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09 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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US president will abandon European tour in a bid to help address ‘persistent racial disparities in our criminal justice system’

Barack Obama delivers a statement regarding the police shootings in Dallas, in Warsaw, Poland

Barack Obama will cut short a tour of Spain to return to the US in the wake of the Dallas protest shootings. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Barack Obama is to abandon a European visit and travel to the site of the killing of five police officers in Texas, in a new effort to ease tensions between law enforcement and African Americans that have been at breaking point for almost two years.

Obama will head early next week to Dallas, a city reeling from the deadliest day for American police since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the White House said, as protests against the fatal shootings of black men by officers continued across the country.

He will also try to “bring people together to support our police officers and communities, and find common ground by discussing policy ideas for addressing the persistent racial disparities in our criminal justice system,” said his press secretary, Josh Earnest……………

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Stein, expected to become the party’s nominee at its August convention, says she has invited Sanders to collaborate: ‘Everything is on the table’

Jill Stein has invited Bernie Sanders to join her in the Green Party.

Jill Stein has invited Bernie Sanders to join her in the Green party. Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders has been invited to continue his underdog bid for the White House by the Green party’s probable presidential candidate, who has offered to step aside to let him run.

Jill Stein, who is expected to be endorsed at the party’s August convention in Houston, told Guardian US that “overwhelming” numbers of Sanders supporters are flocking to the Greens rather than Hillary Clinton.

Stein insisted that her presidential bid has a viable “near term goal” of reaching 15% in national polling, which would enable her to stand alongside presumptive nominees Clinton and Donald Trump in televised election debates.

But in a potentially destabilising move for the Democratic party, and an exciting one for Sanders’ supporters, the Green party candidate said she was willing to stand aside for Sanders.

“I’ve invited Bernie to sit down explore collaboration – everything is on the table,” she said. “If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement,” she said.

Stein said she had made her offer directly to Sanders in an email at the end of the primary season, although she had not received a response. Her surprise intervention comes amid speculation that Sanders will finally draw a line under a bruising Democratic contest by endorsing Clinton’s presidential bid next week…………..

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When Blair met Bush: the truth about how the UK went to war in Iraq

The story of how the UK got embroiled in the conflict looks a little different following the publication of the Chilcot report

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President Bush and first lady Laura Bush greet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on his arrival at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 2002.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush greet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on his arrival at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 2002. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Tuesday 2 April 2002 was a warm spring day, the first after the Easter weekend. The country was coming to terms with the death of the Queen Mother, a young singer called Gareth Gates had shot to No 1 and Admiral Lord Boyce, chief of the defence staff, was heading to Buckinghamshire for a meeting with the prime minister at Chequers.

A submariner in his early career, colleagues thought Boyce rather prickly, a trait cabinet minister Clare Short attributed to the long periods he had spent underwater.

Certainly, his summons to see Tony Blair seemed to have left him a little nonplussed. British forces were already deployed in Afghanistan, which was his priority. And though he had heard talk in the press and around Whitehall about a shift in interest towards Iraq, he wasn’t one for gossip or small talk.

Blair, however, wanted to chat about Saddam Hussein. “I guess my presence at Chequers on that particular occasion was simply … if there were questions coming up about what could be done militarily; what was our capability should we be asked to do something,” Boyce explained to the Chilcot inquiry.

If there had been a significant hardening of thinking in Downing Street, Boyce appeared to have left Chequers none the wiser. As far as he was concerned, attacking Iraq just wasn’t on the cards.

“There was no discussion on the detail of military action or military options,” he said. “Of course, Iraq wasn’t off our plot entirely. It was something which the MoD was keeping a watching eye on, if you like.

“At the meeting … no particular preparations were made. It was a scoping opportunity … we were certainly not doing any thinking about any sort of military adventure.”

The meeting was rather casual – and very Blairish. Others in the room included Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, and Sir John Scarlett, head of the joint intelligence committee (JIC).

But the cabinet secretary, Lord Wilson, hadn’t known it had taken place; the foreign and defence secretaries weren’t there either – and no minutes were taken. The discussion, it seemed, had been organised to help Blair prepare his thoughts for an important trip to the US at the end of the week………….

In one of Chilcot’s coldest and most damning conclusions, he said: “When Mr Blair set out the UK’s vision for the future of Iraq in the House of Commons on 18 March 2003, no assessment had been made of whether that vision was achievable, no agreement had been reached with the US on a workable post-conflict plan, UN authorisation had not yet been secured, and there was no decision on the UN’s role in post-conflict Iraq.”

A conflict that began in haste and endures today did not have to start when it did, nor in the way it did, Chilcot said. “The evidence is there for all to see. It is an account of an intervention which went badly wrong with consequences to this day.”………

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