The Hard Truth About Malaysia 370 A War Crime Against Cul­ture

Anx­i­ety over the flight’s mys­te­ri­ous fate must not lead to po­ten­tially risky new safety rules The de­struc­tion of Tim­buktu’s her­itage is be­ing re­viewed for pos­si­ble trial in The Hague

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Bloomberg View -

Mod­ern avi­a­tion has be­come per­haps the safest com­plex sys­tem ever de­vised. Each day, 100,000 flights take off and land with pro­saic reg­u­lar­ity. Ac­ci­dents are so rare that, al­most by def­i­ni­tion, they mean some­thing un­prece­dented has hap­pened.

The un­ex­plained dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370 two years ago—with all 239 peo­ple aboard pre­sumed dead—is by any def­i­ni­tion un­prece­dented. As such, it makes a poor ba­sis for dra­matic changes in pub­lic pol­icy. Mod­ern planes are so safe that adding yet more rules in re­sponse to a yet-un­ex­plained tragedy could make things worse.

Con­sider pro­pos­als to man­date tam­per-proof transpon­ders. That sounds pru­dent: Some­one aboard Flight 370 ev­i­dently switched off the plane’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, tak­ing it off the grid. But pi­lots may have per­fectly valid rea­sons for turn­ing a transpon­der off, such as re­cov­er­ing from a mal­func­tion or pre­vent­ing over­heat­ing. The risks of tam­per-proof­ing cock­pit equip­ment out­weigh the ben­e­fits.

Like­wise, the United Na­tions wants to track air­craft more fre­quently and in greater de­tail. Again, this sounds like a no-brainer. Yet planes are al­ready thor­oughly tracked. And a group study­ing the idea for the UN found that the ad­di­tional re­quire­ments could in some cases cre­ate new risks and im­pose an “un­re­al­is­tic op­er­a­tional bur­den.” Not to men­tion the ex­pense.

In the age of the drone, some sug­gest, why not elim­i­nate hu­man pi­lots al­to­gether? Even over­look­ing the cost and com­plex­ity of that, the alarm­ing rate at which mil­i­tary drones— to say noth­ing of civil­ian coun­ter­parts— crash in much less de­mand­ing en­vi­ron­ments should give pause. Pi­lots have solved many more prob­lems in-flight than they’ve caused.

Some new tech­nol­ogy may in fact be help­ful in pre­vent­ing dis­as­ters. Aero­space com­pa­nies are work­ing on gear that could wrest con­trol from a pi­lot in times of dis­tress. The U.S. mil­i­tary is work­ing on ro­bot co-pi­lots. Th­ese are promis­ing en­deav­ors, wor­thy of more study and in­vest­ment. Yet they, too, risk The de­struc­tion of a mau­soleum can­not com­pare to the rape and mur­der of in­no­cents. But it’s a war crime none­the­less— and the im­por­tance of pros­e­cut­ing it shouldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated, for the present day or for pos­ter­ity.

When the ter­ror­ist group An­sar Dine in­vaded Tim­buktu, Mali, in 2012, it not only at­tacked the pop­u­la­tion, but also de­stroyed an his­toric mosque and sev­eral graves. Now its leader, Ah­mad al-faqi al-mahdi, is be­fore the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) in The Hague, charged with the de­struc­tion of Unesco World Her­itage sites. It will de­cide whether he will stand trial.

The idea that the in­ten­tional de­struc­tion of cul­tur­ally val­ued prop­erty is a war crime isn’t new. This case would mark the first time such an act is the main charge in a war crimes tri­bunal. The se­ri­ous­ness of the crime is be­yond doubt. The pur­pose of de­stroy­ing cul­tural her­itage is to elim­i­nate all the at­tach­ments of a peo­ple un­der at­tack—to oblit­er­ate not only one’s en­e­mies but also any trace of their ex­is­tence. As the court’s pros­e­cu­tor made clear in her open­ing state­ment, at stake is more than sim­ply “walls and stones.” The ac­cused was at­tempt­ing to “de­stroy the roots of an en­tire peo­ple.”

