27 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

‘Look, he denies it. He totally denies it,’ says Trump about allegations against Roy Moore

Donald Trump finally weighed in on the sexual misconduct allegations that have engulfed the Senate candidate Roy Moore. Asked if he was ready to talk about Moore, Trump said, ‘[Moore] denies it. Look, he denies it. He says it didn’t happen. You’re talking about … he said 40 years ago this did not happen.’ Trump’s comments come as the Moore campaign has stepped up its campaign against the allegations. They have repeatedly described the allegations as part of a campaign by the ‘fake news’ and the ‘Republican establishment’ to defeat Moore Donald Trump appears to back Roy Moore: ‘Look, he denies it. He denies it’

Trump’s fight over consumer bureau with two directors ‘may end up in court’

Democrat Durbin: Wall Street hates CFPB ‘like the devil hates holy water’

GOP’s Thune: Trump pick Mulvaney will run things but battle will continue

Mick Mulvaney is a rightwing hardliner who co-sponsored legislation to eliminate the CFPB.

Mick Mulvaney is a rightwing hardliner who co-sponsored legislation to eliminate the CFPB. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

An Obama-era agency that a senior Senate Democrat said “Wall Street hates like the devil hates holy water” will have two acting directors on Monday, after the White House countered its director’s resignation and promotion of an ally by naming its own man to take temporary charge.

One Senate Republican said the unusual situation, with each side claiming legal justification, could “end up in court”.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was set up after the financial crash of 2008 to protect ordinary Americans from abusive practices by banks, mortgage companies, pay day loan operations and debt collectors.

Its director, Richard Cordray, proved an aggressive watchdog, for example fining Wells Fargo a record amount over its misselling of bank accounts. Republicans opposed to tough regulation of the financial sector think the agency has been too aggressive. Democrats back it.

One of the architects of the legislation that created the agency, the former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank, told CNN on Saturday: “We gave a lot of attention to how to structure the CFPB and how to protect its independence, because its job is to go after some very powerful forces in the economy.

“The point is, we intend[ed] what Cordray was doing to have this kind of autonomy.”

Cordray resigned on Friday but made a play to maintain control, naming the agency’s chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy. Under the Dodd-Frank legislation, English would thus lead it until the Senate confirmed a presidential nominee. That can take months.

Donald Trump countered by naming Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to the deputy director role. White House officials speaking to reporters on Saturday cited the Vacancies Reform Act (VRA) of 1998, and a memo by Steven Engel, the new head of the justice department’s Office of Legal Counsel, as providing the president’s authority to do so.

It’s a watchdog agency. Wall Street hates it like the devil hates holy water and they’re trying to put an end to it

Senator Dick Durbin

Trump devoted less detail to the issue, tweeting that the CFPB had been “a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations [sic] pick. Financial Institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!”

The argument is drawn on partisan lines. English is a longtime ally of Cordray, who is a Democrat rumoured to be considering a run for governor in Ohio. Cordray’s resignation statement highlighted English’s “in-depth” knowledge of agency operations and staff. Before joining the CFPB, she served at the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management.

Mulvaney is a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, a hard-right deficit hawk and founder of the House Freedom Caucus. He was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and has been an outspoken critic of the CFPB, which he called a “joke” in an interview in 2014.

One White House official said he expected Mulvaney to take charge on Monday, with English as his deputy. Senator John Thune of South Dakota agreed, telling Fox News Sunday Mulvaney “will be on the job and he’ll be calling the shots over there” but adding: “Ultimately, this may end up in court.”

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Russian hacking: FBI failed to tell US officials their email was targeted>>

Pelosi: Trump, not Weinstein, prompted flood of sexual misconduct claims>>

Democrat John Conyers steps down from senior House judiciary role>>

Trump reaffirms support for ‘accused child molester’ Roy Moore>>

Thousands of Catholics welcome Francis but there are fears of a firestorm if he even mentions the persecuted Muslim minority

Pope Francis is greeted by children in traditional dress when he arrives at Yangon airport in Myanmar.

Pope Francis is greeted by children in traditional dress when he arrives at Yangon airport in Myanmar. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Catholics have welcomed Pope Francis to Yangon, where has begun a three-day visit to Myanmar.

The trip – fraught with sensitivity and trepidation over how he will deal with the plight of the Muslim Rohingya – could be the trickiest yet of his papacy.

After touching down in the early afternoon, the pope was greeted by a large crowd at the airport, many waving yellow and white Vatican flags and dressed in T-shirts bearing the slogan of the trip, “Love and Peace”.

As he drove past, they screamed and chanted “we love Papa”.

The head of the Catholic church faces a difficult diplomatic balancing act on his first papal visit to Myanmar.

Francis is scheduled to meet the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, who between them have overseen the exodus of more than 620,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh in the past three months.

Many civilians, fleeing an army campaign, arrived with bullet wounds and claimed their homes had been razed. The US, UK and the UN have said the violence appears to be ethnic cleansing.

The operation followed an attack on security posts on 25 August by Rohingya militants, who the government says are responsible for abuses. The army has also absolved itself of wrongdoing.

The pope has already spoken about the Rohingya in two appeals from the Vatican this year, including calling them “our Rohingya brothers and sisters”.

He will be staying with Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, who has advised Francis not to use the word.

“We have asked him at least to refrain from using the word ‘Rohingya’ because this word is very much contested and not acceptable by the military, nor the government, nor the people in Myanmar,” Bo said this month.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the pope had taken the advice he had been given seriously, but added: “We will find out together during the trip … it is not a forbidden word.”

The country of 51 million people includes about 650,000 Catholics, of whom about 150,000 were expected to travel to the commercial capital for the papal visit. Trains have been hired to take Christians living in northern Kachin state on the two-day journey.

