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23 Aug

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

Read Full Article>>

There have been more than 72,000 fire outbreaks in Brazil so far this year, up 84% on the same period in 2018, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research. More than half were in the Amazon. It followed reports that farmers were feeling emboldened to clear land for crop fields and cattle ranches because the new Brazilian government was keen to open up the region to economic activity. The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, instead accused environmental groups of starting fires
Jair Bolsonaro claims NGOs behind Amazon forest fire surge – but provides no evidence

Why people should be worried about the blazes and increased deforestation in Brazil

A satellite image shows smoke rising from Amazon forest fires in Rondônia state, Brazil

A satellite image shows smoke rising from Amazon forest fires in Rondônia state, Brazil. Photograph: Reuters

What is happening in the Amazon?

Thousands of fires are burning in Brazil, many of them in the world’s biggest rainforest, which is sending clouds of smoke across the region and pumping alarming quantities of carbon into the world’s atmosphere.

Does this happen every year?

Yes, but some areas have suffered far more than usual. In the worst-affected Brazilian state of Amazonas, the peak day this month was 700% higher than the average for the same date over the past 15 years. In other states, the amount of ash and other particulates in August has hit the highest level since 2010.

What is the cause?

Most of the fires are agricultural, either smallholders burning stubble after harvest, or farmers clearing forest for cropland. Illegal land-grabbers also destroy trees so they can raise the value of the property they seize. But they are man-made and mostly deliberate. Unlike the huge recent blazes in Siberia and Alaska, the Amazon fires are very unlikely to have been caused by lightning.

Is the entire forest ablaze?

No. Satellite monitoring experts say the images of an entire forest ablaze are exaggerated. A great deal of misinformation has been spread by social media, including the use of striking images from previous years’ burning seasons. This week, there are more large fires in Colombia and eastern Brazil than in the Amazon. Most of the agricultural burn-offs are in deforested areas. But there are also fires in protected reserves.

So should we still be concerned?

Extremely. The fires are mostly illegal and they are degrading the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink and most important home for biodiversity. They also contribute to a more important trend, which is an alarming rise in deforestation. Scientists say the Amazon is approaching a tipping point, after which it will irreversibly degrade into a dry savannah. At a time when the world needs billions more trees to absorb carbon and stabilise the climate, the planet is losing its biggest rainforest.

How much forest is being lost?

In July, deforestation spiked to a level not seen in more than a decade. According to preliminary satellite data from Brazil’s space agency, trees were being cleared at the rate of five football pitches every minute. Over the single month, 2,254 sq km (870 sq miles) were lost, a rise of 278% on the same month last year. Scientists say this year could be the first for 10 years in which 10,000 sq km of Amazon are lost.

Is this the fault of the Brazilian president?

Jair Bolsonaro has made things a lot worse by weakening the environment agency, attacking conservation NGOs and promoting the opening of the Amazon to mining, farming and logging. The far-right leader has dismissed satellite data on deforestation and fired the head of the space agency. But it is not solely his fault. The agricultural lobby is powerful in Brazil and it has steadily eroded the protection system that was so successful from 2005-2014. Deforestation crept up in the past five years under the previous presidents Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer. The rate has accelerated rapidly in the first eight months of Bolsonaro’s rule. But this is not just about him, politics or Brazil. There are also huge fires in Bolivia, which has a leftwing populist president.

What is the outside world doing?

The UN secretary general and many world leaders and celebrities have expressed concern. The Amazon will be high on the agenda for G7 leaders at a summit in France this weekend. They are likely to make a strong statement condemning the recent increase in deforestation and urge Brazil to restore the Amazon protections that previously made the country a global environmental leader.

Is that enough?

No. The priority should be building a buffer against the tipping point and drawing down emissions, which means not just protection of the Amazon but massive reforestation. This will require far more financial support than anything seen until now. For this to be effective, governments will also need to align their environment and trade policies. Currently countries like the UK spend small sums on overseas conservation, then promote billions of dollars worth of trade in beef, soy, timber, minerals and other products that undermine Amazon protection efforts. Politicians should also listen more to the voices of the people who live in the forest, such as indigenous groups and riverine communities.

Indigenous people from the Mura tribe show a deforested area in Amazonas state

Indigenous people from the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands in Amazonas state. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

What can individuals do?

The most important actions are political and collective. Join a party or campaign group that makes the Amazon a priority. Through these groups, urge your elected representatives to block trade deals with countries that destroy their forests and to provide more support for countries that expand tree cover.

Apart from this, donate to organisations that support the forest, forest dwellers and biodiversity, including Instituto Socioambiental, Amazon Watch, WWF, Greenpeace, Imazon, International Rivers and Friends of the Earth.