This case won’t serve as a de­ter­rent to mil­i­tants such as those in Syria and Iraq, who con­sider the de­struc­tion of cul­tural her­itage to be part of their war against in­fi­dels. But the pur­suit of jus­tice is valu­able for its own sake, and a trial will help cre­ate a record of the dev­as­ta­tion An­sar Dine wrought. In pros­e­cut­ing the era­sure of Tim­buktu’s cul­tural her­itage and iden­tity, the ICC would be go­ing some way to­ward restor­ing the dig­nity of those whose sa­cred places were de­stroyed.

The court has been ac­cused, not with­out rea­son, of ir­rel­e­vance, in­com­pe­tence, and un­fair­ness. It’s pos­si­ble that this case will show it’s not too late for it to serve the vi­tal pur­pose for which it was es­tab­lished al­most 14 years ago. <BW>

Then the mag­a­zine Is­toe re­ported that the govern­ment’s for­mer leader in the se­nate, Del­cí­dio do Amaral, had al­leged that Rouss­eff had pushed judges to re­lease political al­lies im­pris­oned on charges of graft. The mag­a­zine said the sen­a­tor, who faces charges of wit­ness tam­per­ing, made the al­le­ga­tions as part of a pos­si­ble plea bar­gain. Amaral de­clined to con­firm any plea agree­ment or the de­tails re­ported in the story.

On March 4, Fed­eral Judge Ser­gio Moro had for­mer Pres­i­dent Luiz Iná­cio Lula da Silva de­tained for ques­tion­ing about fa­vors he and his fam­ily al­legedly re­ceived. On March 9, a state pros­e­cu­tor in São Paulo charged Lula with money laun­der­ing and hid­ing as­sets. He al­legedly con­cealed own­er­ship of an apart­ment ren­o­vated by a builder

in­volved in the Petro­bras scan­dal. Lula’s In­sti­tuto Lula says the for­mer pres­i­dent de­nies own­ing the apart­ment and has done noth­ing il­le­gal.

Rouss­eff, Petro­bras’s for­mer chair­man, isn’t be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. She has de­nied any wrong­do­ing. Rouss­eff says her ri­vals want to seize power be­fore the 2018 elec­tion. “There are cer­tain political fights that cre­ate sys­temic prob­lems not only for pol­i­tics but for the econ­omy,” she said on March 7 while in­au­gu­rat­ing a hous­ing pro­ject.

The lat­est events have re­vived ef­forts to re­move Rouss­eff by im­peach­ment or by the an­nul­ment of her 2014 re­elec­tion. The Demo­cratic Move­ment Party, or PMDB, Rouss­eff’s largest ally in the rul­ing coali­tion, will dis­cuss sev­er­ing ties in a na­tional con­ven­tion on March 12. Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers plan to add de­tails of Sen­a­tor Amaral’s al­le­ga­tions to an im­peach­ment re­quest filed on Dec. 2 in the lower house of congress. “Amaral’s plea deal is fa­tal,” says Con­gress­man Paud­er­ney Avelino, leader of the op­po­si­tion Democrats.

Brazil’s cur­rency surged 6.3 per­cent in the first week of March in the hope that Rouss­eff would be im­peached, eas­ing the political grid­lock so that re­forms to fix the world’s sev­enth­largest econ­omy could go through. Eura­sia Group, a political con­sult­ing firm, es­ti­mates the odds of Rouss­eff fin­ish­ing her term at less than 50 per­cent.

Lula’s brief de­ten­tion brought about fist­fights be­tween sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the govern­ment in front of his home out­side São Paulo. Rouss­eff’s op­po­nents are or­ga­niz­ing na­tion­wide protests for March 13 to call for her ouster. Hun­dreds of thou­sands have signed up on Face­book event pages pro­mot­ing the demon­stra­tions. Rouss­eff’s Work­ers’ Party will stage two ral­lies later in March to sup­port the govern­ment and party hero Lula.

