09 Sep

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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Where Dreams Come to Die

Migrant Path in Europe Ends at Brenner Pass

Migrants who make it across the Mediterranean to Italy dream of continuing on to northern Europe. Most, though, are unable to make it past the Brenner Pass. A visit to Europe’s waiting room.


 Zineb Essabar, originally from Morocco, works as a volunteer at the Brenner...

Zineb Essabar, originally from Morocco, works as a volunteer at the Brenner Pass, offering what little help she can to migrants who are stopped at the Brenner Pass.

The train station in Bolzano, a city in the northern Italian province of South Tyrol, has become a waiting room for Europe in recent weeks — a transit camp for two types of passengers. Both are traveling with little luggage, and they are from worlds that rarely intersect.

On a Wednesday morning in late August, a young man from Gambia named Zacharias is standing at the window of the express train from Verona to Munich. He gazes down at colorfully dressed mountain climbers, vacationers and European travelers as they disembark in Bolzano and meet friends or family on the platform. Zacharias, though, stays on the train. He manages to escape the notice of police officers and border guards who comb through the compartments and fish out anyone who looks like a refugee. The train begins to move.

Zacharias, 18, is one of about 100,000 refugees and migrants who have arrived in Italy this year. He hopes to make it to Austria and from there to Germany, though he has been told that this second part of his journey will be difficult and that securing asylum in the north is impossible.

Whereas the number of migrants arriving in southern Italy has dropped recently, a new border has been established here in the north. In mid-August, the Austrian army sent 70 soldiers to the Brenner Pass, the Alpine border between Italy and Austria, and they use iron rods to poke through freight trains for stowaways. In addition, police are checking passenger trains more thoroughly than ever before. Austria is in the midst of an election campaign, and gone are the days when around 200 Africans, Pakistanis and Afghans heading north were waved through the border each day, while Bolzano residents handed out food and clothing. Today, says one railroad worker, residents are more likely to point out refugees hiding under the seats and say: “Look, mister conductor, there’s another one trying to hide.”

Zacharias’ trip comes to an end in Fortezza, four stations before the pass, when Italian police officers ask him to leave the train. Five Somalis are already sitting on the platform, on their way back from Austria – five of up to 1,000 migrants apprehended by Austrian authorities each month and sent back across the Brenner. At a police station in Austria, the Somalis’ fingerprints had been entered into the Eurodac database, their cash and cell phones had been confiscated, and they had been told to report to the immigration office in Bolzano. They return to Bolzano with Zacharias and the train station becomes the last stop on their journey.

Trying Again and Again

It is as if a new dividing line in border-free Europe now passes through Bolzano, an invisible boundary for Africans like Zacharias, who keep trying again and again but are shot back like pinballs. For the past several months, 20 to 30 new migrants have found themselves stranded in Bolzano every day – and there are no indications that the situation will change soon.

Somalis, Afghans and Ghanaians now loiter in the park outside the Bolzano train station, smoking marijuana and selling drugs. Nigerian women prostitute themselves on the street behind the station. Those who have been unable to find a place to sleep wash themselves on the banks of the Eisack River. A group of about a dozen volunteers, most of them children of migrants, attend to their needs. They can only laugh at the words of Interior Minister Marco Minniti, who says that he finally sees a “light at the end of the tunnel.” The volunteers in Bolzano only see tunnels, and they say their work has just begun.

Two of these volunteers receive Zacharias in Bolzano after his aborted train trip. They provide him with a cot in a church for the night, but he is homeless after that. Despite all obstacles, Zacharias is self-confident and certain of victory, and he has even learned to speak decent Italian. In speaking to him, you realize that no one can stop him on his journey to the north. Not his mother, whose parting words were: Don’t waste your life with people who don’t want you. And not those in uniform, who have now blocked his path for the third time on his odyssey.

In Gambia, Zacharias used to build working computers from the electronic garbage coming from Europe. He says he hasn’t come to Europe empty-handed; he has something to offer. He wants to complete a training program, work hard, and “become an independent man.”

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World Politics

United States

A history of hurricanes: how US presidents have responded – video explainer


George W Bush’s presidency never fully recovered from his botched handling of Hurricane Katrina. Barack Obama won re-election just days after Hurricane Sandy struck. So how can presidents respond effectively to natural disasters? And how has Donald Trump managed the response to Harvey and Irma?

