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19 Jan

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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Navdeep Bains says his country’s excuses for not hiring women as leaders is ‘a bunch of bullshit’

Canadian minister Navdeep Bains

 

The Canadian minister responsible for science and economic development has described attempts to justify the lack of diversity in the country’s corporate leadership as “bullshit”.

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, made the comments during a meeting with law students at the University of Windsor.

“One of the issues I hear from people is, ‘Well, we just don’t have the people. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the women. We don’t have the diversity in our corporation. We would love to promote diversity but we just can’t find the people,’” said Bains. “That’s a bunch of bullshit.”

Bains said there were many “successful women – entrepreneurs, business leaders, community leaders – who want to sit on corporate boards, who are very talented and looking for the opportunity.

“The problem is they aren’t part of the golf network; they’re not part of the club network, the social networks that a lot of these boards exist and operate under.”

The minister’s comments came as the federal Liberal government seeks to pass legislation that would force the country’s publicly traded companies to regularly disclose information on diversity among their directors and senior management to shareholders. The government has said the legislation is aimed at encouraging the recruitment of women and other under-represented groups for corporate boards and senior management.

In recent years, prominent voices within corporate Canada have spoken out about the country’s business culture, noting that it consistently fails to reflect the richness of the country’s population.

“Our dominant business culture is not reflective of Canadians’ values,” entrepreneur Anthony Lacavera noted in a 2017 book titled How We Can Win. “We value our diversity and openness to newcomers but our business culture is inward-looking and xenophobic.”

Statistics back his view: women make up 12% of the directors at companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange while visible minorities make up 4.5% of company directors in the country’s top 500 companies, according to Toronto’s Women in Capital Markets. A report published last year by Deloitte Canada noted that women occupy just 35% of managerial positions across the country.

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Steve Bannon may have lost control of Breitbart, but as long as Carlson is around, his brand of rightwing populism is kept alive

Tucker Carlson in the Fox New studio in New York on 2 March 2017.

 

Last night from 8pm ET on Fox News, Bannonite-in-chief Tucker Carlson executed his formula and landed a rip-roaring show.

His opening monologue alleged that “illegal aliens” commit more crimes, and that illegal immigration “costs Americans their lives”.

He then interviewed right wing pundit Mark Steyn, who asserted, on the basis of Hispanic birthrates in Arizona, that “the border has moved north”, and insisted that the views of white supremacists should be prioritized over “illegals” because “they are citizens”. Later on, he badgered a Latina mayoral candidate from Phoenix, asking repeatedly how many “illegals” had started tech companies.

Finally, he let Congressman Scott Perry speculate as to whether Isis agents might have been responsible for the Las Vegas massacre.

Steve Bannon may have lost control of Breitbart, but as long as Tucker Carlson is around, Bannon-style right wing populism will have a powerful voice in the media.

Since around the time of Trump’s election, Carlson has consistently articulated the nationalist, anti-immigran and anti-establishment program that Bannon took to the White House. He’s also shown he’s prepared to maintain a hard line on these issues at Trump’s expense. Last week, he blasted the president for meeting with “the very swamp creatures he once denounced” to try to reach a deal on Daca.

“Congress”, he said, running a familiar populist line, “is full of people from both parties who believe that the point of our immigration policy is to provide cheap labor to their donors and to atone for America’s imaginary sins against the world.”

Outside the far right proper, perhaps only Ann Coulter was harder on Trump over negotiating with the Democrats.

While right-wing Republicans are generally anti-immigration, Carlson has found ways to go further on issues of race than shock jocks like Sean Hannity or Mark Levin. Last July, he devoted a long segment to drumming up fear and loathing for Roma in Pennsylvania, a fairly exotic prejudice to promote in the context of the American right.

Certainly, it’s unrelated to any US policy debates. Some observers have suggested that in such moments, Carlson is actually pitching to a broader sense of “European” (ie white) cultural and ethnic identity. In other words, Carlson is promoting values associated with the alt-right.

At the same time, he may be mainstreaming their message. He stood up not only for Confederate statues, but for flyers put up at a high school reading “it’s okay to be white”, a phrase which was propagated as an alt-right slogan. He has also taken time to defend the alt right social network, Gab.

And he reserves his most scathing attacks for the far right’s sworn enemies – not only leftist academics, but hate-monitoring groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Prominent alt-right figures have returned the favor. In a celebratory tweet last year, Richard Spencer affirmed that one “can’t cuck the Tuck”. On the Daily Stormer, neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin approvingly called the combative Carlson “a machine of ultimate destruction”.

