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22 Aug

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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World Politics

United States

Battle over Confederate statues – video explainer

Statues of Confederate leaders are being removed from public spaces in several US cities. Hundreds of monuments honouring the losing side in the civil war could soon be moved or destroyed, prompting an outcry from far-right groups

What trans soldier Albert Cashier can teach Trump about patriotism

When Trump moved to ban trans people from serving in the US military, he ignored the long history of trans soldiers fighting for their country – starting with Albert Cashier, born in 1843

by

This portrait is believed by some historians to be a photograph of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, who enlisted in the Union army under the false identity of Lyons Wakeman at 17. Photograph: Public domain

On 6 August 1862, a young man called Albert Cashier enlisted in the Union army in Belvidere, Illinois. He was short for a soldier, just 5ft 3in. His fellow privates noted that Cashier kept his collar buttoned high up his neck, above his Adam’s apple, and that he always slept apart from the other men.

Cashier’s size did not hold him back. Fighting with the 95th Illinois infantry, he was involved in some of the most important battles in the war.

Cashier’s bravery was noted in accounts from the time. On one occasion, he was captured and escaped by attacking his Confederate guard. In another battle, comrades remembered Cashier sweeping up a Union flag which had been felled from its post by Confederate gunfire. He climbed a tree and lashed the tattered stars and stripes to a branch, showing that the Union would not be cowed.

But what Cashier’s fellow soldiers did not know was that the diminutive private had a secret – one that would only be revealed decades later.

Albert Cashier was assigned female at birth.

His story, from immigrant to proud soldier, to eventually being “outed” by nefarious hospital workers, will be retold in Albert Cashier the Musical, which airs in Chicago this month.

The production’s six-week run is timely, given Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he will not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity. There are up to 6,630 transgender people on active duty in the US military, according to a 2016 study, and up to 4,160 in the select reserve.

“The temperature Trump sets for our country, the mood he sets and the anger that he’s creating and the polarization that he’s building between people – it’s just terrible,” said Jay Deratany, who wrote the musical. “But I hope this play bridges some gap.”

Deratany, who also wrote the play Haram! Iran! – based on the true story of two gay Iranian teenagers who were executed in 2005 – said his own experiences as a gay man had attracted him to Cashier’s story.

“I was a lawyer and the idea in the legal field of coming out … I would have lost my career if people found out. I was terrified,” he said. “I had a girlfriend at one point and I hid all that. So I identified with Albert and the secret life he had to lead.”


Cashier was born Jennie Hodgers in Clogherhead, a fishing village 40 miles north of Dublin, on Christmas Day 1843. He moved to the US as a child, eventually settling in Illinois, and was presenting as a man by the time he enlisted in 1862.

There were just 16,000 men in the US army when the civil war broke out. Abraham Lincoln pleaded for volunteers, and was successful – of the more than 2.5 million people who served in the Union army, the majority did so voluntarily.

With the 95th regiment, Cashier fought in Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee and Louisiana, marching almost 10,000 miles over three years.

Come out of there, you damned rebels, and show your face!

Attributed to Albert Cashier

“In handling a musket in battle, he was the equal of any in the company,” Gerhard P Clausius, a Belvidere amateur historian, wrote in his 1958 essay The Little Soldier of the 95th. “[And] he was able to withstand the long marches, the rigors of camp life, and the problems of an infantryman, as well as his comrades who were bigger and brawnier.”

In an article from the True Republican newspaper, published in 1913, Sgt Ives, who served alongside Cashier in the 95th, remembers Cashier taunting Confederate soldiers.

“Come out of there, you damned rebels, and show your face,” Cashier is alleged to have said when faced with a concealed enemy.


After Trump announced in a series of tweets that the government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military”, the move was roundly criticized by ex-military personnel and civil rights groups. The Department of Defense itself appeared to have been blindsided: Barack Obama had ended a longtime ban on trans people serving in the military just one year earlier.

When he issued his decree, Trump may have been unaware that there is a decades-long history of trans people serving in the US armed forces.

There is also a recorded history of women who presented as men to be able to serve. DeAnne Blanton, who co-wrote They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War – which documents women who fought in the conflict – said hundreds of women took up arms.

It was common in the 1800s for working class women to identify as men to get jobs that otherwise would be out of their reach, Blanton said. Some professions were simply unattainable for women. In other jobs, such as working in industrial mills, women were paid less than men – a disparity that still exists today.

When the civil war broke out in 1861, after seven southern states declared their secession from the US and attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, for some women, it represented an opportunity to boost their wages further.

“A union private made $13 a month, which doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But no women’s employment at that time, except prostitution, would yield a higher paycheck,” Blanton said.

“They’d chop off their hair and bind their breasts and pass themselves off as men to enlist.”

One such woman is Sarah Wakeman, who was already presenting as a man before the war. Wakeman’s family was in debt, and she was working on a canal boat when the war broke out.

“Her letters make it pretty clear she was doing it for the paycheck,” Blanton said.

Wakeman signed up to the Union army in New York as Lyon Wakeman and fought in the Red River campaign – a series of battles along the Red river in Louisiana. She died of dysentery in New Orleans in 1864, aged 21.

“And then there were women who enlisted for the same reasons men did,” Blanton said. “They were patriotic and wanted to serve their country and because of the era they lived in, the only way they could do this was to pretend to be men.”