Pub­lic protests could fur­ther un­der­mine Rouss­eff’s sup­port. “There is no im­peach­ment with­out peo­ple on the streets,” op­po­si­tion Con­gress­man Men­donça Filho told re­porters on March 7. In 1992 mass demon­stra­tions pressed congress to open im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against then­Pres­i­dent Fer­nando Col­lor de Mello. Demon­strat­ing stu­dents painted their faces and wore black as a sign of grief over cor­rup­tion. Col­lor re­signed be­fore his im­peach­ment be­gan.

For two years pros­e­cu­tors and fed­eral po­lice work­ing un­der Judge Moro have con­ducted Op­er­a­tion Car­wash— named for gas sta­tions al­legedly used to laun­der money—from rented of­fices in Cu­ritiba, 250 miles south of São Paulo. They’re look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity that mas­sive bribes from a car­tel of Brazil’s big­gest builders were paid to politi­cians and ex­ec­u­tives in ex­change for at least $50 bil­lion in Petro­bras con­tracts. Much of the il­licit cash bankrolled three par­ties, in­clud­ing the Work­ers’ Party, Moro al­leges. The judge has had 482 ex­ec­u­tives, politi­cians, bankers, and busi­ness­men ar­rested.

Last month’s ar­rest of João San­tana, the mas­ter­mind of Rouss­eff’s 2010 and 2014 cam­paigns, has taken Moro’s team one step closer to Planalto, the pres­i­den­tial palace in Brasília. Pros­e­cu­tors said in a state­ment that they sus­pected peo­ple charged in the Petro­bras case made mul­ti­ple pay­ments to San­tana and his wife and busi­ness part­ner, Mon­ica Moura, in­tended for the Work­ers’ Party. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to de­ter­mine whether any­one in Rouss­eff’s cam­paign ar­ranged the pay­ments of the il­licit funds. “We need to dis­cover who gave the or­der to pay,” says Car­los Lima, a lead pros­e­cu­tor in the case. “The money came from bribes, and the pay­ment was for some ser­vice San­tana pro­vided.” San­tana and Moura haven’t been charged, and they said in a court fil­ing that the money was for work on cam­paigns out­side Brazil.

The coun­try’s top elec­toral court also is prob­ing whether Petro­bras money made its way into Rouss­eff’s cam­paign. If it finds that it did, the court could an­nul her man­date and call new elec­tions.

Un­der Lula, 36 mil­lion Brazil­ians es­caped ex­treme poverty. To­day the coun­try has dou­ble-digit in­fla­tion and un­em­ploy­ment, and mil­lions are fall­ing out of the middle class. Op­po­nents of Lula and Rouss­eff have flooded so­cial me­dia with ex­pres­sions of rage. “Enough im­punity,” says one post on a Face­book page named Vem Pra Rua Brasil, or Come to the Streets of Brazil. “This is not a coun­try of thieves.” �Michael Smith and Sabrina Valle, with Anna Edgerton, Ray­mond Colitt, and Ar­naldo Gal­vao

The bot­tom line The odds are in­creas­ing that Pres­i­dent Rouss­eff will not fin­ish her term as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion called Op­er­a­tion Car­wash grinds on.

1Q ’08

and the govern­ment are ap­peal­ing the rul­ing. Des­seilles’s plight was re­cently the sub­ject of a story on na­tional TV. “It’s baroque—we may lose ev­ery­thing for a rule that pro­tects unions who pro­tect no one but them­selves,” Ber­rier says. “At the end of the day, we spend more time strug­gling with French la­bor laws than fo­cus­ing on our busi­ness.” Chi­nese in­vestors ex­pressed in­ter­est in the com­pany.

