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15 Apr

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

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

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Climate group blocks roads in capital and calls for peaceful acts of civil disobedience

A boat is placed in the centre of Oxford Circus during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London.

A boat is placed in the centre of Oxford Circus during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Thousands of people have joined a “climate rebellion” in London, blocking traffic and disrupting “business as usual” to demand action over the escalating ecological crisis.

By 2pm five London landmarks – Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus – had been blocked by thousands of protesters bringing widespread disruption.

Waterloo Bridge was blocked to traffic and turned into an impromptu garden bridge, with people bringing trees, flowers and setting up a miniature skate park.

At Oxford Circus thousands of protesters danced at the normally busy junction and a life size model of boat was parked in the middle of the crossing with the slogan Tell the Truth emblazoned on the side.

At nearby Piccadilly Circus the youth section of Extinction Rebellion held a sit down protest.

Demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge.

Demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Trey Taylor, 19, said he felt compelled to act when he realised the scale of the climate crisis.

“We are facing environmental breakdown and nothing remotely proportionate is being done about it… when you look at the facts this is happening now and the government response is utterly woeful.”

Laura Sorensen, a retired teacher from Somerset, was one of thousands who had gathered on Waterloo Bridge.

“I am so worried about what’s happening to the planet. We are on a knife-edge now and I felt strongly that I needed to get out and show myself, rather than just talk about it in the pub,” she said.

Sorensen said she had not previously been active in the environment movement but had been given a love of nature by her parents. “I see this disaster unfolding all around me … it is terrifying and the government have done nothing despite all the warnings, so we have to act now.”

At 11am on Monday, protesters set up camps and roadblocks which are planned to continue round the clock for at least a week in a protest reminiscent of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in 2011-12.

Traffic queues behind protesters in a road near Marble Arch.

Traffic queues behind protesters in a road near Marble Arch. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The demonstrations are part of a global campaign organised by the British climate group Extinction Rebellion, with protests planned in 80 cities across 33 countries in the coming days.

At Parliament Square about 2,000 people had gathered under a sea of flags, placards and banners for what is planned to be the political space of the protest.

An octagonal stage was erected on the green for speakers, compered by New Internationalist contributing editor Jamie Kelsey Fry. “This is not a political movement, this is a movement of humanity,” he said. “We are all backgrounds, all ages, all races, bound together in one wish, one dream, which is that we will have a good, decent, loving future, for generations to come.”

Demonstrators gather in Parliament Square.

Demonstrators gather in Parliament Square. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Towards the back of the crowd stood student Maria Jaramillo, 22, with her friend Liam Wilkinson, 20, who was waving a small extinction symbol flag.

Jaramillo said she wanted the government to “inform the people of the true dangers of climate change”, rather than merely paying lip service to the problem.

“Everything is so watered-down and [the actions] the government takes are so contradictory,” she said.

Protesters also shattered a glass revolving door at the headquarters of the fossil fuel company Shell and smeared its facade with graffiti and black paint. Hundreds of people soon stopped to watch as the protest outside Shell continued. Two activists climbed above the entrance, writing “Shell knew” and “Shell knows”. Activists said at least one arrest had been made.

Jessica Sirois, from Chicago, Illinois, was not impressed. “Why make a point by doing that? That’s graffiti,” she said. “if they were in a lot of other countries they would be in prison for that.”

The campaign cites the civil rights and suffragette movements as inspiration and is backed by senior scientists and academics, including the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

In London, organisers said they expected thousands to take part in peaceful acts of civil disobedience, bringing widespread disruption to the capital.

“We don’t want to disrupt people, but our government’s failure over the last 30 years leaves us no choice,” an Extinction Rebellion spokesperson said. “Governments prioritise the short-term interests of the economic elites so, to get their attention, we have to disrupt the economy.”

A total of 85 people were arrested in London in November when thousands of protesters, including families and pensioners, occupied five bridges.

The group is demanding immediate action over environmental destruction, after dire predictions that humans face an existential threat if climate change and the loss of biodiversity continues.

It is calling on the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a citizens’ assembly to devise an emergency plan of action similar to that seen during the second world war.

Participants in the protests are being forewarned they might be arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience. Organisers have circulated legal advice to anyone planning to attend. They have also requested they refrain from using drugs and alcohol and asked that they treat passersby and the environment with respect.

A Metropolitan police spokesperson declined to comment, other than to say an appropriate policing plan would be in place.

World Politics

United States

Congresswoman said many threats referenced the president’s tweet as Sarah Sanders praises Trump for ‘calling Omar out’

Ilhan Omar participates in a news conference outside the Capitol in Washington, earlier this week.