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More than a dozen Browns kneel ahead of team’s Monday night game

Cleveland players who protested released statement at half-time

Cleveland Browns

Members of the Cleveland Browns kneel during the national anthem before Monday’s preseason game against the New York Giants. Photograph: Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports

Kneeling and bowing their heads, the Cleveland Browns bonded over something bigger than football.

More than a dozen players huddled together on the team’s bench Monday night to protest during the national anthem.

The group, which included veterans, rookies, starters and backups, gathered in front of some water coolers and behind their teammates who stood on the sideline shortly before the Browns hosted the New York Giants in a preseason game.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and Terrance Magee, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end Seth DeValve, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis and defensive back Calvin Pryor dropped to one knee in a circle. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, punter Britton Colquitt, defensive back Jason McCourty and offensive lineman Marcus Martin stood and supported their teammates by putting their hands on their shoulders.

Colquitt, one of two white players in the group, also placed a hand over his heart.

The protest was the largest so far in a movement started last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently out of the NFL. In recent days, Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country.

Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch also has sat during the national anthem in the preseason, but hasn’t elaborated on his reasoning.

At half-time, the Browns released a statement.

“As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s national anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad,” the team said through a spokesperson. “We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson drew criticism last week when he seemed to indicate he didn’t want his players to protest. However, Jackson clarified his remarks to say he respected any player who wanted to demonstrate.

“The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression,” Jackson said. “I’m disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity. However, my words did reflect my concern – that I would express to any player – about protesting during the anthem. There are many effective ways athletes can utilize their platform if they so desire, but I would respect any individual decision, as ultimately, it would be the player’s choice after much thoughtful dialogue.”

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Publication of action plan for governments is response to what Vatican sees as one of biggest global challenges of 21st century

Pope Francis has expressed concern for migrants and refugees.

Pope Francis has expressed concern for migrants and refugees. Photograph: Angelo Carconi/EPA

His intention is to lay the ground for the drafting of two global compacts on refugees and migration, which are expected to be adopted at the UN general assembly in September 2018.

The roadmap was published on Monday by the Vatican’s migrants and refugees section, which was set up by Francis last year and operates under his direction. The action points were personally approved by the pontiff.

In a message issued before publication, Francis said he had “repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty”. The situation was “undoubtedly a ‘sign of the times’,” he said.

The document, Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points, says the world is facing “the largest movement of displaced people in recent memory”.

It says: “While massive numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes due to persecution, violence, natural disasters and the scourge of poverty, migration should nevertheless be recognised, not as a new phenomenon, but rather as a natural human response to crisis and a testament to the innate desire of every human being for happiness and a better life.

“This reality, with its important cultural and spiritual dimensions, is having a significant impact on attitudes and reactions all over the world.”

The document’s 20 points are grouped in four calls to action: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate. Their “ultimate goal is the building of an inclusive and sustainable common home for all”.

Before detailing the action plan, the authors suggest that distinguishing between migrants and refugees, as the UN does in its separate compacts, is problematic.

“Empirical evidence shows that migration is more and more mixed. This makes it difficult to maintain a clear-cut distinction between migrants and refugees. Often their needs are very similar if not identical,” the document says.

Among its action points are the creation of legal pathways for safe and voluntary migration and resettlement, and a ban on arbitrary and collective expulsions. It suggests states make wider use of humanitarian, student and family reunification visas.

The document says greater support should be available for countries that have borne the brunt of migration: more than half the world’s displaced people are in Africa and the Middle East, with 17% in Europe, according to the UN.

In his message, Francis said personal safety and dignity should be prioritised over national security and, “for the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation”.

Francis has indicated that migration should be a major Vatican focus in the run-up to the 2018 UN general assembly. He has made the issue central to his papacy since visiting the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where thousands of migrants have landed, within weeks of his election. He has also housed several Syrian refugee families in the Vatican.

Graham Gordon, of the Catholic aid agency Cafod, said: “The Holy Father is making clear that all countries must step up to the plate and pull their weight.

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Qualified graduates are struggling to find paid jobs and many give up to pursue a different career. The result is a net loss for conservation work, reports Mongabay

Many conservation charities cannot afford to pay interns and well known organisations have entry level jobs that demand a high-level of experience, making it difficult for graduates to enter the profession. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Nika Levikov swore she would never work as a waitress again. But, today — with a master’s degree in conservation science from Imperial College London — she’s taking orders, delivering drinks, and cleaning tables to support herself.

After two years of looking for paid work as a conservationist around Europe and four months doing unpaid work in East Africa, Levikov moved to the island of Malta to work at Greenhouse Malta. Levikov, who owes over $100,000 (£77,644) in student loans, described her work at the small environment NGO as “casual” and “freelancing” — some hours are paid, others are volunteer — while the group looks to secure more funding.

“The reality many of us face is that we will have to babysit, clean toilets, and serve drinks as we try to gain the experience we need in conservation to finally get that dream job,” said Levikov, a former intern at Mongabay, who just turned 30.

“I’m not blaming anyone for my current situation in which I am utterly broke and still crossing my fingers that in the near future my career will finally take off,” she told Mongabay. “Indeed I was wrong in thinking that all my hard, unpaid work would lead to something or that having a degree from a … highly-respected university would give me a leg-up.”

