03 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Israel approves 500 new settlement units in West Bank, Jerusalem


PNN/ Bethlehem/

The Israeli Civil Administration Council on Wednesday approved plans to build 500 new illegal settlement units in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

The plans reportedly include 235 units in the settlement of Elqana north of Salfit, 200 in Bet Arye and Ofarim in north and central occupied West Bank, and 20 others in Givat Zeev illegal settlement in occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli memdia said that the decision was made shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Army Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared intention to continue settlement plans all over the West Bank, ignoring all criticism and international condemnations.

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Campaigners hail key moment in battle against global warming as presidents Obama and Xi announce deal on eve of G20 summit in Hangzhou

US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping, pictured in 2015, have said their countries will ratify the Paris climate change agreement.

The US president, Barack Obama, and Chinese president, Xi Jinping, pictured in 2015, have said their countries will ratify the Paris climate change agreement. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have announced they will formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement in a move campaigners immediately hailed as a significant advance in the battle against global warming.

Speaking on Saturday, on the eve of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, US president, Barack Obama, confirmed the long-awaited move, the result of weeks of intense negotiations by Chinese and American officials.

“Just as I believe the Paris agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” said Obama, who was speaking in the presence of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

“Where there is a will and there is a vision and where countries like China and the United States are prepared to show leadership and to lead by example, it is possible for us to create a world that is more secure, more prosperous and more free than the one that was left for us,” added Obama, for whom the commitment is part of a final push to secure a green legacy for his presidency.

Earlier China had announced it would formally ratify the Paris accord with President Xi vowing to “unwaveringly pursue sustainable development”.

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Charities warn of shortage of food, tents and blankets as number of refugees keeps growing while donations dwindle

A queue for the Welcome van at the overcrowded Calais refugee camp.

A queue for the Welcome van at the overcrowded Calais refugee camp. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

Charities are warning that they no longer have enough donated food or money to feed the rapidly growing population of refugees in the camp in Calais, with supplies running out on a daily basis and migrants reporting they are going hungry.

“A few months ago, there would be a maximum of 70 people in the lines; now we have 500 people queuing. We started running out of food about three weeks ago,” said Marie Eisendick, who has helped run the Refugee Community Kitchen since the beginning of the year.

It was no longer possible to provide a hot meal for everyone who wanted one, and hungry people had to be turned away regularly, she added, describing the absence of better assistance from the UK and French authorities as “scandalous”. “We have the same resources and staff that we had three months ago, but there are thousands more people to feed.”

Latest census figures show a 30% increase in the camp’s population in a month, bringing the total number to more than 9,100. About 70 new people arrive every day, with large numbers coming from Sudan and Afghanistan. Volunteers say they do not have enough tents and blankets to hand out to new arrivals.

The fresh crisis came as France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said the camp would be gradually dismantled and accommodation would be created for thousands elsewhere in the country “to unblock Calais”.

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Five women taken into custody after wearing T-shirts blaming Russian president for 2004 siege that left 186 children dead

People commemorate the victims of Beslan

People gather in the gym at School Number One to commemorate the victims of the Beslan school siege that killed 334. Photograph: Anton Podgaiko/Tass

Five women wearing T-shirts blaming Vladimir Putin for the Beslan school massacre have been detained during a ceremony commemorating victims of the siege.

Two journalists were also arrested while trying to film the brief protest at the memorial marking the 2004 hostage crisis that left 334 people dead, including 186 children.

As a bell rang near the redbrick ruins of School Number One in the town in the North Ossetia republic of Russia, the women took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts reading “Putin is the executioner of Beslan”.

Four of the women lost children in the siege and one also lost her husband. The fifth woman’s daughter survived the ordeal, in which hostages were held in the sweltering school for nearly 60 hours.

Armed Islamic militants, mostly from the neighbouring Chechnya and Ingushetia republics, stormed into the school on 1 September 12 years ago, the first day of classes, taking about 1,200 children, parents and teachers hostage.

Many of the victims were killed by explosions or gunfire during Russian special forces’ assault on the school, on the third day of the crisis. Some victims’ relatives, and others in North Ossetia and across Russia, blame the authorities for the deaths.

Russian police accused the women of violating a law against unauthorised protests, legislation that denies Russians their constitutional right to free assembly, according to critics…………………

US politics

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The university fell short of guaranteeing financial support to descendants of the slaves it used to own. But it started an important conversation


‘Would the world implode if we were able to recognize that slavery was part of the social order? No.’ Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Slavery is a footnote in the history of many universities in the United States. Mostly, that’s where it stays. But not for Georgetown, which sold 272 slaves in 1838. The university wants to come to terms with its past and take the abstract concepts of reconciliation and redemption and make them tangible. Will they succeed?

In their announcement, I heard the buzzwords “diversity” and “inclusion” several times, and those trend words put me on edge. Organizations use those terms all the time and little comes from the effort to make elitist and exclusionary circles more accessible. I was also turned off by the school’s decision to grant the slaves’ descendants legacy access without any guaranteed financial support.

The arrangement means that even if an applicant and his or her family are able to overcome many of the systemic and institutional injustices that African Americans faced in the wake of slavery, the chance to attend Georgetown might still be compromised due to finances.

I know it is impossible to place a price tag on demoralization and dehumanization. There is no calculator that can account for the cultural and economic legacies of slavery and discrimination. Yet every couple years there’s the talk of reparations. A recent article by Yes! Magazine estimates that the “40 acres and a mule” promise would be worth $6.4tn. But we are far off from seriously considering that kind of justice.

So do we take what atonement we can get and then hold institutions accountable? In a world where white students are ready to challenge affirmative action, and people question racism’s existence even as we watch people being shot and murdered for misdemeanors, that might be the pragmatic approach.

Georgetown’s decision could forever change the way we talk about inheritance, legacy and community. The university has decided to invest part of its endowment in unpacking the complex issue of slavery, and the racial inequality the system of selling human cargo created. The move could cause other educational and cultural giants to assess their privilege and question their historical and cultural competency.

Imagine what we could accomplish as a community, and as a nation, if we spent time reflecting upon our country’s darker historical moments as tool to create a better future. Would the world implode if we were able to recognize that slavery was part of the social order, the social construct that our systems were built upon? No. But it would give our current system a strong and much-needed shake.

After all, people argued with Michelle Obama when she mentioned that the White House was built by slaves, without knowing that it actually was. And Colin Kaepernick catches flack for his decision to sit during the national anthem to protest the treatment of minorities in the US. But few of his critics know that the lyricist of The Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, was a slaveholder when the song was composed in 1814.

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