Ilhan Omar participates in a news conference outside the Capitol in Washington earlier this week. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

The Muslim American congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said she has received an increased number of death threats after Donald Trump repeatedly tweeted video footage of September 11 and accused Omar of downplaying the terror attacks.

Omar issued a statement on Sunday night saying: “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video.”

Omar said the Capitol police, the FBI, the House sergeant at arms and the speaker of the House were all aware of the threats and she thanked them for their assistance.

“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief,” she wrote. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”

The White House escalated its assault on Omar on Sunday, as the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, insisted that Omar, 37, a Somali American who as one of the first Muslim women in Congress is the first to wear a hijab in the House chamber, was in the wrong.

“I find her comments to be absolutely disgraceful and unbefitting of a member of Congress,” Sanders said, “and I think that it’s a good thing the president is calling her out.”

Sanders dismissed concern among Democrats that Trump was inciting violence against Omar, who has received death threats before, and other Muslim Americans.

“The president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence toward anyone,” said Sanders. “But the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman.”

I think that it’s a good thing that the president is calling her out

Sarah Sanders

Omar has come in for a drubbing from the right over a snippet from a speech last month to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), in which she discussed the problem of Islamophobia and described “the discomfort of being a second-class citizen”.

“Cair was founded after 9/11,” Omar said, “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

In response, Trump tweeted, retweeted then pinned atop his Twitter account a video splicing footage of Omar’s remark with video of the 9/11 attacks, including planes striking the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers falling.

Supported by a wave of Democrats saying Trump was willfully misrepresenting comments by Omar in what amounted to dangerous racist bullying, the congresswoman on Saturday said she would not be silenced by “an administration that ran on banning Muslims from this country”.

“No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America,” Omar tweeted.

Trump’s attack amplified a cover run by the tabloid New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch, which splashed a quote from Omar over a picture of the World Trade Center in flames. In response, a group of New York City corner-store owners announced a boycott of the newspaper.

The Yemeni American Merchants Association, which represents Yemeni Americans who own and run an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 of the city’s thousands of delis and corner stores, known as “bodegas”, wrote that the front page “provoked hatred” and “aims to harm Omar and her family and other people of the Islamic faith”.

“This rhetoric threatens the safety and wellbeing of Omar, Muslim leaders, and the larger Muslim American community at a time when Islamophobia is at an all-time high,” it added.

This is about the fact that she looks a certain way, she is a woman of color, she happens to be of the Muslim faith

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum, a former mayor of Tallahassee who made a strong run in 2018 for the Florida governorship, said on CNN’s State of the Union Trump was making a racist attack on Omar as part of his strategy to win re-election.

“Obviously Ilhan has become a little bit of an easy target for this White House, for this administration,” Gillum said.

“But I think his attack is beyond Congresswoman Omar. This is about the fact that she looks a certain way, she is a woman of color, she happens to be of the Muslim faith. The president is setting, in my opinion, the groundwork for the kind of campaign he wants to run, which is to pit Americans against Americans, to turn brown and black people against his base.”

Omar, who represents a district including Minneapolis, has been in Congress just over three months but she has been targeted by Trump more than once. In February, after Omar suggested support for Israel was fueled by donations from a lobby group, she was accused of antisemitism.

Omar apologized “unequivocally”. But she has declined to do so over her 9/11 comment.

“I did not run for Congress to be silent,” she tweeted on Saturday. “I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”

Many Democrats, including more than a dozen presidential candidates, issued statements of support for Omar, though activists were careful to note that some of the statements, which mentioned Omar by name, were stronger than others.

Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the other Muslim American woman in Congress, was the first on Friday to call for Democrats to support Omar.

“Enough is enough,” she wrote. “No more silence, with NY Post and now Trump taking Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her, it’s time for more Dem[ocrats] to speak up. Clearly the GOP is fine with this shameful stunt, but we cannot stand by.”

Senator Bernie Sanders called attacks on Omar “disgusting and dangerous” and said Omar would not “back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we”.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said: “The president is inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman – and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”

Former representative Beto O’Rourke and New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Trump’s attacks amounted to an “incitement to violence”.

Trump’s own controversial remarks and false claims about September 11 have come under renewed scrutiny. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the New York congressman Jerrold Nadler, whose district covers lower Manhattan, said he was not offended by Omar’s remarks because she referred only in passing to September 11.

But Trump was speaking out of turn, Nadler said, because after 9/11 he had taken money from a federal grant fund for small businesses that were damaged in the terrorist attacks.

“He stole $150,000 from some small business person who could have used it to help rehabilitate himself,” Nadler said.

“He has no moral authority to be talking about 9/11 at all.”

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