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21 Oct

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>>

View All>>

Climate Change Ground Zero Melting Permafrost Imperils Arctic Residents

The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on the planet, and dangers lurk in its frozen soil. Nowhere are the effects of global warming more evident than in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

By

A retreating glacier in Svalbard, Norway

Daniel Etter/ DER SPIEGEL

A retreating glacier in Svalbard, Norway

Kim Holmén reaches the end of the road, gets out of his car and walks the rest of the way. He trudges over rivulets of snowmelt that have turned the earth into mud that sticks to his boots.
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His companion shoulders a rifle that he’s brought along in case they run into any polar bears. Climate change has deprived the creatures of food, but that’s not what Holmén is most afraid of.

He’s the director of the Norwegian Polar Institute on Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean off Norway’s northern coast. The danger Holmén is most concerned about lies directly beneath his feet.

He’s wearing a lined jacket, a pink knitted cap and a has a long, gray beard that reaches his chest. Holmén is an eccentric scientist who is deeply concerned about the Arctic climate. “It changes first, the most and the fastest, and that affects the entire world,” he says.

Due to global warming, temperatures up here are rising twice as fast as the global average. Since 1971, the average temperature in Svalbard has jumped by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit). In winter, it’s risen by as much as 7 degrees Celsius. For reference, if winter temperatures in Berlin were to rise that significantly, the German capital wouldn’t be 2 degrees Celsius in January, but 9. In other words, winter would suddenly feel more like spring.

Too Much Thawing

Holmén reaches a low hill. His companion lifts the lid of a narrow wooden box that sticks out of the ground. Inside are cables, batteries and a sensor that reaches 10 meters (33 feet) into the earth, measuring the ground temperature like a thermometer.

Svalbard is a group of rough, lonely islands located about halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, its landscape dominated by rugged mountains and millennia-old glaciers. Fewer than 2,500 people live here. It has a hospital, a science center and a few bars.

When Holmén first arrived here some 30 years ago, the ground thawed to a maximum depth of 1 meter in the summer. Now the measurements show thaws of up to 1.7 meters. Similar things are happening in other parts of the Arctic as well.

Holmén has studied polar climates his entire life — in Siberia, in Greenland and in far-off Antarctica and is well-versed in the problem presented by the thaw. Twenty-four percent of the land mass in the northern hemisphere has a more or less frozen soil, an area larger than all of Russia. That permafrost stores up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon in the form of dead trees, dead animals or withered grass — about twice as much carbon as is currently found in the atmosphere today.
Kim Holmén has been studying polar climates his entire life.

Kim Holmén has been studying polar climates his entire life.
Daniel Etter/ DER SPIEGEL

If this soil thaws, this matter will begin to decompose, releasing greenhouse gases. And if that happens on a large scale, climate change will take on a life of its own. The additional gases will accelerate the rise in global temperatures, which will further exacerbate thawing, which will release more gases. Scientists call such processes “feedbacks.”

Holmén knows the ground is thawing. What he doesn’t know is whether this phenomenon has already reached its tipping point. There are indications that this could, in fact, be the case.

A Climate Run Amok

The implications for humanity are already being experienced by the residents of Svalbard, with inhabitants already struggling to cope with a climate that is rapidly heating up.

Two days after the visit to the measuring station, Holmén and a handful of young scientists pile into a boat with a strong hull and an outboard motor. Clouds hang low over the fjord. Holmén had hoped to already be home by now, but the weather changed. Instead, he’s seizing the opportunity to show the researchers the effects of climate change up close.

The polar explorer doesn’t just look like an eccentric, it runs in his family. His great-grandmother was one of the first women to obtain an academic degree in Finland and was feared for her assertiveness. His father was born in a utopian community in Paraguay. Holmén himself rose through the ranks to become the international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. His expertise has been sought out by the Norwegian queen, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and German Research Minister Anja Karliczek.

