11 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Family, famous friends, imams, pastors, rabbis and a former president of the United States took turns speaking about Ali in his Kentucky hometown Friday

Muhammad Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali, took the stage at her husband’s memorial to thunderous chants on Friday. In her first public remarks since his death, she talked about how Ali wanted to be remembered after his passing. ‘[Muhammad] wanted to use his life and his death as a teaching moment. He wanted to remind people who are suffering that he had seen the face of injustice,’ she said. Ali’s daughter, Rasheda Ali-Walsh, also spoke at the service

Thousands of Muhammad Ali’s admirers, from the unknown to the powerful, packed a Louisville arena on Friday to honor the great boxer and humanitarian.

They followed a script outlined by Ali himself, and the service bore his signature dedication to openness and inclusion.

Family, famous friends, imams, pastors, rabbis and a former president of the United States took turns at the podium, as did black and white, young and old. They stood before a backdrop of the American flag on one side and on the other the Olympic flag, with its interlocking rings that represent the varied nations of the Earth.

Ali, before his death a week ago, had dictated that the service be open to all. More than 15,000 people poured into the KFC Yum Center to fulfill that wish.

The service began with a reading of the Qur’an that included an admonition to “repel ugliness with beauty”. Louisville pastor Kevin Cosby followed with a story about how “before James Brown said ‘I’m black and proud’, Muhammad Ali said: ‘I’m black and I’m pretty’.”

It was an act of subversion in the 1960s, Cosby said, because “Ali loved black people when black people had trouble loving themselves”.

The crowd remained mostly silent, but occasionally burst into a cheer – “Ali! Ali! Ali!” – that shook the floor of the arena. “I can just hear Muhammad now, saying, ‘Well I thought I should be eulogized by at least one president,” said former president Bill Clinton, drawing a laugh………..

Hundreds of people lined the streets in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday to say farewell to their hero, the late great boxer Muhammad Ali. A hearse carried his body through the city, passing landmarks such as his boyhood home on the west end, traditionally an African American section of town, and the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum in the center of Louisville. The procession eventually stopped at Cave Hill National Cemetery for a private burial


Documents seen by BBC suggest Carter administration paved way for Khomeini to return to Iran by holding the army back from launching a military coup

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is welcomed at Tehran airport on 1 February 1979 on his return from exile in France.

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is welcomed at Tehran airport on 1 February 1979 on his return from exile in France. Photograph: Gabriel Duval/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian leaders have reacted with fury to reports that newly declassified US diplomatic cables revealed extensive contacts between Ayatollah Khomeini and the Carter administration just weeks ahead of Iran’s Islamic revolution.

It was previously known that Ruhollah Khomeini, the charismatic leader of the Iranian revolution, had exchanged some messages with the US through an intermediary while living in exile in Paris. But new documents seen by the BBC’s Persian service show he went to a great lengths to ensure the Americans would not jeopardise his plans to return to Iran – and even personally wrote to US officials.

The BBC’s reporting suggests that the Carter administration took heed of Khomeini’s pledges, and in effect paved the way for his return by holding the Iranian army back from launching a military coup.

The BBC Persian service obtained a draft message Washington had prepared as a response to Khomeini, which welcomed the ayatollah’s direct communications, but was never sent.

The corporation also published a previously released but unnoticed declassified 1980 CIA analysis titled Islam in Iran, which shows Khomeini’s initial attempts to reach out to the US dated back to 1963, 16 years before the revolution.

The BBC’s reports have created a huge row in Iran: if true they would undermine the myth that Khomenei staunchly resisted any direct links with the US, which remained taboo for three decades until the recent nuclear negotiations…………….


Kingdom angry at being criticised for violations of children’s rights in country where it is fighting Houthi rebels

Children sheltering in an abandoned structure

Children in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, taking shelter after their houses were destroyed by air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led alliance last year. Photograph: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has never liked the United Nations, but the spat with Ban Ki-moon over the child casualties of the war in Yemen this week marks a new low.

It was extraordinary to hear the secretary-general admit publicly on Thursday that he had had his arm twisted to change tack in the wake of anger from Riyadhlations of children’s rights and listed the Saudi-led military coalition’s actions in Yemen, where it is backing the restoration of the legitimate president and fighting Houthi rebels.

It is a controversial war that reflects regional tensions, especially with Iran. And Saudi Arabia has both powerful friends and many enemies. It has also been in assertive mood under King Salman – with key policies run by his ambitious son Mohammed, the deputy crown prince.

The UN report released last week attacked both coalition and rebel forces for a “very large number of violations” including attacks on schools and hospitals, but said the coalition was responsible for 60% of the child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year.

So there was outrage on Monday when the UN said it had removed the coalition from its annual child rights blacklist pending a joint review by the world body and the coalition of those deaths and injuries…………


  • Body that selects teams for Olympics noted its ‘zero tolerance’ policy
  • Lawmakers asked for judge that issued lenient sentence to be investigated
Turner, 20, was convicted of three felonies for assaulting an unconscious woman on the Palo Alto campus outside of a fraternity party.

Turner, 20, was convicted of three felonies for assaulting an unconscious woman on the Palo Alto campus outside of a fraternity party. Photograph: AP

USA Swimming has issued a lifetime ban against the former Stanford athlete convicted of sexual assault on the same day that California lawmakers called for an investigation into the judge that issued a lenient sentence.

Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing of Brock Turner to six months in county jail has sparked international outrage, fueled by the victim’s viral statement on rape culture and the trauma she endured during the trial……….

US politics

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The officials strongly influence sentencing decisions, like the one in the Stanford sexual assault case, without accountability to the defendant or the public

A prison guard leading a prisoner along a corridor

‘The public remains unaware of the considerable power wielded by probation officers in the criminal justice system.’ Photograph: Halfdark/Getty Images/fStop

Judge Aaron Persky’s decision to sentence the former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to just six months after a conviction for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster has been vilified in the court of public opinion this week.

But Persky’s decision was predicated on the pre-sentence investigation report prepared and submitted by a nameless probation officer. That person is at the heart of this mess, because he or she recommended that Turner get less than a year’s sentence, and Persky followed their lead.

The public remains unaware of the considerable power wielded by probation officers in the criminal justice system. Seventy years ago, federal probation officers were assigned not only to supervise people, but also to conduct what was supposed to be an objective, third-party assessment of a defendant’s social, occupational, psychological, criminal and medical history to assure that any sentence imposed was tailored to the defendant, not necessarily the crime. While pre-sentence investigation reports aren’t mandated in every state, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and federal district courts allow probation officers to investigate and write the reports for sentencing defendants.

Judge Irving Kaufman, the jurist who imposed the first peacetime treason death sentences – on Irving and Ethel Rosenberg – praised the reports in an article for the Atlantic in 1960, saying that they enabled judges “to arrive at reasoned answers to troublesome questions”.

The reports can include evidence that was excluded at trial. The probation officers who write these them almost never appear at sentencing hearings, and they aren’t required to testify about their recommendations, which means they can’t be cross-examined on them, either. They drop off their reports and go.

I know first-hand that the probation officer calls the sentencing shots in modern criminal courtrooms. For several years, I have been battling the state of Connecticut over a probation officer’s report made to my sentencing court. The probation officer scheduled an appointment with me for an interview, then, as recorded in official case documents, after I requested a delay to secure new counsel, she went ahead and wrote the report anyway, including in it an accusation that I had refused to sit with her for an interview………..





English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. 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.

View All

Some of the available newspapers:

Asia – UN IRIN News

Asia & CIS (Updated Link!)





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