As consumers, think twice before buying Brazilian beef or other products unless certified by groups such as Rainforest Alliance. The Amazon connection is not always obvious.

Brazil’s handling of forest fires set to top agenda of G7 countries at meeting in Biarritz this weekend

Amazon fires: what is happening and is there anything we can do?

A raging fire in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Tocantins, Brazil.

A raging fire in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

France and Ireland have said they will oppose an EU trade deal with South American countries unless Brazil takes action to stop the burning of the Amazon.

On the eve of a meeting of the G7 nations in Biarritz, an Élysée source said Emmanuel Macron thought Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, “lied” to him at the G20 meeting in Osaka in June about his climate commitments and therefore France would oppose the Mercosur treaty.

“The decisions and comments of Brazil show that President Bolsonaro has decided not to respect his commitments on the climate or biodiversity,” a French official told AFP.

The Mercosur treaty with four Latin American countries – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – was signed in June after two decades of negotiation but has not yet been ratified.

Earlier on Friday, Ireland’s taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said his government would oppose Mercosur’s ratification.

“There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments,” Varadkar said.

Ireland would need other EU members to help form a blocking minority to stop the deal being passed, but it could be the most feasible form of international leverage on President Jair Bolsonaro to replace protections he has removed and curb the destruction of the rainforest and the lives of indigenous people of the Amazon.

Macron has declared the Amazonian fires an international crisis, adding that the issue would be at the top of the agenda at the G7 summit this weekend in the French seaside town of Biarritz. However, Bolsonaro is likely to be defended by Donald Trump, who regards the far-right Brazilian leader as a close regional ally and has ignored the science underlying the climate crisis.

The German government has not so far mentioned the fate of Mercosur, but it has – along with Norway – halted donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon fund. The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson has said he is “deeply concerned” by the fires in the Amazon, but the government has so far not commented on the fate of Mercosur, which is only due to be ratified in two years, long after Brexit is due.

Varadkar described as “Orwellian” Bolsonaro’s efforts to blame environmental groups for the wildfires consuming the Amazon.

He added: “There is no way we can tell Irish and European farmers to use fewer pesticides, less fertiliser, embrace biodiversity and plant more of their land and expect them to do it, if we do not make trade deals contingent on decent environmental, labour and product standards.”

More On The Environment:

 

World Politics

United States

A question about diversity in a candidate’s forum produced a jaw-dropping response from first-time candidate Jean Cramer

Marysville, Michigan, is 98% white and 0.3% African American.

For the first hour of the election forum in Marysville, Michigan, on Thursday night the debate between the five candidates for a city council seat dealt with the local subjects you might expect – how to improve Little League fields, new real estate developments and the like.

Then the question came: “Do you believe the diversity of our community needs to be looked at?”

First to answer was Jean Cramer, a local resident running her first political campaign. She replied: “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.”

Her response, reported by the Times-Herald newspaper in Port Huron, sent a ripple of laughter and then shock across the hall. Marysville, a small town of 10,000 north-east of Detroit, is 98% white and 0.3% African American.

Cramer’s unalloyed remark was immediately denounced by other Marysville figures. The town’s acting mayor, Kathy Hayman, said: “I don’t even know that I can talk yet, I’m so upset and shocked.”

Hayman added that her father was Syrian. “So basically, what you’ve said is that my father and his family had no business in this community.”

The outgoing mayor, Dan Damman, called Cramer’s comments “as vile as they were jaw-dropping”.

After the forum ended, Cramer doubled down on her racist outburst to the Times Herald.

She insisted she was not “against blacks” but went on to say: “A husband and wife need to be the same race … That’s how it’s been [since] … God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time.”

Paradoxically, of the five candidates in November’s mayoral election, Cramer has the weakest roots within Marysville. The other four were born in the town or have lived there for decades, but as the Times Herald pointed out she only moved to the community within the last 10 years.

  • The email, from the immigration review office, was sent to immigration court employees

DOJ emails employees link to white nationalist website – report

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21 Aug

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

Pell’s lawyers set to make last-ditch appeal to High Court

By Adam Cooper

The strength of one judge’s support for George Pell has given the disgraced cardinal’s legal team hope his convictions on child sex abuse charges could be overturned by the High Court.

Pell, 78, remained behind bars last night after Victoria’s highest court upheld five child sex abuse convictions in a 2-1 majority ruling that means he is still the highest ranking Catholic cleric to be jailed for pedophilia.

Paedophile George Pell leaves Melbourne's Supreme Court building in handcuffs on Wednesday.

Paedophile George Pell leaves Melbourne’s Supreme Court building in handcuffs on Wednesday.Credit:Jason South

His lawyers are now seriously considering whether to continue his legal fight in the High Court – a decision that needs to be made within 28 days.

