18 Dec

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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Trump’s Jerusalem Folly Time for Europe to Take the Lead on Peace

U.S. President Donald Trump prides himself on being a deal-maker. But his decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem will produce only losers. It is time for Europe to take the lead in the Middle East peace process.

A DER SPIEGEL Editorial by Juliane von Mittelstaedt

Zionists have never liked Jerusalem. Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, dreamed of a capital city in the north of the country, on the slopes of the Carmel Mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. He had nothing but disdain for the Western Wall in Jerusalem, once writing: “What superstition and fanaticism on every side!”

It’s a shame that the Zionists didn’t get their way. Because ever since Israel declared Jerusalem to be its capital almost 70 years ago, the city’s status has been the subject of conflict. And U.S. President Donald Trump poured a large bucket of oil on the flames of that conflict on Wednesday by announcing that the United States was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would be moving the U.S. Embassy to the city from its current location in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem, of course, is already the seat of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and is also where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is headquartered and where most of the ministries are located. Yet no country had seen fit to locate its embassy there because the international community, in unusual unanimity, had agreed that the question regarding Israel’s capital should be solved within the framework of an official peace agreement. The Palestinians, after all, also see Jerusalem as their capital, at least the Arab eastern part of the city, and they make up approximately a third of the city’s population. The Jerusalem question is one of the most complicated issues facing the peace process, which explains why it has been left out of peace plans to date.

Now, though, Donald Trump has put the cart before the horse and recognized Jerusalem – because he promised to do so in his election campaign. It is a dumb move. And it shows that Trump is the very opposite of a “deal maker.” He handed Netanyahu a long-coveted gift without asking anything in return. That Trump then claimed that the recognition is “a necessary condition for achieving peace” is a clear demonstration of this president’s hubris. He believes that only by trampling all that has come before can something new be created. But the peace process, as unrealistic as it may always have been, is now a virtual impossibility – no matter how loudly Trump claims that he wants a “great deal” for both sides.

The move, after all, disqualifies the United States as a mediator. And Israel, which has long demonstrated a reluctance to make any compromises at all, will feel empowered to continue ignoring demands to yield. Netanyahu’s government has anyway shown a preference for creating facts on the ground, continuing to build settlements and hiding the Palestinians behind colorfully painted walls. And the Palestinians anyway have the feeling that they will emerge as the losers in the end. The purported peace plan developed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, for example, is said not to contain their most important demands. Why continue negotiating?

But Trump’s decision hasn’t just stirred things up in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, that tiny speck of land the size of Belgium, but all across the Arab world. From Egypt to Jordan, heads of state have expressed their indignation while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went so far as to say that America was “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight.” That might be a bit theatrical, but blood has already been shed in protests and rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip.

Trump’s decision will produce only losers. The U.S. is one of them, having now sacrificed even more credibility in the Middle East. The anti-Iran alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt could now disintegrate – at a time when yet another political amateur, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, is shaking up the region with his war in Yemen, the blockade of Qatar and the downright thuggish attempt to topple the Lebanese prime minister.

Even the Israelis, who are now celebrating, could ultimately find themselves among the losers of this decision. And it’s not just because this conflict has always served to empower the radicals. Rather, Trump’s decision could end up estranging Israel from Europe even further.

Israeli officials speak frequently these days of similarities with Europe, emphasizing values, culture and economy. Why do the Europeans constantly insist on the Palestinian question, they wonder? It is, they insist, a minor matter. That, though, couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a question of political values and therefore, a solution to the Palestinian question is central to the EU-Israel relationship. And Trump’s decision makes such a solution that much more difficult, pushing European and Israelis even farther apart. And it allows the deepest wound in the relationship between the West and the Arab world to continue festering.

Thanks to Trump, it should now be clear to everyone that the peace process is little more than an empty phrase and isn’t working anymore. And that the relative quiet in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship we have seen recently is more the exception than the rule.

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United States

Donald Trump and Jerusalem – cartoon

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  • President to outline new approach in unprecedented White House speech

  • Obama administration added climate to list of threats to US interests

Donald Trump speaks alongside Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, earlier in December. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration will drop climate change from a list of global threats in a new National Security Strategy the president is due to unveil on Monday.

Instead, Trump’s NSS paper will emphasis the need for the US to regain its economic competitiveness in the world.

That stance represents a sharp change from the Obama administration’s NSS, which placed climate change as one of the main dangers facing the nation and made building international consensus on containing global warming a national security priority.

White House officials said on Sunday the Trump NSS was the culmination of 11 months of collaboration between all the leading security, foreign policy and economic agencies of government. The exclusion of climate change as a national security threat appears however to conflict with views previously expressed by the defense secretary, James Mattis.

“Climate change is not identified as a national security threat but climate and the importance of the environment and environmental stewardship are discussed,” a senior administration official said.

Another official said Trump’s remarks when he announced he was taking the US out of the Paris climate accord “would be the guidepost for the language in the NSS on climate”.

In that speech in June, Trump declared “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” and alleged the agreement “hamstrings the United States while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries”.

The Federalist website, which first reported that Trump would drop climate change from the NSS, quoted the draft document as suggesting the Trump administration would actively oppose efforts to reduce the burning of oil, gas and coal for energy.

“US leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to US economic and energy security interests,” the website quoted the document as saying.

“Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”

A senior official said on Sunday the main difference between the Trump NSS and its predecessors was a new emphasis on border security and economic issues.

“The economic piece … gets much more attention,” the official said. “The insistence that economic security is national security.”

In unpublished testimony provided to Congress after his confirmation hearings in January, Mattis said the US military had to consider how the thawing Arctic and drought in global flashpoints would pose present and future challenges.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee.