Levikov is not alone.

Over a dozen conservationists related a depressingly similar story: serial unpaid internships, crippling student debt, short-term work for little or no pay, dismissive attitudes, and entry-level job requirements that include expectations of considerable field time and experience.

Other young conservationists declined to comment out of fear that their candidness would affect their job hunt.

Nika Levikov searching for Grevy’s zebras (Equus grevyi) in Tanzania. Photo by Mathew Mutinda.

Nika Levikov searching for Grevy’s zebras ( Equus grevyi) in Tanzania. Photograph: Mathew Mutinda/Marwell Wildlife/Courtesy of Mongabay

Volunteering and unpaid internships

The world is undergoing vast ecological change. Last year, the international NGO WWF’s “Living Planet Report” declared that wildlife populations have dropped 58% in the past 40 years — at least among the 3,706 vertebrates (out of about 10,000) that it surveys. Added to all this is climate change: biologists have catalogued its mark on thousands of species worldwide. Scientists have also declared that we are in a new age, the Anthropocene, that may see a mass extinction as devastating as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. What this will mean for humanity no one knows.

Amid this upheaval, conservationists are our environmental doctors. They are trying — against all odds — to mitigate the damage humans have inflicted by saving species and safeguarding ecosystems. There are already many species that would not be here at all if not for conservationists’ steadfast work.

Yet today’s rising conservationists are at risk of being forced out of their career by trends, structures, and decisions they had no part in. Of course, conservation isn’t the only career facing hardship — art, coal mining, postal work, and journalism are other examples. But there’s a bigger problem here: if young conservationists can’t turn their education, experience, and passion into a lifelong career, what will become of life on Earth?

“Conservation is a vocation as well as a profession,” said EJ Milner-Gulland, a biologist at the University of Oxford. “Young people entering the job market are more highly trained than ever, and they tend to have a lot of experience as well …But because of the vocational aspect, it is really hard to get paid work.”

There is no hard data on conservation employment or pay. For a job that requires an advanced degree and research skills, it’s surprising how little research has been done.

Conservation Careers, the field’s biggest jobs website, says it shares about 6,000 jobs a year. Its director Nick Askew said there may by as many as 30,000 jobs available annually. He calls this his “best guesstimate.” There is no data on how many people are seeking these jobs.

Part of the difficulty of estimating the ratio of conservation jobs to demand is the sheer breadth of conservation work, everything from grant writing at a climate NGO to caring for rhinos at a zoo to doing field research on tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea — and all that lies between.

Still, conservationists — some of them professors, some young people who have spent months to years looking for work, and some who gave up altogether on conservation — all agree that jobs are often few and far between.

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22 Aug

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Published on Jul 6, 2016

The conflict in Iraq followed years of tensions between President Saddam Hussein and the West, amid accusations that he was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Jim Reed looks at the timeline of events that led to the war, and how it played out, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Khatla Ali Abdullah, 90, is embraced as she flees her home as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants in western Mosul. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Khatla Ali Abdullah, 90, is embraced as she flees her home as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants in western Mosul. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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“I regret they got hurt,’ Bush,the former president and war criminal said of the veterans.”

To the War Criminal Bush – And to the thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians?

Never, ever forget that the War Criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. founded ISIS and today are proud of what they did and feel no regret.

‘It was the right decision’: Bush says he has ‘no regrets’ about invading Iraq and Afghanistan when asked how he feels when he sees wounded veterans

Since the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts began, at least 8,000 US and allied soldiers have died, according to CNN.

Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, according to the United Nations.

The civilian death toll in Iraq is estimated to be somewhere between 170,000 and 190,000, according to Iraq Body Count

The McGlynn

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War News

IRAQ BODY COUNT>>

Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Cost of Military Action Against ISIS>>

Cost of Pentagon Slush Fund>>

GUARD: Living in a void: life in Damascus after the exodus

During six years of civil war in Syria, novelist has watched wave after wave of friends and family flee his home city. But despite everything, he has decided to stay

My sister, whom I haven’t seen for more than two years, told me she was going to cross the sea in a rubber dinghy. She hung up, not wanting to hear what I thought. She merely said something profound and sentimental and entrusted her three children to my care in the event that she drowned. A few minutes later I tried to call the unfamiliar Turkish number back, but the phone had been turned off. Hundreds of images from our childhood flooded my memory. It’s not easy to say goodbye to half a century of your life and wait for someone you love to drown. My fingers and toes felt cold and my head empty, and I didn’t feel able to argue anyway. What can one offer a woman who has lost her home and everything she owns and, not wanting to lose her children too, carried them off into exile to seek a safe haven in Turkey? Things are not easy for a woman like her there. She looks like millions of other Syrian women and does not have any special skills. All that’s left is the hope of asylum, even if it requires crossing the sea in a rubber dinghy. It’s as if she’s trying to tell me something I know already – that the sea is Syrians’ only hope.

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AP: Dozens killed in airstrikes on Syrian city of Raqqa

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state media and opposition activists are reporting that airstrikes on the northern city of Raqqa have killed dozens of civilians.

U.S.-backed Syrian opposition fighters have been trying to capture the city from the Islamic State group since June 6, and have been marching under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces now holds more than half of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that airstrikes on Raqqa the day before killed 42 civilians including 19 children and 12 women.

