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08 Sep

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

View All>>

World War II Anniversary Is Armed Conflict Possible in Today’s Europe?

Europe has been largely peaceful since the end of World War II. The shock of that conflict was simply too great. But with memories of the violence now fading and nationalism on the rise, it is far from certain that peace will remain the status quo.

Family members seek to identify their fallen relatives in Crimea in 1942.

Dmitri Baltermants

Family members seek to identify their fallen relatives in Crimea in 1942.

“The war changed everything.” This statement by the late British historian Tony Judt contains the kernel of modern-day Europe. It was the war that made possible an extended period of peace. Things had to get extremely bad before they could get good again. For the last 75 years, there has been peace on the Continent, with just a few exceptions.

Now, this Europe finds itself in crisis. It is no longer the Europe where national thinking is slowly dwindling. It is no longer the Europe that is growing together step by step. It is no longer the Europe in which all countries seem to be committed to democracy forever. The direction of European history would seem to have changed – shifting away from convergence and back to delineation.

What does that mean for the most important of all questions, the question of war or peace? At the moment, it doesn’t look at all as though the long period of peace is going to come to an end. There is no reason for alarm. But if the direction of European history is changing, we should take a close look at what that could mean. Not in the immediate future, but in the long term. History is a snail that persistently crawls along its path.

Exactly 80 years ago, the war that changed everything began — on Sept. 1, 1939, with Adolf Hitler’s Germany invading neighboring Poland. Almost six years later, more than 60 million people around the world were dead as a result of the violence, huge portions of the Continent were destroyed, millions of Europeans had been forced from their homes and millions more were plunged into poverty. A state of shock reigned.

It was the moment at which the direction of history shifted, moving in the right direction at the time. Europe managed to break through the inevitability that old rivalries necessarily ended in war.

The primary reason was shock. A total war of this size had never been seen before. At the Congress of Vienna from 1814 to 1815, the great powers had sought to confine their wars, restricting them to specific regions and limiting them to the killing of soldiers. And in ensuing conflicts, the number of civilian victims remained relatively low and cities were largely spared. That was the case, for example, in the three wars that led to the first German unification — against Denmark, against Austria-Hungary and, to a large extent, against France. At that point, Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck sought to establish a balance of power among the great powers, but the direction of history changed when he was forced out in 1890. The countries began focusing more on rivalry and a large war became just a matter of time.

A Great Shock

It arrived in 1914 and resulted in 15 million deaths. But the fighting was largely limited to the frontlines, where the destruction was complete — primarily in eastern France and in Belgium. The civilian population suffered from shortages and hunger, but most cities remained intact. Once the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Germany looked largely the same as it did before the war.

The shock wasn’t big enough. Just 21 years after the end of World War I, World War II broke out — and all restraint was abandoned. It ended when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. The shock could hardly have been greater.

Postwar politicians in Western Europe drew the correct conclusions: The national rivalries that had triggered the two world wars had to be eliminated. Germany’s neighbors believed the country that had brought forth Nazism needed to be tamed, needed to be integrated because nationalism there had proved to be particularly virulent. That was met with a West German mood that was a combination of resignation, intimidation and shame at having caused the war and carried out the Holocaust.

The result was that Western Europe could slowly grow together. To ensure peace, Eastern Europe was left to the Soviet Union and the Soviets imposed a brutal system of socialist dictatorship. The Cold War broke out, a systemic rivalry pitting the United States against the Soviet Union, together with their allies. But the shock of World War II and the fear of nuclear escalation guaranteed peace on the Continent, a peace that has endured until today.

European soldiers, to be sure, were sent into battle. France fought to maintain its colonies in Algeria and Vietnam, Britain fought Argentina over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Both countries joined the U.S. in a number of wars, as did the Italians, Spanish and Germans, particularly in Afghanistan.