How much of this does Carlson, formerly a more conventional conservative, really mean?

Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University who studies conservative media, thinks that a lot of what Carlson does is driven by sheer contrarianism, and a desire to produce lively television.

He points to his journeyman history on a series of cable networks – including MSNBC and CNN, where he was infamously lectured by Jon Stewart – and the evolution of the Daily Caller, which Carlson co-founded, suggesting that he has learned that viewers love fireworks.

“His show is less about what he thinks, and more about ‘owning the liberals’”, he says, though he adds that Carlson seems to have few limits on what he is willing to say in coming up with his particular brand of political bloodsport.

Carlson’s contrarianism is most visible in his signature technique: confrontational interviews in his “Tucker Takes On” segment. His tone is important in making them shareable – his lighthearted sneering sets him apart from the hectoring anger that so many other conservative media figures rely on.

What’s notable about Carlson’s viral interviews are his targets. Some of them would be irresistible to any rightwing pundit, like the Chicago Democratic alderman whom Carlson called a “loathsome little demagogue” on Wednesday night. (One wonders why so many local politicians and campus advocates agree to enter into in a no-win situation).

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World Politics

United States

Banker with links to Putin faces questions over whether he funneled money through NRA, amid scrutiny over gun rights group’s Russia ties

Donald Trump shakes hands with the National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre last year.

 

The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with close ties to Vladimir Putin funneled money through the National Rifle Association to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, it was reported on Thursday.

Foreign contributions to American political campaigns are illegal.

The NRA spent at least $30m to back Trump’s 2016 campaign for president, according to an analysis of public campaign finance records – more than any other outside group, and more than double what it spent to back Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

News outlets have been examining ties and meetings between NRA leaders and Russia for months, including a 2015 NRA delegation to Moscow that included meetings with influential Putin allies.

Thursday’s McClatchy article, which names Alexander Torshin as the banker and NRA ally under scrutiny, is the first to report that links between Russia and the NRA have drawn the attention of federal investigators examining Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The report cited two unnamed sources, noting that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference is confidential and often focused on classified information.

A spokesman for the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Mueller spokesperson declined to comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal Election Commission regulations not only bar financial contributions from foreign nationals, they also prohibit foreign nationals from “directing, dictating, controlling, or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process” of any person or group “with regard to any election-related activities.”

Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a former member of the Russian parliament, tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reported in late 2017. The overture was rejected by Jared Kushner, the Times reported.

That month, Torshin, Trump, and Donald Trump Jr all attended events at the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, the Times reported, where Trump addressed NRA members and the gun rights group formally endorsed him.

A lawyer for Trump Jr said his client and Torshin spoke briefly when they were introduced during a meal at the NRA’s annual meeting.

“It was all gun-related small talk,” the lawyer, Alan Futerfas, told McClatchy.

Congressional investigators reportedly asked Trump Jr about that interaction at a hearing in December.

On Thursday, Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group that opposes the NRA’s influence in American politics, called on the NRA to “come clean” about its connections to Russia.

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Trump Towers project in India lures investors with offer of meeting US president’s son

 

The developers behind a Trump Towers project near the Indian capital, Delhi, are offering to fly the first 100 investors in the property to the US to meet Donald Trump Jr, the US president’s eldest son.

The promotional materials for the project – the fifth in India to take the Trump name – claim the address is “so powerful, a letter would reach you from any part of the world”.

One former White House ethics counsel described the offer as an “ethics atrocity”.

The specifics of the meeting with Trump Jr were unclear but the offer was repeated on a news broadcast featured on the developer’s website with the tagline “Buy a flat, meet Trump junior”.

The launch of an “ultra luxury” residential project in Gurgaon, a hub for IT workers south of Delhi, was announced last week announced by two of the Trump Organization’s Indian franchisees, M3M Tribeca Developers.

They claimed to have sold 20 apartments in the two 600ft towers within 24 hours of the launch, in part through boasts of building the “most luxury project in north India”, but also the lure of meeting a member of the US’s first family.

“About an initial 100 buyers will fly to the US where Donald Trump Jr will host them,” Pankaj Bansal, the India director for M3M, told the Press Trust of India.

“Making Donald Jr available to those who can afford it in a foreign land based on purchasing a property is an ethics atrocity,” said Norman L Eisen, who served as a special counsel for ethics in the Barack Obama administration and is the chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group.

