15 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Scientists say Key Haven is the ‘perfect’ island for releasing the genetically modified insects – but locals refuse to be ‘lab rats’ in FDA-cleared experiment

The prospect of getting rid of the disease-carrying pest not enough to ease neighborhood’s concerns as ‘NO CONSENT’ signs are everywhere in Key West, Florida.

The prospect of getting rid of the disease-carrying pest is not enough to ease neighborhood’s concerns as ‘NO CONSENT’ signs are everywhere in Key West, Florida. Photograph: Jessica Glenza for the Guardian

The Florida Keys are three months away from a straw poll vote on whether to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes on an island just east of Key West, and the tourist destination is awash in lawn signs.

Alongside the typical signs to vote for court clerk, judge, sheriff or school board are signs that showcase the overhead view of a mosquito and read: “NO CONSENT to release of genetically modified mosquitoes”.

For the last five years, the biotechnology company Oxitec has been developing a plan to experimentally release the GMO mosquitoes in the Keys, which scientists hope could eventually impede the spread of the Zika virus.

“It is the perfect scientific trial site,” said Derric Nimmo, a spokesman for Oxitec and a molecular biologist, about Key Haven. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Keys mosquito control district could say, ‘We don’t have Aedes aegypti here – you can’t get dengue or Zika?’”…………….

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Rand Paul calls country ‘unreliable ally’ after Democrat Chris Murphy criticises US support for Saudi intervention in Yemen’s chaotic civil war

A Houthi militiaman with a heavy caliber machine gun. Saudi Arabia has received US support for air strikes against the fighters.

A Houthi militiaman with a heavy caliber machine gun. Saudi Arabia has received US support for air strikes against the fighters. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Days after the Obama administration approved a major arms sale agreement to Saudi Arabia, Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is considering blocking the move, citing objections to the country’s human rights record and a possible regional arms race.

“I will work with a bipartisan coalition to explore forcing a vote on blocking this sale,” said Paul, according to a statement provided to Foreign Policy magazine. “Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record. We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East.”

Paul’s statement comes amid a deteriorating situation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor to the south, where Riyadh has been involved in a US-supported intervention for more than a year.

Peace talks being brokered by the United Nations and held in Kuwait fell apart last week and fighting resumed on Tuesday, as airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition struck a food facility, killing more than a dozen people.

Though a nominal truce was agreed to by the warring Yemeni factions in April, the fighting never significantly abated, with 272 civilian deaths reported from April until the collapse of talks, according to the spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights……….

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One person shot and officer taken to hospital after rock thrown at patrol car following shooting of Sylville Smith

Police move in on a group of protesters throwing rocks in Milwaukee.

Police move in on a group of protesters throwing rocks in Milwaukee. Photograph: Jeffrey Phelps/AP

Tension flared again in Milwaukee on Sunday night, with one person shot and a police officer injured in the area where the fatal shooting of a suspect by an officer had sparked rioting, prompting Wisconsin’s governor to activate the national guard.

Police violence against African Americans has set off intermittent, sometimes violent protests in the past two years, igniting a national debate over race and policing and giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

After peaceful vigils by small groups of demonstrators earlier, Milwaukee police said on Sunday night they had rescued the victim of one shooting, who was taken to hospital. It was not known whether the injured person was a protester.

One police officer was taken to hospital after a rock smashed a patrol car windshield, the MPD said.

Police said they began attempting to disperse crowds after shots were fired and objects including rocks and bottles were thrown by some protesters. Several arrests were reported….

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Wisconsin governor activates national guard after night of protests in Milwaukee

Protesters fire gunshots and torch police cars following shooting of 23-year-Sylville K Smith, who officers say was carrying a stolen handgun

, and agencies

Violence erupts in Milwaukee on Saturday night after a uniformed officer shot and killed a 23-year-old man during a foot pursuit which took place after an afternoon traffic stop. A crowd later broke the windows of an unoccupied squad car and set another one on fire before setting a gas station on fire

Milwaukee’s police chief identified the man whose killing by an officer prompted protests, clashes with police and arson on Saturday night, as the state’s governor activated the national guard for fear of more unrest.

On Sunday afternoon police chief Edward Flynn identified the shooting victim as Sylville K Smith, and said he had a “lengthy arrest record” before he fled from a traffic stop, with a gun, and was shot dead by an officer.

