12 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



Cleveland activists are questioning why it has taken so long to investigate the shooting, and why there was such a delay in sending the case to a grand jury

Activists demonstrate in support of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.

Activists demonstrate in support of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports

In the seven months since a Cleveland police officer killed a 12-year-old holding a toy gun, local activists like Yvonka Hall found themselves asking the same questions, over and over again:

What’s taking so long?

Why would it take the Cuyahoga County sheriff so long to investigate the shooting of the child Tamir Rice by the officer Timothy Loehmann?

And why would the county prosecutor delay sending the case of the killing of a child holding a toy to a grand jury?

“Something needed to happen,” said Hall, who has been a driving force behind the community-driven conversations about police-related shootings in Cleveland, a city that recently settled with the US Department of Justice over the use of “excessive and unreasonable force” by its police.

Something did happen on Thursday, when Cleveland municipal court presiding judge Ronald Adrine found probable cause to charge Loehmann with a host of crimes: murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. The judge found probable cause to charge officer Frank Garmback with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Garmback was Loehmann’s partner on the force.

But Adrine’s ruling didn’t advance the case. The judge didn’t order the officers be arrested. Instead, he ordered complaints be filed with both the Cleveland and Cuyahoga County prosecutors offices…………………..



MEPs urge US lawmakers not to adopt amendment that would stop President Obama bargaining on climate change during international trade talks

Paul Ryan, Wisconsin. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin introduced the amendment to placate rightwingers who fear proposed trade deals could lead to action on climate change by the back door. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

European Union politicians have written to US members of Congress pleading for them to remove a last-minute amendment that would bar Barack Obama from making action on climate change a condition of international trade negotiations.

A climate provision included at the eleventh hour in a bill to be voted on by the US House of Representatives on Friday would ban Obama from acting on climate or immigration while engaged in trade negotiations. The manoeuvre has been denounced by Democrats, environmentalists and European allies, including a number of members of the European parliament.

The climate provision was inserted this week into a related trade bill also being voted on today by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a Republican and former vice-presidential candidate who, in an unlikely partnership, has been shoring up votes in the House of Representatives for the president.

Ryan’s provision was intended to appease rightwing members of his party, who claim that Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) plans are a backdoor way of expanding governmental action on immigration and climate without consulting Congress.

Hours before the US House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on whether to give Obama “fast-track” authority – known as trade promotion authority – on trade deals, which would make such deals easier to pass by forcing them to go to an up/down vote without amendment, several members of the European parliament (MEPs) sent a letter to their American counterparts asking them to remove the amendment……………………



Israeli investigation says missile attack that killed boys aged between nine and 11 was ‘tragic accident’ in findings contradictory to journalists’ reports from scene

The killing of four children on a beach in Gaza was one of the most controversial incidents in last summer’s Gaza war.

The Israeli military has cleared itself of culpability in one of the most controversial incidents in last summer’s Gaza war: a missile attack that killed four children on Gaza beach and injured a number of others.

Israel’s advocate general’s office said the attack, which led to the death of four boys aged between nine and 11 was a “tragic accident”.

An account of the investigation, posted late on Thursday by military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner, said the strike had targeted a “compound” which had been known as belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (including naval commandos)”.

But journalists who attended the scene in the immediate aftermath of the attack – including a reporter from the Guardian – saw a small and dilapidated fisherman’s hut containing a few tools where the children had been playing hide-and-seek.

Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, 11, Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakariya Ahed Bakr, both 10, and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr, nine, were killed when they were hit by explosive rounds. Three of them died as they sought to flee the beach after the first child was killed.

Three other people were injured in the attack: Hamad Bakr, 13, was hit by shrapnel in his chest; his cousin Motasem, 11, injured in his head and legs, and Mohammad Abu Watfah, 21, who was hit by shrapnel in his stomach.



James Inhofe, infamous for tossing a snowball across the Senate floor to demonstrate ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated against the American people’, says Pope Francis should ‘stay with his job’ during a pitch to fellow unbelievers

Republican senator James Inhofe

James Inhofe to Pope Francis: ‘Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.’ Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Washington’s notorious snowball-thrower was at it again – even on a June day with forecast highs of 92 degrees – as the Senate’s most powerful environmental leader delivered a pep talk to activists who deny the science behind climate change.

Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, who now chairs the Senate environment and public works committee despite famously calling global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”, took a star turn on Thursday at the Heartland Institute, whose conferences function as a hub for climate deniers.

His message – that “God is still up there” and that Pope Francis should mind his own business – sent a clear signal to his fellow conservatives: climate sceptics have a loyal – and newly powerful – friend in Congress.

Actually, there was more than one: Lamar Smith, the Texas congressman who heads the science, space and technology committee, raised cheers from the room when he said he proposed a 40% cut in Nasa’s budget for earth sciences last week.

In the world outside, anticipation was building for the pope to deliver his much-awaited encyclical next week, when he is expected to cast climate change as a moral issue.