Nothing with Comparable Urgency

The shock wasn’t enough to eliminate war entirely, but it did help limit the violence to regional conflicts. Pacifist elements in society that insist the soldiers be brought home have also played a role, though more so in Germany than in the U.S. Until World War II, the populace tended to be more euphoric when it came to waging war……………

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Erwin Kräutler says he expects next month’s papal synod to denounce destruction of rainforest

A firefighter looks at the destruction caused by a fire in the municipality of Sorriso, Mato Grosso state

A firefighter looks at the destruction caused by a fire in the municipality of Sorriso, Mato Grosso state. Photograph: Mayke Toscano/AFP/Getty Images

The fires in the Amazon are a “true apocalypse”, according to a Brazilian archbishop who expects next month’s papal synod at the Vatican to strongly denounce the destruction of the rainforest.

The comments by Erwin Kräutler will put fresh pressure on the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, following criticism from G7 leaders last month over the surge of deforestation in the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink.

The archbishop’s words also highlight a widening division between the Catholic church and the Pentecostal movement. Pope Francis has championed a more harmonious relationship with the natural world for the sake of future generations, in contrast to the fast-growing new-world Pentecostalists who form the support base for the ramped-up resource exploitation advocated by Bolsonaro and Donald Trump.

The gathering of bishops would condemn all forms of Amazon destruction and advocate a new view of ecology based on Christian faith in God as the creator of a “common home”, Kräutler said in an email exchange with the Guardian. Although retired as a bishop of Xingu, he is one of 18 members of the preparatory council appointed by Francis ahead of next month’s papal synod on the Amazon.

Following the meeting, Francis is expected to reinforce this message with an “apostolic exhortation”. It is likely to build on his influential 180-page encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, published four years ago, which called for concrete steps to tackle the environmental crisis.

Preparations for an Amazon synod have been under way since 2016, but the issue has become more urgent in recent months due to fires, threats and a hostile government, Kräutler said.

“There have always been fires in the Amazon. When they are smaller, nature rebuilds itself within a few years. But what you are seeing now is a true apocalypse,” said the archbishop, who has spent 54 years in the region.

“The fires this year surpass anything you can imagine. Undoubtedly, it is the consequence of comments by [Bolsonaro] about the opening of the Amazon to national and multinational companies. He understands ‘opening the Amazon’ as a licence to clear a rainforest and gain space for cattle to graze and plant monocultures such as soybeans and sugar cane.”

Earlier this week, Catholic clergy in the Amazon released an open letter condemning violence and intimidation they say they are experiencing as a result of efforts to protect the forest, indigenous people and poor communities from miners and farmers.

“We are deeply disappointed that today, instead of being supported and encouraged, our leaders are criminalised as enemies of the fatherland,” they wrote.

“Together with Pope Francis, we are uncompromisingly defending the Amazon and demanding urgent measures from governments in the face of violent and irrational aggression against nature and the destruction of the forest that kills ancient flora and fauna with criminal fires.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has championed a more harmonious relationship with the natural world. Photograph: Grant Neuenburg/Reuters

Kräutler said the letter was necessary because the government had spread false rumours that the Catholic church was undermining Brazilian sovereignty.

Priests and nuns have a long history of working with poor communities in the Amazon, which has often put them at odds with powerful business interests and the authorities. During the 1970s, the Liberation theology movement was closely aligned with leftwing resistance to the military dictatorship of the time.

In 2005, the America nun Dorothy Stang was murdered by landowners. One of her followers, Father Amaro Lopes, was arrested last year in the Xingu River basin. Kräutler had so many death threats he needed police protection for more than 10 years.

Tensions have risen further since Bolsonaro – a former military officer who has defended the use of torture and killings during the 20-year dictatorship that ended in 1985 – became president.

He has weakened government protections of the rainforest, verbally attacked indigenous groups, accused environmental NGOs of starting fires and broken ties with foreign donors to the Amazon Fund. In July – when deforestation alerts jumped by 278% compared with the same month last year – he fired the head of the space agency that provided the data.

On Saturday, Bolsonaro confirmed that he wanted the Brazilian intelligence agency to conduct surveillance on the Amazon synod. “There is a lot of political influence there,” the president reportedly told journalists.

Although nominally a Catholic, Bolsonaro was baptised a few years ago by evangelical pastors in Israel. His rise to power has depended heavily on support from the Pentecostal movement, which is growing far more rapidly than the Catholic church.

