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16 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Victims claimed that embassies, including the US embassy, also did not respond during 11 July attack of Juba residential compound in which journalist was killed

south sudan aid worker attack

Debris lies in the Terrain compound after it was looted by South Sudanese troops during one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in country’s three-year civil war. Photograph: Adriane Ohanesian/AP

The soldier pointed his AK-47 at the female aid worker and gave her a choice.

“Either you have sex with me, or we make every man here rape you and then we shoot you in the head,” she remembers him saying.

She didn’t really have a choice: by the end of the evening, she had been raped by 15 South Sudanese soldiers.

On 11 July, South Sudanese troops, fresh from winning a battle with opposition forces in the capital, Juba, went on a nearly four-hour rampage through a residential compound popular with foreigners, in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan’s three-year civil war. They shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions, several witnesses told the Associated Press.

For hours throughout the assault, the UN peacekeeping force stationed less than a mile away refused to respond to desperate calls for help. Neither did embassies, including the US embassy.

The Associated Press interviewed by phone eight survivors, both male and female, including three who said they were raped. The other five said they were beaten; one was shot. Most insisted on anonymity for their safety or to protect their organizations still operating in South Sudan…………

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One-third of the country’s children, or 300,000, now live below the poverty line – 45,000 more than a year ago

Emily Saitu and her family inside their motel room in South Auckland.

Emily Saitu and her family inside their motel room in South Auckland. Photograph: Eleanor Ainge Roy

For fourteen days and fourteen nights Elijah Saitu, 15, has lived in a damp motel room, bordered by KFC to the left and a Denny’s 24-hour takeaway to the right.

He spends his days watching music videos on television and eating white bread, tinned sardines, fizzy drinks and packets of chips. .

“He’s suffocating,” said Elijah’s mother, Emily Fiame Saitu, who has been begging the government to help her family.

“It’s cut-throat in New Zealand. If you’re struggling you get left behind.”

The Saitu family are a tragic portrait of New Zealand’s most shameful national secret: an epidemic of child poverty that belies the image of a Pacific haven offering equality of opportunity and a prosperous, clean, healthy life of plenty for all.

The family of six have been living in two motel rooms in South Auckland for a fortnight.

The motel bill is paid for by Housing New Zealand, a government agency, while the family wait for a state house that is warm and dry enough not to make the Saitu kids sick (they have all suffered serious respiratory illnesses from cold, damp homes).

Elijah, who is autistic, spends all day staring at the pink wall next to his single bed, stroking the flaking paint. His three siblings aged 17, 14 and 12 – also spend their days inside, watching music videos on TV. Their parents are wary of letting them wander around the cut-price motel, which largely caters to solo travelling truck drivers…….

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NZ

Only 61 detainees remain at US facility after transfer made in final months of Obama’s presidency, a move to be announced by Pentagon later on Monday

Guantanamo Bay

Administration officials have said for months that they would speed up detainee transfers from Guantánamo this summer. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

The largest single transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees of Barack Obama’s presidency was announced on Monday, as 15 long-held men departed the infamous detention center.

The transfer, officially announced by the Pentagon on Monday evening, brings the Guantánamo detainee population down to 61.

The United Arab Emirates, a close US ally which has accepted former Guantánamo detainees in the past, took the 12 Yemenis and three Afghan nationals, some of whom the US has held for the 14 years Guantánamo that has served as a detention facility. The Pentagon thanked the UAE for its “humanitarian gesture” and support for shuttering Guantánamo.

Six of the men had first received clearances for transfer in 2010, after a review early in the Obama administration found them eligible to leave Guantánamo and unfit for military prosecution. Their names are Abdel Qadir al-Mudafari, Muhammad Ahmad Said al-Adahi, Abdul Muhammad Ahmad Nassar al-Muhajari, Abd al-Rahman Sulayman, Mohammed Nasir Yahi Khussrof Kazaz and Abd al-Muhsin Abd al-Rab Salih al-Busi.

All are Yemeni, and the administration for years cited instability in Yemen, where civil war continues today, as a reason to halt transfers to the Middle Eastern country……..

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  • The killing of Sylville Smith has sparked protests throughout city
  • Mayor says 10pm curfew will be strictly enforced
Milwaukee police officers patrol a gas station on Monday.

Milwaukee police officers patrol a gas station on Monday. Photograph: Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett declared a citywide curfew in a press conference on Monday in an effort to quell violent unrest in the wake of a police shooting over the weekend.