Pell was “obviously disappointed” with the ruling, his spokeswoman Katrina Lee said.

“However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgment in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court. While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence,” Ms Lee said.

The Vatican, which launched an investigation into Pell’s crimes after he was found guilty last year, will hold off taking any action against the cardinal until the appeal process is exhausted in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his “sympathies are with victims of child sexual abuse not just today but every day”, and revealed it was likely Pell would be stripped of his Order of Australia.

Meanwhile Pell’s surviving victim, who is now a father in his 30s, said he hoped the stressful four-year long legal process he had endured since reporting the abuse to police in 2015 would finally be over.

“Some commentators have suggested that I reported to the police somehow for my own personal gain. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer Vivian Waller.

Pell has served more than 170 days in jail since being found guilty of abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in the 1990s.

The appeal decision means he must serve three years and eight months of his six year jail sentence before he is eligible for parole.

The 2-1 split among at Court of Appeal judges saw Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Justice Chris Maxwell decide to dismiss Pell’s appeal and uphold his convictions.

“[The victim] came across as someone who was telling the truth. He did not seek to embellish his evidence or tailor it in a manner favourable to the prosecution,” the two judges said.

“Nothing about his answers under cross-examination suggested that he was concocting, or embellishing, or ‘fantasising’.”

The two judges found it was possible Pell had the time and opportunity to assault the two choirboys and that the archbishop’s robes he was wearing at the time could have been “moved or pulled to one side or pulled apart”.

But Justice Mark Weinberg, a former Federal Court judge who presided over the trial of Melbourne’s Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas last year, said he believed there was a “significant possibility” the cardinal did not commit the crimes and would have acquitted him.

Justice Weinberg said he could not exclude the possibility that some parts of the former choirboy’s testimony were “concocted”.

Justice Mark Weinberg would have acquitted George Pell.

Justice Mark Weinberg would have acquitted George Pell.

His dissenting view accounted for two thirds of the 325-page appeal judgment.

“There was ample material upon which [the victim’s] account could be legitimately subject to criticism. There were inconsistencies, and discrepancies, and a number of his answers simply made no sense,” he said.

Justice Weinberg wrote he was “troubled” that he had a different view from his two respected colleagues, but likened his position to one once held by former governor-general William Deane, who as a High Court judge once took the minority view that Lindy Chamberlain should be acquitted of the murder of daughter Azaria.

Professor Jeremy Gans, from the University of Melbourne, said Justice Weinberg’s standing as one of Australia’s most respected jurists would carry weight with the High Court, and increase the chances of Pell fighting on.

“This case has divided a nation and clearly it’s divided the court and [Justice Weinberg] is not papering over that in his judgment,” Professor Gans said.

Victorian Bar president Matt Collins, QC, said it was notable three “intelligent minds didn’t reach the same conclusions” and also expected a High Court challenge.

The experts said the High Court could decide to hear Pell’s case if there was an issue with a point of law or an issue with the administration of justice.

Protesters and supporters of abuse survivors outside Melbourne's Supreme Court building on Wednesday.

Protesters and supporters of abuse survivors outside Melbourne’s Supreme Court building on Wednesday.Credit:Justin McManus

The High Court hears about 50 cases a year, but rejects far more. In 2017-18, it granted special leave for only 65 cases from 430 applications. In the past year the High Court has set aside at least four decisions made by the Victorian Court of Appeal.

If Pell’s case goes before the full bench – up to seven judges – of the High Court, it might not be heard until the second half of next year.

Read Full Article>>

Tracking the melt in Greenland’s ice sheet – in pictures

Former Vatican treasurer, and most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of child sexual assault, maintains innocence after losing appeal

Cardinal George Pell is taken from the supreme court in Melbourne, Australia, back to jail after his appeal against child sexual abuse convictions was dismissed.

Cardinal George Pell is taken from the court in Melbourne, Australia, back to jail after his appeal against child sexual abuse convictions was dismissed. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

The most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell, has lost his appeal against his conviction, but maintains he is innocent.

In a brief statement issued after the decision the Vatican reiterated that Pell maintained his innocence, and that it was now “Pell’s right to appeal to the high court”.

“At this time, together with the church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members who commit such abuse,” the statement also said. No mention was made of stripping Pell of his cardinal title.

On Wednesday the Victorian court of appeal in Melbourne, Australia, dismissed Pell’s appeal, with two of the three appellant judges describing the complainant who accused Pell as a compelling, truthful witness.

The Vatican’s response after Cardinal George Pell loses his appeal on child sexual assault conviction. Melbourne, Australia. 21 August 20.

