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28 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

Kindergarten child abuse incenses Chinese public

By Kou Jie (People’s Daily Online)

[File photo]

The boy’s suffering has incensed Chinese netizens. The hashtag “AbusingBoyForFunInKindergarten” has garnered over 3.2 million page views on Sina Weibo as of press time, with many criticizing the teachers for their “inhuman mistreatment of a child.”

“Schools in China have become hotbeds of child abuse. Every time such an incident occurs, authorities simply order inspections of schools, which in my opinion is a palliative method that cannot solve the problem. More laws should be made to protect children at school, while higher standards should be set for those who want to become kindergarten teachers,” one netizen wrote.

Child abuse has become a major social problem in China. Although there are no reliable statistics on the frequency of child abuse in Chinese schools, the rising number of reports across state and social media demonstrate a growing awareness of the issue.

According to the ninth amendment of China’s Criminal Law, released in 2015, if a guardian or person with a professional duty to care for juveniles abuses a child in his or her care, he or she will be sentenced to imprisonment of up to three years, or in some cases short-term detention.

Though the law has made progress in child protection, the public still takes a dim view of its implementation, as prosecutors must prove that physical harm has been done, which means that abusive acts causing no lasting or visible damage may go unpunished.

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US politics >>

Donald Trump

Donald Trump quoted Hillary Clinton on Twitter on Sunday, to back his dismissal of recount efforts by Green party candidate Jill Stein. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Donald Trump has continued his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s support for election recounts in three states, claiming he won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”.

The president-elect, who offered no evidence for his claims, earlier called the recount effort a “scam”, while senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called Green party candidate Jill Stein and Clinton “a bunch of crybabies and sore losers”.

Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, wrote on Saturday that the campaign would support Stein’s effort in Wisconsin, where a recount will take place. Stein is also pushing for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan and has raised more than $6m online to fund such efforts.

The decision put the Clinton camp at odds with the Obama White House, which has expressed confidence in election results.

On Saturday, Trump attacked Stein, using Twitter to say: “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated [and] demoralized Dems.”

On Sunday morning, the president-elect fired off a volley of tweets, starting: “Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change.”

The president-elect then drew attention to a debate remark by Clinton after Trump refused to commit to accepting the election result, quoting her as saying: “That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works.

Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, wrote on Saturday that the campaign would support Stein’s effort in Wisconsin, where a recount will take place. Stein is also pushing for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan and has raised more than $6m online to fund such efforts.

The decision put the Clinton camp at odds with the Obama White House, which has expressed confidence in election results.

On Saturday, Trump attacked Stein, using Twitter to say: “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated [and] demoralized Dems.”

On Sunday morning, the president-elect fired off a volley of tweets, starting: “Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change.”

The president-elect then drew attention to a debate remark by Clinton after Trump refused to commit to accepting the election result, quoting her as saying: “That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works.

“Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a during a general election.

“I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.”

Trump was due back in New York on Sunday after spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where one report said he had been asking visitors who should be his secretary of state.

In the afternoon, around the time of his scheduled departure for Manhattan, he used Twitter to say: “In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

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Conway warns of ‘backlash’ if Trump makes Romney secretary of state>>

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Hunger follows displaced people around north-east Nigeria, as Boko Haram and climate change drive millions from their homes

Women and children queue outside a Unicef nutrition clinic in a makeshift settlement in Muna, Maiduguri

Women and children queue outside a Unicef nutrition clinic in a makeshift settlement in Muna, Maiduguri, which is home to thousands of IDPs. Photograph: Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty

As Ali Kawu eases his handcart to a halt on a recent morning in north-east Nigeria, it is the first time he has dared to stop walking in more than 24 hours.

A day earlier, at 8am, Boko Haram militants raided his village. Kawu, 25, escaped with what he could – his wife, their three children, and kindling for a fire. They left behind their papers, six sacks of beans, up to 15 dead neighbours, and 10 kidnapped villagers. Then they walked all day and all night.

“Every minute I would look back to see if they were following us,” Kawu says, shortly after reaching the safety of Monguno, a town recaptured from Boko Haram last year. “Walking forward, looking back, walking forward, looking back. I thought it was the end of my life.”

But safety doesn’t mean comfort. Kawu is just the latest of approximately 140,000 displaced people sheltering in this remote town of 60,000 people. North-east Nigeria has been hit by a displacement crisis that dwarfs any migration flows seen in Europe in recent years.

Since the Boko Haram insurgency began, more people have migrated to Monguno alone than left all of north Africa for Europe in the first nine months of this year.

One upshot is a food crisis that the UN warns might see hundreds of thousands die from famine next year.

About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes – 2.6 million – than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.

The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe, according to UN data supplied privately to the Guardian.

“No matter how many problems Europeans have, it’s nothing like this,” summarises Modu Amsami, the informal leader of Monguno’s nine camps for internally displaced people (IDP), as he strolls past Kawu’s newly erected hut. “Please, I’m appealing to Europeans to forget their minor problems. Let them come here and face our major problems.”

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Years of Boko Haram insurgency have left large swaths of farmland inaccessible and many roads unnavigable by aid convoys

Women and children wait for food at a refugee camp in Borno state, north-east Nigeria.

Women and children wait for food at a refugee camp in Borno state. Photograph: AFP/Getty

More than 120,000 people, most of them children, are at risk of starving to death next year in areas of Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, the United Nations is warning.

