03 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



The 68-year-old, known for his championing of ‘broken windows’ policing, will return to the private sector after his turbulent 31 months in office

The New York City police commissioner, Bill Bratton, address the media on Tuesday, watched by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The New York City police commissioner, Bill Bratton, address the media on Tuesday, watched by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

The controversial New York City police commissioner, Bill Bratton, explained his resignation from the world’s largest police force on Tuesday, saying that it was only “with reluctance” that he would step down from the city that made his name.

“I wish I had more time, chronologically, to stay around for three or four years to work on the issues that are going to take that long to straighten out,” the 68-year-old said. “I don’t have that type of time.”

Bratton said he would return to the private sector, where he had been making up to $1.9m as a consultant in 2013, before he accepted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call that year to return to the force. At City Hall on Tuesday he said that policing was “the passion of [his] life”.

Bratton grew up in Dorchester, a rough working-class neighborhood in Boston, and joined the city’s police department in 1970 – his accent still thick, though he called himself “a proud adopted son” of New York. In 1993 he became Boston’s police commissioner, before being poached by New York City’s then mayor, Rudy Giuliani. He introduced a controversial strategy of “broken windows” policing, whose premise was that cracking down on low-level crimes, such as vandalism and public drinking, would reduce more serious crime. He also presided over a major expansion of the police force and a program called CompStat, a real-time database of tracking crime around the city……….

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Daniel Birnbaum accuses Israeli PM of perpetuating conflict with Palestinians for his own benefit

SodaStream Source

The SodaStream Source model. Daniel Birnbaum insisted his company hadn’t been forced to relocate by pressure from the BDS movement. Photograph: SodaStream

The chief of the Israeli company SodaStream has launched a scathing attack on the country’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, blaming him for putting 500 of his former Palestinian employees out of work.

Daniel Birnbaum, who has been at the centre of a series of rows that saw SodaStream’s factory moved from the occupied territories to a new site in Israel’s Negev desert, insisted it was untrue that his company had been forced to relocate by pressure from the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Instead, said Birnbaum in a hard-hitting interview in the Times of Israel that drew the immediate ire of Netanyahu’s office, it was Israel not BDS that was responsible for the 500 Palestinian job losses. Birnbaum, who was a key speaker at an anti-BDS initiative in the US earlier this year, accused Netanyahu and his government of perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians for its own benefit, describing Netanyahu as “the prime minister of conflict”.

He said: “It pains me to say that I believe this administration is nurturing the conflict in all its evil manifestations. They nurture the hate and the boycott and they nurture separatism.”

The claims by Birnbaum are doubly damaging because he had been held up by the Israeli government as an example of the harm they said had been done by the BDS movement. Indeed, the claim that BDS pressure had led to the loss of 500 Palestinian jobs has been a high-profile talking point of the Israeli government, embassies and its supporters……………..

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Amid outrage over Kremlin hacking claims, it’s worth recalling how Washington spin doctors ran Yeltsin’s election campaign. There’s even a film about it…

A mural in Vilnius depicting Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A mural in Vilnius depicting Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump once again shocked Americans when he appeared to call on Russia to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s emails from the personal server she used while she was secretary of state.

His comments came as allegations swirled that Russian authorities had hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails in an attempt to sabotage Clinton.

Political pundits and Democratic leaders were quick to express outrage that the GOP candidate would even jokingly invite a foreign government, let alone Russia, to interfere. But surely if WikiLeaks has taught us anything over the years, it’s that foreign meddling is a global business – one the US does very well in.

This isn’t even the first time the US and Russia have interfered in each other’s presidential campaigns. In a little-known quirk of post-cold war history, the 1996 re-election campaign of Putin’s mentor, Boris Yeltsin, was secretly managed by three American political consultants who on more than one occasion allegedly received direct assistance from Bill Clinton’s White House.

There’s even a movie about it.

The 2003 comedy film Spinning Boris dramatises the true story of three American consultants who were hired to manage Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election campaign. The film stars Liev Schreiber as Joe Shumate, a Republican data analysis expert, Jeff Goldblum as George Gorton (who later became the campaign manager for Arnold Schwarzenegger), and Anthony LaPaglia as Richard “Dick” Dresner, a highly skilled political consultant who in the early 1980s helped elect Bill Clinton governor of Arkansas.

Spinning Boris (2003) – movie trailer

Dresner was a close associate of Dick Morris, a top political advisor in the Clinton White House who in 1996 was in the midst of managing Clinton’s own re-election campaign……..

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Emails reveal state and federal authorities pushing city to reform as scrutiny intensified following a Guardian investigation revealing outdated methods

Philadelphia’s water department delivers drinking water to 1.5 million people daily.

Philadelphia’s water department delivers drinking water to 1.5 million people daily. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Emails obtained by the Guardian show how state environmental regulators were sharply critical of the Philadelphia water department’s (PWD) lead-in-water testing, after media reports questioned the water agency’s methods.

The emails reveal intense pressure on the city’s water department, from both state and federal authorities, to change its testing methods. The emails and formal letters show for the first time the regulatory push to change the PWD, a process that has largely been opaque, even as the state water department reformed some practices following media scrutiny.

Philadelphia’s water department delivers drinking water to 1.5 million people daily. This week, the city hosted the Democratic national convention.

Additional documents obtained by the Guardian show for the first time that when the water department began the lead-testing program in the 1990s, it almost exclusively solicited employees. Previous stories by the Guardian had shown that the department used employees until at least 2008.

The department has been the subject of intense scrutiny since January, when the Guardian revealed it used outdated testing practices that could diminish lead detected in water. The department recently updated those testing methods, following pressure from clean water advocates after the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

However, the water department is still the defendant in a lawsuit that alleges it purposely obscured lead levels in the city. Philadelphia has not breached the federal limit for lead-in-water, 15 parts per billion, since 1997.

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