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Commercial fishing blamed for the crash in numbers of yellow-eyed penguin on a sanctuary island in New Zealand

A yellow-Eyed penguin marches along a beach near Dunedin, New Zealand.

A yellow-Eyed penguin marches along a beach near Dunedin, New Zealand. Photograph: AP

Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

During a recent survey of the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), department of conservation staff made the alarming discovery that close to half the island’s breeding population of penguins had vanished. Elsewhere in New Zealand the bird’s population is at its lowest level in 27 years.

Forest & Bird’s chief executive Kevin Hague said because the island was predator-free the evidence pointed to the animals being caught and drowned in the nets of commercial fishing trawlers. Only 3% of commercial trawlers have independent observers on them to report bycatch deaths.

“Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea,” said Hague.

“There is an active set net fishery within the penguins’ Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.”

Last year 24 nests were recorded on Whenua Hou, but this year rangers only found 14. Penguin numbers are declining in other parts of the South Island as well, and researchers fear the beloved bird, which appears on the New Zealand $5 note, is heading ever closer to extinction.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray said every effort was being made to save the birds by conservation groups, but the birds faced multi-pronged threats from disease to dogs and climate change.

“The trust has huge concerns for the future of hoiho [yellow-eyed penguins] on Whenua Hou given their rapid decline. Our focus must be the marine environment where hoiho spend at least half of their life as it is unlikely that terrestrial impacts are a major factor in the decline here.”

The penguins – which are small and have yellow eyes – can be found from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch to as far south as the sub-Antarctic islands.

University of Otago’s Thomas Mattern, a penguin expert, told the Otago Daily Times he believed time was running out for the birds.

“Quite frankly, the yellow-eyed penguins, in my professional opinion, are on their way out,” Mattern said.

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Opinion:Once upon a sexual assault … it’s not outrageous for fairytales to get a modern update

Stephanie Merritt is an author, and former deputy literary editor of the Observer

Sleeping Beauty’s roots lie in a story of rape – and when stories strongly shape children’s sense of gender role and agency then old tropes may need reimagining

Sleeping Beauty, Disney, 1959

‘The one other exception to the rule of not initiating sexual contact is if you are a fairytale prince and she’s trapped in a 100-year enchanted sleep.’ Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Disney

When is it acceptable for a man to foist himself on a sleeping woman? You may be thinking that the correct answer would be “never” – unless, of course, you are the father of former Stanford student Brock Turner, who wrote a letter to the sentencing judge to protest about his son’s conviction last year for assaulting an unconscious woman after a party.

The one other exception to the rule of not initiating sexual contact with women who haven’t given consent due to not being awake is if you are a fairytale prince and she’s trapped in a 100-year enchanted sleep. If you’ve just hacked your way through a forest of thorns, you can’t be expected to dither over the niceties of permission when there’s a wicked fairy breathing down your neck. And in any case, princesses are raised to be grateful.


But the maelstrom of stories about consent or its absence means that now even charming princes can’t escape scrutiny. Last week Sarah Hall, a mother from Newcastle, made headlines by asking her six-year-old son’s primary school to remove the story of Sleeping Beauty from the classroom of younger pupils because of its unhelpful message about kissing sleeping girls, though she did suggest it could be saved for older children as part of a useful discussion about consent.

Her comments to this effect on social media were met with predictable frothing from the PC-gone-mad brigade (“You do know bears don’t eat porridge?” remarked one commenter), but it turns out that Hall’s concerns were instinctively correct.

The version of Sleeping Beauty with its chaste, true-love kiss that most of us remember from Disney or the Brothers Grimm derives from a 17th-century Italian tale called Sun, Moon, and Talia by Giambattista Basile, based on folk legends dating from the 14th century. In these early versions, the sleeping princess is raped and impregnated by a passing king – but it all ends well because after she wakes and recovers from the initial shock of finding she has twins, he returns and marries her. This constitutes a happy ending.

I grew up with the Grimm and Disney versions of Sleeping Beauty, and as a child it never occurred to me – or anyone else – to question whether it was appropriate for the prince to kiss her when she had no say in it; that was his role, just as hers was to be rescued. If we’d been read the Basile version it might have been a different matter; by the end of that story, after the king’s original wife has tried to kill the princess Talia and have the babies cooked and served to her errant husband for dinner (spoiler: the cook replaces them with lambs), you’re positively rooting for Talia to end up happy ever after with her rapist – he is no longer the worst offender in the story. As in Fatal Attraction, it’s the raging, jealous woman who becomes the destroyer of family, not the guy who can’t keep it in his pants.

But this is how stories work; it’s generally understood that what we regard as acceptable or even desirable within the context of a fictional world is not a morality that translates to real life. Even quite young children are capable of grasping this; it’s why they love stories about naughty anti-heroes such as Horrid Henry while also knowing they’d never get away with behaving like him.

Even so, Hall is not the first person to recognise that fairytales, with their centuries-old concerns and power structures, can be particularly problematic in shaping children’s sense of gender role and agency. The negative effects on young girls of “princess culture”, as pushed by Disney and its related marketing, are now the subject of numerous academic studies; Disney, for its part, has tried to mitigate this by introducing feistier heroines in recent years, but the white, passive, heteronormative girl with impossible waist measurements still prevails.

So is the answer really to ban every story that advertises an outmoded version of relationships? Maybe the solution is to reinvent those old tales with a modern twist; Angela Carter did it, as did the Shrek movies, and there’s now a thriving market for books that offer positive role models after the success of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.

Fairy stories have served for centuries as ways of examining our fears; as long as men like Brock Turner still see consciousness as optional in a sexual encounter, it may not be outrageous to suggest that some of the old tropes might stand questioning.




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