Mattis and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson are reported to have argued against leaving the Paris climate agreement.

Officials said the new NSS was based on Trump’s previous speeches on national security and foreign policy. The president was said to have decided to break with normal practice and launch it with a speech.

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  • Commission to tackle ‘the culture of abuse and power disparity’ in Hollywood

  • Hill testified against supreme court judge during confirmation hearing in 1991

Anita Hill is a law professor at Brandeis University. Her testimony in 1991 sparked some of the first conversations around sexual harassment in America.

Anita Hill is a law professor at Brandeis University. Her testimony in 1991 sparked some of the first conversations around sexual harassment in America. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Anita Hill, who sparked a nascent national reckoning with sexual harassment when she testified during Clarence Thomas’s supreme court confirmation hearings in 1991, has been chosen to lead a commission on sexual misconduct organized and financed by some of the most prominent figures in Hollywood.

The Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace will be charged with tackling “the broad culture of abuse and power disparity” in media and entertainment, a statement from its organisers said.

“The commission will lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces – particularly for women and marginalized people.”

Commission organisers some of the most powerful women in the film industry, including Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm; Freada Kapor Klein, a venture capitalist and longtime advocate for sexual harassment victims; Nina Shaw, a Hollywood lawyer; and Maria Eitel, who co-chairs the Nike Foundation.

A meeting called on Friday attracted executives including Disney’s Bob Iger, Jim Gianopulos and Karen Stuart of Paramount, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Les Moonves of CBS. The agent Ari Emanuel, Screen Actors Guild president Gabrielle Carteris, and Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy of Motion Pictures, also attended.

Several major unions, guilds, and agencies have signed on to work with the commission, which will meet to decide its mission and scope at the beginning of 2018.

“The commission will not seek just one solution but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and interrelated causes of the problems of parity and power,” said Kennedy.

The selection of Hill speaks to how sharply the culture has shifted around the topic of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Hill, who is now a professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University, found herself in the national spotlight in 1991, around her gruelling testimony before a US Senate committee. Thomas had been Hill’s boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She claimed he sexually harassed her but her questioning by the all-male committee was skeptical and derisive.

Her testimony became a flashpoint for some of the first national conversations around the gender politics of the workplace. The next year saw a surge of sexual harassment complaints and women running for political office.

In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, former senator and vice-president Joe Biden, who led the inquisition og Hill, said he wished he “had been able to do more” for her. He added: “I owe her an apology.”

In one of several addresses she made to entertainment leaders in the past week, Hill said she “never believed 1991 was the end, and I was going to make sure in my life that I never saw that as the defining moment for me or for this issue.”

The role that Hollywood’s biggest power brokers should play in the ongoing reckoning has been the subject of much debate, since the first revelations about producer Harvey Weinstein. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the actor Jennifer Lawrence said the industry’s highest echelon had an obligation to help protect the industry’s least powerful.

“How can there be rules in place where there are certain ways that you just cannot treat people?” she said. “If every A-list actor decides to join this commission, we know everybody in the industry.”

The announcement of the commission on Friday night drew wide praise.

“BEYOND ME TOO: A HISTORIC STEP,” wrote Jane Fonda in a representative tweet.

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Protests in Vienna as ministers from far-right enter Austria’s government

Austria becomes only country in western Europe with far-right presence, as president swears in new coalition government led by 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz

Sebastian Kurz (left) and Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom party, who will serve as chancellor and vice-chancellor respectively

Sebastian Kurz (left) of the People’s party and Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom party, who will serve as chancellor and vice-chancellor respectively. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Austria’s president has sworn in a new government amid protests against the far right’s prominent role in the cabinet.

At the weekend, the new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz of the Austrian People’s party (ÖVP), struck a deal with the Freedom party, a nationalist outfit founded after the second world war by former members of the Nazi party, now headed by Heinz-Christian Strache.

The coalition deal makes Austria the only western European country with a far-right presence in government. At 31, Kurz is the youngest head of government in Europe.

Kurz’s People’s party won 32% of the vote in October’s elections, securing 62 seats in the 183-seat national council. The Freedom party came third with 26% of the vote and 51 seats.

Protesters try to break through police barricades near the presidential palace in Vienna

Protesters try to break through police barricades near the presidential palace in Vienna. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty

Police estimated that about 5,000 protesters would march in Vienna on Monday – a far lower number than the tens of thousands who turned out last time the Freedom party entered government, in 2000.

A heavy police presence of about 1,500 officers, helicopters and water cannon trucks blocked off the area around Hofburg Palace in the run-up to the ceremony.

As marches by leftwing and anti-fascist groups converged at the central Heldenplatz Square, people brandished placards that read “Refugees welcome”, “Nazis out” and “No Nazi pigs”.

Police fired a smoke grenade when some protesters tried to break through a barricade, an Agence France-Presse photographer said.

The coalition treaty the two parties agreed vows to restrict illegal immigration and speed up deportation of refused asylum seekers, but also emphasises the state’s commitment to the European Union.

“This is a coalition of two parties who want to actively shape Europe,” Kurz said at a joint interview with Austrian TV over the weekend.

A referendum on Austria leaving the European Union, previously suggested by the Freedom party, is explicitly ruled out.

Core competences on European affairs have been assigned to Kurz’s chancellory, and the foreign ministry post has been filled with an independent Middle East expert, Karin Kneissl.

The Freedom party will nonetheless control key posts in the new government, including the interior and defence ministry. Norbert Hofer, narrowly beaten by Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen in the Austrian presidential elections in December 2016, will be in charge of infrastructure.

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