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03 Aug

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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‘I Just Made It All Up’ A Sioux Family Fights Apparent Miscarriage of Justice

Four Sioux from South Dakota have spent the last 23 years in prison, convicted of raping their nieces. Although witness statements were withdrawn, they have never been acquitted. This apparent miscarriage of justice is rooted in a climate of prejudice against Native Americans.

By

Desmond Rouse (back row, third from left) with friends and family in the early 1990s

Desmond Rouse (back row, third from left) with friends and family in the early 1990s

Donovan Rouse committed suicide on April 12, 2017, after 23 years of drowning his sorrows and fighting his demons. He’d tried before, once slitting his wrists and once stabbing himself in the neck with a pair of scissors. Those times, he survived. But on a gray Sunday in April, he took an overdose of pills and silenced his demons forever.

The demons’ name was guilt.

At the age of nine, Donovan helped put four of his uncles behind bars. Desmond and Jesse Rouse, Garfield Feather and Russel Hubbeling, who belong to the Yankton Sioux tribe, went on trial in South Dakota in 1994, charged with repeatedly and brutally raping Donovan’s sisters and cousins — five girls, aged between 20 months-old and seven.

The children gave evidence in court, stating that the men had raped them after tying them to beds. Two doctors confirmed they had vaginal and anal wounds. A psychologist attested they were suffering from post-traumatic stress. The jury was in no doubt that the men were guilty. Desmond Rouse was sentenced to 32 years in jail; his brother Jesse got 33 years and Garfield Feather and Russel Hubbeling both got 30 years.

All four continue to this day to proclaim their innocence. In October 1996, Donovan and his cousin Thrista admitted to having fabricated the charges against their uncles. All the children who gave evidence went on to retract their statements.

“It was a big old lie,” said Donovan.

“They was (sic) asking a bunch of questions and I didn’t know what to say,” says Thrista. “So I just made it all up!”

Serious Doubts About Ruling

All the appeals were rejected. At a hearing in 2001, the court refused to recognize that the children’s statements had been revoked. The four men remain behind bars and the state of South Dakota still maintains they are guilty.

But recent expert reports raise serious doubts about the court ruling. Moreover, the investigators’ methods, the questioning of the children and the fact the doctors who examined them were apparently not qualified, all add up to a grave miscarriage of justice — one that began in 1994 and has yet to be resolved.

The case has been picked up by the Innocence Project of Texas, which provides assistance to citizens convicted of crimes they did not commit. “The trial was very unfair,” says lawyer Mike Ware. “Inaccurate information was presented as facts in order to get a conviction.”

After a number of transfers, Desmond Rouse is currently in the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. It’s a low-security jail, and he appreciates every ounce of freedom conceded to him. “I can see the mountains. I can even hear the birds singing,” Rouse wrote in an email to DER SPIEGEL.

Desmond Rouse

Desmond Rouse

Garfield Feather has been held in nine federal prisons and spent most of that time in solitary confinement — for his own protection. Someone like him, sentenced for child rape, is considered the lowest of the low in the prison hierarchy. “I am very fortunate to be here today,” he says when asked how he’s treated by other inmates.

Mike Ware was the only attorney willing to take on the case. It’s a child abuse case. There is no DNA evidence that could exonerate the men. They are all Sioux, and the sorry truth is that US society cares little for their fates. Getting them out of jail is no easy task.

Deep Prejudice

In the Rouse case, prejudices against Native Americans surfaced during the trial time and again. The state prosecutor painted them as hardened alcoholics, while the court marshals told passersby ahead of the judges’ ruling that they were “just some guys going to the pen for rape” During their deliberations, the unanimously white jury apparently made racist jokes, although they later denied having done so.

“It was like the deep South against the blacks,” says psychologist Hollida Wakefield, who followed the trial in 1994.