World Politics

United States

Retailers such as Walmart have taken a lead and public opinion appears in favour of new curbs but that may still count for little

Texas state troopers keep watch at the makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. The retailer subsequently announced it would stop selling ammunition for assault rifles.

Texas state troopers keep watch at a memorial for victims of the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. The retailer later said it would stop selling assault rifle ammunition. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Congress returns to Washington this week after a summer recess punctured by a string of mass shootings under pressure to confront a uniquely American problem: how to combat the scourge of gun violence?

Though it has been a quarter of a century since Congress passed significant gun control legislation, Democrats and advocacy groups are displaying a fresh sense of resolve as major American retailers heed public calls for action in response to the recent wave of mass shootings.

After weeks of deliberation, Walmart announced it would stop selling ammunition for military-style assault rifles and no longer allow customers to openly carry firearms in their stores. In short order, Kroger, Walgreens, Wegmans and CVS said they too would discourage shoppers from openly carrying guns in their stores.

The response from corporate America followed back-to-back tragedies in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead last month and a shooting in Odessa, Texas, that left seven people dead.

Now, activists say, it’s time for Washington to step up and stop politicians from lagging behind corporate America when it comes to gun reforms.

“When consumer-facing corporations make moves like this, there is no better statement of the shifting opinion of the American public,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Congress needs to pass a strong background check law and a strong red flag law. Anything less and the mood of the country will be ‘See you at the polling booth in 2020.’”

Everytown released new data on Friday indicating overwhelming support for new stricter gun laws. The poll found that 95% of Americans nationwide backed universal background checks and 85% favored the passage of so-called “red flag” laws, which are designed to prohibit individuals from purchasing firearms if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. A 61% majority of Americans blamed gun violence on easy access to firearms.

“This broad public support shouldn’t come as any surprise to lawmakers,” Feinblatt said. “Just look back to November 2018 – if the midterms taught us anything, it’s that suburban voters resoundingly chose pro-gun sense candidates.

“They’re ready to vote out politicians who don’t take action to keep them safe.”

Congressional Democrats hope to create momentum by ramping up pressure on the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, to allow a vote on legislation passed by the House earlier this year that would strengthen and expand background checks.

Protesters call for firearms control and protest against gun violence in the US after a string of high profile massacres across the nation, at a rally in Los Angeles on 17 August 2019.

Protesters call for firearms control and protest against gun violence, at a rally in Los Angeles on 17 August 2019. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

“President Trump and Senate Republicans have failed to act on the issue of gun violence, bowing repeatedly to the NRA and the hard right by choosing inaction or half-measures over real, meaningful legislation,” the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, wrote in a letter to members ahead of their return.

On Tuesday, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will join members of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force at a forum to discuss McConnell’s “inaction on bipartisan House-passed bills to prevent gun violence”. Later next week, the House judiciary committee will prepare a slate of gun control bills to be brought to the floor for a vote.

The committee will consider a suite of measures that would ban high-capacity magazines, establish a federal grant program for states that implement red flag laws, and prohibit firearm sales to people convicted of certain misdemeanor hate crimes.

Meanwhile, the White House is engaged in a conversation with Senators Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, about expanding background checks.

Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, are also working with the White House on legislation that would offer grants to states that pass “red flag” laws.

It is unclear whether Trump supports any of these efforts. The president has repeatedly shifted positions on the issue, at some points expressing support for tightening background checks only to later backtrack and insist current laws are sufficient.

Where Trump lands on the proposals under consideration will determine the success of the latest push for gun reform in Congress. McConnell told the Hugh Hewitt radio show earlier this week that he would only hold votes on measures Trump was prepared to support.

“If the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes,” McConnell said, “I’d be happy to put it on the floor.”

Yet at the congressional level, lawmakers remain intractably divided on how to respond, with Democrats advocating for gun control legislation and Republicans pointing to mental health and violent video games.

This is in stark contrast to the flurry of activity taking place in state legislatures to loosen or tighten gun regulations. In Texas, a day after the state was shaken by its second mass shooting in less than a month, a spate of new laws went into effect loosening restrictions on when and where firearms could be carried.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has said he will only bring gun control legislation to the vote if Donald Trump has indicated he backs it.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has said he will only bring gun control legislation to the vote if Donald Trump has indicated he backs it. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

But there are signs the political battle lines are beginning to shift, even if it remains unlikely that the recent activism will produce a swift response from Congress.

