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23 Apr

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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.

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Hungry birds miss the caterpillar in earlier springs, study finds

 

Earlier springs driven by climate change are creating a “mismatch” between when caterpillars hatch and baby birds are feeding, scientists have warned.

 

Data collected from “citizen scientists” across the UK has helped researchers compare the emergence of oak tree leaves and caterpillars and the timing of nesting by blue tits, great tits and pied flycatchers.

With spring coming earlier due to rising temperatures, leaves and caterpillars emerge earlier in the year, and forest birds which feed on them have to breed sooner to avoid missing out on food sources for their hungry chicks.

The earlier the spring, the less able the birds are to do this, and the peak in caterpillars is more out of sync with the peak in chicks demanding food, the study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found.

With continued spring warming expected due to climate change, the scientists warned the hatching of forest birds will be “increasingly mismatched” with peaks in caterpillar numbers.

The biggest disparity was for pied flycatchers, a migratory species which are not in the UK in winter to react to earlier warm weather, though they feed their chicks more winged insects so may be less dependent on the caterpillar peak.

The research team – led by the RSPB and universities of Exeter and Edinburgh, as well as Durham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Stirling and Cardiff – found no evidence to support the theory that it is worse in southern Britain than the north, where birds might be “buffered” from climate change.

Pied flycatchers were least able to move their breeding but catch more winged insects for their young (Tom Wallis/PA)

Population declines of birds which feed on insects in southern Britain do not seem to be the result of species facing a greater disconnect between caterpillars emerging and when they nest, the researchers said.

Dr Malcolm Burgess, of the University of Exeter and RSPB, said: “Forests have a short peak in caterpillar abundance, and some forest birds time their breeding so this coincides with the time when their chicks are hungriest.

“With spring coming earlier due to climate change, leaves and caterpillars emerge earlier and birds need to breed earlier to avoid being mismatched.

“We found that the earlier the spring, the less able birds are to do this.”

Dr Ally Phillimore, from the University of Edinburgh, added: “We found no evidence of north-south variation in caterpillar-bird mismatch for any of the bird species.

“Therefore, population declines of insectivorous birds in southern Britain do not appear to be caused by greater mismatch in the south than the north.”

The first leafing dates of oak trees were collected by members of the public through the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar scheme and caterpillar abundance was monitored by collecting droppings under oaks.

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London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign releases video rallying citizens abroad to return for 25 May

People walk past a pro-choice mural in Dublin ahead of the 25 May referendum on repealing the eighth amendment in the Irish constitution, which bans abortion.

People walk past a pro-choice mural in Dublin ahead of the 25 May referendum on repealing the eighth amendment in the Irish constitution, which bans abortion. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Irish emigrants are being urged in a new video to travel home to vote in favour of overturning the country’s constitutional ban on abortion in a referendum next month.

The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign has released the two-minute video, filmed in six countries, to encourage Irish citizens abroad to exercise their right to vote in the historic referendum on 25 May.

About 40,000 out of an estimated 750,000 Irish people living abroad are thought to be eligible to vote. Only those who have been abroad for 18 months or less, and who intend to return to live in Ireland may vote, and they must register in advance and vote in person.

Ireland’s abortion referendum: Irish emigrants encouraged to return home to vote – video

Three years ago thousands of Irish citizens returned home to vote on same-sex marriage legislation, boosting the remarkable two-thirds majority for changing the law.

James Hooper, who wrote the film, said: “We want it to encourage a tide of people back home, united not just by their destination, but by their common goal. We wanted to recapture that energy [of the same-sex marriage referendum] and show people they have the power to enact real change.

Claire McGowran of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign said: “This referendum could be lost or won on one vote. Every trip home matters, so if you’re eligible to vote please come home.

“We’ve heard from voters who are travelling from as far away as south-east Asia and Australia. The fact that people are willing to journey thousands of miles, shows the strength of feeling behind the yes campaign.”

The referendum will ask whether article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution – known as the eighth amendment – should be repealed. This gives a foetus the same rights to life as a pregnant woman, and has been in place since 1983, enshrining in the constitution a ban on abortion, even in cases of rape and fatal abnormality of the foetus.

If it is overturned, legislation giving women an unrestricted right to abortion up to the 12th week will be introduced. Since 1983 an estimated 170,000 Irish women have travelled to the UK to terminate their pregnancies, and up to 2,000 women a year end pregnancies by taking the abortion pill, illegally obtained online.

