30 Nov

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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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Plan is part of ‘green new deal’ but campaigners say it is not enough to tackle climate crisis

Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president-elect, has pledged to bring forward the proposal within 100 days of taking office. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

The first EU-wide “climate law” would enshrine a legally binding target of reaching net-zero carbon by 2050, and Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions would be halved by 2030, under a set of proposals being discussed by the incoming European commission.

Cars would be subject to new air pollution standards, following the disastrous cheating that allowed diesel pollutants to be masked, and all vehicles may be brought within the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme, which would affect drivers across the bloc. Three quarters of road transport would have to be moved to rail and inland waterways, and pricing would have to be adjusted to reflect the carbon output of different modes of transport, which is likely to prove controversial.

The proposals are part of the “green new deal”, the centrepiece of the new commission’s action plan, focused on climate and the environment. Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the commission, has pledged to bring forward the proposals within 100 days of taking office on 1 December.

According to a draft seen by the Guardian, moving to zero transport emissions will be a key goal, as will radical reform of the common agricultural policy, which has been widely criticised in recent years for drastic damage to the natural environment. There will be measures for an EU-wide industrial strategy, and innovation funding for promising clean technologies.

The central pledge to cut greenhouse gases by “at least 50% and towards 55% in a responsible way” had been long expected, but will not satisfy green campaigners, who say more urgent action is needed. Many measures in the five-page draft are also still vague, missing or hedged with question marks, and many have no firm target date attached.

Ministers and government officials from around the world are starting to arrive in Madrid for two weeks of difficult negotiations on implementing the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, beginning on Monday. While scientific warnings have grown clearer, countries have stalled on strengthening their emissions-reduction targets to keep up with the Paris goals.

Green campaigners criticised the EU’s draft for not going far enough, and said tougher targets should be enacted sooner in order to meet the Paris obligations.

Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network, called for the central emissions reduction target to be 65% by 2030, in line with scientific advice on holding temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. He also called for that goal to be set out in the first half of next year, instead of October as planned in the document, to aid international negotiations on the Paris commitments which will reach a conclusion next November.

“The commission’s reluctance to propose a new, much higher target early next year shows its failure to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis. Delaying this decision could put the EU in the back seat of global climate negotiations and undermine its role in shaping the discussions on the increase of the targets next year,” Trio said. “It would be a blow to [the] millions of Europeans who take to the streets demanding immediate action to tackle the climate crisis.”

The plan marked an improvement from the priorities of the last commission, said Franziska Achterberg of Greenpeace, but failed to measure up to the scale of change needed.

European parliament declares climate emergency: ‘do we want to leave our children a world?’ – video

“This is a vast policy programme that marks a shift away from the Juncker commission’s deregulation agenda,” she said. “But you just have to look beyond the top lines to see that the proposed measures are either too weak, half-baked or missing altogether. Responding to the climate and ecological crises requires a fundamental rethink of the economic system that for decades has rewarded pollution, environmental destruction and human exploitation. This plan barely scratches the surface.”

On Thursday, the European parliament voted to declare a “climate emergency”, which campaigners said would be meaningless if not backed up by strong and swift action.

World Politics

United States

Altered rules would also cut monthly benefits and end free or discounted lunches to nearly a million students

A vendor picks up the yellow chips that people on Snap use to buy food at a San Francisco farmers’ market.

A vendor picks up the yellow chips that people on Snap use to buy food at a San Francisco farmers’ market. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian

Millions of Americans face losing access to food assistance under proposed rule changes by the Trump administration, a new analysis has found.

The changes, if they had been instituted last year, would have resulted in 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1m fewer households receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as Snap or food stamps, during an average month, according to the study.

The altered rules would also reduce benefits received by many people, with 2.2m households set to have their average monthly assistance cut by $127. Nearly one million students would lose access to free or discounted lunches.

The analysis, by the not-for-profit Urban Institute, said that three planned changes to Snap would “significantly alter” food-based help provided to poor Americans, with disparities across the country in terms of impact. Benefits would be cut in most states, although states including Vermont, New York, Nevada and Connecticut would fare particularly badly.