The Vatican’s response. Photograph: Declaration of the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, 21.08.2019

The jury had not been unreasonable in convicting Pell on one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of an indecent act against a child under the age of 16, the chief justice, Anne Ferguson, and appeal court president justice, Chris Maxwell, found.

A third judge, Mark Weinberg, disagreed, finding the complainant was inclined to embellish aspects of his testimony and that he could not exclude the possibility that some of what he said was concocted. But in the court of appeal judges are required only to reach a majority decision.

Pell was escorted back to jail, where he will continue to serve a six-year sentence for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996, while he was archbishop of Melbourne. After Sunday solemn mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Pell orally raped one of the boys in the priest’s sacristy and indecently assaulted both of them. Pell offended again against one of the boys about a month later, when he grabbed the boy’s genitals in the church corridor, once more after Sunday solemn mass.

“Throughout his evidence, [the complainant] came across as someone who was telling the truth,” Ferguson said. “He did not seek to embellish his evidence or tailor it in a manner favourable to the prosecution. As might have been expected, there were some things which he could remember and many things which he could not. And his explanations of why that was so had the ring of truth.”

The judges unanimously agreed that Pell’s other two grounds of appeal, which concerned legal issues, failed. He will be eligible for parole in 2022.

Through his lawyer the complainant issued a statement, saying: “Some commentators have suggested that I reported to the police somehow for my own personal gain.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I have risked my privacy, my health, my wellbeing, my family. I have not instructed any solicitor in relation to a claim for compensation. This is not about money and never had been. Although my faith has taken a battering it is still a part of my life, and part of the lives of my loved ones.”

The second victim died of a heroin overdose at the age of 30 in 2014, and his father shed tears after the appeal dismissal.

In a statement, Pell’s spokeswoman said the cardinal was “obviously disappointed with the decision today”.

“However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgment in order to determine a special leave application to the high court. Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence. We thank his many supporters.”

When he learned his fate in the court, Pell bowed his head slightly, but did not show any expression.

Pell was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2005 for his service to the Catholic church and for his work in education and social justice. Following the court decision, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he believed Pell would be stripped of those honours.

“That is a process that is done independently, and that course will now follow,” he said.

The archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, called upon the public to respect the court’s decision. He said that his thoughts and prayers were with the man who had brought Pell before the courts.

“I humbly acknowledge it has been a challenging time for him, and I stand ready to offer pastoral care and spiritual help, should he seek it,” Comensoli said. Pell, too, would receive care. “In Christian charity, I will ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison,” he said.

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, offered similar sentiments, saying: “This has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them”.

“We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell,” Coleridge said. “We also acknowledge that this judgment will be distressing to many people.”

The decision and reasons from the appellant judges ran to some 300 pages, but Ferguson read a summary of the judgment to a court packed with media, survivors and Pell supporters on Wednesday.

“Cardinal Pell’s conviction and this appeal have attracted widespread attention, both in Australia and beyond,” she said.

“He is a senior figure in the Catholic church and is internationally well known. As the trial judge, Chief Judge Kidd, commented when sentencing Cardinal Pell, there has been vigorous and sometimes emotional criticism of the cardinal and he has been publicly vilified in some sections of the community. There has also been strong public support for the cardinal by others. Indeed, it is fair to say that his case has divided the community.”

She said it was important that Pell was not made a scapegoat for any perceived failings of the Catholic church to address child sexual abuse. But she was unequivocal about her and Maxwell’s judgment in relation to the five charges on which Pell was convicted.

“The complainant was a very compelling witness, was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth,” she said.

World Politics

United States

US president faces criticism for calling off Denmark trip after he is told Greenland not for sale

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen (left), rebuffed Donald Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory.

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen (left), rebuffed Donald Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Bemusement has turned to fury in Denmark after Donald Trump called off his planned visit to the country over Copenhagen’s refusal to sell Greenland to the US.

Politicians from across the spectrum were united in their condemnation of the US president, and the prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, who had previously branded Trump’s Greenland proposal “absurd”, is due to give a press conference in the afternoon.

“There are already many good reasons to think that the man is a fool, and now he has given another good reason,” Eva Flyvholm, the foreign policy chair for Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance, told Danish media.

The former prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt tweeted that the move was “deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark,” while Villy Søvndal, a former foreign minister, said the decision “confirms that Donald Trump is a narcissistic fool”.

Trump had been due to visit Denmark in early September but announced on Twitter late on Tuesday night that there was no longer any point in the visit. “Based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump wrote. The White House later confirmed the visit had been called off.

Søvndal told the Danish newspaper Berlingske that Trump’s decision showed he was unaware of the basic rules of diplomacy. “If he had been a clown in a circus, you could probably say that there is considerable entertainment value. The problem is that he is the president of the most powerful nation in the world,” he said.

