13 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Luxembourg’s foreign minister says Hungary should be expelled for treating asylum seekers ‘worse than wild animals’

Hungarian police watch refugees gathered outside Keleti station in central Budapest last year.

Hungarian police watch refugees gathered outside Keleti station in central Budapest last year. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union over its increasingly hostile approach to refugees, as campaigners accuse Viktor Orbán’s hardline government of whipping up xenophobia to block a European plan to relocate asylum seekers.

Jean Asselborn said Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the EU for treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, he said: “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.”

Asselborn called for EU rules to be changed to make it easier to expel Hungary as this was “the only way of preserving the cohesion and values of the European Union”.

Human Rights Watch also called on Europe to use its “enforcement powers” against Budapest after documenting abuse of asylum seekers that it says breaches Hungary’s legal obligations under European and international law.

It is also alarmed by an anti-migrant campaign orchestrated by Orbán’s government to resist an attempt to impose binding quotas for resettling asylum seekers in member states.

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President says American personnel in Mindanao could become abduction targets for the Islamist militants his government is trying to defeat

Rodrigo Duterte has called for US special forces to leave Mindanao.

Rodrigo Duterte has called for US special forces to leave Mindanao. Photograph: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has called for the withdrawal of US special forces from islands in the southern Philippines, saying their presence could complicate offensives against Islamist militants.

Duterte said the Americans still in Mindanao were high-value targets for the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants as counter-insurgency operations intensified.

“They have to go,” Duterte said in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony for new officials. “I do not want a rift with America. But they have to go.

“Americans, they [the militants] will really kill them, they will try to kidnap them to get ransom.”

The comments added to uncertainty about what impact Duterte’s rise to the presidency this year will have on one of Washington’s most important alliances in Asia.

Barack Obama cancelled a planned meeting with Duterte at last week’s Asean summit after Duterte appeared to call him a “son of a bitch”. The two did eventually meet briefly and on Friday Duterte said he told Obama the remark was not directed against him.

A spokesman for the US state department, John Kirby, said it was not aware of any official communication by Manila calling for a withdrawal. He said Washington remained committed to the alliance.

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Naples protesters clash with police amid anger at Italy’s education reforms – video

Clashes between police and protesters erupt in Naples on Monday, when the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, was visiting the city. The demonstrations, organised by leftwing activists and teachers, were intended to voice opposition to the government’s school reforms

Of 1,027 Catholics polled, only 14% said they had favorable views of Islam and one in three said they had either very or somewhat unfavorable views

Catholic Church San Francisco

A woman prays at the foot of a statue of Jesus inside St Patrick’s church in San Francisco. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Only 14% of American Catholics have a favorable view of Muslims and Catholic media outlets tend to have a bias against Muslims, a study has found.

The findings, carried out by the Bridge initiative, a multi-year research project that focuses on Islamophobia at Georgetown University, conducted research on how mainstream and Catholic media consumption correlates to respondents’ perceptions of Islam.

Of the 1,027 self-identified Catholics polled, only 14% said they had favorable views of Islam and one in three said they had either very or somewhat unfavorable views. However, those who know Muslims personally – only three out of 10 respondents, which is less than the national average – had far more positive views of Muslims. Those who did not know a Muslim were twice as likely to have very unfavorable views.

Father Patrick Ryan of the Society of Jesus, McGinley professor of religion at Fordham University, said Catholic people’s view on Islam was unfortunately similar to the mainstream Christian American view. They tend to be, “rather hostile to Muslims with perceptions colored by things like 9/11 and the persecution of Christians in places like Syria”.

Inherent biases were also found among certain Catholic media outlets. Half of the time the word Islamic was mentioned between October 2014 and September 2015 in prominent Catholic media outlets, it was in relation to the Islamic State. More than 60% of readers of outlets like the Catholic World Report and Patheos Catholic Blogs said they had unfavorable views of Muslims. However, the authors note only a fraction of respondents consume Catholic media regularly.

