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17 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

UN reports four accidents, including 130 refugees missing from one boat, bringing this year’s Mediterranean death toll to 4,500

People being rescued off the Libyan coast this November and helped on to a Maltese coastguard boat.

People being rescued off the Libyan coast this November and helped on to a Maltese coastguard boat. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty

About 240 people are suspected to have drowned this week in four separate incidents in the Mediterranean, raising the total annual death toll to an unprecedented 4,500.

Deaths in the Mediterranean are now nearly 20% higher than last year’s total of 3,771, which was the previous annual record.

About 130 asylum seekers are missing after a rubber boat capsized on Sunday night, while another 100 are thought to have drowned on Tuesday night in a separate incident, the UN refugee agency said. Up to 10 people died in two further tragedies in recent days, bringing the death toll this week to at least 240.

In the accident on Sunday 15 survivors were left in the water for 10 hours, clinging on to a piece of a capsized boat, before being rescued by an oil tanker. Nine are still in hospital, Iosto Ibba, a spokesman for UNHCR, said in a phone call.

Migration between Turkey and Greece has lessened significantly since March, after Turkey agreed to re-admit people deported from Greece. But crossings between Libya and Italy continue unabated. More than 165,000 people have reached Italy so far this year from north Africa, and the final annual total is likely to surpass the previous record of 170,000.

Ibba said the continuing migration flows, and rising death tolls, showed why Europe needed to provide asylum seekers with more legal routes to safety.

“Without alternative ways to reach Europe, refugees will always try to reach safety in dangerous ways,” said Ibba. “That’s why it’s so important to expand legal pathways for refugees, including humanitarian admissions, family reunification programmes, private sponsorship, and student visas for refugees. At the same time it’s also important to support the countries of origin and transit, and to keep up search-and-rescue missions, without which the death toll would be even higher.”

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More than 2,200 people rescued from dinghies in Mediterranean>>

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With president-elect likely to be either maximalist pro-Israel or isolationist, the question is whether stagnant process can survive

A placard proclaimes ‘Trump Make Israel Great Again’ in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A pro-Trump billboard in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

As Donald Trump continues to ponder his choice for secretary of state, and other key foreign policy positions, one thing seems clear: the impact on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians is likely to be serious and retrograde.

The question now is whether the moribund process, which has weathered presidents both Republican and Democrat since it was sealed in 1993 with the aim of securing a two-state solution, can survive the Trump era at all.

The signs are not encouraging. Israel’s far right has greeted Trump’s success with ecstasy, hailing his promises to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital and move the US embassy to the city, as well as suggestions from his team he would not stand in the way of Israeli settlement construction.

The frontrunners for the secretary of state nomination – Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton – have both been vocal opponents of the idea of a Palestinian state.

Trump’s own pronouncements have swerved wildly between suggesting he would be “neutral” on the question, promising to be Israel’s “best friend”, and even suggesting he could secure the best peace deal ever.

Meanwhile his advisers have fuelled a sense of deep confusion by making a series of highly contradictory statements.

What is clear, for all the muddle, is that the centre of gravity in US thinking is lurching from the two-state solution as it has been understood by US politicians and diplomats for more than 20 years seemingly towards one of two extremes: a maximalist pro-Israel administration or, equally risky, a minimalist and disconnected isolationist position.

The dangers of the latter approach were summed up most tellingly in a leaked paper drawn up by two officials at Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs.

They paint a picture of Trump’s possible Middle East policy as incoherent, unsettled, and transactional.

“The diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians will not be a top priority for the Trump administration and it’s reasonable to assume this topic will also be influenced by the staff surrounding him and developments in the field,” they wrote last week. “Trump’s declarations do not necessarily point to a coherent policy on this issue.

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For many Muslim Americans, threats of violence and discriminatory policies under Trump’s administration signals a need for increased political engagement

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Eeman Abbasi speaks during a protest on the University of Connecticut campus against the election of Donald Trump. Photograph: Pat Eaton-Robb/AP

Fariha Nizam was sleepy and stressed last Thursday morning when she boarded the Q43 bus, which cuts through the affluent Queens neighborhood where Donald Trump was raised.