The awkwardness was compounded by the fact that just a few hours before Trump made his announcement, the US ambassador to Denmark had tweeted her excitement about the upcoming visit. “Denmark is ready for the POTUS visit! Partner, ally, friend,” she wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Danish royal household, which had formally invited Trump, said she was surprised by the cancellation.

Greenland, a vast island bordering the Arctic Ocean that is 85% covered in ice, was a Danish colony until 1953. In 1979 it gained “autonomous territory” status but the island’s economy depends heavily on Danish subsidies. It has 55,000 inhabitants, many of whom favour full independence from Denmark.

Initially, many in Denmark had assumed the story of Trump’s desire to buy the large, sparsely populated island was either meant in jest or as a distraction tactic. Trump even tweeted a photograph of a small Greenland village with a large Trump tower Photoshopped in. But it appears the president was serious about the proposal, or at least offended by the firm rebuff it received.

What Greenlanders say about Trump’s interest in their country – video report

Kristian Mouritzen, Berlingske’s defence and security correspondent, said the initial reaction was one of “shock and amazement” that the question of buying Greenland was seriously being raised. “In my long life I can never recall a friendly nation making a meeting dependent on a willingness to sell part of your territory. It’s like trying to buy Scotland. It’s out of the question.”

He said Trump’s move had led to a rare moment of unity among all major Danish political forces, but added that once the dust has settled, the government would look to salvage whatever was possible from the disaster. “We have a lot of issues with the US: climate change, the Iran deal and now also Greenland, so I think now the government will look to play it safe and try to build some bridges via diplomatic channels.”

Government officials in Greenland made it clear the island was not for sale but welcomed increased US interest.

“The ridiculous idea of ??building a Trump tower in a village in Greenland makes us laugh. At the same time, his interest in Greenland has sparked a new debate about Greenlandic independence from Denmark,” said Poul Krarup, the editor-in-chief of Sermitsiaq, one of Greenland’s two newspapers.

The US has an airbase and a radar station in Greenland, and Krarup said there was a willingness to discuss further military cooperation with the US, including more airbases or submarine monitoring stations. He said it was baffling that China had so far shown much more interest than the US in partnerships with Greenland.

“It is only now under Trump that the US understands Greenland’s importance to US security policy. If Trump is prepared to spend money on development in Greenland, he is most welcome. It will help Greenland achieve more economic independence from Denmark,” said Krarup. “But we are not for sale.”

President’s remarks seemed to refer to a perception that Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to both America and Israel

Trump: Jewish people who vote Democrat show ‘great disloyalty’ – video

Donald Trump used an apparently antisemitic trope when accusing Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats as showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”.

The remarks came as part of a barrage of disparaging comments that threaten to re-ignite an ongoing feud with the Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. They seemed to refer to a perception that Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to both America and Israel.

Trump, who recently encouraged Israel to block Tlaib’s visit to see her family in the occupied territories, lashed out after the congresswomen criticized Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for denying them entry, vowing that the Israeli leader would not “succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us”.

Calling Omar a “disaster” for Jews, Trump said he didn’t “buy” the tears Tlaib had shed Monday at an emotional press conference during which Tlaib talked about her decision not to travel to Israel to see her elderly grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank.

“Where has the Democratic party gone?” Trump asked reporters at the White House. He then went on to apparently refer to Jewish Americans’ supposed loyalties to Israel and how voting Democratic was disloyal to the country. “Where have they gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Accusing Jewish Americans of having dual loyalties to America and Israel is widely seen as an antisemitic trope. The comment provoked immediate condemnation from a raft of American Jewish leaders.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out on Twitter that charges of disloyalty “have long been used to attack Jews … It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football”.

J Street, the progressive Jewish American lobbying group, released a statement in which it called Trump’s remarks “dangerous and shameful”. It noted that 70% of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton against Trump in the 2016 presidential race, adding “this vast majority of our community rejected and continues to abhor the xenophobia, bigotry and extremism of Donald Trump and his allies”.

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, also waded in. Calling himself “a proud Jewish person”, he said: “I have no concerns about voting Democratic. And in fact I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States.”

This is not the first time that Trump has been castigated for invoking the “dual loyalty” antisemitic trope. In April he called Netanyahu “your prime minister” in front of the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.

Bernie Sanders announces plan to double union membership if elected>>

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Trump backs further away from tightening gun controls – as it happened>>

Trump flips stance on gun background checks, citing ‘very strong’ laws in place>>

Trump cancels Denmark trip after PM says Greenland is not for sale>>

Revealed: emails raise ethical questions over Trump official’s role in gas project>>

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19 Aug

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

‘Oh please God no’: Greenland reacts with horror at Trump plan to buy island

Local politician urges Denmark to grant independence to territory rather than sell to US

Tom Embury-Dennis

Greenlanders have reacted angrily after reports emerged Donald Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of buying the island from Denmark.

