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28 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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World Politics

United States

The Republican party’s leader is no anomaly, he’s a voice for its deep-seated radicalised base who suddenly find themselves in the mainstream

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A Few Thoughts:
Trump appointed people with a long history of supporting racists or white nationalist ideologies.

White nationalists have embraced Trump – and praised his behavior – hard to say they be praising someone that they thought was opposing them.

Trump has – clearly and repeatedly – equivocated white nationalists and neo-nazis with people protesting white nationalists and neo-nazis.

Trump has repeatedly retweeted white nationalist propaganda.

Trump has literally regurgitated KKK propaganda.

Trump is CLEARLY a friend of racists and yes, neo-Nazis. At this point so are his supporters.

Trump may have won on a lucky bounce, but in retrospect politics in the US (and elsewhere) have been moving in his direction for a long time. There’s the racist and sexist backlash of course, as well as the folks who’d like a crazy religious state. They’ve always been there even if some have underestimated their numbers some. I have not.

What I didn’t perceive is the depth of cynicism and desperation that underlies Trump voters, to the point where they are happy to have someone who denounces democracy. Combine that with the structural changes that makes politics ever more playable with money, and you see that someone like Trump was bound to come along eventually.

The strategy used by the Thug in the White House was simply to promise whatever single issue voters wanted to hear; evangelicals heard anti abortion promises, racists heard that political correctness would be gone, bigots heard that brown people would be banned from coming to the US, the unemployed heard that their dead end jobs were coming back, etc. These people are not a unified group they were simply conned by the greatest conman the world has ever seen.

The McGlynn

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Donald Trump doesn’t control ‘Trumpism’. He is merely the current voice of the radicalised base.

Donald Trump doesn’t control ‘Trumpism’. He is merely the current voice of the radicalised base. Photograph: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The author Tom Wolfe once wrote: “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.” He was reflecting a consensus, shared by public and scholars alike, that far right politics is a European phenomenon, at odds with “American values”. It is a conviction so deeply held that it has left the US blind to reality.

Any example of far-right politics is explained away as exceptional, not representative of the “real” America, from “lone wolf” terrorists such as the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the rise of Trumpism.

Rather than address the structural conditions that have made anti-government militias a permanent presence in the US, but not in any other advanced democracy, or which have fuelled previous populist radical right movements such as the Tea Party, explanations focus on individuals such as Donald Trump or their Rasputin figures such as Steve Bannon.

Calling the far right ‘un-American’ might make for good politics, but it expresses a blatant lack of historical understanding

This “externalisation” of the far right was at its height during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Trump was portrayed as a political anomaly who had hijacked the Republican party. Conservatives and mainstream Republicans argued that he didn’t really represent what was at heart a moderate conservative party. They found much support among liberals, most notably Hillary Clinton, who focused much of her campaign on “moderate Republicans”.

However, for years surveys have shown that strong authoritarian, nativist and populist positions command pluralities, if not majorities, among Republican supporters. Positions on crime, immigration and Islam have hardened rather than weakened, while conspiracy theories that were at the fringes of the militia movement in the 1990s are now widespread.

The shift has been encouraged by generations of Republican politicians: remember Ronald Reagan’s use of the term “welfare queens”, and Newt Gingrich calling sharia law “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in America”?

What the increasingly forgotten rise of the Tea Party indicated several years before was simply confirmed by the rise of Trump: the Republican establishment had radicalised its base to such an extent that it was no longer representative of its views. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican party, he provided the base with a real representative again. But just as the Koch brothers didn’t control the Tea Party, Trump doesn’t control “Trumpism”. He is merely the current voice of the radicalised base.

While the rise of Trump and Trumpism is in part fuelled by similar factors as the rise of far-right parties in Europe, including globalisation and mass immigration, it has long roots within American history.

From the Know Nothings in the mid-19th century to Trump today, the US has seen far-right challenges in the form of the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan, which claimed the support of almost 15% of the population in the 1920s, the anti-desegregation campaign of Alabama governor George Wallace, who won 13.5% of national votes and five (southern) states as a third-party candidate in the 1968 presidential elections, to the Tea Party just a few years ago, in many ways laying the foundations for Trump’s presidency.