As a Muslim, she was concerned about the newly minted president-elect and his campaign promises that targeted Muslims, immigrants and women. But it wasn’t until an older white couple began yelling at her, 10 minutes into her weekly commute to her internship, that the reality of Trump’s America set in.

“Most of what they were saying was telling me I can’t wear it [the hijab] anymore and telling me to take it off,” Nizam, a Bengali American, told the Guardian.

The 19-year-old student had heard some Islamophobic comments before, but hadn’t experienced such aggressive harassment in New York City, where she, like Trump, was born and raised. But the stream of verbal abuse forced her to confront a reality she had been trying to avoid – that Trump had actually won.

“I didn’t believe it until the moment this incident occurred,” she said of Trump’s electoral victory. “I don’t think I absorbed it and felt the reality of it, I didn’t. I kept myself distracted all of Wednesday and then Thursday happened and then it hits me, this is actually what’s going on and it was not OK.”

They were telling me I can’t wear [the hijab] anymore

Fariha Nizam on her harassers

Nizam is one of several Muslims around the country who have spoken to the Guardian about life since Trump’s victory. The billionaire businessman won the keys to the White House following an incendiary campaign where he proposed a ban on Muslims, said Muslims “hate” Americans and promised a Muslim registry. Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, reportedly a key member of Trump’s transition team, said on Tuesday that the president-elect’s advisers are already considering the Muslim registry.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the amount of hate crimes reported since election night have been unusually high – as of Tuesday, the civil rights organization had tallied 437 incidents nationwide.

In Dearborn, Michigan, where a third of residents are of Arab descent, residents voice alarm at the election’s results – but say they are ‘not giving up the fight’

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Joumana Ahmed: ‘I’m moving to Canada.’ Photograph: Ryan Felton for the Guardian

For the city of Dearborn, Michigan, where one-third of the city’s 96,000 residents are of Arab descent, the presidency of Donald Trump is almost certain to be volatile and unpredictable.

Just after 2.40am on Wednesday, when the election was called for the Republican nominee, Muzammil Ahmed, the chairman of the Michigan Muslim Community Council who attended an election watch party in Dearborn Tuesday night, tried to reach for a silver lining.

“Our country has made a choice of a very flawed and unpredictable candidate,” Ahmed told the Guardian. “Although I’m deeply worried about our future, our country is not giving up the fight.”

Zaynab Salman, a high school teacher in the city of Canton, said the election had been a “clear manifestation” of a divided US.

“I pray for our community to heal in the manner it needs to heal,” Salman said. “This has been and will continue to be traumatic.”

Earlier, as midnight approached in the Detroit suburb, organizers of an election watch party at the Arab American Museum asked Suhaib Hashem to read a prayer aloud from the Qur’an. When the results showed a victory was close for Trump, the aspiring engineering college student said the gesture was needed, given the circumstances.

“To be honest, it was really pushed on me,” Hashem, 20, said, but sometimes “you have to do these things in tumultuous times”.

Inside the annex of the Dearborn museum, where several dozen members of the local Arab American community gathered to watch results trickle in Tuesday, a sweeping mural hanging on the wall highlights a facet of the 2016 presidential race that has been front and center for many in the Detroit suburb.

The mural, titled Journeys & Distances, is aimed at addressing the whirlwind experience of immigrants – from relocating to a new country to leaving behind a place they’ve long called home.

The piece is striking against the backdrop of an election that has brought anti-immigrant rhetoric to the forefront of the presidential campaign – particularly for Dearborn.

Early in the night, the mood inside the museum was giddy, with young teens bouncing about the room while nearly 150 local residents piled in for the festivities. But as reality set in, the room started to empty out, and when the race was called in the early hours of Wednesday, it was scarcely filled.

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With president-elect likely to be either maximalist pro-Israel or isolationist, the question is whether stagnant process can survive

A placard proclaimes ‘Trump Make Israel Great Again’ in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A pro-Trump billboard in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

As Donald Trump continues to ponder his choice for secretary of state, and other key foreign policy positions, one thing seems clear: the impact on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians is likely to be serious and retrograde.

The question now is whether the moribund process, which has weathered presidents both Republican and Democrat since it was sealed in 1993 with the aim of securing a two-state solution, can survive the Trump era at all.