The US president has suggested purchasing the vast Arctic territory on numerous occasions with staff after hearing about its natural resources and geopolitical importance, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He has even reportedly asked his White House counsel to explore the idea, although it remains unclear how negotiations would be carried out.

But residents in Greenland’s capital Nuuk met the proposal with short shrift.

“No thanks to Trump buying Greenland!” tweeted Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, a Greenlandic politician representing one of two seats for the island in the Danish parliament.

She urged the Danish authorities instead to create a “more equal partnership” with Greenland and to ultimately grant it independence.

One local simply responded, “Oh please God no”, at the prospect, while another tweeted, We are not something you can just buy. Keep away from our country, adding the hashtag #Jerk.

If United States of America buy me and my Greenland fellows then what? Are you sure? @WhiteHouse @realDonaldTrump, tweeted one Nuuk expedition company employee.

Danish politicians also mocked Mr Trump’s idea.

If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad, foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, Soren Espersen, told broadcaster DR.

The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous, he said.

Former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen tweeted: It has to be an April Fool’s joke … Totally out of season!

Read Full Article>>

100 years after hundreds of African Americans were reportedly killed in Elaine, Arkansas, a memorial is set to bring details of the tragedy to light

Some observers say the number of people who died in Elaine in 1919 could be more than 800, which would make it the deadliest massacre of African Americans in US history

Some observers say the number of people who died in Elaine in 1919 could be more than 800, which would make it the deadliest massacre of African Americans in US history. Photograph: Albert Cesare/AP

Charlie McClain was surprised to learn that he was related to one of the Elaine Twelve.

It came out when McClain, 58, asked his mother earlier this year about the largely forgotten mass killings in his Arkansas Delta home town a century ago, when white mobs murdered scores of African Americans, but only a dozen black men were ever prosecuted for any crime during the disturbances.

“When I got off the phone, I went back and looked at my notes, and I recognized the name: Paul Hall,” McClain said.

The Elaine Twelve were a group of black defendants sentenced to death for what transpired in the autumn of 1919, after an all-white jury found them guilty within eight minutes. Black witnesses later testified that they had been tortured into giving false testimonies and the 12 were eventually released – though no white people were ever charged for any crime.

The lessons that we can learn from 100 years ago are relevant today as we navigate race relations in the 21st century.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office

“It was a kangaroo trial,” said Audrey Evans, a retired federal judge, who is part of the planning committee for the Elaine Massacre Memorial in nearby Helena. They are now preparing to commemorate the town’s bloody and largely forgotten past.

What happened a century ago is still a point of contention, but the general consensus today is this: a white mob, upset over African Americans organizing to demand fair wages, descended upon a church in the township of Hoop Spur, just up the road from Elaine, on 31 September 1919.

A shot was fired – by which “side” is still up for debate – and a white man was killed. News of a “black insurrection” spread to neighboring communities and hundreds more white men poured in, including federal troops, the Arkansas governor, Charles Brough, and newly deputized soldiers from the American Legion.

The violence spread beyond the church to more communities, and African Americans were killed in their homes and streets. There’s a commonly told story of a family who were off celebrating their son’s return from the first world war, who were pulled off of a train on their way home and killed.

In the end, hundreds of African Americans were reportedly killed. The most frequently touted number is 237, but some observers say the number could be more than 800, which would make it the deadliest massacre of African Americans in US history.

In this 1919 photo provided by the Chicago History Museum, armed National Guard and African American men stand on a sidewalk during race riots in Chicago.

In this 1919 photo provided by the Chicago History Museum, armed national guard and African American men stand on a sidewalk during race riots in Chicago. Photograph: Chicago History Museum/AP

“It’s hard without a number. A lot of people sort of gauge these, rank these by the number of dead,” said Brian Mitchell, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, explaining that they came toward the end of the Red Summer – a year where an unprecedented number of African Americans were attacked across the US, including dozens killed in cities like Chicago and Washington DC.

“One of the things that’s fascinating about Elaine is so much of what we consider the Red Summer was urban, you know, big cities with immigrant communities and poor whites butting up against blacks for resources as blacks begin to migrate to the industrial north. Elaine is rural, and the dynamics are also labor, but it’s more controlling. Making sure things don’t change. That blacks remain in their position. That they’re not getting higher pay.”

Despite the horrific story, the news of the mass killings has been largely absent from popular consciousness in Elaine – and indeed the Red Summer as a whole is little known across the US.