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REU: Russia hails progress in Syria conflict, ups bombing runs

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Monday hailed what it said was “a dramatic shift” in the Syria conflict, saying that the Syrian army, with Moscow’s help, was well on its way to pushing militants out of the central part of the country.

In a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry, Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi said that the province of Aleppo had been entirely “liberated” with control of 50 population centers and more than 2,700 square kilometers (1042.48 square miles) of territory taken back.

“In the last month a dramatic shift has taken place in Syria,” said Rudskoi. “With the support of the Russian air force, Syrian forces have notched up a series of significant successes and won a major defeat over a big group of Islamic State fighters in the central part of Syria.”

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AP: Mattis: IS militants caught in Iraq-Syria military vise

BAGHDAD (AP) — Expelled from their main stronghold in northern Iraq, Islamic State militants are now trapped in a military vise that will squeeze them on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

Mattis arrived in the Iraqi capital on an unannounced visit Tuesday just hours after President Donald Trump outlined a fresh approach to the stalemated war in Afghanistan. Trump also has vowed to take a more aggressive, effective approach against IS in Iraq and Syria, but he has yet to unveil a strategy for that conflict that differs greatly from his predecessor’s.

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AP: Commander: Iraqi troops reach first urban areas of Tal Afar

BAGHDAD (AP) — A military commander says Iraqi troops have reached the first urban areas of the Islamic State-held northern town of Tal Afar.

Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who commands the operation, says in a statement on Tuesday that the special forces troops on Tuesday entered the al-Kifah neighborhood on the southwest edge of town. Yar Allah didn’t give more details.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil, of the Iraqi special forces, told The Associated Press that IS fighters fired rockets, sent suicide car bombers and used roadside bombs.

The operation was launched Sunday, a month after Iraq declared victory over IS in Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Tal Afar, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, is in one of the last pockets of IS-held territory in Iraq.

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IraqiNews: Iraqi forces kill 25 IS militants on way to central Tal Afar

Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi forces and paramilitary troops killed 25 Islamic State militants moving towards the center of Tal Afar, the group’s last entrenchment in Nineveh province.

Aljournal News website said the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response Forces killed 15 IS members and detonated 12 explosive devices planted by the group in al-Kefah and Mulla Jassem regions, southwest of the town.

Meanwhile, the pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement they killed ten militants in al-Khadraa district in the southeast, and detonated a booby-trapped vehicle driven by a suicide bomber before he attacked troops in the area.

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REU: U.S. defense secretary in Iraq as troops battle for Tal Afar

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Iraq on Tuesday just days after the start of an offensive to oust Islamic State from the city of Tal Afar, with talks focused on backing Iraqi efforts to stabilize areas recaptured from the militant group.

Prior to arriving, Mattis said the fight against Islamic State was far from over despite recent successes by Western-backed Iraqi government forces. The battle for Tal Afar would be difficult, U.S. officials said.

Iraqi security forces opened the offensive to take back Tal Afar on Sunday, their latest objective in the war following the recapture of Mosul after a nine-month campaign that left much of the city in ruins.

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REU: Iraq must ensure Islamic State’s victims of sexual violence see justice: U.N.

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq must ensure that women and girls subjected to sexual violence at the hands of Islamic State militants have access to justice and reparations, U.N. investigators said on Tuesday.

Thousands of people, predominantly from Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities, have been subjected to sexual violence since Islamic State militants swept across vast swathes of Iraq in 2014. The report pays particular attention to members of the country’s Yazidi community, who were kidnapped and forcibly converted, enslaved or conscripted to fight for the militants.

“Women and girls under the control of ISIL, in particular women from the Yazidi and other minority communities, have been especially vulnerable to abuses of human rights and violation of international humanitarian law,” the report by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq and the U.N. Human Rights Office said.

More than 6,800 Yazidis were kidnapped by Islamic State. About 3,000 of them are still believed to be held captive.

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NYT: More Talks Likely on Kurdish Independence Vote, Negotiator Says

BAGHDAD/ERBIL, Iraq — Iraqi government officials may meet Kurdish representatives again next week to try to convince them to delay or cancel a plan to hold an independence referendum, a negotiator said.

A first round of talks, held last week in Baghdad, brought the two sides closer and a second round could be held next week in the Kurdish capital Erbil, Abdullah al-Zaidi, a member of the government negotiating team, told Reuters on Monday evening.

A Kurdish official, Mala Bakhtiar, on Saturday told Reuters the possibility of postponing a planned Sept. 25 referendum on independence could be considered in return for financial and political concessions from the central government in Baghdad.

The United States and other Western nations fear the vote could ignite a new conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighboring countries, diverting attention from the ongoing war against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria.

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NYT: America’s 16 Years in Afghanistan: From Triumph to Stalemate

WASHINGTON — Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation’s future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday outlined his strategy for “victory” in a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.

America’s longest-running war began well as U.S.-led forces quickly toppled the Taliban government and disrupted al-Qaida leaders who plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks from Afghan soil. But the fighting never ended.

In recent years, security has gradually worsened as Taliban insurgents, enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan, have gained a foothold across the country. Afghanistan’s rampant heroin trade, official corruption and infighting among the nation’s elite have only compounded problems.