An opinion poll last week showed a clear majority in favour of repealing the eighth amendment – 47% of voters said they would vote yes, while 28% said they would vote no, although support for the yes campaign has slipped by nine percentage points since January.

One in five voters were as yet undecided, according to the poll conducted for the Irish Times by Ipsos Mori.

Support for repeal is highest among younger, urban, female and higher income voters.

In May 2015, Irish citizens travelled from as far as Australia to vote in the equal marriage referendum. Hundreds posted pictures and accounts of their journey on social media under #HomeToVote, the same hashtag being used in the 2018 campaign.

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Goldman environment prizewinners 2018: (clockwise from top left) Manny Calonzo, Francia Márquez, Nguy Thi Khanh, LeAnne Walters, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, Claire Nouvian.

Goldman environment prizewinners 2018: (clockwise from top left) Manny Calonzo, Francia Márquez, Nguy Thi Khanh, LeAnne Walters, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, Claire Nouvian. Photograph: 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize

The world’s foremost environmental prize has announced more female winners than ever before, recognising the increasingly prominent role that women are playing in defending the planet.

The struggle for a healthy planet may sometimes feel like a series of defeats, but this year’s Goldman environmental prize celebrates six remarkable success stories, five of them driven by women.

From an anti-nuclear court ruling against former South African president Jacob Zuma and Russian leader Vladimir Putin to a campaign that nudged the Vietnamese government from coal to renewable energy, the winners – unveiled on Earth day yesterday – are all grassroots activists who have taken on powerful vested interests.

In Latin America, the winner is Francia Márquez, an Afro-Colombian community leader who led a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women from the Amazon to Bogotá that prompted the government to send troops to remove illegal miners who were polluting rivers with cyanide and mercury.

Like many previous winners, she faces immense risks. The dangers of environmental activism have been evident in the murder of two Goldman-prize recipients in the past two years.

The 2015 winner Berta Cáceres – a Honduran indigenous rights and anti-dam campaigner, was killed less than a year after collecting the award. Ten months later, a 2005 winner – Mexican activist Isidro Baldenegro López – was gunned down in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Earlier this month, one of last year’s winners, Rodrigue Katembo – a park ranger in the Virunga sanctuary for mountain gorillas – lost six of his colleagues in a massacre by militia groups.

Márquez said insecurity is also a fact of life in her campaign.

“We constantly receive death threats from militias, leaders, organisations and communities. Protecting the environment and land will always result in dispute between those who want the territory to live and those who want it to fill their pockets with money,” she told the Guardian. “This award is a recognition of the collective struggle of all peoples in the world who care for the environment … and all the leaders who have been killed for the cause of caring for our common home.”

A law student and a single mother of two, the 35-year-old has been an environment and community activist since she joined a campaign against a hydroelectric dam at the age of 13.

The increasingly prominent role of women in environmental activism has been recognised by this year’s prizes. Since 1990, six awards – one for each habitable continent – have been announced by the Goldman prize foundation, which was set up by an member of the Levi Strauss family who made a fortune in the insurance business.

This is the first time that five of the six are women. The winners include South African anti-nuclear activists Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, Vietnamese clean-energy advocate Nguy Thi Khanh, US clean-water defender LeeAnne Walters, and French marine-life champion Claire Nouvian. The one male winner is Philippine anti-lead campaigner Manny Calonzo.

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World Politics

United States

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The use of lethal force to cow nonviolent demonstrations by Palestinians erodes Israel’s standing internationally and damages its democracy at home

A wounded youth is carried on a stretcher by running men

A wounded youth is carried away by Palestinian protesters during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, 20 April 2018. Photograph: Adel Hana/AP

This weekend the United Nations Middle East peace envoy asked: “How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing.” Nickolay Mladenov was right to be outraged. He tweeted after a Palestinian teenager was shot in the head apparently by Israeli army snipers while peacefully protesting near a border fence. The Israeli government at first dismissed calls for an investigation, only to concede to one after the international community called on the military to “stop killing children”. The soldiers’ use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators is an affront; but it is in line with the brutal attitudes towards Palestinians that have become normalised by Israeli politicians. The snatching of life from a few dozen people and the maiming of 1,700 more over the past four weeks are an indication of what Israel thinks is a fair price to pay to keep Gaza in check. A journalist has been shot dead and ambulances fired upon. This awful pummelling of a besieged population is not solely, as the Israeli military claim, to protect a border fence. It is to cow people into submission. The signs are that it will not.

