in a sea of villages, farms and palm oil plantations.  
A ‘thank-you gift’   to forest protectors
Webb founded her clinic in Sukadana in 2007, and this October she expanded it and moved into a small hospital nearby. And while logging has gone down, there’s evidence that illegal farming in the park has gone up. “I thought I was going to study orangutans, I thought I was going to be like Jane Goodall,” Webb says, referring to the famous British primatologist.

A Russian online journal targets ‘senior decision makers’ in the US

“I don’t think that they should follow this agenda because it’s very very one-sided, and lacks objectivity.”
Koshkin formerly worked as an editor for the English-language media outlet, Russia Beyond The Headlines.   Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Trump is whimsical, he’s mercurial, he’s totally unpredictable, and maybe some Russians underestimate this fact.” “I don’t like Trump personally,” he says. PRI.org

For those seeking the trappings of Western journalism, there’s Russia Direct, a   small, Kremlin-funded online-only outlet with the motto   “turning monologues into dialogues.” And true to form, each Russia Direct story offers readers an alternative article that gives a different, though not always opposing perspective.  
The Lomonosov Moscow State University graduate is unimpressed with RT, the Kremlin’s English-language television network. Listen to the full interview. Russian people tend to support the paternalistic style of leadership.”
Asked if the Russian leader and the US president-elect are likely to find much common ground, Koshkin isn’t optimistic. Maybe it’s risky sometimes, but we’re just trying to do well-balanced journalism.”  
Balance might be   hard to achieve given that Russia Direct is financed by the Russian government. When it comes to influencing American opinion, Moscow has an option for every audience. Its newsroom is situated inside the headquarters of the government’s official newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, or Russian Gazette. “Putin and Trump, they do have personal chemistry. He says at Russia Direct, he heads a “tiny” editorial team that “targets a very narrow circle of experts.”
He acknowledges that the election in the US of real estate magnate Donald Trump complicates his news agenda. According to Koshkin, they see Trump as “a strong guy who would like to make American great again. “But most Russians, they do like such style of leadership.”  
And how would Russians describe Trump’s style of leadership? “I’m not a big fan of this kind of —   I couldn’t even call it journalism,” he says. “Regardless of the fact that we are based in Moscow, in the editorial office of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia’s   official newspaper, they don’t influence our editorial policy,” Koshkin says. “We should persuade and, instead of imposing an agenda, just try to provide both points of view. Pavel Koshkin, the site’s editor-in-chief, says he’s trying to reach well-educated Americans he calls “experts.”  
“Experts are by definition skeptical,” he says. “There might be a machismo-like rivalry,” he says. This slogan echoes Putin’s. But in the case of a clash, it might be disaster.

A bubbly secret: the Burgundy wine that rivals its fancier cousin, Champagne

And the truth is, at about at $10 a bottle, it’s much cheaper than Champagne, and many would say there is little difference in taste. Just ask anyone in my family. It’s a sparkling wine made in nearby vineyards. Crémant is the official effervescent beverage of our celebrations, as it was recently   for my niece’s 18th birthday. “Then we let the wine maturing on racks like you see in these very good conditions,” she says, “and it lasts one year or 18 months.”
So there you have it — the recipe for “non-Champagne   Champagne” from Burgundy. Just to be safe. “It’s an amazing place.”
She tells me the cream-colored limestone carved here during the Middle Ages was hauled on river barges some 100 miles north to Paris, where it was used to build parts of Notre Dame Cathedral and other famed monuments. “It’s made like Champagne, tastes like Champagne,” he says, “but not made in the Champagne area, so it can’t be called Champagne.”
And he takes offense when I tease him about this Crémant being just a “bubbly.”
My brother is right, this sparkling wine is made exactly like Champagne, just not on the same soil — the terroir. I’m not much of a wine drinker. Two months later, a mixture of natural yeast and sugar is added to this base wine before bottling. Here’s how my brother puts it:
“I can’t say that I love every Crémant, I can’t say that I love every Champagne,” he says, “but I definitely prefer a good Crémant to an average Champagne.”
Then he adds that because we need four bottles of the stuff just for opening Christmas presents, he plans to get a dozen. That’s the legal drinking age in France, by the way. It enabled me to continue French family traditions in my American home. Bailly Lapierre   is a winemakers co-op set in an ancient underground limestone quarry. PRI.org