“There is clearly a desire for Congress to do something – anything – to try to make the situation better,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to agree that red flag laws and background checks are among the least difficult of the options on the table.”

On the 2020 campaign trail, Democratic hopefuls are going much further.

They have almost uniformly embraced bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines while some candidates have introduced ambitious proposals such as licensing for gun owners, registration for all guns purchased and a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons.

“Democratic presidential candidates have gone from running away from guns to running on guns,” said Kristin Goss, a Duke University political scientist who has studied gun control activism.

Goss said this reflects the party’s changing electoral coalitions. In the 1990s, when working-class, rural voters were still a key constituency, the party was bitterly divided over the issue and preferred to downplay it.

But now Democrats believe guns could be a defining issue in 2020, as they make gains with suburban voters, especially college-educated women fearful for their children’s safety in school.

“For the first time in more than two decades, we believe that guns could be an issue that matters in a real and positive way for Democrats,” said Matt Bennett, executive vice-president for public affairs at Third Way, a centrist Democratic thinktank.

But Bennett worries Democrats risk alienating voters frustrated with Trump’s presidency if they go too far with measures like licensing and gun buybacks.

“The danger is that we’re moving away from ideas that have near-universal support among voters to ones that have closer to 50% support,” Bennett said. “Congress hasn’t done anything for 25 years, so maybe we should start with something that’s universally popular.”

But many advocates believe the moment for bold reform is now.

“The center has shifted on this issue,” said Igor Volsky, executive director and founder of Guns Down America, which organizes for “a future with fewer guns”. “The approach we’re seeing now reflects the political reality and the political environment that we’re living in.”

Sabrina Siddiqui contributed reporting.

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05 Sep

Opinion The Former Slave Who Sued for Reparations, and Won

Henrietta Wood sued the man who had kidnapped her into slavery for damages and lost wages, offering lessons for today’s debate.

By

Dr. McDaniel is the author of the “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America.”

A 1936 photograph of Brandon Hall in Washington, Miss., where Henrietta Wood was enslaved in the 1850s.

CreditCreditJames Butters/Historic American Buildings Survey, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Cover for Sweet Taste of Liberty

The debate over reparations has re-entered American politics. At congressional hearings, primary debates and across social media many people are talking about what reparations could look like and who might get them.

But the story of Henrietta Wood, a formerly enslaved woman who sued for restitution and won, is missing from the discussion. Her little-known victory offers lessons for today, both about the impact restitution can make and about the limited power of payment alone.

In 1853, Wood was a free black woman living and laboring as a domestic worker in Cincinnati when she was lured across the Ohio River and into the slave state of Kentucky by a white man named Zebulon Ward. Ward sold her to slave traders, who took her to Mississippi. A cotton planter bought her there and later took her to Texas, where she remained enslaved through the Civil War.

Wood eventually returned to Cincinnati, and in 1870 sued Ward for $20,000 in damages and lost wages. In 1878, an all-white jury decided in Wood’s favor, with Ward ordered to pay $2,500, perhaps the largest sum ever awarded by a court in the United States in restitution for slavery.

Though largely forgotten, even by historians, Wood’s case was widely covered by newspapers in 1878, including by The New York Times in an article headlined, “An Unsettled Account.” It was understood at the time that the case raised the question of what formerly enslaved people in general were owed. As The Times put it, “Who will recompense the millions of men and women for the years of liberty of which they have been defrauded?”

Freed people asked that question from the beginning. Present-day demands for reparations build on a long history of struggle that predates Wood’s suit. Yet her victory also stands out as exceptional in that history, a testament to both the revolutionary possibilities created by the Civil War, and their limits.

Wood’s lawsuit would not even have been possible without the Reconstruction Amendments that abolished slavery and expanded citizenship. But Reconstruction also ended without reparations, and by 1878, white Democrats had used force and fraud to overthrow Republican state governments across the former Confederacy. The counterrevolution robbed black citizens of the political power they could have used to pursue reparations laws back then, while former slaveholders and their immediate descendants still lived.