These protests were envisaged as a grassroots nonviolent campaign to remind the world that Palestinians whose families were driven into exile during the establishment of Israel consider their right to return inviolable. The idea spun out of a viral Facebook post by Ahmad Abu Artema, a 33-year-old journalist, who wondered what would happen if thousands of people in Gaza, the majority of whom are refugees and their descendants, attempted to cross the frontier peacefully to reach their ancestral homes. These may be idealistic thoughts, but they are not ignoble ones. Who would not prefer Mr Artema’s suggestion that Palestinians and Israelis could live side by side as equal citizens to the violent passions and hatred that pass between these two peoples today? In preferring to dream rather than accepting today’s nightmare, Mr Artema shares a belief with Israel’s president in a better future.

Mr Artema’s ideas have been, unlikely as it sounds, adopted – Israel would say hijacked – by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. The jury is still out as to how long Hamas’s patronage will allow the protests to remain peaceful. The weekly marches build up to a peak on 15 May, when Palestinians mark the Nakba, the catastrophe, which is how they view the foundation of Israel. After a decade of economic blockade by Israel as well as Egypt and three mini-wars, Gaza is on the brink of catastrophe. It is now a giant prison for its 1.8 million people. By 2020, the UN says Gaza will become uninhabitable. The strip is a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

Unfortunately Israel’s hardline government sees gains where others see losses. Its scandal-plagued prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has already got Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite its being under international jurisdiction and to cut US funding to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees. Mr Netanyahu is now targeting the Palestinian right of return. Such behaviour steels Palestinians with the morale needed for a long struggle. These issues were meant to be resolved through talks. Instead Mr Netanyahu has seized the opportunity presented by Mr Trump’s absurd vanity about securing the “ultimate deal” to press home his advantage. The gains will be ephemeral.

The subjugation of Palestinians erodes Israel’s standing internationally and damages its democracy at home. Its politics are polluted by anti-Arab bigotry. As Israel grows richer, Palestinian destitution becomes more troubling. Its dilemma grows more acute as the number of Palestinians in the Holy Land approaches that of Jews. Israel cannot hold on to all of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, keep its Jewish identity and remain a democracy. It is in Israel’s interest to accept that Palestinians need a state as much as Israelis do. Otherwise, the choices are a single entity in which Jews could eventually be a minority; a form of apartheid; or perpetual occupation. Hollywood stars like Natalie Portman have understood the dangerous turn Israel is taking. It would be a good idea if the nation’s leaders did too.

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23 Apr

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

The War Criminals

Rage Against The Dying

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago Mr. Bush was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.)

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell who sold us the war still go on doing what they do.

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

War News

AP: US builds drone base in Niger, crossroads of extremism fight

AGADEZ, Niger (AP) — On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America’s battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa’s vast Sahel region.

Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger’s government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries.

Few knew of the American military’s presence in this desperately poor, remote West African country until October, when an ambush by Islamic State group-linked extremists killed four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens.

The $110 million project is the largest troop labor construction project in U.S. history, according to Air Force officials. It will cost $15 million annually to operate.

Citing security reasons, no official will say how many drones will be housed at the base or whether more U.S. personnel will be brought to the region. Already the U.S. military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent U.S. base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.

The drones at the base are expected to target several different al-Qaida and Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in countries throughout the Sahel, a sprawling region just south of the Sahara, including the area around Lake Chad, where the Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency has spread.

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REU: Saudi-led air strikes kill at least 20 at Yemen wedding

DUBAI (Reuters) – Air strikes by a Saudi-led military coalition killed at least 20 people attending a wedding in a village in northwestern Yemen late on Sunday, residents and medical sources said.

The head of Al Jumhouri hospital in Hajjah told Reuters by telephone that the hospital had received 40 bodies, most of them torn to pieces, and that 46 people had been injured, including 30 children, in air strikes that hit a wedding gathering.

Residents and medics told Reuters that 20 people attending the celebration were killed and at least 30 injured.

“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are,” a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition told Reuters.

Residents of a village called Taiba elsewhere in the province told Reuters that a separate air strike killed a family of four in their house on Sunday night.

The Western-backed alliance has been fighting a war for three years against the armed Houthi movement which controls the area and much of northern Yemen.