A slew of Trump properties stand in the path of Hurricane Irma, and they could be underwater by the end of the century

Donald Trump and and Chinese president Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in February. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Mar-a-Lago. Trump National Doral Miami. Trump Palace. Trump Royale. Trump International Beach Resort Miami. Trump Hollywood.

These Trump-owned or Trump-branded properties are in south Florida, in the path of Hurricane Irma. All are exalted by the Trump Organization and by the president himself. All could be underwater by the end of the century.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) predicts that the sea level will rise in south Florida by as much as 34in by 2050. The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact says the increase could be up to 81in by 2100.

By 2045, according to a risk analysis prepared by Coastal Risk Consulting for the Guardian, the grounds of Mar-a-Lago could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of increased tidal flooding.

The Palm Beach complex, which Trump has begun to call the “winter White House”, is a source of pride for the president. Having described the private resort as the “best club in the world”, he hosted the Japanese prime minister there in February. He also believes Mar-a-Lago has the best meatloaf in America.

The main building at Mar-a-Lago will be safe – at least for 30 years – but the flooding will restrict access to the building and impact infrastructure, Coastal Risk Consulting said.

The president, who is 71, is unlikely to be around to see that happen. But he could bear witness to repeated flooding of other Trump properties.

In just 30 years’ time, the Trump Grande complex in Sunny Isles, Miami – consisting of the Trump Palace and Trump Royale condo buildings and the Trump International Beach Resort hotel – will be experiencing the effects of climate change. The resort could face tidal flooding and storm surges for 97 days a year, while its beaches could be badly affected by erosion.

The Trump Hollywood condos, about 12 miles north of Miami, “could be turned into islands” for 140 days a year.

Trump’s National Doral golf course is also at risk. In June the Orlando Sentinel reported that sea-level rise and associated flooding could cause severe damage. Even if the course remains intact, flooding would mean fewer days where the National Doral is actually playable.

In his book Crippled America – “The rhetoric of this book is both tired and tiring in equal measure,” according to Kings Review – Trump said, without explaining his reasoning, that he does not believe in climate change.

When the Guardian asked him about it in 2015, he would not respond. Trump has previously described the concept of climate change as a “hoax” invented by “the Chinese”.

Despite those beliefs, in 2016 Trump applied for planning permission to build a two-mile long wall on the beach next to his golf course in Doonbeg in Ireland. The application said the wall was necessary because of global warming and rising sea levels.

Travel ban: federal court rejects narrow view of who can enter US>>

Attorney general considering prosecuting Israeli prime minister’s wife for allegedly using state money on private expenses

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister

Sara Netanyahu will be given a last chance to present her side of the case at an indictment hearing. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister, has been formally notified that she is facing potential criminal charges for allegedly diverting tens of thousands of dollars of state money to use for private expenses.

The attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, was considering prosecuting Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife for offences that include fraudulently procuring items, fraud and breach of trust, according to a justice ministry statement.

Mandelblit, who was appointed by the prime minister, informed Sara Netanyahu on Friday that, having examined the evidence and heard the positions of the relevant authorities, he had decided to move forward.

Netanyahu will be given a last opportunity to present her side of the case at an indictment hearing – an unusual step for a person who is not a public official.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also under pressure as a result of several overlapping corruption investigations, which have gained pace in recent weeks.

The allegations against Sara Netanyahu have been under investigation for more than two years, since Joseph Shapira, the state comptroller, issued a report on spending at the Netanyahus’ official residence.

She is suspected of excessive and unauthorised expenditure at the residence in Jerusalem – notably, engaging a private chef at state expense for meals claimed as official functions and then concealing that she did so. Both Netanyahus deny the allegations.

The prime minister, who is out of the country on an official visit, denounced the legal process against his wife, writing on his Facebook page that the claims “are absurd and will be proven to be baseless”.

He said: “Sara Netanyahu is a brave and honest woman and has never done anything wrong. Alongside her work as an expert educational psychologist treating children every week, she spends a lot of time helping children with cancer, Holocaust survivors and lone soldiers.”

The announcement of the potential proceedings marks only the latest chapter in the saga of Sara Netanyahu’s time in the Balfour Street residence, including a succession of lawsuits and an avalanche of media stories including unflattering references to her as “Israel’s Marie Antoinette”.

