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22 Nov

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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World Politics

United States

Donald Trump is radically reshaping the same federal courts that have been the biggest bulwark against his agenda – by picking mostly white, conservative men

US President Donald Trump smiles at the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club. Of the 13 judicial nominees confirmed since President Trump took office, 10 are either current or former Federalist Society members or regular speakers at its events.

Donald Trump smiles at a Heritage Foundation event. The conservative thinktank, along with the Federalist Society, wields huge influence over Trump’s judicial appointments. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has sustained more than his fair share of political losses during the first 10 months of his presidency, mostly at the hands of the federal courts.

It was the federal courts that struck down his “Muslim travel ban” on three separate occasions, that blocked his ban on trans people in the military and that did the same to his attempt to defund so-called sanctuary cities.

But the makeup of America’s judges is quietly becoming the site of one of Trump’s most unequivocal successes: nominating and installing judges who reflect his own worldview at a speed and volume unseen in recent memory. Trump could conceivably have handpicked more than 30% of the nation’s federal judges before the end of his first term, his advisers have suggested, and independent observers agree.

“The president himself has said that he expects this to be one of his major legacies. He is going to reshape the bench for generations to come,” said Douglas Keith, counsel with the fair courts arm of the Brennan Center for Justice.

“I do think this deserves more attention given the consequence, the significance of what will eventually be a wholesale change among the federal judiciary,” he continued.

Much has been made of Trump’s failure to get legislation through Congress and received wisdom suggests that he has little to show for his first 10 months in power. However, the lasting impact that court picks have on the lives of Americans means that Trump’s choices – and the sheer numbers involved – will help reshape America for the next half-century.

Until recently little attention has been paid to Trump’s judicial appointments. But Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and a member of the Senate judiciary committee, identified the importance of these appointments early on. In June he said: “This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration. They will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country, that will, given their youth and conservatism, have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades.

The lack of diversity in Trump’s picks was highlighted by the Associated Press. They ran the numbers on the 58 people nominated by the Trump administration to lifetime positions on appeal courts, district courts, and the supreme court. Of those, 53 are white, three are Asian American, one is Hispanic and one is African American.

Forty seven are men and 11 are women.

Since a disproportionate percentage of non-white Americans find themselves at the sharp end of the judicial system this means that in many cases it will be white male judges passing judgment on Americans of color. They will also have extensive input on all manner of civil rights, environmental, criminal justice and other disputes across the country.

All presidents appoint federal judges who are philosophically aligned with their own party and ideology. Casual observers will be familiar with how this dynamic plays out in relation to supreme court nominees, the rarefied picks that most presidents only make a handful of times. But supreme court justices represent just a small percentage of the broader federal judiciary, with roughly 850 seats in regional federal courts nationwide. In many cases, it is these jurists that have the final say on the law of the land in the US, since the supreme court only hears a relatively small number of cases every year……………..Perhaps the most brazen of Trump’s early picks is Brett Talley, an Alabama attorney just three years out of law school who has yet to try a case. The American Bar Association gave Talley a unanimous rating of “unqualified” for the post but that did not stop him from breezing through a confirmation hearing in the Senate judiciary committee. Neither did the fact that Talley appears to have blogged favorably about the KKK and statutory rape on message boards and failed to disclose in his questionnaire that his wife is a staffer in the White House.

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More than 200 people who were arrested on Trump’s inauguration day risk up to 60 years of jail. Meanwhile, the white supremacists in Charlottesville walk free

‘The state cracks down when it disapproves of the reasons why a riot occurs.’ Photograph: Jose Luis Magana/AP

On the morning of President Trump’s inauguration, police trapped and arrested more than 230 people. Some were anti-Trump demonstrators; some were not. The next day, federal prosecutors charged them all with “felony rioting”, a nonexistent crime in Washington DC. The prosecution then launched a sweeping investigation into the defendants’ lives, demanding vast amounts of online information through secret warrants.

Prosecutors eventually dropped a few defendants, like journalists and legal observers, but simultaneously increased the charges against everyone else. The most recent indictment collectively charged more than 200 people with felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot, and five property-damage crimes – all from broken windows.

Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.

The prosecution next obtained warrants focused on anti-Trump organizers. One sought a list of all visitors to a website that organizers used to promote Inauguration Day protests. A second sought information on all Facebook friends and related communications of two organizers, the host of a coalition Facebook page, and those who simply “liked” that page.

