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19 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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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World Politics

France

France Macron marches on as his party wins large majority>>

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United States

Cartoon by Geoff Pryor who is a long-standing Australian political cartoonist.  

Opinion: Victories against Trump are mounting. Here’s how we deal the final blow

The judiciary, legislative and media have all helped keep Trump in check. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end

Anti-Trump March

‘Taking action is the best cure for despair.’ Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

In this moment, populist intervention is everything, not as hate and attack but as an expression of popular will and power. Or as love, since we defend what we love. It is an extraordinary moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists. It is saturated with possibility, as well as with danger.

Of course there are also people resident in the US who love the dismantling of healthcare, education, environmental protection, and the bill of rights, but they are an increasingly small minority. The most recent Gallup poll found nearly twice as many people – 60% disapprove of the president – than approve (36%).

The graph shows a growing chasm between the minority that approves and the rest of us, and nearly half the public likes the idea of impeachment. Republican approval of the direction the country is going fell an unprecedented 17% in a month, according to a new Gallup poll.

People who don’t like democracy and civil rights don’t think what the public thinks matters; that includes the Trump administration which seems to have thought that power would be inherent in the presidency, rather than dependent on honoring relationships with institutions, allies, with rules and laws. What the public thinks matters, if we turn thoughts into actions.

The great conundrum of this crisis is that if people believe that they have the power to change this nation’s destiny, they will act; and if they don’t they won’t. Like many other prophecies, this one is self-fulfilling either way. I believe we have the capacity to limit the damage or even bring down the Trump administration through nonviolent resistance and good organizing, and I see extraordinary things happening in this moment.

We are off to a good start. After all this is an administration that has been stymied at almost every turn, unable to kill off Obamacare in its first five months, or build a wall on the Mexican border, or cancel sanctions against Russia, or pass almost any significant legislation, an administration harried by an investigation into its possible collusion to corrupt an election and serve a foreign power.

The resistance is an oft-used shorthand for all the forms of opposition, though many of them are institutions – the judiciary, the states, cities – that would probably not embrace the term. But they are opposing, overturning, and interfering. In several cases this spring, state courts and the supreme court have ruled against gerrymandering and other forms of discrimination against voters of color and voting rights.

The ninth circuit court ruled against the travel ban this week, one of several interventions against it in the courts. And 17 state attorney generals filed an amicus brief with the supreme court against the ban. Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit this week accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clauses by accepting foreign income through his businesses, the subject of myriad lawsuits and complaints filed by Crew (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington).

On 12 June, a judge granted a temporary reprieve to Dreamer Jessica Colotl, whose deportation protection had been revoked. More than 2,000 mayors, governors, college presidents, and other leaders have signed a pledge “to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement”.

Democrats in the legislative branch of government have been mocking Trump, from the proposed Covfefe Act (it’s an acronym for Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement, but also a joke about a peculiar tweet of Trump’s including that word, or nonword) that would ban him from deleting tweets on the grounds that they’re presidential records, to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s videotaped parody of Trump’s cabinet meeting in which all members dutifully praised him. (Writer JK Rowling called Trump out for his pettily vindictive response to killings in London. Even Smirmoff Vodka got a dig in with an ad that said “we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath.”)

Senator Kamala Harris has gone after attorney general Jeff Sessions hard (despite male senators who keep trying to hush her up). Congresswoman Maxine Waters is demanding impeachment. And Congress is holding hearings about the Trump administration’s relationship with the Russian government and its coverups.

A video of US president Donald Trump listening to each member of his cabinet heaping praise on him and saying they are ‘blessed to serve your agenda’ has been swiftly mocked by the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, who posted his own video to Twitter of his staff showering him in compliments about his hair and television appearances

Last week fired FBI director James Comey ripped the president to shreds as a liar, a creep, and an incompetent manipulator of truth and staff, and since then things have gotten worse for the administration. The Russia scandal could contaminate Pence, as well as Trump, Jared Kushner, and Sessions.

In the media, Rachel Maddow of liberal MSNBC has beat Fox to the number one spot in cable-news prime time. Fox is in disarray, with its star Bill O’Reilly forced out after a series of sexual-harrassment charges. Brilliant organizing by the Twitter-based group Sleeping Giants has pushed advertisers to abandon Sean Hannity’s show after the Fox host pushed conspiracy theories about the death of Seth Rich, despite Rich’s parents pleas to desist.