The Urban Institute said Snap had a “proven track record of reducing both poverty and food insecurity”.

The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Snap program, has put forward new rules that would create stricter work requirements to be eligible for Snap and cap deductions for utility allowances. The third change would restrict the way 40 states automatically provide Snap to families once they get other types of federal assistance.

Sonny Perdue, the US agriculture secretary, wrote in a USA Today op-ed that the Trump administration was “taking steps to restore integrity to Snap and move people toward self-sufficiency”.

The rule changes, Perdue wrote, restore “the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population, while it is also respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program”.

Medals were awarded for ‘gallantry’ and ‘bravery’ after US soldiers killed hundreds of mostly unarmed Native Americans in 1890

Sioux Village, 1891, Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Sioux Village, 1891, Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Photograph: MPI/Getty Images

The Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley have announced legislation that would strip Medals of Honor from US soldiers who carried out the Wounded Knee massacre, killing hundreds of mostly unarmed Native Americans.

A House bill on the subject was introduced in June by representatives including Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat who is one of the first female Native American US lawmakers.

“The horrifying acts of violence against hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee should be condemned, not celebrated with Medals of Honor,” said Warren, from Massachusetts, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The Remove the Stain Act acknowledges a profoundly shameful event in US history, and that’s why I’m joining my House colleagues in this effort to advance justice and take a step toward righting wrongs against Native peoples.”

In a statement, Haaland said the act was “about more than just rescinding Medals of Honor from soldiers who served in the US 7th Cavalry and massacred unarmed Lakota women and children [in 1890] – it’s also about making people aware of this country’s history of genocide of American Indians.”

Donald Trump has referenced Wounded Knee in mocking Warren’s claim to Native American heritage.

The senators’ announcement came on Wednesday, a day before Thanksgiving, the federal holiday commemorating a 1621 harvest meal shared by Native Americans and Pilgrims. Thanksgiving has increasingly drawn criticism for glossing over the disastrous impact of white settlement on Native Americans.

Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England organisation has held a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving day, to remember “the genocide of millions of native people, the theft of native lands and the relentless assault on native culture”, according to the Associated Press.

The National Day of Mourning takes place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, an early place of European settlement.

Wounded Knee, described by the Washington Post as “one of most shameful and bloody acts of violence against indigenous people in American history”, occurred on 29 December 1890.

Chief Big Foot, who led the Minneconjou Lakota, was guiding his people to refuge in South Dakota when US soldiers stopped them. The group surrendered and was taken to Wounded Knee Creek, “surrounded by 470 soldiers and their formidable artillery”, the Post wrote.

While exact details of the massacre have proved difficult to determine, it is believed there was a dispute while soldiers were trying to disarm the chief’s men. It is also thought a gunshot prompted American forces to attack. Between 150 and 400 Native Americans were killed. Historians agree most of the victims were women and children.

Twenty members of the 7th cavalry involved in Wounded Knee received the Medal of Honor, which is described by the Army as “the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat that can be awarded to members of the armed forces”.

A large number of the medals were awarded for “gallantry” and “bravery” even though there are few details of purported acts of heroism, the Post noted.

Maj Gen Nelson A Miles, an army commander, wrote of the incident: “I have never heard of a more brutal, cold-blooded massacre than that at Wounded Knee.”

According to a letter cited by the Post, Miles described the victims as “women with little children on their backs, and small children powder-burned by the men who killed them being so near as to burn the flesh and clothing with the powder of their guns, and nursing babies with five bullet holes through them”.

While the Medal of Honor was granted more loosely in the 19th century, scholars have noted that the number of Wounded Knee recipients is high. Antietam, an 1862 civil war battle considered the “bloodiest day in US history”, also led to 20 awards.

Native Americans have long pushed for the revocation of medals awarded to Wounded Knee soldiers. Since 1997, the National Congress of American Indians has greenlighted resolutions requesting the removal of medals.

Congress formally apologized in 1990, stating “deep regret on behalf of the United States to the descendants of the victims and survivors and their respective tribal communities”. But, the Associated Press reported, lawmakers did not offer any type of reparations.

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