20 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



Today, January 20, 2017, a day which will live in infamy.

The McGlynn


US politics >>

Hundreds of demonstrators gather to wave placards and shout slogans at the National Press Club where pro-Trump event was held

in Washington


Protesters gather outside the National Press Club in Washington, the venue for the pro-Trump ‘DeploraBall’ event. The name of the event on Thursday was inspired by a remark made by Hillary Clinton, who referred to some of Trump’s supporters as a ‘basket of deplorables’

Donald Trump inauguration: the world holds its breath – live coverage

Chaos erupted outside the DeploraBall on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as protesters clashed with supporters of the president-elect.

“Nazi scum!” a masked man yelled through a police barricade at a woman in a sequined gown as she defiantly waved her ticket for the event. A woman held a sign that read “Look, Ma. It’s a racist misogynist” with an arrow pointed toward the guest line. In response a man flipped open his suit jacket to show her his shirt, which read: “Deplorable lives matter.”

Hundreds of protesters filled the street in front of the National Press Club, the chosen venue for the DeploraBall, a name inspired by a remark made by Hillary Clinton, who referred to some of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables”. Law enforcement blocked off the street to cars for the protest on Thursday night. Two rows of police in riot gear guarded the entrance to the club and much of the sidewalk.

A number of the ball’s attendees were thought to be associated with the “alt-right”, a far-right movement in the US that has praised the Republican president-elect. The event has also revealed friction within the movement, as the DeploraBall’s organizers distanced themselves from the extreme elements of the group.

The movement has come under intense scrutiny following a conference in December 2016 when Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who coined the term “alt-right”, declared “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” and some in the audience gave Nazi-style salutes.

The event attracted 1,000 of the president-elect’s most fervent supporters in an evening dedicated to celebrating “Trumpism” in the city he railed against. The dress code, according to the event’s website was “black tie optional – aka ‘fun formal’ – aka no rules”.

From behind the police line protesters flashed middle fingers and shouted obscenities and insults, calling the guests “fascists” and “racists”. “The red hats are better than white sheets,” one man said. “Watch your pussies, ladies” a woman shouted at female attendees.

The taunts occasionally turned to the police. “Who are you protecting?” the crowd chanted after the police cleared the sidewalk.

An inflatable white elephant emblazoned with a banner that said “racism” loomed over the crowd. Protesters in hoods and masks set fire to a pile of placards in the middle of the street. Another group beamed floodlights at the top of the building to project the messages: “Impeach the Predatory President.”

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Death strikes First Nations community, once a leader in suicide prevention

Wapekeka First Nation used to be a shining example amid Canada’s suicide crisis, but residents link the dismantling of a key program to new deaths

Charlie Angus, the member of parliament who represents the Wapekeka First Nation, said of government funding denied to the program: ‘If these were white kids ... people would be fired.’

Charlie Angus, the member of parliament who represents the Wapekeka First Nation, said of government funding denied to the program: ‘If these were white kids … people would be fired.’ Photograph: Nathan Denette/AP

Wapekeka First Nation was a shining example of a community that was managing to keep at bay the wave of suicides that has swept through so many of Canada’s indigenous communities.

But two years after funding cuts forced them to dismantle a pioneering suicide-prevention program, the deadly epidemic has again struck the remote, northern Ontario community.

Two 12-year-old girls have taken their own lives in recent weeks and another four girls in this 430-person community have been flown out and placed on 24-hour suicide watch.

Another 26 students are considered high risk for suicide, with leaders expecting this number to grow in the coming days. “Our community is in crisis,” said Joshua Frogg, the spokesperson for Wapekeka First Nation. For many across Canada, the two girls who died – Jolynn Winter and his niece, Chantel Fox – are nothing more than names, said Frogg. “For those of us that live in the community, those are our children. They are our future, they are our legacy.”

It’s a bitter turn of events for a community that was once a leader in suicide prevention. In the 1990s the community – at the time reeling from more than a dozen suicides of its members over the span of a decade – developed the Survivors of Suicide program and began hosting an annual conference on the issue.

The program offered healing to a community that had been shattered by the legacy of residential schools, where 150,000 indigenous children were taken to forcibly integrate into Canadian society and were often subjected to systematic abuse.

The community had also been among those most affected by Ralph Rowe, a man described by one crown prosecutor as “likely one of the most prolific pedophiles this country has ever seen”.

In the 1970s and 80s, Rowe, an Anglican priest, pilot and Boy Scout leader would regularly fly into remote First Nations communities and take young boys camping. He was eventually convicted of more than 50 counts of indecent assault against young boys. A 2015 documentary estimates that Rowe may have abused as many as 500 indigenous boys.

The community’s suicide-prevention program helped heal lingering scars of the past. But First Nations youth are still five to six times more likely to die by suicide than their non-indigenous counterparts.

Chief Bruce Shisheesh is calling for long term commitment from the Canadian federal government to overcome the crisis. Since last September, more than 100 Attawapiskat people have attempted suicide

  • In Canada, 24-hour suicide prevention centres can be found across the country through the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

And in recent years, the federal government began whittling away at the program’s funding. “Twenty-two years we ran it,” said Frogg. “Until it drove us into a deficit. We couldn’t do it anymore.”

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From incessant rains to flooded rice fields, the economic impact of global warming has been keenly felt in the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar

Women work at a dry fish yard in the Bangladeshi coastal resort of Cox’s Bazar

Women work at a dry fish yard in the Bangladeshi coastal resort of Cox’s Bazar. Changing weather conditions have hit the business hard. Photograph: Noor Alam/Majority World for the Guardian

Bangladesh is already one of the most climate vulnerable nations in the world, and global warming will bring more floods, stronger cyclones. At the dry fish yards, close to the airport at the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar, women are busy sorting fish to dry in the sun. They say the process, which begins in October, can continue through to February or March if the weather is good.

But Aman Ullah Shawdagor, a dry fish businessman who employs 70 people, says high tides and seasonal changes have hit his business hard. Last year there were four cyclones, more than ever before. In 2015, there was only one.

“My business is not doing so well because of the changing weather conditions,” says Shawdagor. “This is a dry season business. But for the last couple of years, the rain has become more frequent. It rains not only in the rainy season but also in the winter. There have also been more signals [storm warnings] with the rise in high tides. When the high tide comes, it frequently covers the whole of the land here. It is very bad for the dry fish.”

Nurul Hashem, a schoolteacher from Kutubdia Para, a nearby shanty town where many of the dry fish workers live, has also noted the trend. “We believe the water level is getting higher here,” he says. “Last year, my home was under water three or four times.”

Scientists predict that, by 2050, as many as 25 million people in Bangladesh will be affected by the rising sea level. Hashem and Shawdagor believe that they are already seeing the effects of a changing climate, however.


Along the coast lies Kutubdia, an island in the Bay of Bengal where lush green rice fields give way to acres and acres of flat fields. Consisting of small rectangles of varying hues of brown, they are salt fields. The encroachment of saline water from rising tides has made rice farming impossible.

Abdus Shukur, 50, a former agricultural farmer, says he learned to farm salt 10 years ago, when sea water flooded the land he rents. It took him six months to learn the craft and he finds it back-breaking work.

“I was an agricultural farmer before,” says Shukur. “But the embankment broke down and saline water came on to the land. We had no choice but to adapt.”

Salt farming, he says, brings in more money that crops. But it is harder.

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