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27 Jul

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

Poland

EC criticizes Poland

While it is not certain if the European Commission will launch a EU law infringement procedure against Poland, the Commission will criticize the country on Wednesday, even despite the surprising presidential vetoes to two out of three controversial judiciary bills, and will hold legal analyses and action plans up its sleeve in case more unexpected events occurred, Rzeczpospolita daily writes citing unnamed sources at the EC.
Legal grounds for starting the probe exist, but it is the political assessment which will be decisive here, the insiders said. Whether the procedure will be triggered or not, the atmosphere around Poland is already bad and Poland finds it more and more difficult to understand that conflicts around the rule of law could impact other issues important for the country.

Duda in danger of losing support for the next election

Polish president Andrzej Duda’s vetoes to two judiciary bills of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) may result in PiS resigning from supporting him in the next presidential election in 2020, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna speculates.
Even if PiS offered Duda its backing, in the upcoming months the relationship between the two will be difficult, the daily writes. Another possible scenario is the creation of a separate grouping under the president’s auspices, built on the unsatisfied PiS electorate and party ally Polska Razem as well as supporters of deputy PM Mateusz Morawiecki, is not to be ruled out, although the president’s circle denies such speculations, the daily says.

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World Politics

United States

Transgender veteran fears witch-hunt following Trump ban – video

Source: AP

Vanessa Sheridan, a transgender air force veteran – who is now director of transgender relations and community engagement at the Center on Halsted in Chicago – says she is disappointed with Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the US military. Sheridan said she was concerned that the move would lead to the persecution of transgender people in the US military

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Human Life International has been directing funds to El Salvador since 2000

Thousands of women have been denied abortions even in cases of rape

El Salvador’s absolute ban on abortion has long been considered one of the world’s most ruthless.

El Salvador’s absolute ban on abortion has long been considered one of the world’s most ruthless. Photograph: Jose Cabezas/Reuters

El Salvador’s absolute ban on abortion – long considered one of the world’s most ruthless – is facing its greatest challenge in years. Buoyed by shifting public attitudes, reproductive rights activists are making headway on a bill to loosen the law for victims of rape and human trafficking, women carrying nonviable pregnancies, and women who risk death or illness.

But support for keeping the ban is formidable – and may have an outside source of help: a US-based anti-abortion group that has quietly funneled funds to El Salvador’s main advocates for the ban.

The source of those funds is Human Life International, a not-for-profit group based in the rural town of Front Royal, Virginia. According to documents seen by the Guardian, Human Life International has for years directed a steady flow of dollars to Sí a la Vida, the Salvadoran organization principally responsible for the country’s abortion ban.

The funding began in 2000, just as Sí a la Vida had declared victory against legal abortion. Three years earlier, the Salvadoran legislative assembly had banned abortion without exception. In 1999, the assembly added the ban to the country’s constitution.

The impact, human rights groups say, has been devastating.

Thousands of women and girls have been forced to continue pregnancies that are the result of rape. Last month, a 19-year-old who became pregnant after she was raped was sentenced to 30 years in jail after suffering a stillbirth.

The laws have also led directly to the prosecution, imprisonment, and even deaths of scores of women. Under the law, a woman who obtains an abortion or a doctor who performs one – whatever the reason – can be sentenced to several years in prison.

And over the years, Sí a la Vida has remained the abortion ban’s loudest supporter.

Human Life International, the US group, describes its own mission as training and supporting local anti-abortion activists and counselors in foreign countries.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Human Life International gave $47,360 to Fundación Sí a la Vida from 2000 to 2007.

From 2008 to 2014, the group gave another $615,432 to what it called Central American causes, which may have included Sí a la Vida. In many of its public materials, Human Life International refers to the Salvadoran group as its El Salvador branch.

The documents – forms that Human Life International must file with the IRS as a not-for-profit organization – only date as far back as 2000, meaning the US group may have funded Sí a la Vida at the start of its campaign to ban abortion.

News coverage from that time indicates that Human Life International worked with Sí a la Vida in the 1990s to make El Salvador’s abortion ban a reality. In one example, a 2001 article titled “How to export pro-life activism”, Father Matthew Habiger, then president of Human Life International, said his group was “at the helm” when Sí a la Vida made its push for a constitutional amendment.