But there’s a local drink I love: Crémant de Bourgogne. It’s clear she loves this unusual place. Credit:

Adeline Sire

Pasquier explains the winemaking process. Corinne Pasquier is in charge of guided tours here, and she takes me around. It’s a gigantic cave, almost 10 acres underground, with tall ceilings — so big, you can actually drive inside and park your car next to the enormous wine tasting bar and lounge. So, in the wine region of Burgundy where I grew up, that makes me a bit foreign to my friends and relatives. At the end of a 52-hour spin, the deposit is lodged in the upside-down bottle’s hollow stopper, which is frozen   to be easily removed before the bottle is corked for good. She says the grapes are pressed and the juice sits in large tanks where it begins to ferment. It’s dark, humid and cool, year-round. “Well, millions,” she says. For this Burgundian   expat in the United States, it was a thrill to stumble on bottles of that Crémant at a Trader Joe’s store in Massachusetts, years ago. And at this festive time of year, it sells by the crate and shamelessly rivals the more uppity Champagne. But the reason it’s now a great winery is that the natural conditions are ideal for maturing wine. It will then take six weeks for the bottled wine to achieve the right fizz. He says it’s just like Champagne, and for good reason. “I have a bottle in my apartment always, in case.”
My brother, Fred, swears by the stuff. Looking at the walls of bottles around us, I ask Pasquier whether we are looking at tens of thousands of bottles. My niece, Jeanne, is certainly familiar with Crémant. This is the tunnel entrance to the underground former limestone quarry that has served as a   cellar for Les Caves Bailly Lapierre   for over 40 years. “There goes the American!” they say when I decline a glass of red.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. The bottles also have to be spun on strange computerized racks called “gyropalettes.”
The goal of this slow spin is to collect the deposit left by yeast. “We have a capacity of storage of between 8 and 9 million bottles.”
Bailly Lapierre produces 3 million bottles a year, and 500,000 of those are exported to North America. “I like to drink some with my friends,” she says. “Well, you know, it’s a particular place here,” she says. So, I decided to drop by the village of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux to get the scoop on this winemaking process. He’s always got some in his cellar for special occasions.

Russia, Iran, Turkey agree on need to widen Syria truce

“We hope that this is a question of one or a maximum of two days.” Pointedly absent from the discussion was the United States and Lavrov took a swipe at Washington by claiming that it had been unable to make good on previous deals reached in Syria. “Right now the evacuation is wrapping up,” he said. Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on Tuesday to guarantee Syria peace talks and backed expanding a ceasefire in the war-torn country, laying down their claim as the main powerbrokers in the conflict. The Red Cross on Tuesday said that at least 25,000 people have left the eastern districts of Aleppo since evacuations began last week, and Lavrov said the process should be completed in two days at most. But Turkey and Russia have recently started working closely together to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from war-battered Aleppo under a complex deal. “We agreed to continue building further cooperation, based on the statement we agreed today,” he said. “Iran, Russia and Turkey are ready to assist in preparing the agreement in the making between the Syrian government and the opposition and to become its guarantor,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow, citing a joint statement. Russia and Iran are on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Turkey, with Moscow and Tehran backing President Bashar al-Assad and Ankara supporting those seeking to topple him. “The ministers agree with the importance of widening the ceasefire, of free access for humanitarian aid and movement of civilians on Syrian territory.”
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in comments translated into Russian that the ceasefire should cover the entire Syrian territory but exclude the jihadist groups Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, the former name of ex-Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front. Lavrov praised the Turkey-Iran-Russia format on Syria as the “most effective” and added that the three have “confirmed their readiness to fight the Islamic State group and al-Nusra front and to separate them from the groups of armed opposition.”
“Our cooperation has already allowed not just the evacuation of civilians but also an organised moving out of most of the fighters of the armed opposition along agreed routes,” Lavrov said. The foreign and defence ministers from Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday, the day after Russia’s envoy to Ankara was shot dead in the Turkish capital by a gunman shouting about Syria and Aleppo.