Trump is the third U.S. president to grapple with the Afghan challenge. A look at the phases of the U.S. involvement to date:

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President admits: ‘My original instinct was to pull out’ but says he has bowed to advice from officials, and claims he will take tougher line with Pakistan

Donald Trump has announced he will prolong the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which he once described as a “complete waste”, bowing to advice from his top officials to raise the stakes once more in the 16-year conflict.

In a televised address to troops at Fort Myer in Virginia, Trump said he was setting out a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. But he did not say how many more troops he would send, how long they would stay, or what their ultimate objective was.

He said there would be more onus on the Afghan government to perform better, in civilian and military terms, and on the Pakistani government to cut support for militants who find a haven along the Afghan border. Trump warned that Islamabad would have “much to lose” if it did not comply.

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NYT: Analysis: Trump Promises Victory, but His Plan Is Murky

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is vowing to win what has seemed to be an unwinnable war.

A photo taken on 14 September, 2010, showing US army officers with the 101st Airborne Division pay their respects by the boots, gun, helmet and dog-tags of US army First Lieutenant Todd W. Weaver displayed during a memorial ceremony

More than 2,300 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001

How he plans to do so is still murky despite the months of internal deliberations that ultimately persuaded Trump to stick with a conflict he has long opposed…………………Instead, Trump projected an “I got this” bravado that has become a hallmark of his presidency.

“In the end, we will win,” he declared of America’s longest war…………….After Trump’s speech, one headline on the website read: “‘UNLIMITED WAR.” Another said: “What Does Victory in Afghanistan Look Like? Washington Doesn’t Know.”

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REU: Despite expected U.S. troop hike, no end in sight to Afghan war

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – While President Donald Trump opened the door on Monday to beefing up U.S. forces in Afghanistan, he provided few details on how sending more troops will hasten a conclusion to America’s longest war.

“There is no quick fix to this problem,” said Bill Roggio, an insurgency expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based policy institute, speaking before Trump’s speech. “Things will continue looking bleak for some time.”

In his approximately 30-minute nationally televised address, Trump said he would “expand authority” for U.S. commanders to target militant networks that “sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.”

That paves the way to an increase in the 8,400 U.S. troop level in Afghanistan and broader rules of engagement as part of his plan to end a military conflict that began in 2001, U.S. officials said.

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AP: Afghan reaction mixed on Trump’s tough-talking speech

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghans on Tuesday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s harsh words for Pakistan in a speech outlining his strategy for the war-torn country that critics said offered little in the way of details and ruled out nation-building.

Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s second most powerful official behind the president, said in a news conference that the U.S. strategy marks a unique opportunity to ultimately achieve peaceful objectives in the region…………..But analysts in Pakistan warned that isolating Islamabad as the only culprit could increase the influence of regional players like Russia, China and even Iran.

Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, said of Trump’s accusations: “This has been the same narrative for the last 15 years. He just upped the ante by being more belligerent or hostile.” Gul warned that the president’s words could drive a wedge deeper into a region that needs cooperation if it is to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s protracted conflict……….Waheed Muzhda, a political analyst in Kabul, expressed fear that Trump’s emphasis on a military victory seemed guaranteed to prolong the war and increase casualties.

“In the future we will witness a worsening of the war, more killing and more problems for the Afghan nation,” said Muzhda. “Mr. Trump only emphasized winning the war militarily, but if a military solution to the war could have been possible, this should have been achieved with presence of 150,000 troops.”

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Taliban leaders, fighters suffer casualties in US drone strike in Nangarhar

At least thirteen Taliban insurgents including two of their local leaders were killed or wounded during the airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The provincial police commandment in a statement said the airstrike was carried out by the US forces on Monday morning. The statement further added that unmanned aerial vehicles targeted the Taliban

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Taliban vows relentless fight as US unveils new strategy for Afghanistan

The Taliban group in Afghanistan reacted at the announcement of the new strategy of the United States by President Donald Trump, vowing relentless fight. Claiming that the country has been occupied by the foreign forces, the group in a statement said Washington was supposed to think about the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan rather

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Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. They died Aug. 13 of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Iraq. Both soldiers were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The incident is under investigation.

Killed were:

Sgt. Roshain Euvince Brooks, 30, of Brooklyn, New York

Spc. Allen Levi Stigler Jr., 22, of Arlington, Texas

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. They died Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near their convoy. Both soldiers were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. The incident is under investigation.

Killed were:

Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Indiana.

Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, North Carolina.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Tech. Sgt. David Board, 49, of Barboursville, West Virginia, died August 2 in Kuwait in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel.

Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, died July 3, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from wounds received during an indirect fire attack. The incident is under investigation.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

DOD:  The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

They died June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

The Soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.

Killed were:

Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland;

Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California; and

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina

 

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

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, Benefits, or Claims.

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21 Aug

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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World Politics

United States

 

From Los Angeles to Miami to New York, dozens of school districts are vowing to shield students and their families from immigration authorities

This article – the first of a three-part series – was reported by The74Million.org, a nonpartisan education news nonprofit, in partnership with the Guardian

High school students in South Florida rally against Donald Trump’s immigration policies and ask that their schools become ‘sanctuaries’.