The report also examined the news consumption of mainstream cable news networks. It found respondents who watched Fox News have a less favorable view of Muslims than those who prefer CNN and MSNBC. About a quarter of CNN and MSNBC watchers said they have unfavorable views of Islam, compared with 39% of Fox. More than half of the people who preferred Fox News said that Islam encourages violence more than other religions.

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In its 10th year, the ‘warfare expo’ attracts SWAT teams from several police departments, including the University of California and Mexico’s federal police

Protesters outside Urban Shield.

Protesters outside Urban Shield. Photograph: Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian

Amid a startling array of weaponry and defensive gear, several exhibitors at Urban Shield, the annual northern California police exhibition, were displaying robots similar to the model that was used to kill the gunman who fatally shot five Dallas officers in July.

“You could do the same thing with our robot,” said Dan Murphy of ICOR Technology. Dallas police reportedly placed a pound of C4 explosives and a detonation device on the robot in what is believed to be the first time in history that a US law enforcement agency used a robot to kill a suspect.

“It’s the ultimate use,” Murphy added.

“If they had sent tactical guys in, the first two or three would have died,” Matt McAlister of Tactical Electronics said about the Dallas incident. “It’s the robot or the guys. Either way, the bad guys are going down.”

Both ICOR and Tactical Electronics sell robots to the military and to law enforcement. Both Murphy and McAlister said they had received an increase in inquiries about robots from law enforcement agencies since the Dallas shootings.

Urban Shield is the ultimate intersection of law enforcement, the military industrial complex and the tech industry. Now in its 10th year, the Department of Homeland Security-funded event attracts SWAT teams from 40 local and international police departments, including the University of California, Berkeley, and Mexico’s federal police.

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Publicly funded education for children transformed our society and economy – but it was once unthinkable. Socialize higher education to reap huge rewards

‘Every child who wants to attend college must be encouraged and empowered to do so at absolutely no cost.’

‘Every child who wants to attend college must be encouraged and empowered to do so at absolutely no cost.’ Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi for the Guardian

Conservatives have pushed for-profit education schemes on America for decades, insisting private industry can better serve students than our government.

But this week we saw exactly what happens when you let capitalists run college education: ITT Tech.

The school is closing its doors on the heels of a federal crackdown on for-profit institutions that make a buck off of young (and some older) people who want an education and pathway to success.

Research shows that the for-profit sector generally targets lower-income people, communities of color and the elderly with campaigns promising job prospects that may never materialize. All the while, taxpayers and students footed the bill to pad the pockets of shareholders. Millions of dollars in federal financial aid flowed into these schools, and when students graduated they were left deeply in debt. For-profit colleges enroll a tenth of our students but are responsible for generating nearly half of college loan defaults.

At Donald Trump’s for-profit Trump University, a former sales manager admitted they regularly preyed upon vulnerable populations to “separate them from their money”. Students were encouraged to max out credit cards to attend, but were offered only a joke of an education in return.

We let capitalists run our colleges and they screwed it up big time. They left our students with broken promises, inadequate job training and insurmountable debt.

It’s clear that these profit-centric schemes are a failure, and the only prescription moving forward is more government.

Over many decades, Republican lawmakers have spearheaded efforts to cut funding and investments in public higher education, and massive cuts have been accompanied by simultaneous rises in tuition. Forty-six states are spending less in public funds per student than they were before the start of the great recession.

But hope remains if we change course and embrace the socialization of higher education.

In the mid-1800s, Americans began to transition to publicly funded high school education for the vast majority students. It must have been a daunting prospect at the time – paying for the education of so many children for such an extended period of time, transferring a potential workforce away from productivity for an investment like schooling.

But the experiment paid off. America set itself up for 20th-century success, creating the most educated workforce in the world. It turns out socialized programs like free K-12 education and the GI bill work well.

We as a society consider it immoral not to put somebody through primary and secondary education. Why should higher education be any different?

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