Not only did McClain never hear about his ancestor’s role as one of the Elaine Twelve until recently, he also never learned about the massacre at all until he was in his 30s and had left Arkansas.

“Imagine growing up in a place where something this tragic happens and you find out decades later,” he said.

McClain isn’t the only one who grew up unaware of the tragedy that took place in a place he loved, that has shrunk to a community of about 500 to 600 people.

Faye Duncan-Daniel, who grew up just down the road in Ratio, learned about the massacre when she got to college in Boston. There, she stumbled across it while researching another topic.

“If it was mentioned, it was not given the kind of weightiness that would spark your memory,” Duncan-Daniel said, who is part of a small group of people gathering donations and resources for the future Elaine Legacy Center.

With the centenary quickly approaching, more attention is being devoted to educating and investigating everything that happened so long ago.

Next month, the Elaine Massacre Memorial will be unveiled and will sit directly across from the courthouse where the trials for the Elaine Twelve were held. The committee includes descendants of both the victims and perpetrators.

A monument under construction in June, honoring victims of the Elaine Massacre.

A monument under construction in June, honoring victims of the Elaine Massacre. Photograph: Noreen Nasir/AP

“The Elaine Massacre marked one of the darkest moments in our state’s history,” the office of Arkansas’s governor, said in an email. “The 100th anniversary is re-energizing a statewide conversation about a tragic event in our history. The lessons that we can learn from 100 years ago are relevant today as we navigate race relations in the 21st century. I’m grateful that we as a state are taking the opportunity to remember the history and learn from it.”

The issue of reparations has also arisen, as victims’ descendants and activists start digging more actively into the past and demand justice, especially for the thorny issue of land allegedly grabbed from blacks by whites in the aftermath of the killings.

Stories of stolen land have been passed down in families to the point where there are now calls to investigate the claims. Wendell Griffen, a circuit judge and pastor who chaired a truth-telling commission earlier this year, said a “false narrative” has been presented about what happened in Elaine.

“That narrative has disregarded and worked to conceal and/or attempt to discredit reports that ownership of thousands of acres of land owned by black people in Elaine and South Phillips county mysteriously changed from black people to white people in the aftermath of the massacre,” Griffen wrote.

But so far no documents have emerged to corroborate any oral claims of land theft, according to Brian Mitchell. Together with his graduate students, Mitchell has tracked down more than 10,000 documents, often going through attics and old office buildings.

“In fact, we looked at the 1910 census to see if there was substantial land ownership there, and we didn’t see much black land ownership and we haven’t seen any documents that pull that narrative together,” Mitchell said.

He also expects it to be difficult for descendants to claim reparations based on the fact that there is still no complete record of who was killed. While some estimates are high, some, including one former mayor of Elaine, maintain the number of those killed is much smaller, or never happened at all.

“I did a presentation at the Arkansas Historical Association, and there was one guy who kept yelling, ‘Show me a body!’” Mitchell said.

A mound in a field in Wabash, Arkansas that is believed by some to be a mass grave of victims of the 1919 massacre in Elaine.

A mound in a field in Wabash, Arkansas that is believed by some to be a mass grave of victims of the 1919 massacre in Elaine. Photograph: Albert Cesare/AP

Mitchell said finding bodies of those killed in 1919, especially in alleged mass graves around Elaine, would help answer a lot of questions. Mitchell and others are currently pushing for state officials to be more involved in conducting investigations into what happened and unearthing and marking gravesites.

“Even if the numbers are at 100 or slightly above that, there would have had to have been burials of these individuals,” Mitchell said. “As it stands, even for the people we know who died there, no one knows the exact location.”

Some Elaine and Helena residents interviewed for this article talked about visible mounds of earth that have changed in size, due to flooding and the Mississippi River shifting course over the last 100 years. Mitchell says there’s no certainty that’s where the bodies are buried.

“If I did [know where they were], I would be out with a shovel. I’d be on the phone with archeologists right now, going out to excavate,” Mitchell said.

As for McClain, he is more interested in getting answers than reparations.

“I’m not out to get even with anyone, but just for my peace of mind, I’d really like to know what happened,” McClain said.

Nation commemorates the once huge Okjokull glacier with plaque that warns action is needed to prevent climate change

A ceremony to mark the passing of Okjokull, Iceland’s first glacier lost to climate change. It once covered 16sq km but has melted to a fraction.

A ceremony to mark the passing of Okjokull, Iceland’s first glacier lost to climate change. It once covered 16sq km but has melted to a fraction. Photograph: Jeremie Richard/AFP/Getty Images

Iceland has marked its first-ever loss of a glacier to climate change as scientists warn that hundreds of other ice sheets on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on the barren terrain once covered by the Okjokull glacier in western Iceland.