In the wake of deadly truck attack, Germany grapples with security and a ‘culture of openness’

A member of Merkel’s party, Klaus Bouillon, the interior minister of Saarland state, sparked controversy by speaking of a “state of war” after the Berlin attack — only to quickly backtrack from what many criticized as a verbal escalation. After a truck plowed through a crowd of holiday revelers in central Berlin, the country — having so far been spared large-scale attacks — is debating the balance between security and an open society. German Chancellor Angela   Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday passed a package of security bills, still subject to parliamentary approval, that it said were in response to earlier IS attacks in Germany. First ‘real’ attack  
“The Germans have always given the impression that they believe these attacks only happen to others,” wrote Barbara Kunz of the Committee for the Study of Franco-German Relations in an online column for Le Monde. On the other hand, federal police chief Holger Muench cautioned that, no matter what measures are taken, total security doesn’t exist and that “there will always be a risk.”
In a similar vein, Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller argued that “if we secure everything, if we carry out checks at all the entrances to all public spaces, then that will be at odds with our culture of openness.”
Army patrols? The CSU, the Bavarian wing of Merkel’s conservative party, is, however, calling for more sweeping reforms. Nonetheless, the debate is, once more, heating up. As in Israel, Germany needs “to systematically secure such places,” Krause argued in business daily Handelsblatt. And, unlike in France, which has suffered several far deadlier jihadist attacks, no one in Germany is currently proposing declaring a state of emergency. “If politicians keep hiding behind privacy protection and the notion of individual liberty, which complicates our police work, then we will continue to have problems investigating such attacks in future,” Walter said on public broadcaster ARD. It relaunched a campaign it initiated months ago, after less severe attacks claimed by the IS in Germany — to authorize   army troops for domestic security duties. Should Germany’s popular Christmas markets be ringed with concrete, patrolled by armed soldiers and screened with surveillance cameras? They included a measure to broaden video surveillance in public spaces, body cams for federal police officers and the use of automated devices to read vehicle registration plates. While men and women in uniform are allowed to, for example, fill sandbags during flood disasters, most Germans would object to the sight of armed troops guarding airports and railway stations. “But in Germany, this has been neglected, even though the IS   is calling for just this kind of attack on so-called soft targets.”
Some cities did quickly react to Monday’s carnage — the Christmas markets of Hamburg, Stuttgart and Dresden installed concrete bollards following the Berlin attack. The country “has certainly experienced attacks in the past” but still “the risk seemed unreal,” she argued. The government recently moved to allow a first joint police-army exercise. “This attack could have been prevented if the square had been protected by concrete barriers,” said Joachim Krause, head of the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University, about the attack that killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market Monday. The Bundeswehr should be able to use its training and equipment to support police and contribute to public safety, argued CSU lawmaker Florian Hahn, in comments to media group RND. Therefore the Berlin truck attack — for which the IS claimed responsibility — meant “for many Germans that the country has experienced its first ‘real’ Islamist attack.”
Police union deputy chief Ernst Walter meanwhile called for more video surveillance and urged an end to “demonizing” the technology, in a country that — after the Nazi and communist dictatorships — remains suspicious of all kinds of surveillance. While the sight of armed soldiers on the streets has become common in European countries that have suffered jihadist attacks, such as France and Belgium, it remains taboo in Germany, which in the postwar era set strict constitutional limits on its armed forces. But the country is a long way from authorizing army patrols on the streets, with little will among policymakers to push the point.