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22 May

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Irish abroad return to vote in gay marriage referendum

Irish people living overseas have been tweeting news of their journeys home to vote in same-sex marriage poll

Riyadh Khalaf’s alternative look at the gay marriage referendum – video

Irish citizens have been sharing photographs and stories on social media as they travel home to vote in the gay marriage referendum.

Ireland could become the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a referendum. More than 3 million people are eligible to vote, including 60,000 expats. Those who have left the country less than 18 months ago are able to vote in the referendum, but need to show up at a polling station in person.

Before the vote on Friday, Twitter was filled with pictures of people returning home to have their say on gay marriage, with some decorating their trains accordingly:

View image on Twitter

This is the scene on the 9:10 London to Holyhead train as Irish abroad return

  • 18 vessels deployed after 105,000 gallons leak into ocean from burst pipeline
  • Rescuers try to save wildlife from oil around Santa Barbara

Workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio state beach in California.

Workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio state beach in California. Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP

A grand jury has brought charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered while in police custody, Baltimore city’s state attorney, Marilyn Mosby, told a news conference on Thursday. Gray’s death on 19 April set off weeks of largely peaceful protests in Baltimore, punctuated by a day of rioting and arson after his funeral on 27 April, when rioters threw rocks at police and set buildings and cars on fire.

 

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Berenice left Honduras ready for the risks of crossing the border but like many families hope dissipated upon learning of life in captivity indefinitely in the US

Berenice, Honduran immigrant, Dilley detention center, Texas

Berenice with her four-year-old daughter. The two were being held at the Dilley detention center in south Texas – a family residential facility that migrant mothers call a prison. Photograph: Tim Knox for the Guardian

in Bay Shore, New York

It’s not as though the weeks leading up to Berenice’s suicide attempt in a US immigration family detention center in Texas were a bed of roses.

She’d fled her native town, Tocoa in Honduras, after her family had received death threats from a local gang.

Last November, she set out with her four-year-old daughter on the perilous 1,600-mile journey north to the US border in search of a safe future for the little girl. They snuck a free ride on the freight train known with reason as “La Bestia”. As she entered Mexico she had to grease the palms of Mexican immigration officers with $400, then as she left the country into the US, crossing the Rio Grande in a flimsy inflatable raft, she had to pay again, this time $800 to the Mexican drug syndicate the Gulf cartel.

It was testament to the powerful attraction of the US that she was prepared to risk so much in the hope of giving her child a better life. It was testament to a different kind of US power that – having endured the violence in Honduras, the dangers of the journey, the threats and the bribes and the cartels – it was not until she was in the “care” of the US immigration service that she felt driven to end her own life………………………

child

 

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Tzipi Hotovely gives speech to Israeli diplomats in which she says she will try to achieve global recognition for West Bank settlements

Israel’s new deputy foreign minister on Thursday delivered a defiant message to the international community, saying that Israel owes no apologies for its policies in the Holy Land and citing religious texts to back her belief that it belongs to the Jewish people.

The speech by Tzipi Hotovely illustrated the influence of hardliners in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government, and the challenges he will face as he tries to persuade the world that he is serious about pursuing peace with the Palestinians.

Hotovely, 36, is among a generation of young hardliners in Netanyahu’s Likud party who support West Bank settlement construction and oppose ceding captured land to the Palestinians. Since Netanyahu has a slim one-seat majority in parliament, these lawmakers could complicate any attempt to revive peace talks………………….

