09 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

Pyongyang claims missile strike could hit US Pacific territory, warning any American military action would provoke ‘all-out war’

in Tokyo

Analysis: how likely is war?
Explainer: where is Guam and why is North Korea threatening it?
Explainer: what is the US military’s presence near North Korea?

Donald Trump has threatened North Korea ‘with fire and the fury like the world has never seen’ if the rogue state makes any more threats to the US. The president’s comments come on the day that fresh evidence emerged that Pyongyang has overcome one of the last major technical obstacles to being able to hit the US or western Europe with nuclear-armed missiles

North Korea has said it is considering a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after Donald Trump warned the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The threat, carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, marked a dramatic rise in tensions and prompted warnings to Washington not to become embroiled in a bellicose slanging match with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, located 3,400km (2,100 miles) away, and threatened to create an “enveloping fire” around the territory.

Guam is home to a US military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a coastguard group.

Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, on Wednesday attempted to reassure residents that there was “no threat” of a North Korean strike, but added that the island was prepared for “any eventuality”.

Calvo added: “Guam is American soil … We are not just a military installation.”

In an online video message he said he had been told by the US defence and homeland security departments that there was no change in the threat level.

A Korean people’s army (KPA) spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that a plan would be put into practice as soon as the order to attack Guam was issued by the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“The KPA strategic force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium- to long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the US major military bases on Guam, including the Anderson airforce base,” the spokesman said.

KCNA quoted a second army spokesman accusing Washington of devising a “preventive war”, adding that any attempt to attack the North would provoke “all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland”.

The US should cease its “reckless military provocation” against North Korea to avoid such a reaction, the spokesman added.

In response, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, called for an overhaul of the country’s armed services, citing an “urgent” need to improve its ability to defend against North Korean missile attacks.

“I believe we might need a complete defence reform at the level of a rebirth, instead of making some improvements or modifications,” Moon told senior military officials, according to Yonhap news agency.

“Another urgent task now facing us is securing defence capabilities to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations.”

Why is North Korea threatening Guam?

The unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations, said the threat against Guam would damage attempts to improve inter-Korean ties. A ministry spokesman said the South was committed to dialogue and sanctions, and urged Pyongyang to end its provocations.

Tensions in the region have risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. The UN security council responded last weekend by unanimously agreeing sanctions designed to deprive the regime of around a billion US dollars in hard currency.

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The Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter, who had a prolific 60-year career, died from Alzheimer’s on Tuesday


The country singer Glen Campbell has died aged 81. He had been living with Alzheimer’s for six years and recently released his farewell album, Adios. Among the hits of his career were Rhinestone Cowboy and By the Time I Get to Phoenix


The country singer Glen Campbell died on Tuesday at the age of 81 after living with Alzheimer’s for six years.

The singer-songwriter, who was born in Arkansas, sold over 45m records over the course of a career that spanned more than 60 years. A statement from Campbell’s family on his website read: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.”

From 1969 to 1972, Campbell was the host of the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS, a music and comedy variety show that aired 91 episodes. Among his 80 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 or Billboard Country charts were hits such as Rhinestone Cowboy, By the Time I Get to Phoenix and his cover of John Hartford’s Gentle on My Mind.

Campbell recorded his final studio album, Adios, in Nashville in 2012 and 2013 after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis; it was released in June this year. The seventh of 12 kids, Campbell dropped out of school when he was 14, moving first to Wyoming and then to Los Angeles, where in the early 60s he appeared on the records of Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and the Byrds. His first hit came in 1967 with By the Time I Get to Phoenix, written by Jim Webb. They would go on to collaborate on numerous records such as Wichita Lineman and the ballad Galveston.

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian shortly after going public with his diagnosis, Campbell was upbeat about the prospect of still releasing new music. “You love music,” he said. “You feel good. I get a kick out of it. Like the old Floyd Tillman song goes: ‘I love you so much it hurts me, darling, that’s why I’m so blue.’ It’s all I ever wanted – to play and sing.”

He was also nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for a song from his documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

Campbell is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell, and their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley, as well as Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and Dillon, his children from previous marriages.

In a video statement, Dolly Parton paid tribute: “Well Glen Campbell was special because he was so gifted. Glen is one of the greatest voices there ever was in the business. And he was one of the greatest musicians. He was a wonderful session musician as well, a lot of people don’t realize that. But he could play anything and he could play it really well. So he was just extremely talented.”

Fellow musicians such as Brad Paisley and Peter Frampton, and Campbell’s daughter Ashley, also paid their respects on Twitter:

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Published on Oct 7, 2014

Music video by Glen Campbell performing I’m Not Gonna Miss You. (C) 2014 Big Machine Records, LLC.


Secretary of state Rex Tillerson directs staff to make clear US wants to help other countries use fossil fuels, diplomatic cable shows


Rex Tillerson has told staffers to duck questions on what it would take to get the US to return to the Paris climate agreement. Photograph: Fazry Ismail/EPA

US diplomats should sidestep questions from foreign governments on what it would take for the Trump administration to re-engage in the global Paris climate agreement, according to a diplomatic cable seen by Reuters.