High school students in South Florida rally against Donald Trump’s immigration policies and ask that their schools become ‘sanctuaries’. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s been an excruciating six months since 14-year-old Fatima Avelica watched, sobbing, as immigration agents picked up her father on their way to school.

Fatima’s father, Rómulo Avelica-González, who immigrated illegally from Mexico in the 1990s, had driven Fatima and her 12-year-old sister, Yuleni, to school in Los Angeles every morning for years, despite a deportation order hanging over his head. But a month after Donald Trump took office as president and called for ramped-up immigration arrests, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled over the family’s car.

The wrenching video of the arrest that Fatima took from the backseat went viral, capturing a moment that would come to symbolize the anguish of schoolchildren who have seen their families torn apart by aggressive immigration enforcement, as well as the anxiety of others who worry their families could be next.

Fatima Avelia shot this video when her undocumented father, Rómulo Avilez-González, was arrested in Los Angeles while driving her to school.

For many of the estimated 1 million undocumented children in the US — and the roughly 4.5 million young people, like Fatima and Yuleni, born here and with at least one undocumented parent (like Fatima and Yuleni) — anxiety travels with them from home to school, creating a climate of fear in which learning is disrupted and classrooms are destabilized.

Fatima Avelia filmed her father’s arrest.

Fatima Avelia filmed her father’s arrest. Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

As Trump tightens immigration enforcement, education officials across the country are launching a national resistance movement, declaring their schools “sanctuaries” from Trump’s immigration policies. Superintendents and school board members from districts as diverse as Miami, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York City, Des Moines and Portland, Oregon have created or revised “sanctuary school” resolutions, vowing to shield students’ personal data from immigration authorities and block federal agents’ access to school property unless they present a warrant.

California — where about 250,000 undocumented children are enrolled in public schools and 750,000 have at least one undocumented parent — is at the forefront of the movement. Statewide, about 60 schools and county education offices have adopted resolutions to safeguard undocumented students. Lawmakers are also debating a “sanctuary state” bill that, in part, takes aim at potential data mining that could use students’ personal information to uncover their immigration status.

“It’s not that the public school necessarily has a file that says, ‘These kids are undocumented’ and ‘These kids aren’t undocumented,’” said Adam Schwartz, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that fights for online privacy. Rather, schools collect all kinds of personal information about students, including addresses and languages spoken at home. “One database by itself might not tell you anything,” he said. “But when you sew it all together, when this mosaic comes together, a motivated party could use this to begin to identify who undocumented immigrants are.”

All children living in America have the legal right to attend public schools, regardless of their immigration status, due to a 1982 Supreme Court decision. And since 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement has maintained a policy of avoiding enforcement activities at schools. In a statement, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said the policy remains in effect under the Trump administration, adding that the Department of Homeland Security is “committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation,” though she added that authorities “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement”.

Still, many immigrant families worry that enrollment in school could create data and paper trails that expose them to possible enforcement action. And Trump’s executive orders on immigration encourage collaboration between federal and local authorities, triggering concern that local police officers stationed inside schools might share information with federal immigration agents.

In the first 100 days after Trump signed executive orders ramping up immigration enforcement, federal agents arrested more than 41,000 people for civil immigration offenses, a 38% increase over the same period in 2016. His proposed 2018 budget, which faces an uphill battle in Congress, calls for the hiring of an additional 1,500 immigration agents at a cost of $300 million and earmarks $1.5 billion for expanding detention and deportation efforts. On 2 August, Trump announced a proposal that would halve the number of legal immigrants admitted to the country over the next decade.

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Trump’s evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. Here are his religious cheerleaders>>

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The homeless Popeyes worker fighting for fair wages in Missouri – video

Despite working six days a week, Fran Marion, a single mother of two, can’t make ends meet on the $9.50 an hour she gets at Popeyes. After her previous residence was condemned by the city, she became homeless and today sleeps on her friend’s sofa. Now, she’s fighting for employee rights in Missouri on behalf of Stand Up Kansas City – to make sure that she, and other people in her position, can get a fair wage and adequate employer protection

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20 Aug

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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President Trump’s Threat Against Maduro Unites Latin America, Against U.S.

The Venezuela president had become a pariah among fellow Latin American leaders as his beleaguered country staggered toward dictatorship

Demonstrators singing the Venezuelan national anthem during clashes with soldiers at an anti-government protest last month in Caracas. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times Photo by: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela had become a pariah among fellow Latin American leaders as his beleaguered country staggered toward dictatorship.

But a threat by President Trump to use the American military against Maduro’s government has united those leaders in a different direction: demanding that the United States keep out of the region’s affairs.

“The possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered,” Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, said on Sunday during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the region. “America is a continent of peace. It is the land of peace.”

Santos’s response toTrump’s remarks — echoed by many other Latin American leaders in recent days — could endanger a fragile alliance against what many fear is the first dictatorship to emerge in the region in decades, analysts say.

“Threatening military action undermines the strongest Latin American consensus in support of democracy that I have seen since the end of the Pinochet regime,” said Mark L. Schneider, an adviser at the Americas program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, referring to the Chilean military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet.

Maintaining that alliance will be a difficult balancing act for Pence as he tours Latin America this week, with stops in Chile, Panama and Argentina.

