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04 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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The US president was denied the usual red carpet welcome and forced to ‘go out of the ass’ of Air Force One, observers say

in Beijing

Leader of the world’s largest economy disembarks from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou for the G20. The incident is being interpreted as a calculated snub from Beijing.

China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US president was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20.

Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders including India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who touched down on Sunday morning.

But the leader of the world’s largest economy, who is on his final tour of Asia, was forced to disembark from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday afternoon.

When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: “This is our country! This is our airport!”

“The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards,” the New York Times reported.

Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China, said he was convinced Obama’s treatment was part of a calculated snub.

“These things do not happen by mistake. Not with the Chinese,” Guajardo, who hosted presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón during his time in Beijing, told the Guardian.

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Francis criticises those who choose ‘not to see the many forms of poverty’ on eve of ceremony that will proclaim Mother Teresa a saint

Pope Francis petted Leo, the labrador that helped find a four-year-old child who survived the earthquake in central Italy last month.

Pope Francis petted Leo, the labrador that helped find a four-year-old child who survived the earthquake in central Italy last month. Photograph: Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis has denounced what he called the modern-day sin of indifference to hunger, exploitation and other suffering, while commending the example of Mother Teresa on the eve of a sainthood ceremony for the nun.

“Tomorrow, we’ll have the joy of seeing Mother Teresa proclaimed a saint,” Francis told thousands of lay volunteers in St Peter’s Square at a special gathering to stress the need for more mercy and caring in the world.

Francis will lead a Sunday morning canonisation ceremony in the square which is expected to draw huge crowds of faithful and other admirers of Mother Teresa, who founded an order of nuns devoted to caring for the poor and destitute on the streets of Kolkata, India.

In his speech on Saturday to a crowd of volunteers that included some who helped rescue survivors of the 24 August earthquake in central Italy, Francis decried those who “turn the other way not to see the many forms of poverty that begs for mercy”.

Choosing “to not see hunger, disease, exploited persons, this is a grave sin. It’s also a modern sin, a sin of today,” he said.

Francis hailed volunteers as “artisans of mercy”, whose hands, voices, closeness and caresses help people who suffer feel loved. While in the square, he petted Leo, the labrador that helped find a four-year-old child who had survived in a pile of quake rubble. The dog raised a paw, which Francis grasped.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has been encouraging Catholic faithful and institutions to tend to the needs of marginalised people.

“The world needs concrete signs of solidarity, above all when faced with the temptation toward indifference,” Francis said.

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  • The 5.6-magnitude quake was felt from Nebraska to North Texas
  • No major damage or injuries have been reported
Grass in rural Oklahoma

The grass in rural Oklahoma may have been intact but video showed bricks falling from the sides of buildings in the north-central part of the state. Photograph: Ryan McGinnis/Getty Images

One of the largest earthquakes in Oklahoma’s history shook the state on Saturday morning, and was felt by people from Nebraska to North Texas.

The 5.6-magnitude earthquake happened at 7.02am in north-central Oklahoma, the United States Geological Survey said. No major damage was immediately reported, though video showed cracks slicing through the sides of buildings and bricks falling.

The USGS said the quake was relatively shallow, about four miles deep, and thus felt over a wide range. The agency also warned that aftershocks were likely.

Its intensity matches an earthquake in November 2011 in the same region where hydraulic fracking and natural gas are major industries. Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin said on Saturday that crews were checking bridges and structures for damage.

She also said the Oklahoma Corporation Commission was “reviewing disposal wells”, a reference to the wastewater disposal wells from fracking, which have been linked to earthquakes.

Oklahoma has suffered a series of earthquakes in the past year, with intensities as high as 5.1 and 4.7, and earlier this month the state felt three small quakes in a single weekend. Studies and government researchers have found that the underground disposal of wastewater from natural gas drilling is linked to the increase in 3.0 and stronger earthquakes in Oklahoma, and state regulators have recently limited disposal activity. Some parts of the state now are nearly as likely to suffer earthquakes as northern California. One Oklahoma region has a one-in-eight chance of having an earthquake this year.