The spread of the far right into areas not immediately identified with it is not limited to Trumpism. It has been on full display since the deadly demonstration in Charlottesville. Over the past months we have been obsessing over the threat of the so-called alt-right, while ignoring much more dangerous anti-government movements such as “sovereign citizens”, who are considered the number one domestic threat by law enforcement agents.

It is easy to denounce the alt-right, as Democratic – and Republican – leaders did after Charlottesville. But while calling the far right “un-American” might make for good politics, it expresses a blatant and dangerous lack of historical understanding. Populist radical right ideas such as Trumpism have always been widespread within white American society.

Paul Bayes, bishop of Liverpool, accuses some religious leaders of ‘colluding with a system that marginalises the poor’

Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Christmas Eve.

Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Christmas Eve. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A senior Church of England bishop has lambasted conservative evangelical Christians in the US for their “uncritical support” of Donald Trump, urging them to reflect on how their endorsement of the president relates to their faith.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said “self-styled evangelicals” risked bringing the word evangelical into disrepute, and added there was no justification for Christians contradicting God’s teaching to protect the poor and the weak.

Bayes told the Guardian: “Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country.

“Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”

He said he regretted that “people who call themselves evangelical in the US seem to be uncritically accepting” positions taken by Trump and his allies.

“Some quite significant so-called evangelical leaders are uncritically supporting people in ways that imply they are colluding or playing down the seriousness of things which in other parts of their lives [they] would see as really important,” Bayes added.

He stressed that not all evangelicals were Trump supporters, saying there were “many, many Christians who are trying to proclaim the gospel as we’ve received it, even if that means political leaders have to be challenged”.

Last month, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said he could not comprehend the strength of support for Trump among conservative evangelicals in the US. “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme.

In his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Welby criticised “populist leaders that deceive” their people, in comments interpreted as being aimed at Trump.

According to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, 80% of self-identified white evangelical Christians said they voted for Trump in the 2016 election, and three-quarters have since said they approve of his presidency.

Bayes, who has been bishop of Liverpool since 2014, said: “If people want to support rightwing populism anywhere in the world, they are free to do so. The question is, how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?

“And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalised and defenceless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”

Bayes was speaking to mark the launch of a new Christian charity, which he is chairing, aimed at eliminating discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

The Ozanne Foundation will work with religious organisations around the world on LGBTI, gender and sexuality issues, as well as conflict resolution and education. It will be led by Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner for equality within the C of E. Along with Bayes, the charity’s trustees and advisers include David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, and Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

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Yisrael Katz wants to name stop on new rail line after US president for his ‘brave decision to recognise city as Israel’s capital’

The Western Wall (right) and the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Western Wall (right) and the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty

Israel’s transport minister is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to extend Jerusalem’s soon-to-open high-speed rail line to the Western Wall, where he wants to name a station after the US president, Donald Trump.

Yisrael Katz’s proposal for the “Donald John Trump” station, which is in the initial planning stage, involves constructing two underground stations and excavating more than two miles (3km) of tunnel 50 metres beneath central Jerusalem and under the politically and historically sensitive Old City.

The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray, and the new station would be located near the Jewish Quarter’s “Cardo”, an ancient thoroughfare a few dozen metres from the wall.

The Cardo – meaning “heart” – was Jerusalem’s main street 1,500 years ago, paved in the 2nd century by Hadrian and later extended south to the area of today’s Jewish Quarter in the 6th century by Justinian.

A spokesman for the transport ministry, Avner Ovadia, said the project was estimated to cost more than $700m (£522m) and, if approved, would take four years to complete.

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rail project is expected to cost about $1.8bn and is estimated to cut travel time to 28 minutes, down from 78 minutes on the old line built during the days of the Ottoman empire.

Jerusalem’s main station is currently located on the southern outskirts of the city, while the old main train station near the city centre – long out of use – has been converted into an area of bars and restaurants.

Katz’s office said the minister advanced the plan in a recent meeting with Israel Railways executives and fast-tracked it in the planning committees.

“The Kotel [Western Wall] is the holiest place to the Jewish people, and I have decided to name the train station leading to it after US President Donald Trump, in recognition of his brave and historic decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Katz said on Tuesday.

