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23 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Officials in Karachi close HQ of MQM political party and arrest senior party members after exiled Altaf Hussain’s comments spark unrest

People burn an effigy of Altaf Hussain in Pakistan

People burn an effigy of Altaf Hussain in Pakistan after clashes between security forces and MQM supporters. Photograph: Faisal Kareem/EPA

The political party that dominates Pakistan’s largest city is facing one of the most serious crackdowns in its history after an intervention by its exiled leader in London led to a night of violence followed by the arrest of senior party members and the shuttering of its headquarters.

On Tuesday, law enforcement closed the “Nine Zero” offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi after its supporters ransacked two television stations in a rampage that left one dead and eight injured.

The violence came after MQM’s leader in exile, Altaf Hussain, lambasted Pakistan as a “cancer for the entire world” and the “epicentre of terrorism” in a speech broadcast over loudspeakers to a crowd in the city from his base in north London, where he has run the party since the early 1990s.

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Blogger and plus-size model forced to take a break from Ireland’s community Twitter account after being told to ‘return to your ancestral lands’ by trolls

Michelle Marie has been subjected to a torrent of racial abuse on Twitter

Michelle Marie has been subjected to a torrent of racial abuse on Twitter. Photograph: Michelle Marie/Twitter

A black British woman who was chosen to tweet from the @ireland account for a week has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse, forcing her to take a break from Twitter.

Michelle Marie took over the account – which is curated by a different Twitter user in Ireland each week – on Monday. She introduced herself as a mother, blogger and plus-size model.

Originally from Oxford in England, she wrote she had settled in Ireland and “it has my heart”.

However, just hours after taking over the profile – which is followed by nearly 40,000 people – the abuse began.

Marie responded by writing that being overweight “doesn’t mean I can’t be beautiful or worthy or happy” and described the impact body shaming had had on her mental health.

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Thousands of Clinton emails to go public before election

New Clinton email dump scheduled; Trump veers off script again; Stanford University bans ‘hard alcohol’; Frank Ocean is not the year’s best R&B

by in New York

New Clinton email dump scheduled

Nearly 15,000 emails recovered by the FBI from the private server used by Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state are set to be released before the presidential election in November. The FBI cleared Clinton of criminal conduct but found her to have have been “extremely careless”. State department lawyers said they expected the emails in October and November, following review. Republicans are pressing allegations of a conflict of interest after newly disclosed emails revealed how Huma Abedin coordinated a meeting for a Bahrain prince with officials at the Clinton Foundation, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Clinton offered a rebuttal to Trump campaign claims of her failing health by opening a pickle jar on late night TV and Bill Clinton vowed to step down from the board of the Clinton Foundation if his wife is elected president.

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Sheldon Adelson-funded posters named students and professors at a college campus, saying they ‘have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists’

Robert Gardner, a 25-year-old UCLA senior, saw his name on one of the posters outside a grocery market: ‘I was really shocked and felt really disturbed.’

Robert Gardner, a 25-year-old UCLA senior, saw his name on one of the posters outside a grocery market: ‘I was really shocked and felt really disturbed.’ Photograph: Courtesy of Robert Gardner

Sheldon Adelson, the Nevada casino mogul and conservative mega-donor, is leading a campaign against pro-Palestine groups on US college campuses and has funded posters that accuse individual students of supporting terrorism and promoting “Jew Hatred”.

The multimillion-dollar effort, which has launched at six campuses in California, is targeting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that has become increasingly popular among American university students protesting the Israeli government.

At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), recent Adelson-funded posters named 16 students and professors, saying they “have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetuate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus”. It further claimed BDS was a “Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel”.

Robert Gardner, a 25-year-old UCLA senior, saw his name on one of the posters outside a grocery market. “I was really shocked and felt really disturbed,” he said.

“They are trying to cast us as antisemitic, that we are somehow a discriminatory group,” said the political science student, who is a member of the college’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization. “That is a completely spurious accusation. One of our core principles is anti-oppression and anti-racism.”

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The political crusades targeting national parks for drilling and exploitation

Hailed as ‘America’s best idea’, the parks are hugely popular with the public but face political efforts to lift federal protection and allow private development

by

It’s easy to feel besieged here,” said Wendy Ross, superintendent of the Theodore Roosevelt national park. Ross’s park, named after the “conservationist president” who helped to keep America’s natural treasures unspoiled, is surrounded by oil and gas drilling that has transformed the landscape.

The boom in cheap natural gas has led to drilling and flame flaring just outside the boundaries of the 110 square mile national park, located in North Dakota’s badlands. There is virtually nowhere in the park in which its 600,000 annual visitors cannot see a drilling rig, an oil pump, a highway or a cellphone tower in what was once a sleepy rural area.

Ross said she is bombarded by letters and messages on Facebook from tourists over these eyesores. She frets that the park’s special status for clean air will be ruined by pollution and that a new oil refinery, planned for an area just two miles east of the protected area, will heighten this clash between nature and mining.

“The visitor experience is impacted by this type of structure,” Ross said. “These proposals all add up, they have a cumulative impact. There’s a perception that we are trying to shut down the energy industry but we just want responsible placement of these things.”

The challenges facing Theodore Roosevelt national park are emblematic of a fresh struggle for the soul of national parks. The parks, “America’s best idea”, have to define what they are for and whom they serve. Once-simmering tensions are starting to pop.

“The attacks on public land have become more visible and increasingly agitated, it’s got more muscle in recent years,” said Lynn Scarlett, chief operating officer of the Department of the Interior through George W Bush’s presidency.

“My discussions with Congress used to be about practical things, whether funding was enough,” she said. “It wasn’t like this. I didn’t find this general tenor of discussion that was anti-federal land and certainly not sentiments that were anti-national parks.”

There is a new crusade by some lawmakers, dubbed the “anti-parks caucus”, to unlock more public land to drilling and other development. This is a sharp divergence from the broad consensus forged since Roosevelt, a Republican, spurred the expansion of America’s network of national parks almost 110 years ago. This network now spans 412 federally protected places, including 59 national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite as well as hundreds of battlefields, monuments and historical trails.

Theodore Roosevelt stands with naturalist John Muir on Glacier Point, above Yosemite Valley in California.

Theodore Roosevelt stands with naturalist John Muir on Glacier Point, above Yosemite Valley in California. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Roosevelt enthused over the “majestic beauty” of nature, created five national parks and signed the Antiquities Act, which allows a president to unilaterally declare a national monument. Roosevelt wielded this power 18 times, protecting, among other places, the Grand Canyon, which he advised should be left “as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”

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