This left the judiciary as one of the few arenas in which former slaves could have advanced restitution claims. Yet that way, too, was riddled with difficulty. A court recognized Wood’s standing to sue because she had been kidnapped, “wrongfully enslaved.” For the millions of people who had been enslaved legally, the courts did not offer clear paths to reparations and Wood’s victory did not result in a wave of other suits.

The story of Callie House, another formerly enslaved woman, shows what happened when black citizens turned from the courts to Congress for relief. In the 1890s, House led a national grass-roots organization that pressured the federal government for pensions for former slaves. As the historian Mary Frances Berry has shown, however, House’s movement was killed by federal officials who falsely accused her of fraud. The Times dismissed House’s movement in 1903 as a “swindle.”

The real fraud was the false story that white Americans increasingly accepted about slavery and the Civil War. By the time Wood died in 1912, paradoxical myths — that slavery was benevolent, but that Confederates had only fought for states’ rights, not to defend it — were widely embraced by white Americans all over the country.

Meanwhile, lynching, segregation, and disfranchisement created new obstacles for reparations and new harms needing redress. Today, supporters of reparations cite the crimes of slavery, as well as 20th-century housing discrimination and racist laws for which the federal government was culpable.

This later history only makes Wood’s achievement during the small window of opportunity opened by Reconstruction more remarkable. Now, another window of opportunity may be opening, this time for policies that seek reparations through legislation, not litigation.

Still, the struggle for reparations remains an uphill battle, and not just because of the emboldened forces of white nationalism in the United States. Some fair-minded critics concede that the nation should acknowledge past wrongs, but doubt that any amount of restitution can redress evils so great. Some, skeptical of Congress’s sincerity, worry that payments would offer politicians premature absolution.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont gave voice to this fear when he said at an N.A.A.C.P. forum in July that if Congress gives African-Americans a $20,000 check, for example, it could then say, “Thank you, that took care of slavery, we don’t have to worry about anything more.”

Wood’s story does offer some grounds for that concern. Though Zebulon Ward paid Wood $2,500, an amount worth more than $60,000 today, he never admitted fault. Before he died, still a wealthy man, he claimed to have signed his check to Wood with a mocking memorandum: “To pay for the last Negro that will ever be paid for in this country.”

Because Wood’s personal victory happened at a time of deepening denial among white Americans about slavery, it also failed to catalyze a larger shift in public opinion on reparations. It was not until 2009 that both houses of Congress had passed separate resolutions apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow, and even then, the Senate’s resolution included a disclaimer withholding support for claims made against the United States.

Confronted by these facts, even Americans inclined to see the justice of reparations may ask whether it is worth the fight that it would take to win them. Perhaps Wood’s example of courageous perseverance, against all the odds, provides answer enough to that question.

We should also notice the differences between her path and current proposals like a House bill that calls for a federal commission to examine the history of slavery and subsequent forms of discrimination against African-Americans and then propose remedies. Reparations authorized by elected representatives after democratic deliberation and a serious reckoning with the past would surely be more powerful than a grudging payment like Ward’s. It would provide a public education and collective acknowledgement that Wood’s individual suit could not by itself supply.

And to those who fear that any payments would be too meager to matter, Wood’s story offers another important lesson: The check that she won substantially benefited her family. Though less than she sought, the money enabled Wood’s son to buy a house in Chicago and attend law school there. Those assets and his long career as a lawyer made a material difference for him and his descendants.

Therefore, while Wood’s story can be seen partly as a tale about the limits of a check without an apology, it also challenges the primary way that Americans have tried to repair slavery and segregation since: apologies without checks. As The Times at least suggested in 1878, the wounds of the past may not be healed until restitution and acknowledgment are finally conjoined.

“We would willingly close this dark chapter in American history,” The Times noted back then. But Henrietta Wood “has opened it again.”

In many ways, it remains open.

W. Caleb McDaniel (@wcaleb) is an associate professor of history at Rice University and the author of “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America.”

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05 Sep

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

View All>>

sky news logo

Becoming a US citizen in Trump’s America

As Sky correspondent Greg Milam gains US citizenship, he reflects on the divided state of America.