“There is a curfew that will be more strictly enforced tonight for teenagers,” Barrett said. “So parents, after 10 o’clock your teenagers better be home or in a place where they’re off the streets.”

The mayor did not specify what discipline curfew violators should expect.

The unrest began after a Milwaukee officer shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith, a black man, after he allegedly pointed a stolen semi-automatic handgun at police. Police chased Smith after he fled a traffic stop for “suspicious behavior” on Saturday, and according to authorities, called for Smith to drop the weapon multiple times before firing.

The firing officer, who has also been identified by officials as black, was wearing a body camera which police say clearly shows Smith pointed his weapon. Mayor Barrett encouraged state officials investigating the incident to release the footage as soon as possible , hoping to ease fear and suspicion in the community that the police account of the shooting is untrue……………

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More than 20,000 people required rescue in a storm that put 12,000 people in shelters and killed at least six, and the state’s governor says ‘it is not over’

At least five people have died and more than 20,000 people have been rescued from historic flooding in Louisiana. Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said residents had been pulled from swamped cars, flooded homes and threatened hospitals across the southern part of the state. The soaked region is expected to get more rain from a storm system stretching from the Gulf coast to the Ohio valley

Barack Obama declared Louisiana a federal disaster zone on Sunday after historic flash floods in the state left at least six people dead and caused more than 20,000 people to be rescued.

The storm has put another 12,000 people into temporary shelters, Governor John Bel Edwards said during a press conference. Residents were pulled from water-logged homes, flooded cars and at-risk hospitals across the southern portion of the state, he said.

Despite sunny skies on Monday morning, more severe storms from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley were expected later in the day and week, potentially complicating relief efforts in the state.

“Even with the sunshine out today intermittently, the waters are going to continue to rise in many areas, so this is no time to let the guard down,” Edwards said, describing the flooding as unprecedented. “This is a serious event. It is ongoing. It is not over.” He urged people to stay vigilant.

Obama issued the disaster designation shortly after speaking with Edwards on Sunday, the White House said in a statement……

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Opinion

‘Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the country. It’s one of the first things you learn as a black child there.’

‘Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the country. It’s one of the first things you learn as a black child there.’ Photograph: Jeffrey Phelps/AP

On a recent trip to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I rode the bus from Martin Luther King Drive at Burleigh Avenue to meet an interviewee near Sherman Park. I counted how many foreclosure sale signs there were compared with occupied (often dilapidated) homes along the route, as well as storefronts, businesses and supermarkets. It’s a skill I picked up in the days when I worked in affordable housing development and planning in New York. But if I’m honest, I probably learned it earlier, as a teenager in growing up in Milwaukee. I learned then to look at communities as a whole.

What do we know about the shooting that sparked protests over the past two nights? Twenty-three-year-old Sylville Smith had an arrest record, had recently secured a permit to carry a firearm, ran from the police after a stop and was shot in the back. He died on the scene. While more details will emerge in the coming days about Smith and the officer who shot him, our attention has been captured by the clashes between police and residents of the Sherman Park neighborhood, where Smith was killed, who gathered shortly after his death. The shooting may have been the catalyst for the protest and property damage, but as any native black Milwaukeean can tell you, what’s happened here is bigger than any one incident.

Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the country. It’s one of the first things you learn as a black child there. I don’t think you can understand rust belt communities without looking at the lack of funding for services, such as transportation infrastructure and housing, that undergirds the concentrated poverty in place like Sherman Park, and the entire north side, where I grew up. Milwaukee has the largest black population in the state, and the poverty rate for blacks living in Milwaukee is 32.9% (in 2014, it was 14.5% nationwide). What local, striving black folks often talk about is the fact that jobs exist in places they can’t reach and that rent and house prices often prevent them from moving closer.

Governor Scott Walker’s contribution to these circumstances has been considerable. According to one report, “for more than 20 years, he has fought proposals that would make it easier for city residents” to get to suburban job centers. He opposed proposals from city mayors for “an urban-suburban light rail line” and shortened or eliminated regional bus routes that cut off access to tens of thousands of jobs. It was only because of a lawsuit that Walker agreed to set aside a meager $14m of a $1.7bn highway project to fund bus routes to the suburbs.

These economic pressures coexist with tensions between police and black citizens, which have been ever present since large numbers of southern black families migrated to the city nearly 60 ago. In 2014, the police shooting of Dontre Hamilton served as a reminder to black Milwaukee that a kind of reckoning and repair was urgently needed. Months after Hamilton’s death, jurors determined that two Milwaukee police officers had to pay $506,000 to Leo Hardy for an illegal strip search………………

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