Beata and her grandmother Rosemary Rouse around 2007

Beata and her grandmother Rosemary Rouse around 2007

It all began when 5-year-old Rosemary Rouse was taken into state care on Nov. 8, 1993, after complaining that her grandmother, with whom she lived, was mean and didn’t feed her. No one took a statement from her grandmother, who was accused of neglect.

Neglect is a common charge leveled against indigenous families in South Dakota when their children are taken away by social services. While cases of neglect obviously do exist, it is also fair to say that, in those days, social workers often lacked the training and sensitivity to understand family structures in Native-American tribes. The social worker in the Rouse case had previously worked in a casino.

The federal government passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 to protect Native-American families. It states that Native American children removed from their families should be placed with relatives, members of its tribe or of other indigenous tribes rather than in a Caucasian foster home.

But for years, South Dakota has failed to abide by ICWA. The state sweepingly labels Native-American children as having “special needs.” This in turn helps the state to cash in on significant extra payments from the federal government in Washington to the state and foster families who provide care for special needs children. “South Dakota has an outstanding level of ICWA misuse,” says Patricia Shiery. As a state legislator at the time, she made a futile attempt in 2011 to revise the “special needs” passage in the ICWA to reduce the negative impact of the foster care incentive on Native-American families.

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World Politics

United States

Opinion

Homeless person searching through rubbish bin on New York city street

‘Other nations would be mortified by the scale of this country’s wealth and income inequality.’ Photograph: REX Shutterstock/imageBROKER

Fellow Americans. Today we must finally confront a reality that we, as a nation, have been avoiding with all of our collective concentration. I refer to a country that sits on the brink of failure. A nation whose unravelling will produce untold devastation far and wide, the repercussions of which will threaten our livelihoods, those of our children and even our children’s children. No longer can we look away. We must step up and ask: what is our duty, as the most powerful nation on the planet, not only to ourselves but to all good men and women around the world?

The crisis in Venezuela shows us how important properly run elections are to global stability, but Venezuela is not the country to which I refer. I cite it only because, like this failing country, Venezuela’s recent elections have also been damaged by gerrymandering, leading our brave UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, to call those elections “a step toward dictatorship”. She should know, for the same could be said about this failing state.

There are strong indications that this failing state’s elections were further marred by the subterranean interventions of a foreign power. Fellow Americans, I need not remind you that this is completely unacceptable. Only Americans are permitted to meddle in foreign elections.

And yet on every day, and with every tweet, the leader of this country is determined to undermine the rule of law and the rules of grammar. Not only has this tyrant repeatedly threatened to jail his opponents, he also openly incites his state security forces to wanton violence.

This ruler’s power is premised on exacerbating the sectarian tensions that have festered in the country since even before its founding. And he constantly threatens his neighbours, particularly his southern neighbour, which he menaces with a bill of sale for something the neighbour never offered to purchase. Such dangerous and erratic behaviour has no place among civilised nations.

My fellow Americans. The failures of this nation exceed the bizarre affectations of its would-be autocrat. Years of mismanagement and theft by the country’s ruling families have produced a situation where this wealthy nation steals from its poor to line the pockets of its rich. Other nations would be mortified by the scale of its wealth and income inequality. Meanwhile, this country stubbornly refuses to provide healthcare for all of its citizens, while its sham legislature accomplishes virtually nothing, all the while broadcasting its ineptitude live on quasi-official state TV.

Every day, with every tweet, this country’s leader undermines the rule of law and the rules of grammar

We will not be fooled. The world knows when it witnesses democracy in action just as it knows when it sees a pantomime of democracy in action. This regime promises jobs for its citizens, and then fires them after 10 days.

Time is running out. We must not let the madmen of this regime continue to threaten not only our allies, but also our globally shared climate. As we did with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, we must make a decision, a decision dictated by the cause of peace but one that may lead us down the path of war. The security of the world requires it.

That is why, today, the United States of America has been left with no choice but to invade the United States of America.

