23 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


US politics >>

Hillary Clinton urged to call for election vote recount in battleground states>>

Trump booed as he leaves the New York Times office – video>>

‘She went through a lot’ Trump drops repeated threat to jail Clinton>>

Dumping the TPP Conservatives rue strategic fillip to China>>

‘Politicized science’ Trump to scrap Nasa climate research>>

Trump’s tax plan Massive cuts for the 1% will usher ‘era of dynastic wealth’>>

‘Civilisation will collapse’ Dismay of ‘alt-right’ at disavowal by Trump >>


Pope urges action against trafficking and labour abuses in fishing industry

Marking World Fisheries Day, pope calls on international community to break ‘chain of exploitation’ of vulnerable workers

Myanmarese fishermen raise their hands as they are asked who among them wants to go home, at a port in Indonesia, April 2015.

Myanmarese fishermen raise their hands as they are asked who among them wants to go home, at a port in Indonesia, April 2015. Photograph: Dita Alangkara/AP

Pope Francis has condemned trafficking and forced labour in the fisheries industry, calling for an intensive international push to halt human rights abuses in the sector.

At an event co-organised by the Vatican and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), on Monday, the Vatican secretary of state urged action from the international community and governments to prevent the “chain of exploitation” of vulnerable individuals.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin presented a new message from the Holy See, in which the Pope described human trafficking as a “crime against humanity”.

The message, released for World Fisheries Day, highlighted the “exploitation and abuses” of fishermen and condemned “the tragic reality that, within the fishing industry, there are hundreds of thousands of internal/transnational migrants who are smuggled/trafficked for forced labour on board of fishing vessels”.

More than 38 million people work in the capture fisheries industry around the world, recognised as one of the most dangerous types of employment.

In a speech in Rome, Parolin said action was needed across three broad fronts: providing aid to exploited fishermen to facilitate their reintegration; ensuring compliance with existing international rules on fishing; and fighting against trafficking and smuggling to impose the rule of law and human rights standards.

“Only by working together and coordinating our efforts will we be able to break the chain of exploitation that affects the fishing industry in many countries,” he said.

José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the FAO, said that although fishing provides food and income for millions of people, “sadly, the same industry that offers so many opportunities also victimises the most vulnerable”.

Graziano da Silva said: “We have seen increasing media attention focusing on human abuses in the sector, in both developed and developing countries. These include instances of labour abuse, forced labour, trafficking, child labour and slavery. FAO and the Holy See are calling for collaboration between all partners to work together in order to end human rights abuses along the entire fisheries value chain.

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The presidential medal of freedom awards ceremony 2016 – in pictures

Outgoing US president Barack Obama admits to getting ‘kinda choked up’ while presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ellen DeGeneres. ‘It’s easy to forget now just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages 20 years ago.’ Other recipients included Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross

medals on table

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Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding as the president-elect seeks to shift focus away from home in favor of deep space exploration

A Nasa Earth photo shows the Bruckner and Heim glaciers where they flow into the Johan Petersen fjord in southeastern Greenland.

A Nasa Earth photo shows the Bruckner and Heim glaciers where they flow into the Johan Petersen fjord in southeastern Greenland. Photograph: Jeremy Harbeck/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2bn next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8bn in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.

“We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.

“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

Trump has previously said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, although on Tuesday he said there is “some connectivity” between human actions and the climate. There is overwhelming and long-established evidence that burning fossil fuels and deforestation causes the release of heat-trapping gases, therefore causing the warming experienced in recent decades.

Walker, however, claimed that doubt over the role of human activity in climate change “is a view shared by half the climatologists in the world. We need good science to tell us what the reality is and science could do that if politicians didn’t interfere with it.”

It could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ … Space research is a luxury, Earth observations are essential

Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research

It’s understood that federal government scientists have been unnerved by Trump’s dismissal of climate science and are concerned that their work will be sidelined as part of a new pro-fossil fuels and deregulation agenda. Climate scientists at other organizations expressed dismay at the potential gutting of Earth-based research.

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The way opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline have been treated by police is likely to be replicated on a massive scale under Donald Trump

Police confront protesters near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, 20 November, 2016.

Police confront protesters near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota on 20 November. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Horrific scenes have been coming out of North Dakota these last several days, where the battle is ongoing to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. On Sunday night, police turned tear gas and rubber bullets on hundreds of unarmed “water protectors”, as those taking on the pipeline prefer to be called. They deployed water cannons as well, in temperatures well below freezing. More than 160 people were injured, and many sent to the hospital. As a result of the standoff, a young woman could lose her arm.

For those with a passing knowledge of the kind of tactics faced by America’s civil rights movement, the above might sound like blast from our more brutal past. As Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House, it should also sound like our possible future.

Every signal we have from the president-elect points to an administration defined by three core tenets: white supremacy, unprecedented corporate influence and an uptick in state violence. Aside from climate catastrophe, the result could be a disturbing and dystopian new normal, where episodes like the one unfolding in Standing Rock become all too common.

The signs aren’t hard to spot. Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon will be chief strategist. Jeff Sessions could be attorney general, with a resume that includes a battle against the 14th amendment and joking about the Ku Klux Klan. Beating up protesters was a regular fixture of Trump rallies, and one surrogate recently referenced internment camps as a precedent for how the Trump administration might deal with Muslim Americans.

As with Trump’s fledgling regime, the notion that certain lives don’t matter is also at the core of the Dakota Access pipeline. At one point slated to run just north of Bismarck, Energy Transfer Partners rerouted the project away from the overwhelmingly white city due to concerns about the threat it might pose to water supplies there. Of course we can’t know exactly what ETP’s motivations were in this case, but other fossil fuel companies have a long history of treating indigenous and poor communities – overwhelming black and brown neighborhoods – as sacrificial zones, where they can hide their toxic externalities and keep profits flowing in at full speed.

Trump hopes to streamline that process, and has invested heavily in two of the companies behind the pipeline, Phillips 66 and ETP. Company CEO Kelcy Warren gave more than $100,000 to the president elect through the campaign. (Warren has since relayed that he was “very enthusiastic about what’s going to happen with our country”.) Fossil fuel executives could reign over the Department of Energy. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was floated as an option to run the Treasury. The US Chamber of Commerce is feeling optimistic, and so is Bloomberg Businessweek, whose cover this week invited readers to “Cheer up! Business is going to be great.”

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