23 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



No group claims responsibility for the latest attack in the Afghan capital, in which three American contractors died

Afghan security forces and British soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghan security forces and British soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AP

At least 12 people were killed and more than 60 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a hospital in central Kabul on Saturday afternoon, the latest in a wave of attacks to hit the Afghan capital in recent weeks.

The suicide bomber, who is thought to have targeted a foreign convoy, killed three American contractors. The vast majority of casualties, however, were Afghan civilians.

With more than 5,000 civilian casualties so far this year, 2015 may become the most violent year for Afghan civilians since the war began in 2001.

In a statement on Saturday night, Nato said one of the Americans was killed in the blast, while the two others later died of their wounds. The contractors were not named.

According to Reuters, the contractors worked for DynCorp International, a private US security firm with a long involvement in the war.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place at 4.20pm (1250 BST) in a busy street close to a market and residential housing complexes…………………..


Riot police remain but fail to slow passage of migrants crossing from Greece on way through Balkans to western Europe

Hundreds of migrants cross from Greece into Macedonia on Sunday after Macedonian security forces appeared to abandon a bid to seal the border, following days of confrontation.

Hundreds of migrants have crossed unhindered from Greece into Macedonia after overwhelmed security forces appeared to abandon a bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe following days of chaos and confrontation.

Riot police remained, but did little to slow the passage of a steady flow of migrants on Sunday, many of them refugees from the Syrian war and other conflicts in the Middle East, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Macedonia declared a state of emergency on Thursday and sealed its southern frontier to migrants arriving at a rate of 2,000 a day en route to Serbia then Hungary and the EU’s borderless Schengen zone. This led to desperate scenes at the border, as adults and children slept under open skies with little access to food or water.

Saying they would ration access, riot police used teargas and stun grenades to drive back crowds, but they were overwhelmed on Saturday by several thousand people who tore through police lines or ran through nearby fields.

The state eventually laid on extra trains, and buses arrived from across the country to take the migrants swiftly north to Serbia on the next step of their journey……………….


The evolution of Bernie Sanders’ wildly popular campaign – in pictures

Democrat Bernie Sanders has been drawing the largest crowds of all the presidential candidates – but that was not always the case. Sanders came from humble beginnings, used to speaking to modest crowds of 50-plus just last year. He now consistently fills stadiums with more than 25,000 people, has 1.8m likes on his Facebook page, and has sparked hashtags like #feelthebern, #Bernie2016, and #babesforbernie


9 August 2015

28,000 supporters

While speaking at Portland, Oregon’s Moda Center, he highlights how his campaign is about “bringing people together”. This is the largest turnout he’s seen yet and despite having spoken to filled stadiums for about a month, he opens his speech with a customary remark about how many people there are. “Whoa,” Sanders says. “This is an unbelievable turnout.”……………


British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, watches on while the union jack is raised as he officially reopens the British embassy in Tehran for first time since 2011. Hammond says there is currently a ‘deficit of trust’ in British-Iranian relations but says the re-opening of their respective embassies shows the two countries have chosen to discuss their issues constructively. Hammond is due to meet his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif later on Sunday and the president, Hassan Rouhani, on Monday morning


Local doctors are in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years over whether corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides is a source of prosperity, as companies claim, or of birth defects and illnesses


After four separate attempts to rein in the companies failed, an estimated 10,000 people marched through Honolulu’s Waikiki tourist district. Photograph: Christopher Pala for the Guardian

Pediatrician Carla Nelson remembers catching sight of the unusually pale newborn, then hearing an abnormal heartbeat through the stethoscope and thinking that something was terribly wrong.

The baby was born minutes before with a severe heart malformation that would require complex surgery. What worried her as she waited for the ambulance plane to take the infant from Waimea, on the island of Kauai, to the main children’s hospital in Honolulu, on another Hawaiian island, was that it was the fourth one shehad seen in three years.

In all of Waimea, there have been at least nine in five years, she says, shaking her head. That’s more than 10 times the national rate, according to analysis by local doctors.

Nelson, a Californian, and other local doctors find themselves in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years around the Hawaiian archipelago over whether a major cash crop on four of the six main islands, corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides, is a source of prosperity, as the companies claim – or of birth defects and illnesses, as the doctors and many others suspect.

After four separate attempts to rein in the companies over the past two years all failed, an estimated 10,000 people marched on 9 August through Honolulu’s Waikiki tourist district. Some signs like, “We Deserve the Right to Know: Stop Poisoning Paradise” and “Save Hawaii – Stop GMOs” (Genetically Modified Organisms), while others protested different issues………………..



Capitalism doesn’t believe in the value of work except as dictated by a marketplace, and corporations can afford to exploit their far-flung workers

Jeff Bezos

This guy has built a monster robot that doesn’t factor humanity into the profit equation. Photograph: Ted S. Warren/AP

Like a clone army of Captain Renaults, the world woke up last weekend to the astounding New York Times story that Amazon’s workplace was brutish, nasty and cultish. And like that unforgettable character in Casablanca, the world was “shocked – shocked!” to discover there was ugliness in the machinery of such a tech darling.

The analogy is particularly apt because the crux of the scene is that Renault, a moment after blandly asserting he’s shocked by gambling, is handed his winnings. Many of the same media outlets telling this story of Amazon’s bad behavior have similarly lionized Jeff Bezos and Amazon for decades.

This pretending to be surprised is convenient and ridiculous. It’s ridiculousness in the tradition of Žižek – first it was tragedy, and now it has become farce. Not because the conditions the story describes aren’t absolutely true – they are – but because it has been true for so long and so thoroughly that it says a lot about our culture that we can even pretend it is news.

This latest piece isn’t coming out of a vacuum. The Seattle Times ran a series last year covering much of the same ground. Three years ago, Mother Jones did an extensive expose of conditions at Amazon’s warehouses, whose blue-collar brutality makes the psychological nastiness at the corporate headquarters look like child’s play. That article received attention but didn’t merit mentioning in the Times piece, and judging from the world’s reactions we can see why: white collar (and largely white) workers are fascinating, and warehouse jobs performed by the lower classes aren’t worthy of the same level of interest.

I know how far the record of Amazon drudgery stretches back, because I created a theatrical monologue and a memoir 13 years ago about my time working there, from blue-collar customer support to white-collar business development. The portrait of the culture that I draw in my book is clearly the same workplace that the New York Times is reporting on. Amazon’s defenders who cry about a few bad managers are absolutely wrong – this culture is pervasive in the company, and it has endured for the 20 years of Amazon’s existence because it was crafted from the top down to impose, intimidate and extract as much as possible from each worker through shame, humiliation, power dynamics and groupthink………………….




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