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Wildlife photographer of the year 2019 winners – in pictures

World Politics

United States

Trump is peddling hate in Minnesota. To defeat him, look to Hubert Humphrey>>

Justin Amash: Republican who took on Trump won’t rule out White House run>>

Why is Elizabeth Warren vague on healthcare? To allow herself wiggle room>>

Trump loyalists attempt damage control as pressure builds over slew of scandals>>

 

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20 Oct

Sunday Enjoyment

themcglynn

The McGlynn

wildlife

45 Utterly Adorable Baby and Animal Friendships

 

Slideshow-Front-Pic

Baby and animal friendships — if you’re like us, you can never get enough of seeing the special relationship that exists between these two sweet beings. Maybe, it’s the shared innocence. Or perhaps it’s because they know that they belong to a special society of cuteness or they are, in fact, the mayors of Cute Town. Whatever it is, babies and animals just seem to adore each other. And we, of course, adore looking at pictures of these baby and animal friendships that emote pure love. That is why we’ve scoured the interwebs to find you these super “ahhh”-some moments being shared between babies and their four-legged best buddies.

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19 Oct

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>>

View All>>

The week in wildlife – in pictures

20 photographs of the week

 

World Politics

United States

A new book uncovers fresh allegations of the president’s inappropriate sexual behaviour

Donald Trump attends The Miss Universe Guide to Beauty book launch at Trump Tower, New York, in 2006.

Donald Trump attends The Miss Universe Guide to Beauty book launch at Trump Tower, New York, in 2006. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

We all know the story by now. In 2005, Donald Trump was caught on tape bragging that his fame allowed him to sexually assault women. In 2016, as he was running for president, that recording, the so-called Access Hollywood tape, was made public, resulting in a stream of women coming forward and alleging that Trump had groped or otherwise sexually assaulted them. He was elected anyway; the women’s stories didn’t seem to matter. But they should.

If we have understood one thing in the two years since actor Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo, sending the then 11-year-old phrase viral, it is that when women are not listened to, men in positions of power are left free to abuse their authority. When the accused abuser is the president of the United States, those allegations and how they are handled matter all the more. Thanks to his bully pulpit, Trump’s words and actions resonate far beyond the deeds themselves.

And then there is the question of collective responsibility. If we avert our eyes from the allegations of Trump’s abuse because we find it distasteful, we tacitly endorse his behaviour. When we dismiss or ignore his objectification and denigration of women, we legitimise it. Leaving these attitudes and actions unchecked allows them to proliferate.

When the recording was released, Trump brushed it off as “locker-room banter”. A short time later he denied having had affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. We, however, conducted more than 100 interviews in the course of researching our book All the President’s Women and found that the language and the affairs were not mere aberrations. Since his campaign, Trump has already faced allegations from nearly two dozen women. Our book reveals another 43 allegations, bringing the total to 67 accusations of inappropriate behaviour, including 26 instances of unwanted sexual contact. In short, far from being occasional or accidental, his alleged misconduct with women was regular and widespread. We found that Trump repeatedly and systematically engaged in aggressive sexual pursuit of women over many decades and that his alleged behaviour followed discernible patterns. One of those was a predilection for young models.

All of a sudden she heard someone shout: ‘Put your robes on, here he comes!’

In the early 1980s, NaKina Carr was working in New York for Oscar de la Renta and was backstage in the models’ dressing room at one of his fashion shows when she heard Trump’s name mentioned for the first time. She was getting ready when all of a sudden she heard someone shout: “Put your robes on, here he comes!”

At 21, the Texas native was already on the older side for a catwalk model, who generally start working when they are in their teens, but she was new to New York and had no idea what was going on. “I didn’t know what they were talking about … but suddenly everyone threw on their dressing robes,” Carr said, speaking publicly about her memories of Trump for the first time. Carr asked another woman what was wrong, and she pointed to a man across the room. “She said: ‘He’s the money man. He can do whatever he wants … Unless you’re a gold digger, you avoid him at all costs.’”