‘It was innocence amid war – this tiny girl who should have been enjoying her childhood trapped in this catastrophic battle’

Battle endgame … a girl in the old city in western Mosul, Iraq, near the destroyed Great Mosque of al-Nuri, on 6 July 2017.

Battle endgame … a girl in the old city in western Mosul, Iraq, near the destroyed Great Mosque of al-Nuri, on 6 July 2017. Photograph: Carol Guzy/Zuma Press

I was one of the last photographers left in Mosul during the final days of the battle to liberate the Iraqi city from Islamic State in July 2017. I have covered the humanitarian consequences of war for three decades, but the sheer horror I witnessed during this conflict felt different.

There was no end to the cruelty. The stream of suicide bombs, grenades, car bombs, and snipers was relentless. People were forced to watch their loved ones die in front of them. And when civilians did reach the point of escape, Isis would use them as human shields.

But what really ripped at my heart was the plight of Isis children whose parents had been suicide bombers for the caliphate. I met one little girl called Khadija who was calling out for her mother, not realising that the burns all over her body were caused by her mother’s suicide bomb. As a mother, I will never understand an ideology that would induce you to hurt your own.

The photo was taken near the ruins of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, where Isis first proclaimed the caliphate in 2014. It was like Armageddon: buildings were smoking, bombs were dropping and there was sniper fire from all angles. When people fled, they were first checked for suicide bombs by Iraqi soldiers, men had to remove their shirts, and their names were checked for recorded Isis affiliation. Then they moved on to the trauma stabilisation point for emergency medical care, which was where I spent most of my time taking photographs.

This little girl had fled with a group of women and children. She paused here momentarily. My fixer had gone missing so I couldn’t speak to her but I knew I had to take the shot. It was the picture of innocence amid war, a tragic juxtaposition of this tiny girl who should have been enjoying her childhood trapped in the middle of this catastrophic battle.

Hope is something I always look for, even amid the worst devastation and despair. I didn’t see much of it in Mosul

She only stayed briefly. She looked to me as though she was in shock and she rejoined the group of women and children only a few moments later. This piece of rubble was the only place she could rest.

I wanted my work in Mosul to help viewers to see these people as individuals. It’s really hard when you talk about war and statistics and the numbers dying to remember the humanity behind the numbers. But when you focus on individual faces, or a little girl sitting in debris with her head in her hands, it touches people on a universal emotional level, and gives viewers the possibility to connect. That’s always been my goal.

Isis may have been defeated, but the ideology has not been eradicated. Some of the children I met already knew the meaning of martyrdom because their parents indoctrinated them from birth. I don’t know what happens to those kids.

Hope is something I always look for, even within the worst devastation and despair. I didn’t see much of it in Mosul. Perhaps the closest thing came from the medics. They saved countless lives, and I know they were frustrated – the Iraqi government would not let them any nearer to the frontline, so they were forced to watch people die who they probably could have saved had they had just a couple more minutes. To me, they were angels amid the misery.

Photojournalism is never about us, we’re just the link to the narratives of others. You have to feel something when you see things like this, but empathy can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. I have always tried to be open about the trauma I’ve experienced, the PTSD, the meltdowns, but I think the thing that saves my sanity is my understanding that what I have experienced is nothing compared with what the people in my pictures have lived through.

Humans, the environment and the global water crisis – in pictures

Freetown, Sierra Leone 2012

British PM has cleared his diary amid the Brexit chaos to meet Benjamin Netanyahu

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10

Boris Johnson greets the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside No 10. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli prime minister has flown into London to urge Britain to end talks with Iran over the nuclear deal.

Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, for hastily arranged talks on Thursday in which he is expected to call on Britain to spurn a French plan to offer a $15bn (£12bn) credit lifeline to help Iran sell oil.

Johnson will also meet the US vice-president, Mike Pence, while Netanyahu will hold talks in London later in the day with the US defence secretary, Mark Esper. That Johnson has cleared his diary in the middle of domestic political chaos is a tribute to Netanyahu’s influence in Downing Street.

Iran and three European countries – Britain, France and Germany – have been engaged in talks to save the landmark 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unravelling since Donald Trump withdrew from it in May last year.

