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02 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

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

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Far-right protesters do not have things their own way as counter marches emerge

A masked demonstrator

A masked demonstrator flees approaching police who try to separate leftist and nationalist demonstrators in Chemnitz. Photograph: Jens Meyer/AP

A week after violent clashes that shook Germany and echoed round the world, demonstrators took to the streets of Chemnitz again on Saturday, for the latest round of a high-profile, high-stakes battle over the soul and future of their country.

Thousands of people, arms linked and chanting, marched down a street where a week ago far-right demonstrators performed Nazi salutes, shouted “foreigners out” and chased people they suspected of being refugees down the streets. There were fears of more violence this weekend, after the same far-right groups called a second demonstration. But a substantial group on the Chemnitz boulevard yesterday came not to attack diversity, but to celebrate it.

“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted loudly as they marched down the street to join thousands of others in a park at the centre of the city, for an event dubbed “Herz Statt Hetze”, “Heart not Hate”.

“We don’t want fascism in Germany, do we?” said Nadia Smirnowa, who was holding the brightly coloured flag of the 15th battalion of international volunteers, who fought with the republican forces in the Spanish civil war against the fascist forces of Francisco Franco. “Things started here in 1933 and they shouldn’t start again. It was bad enough that a party, which is very nearly Nazi [in ideology] is represented in parliament, we don’t want that. It’s really bad news.”

It has been a week since the protests broke out in Chemnitz, in former East Germany, following the killing of a 35-year-old German man. An Iraqi and a Syrian were later arrested on suspicion of stabbing him during an altercation. Some 800 far-right protesters quickly mobilised in the streets as activists called on supporters to “defend” their country. The police were initially overwhelmed.

Aerial view of crowds and police vans

Police block the far-right demonstration in Chemnitz on Saturday. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

The next evening far-right groups, including “Pro Chemnitz”, mustered more than 6,000 protesters, while “Chemnitz Nazifrei” (Chemnitz free of Nazis) organised a counter-protest of about 1,500. But this time the numbers were different. Thousands of far-right protesters had gathered again, but so too had large crowds of their opponents and they were heading to the park. Dozens of police vans and officers – and a few streets – separated the two groups.

At the far-right gathering, around the city’s monument to Karl Marx, they chanted “We are the people”, a phrase once used to herald the end of the East German communist regime but since reclaimed by the far right.

The “people” don’t want to give their names, though. One man said that he fears losing his job if he is identified as one of the protesters, but insisted he is not a Nazi.

“This can’t go on. People have to integrate,” he said. “If my Czech boss talks about migrants, it’s fine, but as a German you are automatically a Nazi.” His compatriots nodded enthusiastically. “What is a Nazi anyway?” said another, who identified himself as a member of the neo-Nazi NPD party. “It can’t be that German children are unable to play in playgrounds any more. We just want the criminals out.”

Protests organised by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Pegida continued well past their official end time, leaving police in riot gear facing demonstrators, who chanted “resistance” in defiance.

But the standoff ended when dozens of protesters made their way to the vigil for the German-Cuban man whose killing sparked the violence.

As they gathered around the flowers and candles, one protester held up a photo of Daniel H. Speaking about him to the group, he called the 35-year-old “peaceful, honest, loyal and respectful,” which was greeted by applause and chants of: “it was murder”, before they broke into a rendition of the national anthem…………..Since Merkel’s decision to welcome refugees, anti-migrant sentiment in Germany has been on the rise. Last year the AfD made it into parliament for the first time and is now the major opposition party.

About a quarter of Saxons say that they would now vote in favour of the AfD, according to recent polls. However, many in Chemnitz reject the idea that their hometown is a racist place. “I would never have expected something like this to happen, so extreme, in our town,” said Thomas Böhme, at the “Heart not Hate” counter-protest.

A small group of refugees from Iraq and Syria had joined the same protest; they said they had experienced hatred and discrimination in their daily lives.

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Following Sweden’s hottest summer ever, Greta Thunberg decided to go on school strike at the parliament to get politicians to act

Greta Thunberg leads a school strike and sits outside of the Swedish Parliament, in an effort to force politicians to act on climate change.

Greta Thunberg leads a school strike and sits outside of the Swedish Parliament, in an effort to force politicians to act on climate change. Photograph: Michael Campanella for the Guardian

Why bother to learn anything in school if politicians won’t pay attention to the facts?

This simple realisation prompted Greta Thunberg, 15, to protest in the most effective way she knew. She is on strike, refusing to go to school until Sweden’s general election on 9 September to draw attention to the climate crisis.

Her protest has captured the imagination of a country that has been struck by heatwaves and wildfires in its hottest summer since records began 262 years ago.

Every day for two weeks, Thunberg has been sitting quietly on the cobblestones outside parliament in central Stockholm, handing out leaflets that declare: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.”

Thunberg herself is a diminutive girl with pigtails and a fleeting smile – not the stereotypical leader of a climate revolution.

“I am doing this because nobody else is doing anything. It is my moral responsibility to do what I can,” she says. “I want the politicians to prioritise the climate question, focus on the climate and treat it like a crisis.”

When people tell her she should be at school, she points to the textbooks in her satchel.

“I have my books here,” she says in flawless English. “But also I am thinking: what am I missing? What am I going to learn in school? Facts don’t matter any more, politicians aren’t listening to the scientists, so why should I learn?”

Thunberg’s protest might come as a surprise to anyone seduced by Sweden’s reputation as a climate pioneer and champion of the environment. This year the country enacted “the most ambitious climate law in the world”, aiming to become carbon neutral by 2045 and comfortably beating the 2015 Paris climate targets along the way.

“This is too little too late, it needs to come much faster,” Thunberg says. “Sweden is not a green paradise, it has one of the biggest carbon footprints.”

Her parents want her to give up her protest and go back to school. “My teachers are divided,” Thunberg says. “As people they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers they say I should stop.”

One teacher to have downed tools to join her protest is Benjamin Wagner, 26. He expects to lose three weeks’ wages – and his job – as a result of his strike.

“Our inability to stop climate change is like the efforts to stop world war one – we knew for years it was coming, they arranged all sorts of conferences, but still they didn’t prevent it,” Wagner says.

A forest fire burns near Sarna in central Sweden on July 26, 2018.

A forest fire burns near Sarna in central Sweden on July 26, 2018. Photograph: Maja Suslin/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images

“Greta is a troublemaker, she is not listening to adults. But we are heading full speed for a catastrophe, and in this situation the only reasonable thing is to be unreasonable.”

There are signs that more Swedes are listening. The Green party, a partner in the centre-left coalition government, was languishing in the polls before the country was hit by more than 60 forest fires, which raged for weeks through a rural tinderbox created by the unprecedented drought. Now the party’s support is up by half to about 6%.

“I am very impressed by Greta’s courage and determination,” says Janine Alm Ericson, a Green member of parliament.

“But I am also sad that she feels she has to be there – the political parties in Sweden have not done enough. Thanks to the hot summer it has become easier for people to imagine what climate change can mean for us and others in Europe if we continue to ignore what is happening.”

Outside parliament, Stella d’Ailly, 45, an art director, has come to join Thunberg’s protest.

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