The signs are not encouraging. Israel’s far right has greeted Trump’s success with ecstasy, hailing his promises to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital and move the US embassy to the city, as well as suggestions from his team he would not stand in the way of Israeli settlement construction.

The frontrunners for the secretary of state nomination – Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton – have both been vocal opponents of the idea of a Palestinian state.

Trump’s own pronouncements have swerved wildly between suggesting he would be “neutral” on the question, promising to be Israel’s “best friend”, and even suggesting he could secure the best peace deal ever.

Meanwhile his advisers have fuelled a sense of deep confusion by making a series of highly contradictory statements.

What is clear, for all the muddle, is that the centre of gravity in US thinking is lurching from the two-state solution as it has been understood by US politicians and diplomats for more than 20 years seemingly towards one of two extremes: a maximalist pro-Israel administration or, equally risky, a minimalist and disconnected isolationist position.

The dangers of the latter approach were summed up most tellingly in a leaked paper drawn up by two officials at Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs.

They paint a picture of Trump’s possible Middle East policy as incoherent, unsettled, and transactional.

“The diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians will not be a top priority for the Trump administration and it’s reasonable to assume this topic will also be influenced by the staff surrounding him and developments in the field,” they wrote last week. “Trump’s declarations do not necessarily point to a coherent policy on this issue.

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Trump’s plans to roll back environmental protections seem worse than many feared

American students protest outside the UN climate talks during the COP22 international climate conference in Marrakesh in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

American students protest outside the UN climate talks during the COP22 international climate conference in Marrakesh in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Come on, you can admit it. I admit it. I admit that after Trump’s election victory, I secretly hoped and even though that his rhetoric was worse than its bite. He only said those crazy things during the campaign to get elected. He wouldn’t really follow through on his plans to completely gut the US commitment to keeping the Earth habitable. Oh how naive we were. Trump’s plan to fill positions in his administration shows things are worse than we could have ever feared.

According to recent reports, Trump has picked long-time climate denier and spokesperson for the fossil fuel industry Myron Ebell to head the Environmental Protection Agency transition. This basically means the EPA will either cease to function or cease to exist. It also appears that the US will pull out of any agreements to limit greenhouse emissions.

It means we have missed our last off-ramp on the road to catastrophic climate change. That may sound hyperbolic, but I study the rate that climate change is happening – the amount of heat accumulating in the Earth’s system. We didn’t have any time to waste in implementing Obama’s aggressive plans, and Trump will result in a decade of time lost.

So who is Myron Ebell? He is a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition. Where did he get his PhD in science? Nowhere. In fact, he isn’t a scientist at all, but he does have a degree in economics. Yeah!

Is there any conflict that Ebell’s Competitive Enterprise Institute is funded by companies such as ExxonMobil and groups such as the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation? Surely not.

Myron Ebell is not new to obstructing action on climate change. Years ago, it was reported that he favored editing Bush-era scientists’ reports on climate change.

It isn’t just Ebell. Trump has other insiders, some of who represent fossil fuel companies, working on the transition.

What this selection also tells us about Trump is that he is surrounding himself with people who are not knowledgeable in a topic and will not effectively educate him. Not that educating Trump was ever possible. But there was always the outside chance he would take his contrarian streak to a new level and be contrarian to the contrarians. We now see that is not going to happen. If Trump listens to anyone, it will be people who think like he does and represent special interests who would be most affected by his policies. We have a fox guarding the hen house.

I know Trump won’t listen, but I have a wager for him. I could randomly pull an Earth scientist’s name out of a hat and any name I pulled would be better than Myron Ebell. I challenge Trump and his administration to actually include real scientists in forming legislation and action on environmental issues. And I am not talking about scientists that are connected to rightwing thinktank groups. I am talking about independent unaffiliated scientists. Cripes, just go down to the neighborhood university, pick anyone – they will be better than what you have now.

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US politics >>

In first public appearance after Trump victory, Hillary Clinton says America is worth fighting for, as Bernie Sanders calls for Democrats to leave center ground

and in Washington

Hillary Clinton makes her first public appearance since conceding the election to Donald Trump, challenging supporters to continue the fight for a country that is ‘hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted’. Speaking at an event for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington DC on Wednesday, Clinton admits the difficulty of her loss for her supporters

Hillary Clinton has made her first public appearance since conceding the election to Donald Trump a week ago, challenging supporters to continue the fight for a country that is “hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted”.

