28 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


The unexpected arrests and resulting bloodshed marked a stunning turn of events in the armed occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge

At 4.25pm, FBI and Oregon state police officers intercepted Ammon Bundy and other high-profile militia leaders driving on the remote Highway 395 outside of the town of Burns, according to officials.

At 4.25pm, FBI and Oregon state police officers intercepted Ammon Bundy and other high-profile militia leaders driving on the remote Highway 395 outside of the town of Burns, according to officials. Photograph: Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images

Ammon Bundy and his crew of armed militiamen had been excited to spread their anti-government message outside of Harney County, Oregon.

In enthusiastic Facebook videos, on flyers pasted around town and in local newspaper stories, leaders of the rightwing militia had advertised a community meeting they planned to host Tuesday night at 6pm in the small town of John Day, 100 miles north of the Malheur national wildlife refuge that they had been occupying since 2 January.

An hour before Bundy and others were scheduled to arrive, residents began packing into a small senior center in John Day, many eager to meet Bundy and learn about his plans to fight the federal government over land-use restrictions.

“It was standing-room only,” said Wayne Smith, a 46-year-old local rancher who lives three hours from John Day but was at the meeting. “People wanted to hear what they had to say.”

But Bundy and the militiamen never made it.

By the time the forum was supposed to begin, rumors were flying around the center. The local highway was shut down. Police had made arrests. And people had been shot – one fatally……………….

State and federal authorities urged a group of armed men occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge in Oregon to abandon the protest over land rights on Wednesday, a day after their leader and seven other people were arrested and one man was killed. Speaking about the shootout with militiamen, the FBI’s Greg Bretzing said the group had ‘ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully’

Interior minister Anders Ygeman tells Swedish media of plan to use charter flights to repatriate thousands amid toughening of immigration rules

Refugees sleep outside the Swedish Migration Agency’s arrival centre in Malmo. Sweden is reported to be conisidering deporting as many as 80,000 asylum seekers.

Refugees sleep outside the Swedish Migration Agency’s arrival centre in Malmo. Sweden is reported to be considering deporting as many as 80,000 asylum seekers. Photograph: Tt News Agency/Reuters

Sweden is preparing to expel up to 80,000 asylum seekers who arrived in 2015 and whose applications have been rejected, the country’s interior minister, Anders Ygeman, has said.

“We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000,” the minister was quoted as saying by Swedish media, adding that the government had asked the police and authorities in charge of migrants to organise their expulsion.

He said that since about 45% of asylum applications are currently rejected, the country must get ready to send back tens of thousands of the 163,000 who sought shelter in Sweden last year.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us. We will need to use more resources for this and we must have better cooperation between authorities,” Ygeman told newspaper Dagens Industri.

Ygeman said the expulsions, normally carried out using commercial flights, would have to be done using specially chartered aircraft, given the large numbers, staggered over several years.

Germany and Sweden were the top destinations for asylum seekers in Europe last year………………….

Bodies of 11 people including seven children recovered from sea off island of Samos, as search continues for other people believed missing

Boats and life vests washed up on Samos, Greece, in October last year

Boats and life vests washed up on Samos, Greece, in October last year. Photograph: IBL/Rex Shutterstock

At least 11 people, most of them children, have died and an undetermined number of people are missing after the latest refugee boat sinking off an eastern Greek island.

Coastguard vessels and boats from the European border patrol agency Frontex are carrying out a search and rescue operation off the island of Samos. Ten people were rescued, and the bodies of four boys, three girls, three men and one woman were recovered.

The coastguard said five of the rescued were found clinging to a piece of floating wood, leading authorities to believe they had been in a wooden vessel that sank. The survivors were in shock and unable to provide clear accounts of what happened or how many people had been on board.

Another boat sank off the island of Kos on Wednesday, leaving seven dead, including two children. Two people were rescued from that incident……….

White suspects were warned but not fired at more often than other races, reveal figures from Connecticut, the first state to document every stun gun incident

police stun gun connecticut

Connecticut officials cautioned against making quick conclusions about figures, saying data is still being analyzed. Photograph: Bob Child/AP

Officers last year fired stun guns at black and Hispanic people at a higher rate than at white suspects, and warned but did not fire at white suspects at a higher rate than they did black or Hispanic people, according to preliminary data from the first US state to require police to document their use of stun guns.

The new data from Connecticut come as police across the US face increasing scrutiny over their use of force, in the wake of high-profile fatal shootings by officers, especially of black suspects. Although stun guns have been billed as non-lethal alternatives to guns, they have resulted in deaths, and reliable information on how police use them has been lacking.

Amnesty International has reported that at least 540 people in the US died after being shocked with stun guns from 2001 to 2012.

Among the Connecticut figures revealed in the raw data, obtained and reviewed by the Associated Press ahead of an official report expected in coming weeks:

  • Police reported 641 incidents involving stun guns last year, including 437 actual firings and 204 threats of use

  • Thirty percent of the people involved in the overall incidents were black and 21 percent were Hispanic

  • Within the overall number of stun gun incidents, officers fired at them 60% of the time in cases involving white suspects, 80% of the time in cases involving…………….

US politics

Bernie Sanders talks ‘a bit of politics’ with Obama as Iowa caucuses approach

Fox News accuses Donald Trump of ‘terrorizing’ network after debate exit

Donald Trump calls Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly a ‘lightweight’ – video



In my nearly 50 years in Washington I’ve learned that real change happens only when Americans are mobilized. That’s more the case now than ever before


Bernie Sanders has lived by his convictions for 50 years. That’s part of his appeal. Photograph: Mark Kauzlarich/Reuter

………….But the political system we now have is profoundly broken. Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have because he’s leading a political movement for change…………

The Democratic contest has repeatedly been characterized as a choice between Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatism” and Bernie Sanders’s “idealism” – with the not-so-subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism. But this way of framing the choice ignores the biggest reality of all: the unprecedented, and increasing, concentration of income, wealth and power at the very top, combined with declining real incomes for most and persistent poverty for the bottom fifth.

The real choice isn’t “pragmatism” or “idealism.” It’s either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the “robber barons” in the 1890s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a “political revolution” that mobilizes millions of Americans.

Is such a mobilization possible? One pundit recently warned Democrats that change happens incrementally, by accepting half loaves as being better than none. That may be true, but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. And not even a half loaf is possible unless or until America wrests back power from the executives of large corporations, Wall Street bankers and billionaires who now control the bakery.

I’ve been in and around Washington for almost 50 years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized and determined to make it happen. That’s more the case now than ever.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.” But these days, nothing of any significance is politically feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock. This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system. In other words, it’s about power – whether the very wealthy who now have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

How badly is political power concentrated in America among the very wealthy? A study published in the fall of 2014 by two of America’s most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page, suggests it’s extremely concentrated……………….



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