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Toddler’s death opened European hearts and policy towards refugees, but 12 months on those changes have proved temporary

A police officer carries the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi

A police officer carries the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi, who was found lying face-down on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum. Photograph: AP

Sitting in a refugee camp in northern Greece, Mohammad Mohammad, a Syrian taxi driver, holds up a picture of three-year-old Alan Kurdi. It is nearly a year since the same photograph of the dead toddler sparked a wave of outrage across Europe, and heightened calls for the west to do more for refugees. Twelve months later, Mohammad uses it to highlight how little has changed.

Alan may have died at sea, he says, “but really there is no difference between him and the thousands of children now dying [metaphorically] here in Greece”.

Tens of thousands have been stranded in squalid conditions in Greece since March, when Balkan leaders shut their borders. “It is,” says Mohammad, “a human disaster.”

A year ago, Alan’s tragic death seemed to have shifted the political discourse on refugees. European leaders appeared to have been shocked into forming more compassionate policies, while previously hostile media outlets took a more conciliatory tone………….

relocate

Guardian graphic | Source: UNHCR. Promised totals refer to relocations for people who are supposed to be transferred by September 2017

More significantly, it was in the aftermath of Alan’s death that most European leaders finally promised to share responsibility for at least some of the refugees landing on Greek and Italian shores. In late September 2015, they created a system that would nominally see 120,000 refugees relocated from Greece and Italy to other European countries – a relatively modest number that was nevertheless hailed as a watershed moment for European migration policy.

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The city already has surpassed last year’s number of gun-related homicides – and stands to outpace the total murders in New York and Los Angeles combined

Police investigate a crime scene after two people were shot on street in Chicago’s West side in June.

Police investigate a crime scene after two people were shot on street in Chicago’s west side in June. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago is on pace to see as many as 650 or 700 murders this year, more than any year since the early 2000s, and likely more than the total murders in New York and Los Angeles combined.

Through the end of the day Friday, Chicago had seen 475 murders – just six less than in all of last year, according to police department statistics. The city has already exceeded last year’s total number of gun-related homicides, with 430.

As violence rises, an increasing number of shootings and murders are going unsolved. Through 28 August, the police department had only made arrests in 73 of the nearly 2,000 non-fatal shooting incidents so far this year – or just under 4%, according to a department spokesman.

The clearance rate for murders is not much better. Last Sunday, police swiftly charged two brothers in the murder of Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four, who was shot to death the Friday before while pushing a stroller on her way to register her kids for school. Her shooting had made national headlines because she was the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, who mourned her death publicly as “unreal” and “another act of senseless gun violence”.

But the quick charges in Aldridge’s case are an exception. Police have only made arrests in about 16% of fatal shootings through 28 August this year, according to a department spokesperson. Through June, the clearance rate for all murders was 22.2%. That’s lower than last year’s rate of 30.4%, and dramatically lower than the national average of 64.5%, according to the most recent available national FBI data.

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Tribal officials say at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed after confronting construction crews for destroying burial and cultural sites near a reservation

Native American protesters and their supporters are confronted by security during a demonstration against work being done for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Native American protesters and their supporters are confronted by security during a demonstration against work being done for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

A protest against a four-state, $3.8bn oil pipeline turned violent after tribal officials say construction crews destroyed American Indian burial and cultural sites on private land in southern North Dakota.

Morton County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured after several hundred protesters confronted construction crews on Saturday afternoon at the site just outside the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

One of the security officers was taken to a Bismarck hospital for undisclosed injuries. The two guard dogs were taken to a Bismarck veterinary clinic, Preskey said.

Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said protesters reported that six people had been bitten by security dogs, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, he said. Preskey said law enforcement authorities had no reports of protesters being injured.

There were no law enforcement personnel at the site when the incident occurred, Preskey said. The crowd dispersed when officers arrived and no one was arrested, she said.

The incident occurred within half a mile of an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest of the oil pipeline that is slated to cross the Missouri River nearby.

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