The cable, sent by the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to embassies on Friday, also said diplomats should make clear the United States wants to help other countries use fossil fuels.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s announcement in June that the United States would withdraw from the accord, the cable tells diplomats to expect foreign government representatives to ask questions like: “Does the United States have a climate change policy?” and “Is the administration advocating the use of fossil fuels over renewable energy?“

If asked, for example, “What is the process for consideration of re-engagement in the Paris Agreement?,” the answer should be vague: “We are considering a number of factors. I do not have any information to share on the nature or timing of the process,” the cable advises.

The US state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the cable.

Trump campaigned on a promise to “cancel” the Paris deal, saying he believed it would cost the US economy trillions of dollars, while leaving developing nations such as China unfettered. In a sharp difference with the previous administration of Barack Obama, a Democrat, Trump has several times called climate change a hoax.

In June, Trump left the door open to re-engagement if terms improve. The United States would “start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair”, he said.

The state department guidance clarifies that right now, “there are no plans to seek to re-negotiate or amend the text of the Paris Agreement.” But it adds: “The president is sincere in his commitment to look for a path to re-engage that takes into account his concerns for US economic growth and energy security.”

The Paris accord, agreed by nearly 200 countries in 2015, seeks to limit planetary warming by curbing global emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists believe drive global warming. The United States, under the Obama administration, had promised to cut emissions as much as 28% from 2005 levels by 2025.

Separate from the diplomatic cable, the Trump administration is reviewing a draft report written by scientists across 13 federal government agencies that shows the effects of climate change pose dire, near-term threats to the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment on the draft, which the New York Times published on Monday.

The report puts the White House in the awkward position of either clearing the report’s findings or editing them.

The diplomatic guidance makes clear that the United States intends to attend global climate summits during the prolonged process of withdrawing from the Paris deal, to protect US interests. The next summit is in November.

A US official said a major US priority in these talks would be to beat back attempts to have separate standards in the guidance on emissions cuts for rich and poor nations – long a sticking point in negotiations.

“There’s certainly nothing in the policies of this administration that would make us think that we should be acting differently,” the official said on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal memo.

The cable also anticipates questions over why the United States has changed its policy to make it easier for global development banks such as the World Bank to finance coal-fired power projects. In 2013 the Obama administration said the United States would oppose most coal projects, guidance since altered by the Trump administration.

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In Portland, which prides itself on being a beacon of progressive politics, the practice of using prisoner work crews is painted as a win-win – but that’s not how some see it

in Portland, Oregon

Inmates in Oregon are provided with gloves, tongs and biohazard boxes to protect themselves from exposure to dirty needles and other hazards while cleaning up homeless camps. Photograph: The Guardian

In many places in the US, the fraught job of clearing out a homeless encampment is given to professionals. In San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, for example, the job often falls to city employees in public works or sanitation departments, who might get paid upwards of $16 per hour.

But in Portland, which prides itself on being a paragon of progressive politics, inmates at the county jail get $1 a day – enough to buy a Butterfinger at the commissary – to do the work.

Some of the inmates sifting through or dismantling homeless dwellings were previously homeless themselves, making for a bizarre merry-go-round. The job can make it feel as if their worlds are colliding.

Jeff Nelson was homeless for 13 years and on an inmate work crew for six months. He remembers dealing with a well-tended tent in Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood – like one he might have lived in himself.

“You looked in there, and the bed was all made, and family pictures, and that was someone’s home,” he said. “And they made us take that down, and throw it in the fucking trash. And it’s like, what are you doing?”

He added: “It’s just straight up bullshit, but that’s the way the system rolls, and we have no choice [but] to roll with the system.”

That system was on full display one recent morning. Two homeless women with cigarettes in their hands watched as an armored truck with flashing lights pulled up to their campsite. A sheriff’s deputy let out five jail inmates in orange jumpsuits, who grabbed trash-picking tools and plastic bags.

“I don’t think it’s right,” said Amber, 25. “They don’t know if the inmate is going to have to see their partner, their mom, or someone they know.”

Her friend, Heather, said she recently saw a work crew member with whom she had been intimate when he was homeless. “He was across the street cleaning my campsite,” she said. The sight made her despair. “I told him that I loved him,” she said.

It is practices like this that suggest the grittier complexities beneath Portland’s international image as a beacon for neo-hippies and foodies.

Portland declared an ongoing homelessness “emergency” in 2015; new data shows the county’s homeless population has grown 10% since then. Residents living near camps have complained vocally, and often, about trash and crime.

The city of Portland pays a contractor, Pacific Patrol Services, $117,557 a year to clear homeless camps, some of which is done in conjunction with teams of inmates from the county jail. The Oregon Department of Transportation, or Odot, meanwhile, pays up to half a million dollars a year for jail inmates who take care of the land it owns along freeways, said spokesman Don Hamilton. These crews now focus exclusively on homeless camps, he said, whereas five years ago homelessness was only a minor focus.


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