“Access to the first family should not be for sale. It’s particularly inappropriate because we know he is in constant communication with his father, so it does create a conduit to attempt to influence the president and one of his closest confidants and family members.”

Crew warned in a report released on Friday that Trump was continuing to profit from his businesses while in office and “in many cases he is profiting as a result of his presidency”.

It cited reports in the Indian media of developers involved with the Trump Organization claiming prices in Trump-branded buildings had grown by up to 18% as a result of his presidency.

Other Trump-branded projects in India include a 23-storey tower in Pune in Maharashtra state, a 75-level building under construction in Mumbai and a residential project under way in Kolkata.

The Trump Organisation has also sold franchisee rights to a second project under construction in Gurgaon.

The company has sold the Indian developers its name and technical assistance but has not directly invested in any of the five sites.

Trump promised the month he won office that he would divest himself of his businesses “in total”, but has left control of his real estate holdings to his sons Donald Jr and Eric – in spite of warnings from ethics lawyers that the arrangement does not sufficiently extinguish potential conflicts of interest.

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Funding bill to keep US government open narrowly passes House<<

Republicans clear first hurdle to avoid government shutdown>>

Mexico border wall: Trump contradicts his chief of staff over plans>>

 

 

Critics say changes to judicial system and proposed decriminalisation of some corruption offences mean separation of powers is ‘finished’

People hold placards reading: ‘All for justice’ during a protest against the Romanian government and corruption in Bucharest.

 

Romania is taking the biggest step backwards on the rule of law since it joined the European Union, a former justice minister has warned before what could be the biggest street protests in a year this weekend in Bucharest.

Monica Macovei, who was an architect of Romania’s anti-corruption policy when she was justice minister from 2004-07, said changes introduced to bring the country into the EU were being dismantled.

There has been backwards and forwards, but this is worse

?Monica Macovei

She said recent changes to the judicial system and the proposed decriminalisation of some corruption offences constituted an unprecedented assault on the rule of law since Romania joined the EU in 2007. “There has been backwards and forwards, but this is worse.”

Macovei, now an MEP, was speaking to the Guardian at her offices in Brussels before Romania lost its second prime minister in seven months this week. Viorica D?ncil? has been named as prime minister designate, following the sudden departure of Mihai Tudose, who fell out with the leader of the ruling Social Democrat party.

Tudose’s unexpected resignation meant that the Japanese prime minister, Shinz? Abe, was left kicking his heels while on an official visit to Romania this week. After a meeting with the prime minister was cancelled on Tuesday, Abe made a last-minute trip to an outdoor village museum of traditional peasant houses.

Hundreds of embarrassed Romanians apologised for the “careless” behaviour of their government on the Japanese embassy’s Facebook page. “On behalf of the Romanian people, please accept our sincere apologies,” wrote one Facebook user, in a typical post. “Unfortunately, our current government does not represent the people. They are only representing themselves, and in the poorest way.”

D?ncil?, currently an MEP with a low profile in domestic politics, could be leading a new government by 1 February, but commentators say it is unclear if she will be an independent actor, or a proxy for PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea.

Dragnea is barred from the premiership because of a conviction for ballot-rigging that led to a two-year suspended prison sentence. He also faces charges of abuse of office, but the case against him would be dropped if current legislative proposals are passed.

Under a draft bill, abuse of office would no longer be a criminal offence if the sums involved were less than €200,000 (£176,000). The final text has not been adopted by the senate, following its adoption in the lower house earlier this month.

Other changes being debated include decriminalising the offence of taking a bribe on behalf of someone else, as well as lower sentences for the bribe taker. Prosecutors would face restrictions on using wiretaps, CCTV footage or digital evidence as part of changes to the criminal code that have been sharply criticised by Romania’s anti-corruption prosecution unit, the DNA. “These changes could have a devastating impact on criminal investigations because they eliminate the indispensable legal instruments needed to investigate,” the DNA said in a statement last month.

In December, the Romanian senate agreed changes to the judicial system, despite protests by thousands of judges and magistrates, who say the laws erode the independence of the judiciary.

Macovei said these changes – unless overturned by the country’s supreme court – meant that the separation of powers was “finished”, while the proposed overhaul of the criminal code would allow MPs to get rid of all corruption investigations.

Between 2006 and 2017 anti-corruption investigations led to the jailing of then prime minister Adrian N?stase, as well as the indictment of 20 current and former ministers, 53 deputies and 19 senators. The latest changes area perverse effect of a successful fight against corruption, against money-laundering and fraud”, she said.

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