“I will admit coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me,” Clinton told the audience in Washington DC. “There have been a few times this past week when all I’ve wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house ever again.”

Clinton was scheduled to appear at the event – a gala for the Children’s Defense Fund, where she began her career more than four decades ago – before her stunning defeat. The organization’s founder, Marian Wright Edelman, a longtime friend, introduced Clinton to the predominantly female audience as “the people’s president”, noting that she was leading the popular vote by more than 1 million votes.

“I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was,” Clinton said. “The divisions laid bare by this election run deep. But, please, listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country and fight for our values and never, ever give up.

“The words of Dr King, often repeated by President Obama: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’ I know sometimes it can feel awfully long – believe me, I know. But I also know it does bend.”

Clinton chose to honor the commitment to address the gala, an aide said, describing the event as a “homecoming”. In 1969, as a first-year law student, Clinton heard Edelman speak at Yale University and approached her to inquire about an internship. Edelman said the organization had no money to hire her, but if she could find a way, she was welcome.

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Why did women vote for Trump? Because misogyny is not a male-only attribute>>

Trump appears close to decisions on key cabinet posts>>

Muslims in America Realities of Islamophobic presidency sink in>>

As a Muslim, how do I tell my child the new president doesn’t like us?>>

Opinion: Why did women vote for Trump? Because misogyny is not a male-only attribute>>

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Opinion

The president-elect is surrounded with fossil fuel industry insiders, making a roll-back of climate change regulations likely. We can’t let this stand

Demonstration in LA against election of Donald Trumpepa05628930 Thousands of demonstrators march in reaction to the election of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, in Los Angeles, California, USA, 12 November 2016. EPA/MIKE NELSON

‘US election results don’t change the science or the reality of climate change.’ Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA

Annie Leonard is the executive director of Greenpeace USA

Since election day, the public rejection of Donald Trump and his politics has been vast. Now, as the reality of his impending presidency settles in, those of us who reject the racist, misogynist, anti-environmentalist agenda he promises to usher in are left with one, glaring course of action: we have to organize and mobilize.

When it comes to climate change, Trump wants to slash EPA funding, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, stop funding clean energy research and expand fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, including doubling down on coal. He is surrounding himself with fossil fuel industry insiders, like Myron Ebell and Harold Hamm, who want to roll back the hard-won gains made under the Obama Administration.

But US election results don’t change the science or the reality of climate change. So here’s how we need to work together to minimize the potential climate impacts of a Trump presidency.

First, Barack Obama is still in office, and there is still time to make progress for people and the planet. He could begin by suspending the permits for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and ordering a full Environmental Impact Study with comprehensive tribal consultation. Stopping the pipeline is an unprecedented rallying point for indigenous people across the country, who are calling on the US government to observe its own treaties and the rights and sovereignty of native communities.

But it would also eliminate a transport option for fracked oil from the Bakken shale, which the world simply does not need. Oil markets already have plenty of supply, the oil would greatly contribute to climate change when we know we need to be transitioning to a renewables-based economy, and the only people who would benefit work in the fossil fuel industry. You can call on the president to act quickly by joining the millions who have signed a petition, coming out to one of these solidarity events on 15 November or, if you can find the time or resources, donating to or even joining the water protectors at Standing Rock.

Second, we need to build more local democratic power for the climate movement. States and even municipalities can have a lot of sway over the direction America goes. For instance, a ballot initiative that won in Colorado on election day, sponsored by the oil and gas industry and funded by millions of its dollars, enacted a statewide policy that will drastically limit citizens’ power to democratically regulate or ban fracking in their towns.

Americans concerned with protecting themselves and future generations from the worst effects of climate change must push back against these efforts, drafting, campaigning for and organizing around legislation and local lawmakers who will stand up to the oil and gas industry. And we must actively oppose those who don’t.

In the aftermath of the election, local movement power in our communities is going to be critical. Volunteer, start initiatives, find meetings and get to know organizers and activists near you. Find reasons to interact face to face with allies. Check in with neighbors and friends, ask how they are doing and how you can support them. Or make a donation to an organization you care about.

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