23 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Medical centres struck and homes destroyed as bombing campaign in rebel-held region enters second day

in Beirut, and in New York

An unidentified member of the Syria civil defence volunteer group describes the bombardment of Aleppo on Thursday morning. The volunteer says there were 25 airstrikes on the city, which destroyed emergency vehicles and the SCD’s centres in the area. Many people have been trapped under rubble as a result of the strikes

Residents of rebel-held east Aleppo have described scenes of devastation, with activists claiming attacks by Syrian and Russian warplanes on the city hours after the Syrian military announced a major new offensive.

As heavy bombing entered a second day, three medical centres and two centres belonging to the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group, were hit in airstrikes that disabled some of their vehicles and cut off roads in the city, leaving many victims trapped under the ruins of their homes.

Medics in the besieged eastern districts spoke of their despair at international efforts to alleviate their suffering and anger at the continued assault on the population after the collapse of a brief ceasefire.

“Anger has filled everyone who has remained in this city of rubble,” said Bara’a, a nurse in east Aleppo. “Many of the wounded are children, and when you look in their eyes they weep and say we have nothing left. Curse this justice. They lose their limbs and become disabled for life and their only sin is that they are the children of Syria.

“They have burned their childhood and their innocence and made them homeless in their country and all we get in return are words and promises from outside. God curse humanity if this is what it has become.”

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At glitzy reception, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will come face to face with artwork representing ‘cultural genocide’

Residential school survivor Patricia Tucknaow wipes away a tear while walking to honour fellow survivors in Vancouver.

Residential school survivor Patricia Tucknaow wipes away a tear while walking to honour fellow survivors in Vancouver. Photograph: Ben Nelms/Reuters

The Swiss cut chandeliers are being dusted off and silverware polished as Government House in Victoria, Canada, prepares to host a glitzy reception to fete the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

A who’s who of Canadian leaders will descend on the 300-person ballroom of the stately mansion on Monday to shake hands and make acquaintance with the royal couple. But just beyond them will sit a powerful art installation aimed at showcasing an entirely different side of Canada’s relationship with its monarchy.

Reaching almost 2.5 metres (8ft) high, and stretching more than 12 metres long , the cedar frames of the Witness Blanket hold more than 800 objects, ranging from leather straps once used to beat children to a doll made of a rag and sticks by a child desperate to recreate the toy she was forced to leave at home.

Each object is an intimate window into one of Canada’s ugliest chapters: the residential schools where about 150,000 indigenous children were taken to forcibly integrate into Canadian society. A truth commission last year described the state-run schools as a tool of “cultural genocide”.

It was the same commission that inspired the Witness Blanket. “Truth telling and remembering requires remembering all parts of it,” said Carey Newman, the Kwagiulth artist behind the installation. “The very laws that enacted residential schools were signed off by our sovereign. That’s a really big part of how we got here.”

On Saturday, the duke and duchess along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte – who will make her royal tour debut – will land in Victoria for a one-week tour of British Columbia and the Yukon. The family’s packed agenda is punctuated with visits to First Nations communities and traditional ceremonies, in an itinerary that Kensington Palace said “will help celebrate Canada’s First Nations community, its art and culture”.

It is an emphasis that will force the royal couple to confront the uneasy, tumultuous relationship that exists today between many of Canada’s First Nations and the crown – one that stretches back to the first foundational contact with European colonialists and was later formalised through treaties.

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A warrant has been issued for Betty Shelby’s arrest and ‘arrangements are being made for her surrender’ to the sheriff’s department

The Tulsa police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, has been charged with manslaughter, district attorney Steve Kunzweiler says. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of officer Betty Shelby and arrangements are being made for her surrender, he says. The incident, captured on widely broadcast police videos, is one of a series that has raised questions of racial bias in US policing.

The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday has been charged with manslaughter, prosecutors announced on Thursday afternoon.

Tulsa County’s district attorney, Steve Kunzweiler, said he had filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against Betty Shelby, the white police officer who killed Terence Crutcher last week.

“The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Crutcher are on the hearts and minds of many people in this community,” Kunzweiler said during brief remarks before he announced the charges.

This footage released by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shows police officer Betty Shelby shooting Terence Crutcher, 40, dead on 16 September. Police can be heard saying, ‘That looks like a bad dude’. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the victim’s sister says Crutcher was enrolled at a community college, and that ‘his life mattered’

“Despite the heightened tensions felt by all – which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction – our community has consistently demonstrated a willingness to respect the judicial process.”

A court filing by prosecutors said Shelby “unlawfully and unnecessarily” shot Crutcher because he was refusing to comply with her orders.

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US politics

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Terns flee warming temperatures in epic migration north to Alaska

Researchers on north-west coast of Alaska startled to discover Caspian terns an incredible 1,000 miles further north than species had been previously recorded
While most species aren’t able to move as far as terns, scientists are noticing shifts across Alaska. Photograph: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

Oliver Milman

Eyebrows would be raised if American crocodiles, found on the southern tip of Florida, decided to relocate to New York’s Fifth Avenue or Moroccan camels suddenly joined the tourist throng outside Buckingham Palace in London. Yet this is the scale of species shift that appears to be under way in Alaska.

In July, researchers in Cape Krusenstern national monument on the north-west coast of Alaska were startled to discover a nest containing Caspian terns on the gravelly beach of a lagoon. The birds were an incredible 1,000 miles further north than the species had been previously recorded.

“There was plenty of shock, it is a very unusual situation,” said Dr Martin Robards, Arctic program director at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which found the nest. “We checked with Caspian tern experts and they were all very surprised they were this far north. We get Arctic terns here but these terns are much bigger, they really stand out.”

The terns, usually found in Washington state, successfully bred and chicks have now flown the nest. While it remains to be seen whether Caspian terns will become ensconced long-term within the Arctic circle, the epic relocation is emblematic of how warming temperatures are causing a huge upheaval in the basic rhythms of Alaska’s environment. Next week, scientists will gather at the White House’s first ever Arctic science meeting to deliver the confronting news.

“I’ve been up here 25 years and the amount of change that has occurred in Alaska is shocking,” said Robards. “We’ve been focusing on things such as the temperature and sea ice here but now we are thinking ‘oh my God what is going on with the wildlife?’”

Alaska is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the US, with the winter temperature 6F (3.3C) warmer than it was 60 years ago. Snow and ice has retreated, spring is coming earlier. The landscape is changing and so are its residents.

“To be 1,000 miles further north attests to how much the globe has warmed,” said Terry Root, a biologist and senior fellow at Stanford University. “Birds follow their physiology, nothing else. If they think they should move, they move. Alaska has warmed so much that it is causing havoc to a lot of nature.”

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