Trump walked in as if he owned the place, according to Carr’s account, with a pregnant Ivana, his first wife, trailing behind him. “He threw his arms wide open and said: ‘OK now ladies, drop ’em,’” Carr said. “The one thing I’ll always remember is the dejected look on Ivana’s face in the dressing room. I thought how horrible, that he would treat her in this way.”

As Trump strode around the dressing room, Carr concealed herself behind a pillar, incredulous that someone would be so crude. “The other girls were obviously afraid of him, like they knew he meant it and it wasn’t a joke,” she said. The model was later assured that she was not Trump’s type – at the time the rumours among modelling insiders was that he preferred younger women. “If you’re over 21 you don’t have to worry,” Carr said she was told.

Those rumours appear to be backed up by other accounts of Trump during that era. Model Barbara Pilling was not yet 18 when her booker took her to a party a few days after her arrival in New York, in the summer of 1989. Trump was also in attendance. Pilling didn’t know who the real estate developer was, but she noticed him looking at her. “I could see him eyeing me up and watching me,” she said. She claims that once he caught her gaze, Trump started talking to her. “I remember him saying: ‘Oh, how old are you?’ And I said 17, and he said: ‘That’s just great; you’re not too old, not too young.’”

Pilling said Trump tried to make small talk with her for a while, but his gaze kept veering to her chest. He asked her if she liked where she was living and said he knew great places she could stay if she didn’t. Trump offered to show her the city and to take her to dinner. He told her she was gorgeous, like a dark-haired Marilyn Monroe, and asked her if she would ever consider going blond. “I was starting to feel uncomfortable,” Pilling remembered. “It’s not a nice feeling for a young girl to have an older man making advances on her.” Another model standing nearby whispered to Pilling that Trump clearly liked her, and explained who he was. “I wasn’t impressed by it. I mean, I was only 17.”

From left: Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey speak at news conference in New York, 2017.

From left: Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey speak at news conference in New York, 2017. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Pilling eventually excused herself to go to the restroom, where yet another woman was talking about the developer. “She said he grabbed her ass and kept going for her and was all hands,” Pilling said. Between that and her own conversation with him, Pilling was so disturbed that she left the party without saying goodbye to anyone.

When the Australian Shayna Love was living in New York in 1991, she says models were encouraged to attend dinners that became occasions for “men to pick up girls”. “You’d go to these things and look pretty, give the men attention,” Love said. She was 16 at the time and part of the Elite model agency’s “New Faces” campaign. “We might as well have been called ‘fresh meat’.” Love recalled a dinner with Trump. “This time it was a private area, a big table and lots of girls – I’d say around 10 to 15 of us, all between the ages of 14 and 18,” she said. “It was just us models, Trump and [Elite founder] John [Casablancas]. We were all underage, but we were offered drinks.” Love said she went home early, but other girls stayed.

Trump was often seen with Casablancas. He hosted events for Elite’s modelling contests at his New York properties and provided lodging for the contestants. Eli Nessa had just turned 17 and was representing Norway during one such Elite competition hosted by Trump’s hotel in the early 90s. In addition to the events for the competition, the women were expected to attend several nights of parties. “There were all these older men,” she said. “It was so seedy.” Nessa was accompanied by her agent, but other women appeared to be alone. “I remember this Italian girl, extremely naive, who couldn’t speak any English. She was easy prey. They were all around her,” Nessa said. “We were a bunch of kids, just put there with all these older men.”

Heather Braden was also an Elite model and, in the late 90s, alleges that she was instructed to go to a party in a mansion on one of the islands off Miami Beach. Trump was going to be there, she was told. Braden went with a couple of friends who were also models. When they arrived, the first thing they saw was a table manned by two security guards. The models were handed papers. “I presume they were NDAs for us to sign,” Braden recalled. They ignored the papers and walked into a big room where there were about 50 models. In her mid-20s, Braden was one of the oldest women there. Many were from eastern Europe and didn’t speak English, so Braden and her friends kept to themselves.