On Thursday, Democratic senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz launched a carbon-fee bill – and got a respectful hearing – at the American Enterprise Institute, the leading conservative thinktank, in a possible sign that the uniform opposition to political climate solutions may be softening. And on Monday, leaders of the G7 industrial countries committed to phasing out fossil fuels by the end of the century.


When Anna Zhavnerovich wrote about a beating she received from her boyfriend, it triggered a huge reaction. Now there are signs of a political shift in attitudes regarding the campaign to identify domestic violence as a crime

Anna Zhavnerovich at the W-O-S magazine offices in Moscow

‘People were surprised it was happening in young, fashionable circles’ … Anna Zhavnerovich at the W-O-S magazine offices in Moscow. Photograph: Maria Pleshkova/Demotix

Anna Zhavnerovich went to the police a week after she says her boyfriend beat her unconscious, determined to make sure he was arrested and brought to justice. She was surprised by some of the questions the Moscow police officers asked her when she recounted what had happened, her face still painfully swollen and discoloured.

“They asked me why I didn’t have any children,” she remembers. “They asked me if I was married.” Beneath their line of questioning was the suggestion that somehow the attack was her fault.

They told her that they would investigate, but a few weeks later she received a letter informing her that the case had been dropped. Her ex-boyfriend had not been questioned and no further action was proposed. When she tried to hire a lawyer to start a private suit, she was told that the police had lost her files.

Zhavnerovich, 28, a journalist at a fashionable Moscow-based online lifestyle website W-O-S, chose instead to write an article about what had happened to her. Its publication last month attracted huge attention, highlighting an issue that for decades has been an almost unmentionable taboo. Zhavnerovich was bombarded with hundreds of emails and Facebook posts from women who wanted to tell her that they, too, had been beaten up by partners and struggled to get the authorities to register a complaint.

“I think people were surprised to read that this was happening in young, fashionable Moscow circles – not something to do with alcoholics in some remote, backward village somewhere. That’s why it triggered such a huge reaction from the public,” Zhavnerovich said. “Judging by the responses I have had, the scale of the problem is enormous.”

The interest her account provoked chimed with a political shift in attitudes to this issue, which is finally edging towards the political mainstream. After decades of failed attempts to draft legislation that identifies domestic violence as a crime, politicians at the Moscow Duma hope this session of parliament to debate a new law, which will make it easier for victims to prosecute their attackers, and introduce a series of preventative measures, such as restraining orders and behavioural therapy for offenders…………………..



I didn’t know I would never see her again, but that November night when the ambulance came marked the end of my childhood

Fay Schopen and her mother

Fay Schopen and her mother in 1982: ‘She was 32 when the breast cancer diagnosis came, and a single parent. She didn’t let on how ill she was. Perhaps she didn’t know.’ Photograph: Fay Schopen

It was mid-November in 1985 and I was 10 years old. When I said goodbye to my mother that night, I had no idea that it would be the last time I saw her. It would also be the last time I saw our home, our cat and, it turned out, it would be the end of my childhood. Say goodbye to your mum, the kindly ambulance man said. I put my arms around her waist and complied. I didn’t tell her I loved her. I didn’t say much of anything. I thought she’d be back, like she always had been before.

Thirty years later, the abruptness of that moment remains etched on my memory. It marks the transition from the safe and secure life I had known as a child, to the uncertain world of adulthood, a place where cruel and random things happen. A world in which I was effectively alone.

My mother, it turned out, had breast cancer. She was 32 when the diagnosis came, and a single parent. I later found out that she had told just one other person, but even then, she didn’t let on how ill she was. Perhaps she didn’t know. She hid her mastectomy surgery and subsequent rounds of chemotherapy from me. I find this astounding now – having had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy myself, age 36, my mother’s faulty genes passed on. She told me she was frequently in hospital because of a bad back. How she explained her hair loss – she wore a wig, and I vividly remember her fretting about the possibility of it blowing off in the wind – I simply can’t remember.

That night in November, she was 35. She had a bad nosebleed; it would not stop. A side effect of the chemotherapy, I now know. Sitting on the side of her bed, trying to stem the flow, she said she thought she’d better go to hospital, just in case. She arranged for her friend to come and pick me up. Two ambulance men turned up in our small flat with a stretcher. There was a bit of a joke and a laugh, because of course my mother didn’t need to be borne away on a stretcher. She simply walked out of the door with them and got into the back of the ambulance. She died in hospital three days later.

But of course I wasn’t grown-up, not at all. My mother’s death was a seismic event. But it has made me what I am today. From an early age I knew that life was unfair and upsetting. That loss is the reason I got married – and quickly divorced – age 30, the reason I subsequently spent six years in a relationship with someone who couldn’t meet my needs, not at all. It’s the reason l went to university and became a journalist. My love of words is undeniably down to my mother, an avid reader who taught me to read before I went to school. Today, I am independent, strong and frequently uncompromising…………………


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