themcglynn.com

03 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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There’s a disparity between overwhelming public approval for modest gun control reforms and an almost total stasis gripping Congress on the issue

Chris Harper Mercer was enrolled at the college where he made bloody last stand

Barack Obama

Barack Obama speaks on the shooting in Oregon during a press conference at the White House on Friday. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/Corbis

There was a palpable weariness in President Obama’s official response on Thursday to the gun carnage at Umpqua community college in Oregon. He leaned repeatedly on the word “another” – another mass shooting, another community stunned with grief, more American families “whose lives have been changed forever”.

But underneath the tired exterior of a president who has had to deliver essentially the same speech nine times over the past six years, there was also an evident seething anger. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. “It does not capture the heartache and grief we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage being repeated somewhere else in America.”

That Obama had rediscovered his anger over gun violence was news in itself, because for most of the past three years it has been lacking. He demonstrated the same passion after the 2012 slaying in Connecticut of 20 five-year-old children and six of their adult carers in Newtown. He said bullishly then: “We can’t tolerate this any more. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

At that time, Obama was not the only person in the US who was convinced that the mowing down of 20 young children in their classrooms with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle would force the country to finally get serious about addressing the epidemic of gun violence.

But since Newtown there have been 994 mass shootings in the US and, according to the website shootingtracker.com, almost 300 this year alone………………..

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Nine staff dead and up to 37 injured in Médecins Sans Frontières hospital as charity says bombing continued for 30 minutes after it raised alarm

Handheld footage shows the devastation at a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF) in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan that may have been caused by a US airstrike. Three staff from Médecins Sans Frontière were killed and 30 were missing after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city. In a statement, the international charity said the bombing took place at 0210 local time on Saturday

A US airstrike appears to have hit a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the Afghan city of Kunduz, killing nine staff members and injuring up to 37 people.

MSF said its hospital in the northern city was bombed and badly damaged in an aerial attack early on Saturday morning.

The charity claimed it had circulated the coordinates of the site to all sides engaged in fighting in the country, adding that the bombing continued for 30 minutes after it had raised the alarm with Afghan and US authorities.

At the time of the bombing, 105 patients and its carers, and more than 80 MSF international and national staff were in the hospital, the charity said.

Some members of staff were still unaccounted for on Saturday, and there are fears the death toll will rise considerably. Up to 10 international aid workers who were based in the hospital are believed to have survived the attack.

Taliban fighters had entered the hospital and were firing at security forces from inside the compound on Friday evening, Sarwar Husaini, a spokesman for Kunduz police said. MSF have not responded to the claim.

“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” Bart Janssens, MSF’s director of operations, said.

“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased. We urge all parties to respect the safety of health facilities and staff.”

He said the hospital was well known: “It was the only functional hospital in Kunduz since the fighting had begun and we have shared extensively the locations of this hospital with all warring parties in Afghanistan.”

The charity later added: “The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed. MSF urgently seeks clarity on exactly what took place and how this terrible event could have happened.”

A spokesman for the US military admitted it might be responsible.

“US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15am [local time] on 3 October against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation,” said Col Brian Tribus, spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan……………………

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Activist film-maker says he left out the UK in documentary Where to Invade Next because it’s become too much like the US – and there are no ideas to steal

‘The UK has in recent years started to look too much like us’ Michael Moore

‘At least in England, they have started to act like us, think like us and look like us – our fast food is everywhere. They’re kids are now looking like our kids.’ Photograph: Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

In Where to Invade Next, Oscar-winner Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9-11) tours a variety of mostly European nations to hold them up as inspirational examples for the US, but notably excludes all of the UK. The omission was intentional.

“The UK has in recent years started to look too much like us,” he said at a press conference for the documentary at the New York film festival, where the film had its US premiere on Friday.

He continued: “The UK charges tuition – not as much as we do – but they changed their value system to believing in a system of inequality, especially when it comes to income. And so I wanted to go to places that we could learn from, and I don’t think we have much to learn from the UK right now. I’m sorry to say that.

“At least in England, they have started to act like us, think like us and look like us – our fast food is everywhere. They’re kids are now looking like our kids.”