On his way to London the Israeli leader cited an Iranian plan to restart research on building advanced nuclear centrifuges in a further breach of the accord. The centrifuge plan, Tehran’s third step away from the deal, was announced by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, on Wednesday.

“Today we were told about another violation carried out by Iran, this time in relation to nuclear proliferation,” Netanyahu said. “This joins Iran’s aggressive acts against international shipping and against countries in the region, as well as its efforts to carry out murderous attacks against the state of Israel, efforts that have not ceased.

“This is not the time to hold talks with Iran; this is the time to increase the pressure on Iran … These are important matters for the state of Israel at all times, but especially now.”

There is suspicion, nevertheless, that Netanyahu’s lightning visit to London is in part designed to bolster his international standing, and play the security card ahead of highly charged elections in a fortnight.

But the timing gives the Israeli prime minister a platform to pour cold water on Emmanuel Macron’s Iran proposal – a plan that has already been greeted with deep scepticism by the US special representative on Iran, Brian Hook, as he announced fresh plans on Wednesday to sanction Iranian efforts to export oil.

Trump for his part has reiterated his willingness to meet Rouhani, but said there would be no easing of US sanctions. “That’s not happening,” he said. “That won’t be happening.”

It would be a diplomatic coup for Israel and the US if they could lever Britain away from the Macron plan, and, even more, away from the nuclear deal.

In the face of year-long pressure from the White House, the UK has continued to ally with France and Germany, the two original signatories to the 2015 deal, insisting Iran was not in breach of a deal that remained the best way to prevent nuclear proliferation in the region.

Many European diplomats claim even now that the narrowing door to diplomacy remains open because Iran has announced it will take its next step on centrifuges only if, in two month’s time, no progress on selling oil has been made. Iran also did not announce any steps to increase its level of uranium enrichment.

The French plan, largely leaked by Iran, proposes a $15bn credit line as a prepayment for the purchase of Iranian oil. The plan requires a US willingness to reinstate sanctions waivers on countries that purchase Iranian oil. The credit line would be the first step in a phased programme to address wider concerns with Iran, including its ballistic missiles, regional behaviour and the renewal of the nuclear deal. Britain has not yet said anything publicly in support of the plan, but has emphasised that it has been led by the French.

But given the US and Israeli approach, Macron’s chances of success seem to be receding. Rouhani has also refused to countenance a meeting with Trump, possibly at the UN general assembly in New York, and the Iranian decision on centrifuges has disappointed the French.

Under the accord, Iran was allowed to keep restricted quantities of first-generation centrifuges, IR-1s, at two nuclear plants. The successful development of more advanced centrifuges, IR-4s, IR-6s and IR-8s, would enable it to produce limited amounts of material for a potential nuclear bomb at a faster speed.

“From Friday, we will witness research and development on different kinds of centrifuges and new centrifuges and also whatever is needed for enriching uranium in an accelerated way,” Rouhani said. “All limitations on our research and development will be lifted on Friday.”

In a step away from confrontation, the owner of the captured British-flagged ship Stena Impero has confirmed that seven crew members have been released by Iranian authorities.

World Politics

United States

President said ‘certain models strongly suggested’ state would be hit after displaying altered map showing path reaching the state

 

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03 Sep

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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A large wooden statue of President Donald Trump has been erected in Slovenia, the homeland of his wife Melania.

The nearly eight-metre high (26 feet) construction shows Mr Trump with his trademark hair style, blue suit, white shirt and a long red tie.

“Like all populists, the statue has two faces,” its creator, Tomaz Schlegl, said.

“One is humane and nice, the other is that of a vampire.”

The monument was built on private property among the lush greens and rolling hills of the sleepy village of Sela pri Kamniku, some 20 miles northeast of the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.

Some local villagers, unhappy with its appearance, suggest torching it that day.

“I thought it will be a sculpture, one statue,” said Stane Supar, who owns land where it stands.

“But now this huge thing has grown, and everyone tells me it’s a provocation.”

Mr Schlegel, an architect, defended his project, saying it is “provocation against populism that the world is full of”.

“It is the Statue Of Liberty, which no one today knows what it represents,” he said.