Around 100 people walked up the mountain for the ceremony, including Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, former UN human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, and local reseachers and colleagues from the United States from who pioneered the commemoration project.

The plaque, which is titled ‘A letter to the future’.

The plaque, which is titled ‘A letter to the future’. Photograph: Jeremie Richard/AFP/Getty Images

“I hope this ceremony will be an inspiration not only to us here in Iceland but also for the rest of the world, because what we are seeing here is just one face of the climate crisis,” Jakobsdottir said.

The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future”, and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.

A girl poses with a placard walks to the plaque site.

A girl poses with a placard walks to the plaque site. Photograph: Jeremie Richard/AFP/Getty Images

It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2”, referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

Julien Weiss, an aerodynamics professor at the University of Berlin who attended the ceremony with his wife and seven-year-old daughter, was one of those moved by the occasion.

“Seeing a glacier disappear is something you can feel, you can understand it and it’s pretty visual,” he said.

“You don’t feel climate change daily, it’s something that happens very slowly on a human scale, but very quickly on a geological scale.”

The plaque is unveiled.

The plaque is unveiled. Photograph: Jeremie Richard/AFP/Getty Images

The plaque is “the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world”, according to Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University in Texas.

“By memorialising a fallen glacier, we want to emphasise what is being lost – or dying – the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ’accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.”

Iceland loses about 11bn tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe. Glaciers cover about 11% of the country’s surface.

Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland. In 1890, the glacier ice covered 16sq km (6.2 square miles) but by 2012 it measured just 0.7sq km, according to a report from the University of Iceland in 2017.

In 2014, “we made the decision that this was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving”, Oddur Sigurdsson, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.

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World Politics

United States

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US president Trump speaks to the media in New Jersey about the US buying Greenland from Denmark for strategic reasons. ‘It’s just something we talked about..so the concept came up… but it’s not number one on the burner,’ Mr Trump says. ‘They’re losing $700 million a year carrying it.’

The former congressman has put $24m of his own cash into an increasingly quixotic presidential run – and he’s ploughing on despite a near total lack of support

John Delaney speaks at the Wing Ding fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa. What Delaney lacks in support, he makes up for in optimism.

John Delaney speaks at the Wing Ding fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa. What Delaney lacks in support, he makes up for in optimism. Photograph: Brian Cahn/Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock

John Delaney has poured a staggering $24m of his own money into running for president. He has been campaigning for the White House for more than two years, and in that time has held more than 200 events in Iowa.

On one recent Thursday morning, these efforts translated into a grand total of 11 people coming out to see Delaney, at a campaign event in the small town of Algona, in the north of the state.

The former Maryland congressman, former businessman and formerly much wealthier candidate is one of a slew of long-shot candidates for the Democratic nomination. In a crowded, historically diverse field, Delaney is part of a group of white, middle-aged men who are forging ahead with their increasingly quixotic presidential campaigns in spite of a collective lack of support.

Delaney strode into Miller’s Sports Bar & Grill, one of a chain of bars across Iowa, just after 10am. One of his team had taped a couple of Delaney 2020 campaign posters to a wall in the back of the bar, and a sign-up list was on a table. The crowd, all silver haired apart from a thirtysomething man who walked in late, were sitting patiently at four different tables.

Clad in the off-duty politician’s uniform of open-necked shirt, blue jeans and casual brown shoes, Delaney got to work, vigorously shaking 11 hands. One member of the crowd was immediately impressed with the 56-year-old.

“You actually look even better than you do on TV,” one woman said.

“I think I’m just going to stay around here,” Delaney quipped.

If Delaney was disappointed with the turnout, he didn’t show it. Besides, in a way, the 11-person crowd was a positive. The night before, on Delaney’s Facebook page, just two people had said they would attend, and one of those was his campaign director.

Delaney, who served in Congress for six years before resigning to run for president, was joking when he said he might just stay around Iowa. But in fact, it would be hard for him to spend more time here. The 58-year-old has made 34 separate visits to the state in two years. This trip was the first of three in August. And the actual vote in Iowa – the state’s caucuses – is still six months away.

It’s a grueling schedule. On Thursday alone, Delaney was scheduled to hold five different events in the space of nine and a half hours.

With the pleasantries over at Miller’s Delaney dived into his pitch. The two most important questions in 2020, he said, are: “Who can beat Trump?” and: “Who is the best leader for this country at this moment in time?”

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18 Aug

A McGlynn Moment – “Trumped”

From Three Years Ago

themcglynn

The McGlynn

“Trumped” Starring Matthew Broderick & Nathan

From the producers who brought you “The Producers,” #Trumped is a new musical starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman and the unlikely candidate himself, Donald Trump.

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