Where To Invade Next (Teaser)

Despite his harsh words for the UK, Moore was quick to note that none of the countries he profiles in the film are by any means perfect: “As I said in the film, I wanted to pick the flowers and not the weeds.”

Addressing a Finnish journalist in the audience, Moore said: “Your country has a lot of problems. Germans, French, Italians – every country has a lot of problems. I didn’t go there to make a film about your country. My film is about us, not you. I just decided to tell the story about America without shooting a single frame of the movie in the United States.”………………..

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Presidential candidates’ reactions to latest mass shooting adhered to party lines, as Democrats pushed for stricter laws and GOP was quick to blame mental illness

Presidential candidates are weighing their very public consciences in the aftermath of the Oregon college shooting, as Democrats and Republicans signal a need for long-awaited gun control legislation against, as the Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly put it, the cost of “our freedom that allows insane individuals to kill so many people”.

Or, as Jeb Bush put it on Friday: “stuff happens.”

“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this,” the former Florida governor said at a campaign event. “It’s very sad to see, and I resist this notion because we had this challenge as governor – stuff happens. There’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

Afterward, a Bush spokesperson blamed Democrats and the media for spreading the quote out of context.

“It is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats, aided and abetted by some in the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush’s comments out of context in a cheap attempt to advance their political agenda in the wake of a tragedy,” said campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.

From frontrunner Hillary Clinton to the self-declared socialist but firearm-regulation moderate Bernie Sanders, liberals danced – delicately and less so – around what Barack Obama on Thursday called “a political choice” to not enact stricter gun laws. Conservatives were quick to jump on the president’s “reflexive” remarks, though even Donald Trump was already calling for mental health reform – and Bush found himself defending another out-of-context gaffe.

Perhaps none of the 21 contenders for the White House was more immediately forceful in a call for reform than former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. “Only real gun reforms will stop mass shootings from occurring nearly every day,” the long-shot Democrat wrote on Twitter, pre-empting Obama’s phrase that………………….

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The 20 photographs of the week

reftrain

Migrants and refugees wait to board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija. The head of the UN refugee agency has warned that proposals to set up safe zones inside Syria should not be seen in the west as an alternative to accepting people seeking asylum from the conflict

Photograph: Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images

pal protest

Palestinian protesters flee as Israeli police throw a stun grenade in Jerusalem’s Old City. Tensions continue to flare between Israelis and Palestinians over the Jerusalem site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, home to the biblical temples, and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the spot from where the prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven

Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

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Opinion

Our founding fathers put the right to bear arms in the US Constitution to protect us. Now we must protect our country from those who misuse it

Candle Light Vigil For Umpqua Community College

How many deaths will be too many? Photograph: Gary Breedlove / Barcroft Media/Gary Breedlove / Barcroft Media

America’s gun violence, like our grief in Oregon, seems to know no bounds, no limits, no end. The reason is deadly simple: our very lives are chained to a constitutional amendment that is willfully misinterpreted by many and perverted by gun rights advocates for political ends.

That sullied amendment is the United States constitution’s Second Amendment which states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The gun industry and its supporters have turned that simple statement into a clever marketing tool, and Americans are paying the price in blood.

On Thursday, Roseburg, Oregon – a three-hour drive south of the Oregon’s largest city, Portland – was rocked by a deadly mass shooting that wounded seven people and took the lives of 10 others, including the gunman. Students were in classes at Umpqua Community College when a 26-year-old gunman shattered their world when he opened fire on them. They are, sadly, not unique: hardly a week has passed in the last three years without a mass shooting.

For 15 years, Ceasefire Oregon has fought the gun lobby – and people like Douglas County sheriff John Hanlin, the gun rights advocate who is investigating this latest shooting – and worked to pass reasonable, effective gun laws.

Hanlin is one of many who claim that the answer to gun violence is to help those who have mental health problems while the rest of us stock up on guns and ammo. Hanlin, gun extremists and groups like the National Rifle Association have scapegoated people with mental health problems for years – but they know that such people are far more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators of it (and far more likely to kill themselves than other people)……………..

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