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Panel lists 160 key actors in Yemen war who could face charges, adding to pressure on UK to end Saudi arms sales

Red Crescent rescue workers search for victims of Saudi coalition airstrikes on a prison complex in Dhamar in Yemen on Sunday.

Red Crescent rescue workers search for victims of Saudi coalition airstrikes on a prison complex in Dhamar in Yemen on Sunday. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Britain, the US and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, a United Nations report has said.

A UN panel of experts has for the first time compiled a list of 160 military officers and politicians who could face war crimes charges, including from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Houthi rebel movement and Yemeni government military forces. A secret list of those most likely to be complicit has been sent to the UN.

The UN report will very likely be used as further evidence for those demanding that the British government end arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen.

“This shocking report should act as a wake-up call to the UK government. It offers all the proof needed of the misery and suffering being inflicted on the people of Yemen by a war partly fuelled by UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other coalition members,” said Oxfam’s Yemen country director, Muhsin Siddiquey.

The UK court of appeal on 20 June ruled that arms sales to Saudi Arabia have continued without proper UK investigation of the risk of war crimes being committed by the Saudi-led coalition and required the UK government to set out what it had done to rectify this. The UK government is due to provide its response, possibly this month.

The British government, in defending sales to Saudi Arabia, is largely dependent on a team set up by Saudi Arabia to review alleged coalition violations, but its credibility is repeatedly challenged by the UN report.

The UN panel, which includes a Briton, Charles Garraway, found the Saudi team had failed to hold anyone accountable for any strike killing civilians, raising “concerns as to the impartiality of its investigations”.

It also described the Saudi assessment of the targeting process as “particularly worrying, [since] it implies that an attack hitting a military target is legal, notwithstanding civilian casualties, hence ignoring the principle of proportionality”.

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led military coalition in south-west Yemen on Sunday hit a prison complex, killing scores of people, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Set up by the UN human rights council two years ago, the panel appears determined to introduce some individual accountability into the conduct of the war.

Yemeni government forces, including those backed by the UAE, continue to arbitrarily detain, threaten and otherwise target individuals who openly questioned or criticised them, including political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders and religious leaders, the report said. At least 13 journalists and media workers are in detention in Sana’a on charges relating to their work.

The UN panel said it received allegations that Emirati and affiliated forces tortured, raped and killed suspected political opponents detained in secret facilities at Bir Ahmed prison II, al-Bureiqa and numerous unofficial detention sites. It found many detainees were tortured, including by electrocution, hanging by the arms and legs, sexual violence and long periods of solitary confinement.

It also found Houthi fighters “used anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines, in violation of international humanitarian law, notably in the way the mines were emplaced in unmarked locations frequented by civilians, with little or no warning given, which rendered their use indiscriminate. The use of anti-personnel mines is prohibited by the anti-personnel mine ban convention, the application of which has been acknowledged by the de facto authorities.

The governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt did not cooperate with the UN group or support its work, but the panel said it nevertheless conducted more than 600 interviews.

The UN has documented at least 7,292 civilians killed (including at least 1,959 children and 880 women) and 11,630 civilians injured (including 2,575 children and 1,256 women ) in Yemen as a direct result of the armed conflict between March 2015 (when it began such tracking) and June 2019. The overall death toll is thought to be much higher.

Related:

Red Cross says more than 100 people killed in airstrike on Yemen prison

Yemeni troops hit by airstrikes amid fierce fighting for control of Aden

UK receives report documenting Saudi cover-up of unlawful Yemen airstrikes

Donald Trump vetoes bills prohibiting arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Xikrin warriors battle illegal Amazon invasion – in pictures

 

World Politics

United States

During a briefing on the category 5 Hurricane Dorian sweeping across the Bahamas and toward the US coast, Donald Trump said: ‘All we know is that it’s possibly the biggest. I’m not sure I’ve even heard of a category 5, I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some category 4s. I don’t even think I’ve heard the term other than I know it it’s there and it’s the ultimate and that’s what we have unfortunately.’ Trump has said the same thing – that he has never heard of category 5 hurricanes – at least four times over the last two years, including as recently as May.

Houston: Islamic group hosts Sanders and Castro as rightwingers protest>>

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