11 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


  • Demonstrators across US renew outcry against police shootings
  • Search suggests Micah Johnson prepared for larger attack, police chief says
Police in riot gear move in to break up a group of marchers in Phoenix.

Police in riot gear move in to break up a group of marchers in Phoenix. Photograph: Ross D. Franklin/AP

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested in cities across the US this weekend, as protests against police shootings intensified and new details emerged about the motivations and plans of a man who killed five officers in Dallas.

During a weekend of protests over killings by police, more than 160 people were arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where demonstrations continued to grow over the fatal shooting by officers last week of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African American, as he was pinned down during a struggle.

Military-style vehicles, teargas and smoke grenades returned to American streets for the first time this summer, and Barack Obama appealed for calm and said those who attack law enforcement undermine the cause of social justice.

The unrest built as authorities in Dallas said Micah Johnson, who opened fire on officers late last Thursday, had been plotting a wider bombing campaign that could have had “devastating effects”. Johnson was said to have been seeking revenge for the police’s treatment of African Americans…………….


Despite its criticism of government overreach, the NRA has not rallied to the cause of black Americans claiming systematic abuse by the police


Conservatives and liberals asked: where was the nation’s most powerful gun rights organization to condemn the shooting of a law-abiding black gun owner? Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As the details of Philando Castile’s shooting by a Minnesota police officer emerged this week, many people asked the same question: where was the National Rifle Association?

Many liberals, conservatives and police reform advocates alike pressed the nation’s most powerful gun rights organization to condemn the shooting of a law-abiding black gun owner. But the circumstances of Castile’s killing, including the suggestion by Minnesota’s governor that it would not have happened were he white, puts the NRA’s allegiance to police in direct conflict with its gun rights mission.

Despite its fierce criticism of government overreach, the NRA is largely a pro-police organization: many of its more than five million members, who are predominantly white and conservative, are current or former law enforcement officials, the group’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre, noted Friday. The group also hosts an annual “police shooting championship” and it has an entire law enforcement firearms division, which specializes in training police instructors.

If the NRA chooses to take up Castile’s cause – and some gun owners are arguing that the organization must do this, unless the facts of the case change dramatically – it could open up a new, conservative front in the effort to change American policing.

On an NRA News talkshow Thursday, the host, Cam Edwards, said that if black gun owners were reluctant to carry their guns because they were afraid of being targeted by the police, that was a “huge issue”………………


A large majority for the ruling coalition in the upper house may enable constitutional reform allowing more freedom of action for military

Election staff members count votes, which were cast in the Parliament’s upper house election, at a ballot counting center in Himeji, Japan.

Election staff in Himeji, Japan count votes cast in the parliamentary upper house election. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Japan’s ruling coalition secured a resounding victory in upper house elections on Sunday, with some exit polls predicting that prime minister Shinzo Abe’s party and its allies would achieve the legislative firepower they need to rewrite the country’s pacifist constitution.

According to the exit polls, Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) was on course to win 57 to 59 seats of the 121 seats that were contested. Its junior coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komeito, was expected to win 14 seats.

Combined with other minor conservative parties, the coalition was within reach of the number of seats it needs in the upper house to set in motion plans to change the US-authored constitution for the first time since it was introduced in 1947.

The most controversial move would be a revision of the war-renouncing article 9 to allow Japan’s self-defence forces to act more like a conventional army. The article forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes and restricts the country’s land, air and naval forces to a strictly defensive role…………….


Justice ministry provides no details about substance of inquiry and says no criminal investigation has been launched

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. Photograph: Dan Balilty/AP

Israel’s attorney general has ordered an inquiry into “matters” related to the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, the justice ministry said on Sunday, without saying what they were.

The terse statement followed days of Israeli media speculation about possible official suspicions of misconduct by Netanyahu or by people close to him.

Through his lawyer, Netanyahu – now serving his fourth term as prime minister – has denied any wrongdoing.

The decision of the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, followed “the receipt of information about matters that relate, inter alia, to the prime minister” and which he has discussed with senior Israeli police and prosecutors, the statement said.

“It should be emphasised that this is an inquiry and that no criminal investigation has been launched regarding the prime minister,” it said……………

An inquiry can be a preliminary stage of a criminal investigation…………….


US politics

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We should not work with Honduran police and military until the government defends human rights and holds security forces responsible for their crimes


‘The murder of Berta Cáceres illustrates a bleak state of affairs in Honduras.’ Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

On 2 March 2016, armed men burst into the home of Berta Cáceres, a prominent environmental and indigenous activist in Honduras, and shot her to death. Earlier that day, the government had rescinded Ms Cáceres’s meager security detail, leaving her unprotected. Of the 33 threats against her, including death threats, none had been investigated. Members of the Honduran military have been implicated in her murder, and requests by the global community for an independent investigation have been ignored.

Until the Honduran government protects human rights and holds its security forces responsible for their crimes, we should not be working with its police and military. As long as the United States funds Honduran security forces without demanding justice for those threatened, tortured and killed, we have blood on our hands. It’s time to suspend all police and military aid to Honduras.

Ms Cáceres’s murder fits an ongoing pattern of violence against organizers, activists, and civilians since the 2009 coup deposed Honduras’ democratically elected government. It’s even possible that US-trained forces were involved in her death – one soldier alleges that Berta Cáceres’s name appeared on a hit list distributed to an elite Honduran military police unit that is part of the national interagency security force (Fusina). Fusina was trained last summer by 300 US military and civilian personnel, including Marines and FBI agents.

Despite this dangerous track record, the United States continues to pour money into Honduran security forces. The US has already allocated at least $18m to Honduran police and military for 2016. Barack Obama’s 2017 budget request calls for increased funding for the Honduran police and military. In addition, the Inter-American Development Bank has lent $60m to the Honduran police, with US approval.

The Honduran police are widely documented to be corrupt. In August 2013, a government commission charged with cleaning up the police admitted nearly three-quarters of the police force were “beyond saving”. Human Rights Watch reports: “The use of lethal force by the national police is a chronic problem. Investigations into police abuses are marred by inefficiency and corruption … and impunity is the rule.”……………

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