God Bless America

Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of How Does It Feel To Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America; and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. He is Professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.

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More than 3,300 asylum seekers have entered Quebec from the US, driving authorities to create temporary welcome centre at 56,000-seat stadium

Asylum seekers walk outside Olympic Stadium as security guards look on in Montreal.

Asylum seekers walk outside Olympic Stadium as security guards look on in Montreal. Photograph: Ryan Remiorz/AP

A recent surge in asylum seekers arriving from the United States has prompted Canadian authorities to open a temporary welcome centre in one of Montreal’s best-known landmarks.

Since the start of the year, the numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada from the US has soared. More than 4,000 of them – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – have entered Canada at remote, unguarded locations along the border.

By doing so, they aim to skirt a 2004 agreement between Canada and the US that forces most migrants to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

In recent months, the province of Quebec has become a major entry point. More than than 3,300 asylum seekers have crossed into the province from the US, sending authorities scrambling to set up additional welcome centres.

On Wednesday, the province began bussing asylum seekers – who including children and pregnant women – to the site of its latest welcome centre: Montreal’s Olympic stadium, a 56,000-seat arena normally used for sporting events, rock concerts and trade shows.

A family from Colombia is detained by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers after they illegally crossed the border near Hemmingford, Quebec.

A family from Colombia is detained by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers after they illegally crossed the border near Hemmingford, Quebec. Photograph: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

An estimated 1,174 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec in July, said Francine Dupuis, who heads a government-funded program that helps refugee claimants navigate their first weeks in the country.

“We’ve never seen this before,” Dupuis told Radio-Canada. “It’s really quite a bit more intense than what we’re used to.”

Most in the latest group are from Haiti, said Dupuis. “It’s a community that feels as though they’re in a fragile situation in the United States,” she added.

In May, the Trump administration threatened to pull the plug on a longstanding humanitarian program, potentially exposing as many as 58,000 Haitians to deportation.

……………… It took just 24 hours for the stadium – built in the 1970s as a venue for the city’s 1976 Olympics – to be converted into a welcome centre where the asylum seekers will be sheltered and receive help in finding housing and completing paperwork related to their asylum claims.

So far, 150 cots – arranged neatly into rows among the concrete walls of a windowless area in of the stadium – have been set up, along with access to showers and a cooking area.

The stadium could hold as many as 450 beds for asylum seekers if demand remains high, said Dupuis. Most are expected to spend only a few weeks in the centre before moving into longer-term housing while they wait for their claims to be heard.

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Nicolás Maduro stands by official vote count and says the tech platform is ‘pressured to the neck by gringos’

Maduro speaks during a meeting with members of the constituent assembly in Caracas on Wednesday.

Maduro speaks during a meeting with members of the constituent assembly in Caracas on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

Venezuela’s president has accused the company that provides the technological platform for the country’s voting system of bowing to US pressure after it said the official turnout figure in Sunday’s vote had been manipulated by at least a million votes.

Nicolás Maduro stood by the official count of more than 8m votes and said an additional 2 million people would have voted if they had not been blocked by opposition protesters. “That stupid guy, the president of Smartmatic, pressured to the neck by the gringos and the Brits, said there were 7.5 million [voters],” Maduro said in televised remarks. “I think there were 10 million Venezuelans who went out.”

Antonio Mugica, the chief executive of London-based Smartmatic, had said on Wednesday that results recorded by the company’s systems show “without any doubt” that the official turnout figure was tampered with.

Maduro provided no evidence to support his claim, but his remarks were received with resounding applause from a meeting of about 500 people elected to the assembly on Sunday.

The body, made up entirely of the ruling Socialist party and its political allies, will have the ability to dissolve state institutions and rewrite the constitution. Maduro has also vowed he will use it to target his opponents.

He called the vote in May after weeks of protests fuelled by widespread anger over food shortages, triple-digit inflation and high crime.