They found the party odd. There was no DJ, no food, and no bartender – though there were drinks, Braden remembers. “It was very awkward from the beginning,” she said years later. “Fifty females in this room, no real hosts. Very unusual. And then down this large staircase, in front of all of us, there was Donald Trump and behind him there were three actors, 40s, maybe 50s. I don’t want to name them because they’re all still around.” The actors were famous. “They came down the stairs and spread out like sharks among the girls,” who had broken up into little clusters throughout the room. “Obviously, some of these younger girls were starstruck.”……………………..

‘Clearly, we were there for one reason … We were just pieces of meat’

Read Full Article>>

Hillary Clinton hints Russia is grooming Tulsi Gabbard as third-party candidate>>

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Will Ocasio-Cortez’s Sanders endorsement shake up the 2020 race?>>

‘We were not impressed’: Harry Dunn’s parents on their bizarre day with Trump>>

Mulvaney’s quid pro quo walkback isn’t ‘the least bit credible’, says Schiff – as it happened>>

Trump awarded the G7 to his resort in Doral – without telling anyone in Doral>>

Investigation of Clinton emails ends, finding no ‘deliberate mishandling’>>

 

 

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17 Oct

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>>

View All>>

France’s troubled conservatives elect new leader

French right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party's new leader Christian Jacob arrives to address party members, October 13, 2019 in Paris.

French right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party’s new leader Christian Jacob arrives to address party members, October 13, 2019 in Paris. Martin Bureau, AFP

France’s rightwing Republicans (LR) on Sunday elected Christian Jacob, the current head of the troubled party’s parliamentary group, to steer them to municipal elections in March.

The 59-year-old former minister, who was the favourite in the poll, was elected in the first round with 62.58 percent of the vote, the party said.

With five months to go before France holds municipal elections, Jacob will be tasked with turning around the fortunes of a party that has been in decline for two years.

The Republicans won just 8.48 percent in May’s European Parliament elections, compared with 22.23 percent in France’s 2017 parliamentary polls.

Read Full Article>>

> Caught between Macron and Le Pen, France’s conservatives face ‘catastrophe’>>

Teachers plan to picket at more than 500 schools across city after negotiations between union and district leadership failed

Chicago Teachers Union’s president, Jesse Sharkey, speaks outside Peirce elementary school on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Teachers Union’s president, Jesse Sharkey, speaks outside Peirce elementary school on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois. Photograph: Kamil Krzaczy?ski/AFP via Getty Images

Teachers in the Chicago Public Schools system, the third-largest school district in the US, went on strike on Thursday, canceling classes for 361,000 students after protracted labor negotiations between the union and district leadership failed to produce a deal.

Teachers planned to picket at more than 500 schools across the city beginning at 6.30am local time, before holding a downtown rally and march in the afternoon.

School buildings stayed open for children who need a place to go during the strike, officials said. Schools will serve breakfast and lunch, but all after-school activities, including sports, tutoring and field trips, have been canceled.

The strike is the latest in a recent wave of work stoppages in school districts across the United States in which demands for school resources have superseded calls for higher salaries and benefits. In Chicago and elsewhere, teachers have emphasized the need to help under-funded schools, framing their demands as a call for social justice.

Thousands of Chicago teachers staged a one-day walkout in 2016 to protest the lack of a contract and failures to stabilize the finances.

In addition to wage increases, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is demanding more funding to ease overcrowded classrooms and hire more support staff, such as nurses and social workers, two perennial issues plaguing the district.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 march on 14 October 2019.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 march on 14 October 2019. Photograph: Ashlee Rezin Garcia/AP

On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the district’s bargaining team has offered 80 proposed changes to the current contract related to issues the union requested.

The proposal would provide teachers with a 16% raise over five years along with support for oversized classes, enforceable targets for reducing class sizes and adding more support staff across the district, she said.

The mayor said the union’s full list of demands would cost the district an additional $2.5bn annually.

CPS finances “are still recovering from the brink of insolvency, and we do not have unlimited funds”, the mayor said.

