26 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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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Video: How the Haredim, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, make their own rules

In Israel, the Haredim community (or “Those in awe of God”) lives separately from the rest of Israeli society. Dressed all in black, these ultra-Orthodox practise a strict form of Judaism, cut off from modern society. In cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, they have their own neighbourhoods, shops and schools and do not hesitate to challenge the authorities. Our correspondents in Israel went to meet members of this inward-looking community that’s often tyrannical towards its own.


World Politics


United States

President’s belated response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in US territory seems to blame islanders for their own misfortune


A few thoughts:

He’s just a vile, old man, leading other vile old men (of all ages).

Let us name it “Trumpathy”, a reaction that someone lacking in even the slightness degree of humanity would have to any disaster.

If this jackass owned a golf course or mansion on Puerto Rico, massive  amount of help, our military forces and ships for evacuating our citizens  would be rushing aid to the island! Our island! Our citizens!

We know that they are US citizens, but to Trump and his people they’re not real, real Americans!

Every time I think he’s reached the peak of a shit head, he outdoes himself.

I cannot recall an American president so dedicated to diminishing the status of the presidency  and that of our country. Beijing and Moscow are laughing themselves to sleep every night.

The McGlynn



Jose Garcia Vicente holds a piece of plumbing as he tours what is left of his home in Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.

Hot on the heels of the billowing dispute he single-handedly provoked over African-American sporting figures protesting racial inequality during the national anthem, Trump launched another provocation on Monday night with a belated and lacklustre response to the Puerto Rican disaster. In a series of three tweets he effectively blamed the islanders – all of whom are American citizens – for their own misfortune.

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he said, without offering any additional federal government assistance for the stricken US territory, which was hit by Hurricane Maria soon after those two states were struck by Harvey and Irma.

Trump acknowledged that “much of the island was destroyed”, but caustically went on to say that its electrical grid was already “in terrible shape” and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks “which, sadly, must be dealt with”.

It was the first comment Trump has made on Puerto Rico since hours before Maria made landfall as a category four hurricane pummelling the island and destroying its entire power network with winds of up to 155mph (250km/h). On that occasion he told the people of Puerto Rico: “We are with you.”

But for many Puerto Ricans the reality five days after the hurricane struck is that the US president has not been with them. Some 700 Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) staff are on the island, and a total of 10,000 federal workers, carrying out search and rescue missions and supplying basic food and water.

But at the same time Trump himself has spent the past five days mired in his self-made battle with African-American sports stars while seemingly oblivious to the plight of millions of Hispanic Americans in peril in a natural disaster zone. The Trump administration has also refused to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships carrying life-saving supplies to Puerto Rico – a concession it readily made for Texas and Florida in the cases of hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively.

In the last of his three tweets, Trump said that “food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well”. But that may not tally with experiences on the ground where the governor, Ricardo Rosselló, has warned that Puerto Rico is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis”.

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Maine senator calls bill ‘deeply flawed’ and says she will not vote for it

Number of Americans with cover would be ‘reduced by millions’, CBO finds

Trump renews attack on John McCain

Susan Collins said the bill would have a ‘substantially negative impact’. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The latest Republican bill to repeal Obamacare appears doomed to fail after a key senator came out strongly against it within minutes of an analysis which said the plan would strip health insurance from “millions” of Americans.

Moments after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a partial analysis of the Republicans’ plan, Maine Senator Susan Collins announced she would not vote for the bill, and called it “deeply flawed”.

The CBO said it was unable to provide its customary detailed estimate because it lacked time to examine the legislation, but said “millions fewer” people would have insurance because of large cuts to Medicaid (a health insurance program for the poor), lower subsidies for individuals who buy insurance, and a lack of penalties for people who prefer to go without insurance.

Collins said the bill would have a “substantially negative impact on the number of people covered by insurance”.

The estimate, which says the bill would cut the US budget deficit by $133bn, comes as Senate Republicans hoped to push through a health reform bill this week.

However, it appears Republicans, with their narrow 52-48 Senate majority, have already lost too many votes to pass the legislation. No Democrats plan to vote for the bill, which means at least 50 Republican senators would be needed for the bill to pass with the aid of the casting vote of Mike Pence, the vice-president.

Collins joined Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona in pledging to vote against the bill, leaving only 49 votes.

Late on Monday, Donald Trump stepped back into the fray with a renewed attack on McCain, in a sarcastic tweet that contained clips of previous comments in which the senator had promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. “My oh my has he changed – complete turn from years of talk!” Trump said.