Despite legal challenges, a court recently decided to enforce the warrants, requiring only that personally identifiable information be redacted for “irrelevant” material. This unprecedented prosecution follows a drastic change in local law enforcement’s response to protest.

The DC Office of Police Complaints issued a report critical of the mass arrest, noting the departure from standard operating procedure and the likelihood that police lacked individualized probable cause to arrest everyone. This is exactly the type of action new policies and statutes enacted in DC were meant to avoid, following a 2002 mass arrest that caused the District to pay over $10m in settlements.

Compare this crackdown with the government’s response to the pre-planned, armed violence and rioting by white supremacists and private militia groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There was no sweeping online dragnet to identify organizers who conspired to plan, promote, and carry out violence in Charlottesville – violence against people, not property.

Nor were all the participants in Charlottesville rounded up and charged with felony conspiracy to commit rioting – or charged as accessories to Heather Heyer’s murder. Instead, federal prosecutors have done little to nothing.

Online activists exposed the identities of a few white supremacists, leading to charges from local law enforcement due to public pressure. But there have been no felony rioting charges, no charges of guilt-by-association, no police raids, no sweeping investigation.

Other riots have gone unchallenged by law enforcement. In 2006, Steelers fans rioted after their team won the Super Bowl, causing over $150,000 in damage (by comparison, prosecutors allege the inauguration defendants caused an estimated $100,000 of damage on 20 January – most of which was attributable to a limousine fire that occurred after the mass arrest.)

Police charged some Steelers fans with individualized offenses, but no riot charges. In 2015, University of Kentucky basketball fans rioted after their team lost to Wisconsin; once again, some arrests, but no riot charges.

How do prosecutors decide when to dust off the rioting statutes and whom to charge? Apparently, the reasons for the alleged rioting are important.

Sports riots are “people letting off steam”. Riots by white supremacists evidently occur with no criminal consequences. And why should law enforcement behave differently? Neither scenario threatens the state itself.

When people stand in opposition to the government, like the demonstrators did on 20 January, the analysis changes; suddenly conduct becomes “rioting”, deserving of a lifetime in prison.

This is classic content-based discrimination of freedom of speech and assembly, and selective prosecution. The state cracks down when it disapproves of the reasons why a riot occurs, but holds back when rioters are not responding to state violence and oppression. Notably, the first time prosecutors used the riot statutes in DC was to punish protesters following Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.

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Ratko Mladic convicted of war crimes and genocide at

UN tribunal

Former Bosnian Serb army commander known as the ‘butcher of Bosnia’ sentenced to life imprisonment more than 20 years after Srebrenica massacre

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Ratko Mladic gives a thumbs up as he enters the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday to hear the verdicts in his genocide trial.

Ratko Mladic gives a thumbs up as he enters the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday to hear the verdicts in his genocide trial. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army and one-time fugitive from international justice, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by a UN tribunal at The Hague.

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre and his first indictment by the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the soldier nicknamed the “butcher of Bosnia” has been found guilty of of multiple offences.

As he entered the courtroom, Mladic gave a broad smile and thumbs up to the cameras – a gesture that infuriated relatives of the victims. His defiance shifted into detachment as the judgment began: Mladic played with his fingers and nodded occasionally, looking initially relaxed.

But the verdict was disrupted for more than half an hour when Mladic asked the judge for a bathroom break. After he returned, defence lawyers requested that proceedings be halted or shortened because of his high blood pressure. The judges denied the request. Mladic then stood up shouting “this is all lies” and was forcibly removed from the courtroom. The verdicts were read in his absence.

Mladic, now 74, was chief of staff of Bosnian Serb forces from 1992 until 1996, during the ferocious civil wars and ethnic cleansing that followed the break-up of the Yugoslav state.

He faced 11 charges, two of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and four of violations of the laws or customs of war. He was cleared of one count of genocide, but found guilty of all other charges. The separate counts related to “ethnic cleansing” operations in Bosnia, sniping and shelling attacks on besieged civilians in Sarajevo, the massacre of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and taking UN personnel hostage in an attempt to deter Nato airstrikes.

Delivering the verdicts, judge Alphons Orie said Mladic’s crimes “rank among the most heinous known to humankind and include genocide and extermination”.

He dismissed mitigation pleas by the defence that Mladic was of “good character”, had diminished mental capacity and was in poor physical health.

Relatives of victims flew into the Netherlands to attend the hearing, determined to see Mladic receive justice decades after the end of the war which claimed more than 100,000 lives. There were clashes between Bosniaks and Serbs outside the court.

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