The district’s credit ratings remain at the non-investment, or “junk” status, although they have improved in the wake of a revised statewide school funding formula that boosted revenue for CPS operations and pension payments.

In addition to school buildings, district officials also encouraged students to go to public libraries and community organizations where educational programs and activities will be offered during the strike. District officials said students will be able to use mass transit for free during the strike.

World Politics

United States

US ambassador to the EU broke from the president in his opening statement to Congress

Gordon Sondland, right, arrives on Capitol Hill on 17 October.

Gordon Sondland, right, arrives on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Donald Trump instructed US diplomats to go through his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to make the Ukrainian president’s access to the White House dependent on launching investigations into Trump’s political opponents, the US ambassador to the EU has testified.

In his opening statement to Congress on Thursday, Gordon Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and Trump donor, sought to distance himself from the president, saying he had been “disappointed” Trump had chosen to conduct an important strategic relationship through his lawyer.

But Sondland insisted he only realised later that the aim of the investigations Trump was demanding was to target the Democratic party and the a potential rival for the presidency in 2020, Joe Biden.

He claimed, for example, he was not aware at the time of his negotiations with the Ukrainians that Burisma, an energy company that Giuliani specifically named, had employed Hunter Biden, the former vice-president’s son.

Sondland is the sixth US official to give evidence at impeachment hearings, and all the more significant because he was a Trump loyalist who was at the centre of deliberations on how to deal with Ukraine. His statement reflects a defection from Trump’s ranks and a further sign that the president’s efforts to gag public servants have failed.

Sondland had been first been due to give testimony on 8 October but was blocked from appearing by the Trump administration. After the House committees issued a subpoena, Sondland defied state department orders, saying he was keen to testify.

The ambassador to the EU testified that Trump personally directed the drive to make the investigation a condition for a phone call from Trump to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and a White House visit for the new Ukrainian president. It is a significant point in the impeachment proceedings being held by three House committees, which are looking for evidence Trump abused his office for political gain.

The key event in Sondland’s narrative is a 23 May White House meeting with Trump attended by Sondland, former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and the energy secretary, Rick Perry. The three had just returned from Zelenskiy’s inauguration and were trying to persuade Trump to have a telephone conversation with his new Ukrainian counterpart and invite him to the White House, as a mark of US support.

“However, President Trump was skeptical that Ukraine was serious about reforms and anti-corruption, and he directed those of us present at the meeting to talk to Mr Giuliani, his personal attorney, about his concerns,” Sondland said. “It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the president’s mind on Ukraine was Mr Giuliani, a hotelier and Trump donor.

“Indeed, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I were disappointed by our 23 May 2019 White House debriefing,” Sondland said. “We strongly believed that a call and White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelenskiy was important and that these should be scheduled promptly and without any preconditions.

“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr Giuliani,” Sondland added. “Our view was that the men and women of the state department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of US foreign policy towards Ukraine.

“However, based on the president’s direction, we were faced with a choice,” Sondland argued. The choice was between abandoning their efforts to strengthen US-Ukrainian ties, “or we could do as President Trump directed”.

But the ambassador insisted: “I did not understand, until much later, that Mr Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice-President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

When the diplomats talked to Giuliani, the lawyer said “the two anticorruption investigatory topics of importance for the president” was the allegation that a Democratic National Committee internet server had been located in Ukraine during the 2016 election election (a far-right conspiracy theory) and Burisma’s activities.

Sondland added: “[M]y understanding was that the president directed Mr Giuliani’s participation, that Mr Giuliani was expressing the concerns of the president.”

He also claimed he was not aware at the time that $400m in US military aid had been withheld from Ukraine to add to the pressure on Zelenskiy.

Sondland stated such actions would be wrong but insisted he did not participate in them.

Senior Democrat Elijah Cummings dies from health complications>>

Revealed: rightwing push to ban criticism of Israel on US campuses>>

Impeachment inquiry: EU envoy to break from president over Ukraine scandal – live>>

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