Intense fighting in parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon has left more than 2 million people displaced, farmers unable to harvest their crops and aid groups unable to reach isolated communities. One small state in Nigeria has more displaced people than the entire refugee influx that arrived in Europe last year.

A Guardian correspondent saw dozens of skeletal babies at a makeshift camp in the regional centre Maiduguri. Many had plastic nodules stuck to their skull, to allow the nurses to attach them to a drip. Many children are so thin their scalp is the only place where a visible vein can be found.

And yet despite these appalling scenes, Maiduguri is among the best served places in a region the size of Belgium. Much of the area is still insecure because of the war with Boko Haram, and countless thousands have not made it to population centres where some degree of care is available.

Orla Fagan, a Nigeria-based spokesperson for UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), said: “You’re looking at over 120,000 deaths next year if you can’t get aid to them – and they’re mostly children. If we can’t reach people with food and nutritional assistance there will be deaths.”

Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, said following a recent trip that the entire region was “teetering on the brink”.

“We know in areas that we can get to that there are severe and acute malnutrition rates,” Watkins said. But beyond that, he said, “there are pockets that are probably far worse than the areas that we are dealing with. And the estimates are that there are probably 400,000 children who are in a condition of very severe malnutrition.”

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Beata Szydlo’s proposals for new civil society department could let ministers put pressure on NGOs critical of government

Beata Szyd?o

Beata Szydlo has been accused of failing to respond to rising levels of hate crime in Poland. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

The Polish prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has angered human rights campaigners by announcing plans for a new department of civil society to centralise state funding and “bring order to the whole sphere of NGOs”.

Too many non-governmental organisations were still “subordinate to the policies of the previous ruling system”, Szydlo told reporters last week. She and other senior Polish ministers from the right wing Law and Justice party were due in London on Monday for talks with the British government.

The move could allow the Polish government to put pressure on NGOs who have criticised ministers over human rights issues.

Activists accused ministers of grandstanding over attacks on Poles in Britain after the 23 June referendum to leave the European Union, while sabotaging efforts to respond to rising levels of hate crime at home.

“Public money is the main source of money for many NGOs, so it is easy for the government to realise its aims by putting financial pressure on them,” said Dorota Pudzianowska, of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

Krzysztof Smiszek, of the Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law, said: “The previous government neglected us, but this one is openly hostile to the human rights agenda.”

Law and Justice has been accused of turning accepted notions of human rights upside down by portraying advocates of minority rights and anti-discrimination legislation as a threat to the rights and freedoms of Poland’s Catholic majority.

“Christianity is our culture, our civilisation, our basic values,” said the interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, after the terrorist attack in Nice in July, describing the atrocity as the “consequence of multicultural politics and political correctness”.

Wojciech Kaczmarczyk, appointed in January as government plenipotentiary for civil society and equal rights, has argued that the government has “had enough of militant atheists and enthusiasts of sexual revolution appropriating the principle of equality”.

Earlier this month, Poland’s interior ministry merged its human rights protection team, which worked with NGOs on hate crime and human rights issues, into a larger department dealing with European migration and anti-trafficking efforts.

In a statement, the interior ministry insisted the team’s staff would carry on with the same work as before, but a source close to the ministry told the Guardian it was “a clear attempt to weaken its role by removing its autonomy”.

In May, the Polish government abolished the state council for combating racism despite a steep rise in the number of investigations launched by prosecutors into allegations of discrimination and hate crime; up from 60 in 2009 to 1,500 in 2015. Law and Justice argued that the council had been ineffective, but did not propose any alternative arrangements.

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Man who was centre of custody battle with US waged by Castro in 1999 says leader’s legacy will long outlive him

Fidel Castro with Elián González

Late Cuban President Fidel Castro with Elián González in 2005. González, the centre of an international custody battle in 1999, praised the leader who fought to return him to Cuba. Photograph: Randy Rodriguez/EPA

Elián González, who was at the centre of an international custody battle waged by Fidel Castro nearly two decades ago, returned to the public eye on Sunday to praise the leader who fought to return him to Cuba.

Echoing the round-the-clock adulation on state media, González said on government-run television that the Cuban leader’s legacy would long outlive him. It’s “not right to talk about Fidel in the past tense … but rather that Fidel will be,” González said. “Today more than ever, make him omnipresent.”

González was five in 1999 when he, his mother and others attempted a sea crossing between Cuba and the US. His mother died on the voyage but he survived and was taken to Florida. A bitter dispute broke out between his relatives in the US, who wanted him to stay there, and his father back home.

Castro, who died Friday night at 90, made the issue a national cause celebre and led huge demonstrations demanding Elián be returned to his father. US authorities eventually sent him back.

“Fidel was a friend who at a difficult moment was with my family, with my father, and made it possible for me to return to my father, to return to Cuba,” González said.

He spoke as workers spruced up the Cuban capital’s sprawling Revolution Plaza in preparation for two days of tributes.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to visit to pay their respects starting Monday in the shadow of Havana’s towering monument to the independence hero José Martí and a huge sculpture of the revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

A mass public ceremony is planned at the square on Tuesday. “It is a great sorrow. Everyone is feeling it,” said Orlando Alvarez, a jeweller who was fishing on the seaside Malecon boulevard in the morning. “Everyone will be there.”

Cuba’s government declared nine days of national mourning after Castro died and this normally vibrant city has been notably subdued. On Saturday night, the Malecon, Havana’s social centre, was all but deserted, with dozens of people instead of the thousands who normally go to party there on weekends.

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