Even on the first stage of his trip in Colombia, Pence shifted tones, urging a “peaceable” solution during a meeting with Santos on Sunday, then suggesting something tougher when he said the United States would not “stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship” as he met with Venezuelan refugees the next day.

The dispute began last Friday when Trump, speaking with reporters about an escalating standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, suddenly added Venezuela to countries where he said he was considering military intervention.

“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” the president said.

The remark was immediately seen as bolstering Maduro domestically, where he, like his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, has long warned of United States coup plots and invasions. But it has also left Latin Americans in a difficult position, forced to choose between one country accused of dictatorship and another being called an empire — or to simply condemn both.

Peru, which has taken some of the toughest stands in the region against Venezuela, issued a statement on Saturday condemning possible use of force, and Mexico said the crisis could not be resolved with soldiers. Brazil said renouncing violence was the “basis of democratic cohabitation.” And human rights groups in Venezuela rejected Trump’s threat.

 

Demonstrators singing the Venezuelan national anthem during clashes with soldiers at an anti-government protest last month in Caracas. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Photo by: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Much of the reaction may have to do with history. Many of the countries now rejecting Trump’s use of military force were themselves invaded by the United States, which once famously regarded the region as “America’s backyard.” Panama, one of the countries on Pence’s visit, was invaded in 1989 when President George Bush toppled its dictator, Manuel Noriega.

“An often ugly history of U.S. interventions is vividly remembered in Latin America — even as we in the U.S. have forgotten,” said Shannon O’Neil, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations specializing in Latin America.

Under President Barack Obama, however, Washington aimed to get past the conflicts by building wider consensus over regional disputes. In 2009, after the Honduran military removed the leftist president Manuel Zelaya from power in a midnight coup, the United States joined other countries in trying to broker — albeit unsuccessfully — a deal for his return.

In 2014, there was more success when Obama said he would restore relations with Cuba after a half century of Cold War conflict that was a point of contention among many Latin American nations. The diplomatic thaw left much of the region warming to Washington for the first time in years.

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World Politics

Venezuela

President Maduro strips Venezuela’s parliament of power

Legislative powers taken from opposition-led parliament, as country’s fugitive attorney general alleges Maduro corruption links

President Nicolás Maduro is accused of link to Brazil scandal.

President Nicolás Maduro is accused of link to Brazil scandal. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Venezuela’s political crisis has deepened after a new pro-government “superbody” stripped the opposition-held parliament of its legislative powers and the fugitive attorney general accused President Nicolás Maduro of links to a corruption scandal.

The move by the national constituent assembly, denounced by regional powers and the US, has limited practical impact. The government had in effect neutered the parliament soon after the 2015 election that brought it to power, and the new constituent assembly already has virtually unlimited reach.

But it underlines government plans to use the new superbody, officially convened to update the constitution, to pursue its own political agenda. The opposition denounced the move as a further blow against democracy, but said it would ignore the order and continue to meet.

“The international community should know that in Venezuela the Maduro regime is carrying out a coup against the state itself. Rejecting a legitimate parliament is also a form of coup,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Twitter.

The assembly convened a special session for Saturday morning, attended by several foreign diplomats, and with only one order of business, “in defence of the national constitution”. It called for an investigation of the attempt to dissolve the parliament and asked for international support.

“We call on the international community, to support with appropriate actions, the defence of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and the legitimacy of the national parliament,” the motion said.

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United States

Trump tweet likely to revive controversy that followed Charlottesville

Anti-Nazi protesters dwarfed small group of rightwingers

An estimated 15,000 counter-protesters marched through the city.

An estimated 15,000 40,000 counter-protesters marched through the city. Photograph: Matthew Healey/EPA

Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as “anti-police agitators” on Saturday, in a tweet that seemed destined to revive the still simmering controversy over his remarks equating the far right and anti-Nazis in Charlottesville last weekend.

A crowd of leftwing counter-protesters marching through Boston.

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston,” Trump tweeted. “Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

But he later seemed to back the right to demonstrate, posting: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

He added: “I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

An estimated 40,000 leftwing counter-protesters – including various Black Lives Matter groups and activist group Violence in Boston – marched through the city to historic Boston Common, dwarfing a small group of conservatives holding a “free speech rally”.

Many gathered near a bandstand abandoned by conservatives who delivered a series of speeches.

Boston Free Speech, a conservative activist group that organized the midday event, had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on 12 August.

Nevertheless, some far right activists had at one point been invited to speak at the rally, before later dropping out over fears for their own safety. Asked about this, a spokesperson for Boston Free Speech would not comment, but claimed to have also invited representatives from Black Lives Matter to speak too.

Activist Vida James, 34, said of the president’s initial tweet: “Donald Trump spewed hate speech in his campaign, emboldened white supremacists, and here in Boston we have police protecting white supremacists.”

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Bannon departs – but ‘Trump whisperer’ could have more influence from outside>>

Trump’s infrastructure plan: let’s have another look at those really long charts>>

Trump lauds Bannon but Charlottesville fallout persists with new row over arts event>>

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Gregory used his humour to break racial barriers in the 1960s and even ran for president in 1968

Activist and comedian Dick Gregory.

Activist and comedian Dick Gregory. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dick Gregory, the black comedian who broke down racial barriers in the 1960s and used humour to spread messages of social justice, has died. He was 84.