Extending the high-speed rail to the Western Wall was the “most important national project in the transportation ministry”, he said.

The plan also envisages a VIP rail car to shuttle visiting heads of state and ministers directly from Ben Gurion airport to the “Trump” station near the Western Wall.

Trump’s announcement has enraged the Palestinians and much of the Muslim world. The UN general assembly adopted a resolution last week rejecting the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with several traditional American allies voting in favour of the motion.

The Western Wall train proposal is likely to face opposition from the international community, which does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the Old City, which Israel captured in 1967 and later annexed.

The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem and the Old City, home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites, as capital of a future state.

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We have to develop digital forecasts of species’ responses to climate change, design robust strategies to protect as many as possible, and help nature to adapt

American pika

Mild temperatures of mid-20C transform the American pika’s alpine coat into a hairy death suit. Photograph: Arndt Sven-Erik/BBC

Each day increasingly dangerous hurricanes, wildfires, and floods betray the influence of climate change. We are appalled at the accruing losses of life and property. The arguments to address climate change at the recent UN climate conference in Bonn focused most often on these more concrete risks. However, the worst effects of climate change will come not from severe weather but from the irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.

Moulded over millions of years by natural selection, the diversity of species on Earth does more than just inspire awe. They are technical marvels and solutions to problems we do not yet know exist.

Scientific evidence now suggests that the Earth has embarked on its sixth extinction crisis, on a par with those executed by extraterrestrial asteroids and geologic upheavals. But this time we are at fault. Most current extinctions ensue from land use and overexploitation, but climate change is now catching up and accelerating these risks.

A couple of years ago I began obsessively scanning thousands of scientific papers for extinctions predicted from climate change. I collected more than half a million predictions including plants and animals from seven continents and the ocean. Surprisingly, I found that species extinctions would not just increase with global warming, but speed up in a rising arc. If we continue emitting current levels of greenhouse gases, climate change could threaten 16% of species – more than a million – by 2100.

Rising heat is pushing pikas to the top of the mountain, where they have nowhere else to go. They can’t climb sky

Look out of your window and count six species. Now imagine one is gone forever.

We risk losing common, backyard species like the saltmarsh sparrow. About 50,000 of these yellow-cheeked birds nest precariously above normal high tides along the east coast of the US. Scientists predict that climate-amplified tides will wipe this bird off the saltmarsh – and the Earth – in a few decades.

We are already losing the American pika, a rabbit-like creature adapted to life on western North American mountaintops. Even mild temperatures at mid-20C (mid-70F) transform its alpine coat into a hairy death suit. Rising heat is pushing pikas to the top of the mountain, where they have nowhere else to go. They can’t climb sky.

We have just lost the Bramble Cay melomys. This beach rat lived on an Australian coral cay surrounded by the rising seas of climate change. Last year, scientists mounted a rescue mission, but found nothing but a storm-swept island.

As more and more species are threatened, we risk losing Earth’s greatest resource: the library of natural selection. By encoding millions of years of the answers to nature’s travails, biodiversity gives us the drugs in our medicine cabinet, the tools in our intellectual workshop, and solutions to the world’s present and future problems. We are burning the greatest books on Earth before we have read them.

The human race is capable of great things, and no greater task lies ahead of us than protecting the greatest diversity of life in the universe.

First, the US must recommit to the Paris climate agreement and keep the Earth from heating beyond 2C. Above this limit, extinction risks accelerate even faster.

Second, we need the equivalent of a biological Manhattan Project for predicting and preserving biodiversity. We still know so little about life on Earth. We often do not know which species are most at risk or how best to save them. Everyone from citizens to scientists needs to get back outside and study how nature works.

Third, we need to harness the computing horsepower of the software industry to create next-generation forecasts of species’ responses to climate change. We can explore endless permutations of those digital species to predict threats and test solutions. Imagine a computer game that simulates nature, all within our laptops.

Fourth, we need to design robust management strategies to protect the most species possible. We can use corridors to network parks so that species can track moving climates. We can help poor dispersers by identifying and protecting refugees and, in extreme cases, moving species ourselves. We can even help nature adapt to climate change by maintaining large, genetically diverse

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