 

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Other News & Analysis

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22 May

United States Wars, News and Casualties

War News

Iraq News

43 ISIS elements killed, injured in aerial bombing western Anbar, says Interior Ministry

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – The Interior Ministry announced on Thursday killing and wounding 43 ISIS elements at least in aerial…

Iraqi forces chose to withdraw from Ramadi, says US Army General

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – The US Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed on Thursday that…

ISIS controls 50% of Syria, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

(Iraqinews.com) The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced on Thursday, that ISIS controls 50% of Syria after seizing the…

Iraqi police forces kill suicide bomber who snuck into Baghdad with…

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – On Thursday, a source within the police force in Baghdad province said, that the Iraqi security…

05/21/15 VOA: Islamic State Takes Palmyra, Gains Control of Syria-Iraq Border

Abadi orders investigation into Ramadi’s fall

(IraqiNews.com) Anbar – Anbar provincial council member Mohammed Farhan announced on Thursday the approval of the Commander in Chief of…

Abadi receives heads of three major Russian companies for oil and gas in Moscow

(IraqiNews.com) Baghdad – Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi received on Thursday the heads of three major Russian companies of oil…

Afghanistan

05/21/15 KP: Suicide car bomb attack foiled in key part of Kabul city

05/21/15 Pajhwok: 19 rebels dead in Paktika, Kandahar clashes

05/21/15 NPR: He Calmed Kandahar. But At What Cost?

Coalition Deaths

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21 May

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Senate votes 62-38 to limit debate on a bill granting the White House authority to speed trade deals through Congress

The McGlynn: DAMN!

Obama wants to shift his economic focus towards Asia.

Obama wants to shift his economic focus towards Asia. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Legislation key to sealing a Pacific trade pact passed another important test in the US Senate on Thursday, boosting hopes for a deal that is central to Barack Obama’s strategic shift toward Asia.

The Senate voted 62-38 to limit debate on a bill granting the White House authority to speed trade deals through Congress, which is opposed by many of Obama’s fellow Democrats.

More details soon …

 

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20 May

Obama’s Trade War Against Warren Wounds His Party — and His Legacy

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Obama’s Trade War Against Warren Wounds His Party — and His Legacy

The McGlynn: And our country!

From youtube.com/watch?v=7RteMstd7es: Obama: Elizabeth Warren Is Wrong About The TPP

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Well, this is awkward. A few days ago President Obama literally laughed off Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s concern that his so-called “fast track” provision, which would limit Congressional power regarding trade deals for the next six years, endangers 2010’s Dodd/Frank financial reforms.

“I’d have to be pretty stupid” to sign an agreement that did that, the President said. He was reportedly laughing as he said it.

Just four days later, Canada’s finance minister used a similar trade deal to challenge the “Volcker rule,” a key provision of Dodd/Frank. “I believe — with strong legal basis — that this rule violates the terms of the NAFTA agreement,” Joe Oliver told a banking conference.

As we were saying: awkward.

Many well-informed observers have echoed Warren’s concerns, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “The president is making some fairly nasty remarks about people on the other side, that they don’t understand we’re in the 21st century,” said Stiglitz. “Actually, we do. I don’t think he understands what’s happened in the last third of a century.”

Another critic was Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who wrote that “Senator Warren is entirely correct.”

In fact, the White House appears to be playing word games when it insists that, as paraphrased by Politico’s Ben White, “the fast-track bill currently before Congress includes language that expressly forbids changing U.S. law without congressional action.” That may technically be true. But, by lowering the bar for Senate ratification of trade deals, it makes it easier to pass provisions that would change U.S. law.

Did the president and his team make a mistake in promoting fast-track, or did they knowingly back a provision that could undermine financial reform? Johnson rather convincingly concludes that “the latter, unfortunately, seems more likely.”

Despite these well-informed objections, President Obama isn’t content to merely rebut Warren’s criticism. He has also been attacking her in gratuitously personal terms and was, in the words of interviewer Matt Bai, “unusually irritated” when asked about her objections.
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“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” Obama told Bai. “And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there … (but) her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”

Some very well-informed sources disagree.

Corporate Courts

Fast-track isn’t the only part of the president’s trade initiative that threatens American laws. A provision in past trade treaties, and which reportedly is also included in TPP, cedes enormous power to secret, corporate-backed extrajudicial “courts.” It’s called Investor-State Dispute Resolution (ISDS).

Warren explained how ISDS works: “… highly paid corporate lawyers … go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next.” She told Greg Sargent of The Washington Post that ISDS “doesn’t directly tell countries to repeal regulations. It imposes a financial penalty, which has caused countries to change their regulations…”

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