Gregory’s son, Christian, said his father died late on Saturday in Washington, DC after being hospitalised for about a week. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

The family posted a message on his Twitter account ssying it was with “enormous sadness” that they confirmed the death of their father, “a comedic legend”.

Gregory was one of the first black comedians to find mainstream success with white audiences in the early 1960s. He rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

“Where else in the world but America,” he joked, “could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?”

Gregory’s sharp commentary soon led him into civil rights activism, where his ability to woo audiences through humor helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks.

The Rev Al Sharpton said on Twitter that he had known Gregory since he was 16 and mourned “a true, committed, and consistent freedom fighter”.

Democratic senator Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted: “Dick Gregory’s unflinching honesty & courage, inspired us to fight, live, laugh & love despite it all.”

Actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg said on Twitter: “About being black in America Dick Gregory has passed away, Condolences to his family and to us who won’t have his insight 2 lean on R.I.P”

In a varied career, Gregory briefly sought political office, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and US president in 1968, when he got 200,000 votes as the Peace and Freedom party candidate.

In the late 60s, he befriended John Lennon and was among the voices heard on Lennon’s anti-war anthem Give Peace a Chance, recorded in the Montreal hotel room where Lennon and Yoko Ono were staging a “bed-in” for peace.

An admirer of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, Gregory embraced nonviolence and became a vegetarian and marathon runner.

The King Center tweeted that Gregory had “provoked us to think and to change. And he made us laugh, too”.

…………Gregory went without solid food for weeks to draw attention to a wide range of causes, including Middle East peace, American hostages in Iran, animal rights, police brutality, the Equal Rights Amendment for women and to support pop singer Michael Jackson when he was charged with sexual molestation in 2004.

“We thought I was going to be a great athlete, and we were wrong, and I thought I was going to be a great entertainer, and that wasn’t it either. I’m going to be an American Citizen. First class,” he once said.

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Younes Abouyaaqoub, understood to be chief suspect in Las Ramblas attack, is thought to be key member of 12-strong jihadist cell

Tributes are placed on Las Ramblas

Tributes are placed on Las Ramblas near the scene of Thursday’s terrorist attack. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Spanish police have intensified their hunt for a 22-year-old Moroccan man believed to be the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack that killed at least 13 and injured more than 130 last Thursday. Younes Abouyaaqoub, understood to be the chief suspect in the attack on Las Ramblas, is thought to be a key member of a 12-strong jihadist cell responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and later in nearby Cambrils.

Police say a man previously reported as a suspect – 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir – was killed in the Cambrils attack. Oukabir was among five men shot dead as they launched their assault on tourists and locals in the coastal town west of Barcelona.

Oukabir is thought to have used his older brother’s documents to hire the vehicle that ploughed into pedestrians in Barcelona on Thursday and to have died along with Said Aallaa, 19, and Mohamed Hychami, 24. All three took part in the Cambrils attack, which left one woman dead and six people injured. All five terrorists involved in the second attack were killed by police. The identities of the other two dead jihadists are yet to be confirmed.

Several of those suspected of involvement in the attacks are thought to come from Ripoll, an inland town of 11,000 people about 60 miles (100km) north-west of Barcelona. Police have since searched the apartment of the town’s imam, neighbours said.

Despite the fact that Abouyaaqoub is still at large, Spain decided to maintain its terrorist threat alert at level four, the second-highest level, declaring that no new attacks were imminent. The interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, said the country would nevertheless reinforce security for popular tourist sites and events that draw large crowds.

Meanwhile in Finland, police said a man who stabbed two people to death in the south-western city of Turku last Friday appeared to choose women as targets, and added that they are treating the incident as an act of terrorism. The suspect, arrested after being shot by police, is an 18-year-old Moroccan. Four other Moroccans have been held, police added.

In Barcelona, police reported that four men in their 20s had been arrested in connection with the attack and remain in custody. Three are Moroccan and one is Spanish. None was previously known to the security services for terror-related reasons. Moussa Oukabir’s brother, Driss Oukabir, is reported to be one of those detained.

Jared Tucker, from California, was in Barcelona with his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. The couple were on a tour of Europe and had been enjoying drinks on a pavement cafe when the attackers struck

Of the 14 people who died in the two attacks, 13 have now been identified, although not all have been named. Five were Spanish, three were German and two were Italian; there was also one each from the US, Belgium and Portugal. People from more than 30 countries are now believed to make up the 130 victims who were wounded in the attacks in Las Ramblas and in Cambrils. A total of 54 were still in hospital this weekend, 12 of them in a critical condition.

Police have also revealed that the terrorists behind the rampage were preparing bigger attacks. An explosion last Wednesday at a house in the more southerly town of Alcanar is believed to have destroyed materials the killers planned to use in larger-scale operations. Earlier reports from Spain had suggested that the terror cell was planning an attack using gas canisters.

“We think they were preparing at least one or more attacks in Barcelona,” Catalan regional police official Josep Lluís Trapero told reporters. “The explosion in Alcanar at least avoided some of the material they were counting on to carry out even bigger attacks than the ones that happened. Because of that, the attack in Barcelona and the one in Cambrils were carried out in a more rudimentary way than they had initially planned.”

Police are also reported to be looking for a white Renault Kangoo which is believed to have been rented by the suspects and could have been taken over the border into France.

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