Hours after Smith’s shooting scores of protesters clashed with police, set fire to buildings and threw rocks and bricks at officers. On Sunday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker activated the national guard to assist if necessary, on the request of Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke Jr.

At about 11pm, police reported responding to shots fired, at Sherman and Burleigh. They said on Twitter they used an armoured vehicle to retrieve and take the injured person, whose identity is unclear, to hospital.

Mayor Tom Barrett said on Sunday that four officers were injured in the confrontations, including one by a brick hurled into a squad car, but that they had all been treated and released from the hospital……..

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Labour MP Yvette Cooper has written to the home secretary about the plight of child refugees at risk in French camps

Around 20 of the estimated 88,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe have so far arrived in the UK, a tiny figure that has prompted harsh criticism.

Around 20 of the estimated 88,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe have so far arrived in the UK, a tiny figure that has prompted harsh criticism. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi for the Guardian

Hundreds of child refugees have been unacceptably left in limbo in Calais camps by Home Office delays, despite having the legal right to be reunited with families in the UK, Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP, has written in a letter to the home secretary, Amber Rudd.

Just 40 children and teenagers have been been allowed into the UK to be reunited with their families under the EU’s Dublin regulation, with charities identifying more than 200 still waiting in the camps. Only 35 of those are understood to have cases in progress, taken up by different voluntary organisations with the Home Office.

Cooper said the Home Office was given details last month of 110 children and teenagers still in Calais, who have Dublin rights to be reunited with their families in the UK. No action had been taken on their cases, Cooper said.

“At the current rate of progress it would take over a year to reunite every child with their family,” Cooper wrote. “Even when Britain has agreed to the ‘take charge’ request and agreed they can join their family here, there are disgraceful further bureaucratic delays as the children and teenagers are left to wait at risk in the Calais camp for many more weeks before they are finally transferred.”………..

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US politics

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Even Bake Off favourite Nadiya Hussain gets racial abuse. Tackling it is not about anti-extremism but simple justice

Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who has revealed that she has been subjected to racial abuse

Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who has revealed that she has been subjected to racial abuse. ‘Everything she said should have been a reminder of how government policy tends to treat black and minority ethnic people as the problem.’ Photograph: Lauren Hurley/PA

Nadiya Hussain confirmed her status as the poster girl for integrated Britain when, cast away on the latest Desert Island Discs, the Bake Off star chose Marmite as her luxury. Having picked the nation’s most identifiable spread, she did not really need to say, as in a characteristically articulate moment she did, that of all the many things that define her, her Britishness comes first. But it made it all the more jarring when she also spoke of the racial abuse, both verbal and physical, that once kept her indoors with her small children and which even now she takes as something to be expected, despite teetering close to being a very young national treasure.

She was not asked – Desert Island Discs is not that kind of programme – if the abuse is worse now. The Metropolitan police reckon it is up by 60% between last year and this, after Brexit and with the elision between the government’s Prevent strategy of counter-extremism and measures to promote integration, along with plans to legislate against vaguely defined “extremism”. But everything she said was a reminder that although radicalisation is a real and difficult issue, treating Muslims as the problem instead of acknowledging that social injustice plays a large part in excluding a significant minority from the aspirations and experiences of the majority only undermines the trust on which security depends.

A report from MPs on the Commons women and equalities committee published last week provided chapter and verse on the kind of discrimination that Muslim women – and men – experience in the jobs market. Unemployment among economically active Muslims is over 12%, when for the general population it is only 5.4%; four out of 10 Muslims are not even looking for work – double the national rate – and for Muslim women it is close to two thirds. This policy failure is partly obscured by the lack of evidence. Not enough data is collected to understand the diversity of the Muslim population, where the tradition has been to assume that all British Muslims have family ties with Bangladesh or Pakistan (in fact, it is only 53%), nor for the diversity of experience to be clear. If it is not known whether it is family pressure or inadequate support at jobcentres that stops women going out to work, or why girls at some schools or from some ethnicities do not go on to higher education while others are going on in greater numbers than boys, then it is hard to devise policy, and harder still to monitor its effectiveness. A report in June from the Runnymede Trust was even more critical of the government’s approach. It drew attention not only to the lack of reliable evidence, but questioned the failure to consider the wider impact of discrimination in policing and the criminal justice system…..

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