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REU: Syrian opposition says U.S. cannot afford to leave Syria yet

RIYADH (Reuters) – Syria’s chief opposition negotiator said the United States cannot afford to leave Syria as it has yet to achieve any of its goals in the region, even though President Donald Trump said recently Washington would withdraw its troops.

“I personally think the U.S. is not capable of withdrawing its fighters from Syria,” Nasr Hariri told Reuters on Friday.

Washington for years supported rebels militarily against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but ended its train-and-equip program last year after changing its focus to the fight against Islamic State.

It helped an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias drive the jihadists from swathes of northern and eastern Syria last year, including the group’s Syrian capital of Raqqa, and has deployed about 2,000 U.S. troops in the country.

Trump said this month he wanted to bring them home soon but later agreed they should stay a little longer after his advisers argued they were needed to stop Islamic State re-emerging and to prevent Iran gaining a bigger foothold.

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AP: Afghan officials: Taliban attacks kill 14 troops, policemen

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban attacks in western Afghanistan killed 14 soldiers and policemen on Monday as Kabul residents prepared to bury their loved ones slain in a horrific bombing by the Islamic State group that targeted a voter registration center the day before, killing 57.

Prayer services were held for the Kabul victims as families of those killed in Sunday’s bombing carried the bodies of their kin and dug the graves at a cemetery in the hills above the Afghan capital.

The first of Monday’s near-simultaneous attacks in western Badghis province hit army units in the district of Ab Kamari, killing nine soldiers, said Ghulam Sarwar Haidari, the deputy provincial police chief.

Moments later, another large group of insurgents struck police in Qadis district, killing five policemen.

Sharafuddin Majidi, spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed the casualty tolls. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the Badghis attacks in a statement to the media.

The attacks came on the heels of Sunday’s suicide blast in Kabul. The staggering casualty toll — 57 dead and 119 wounded — underscored the struggles the government faces to rein in militant assaults even in large and well-protected urban centers.

The explosion shook the city around 10 a.m., shattering windows miles from the site of the attack, leaving the pavement covered with bodies and blood stains and destroying nearby vehicles.

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AP: Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a voter registration center in Afghanistan’s capital on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, officials said.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said that among 57 people killed, 22 were women and eight were children. He said 119 people were wounded, among them 17 children and 52 women, and “the tolls could still rise.”

The bomber targeted civilians who were registering for national identification cards, Kabul police chief Gen. Daud Amin said.

The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles from the attack site and damaging nearby vehicles. Police blocked all roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. TV stations broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught locals gathered at hospitals seeking word about loved ones.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite “apostates.”

The attack comes almost a month after an IS suicide bomber carried out an attack near a Shiite shrine in Kabul that targeted attendees celebrating the Persian new year. That attack killed 31 people and wounded 65 others.

In a statement issued by the president’s office condemned Sunday’s attack and quoted President Ashraf Ghani as saying such “terrorist attacks” won’t prevent people from participating in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in October and voter registration started a week ago.

Last week, three police officers guarding voter registration centers in two Afghan provinces were killed by militants, according to authorities.

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NYT: Islamic State Beheads Three Brothers in Afghanistan: Official

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Militants from Islamic State have beheaded three brothers, all working in the medical profession, in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, an official said on Monday.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, the main stronghold of Islamic State in Afghanistan, said the brothers were killed in Chaparhar district on Saturday night.

The eldest brother Nisar Tareliwal, 27, was a doctor at a private clinic, the middle brother Nayeem, 24, was working as a vaccine campaigner and the youngest Abdul Wahab, 19, was a medical student.

Khogyani said the father of the victims, a doctor was beheaded last year by the Islamic State, which has acquired a reputation for brutality in the province, beheading prisoners on a number of occasions.

In a separate incident the Islamic State kidnapped 11 farmers in Rodat district of Nangarhar province, although they later released two of them.

There was no claim by Islamic State about the two incidents.

War Casualties By Name – Search by Name:

Iraqi Freedom >>

Afghanistan >>

Desert Storm>>

Viet Nam >>

Korea >>

Total Dollar Cost of Wars Since 2001>>

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Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar, 36, of Austin, Texas, died March 30 in Manbij, Syria as a result of injuries when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his patrol. The incident is under investigation. Dunbar was assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Ft Bragg, North Carolina.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of seven airmen who were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. They died March 15 when an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Captain Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

Captain Andreas B. O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, New York.
Captain Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, New York.
Master Sergeant Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, New York.
Staff Sergeant Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, New York.

