14 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Charities claim youngsters and women are too afraid to leave tents after dark at government-run camps

Children inside a camp for refugees and migrants in an abandoned factory in Thessaloniki.

Children inside a camp for refugees and migrants in an abandoned factory in Thessaloniki. Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images

Children as young as seven have been sexually assaulted in official European refugee camps, the Observer has been told. The claims come as testimony emerges suggesting that some camps are so unsafe that youngsters are too terrified to leave their tents at night.

Charities and human rights groups allege that children stranded in supposedly safe camps in Greece that were built to deal with Europe’s migration crisis – many of whom are likely to be eligible to claim asylum in the UK – have been sexually abused.

In one government-run camp, in a former Softex toilet roll factory on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, aid organisations claim that the level of risk of sexual attack is so acute that women are too afraid to visit the camp toilets alone at night.

Yvette Cooper MP, chairwoman of Labour’s refugee taskforce, said the revelations “should shame us all” and called for immediate action to protect vulnerable children.

A series of government camps were built near Thessaloniki after the informal one at Idomeni, near the Macedonian border, was closed in May. Weeks earlier, the European commission had unveiled an extra £71m of humanitarian funding for emergency projects to help the 57,000 refugees stranded in official government camps throughout Greece……….

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In an exclusive interview about her lawsuit, DeEtta Williams says officials know about pattern of assault at the California prison and ‘just don’t bother’ to stop it

DeEtta Williams.

DeEtta Williams. Photograph: Courtesy of DeEtta Williams

DeEtta Williams is frightened every day. She stays inside as much as possible. She makes sure that she is rarely alone. She visits a therapist. She takes medication for anxiety. The man she said sexually assaulted her daily for six months is somewhere out there, and “he’s got nothing to lose”.

He raped her so often and for so long, the 45-year-old said, because she was serving time at the California Institution for Women and he was a prison guard there.

Williams has filed a federal lawsuit against officer Michael Ewell, who has since been fired, and the California department of corrections and rehabilitation. She wants her story told, she said, and she wants the world to know what happens behind bars.

In the 25-page lawsuit and in an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Williams alleges that there is a pattern of sexual assault at the women’s prison and that state officials “know and just don’t bother” to do anything about it.

“Officer Ewell had a history of sexually assaulting women, a history well known to CDC,” according to the suit, which was just filed in late July. In September of 2013, Ewell was accused of sexually assaulting “a fellow CDC officer, [and] was inexplicably transferred to a women’s prison. He was assigned his own unit to supervise, giving him unfettered access and power over the female prisoners in his unit”……….

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Protesters fire gunshots and torch police cars following shooting of 23 year old who officers say was carrying a stolen handgun

A car burns as a crowd of more than 100 people gathered following the fatal shooting of a man in Milwaukee on Saturday night,

A car burns as a crowd of more than 100 people gathered following the fatal shooting of a man in Milwaukee on Saturday night, Photograph: Calvin Mattheis/AP

Protesters fired gunshots, hurled bricks and set a petrol station on fire in Milwaukee on Saturday night, hours after a patrol officer shot and killed an armed suspect who fled after a traffic stop, authorities said.

The 23-year-old suspect, who had a lengthy arrest record, was carrying a stolen handgun loaded with 23 rounds of ammunition when police pulled over the vehicle for suspicious activity, authorities said. A second suspect who fled from the vehicle was quickly taken into custody.

A statement by the Milwaukeepolice department did not say whether the suspect who was killed had fired any shots or pointed the weapon at officers during the incident.

The force did not disclose the race or the name of the suspect or the uniformed officer.

After the shooting, which occurred in a predominately African-American area of Milwaukee, protesters fired shots and hurled rocks as police attempted to disperse the crowd, which local media reported numbered more than 100.

The windows of at least two squad cars were smashed, and one officer sitting inside one of the vehicles was hit in the head with a brick.

Protesters set another police car on fire and a petrol station ablaze. Fires broke out at least three other businesses, including an car parts store, WISN television reported online……

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Motive for the shooting of Maulama Akonjee and another man not immediately known

The spot where Imam Alala Uddin Akongi was killed

Members of the New York City police establish a crime scene at the spot where Imam Alala Uddin Akongi was killed. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

A Muslim imam and a second man were fatally shot on Saturday while walking home from afternoon prayers at a mosque in the New York borough of Queens, authorities said.

The cleric, who police identified as Maulama Akonjee, and the second man were both shot in the head at close range at about 1.50 pm local time after leaving the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood. Both men were wearing religious garb at the time of shooting.

The men were transported to Jamaica hospital medical center and died “while life-saving procedures were being performed,” said Andrew Rubin, a hospital spokesman.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately known and no evidence has been uncovered so far that the two men were targeted because of their faith………..

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House minority leader calls on colleagues to change cellphone numbers after contact information for House members was posted online

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi has called on her colleagues to change their phone numbers. Photograph: Evy Mages/Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi warned fellow Democrats on Saturday to change their cellphone numbers and not let family members read their text messages after personal and official information of Democratic House members and congressional staff was posted online.

The House minority leader told Democratic lawmakers that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic party entities were the target of “an electronic Watergate break-in”.

As a result, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online, Pelosi said.

Pelosi said she was flying from Florida to California when she heard about the posting of information such as cell phone numbers.

“Upon landing, I have received scores of mostly obscene and sick calls, voicemails and text messages,” Pelosi said in her letter to colleagues. “Please be careful not to allow your children or family members to answer your phone or read incoming text messages. This morning, I am changing my phone number and I advise you to do so as well.”………

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US politics

Election 2016

Latest Election Minute


What seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Hillary Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy.

What seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Hillary Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything.

And now the last, ugliest, most fraudulent manifestation is failing so spectacularly that it may discredit populism itself for years to come.

Two weeks ago, I wrote in this space about how the Trump phenomenon had reconfigured the conventional geometry of the two-party system. Trump was riding high in the polls at that moment, and there was reason to believe that his criticism of trade deals – one of several Trumpian causes long associated with the populist left – might play havoc with the Democrats’ happy centrist plans.

Now let us ponder the opposite scenario. In the intervening two weeks, Trump has destroyed himself more efficiently than any opposition campaign could ever have done. First, he heaped mounds of insults on the family of a US soldier killed in Iraq, then prominent journalists raised doubts about his mental state, and then (as if to confirm his doubters) he dropped a strong hint that gun enthusiasts might take action against Hillary Clinton should she appoint supreme court justices not to his liking.

His chances, as measured in the polls, went almost overnight from fairly decent to utter crap. For much of this year, populism had the gilded class really worried. There was Bernie Sanders and the unthinkable threat of a socialist president. There was the terrifying Brexit vote. Just a short while ago the American national newspapers were running page-one stories telling readers it was time to take seriously Trump’s followers, if not Trump himself. And on 3 August, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman actually typed the following: “It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust [Hillary] Clinton and are so worried about the future – jobs, globalization and terrorism” that they might actually vote for Trump…………

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