The president’s vilification of McCain provoked some of the liveliest exchanges at a town hall debate on the bill held by CNN on Monday night. Lindsey Graham, a senator for South Carolina, rallied to the side of his close friend, despite McCain’s opposition to the proposals he has co-authored.

He told CNN’s audience: “John, if you’re listening … nobody respects you more than I do. So to any American who has a problem with John McCain’s vote, all I can tell you is that John McCain was willing to die for this country and he can vote any way he wants to and it doesn’t matter to me.”

Bernie Sanders described Trump’s latest attack as “beyond my imagination. I cannot understand how someone like Donald Trump could attack an American hero, one of the most decent people in the United States senate.”

The CBO’s findings, although less specific than usual, still revealed that “millions” of Americans would have reduced health insurance. In particular, Medicaid funding would be significantly shrunk, and the Republican bill would shift funds from blue states, which chose to accept federal funding to insure the poor, to Republican states which refused to do the same.

The exact number of people could “vary widely” depending on how states implement the legislation, but the CBO said the “direction of the effect is clear”. The biggest effects would begin in 2020.

“In the short time available, rather than provide the point estimates that are typical in such analyses,” the agency was able to analyze the bill’s effect on “health insurance coverage and market stability”. Analysts said they would need “several weeks” to give a fuller analysis of the bill.

Senate Republicans are offering new deals to key lawmakers in the hope of forcing through a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would slash the government’s spending on healthcare for poor and disabled Americans.

The Senate must vote on a bill before a Saturday deadline if Republicans are to pass it with a simple majority, but critics, led by McCain, are concerned that the usual due process has been i

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Naomi Klein: Donald Trump is like London’s fatberg – video


During her speech at the annual Labour party conference in Brighton, the Canadian writer Naomi Klein calls the US president ‘the political equivalent’ of the so-called fatberg of waste clogging parts of London’s sewage system. Klein adds that he is the ‘merger of all that is noxious’ in politics, culture and the economy

Hearing, interrupted: wall of protest over healthcare bill>>

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner ‘used private email for White House work’>>

‘From heroes to villains’: tech industry faces bipartisan backlash in Washington>>

‘It’s absurd’: White House denies US declared war on North Korea – video>>

Steve Bannon: We came to praise and honour Trump – video>>

LeBron James joins NFL in hitting back at Trump: ‘The people run this country’>>

How US sports stars united against Trump – video explainer>>

Battle for the soul of the Republican party rages on in Alabama race>>

Anthony Weiner given 21 months in prison for sexting teenage girl>>


Plant and animal species that are the foundation of our food supplies are as endangered as wildlife but get almost no attention, a new report reveals

Farmers evaluating traits of wheat varieties in Ethiopia. Photograph: J.van de Gevel/Bioversity International

The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.

“Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report on Tuesday.

“If there is one thing we cannot allow to become extinct, it is the species that provide the food that sustains each and every one of the seven billion people on our planet,” she said in an article for the Guardian. “This ‘agrobiodiversity’ is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change.”

Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species and this leaves supplies very vulnerable to disease and pests that can sweep through large areas of monocultures, as happened in the Irish potato famine when a million people starved to death. Reliance on only a few strains also means the world’s fast changing climate will cut yields just as the demand from a growing global population is rising.

There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth. The focus to date has been on wild animals – half of which have been lost in the last 40 years – but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered.

Tutwiler said saving the world’s agrobiodiversity is also vital in tackling the number one cause of human death and disability in the world – poor diet, which includes both too much and too little food. “We are not winning the battle against obesity and undernutrition,” she said. “Poor diets are in large part because we have very unified diets based on a narrow set of commodities and we are not consuming enough diversity.”

The new report sets out how both governments and companies can protect, enhance and use the huge variety of little-known food crops. It highlights examples including the gac, a fiery red fruit from Vietnam, and the orange-fleshed Asupina banana. Both have extremely high levels of beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A and could help the many millions of people suffering deficiency of that vitamin.

Quinoa has become popular in some rich nations but only a few of the thousands of varieties native to South America are cultivated. The report shows how support has enabled farmers in Peru to grow a tough, nutritious variety that will protect them from future diseases or extreme weather.

Mainstream crops can also benefit from diversity and earlier in 2017 in Ethiopia researchers found two varieties of durum wheat that produce excellent yields even in dry areas. Fish diversity is also very valuable, with a local Bangladeshi species now shown to be extremely nutritious.

“Food biodiversity is full of superfoods but perhaps even more important is the fact these foods are also readily available and adapted to local farming conditions,” said Tutwiler.

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