Venezuela’s opposition has announced plans to block the assembly’s inauguration, which Maduro put back a day to Friday, and called for mass protests “against the installation of the constituent fraud”.

As many as 40 countries have also said they would not recognise the new assembly, which critics say is a thinly veiled attempt by Maduro to consolidate power.

Mugica said on Wednesday that Smartmatic detected the overstated turnout because of Venezuela’s automated election system. “We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1m votes,” he said. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a national constituent assembly was manipulated.”

The turnout figure had previously been contested. The electoral council president, Tibisay Lucena, had put it at 41.53%, or 8,089,320 people, but the opposition put the number at between 2 million and 3 million. Independent analysis had suggested about 3.5m votes.

Lucena dismissed Mugica’s allegations, calling it an “opinion” of a company that played only a secondary role in the election and had no access to complete data.

In a rare display of criticism from a veteran Chávista, Andrés Izarra, a former information minister under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, tweeted: “Company which supports Venezuelan electoral system confirms that election was manipulated by at least a million votes.”

His tweet quickly went viral. In a follow-up tweet, Izarra said he recognised there were “doubts that must be cleared up about the results of Sunday’s election” but warned the opposition that he had not become one of them. “Squallid [sic] ones, don’t count on me EVER,” he tweeted.

Julio Borges, the leader of the opposition-held parliament, said voter fraud was “the most serious crime that can be committed against democracy”.

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If warming is not tackled, levels of humid heat that can kill within hours will affect millions across south Asia within decades, analysis finds

A villager stands under his umbrella to protect him from the sun as he watches his goat herd grazing in the field in the eastern Indian city Bhubaneswar, India

‘Unfair’: poor farmers are most at risk from future humid heatwaves but have contributed little to the emissions that drive climate change. Photograph: NurPhoto/via Getty Images

Extreme heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike parts of the Indian subcontinent unless global carbon emissions are cut sharply and soon, according to new research.

Even outside of these hotspots, three-quarters of the 1.7bn population – particularly those farming in the Ganges and Indus valleys – will be exposed to a level of humid heat classed as posing “extreme danger” towards the end of the century.

The new analysis assesses the impact of climate change on the deadly combination of heat and humidity, measured as the “wet bulb” temperature (WBT). Once this reaches 35C, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade will die within six hours.

The revelations show the most severe impacts of global warming may strike those nations, such as India, whose carbon emissions are still rising as they lift millions of people out of poverty.

“It presents a dilemma for India between the need to grow economically at a fast pace, consuming fossil fuels, and the need to avoid such potentially lethal impacts,” said Prof Elfatih Eltahir, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US who led the new study. “To India, global climate change is no longer abstract – it is about how to save potentially vulnerable populations.”

Heatwaves are already a major risk in South Asia, with a severe episode in 2015 leading to 3,500 deaths, and India recorded its hottest ever day in 2016 when the temperature in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, hit 51C. Another new study this week linked the impact of climate change to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers.

Eltahir said poor farmers are most at risk from future humid heatwaves, but have contributed very little to the emissions that drive climate change. The eastern part of China, another populous region where emissions are rising, is also on track for extreme heatwaves and this risk is currently being examined by the scientists.

Their previous research, published in 2015, showed the Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will also suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, particularly Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran.

The new work, published in the journal Science Advances, used carefully selected computer climate models that accurately simulate the past climate of the South Asia to conduct a high resolution analysis of the region, down to 25km.

The scientists found that under a business-as-usual scenario, where carbon emissions are not curbed, 4% of the population would suffer unsurvivable six-hour heatwaves of 35C WBT at least once between 2071-2100. The affected cities include Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Patna in Bihar, each currently home to more than two million people.

Vast areas of South Asia – covering 75% of the area’s population – would endure at least one heatwave of 31C WBT. This is already above the level deemed by the US National Weather Service to represent “extreme danger”, with its warning stating: “If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.”

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