In the most high profile civil case, the Netanyahus former chief caretaker Meni Naftali successfully sued her for wrongful dismissal, alleging abusive and erratic behaviour.

Particularly damaging was Naftali’s allegation to an employment court that Sara Netanyahu was often drunk, consuming up to three bottles of champagne a day, a claim denied by the Netanyahus.

Since that case, Naftali has given evidence to the police investigation against Sara Netanyahu. He has also led weekly demonstrations outside the attorney general’s house in Petah Tikva for almost a year, calling for an acceleration of the investigations into the couple.

The Netanyahus have tried to blame Naftali for overspending. Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced his former caretaker in recent speeches and on Facebook, writing: “The sharp increase in spending at the prime minister’s residence was caused by offences committed by the problematic chief caretaker, Meni Naftali, a criminal state’s witness and a serial liar.

“The average monthly spending on ordered meals while [he worked there] was five times the monthly average during the four years that followed, when Naftali did not work there. That says it all.

“Naftali is making false accusations against the prime minister’s wife to extricate himself from accountability for the offences he committed.”…………….He said his impression of the Netanyahus was that “they believe that everything belongs to them. They think they are king and queen. They would come back from abroad and say that, abroad, prime ministers have servants and people working for them, there was a feeling that the residence was not good enough for them.

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French artist JR erected the cut-out of the boy that stands nearly 20 metres tall and is meant to prompt discussion of immigration

A Border Patrol vehicle drives in front of a 20m mural of a boy at the US-Mexico border wall.

A Border Patrol vehicle drives in front of a 20m mural of a boy at the US-Mexico border wall. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

A photo of a giant toddler stands in Mexico and peers over a steel wall dividing the country from the United States.

The boy appears to grip the barrier with his fingers, leaving the impression the entire thing could be toppled with a giggle.

A French artist who goes by the name JR erected the cut-out of the boy that stands nearly 65 feet (20 metres) tall and is meant to prompt discussion of immigration.

French artist JR pictured near his artwork on the US-Mexico border in Tecate, California, USA.

French artist JR pictured near his artwork on the US-Mexico border in Tecate, California, USA. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, a steady stream of people drove to the remote section of wall near the Tecate border crossing, about 40 miles (64km) south-east of San Diego. Border Patrol agents warned visitors to keep the dirt road clear for their patrols and not pass anything through the fence.

Elmond Davantes, a software developer from Carlsbad, California, took photos from the US side.

“It’s larger than life,” he said. “It just draws attention to the whole issue in a positive way.”

On the Mexican side, families scrambled down a scrubby hillside to take selfies with the artwork. Children in school uniforms played tag under the scaffolding supporting the photo.

People on each side of the wall waved to each other. Salma Montoya, 18, a student in Tecate said her town is abuzz about it. “It’s beautiful,” she said.

JR has done other large-scale portraits around the world, with much of his recent work focused on immigrants.

He told reporters at Wednesday’s unveiling of the portrait that he was spurred by a dream in which he imagined a toddler looking over the border wall.

“And when I woke up, I wondered: ‘What was he thinking?’” he said. “Like for us we know all the implications, what it represents, how it divides, but for a kid, I didn’t have the answer.”

A year later when JR was scouting for the perfect spot for his project, he noticed a house in Tecate near the border wall. He and a Mexican friend knocked on the door to see about the possibility of locating it around there. After they drove away, it occurred to him that the 1-year-old at the home who had been staring at them reminded him of the boy he had dreamed about.

JR and his friend immediately went back. JR asked the woman if he could photograph her son. She knew his work and agreed.

The artwork was unveiled the week President Donald Trump said he would end a program that has allowed young immigrants who were brought to America illegally as children to remain in the country.

The administration also accepted more proposals for its plans to build a continuous wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border.

JR said he did not intend for the project in Tecate to coincide with the news about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

He has worked for years to highlight the “Ellis Islands of today,” which has taken him from the shores of Italy where migrants have been arriving by boat from Africa to the California desert. “Now as an artist I think that it’s amazing that the piece arrived at a moment when it creates more dialogue,” he said. “Because the idea itself is to raise more questions.”

For artists and activists, the 650 miles of existing wall and fencing between the US and Mexico has long been a blank canvas.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures



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