Master Sergeant William R. Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida.
Staff Sergeant Carl P. Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida.
Both were assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve, at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. For more information, media may contact the 920th Rescue Wing public affairs office at 321-615-0329.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.Sgt. 1st Class Maitland Deweever Wilson, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, died March 7 in Landstuhl, Germany from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.Wilson was assigned to the 831st Transportation Battalion, 595th Transportation Brigade, Manama, Bahrain.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

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22 Apr

David Hogg begins new gun control effort

David Hogg begins new gun control effort – here’s what he’s planning

Vocal gun control advocate and Parkland high school massacre survivor David Hogg unveiled his newest effort to increase restrictions on gun in the U.S. Wednesday.

A few thoughts:

Politically supporting gun control has been complicated for a long time. But it may be that the tide has really changed and thus restrictions are politically feasible. In the past Republicans, supported by the NRA, have had success running on gun rights.

To make the tide turn my view is that there is a need for an expanded public priority list of politicians who care less about our safety and more about getting money from the NRA. Alongside this priority list, the battle should include digital and TV advertisements, a wider voter registration drive, and political organizing to elect candidates that support gun control legislation.

We should take the bastards on with our full might and never, ever back down in the debate.

The McGlynn

David Hogg begins new gun control effort – here’s what he’s planning

Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg announced his newest plans to advocate for gun control: a book co-written with his younger sister about the national youth movement against guns. (Image Source: YouTube screenshot)

Hogg tweeted that he’s co-writing a book whose proceeds will be used to “heal the community.”

“Today @lauren_hoggs and I are announcing our book #NeverAgain that tells the story of the foundation of this movement for those we lost,” he tweeted. “Lauren and I will be using the money made from the book to help heal the community.”

His fourteen-year-old sister Lauren Hogg added that the proceeds will also go towards preventing gun violence.

“Announcing #NeverAgain, a book by @davidhogg111 and I that tells the story of how we turned our grief into action and how we fight and speak out for those who no longer can,” she tweeted.

“All proceeds going to healing Parkland and to prevent gun violence,” she added.

The book is described as a “manifesto for the movement begun that day [of the Parkland massacre], one that has already changed America–with voices of a new generation that are speaking truth to power, and are determined to succeed where their elders have failed.”

“With moral force and clarity, a new generation has made it clear that problems previously deemed unsolvable due to powerful lobbies and political cowardice will be theirs to solve,” the book description declares.

Hogg has been a vocal and contentious figure in the national youth movement for gun control begun in the wake of the Parkland school massacre. He has not shied away from using vulgarities against the NRA and politicians while declaring that he’s going to “change the world.”

Beyond boycotts

Hogg had tried to force Fox News’ Laura Ingraham off the air after she mocked him for not being accepted into the colleges he wanted to attend. Although many advertisers left the show, Fox News stood by Ingraham and her ratings appear to have recovered.

Hogg then announced a boycott on Tuesday against financial investment companies who have holdings in gun manufacturers and retailers, while campaigning for more student walkouts across the country.

Further:

The deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

NYT: 2017 Las Vegas shooting Video

The 2017 Las Vegas shooting occurred on the night of Sunday, October 1 when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m. PDT, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after he fired his last shot into the crowd, he was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His motive remains unknown.

The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. It reignited the debate about gun laws in the U.S., with attention focused on bump fire stocks, which Paddock used to fire semi-automatic rifles at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic weapon.

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22 Apr

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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.

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The UK is at the centre of global corruption: shell companies that launder dirty money can be set up with ease. But when a whistleblower showed just how easy it is, he faced the full force of the law

by

 

Officials get fed up with accusations that Britain is a cesspool of dirty money; that they do too little to check the wealth hidden behind shell corporations. They grouse among themselves that their critics overlook the work they’re doing to expose the money flows and to drive out the corrupt.

When they do get a win, therefore, they trumpet it. Last month, Companies House successfully prosecuted someone who had lied in setting up a company, the kind of white-collar crime committed by the sophisticated fraudsters who fleece ordinary Brits every day, and the government went large. “This prosecution – the first of its kind in the UK – shows the government will come down hard on people who knowingly break the law and file false information on the company register,” crowed business minister, Andrew Griffiths, in a press release.