Breitbart has lost nearly 90% of its advertisers in another Sleeping Giants victory. Teen Vogue has become a feminist beacon, and other women’s magazines have developed superb political coverage. Newspapers, notably the revamped Washington Post, are doing a superb job investigating and exposing the administration.

The bombshell revelations that dropped one after another in May will long be remembered, perhaps as when the Trump administration fell too far to pick itself up. This month already Forbes exposed the Trump family for figuring out how to skim a profit off donations for children with cancer. USA today revealed that in the past year, “about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.”

Administrations around the world are figuring out how to work around the administration. The European Union and China are working on moving forward on addressing climate change, while cities and states throughout the USA have made their own commitment to honor the terms of the Paris climate agreement, despite Trump (whose pullout is symbolic, since it goes into effect after the next presidential election; many don’t expect him to serve out one term, let alone win another).

The environmental ministers of the Group of Seven nations are moving forward without EPA head and climate denier Scott Pruitt. The Guardian reported: “The greater ‘bang-for-buck’ resulted from plummeting prices for solar and wind power and led to new power deals in countries including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates all being priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options.” Trump celebrated coal as part of his backward-looking agenda, but India is cancelling plans to build coal-power plants while South Korea is shutting them down.

Britain rejected Theresa May’s rightwing politics in an election she called that shifted power to Labour; it followed on the heels of centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right Marine LePen. Angela Merkel and Macron have made it clear they are happy to assume the mantle of leadership the US has dropped. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, keeps trolling Trump online about the wall.

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Queer LGBTQ lives matter’: gay teacher’s message to Trump as photo goes viral

The McGlynn:  I hate the word that is struck through in the title and have inserted the correct recognition. Shame on the Guardian.

A Rhode Island teacher whose photo with Trump soared on social media says he wants to tell the president ‘anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count’

Nikos Giannopoulo meets Donald and Melania Trump at the White House.

Nikos Giannopoulo meets Donald and Melania Trump at the White House. Photograph: Official Whitehouse Photographer/Shealah Craighead

A Rhode Island teacher who became a star on social media after displaying LGBTQ pride in a photograph taken with Donald Trump in the Oval Office also wrote that he wanted to tell the president: “Anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count.”

Nikos Giannopoulos, a special education teacher at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, visited the White House in April with other award-winning teachers. This week, Giannopoulos posted to his Facebook page a photo that shows him next to a smiling Trump, who is seated at the Resolute desk, and first lady Melania Trump, who is standing. Giannopoulos is wearing a rainbow pin and waving a black lace fan.

By Friday the picture had been shared thousands of times. The caption included three rainbow emojis and said: “Rhode Island Teacher of the Year 2017 meets the 45th President of the United States. That’s all.”

However, in a post to his page on 29 April, three days after the White House visit, Giannopoulos went into more detail about his day. His remarks echoed reports in the national press detailed dissatisfaction among the teachers and their families about the way the White House conducted the visit.

“On Wednesday [26 April],” he wrote, “when I met the president … I did not know what to expect.

“… The man seated at the desk read prepared remarks from a sheet of paper and made some comments about CEOs and which states he ‘loved’ based on electoral votes that he had secured. He did not rise from his seat to present the National Teacher of the Year” – Sydney Chafee of Massachusetts – “with her much deserved award nor did he allow her to speak.

“After what amounted to a brief photo op, we were ushered out of the West Wing and back on to the streets of DC.”

Trump campaigned as a friend to LGBTQ voters and in office he has not pursued any change to the 2015 supreme court ruling, opposed by many conservatives, that made same-sex marriage legal.

However, hardline government figures including vice-president Mike Pence and attorney general Jeff Sessions are viewed with skepticism by LGBTQ campaigners, and the administration has implemented changes to regulations and protections, particularly in education, leaving some activists fearing “death by a thousand cuts”.

Trump’s proposed budget included a heavy cut to education spending and his choice for education secretary of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire hardline conservative and advocate of private schooling, has prompted widespread opposition.

On Facebook, Giannopoulos wrote that he wore the pin “to represent my gratitude for the LGBTQ community” and carried the fan “to celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity”.

“Taking pride in queer identity means rejecting the shame imposed upon us by a harsh society. It means opening yourself up to a lifetime of criticism and misunderstanding, but knowing that it’s worth it to be able to live authentically.”

Of the White House visit, he added: “In previous years state teachers of the year were given the opportunity to speak to the president for a few minutes each.