Unions were part of So­cial­ist Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande’s political power base, but now they’ve be­come op­po­nents. Af­ter his lat­est at­tempt at la­bor re­form in Par­lia­ment prompted a union threat to demon­strate, Hol­lande has put that ef­fort on hold. The post­poned bill would have voided a law that lim­its the work­week to 35 hours. It would have al­lowed busi­nesses to in­crease work­ing hours with min­i­mal ex­tra com­pen­sa­tion and with­out union sup­port. The bill also would have made it eas­ier for com­pa­nies to cut jobs while lim­it­ing sev­er­ance. The Con­fédéra­tion Fran­caise du Tra­vail (CFDT), the um­brella union group, called the de­lay a vic­tory. “We’ve ob­tained the post­pone­ment of the la­bor law, now we’ll fight to ob­tain a re­bal­anc­ing of the text,” CFDT Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Lau­rent Berger says.

French unions started to weaken in the 1970s, when man­u­fac­tur­ing de­clined in the West, glob­al­iza­tion moved pro­duc­tion off­shore, and man­agers cir­cum­vented or­ga­nized la­bor with tem­po­rary con­tract work­ers who didn’t have the same priv­i­leges or job pro­tec­tions. The unions want to re­fill their ranks, but re­cruit­ment is hard when more French

peo­ple iden­tify or­ga­nized la­bor as just an­other spe­cial in­ter­est group. Radu Vranceanu, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at ESSEC Busi­ness School in Paris, says of the unions: “They know the power they have left is to be dis­rup­tive.”

Tiny Des­seilles’s trou­bles are mag­ni­fied in Ga­leries Lafayette and Prin­temps, depart­ment stores that draw mil­lions of shop­pers from around the world. Unions are re­fus­ing to obey a law pushed through by Hol­lande that al­lows stores to re­main open 12 Sun­days per year. The unions want ex­tra com­pen­sa­tion for em­ploy­ees—even though Ga­leries Lafayette is of­fer­ing dou­ble­pay for Sun­day hours and Prin­temps said em­ploy­ees are “ready to work on a Sun­day.” Ga­leries Lafayette said in Septem­ber that it was in talks with unions to open three Paris stores on Sun­day, a move ex­pected to add 1,000 jobs at its flag­ship, boost­ing sales as much as 7 per­cent.

The unions’ moves have had lit­tle pos­i­tive ef­fect on France’s un­em­ploy­ment rate, which, at above 10 per­cent, is twice that of the U.K. and Ger­many. Hol­lande’s re­forms—which in­clude cut­ting the la­bor tax for com­pa­nies that are hir­ing, and dereg­u­lat­ing busi­nesses that once held mo­nop­o­lies granted by the state—would have low­ered the cost of hir­ing and made busi­nesses more com­pet­i­tive.

“The prob­lem we have to­day is to find peo­ple to sit around the ta­ble,” Stéphane Le Foll, a

Al­ge­ria An­gola Iran Iraq Kuwait Nige­ria Qatar Saudi Ara­bia United Arab Emi­rates Venezuela

-20% The bot­tom line France’s trade unions have weak­ened, but they have enough power to stall la­bor re­form.

Iran told OPEC it pro­duced 3.4m bar­rels a day in Jan­uary; the U.S. said Iran’s out­put was 17 per­cent lower The monthly oil pro­duc­tion num­bers sub­mit­ted to OPEC by its mem­bers are just the start of the process of fig­ur­ing out ac­tual out­put. The U.S. govern­ment, the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency, and in­de­pen­dent an­a­lysts ar­rive at num­bers that of­ten de­vi­ate from the car­tel’s of­fi­cial fig­ures. The chart shows how vast the dis­par­i­ties can be.

De­vi­a­tion of es­ti­mate from fig­ure re­ported to OPEC

U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency


What’s go­ing to be more pow­er­ful is when a year from now, or two years from now, sto­ries start go­ing around the world about how ex­traor­di­nar­ily pro­duc­tive and suc­cess­ful [they are].

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.