A Warwickshire businessman called Kevin Brewer had pleaded guilty, paid a fine and the government’s costs: a total of more than £12,000. His crime had been to falsely claim that two companies he created belonged, in one case, to the MP Vince Cable, and, in the other, to the MP James Cleverly, Lady Neville-Rolfe and an imaginary Israeli. At first, the public response to the news was everything the press release’s authors could have hoped for. The Times splashed with the details of the crime – the government was tough on fraud, tough on the causes of fraud. But the victory was short-lived. Within a month of the triumphant press release, Tory MP John Penrose, the government’s anti-corruption champion, was slamming the prosecution as “a bone-headed exercise in shooting the messenger”. Brewer may have been, by his own admission, naive, but he was trying to expose a flaw in British regulations that enables frauds totalling hundreds of billions of pounds. His reward was years of being ignored and, finally, a criminal record. “That has to be wrong,” said Penrose.

Lady Neville-Rolfe was minister responsible for Companies House when Kevin Brewer set up a company that included her as a director and shareholder.

Lady Neville-Rolfe was minister responsible for Companies House when Kevin Brewer set up a company that included her as a director and shareholder. Photograph: Richard Gardner/REX/Shutterstock

The 4m corporate vehicles in the British registry are the building blocks of our economy, crucial to our prosperity. Hidden among them, however, like pickpockets in a crowd, are thousands of fake companies used by fraudsters to commit their crimes. Companies let criminals look legitimate and make their frauds, tax evasion or kleptocracy resemble normal business activity.

These fake companies have tell-tale flaws: invented addresses, offshore ownership, dormant companies acting as other companies’ directors. The strange thing about Brewer’s companies, however, is that they did not have these flaws. They were registered to Brewer’s address; his business acted as their agent; he wrote to the MPs and the peer to tell them he had created companies in their names; and he dissolved the companies after he’d done so.

If he was a criminal, he was a very strange one: a bank robber who took no money, left his business card on the counter and wrote the manager a letter confessing to the crime. Yet, while real bank robbers are getting away with theft all around us, Brewer ended up in court. His is a story that goes to the heart of Britain’s ramshackle approach to tackling money laundering and exposes our shameful failure to combat a crime that spreads far beyond our borders.

Brewer, who turned 66 on Saturday, is a company formation agent and reckons he has created half-a-million corporate vehicles since 1984. “It grew into a national enterprise, forming companies for anybody in the country,” he told me. “My main clients were solicitors and accountants, professional clients more than the public, because of – I’d like to say – the quality of the service.”

Part of that service was a rigorous due diligence process: he checked his client’s identity, the source of their funds and the purpose of their company. Often, investigators from the police or the Revenue & Customs would ask to look at his files and he would help them discover who was behind a company that had committed a crime. “I’ve given witness statements in very large trials. The Serious Fraud Office sent me a thank-you letter,” he said.

His problems began in 2011 under the coalition government, when business secretary Vince Cable opened up Companies House’s online registration system. As part of a drive to make the country more entrepreneurial, anyone could now register a company via the registry’s web portal, rather than doing it on paper or going via an intermediary such as Brewer. You may remember the “Britain Is Great” advertising campaign from bus stops in 2012: one strapline boasted that it took less than 24 hours to incorporate in the UK. Ministers thought this was good; Brewer thought it was awful.

“For the price of some fish and chips, anyone in the world could log in, form a company, put in any name they liked, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, somebody else’s name, totally fictitious names, get their companies formed and get their certificate,” he said. “You could be in Russia, Jamaica, anywhere.”

Where Brewer had charged £100 for a company, Companies House charged £18; where he checked his client’s intentions and identity, Companies House didn’t check anything. This threatened his business, but it also threatened to unleash fraud on a scale never before seen. He felt sure the government hadn’t considered the consequences of its policy, so he wrote to Cable. “Not only is the policy misguided and costly, it has created massive opportunity for fraud and deception,” Brewer wrote. “To illustrate the point we have created a company in your name without your consent or knowledge and could start trading using your identity.” John Vincent Cable Services Ltd had been incorporated on 23 May 2013, with a single shareholder – the business secretary.

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The Fox News host is under fire for failing to disclose his relationship to Donald Trump’s lawyer – but he remains one of the network’s biggest stars

Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room. The Fox News host was named as one of Michael Cohen’s clients.

Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room. The Fox News host was named as one of Michael Cohen’s clients. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Judge Kimba Wood had run out of patience. Lawyers for Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s consigliere and legal fixer, had tried every trick in the book to avoid disclosing the name of a mystery Cohen client, who they said was desperate to remain anonymous.

“I’m directing you to disclose the name – now,” said Wood, a veteran jurist whose CV includes an improbable spell as a trainee bunny at London’s Playboy Club to subsidise her graduate studies at the London School of Economics in the 1960s.

Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s hangdog lead attorney, got to his feet and cleared his throat. “The client’s name that is involved is Sean Hannity,” he said. Gasps filled courtroom 21B at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.

Hannity, the bloviating primetime star of Fox News and Trump’s favorite journalist, had excoriated US prosecutors for their raid on Cohen’s office earlier this month. The raid was part of a “an all-hands-on-deck effort to totally malign and, if possible, impeach the president of the United States”.

He failed to mention his relationship with Cohen, something even guests on his own show have since criticized and an omission that has thrust him into a media maelstrom.

So what is Hannity’s relationship with Cohen, a lawyer most famous for paying off women who allegedly had affairs with the president and one of his billionaire backers? According to Hannity it’s “de minimis”. The multimillionaire may have handed him “10 bucks” for some real estate advice but he had never formally engaged him and there were “no third parties” involved, said Hannity. The media had gone “absolutely insane” about nothing, he said.

For now, it appears his employer agrees. After a short pause in which management quizzed Hannity about his dealings with Cohen, Fox announced it was “surprised by the announcement” but gave him its “full support”.

Fox’s support has failed to appease critics inside and outside the Fox hole. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, author of a biography of Hannity’s mentor, the Fox News founder Roger Ailes, wrote this week that fellow Fox staffers were horrified by the news, telling him it “violates every rule of journalism”.

But while Trump’s TV ratings (if not his poll numbers) are still in the ascendant, the Fox star may currently be too big to fail.

“Hannity’s closeness with Trump has given him immense power at the network, and he’s not afraid to show it. When he visited Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, Hannity bragged to a guest: ‘I’m the only thing holding this network together’ (Hannity denies saying this),” wrote Sherman.

Other Fox stars have been cautioned for getting too close to Trump. After Politico revealed that Bret Baier, the network’s 6pm news anchor, had played golf with Trump, the network said it had “addressed the matter”. Hannity too has been challenged for appearing in a Trump ad ahead of the election and for planning a broadcast from a Tea Party rally.

For Hannity’s critics, worse still was his promulgation of the conspiracy theory that Democratic operatives were behind the murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, killed in what appears to have been a botched robbery. Hannity continued to push the far-out theory even as Rich’s parents begged him to stop.

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World Politics

Germany

Combative former labour minister Andrea Nahles is first woman to lead party in 155 years

United States

  • Former NYC mayor criticises Trump for pulling out of deal

The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will write a $4.5m cheque to cover this year’s US commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

Donald Trump last year pulled the US out of the deal, which was signed by Barack Obama, making the US the only country opposed. Even Syria, torn by an 11-year civil war, has signed the pact.

Bloomberg, whose net worth Forbes pegs at about $50bn, was speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation. He did not commit to provide funds beyond 2018 and said he hoped that by next year Trump would have changed his mind.

“America made a commitment and as an American, if the government’s not going to do it, we all have responsibility,” he said. “I’m able to do it. So, yes, I’m going to send them a cheque for the monies that America had promised to the organization as though they got it from the federal government.”

Trump, he said, should be able to “listen to others and change his mind. A person that doesn’t change their mind isn’t very smart … And he’s been known to change his mind.

“He should change his mind and say look there really is a problem here. America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster.”

Asked if he thought the nonbinding nature of the Paris deal was a problem, in terms of other countries not sticking to its aims for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other targets aimed at reducing the effect of climate change, Bloomberg said: “Look, it’s dangerous to keep doing what we’re doing.

“If everybody would do the right thing, yes, it would be better. But if some people or some countries do the right thing we all benefit from that.

“All I know is that America, I believe, will meet its commitment by 2025 to reduce greenhouse gases by an agreed amount, and if we do it hopefully other countries will do it as well.”

Asked if he was “filling a leadership gap” on the issue, Bloomberg – who was a Republican mayor of New York and considered a 2016 presidential run as an independent – said: “Well, I think that this is what the American public when you poll them say they want to do.”

The odds on him running for the White House in future, he said, were “not very high”.

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