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Police charge Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, with murder of Nabra Hassanen, whose body was found in a pond in Sterling

A Muslim teenager was assaulted and killed in the early hours of Sunday as she walked home after prayers at a mosque near Washington.

The death of Nabra Hassanen, 17, of Reston, northern Virginia, stunned the local community. Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with her murder.

A potential hate crime is one of the possible motives under investigation, the Washington Post reported. Nabra’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, told the paper: “I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim. Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (Adams) mosque in Sterling, the biggest in northern Virginia, holds extra late-night prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Nabra was reportedly among four or five teenagers who had left the mosque in the early hours of Sunday. It was not unusual for worshippers to walk after nightfall in what is usually a safe neighbourhood.

A Fairfax county police statement said: “An investigation determined she was walking outside with a group of friends when they got into a dispute with a man in a car. It appears the suspect, Darwin A Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, got out of his car and assaulted the victim. Her friends could not find her and police were called to help.”

Nabra was reported missing about 4am. A police helicopter, patrol officers and search and rescue teams joined the hunt. “While searching, one officer saw a car driving suspiciously in the area and stopped it,” the statement added. “The driver, later identified as Martinez Torres, was taken into custody as a suspect.”

About 3pm the body of a girl believed to be Nabra was found in a pond in Sterling. A baseball bat was discovered nearby, police said. Detectives later obtained a murder warrant against Martinez Torres.

Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights lawyer and author, told the Washington Post that he and his wife were at the mosque at about the same time as Nabra and that her death has struck fear into the local Islamic community. “People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,” he was quoted as saying.

A local congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, said: “We are heartbroken and horrified by the news of the brutal murder of a beautiful 17-year old girl. We know there is no greater pain for any parent and Chip and I extend our prayers to her family and loved ones at this difficult time and the entire Adams Center community.”

A statement from the Adams mosque said: “We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event. It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth. Adams has licensed counselors on site to assist anyone in need of counseling during these difficult times.”

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Veto by Athens, which has benefited from huge Chinese infrastructure investment, labelled as ‘dishonourable’ by EU diplomat

Greece has vetoed a European Union condemnation of China’s human rights record at the UN, infuriating diplomats and rights organisations, who said the move undermined the EU’s position as a defender of human rights.

In a decision described as deplorable by some, it emerged on Sunday that Athens had refused to endorse an EU statement criticising the crackdown on activists and dissidents under the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. The statement was due to be submitted to the UN’s human rights council in Geneva last Thursday.

“We acted from a position of principle,” an official at the Greek foreign ministry told the Guardian. “There is an upcoming dialogue between the EU and China on human rights and we think that could be a more efficient and constructive way of delivering better results.”

Human rights groups including Amnesty International said it was the first time the EU had failed to make such a statement at the UN’s top rights body. Diplomats were especially piqued at the veto’s timing. Late on Thursday eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg agreed to unlock €8.5bn (£7.4bn) in bailout loans, allowing Athens to avert default when it faces €7.4bn in debt repayments next month. “It was dishonourable, to say the least,” one EU diplomat told Reuters in Brussels.

The move not only undermined common efforts to confront abuses, but was seen as a blow to the EU’s own record as a defender of human rights. The statement is presented three times a year and often contains criticism that countries are unwilling to raise alone. The 28-nation bloc prides itself on being a beacon of human rights protection, taking a tough stance on issues ranging from LGBT rights to banning capital punishment and upholding press freedoms.

Despite modest improvements in some areas, Beijing has faced criticism for what Human Rights Watch has described as “the government’s systematic efforts to silence independent civil society voices”.

In HRW’s 2017 World Report, the organisation wrote of its fears for the future. “Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who will remain in power until 2022 and possibly beyond, the outlook for fundamental human rights, including freedoms of expression, assembly, association and religion, remains dire,” it said.

More than 16 human rights lawyers and activists – the victims of a nationwide sweep of human rights advocates in July 2015 – were still being detained and “were the clearest victims of the authorities’ hostility towards independent civil society”.

Greece’s decision was directly attributed to huge Chinese investments in the economically depressed country. China’s biggest shipping company, Cosco, bought a 51% stake in Piraeus, Greece’s largest port, for €280.5m last year as part of plans to make the country a shipping hub between Asia and eastern Europe.

Earlier this month Piraeus also teamed up with the port of Shanghai in a deal that will see goods and container shipping between the two soar. Beijing has also acquired a 51% share of Greece’s public power corporation’s grid operator.

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