Groups opposing the abortion ban reacted with dismay that a US organization was lending its support.

“The abortion ban isn’t about protecting lives, it’s a law based in misogyny in which women’s lives don’t matter, and which encourages sexual and structural violence against women to be accepted,” said Sara Garcia, a campaigner with the Citizen’s Group for Decriminalization of Abortion. “Any group which supports the ban and is against the reform is promoting inequality, imprisonment and hate towards women.”

Officials at Human Life International declined to be interviewed for this article and responded to questions with a copy of the group’s mission statement.

Regardless of when its funding began, Human Life International has always been publicly supportive of El Salvador’s abortion laws.

Several years after the passage of the constitutional amendment, the leader of Human Life International at the time, the Rev Thomas Euteneuer, praised El Salvador’s laws as the inevitable reaction of grassroots forces to abortion rights laws passed by the “elite”.

“El Salvador is an inspiration,” Euteneuer told a New York Times reporter.

Sí a la Vida counsels women with unplanned pregnancies, visits schools, and takes out ads – targeted at women considering an illegal procedure – which read: “With an abortion, you die inside”.

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El Salvador: ‘I had a miscarriage. The judge accused me of murder’ – video

, Jordi Ruiz Cirera, , , and , theguardian.com

For Salvadoran women who suffer a miscarriage, the physical and emotional trauma of losing a child can be the start of a life-changing ordeal consisting of poor medical treatment, arrest without recourse to legal advice and imprisonment for up to 40 years. Women who have fallen foul of El Salvador’s punitive anti-abortion law, and are either serving time or have completed a prison sentence, describe the torment of life behind bars and reveal how their lives have been altered forever

El Salvador: where women are thrown into jail for losing a baby>>

Vea en español>>

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EU says it will move to block Poland’s voting rights if it goes ahead with plans to let government fire supreme court judges

People protest against the reforms outside the supreme court in Warsaw on Tuesday.

People protest against the reforms outside the supreme court in Warsaw on Tuesday. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Poland’s ruling conservatives have hit back at EU threats to halt the country’s voting rights in the bloc if it pushes through controversial judicial reforms, saying they amount to “blackmail”.

The EU warned on Wednesday that it would immediately move to deploy its most serious sanction if Poland’s far-rightwing government gave itself the power to fire its supreme court judges.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European commission, acknowledged that Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, had this week stepped in to block two contentious reforms of the judiciary proposed by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

The two laws would have forced the resignation of all supreme court justices and allowed their replacements to be selected by the justice minister, and would have would given government-appointed members of the National Council of the Judiciary – which selects judicial candidates – a power of veto.

Duda’s decision came after days of mass street protests around the country, an international outcry and Timmerman’s claim last Wednesday that the EU was on the brink of triggering the never-before-used “nuclear option” available to it in article 7 of the treaties, under which the Polish government could lose its voting rights in the bloc’s institutions.

While recognising that progress had been made, however, the commissioner claimed on Wednesday that Warsaw had not dropped its reform agenda, and reiterated that it was ready to act. “In this past week, some things have changed in Poland and some things have not,” he said.

“We extended our hand to the Polish authorities for dialogue immediately at redressing the situation and urged the Polish authorities to put the new laws on hold and reengage. That is not quite what has happened … The fact that two of the four laws have been signed, and that work will continue on the other two, means that we must set out clearly our concern.”

Frans Timmermans.

Frans Timmermans. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

He added: “The commission’s recommendation asks the Polish authorities not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of supreme court judges. If such a measure is taken the commission is ready to immediately trigger the article 7 procedure.”

The government spokesman Rafa? Bochenek told the Polish news agency PAP that the EU threat amounted to “blackmail”.

“We won’t accept blackmail on the part of EU officials, especially blackmail that is not based on facts. All the laws prepared by the Polish parliament are in compliance with the constitution and democratic rules,” he said.

“We regret that Timmermans, who is unfamiliar with the draft laws and Poland’s legal regulations, has formulated unfair criticism against Poland.”

The European commission said it intended to launch legal proceedings over two of the laws that were passed this week, when they are published. The two laws signed by Duda give the justice minister the power to select the heads of the local courts, and allows greater government control over the country’s school of judiciary.

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