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05 Feb

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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Good Trump, Bad Trump: US president touts unity… and divisive immigration plan

Produced by Charles WENTE, Maya-Anaïs YATAGHÈNE & Laure FOURQUET.

“Tonight I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground”. It’s not always what you hear from Donald Trump, but he did use those words in his State of the Union address. Trump’s overture came before a Congress where a battle now awaits on immigration. Will the nativist core of his electorate drive the agenda on selected immigration, curbs on welcoming family members of migrants… and closing the border on more than people but also on free trade arrangements?

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in Nairobi

Esmond Martin

 

A well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poaching, has been killed in his home in Nairobi, prompting an outpouring of shock and revulsion across the conservation world.

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, died after being stabbed in his house in the Nairobi suburb of Langata on Sunday. His wife, Chryssee Martin, found his body. Bradley Martin had led global investigations into illegal wildlife trading since the 1970s and was a charismatic and familiar sight at conservation conferences.

Initial reports suggest that police believe the attack was part of a botched burglary. But there are also concerns that the murder may have been related to Bradley Martin’s work.

Elephant and rhino numbers have plummeted catastrophically on the African continent in the last 50 years as a result of the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn.

In east Africa, elephant numbers have almost halved, while in some countries – Tanzania, for example – the fall has been as high as 60% over five years. Demand for rhinoceros horn has seen rhinos similarly affected, with a 9,000% rise in poaching in South Africa from 2007 to 2014. But ivory and rhino horn are hugely profitable and are an important revenue source for traffickers, although the banning of ivory sales in China last year is believed to have brought ivory prices down.

Bradley Martin, a geographer by training, played a crucial part in bringing this international black market to global attention. He began documenting the illegal trade in wildlife in the 1970s, looking in detail at the movement of elephant ivory and rhino horn among other substances.

“No one was doing this at that point,” Dan Stiles, who worked with Bradley Martin for many years, told the Guardian. Bradley Martin and Stiles went on to record data about the movements of ivory and rhino horn that “provided data and numbers for what had, up until then, been anecdotal. Once you had the data you could then monitor the trade. He really woke up the world to what was going on.”

A number of campaigners against elephant and rhino poaching have been murdered in the last few years, and though most occur out in the parks, in conflicts with armed poachers, last year the campaigner Wayne Lotter was shot at point-blank range in Tanzania while in a taxi.

There appears to have been little progress in the investigation of Lotter’s murder, but a source close to the investigation said that three people were charged last year in connection with the killing.

Latest figures show that 197 people were killed around the world last year defending land, wildlife or natural resources – almost four a week.

“Esmond was one of conservation’s great unsung heroes,” said Save the Elephants’ founder, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who, along with Bradley Martin and Stiles documented the catastrophic fall in elephant numbers and brought the issue to the world stage.

“His meticulous work into ivory and rhino horn markets was conducted often in some of the world’s most remote and dangerous places and against intensely busy schedules that would have exhausted a man half his age … He was my friend for 45 years and his loss is a terrible blow both personally and professionally.”

“He was a giant of a man in his field – quite literally, his tall, gangling figure and shock of white hair made him an unlikely undercover investigator,” said Greg Neale, ex-environment correspondent at the Telegraph. “But that was part of his role as he sought to understand the extent of the rhino horn (and ivory) trade, often putting himself at real risk in some of the world’s most lawless places to establish the economic and cultural background to the forces driving the rhino and elephant towards extinction.”

Kaddu Sebunya, president of the African Wildlife Foundation, said: “He was a passionate individual who contributed tremendously not only to the conservation community, but governments all over the world in his devotion in highlighting ivory and rhino horn smuggling.”

“He was tireless in his efforts to protect elephants and rhinos,” said John Scanlon, head of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). “His research and findings across multiple continents had a real impact.

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World Politics

Russia

 Opposition leader summoned for questioning over alleged assault at rally last month

United States

  • Thousands protested in London on Saturday in support of NHS

  • Farage says on Fox and Friends immigration is breaking system

A Boris Johnson impersonator lies in a makeshift hospital bed next to an effigy of Theresa May during a demonstration in London on Saturday.

 

Donald Trump pointed to protests in Britain over the future of the National Health Service in a Monday morning tweet, claiming them as proof that Democratic support for universal healthcare in the US would produce “really bad and non-personal medical care”.

Observers were quick to point out that protests recently staged in Britain have in fact been in support of the NHS, and against any move to US-style privatised healthcare.

“The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working,” the president wrote.

“Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!”

Thousands marched in London on Saturday, under the title “NHS in crisis: Fix it now”. Placards carried by protesters carried messages such as “more staff, more beds, more funds” and “Saving lives costs money, saving money costs lives”.

The protesters chanted: “Keep your hands off our NHS.”

The Conservative health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, tweeted in response to Trump on Monday, saying that while he “may disagree with claims made on that march … not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover.

Hunt added: “NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage – where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance.”

Shortly after his tweet about healthcare, Trump returned to a familiar theme: praising Fox News.

“Thank you to @foxandfriends for exposing the truth,” he wrote. “Perhaps that’s why your ratings are soooo much better than your untruthful competition!”

Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and a steadfast Trump ally, had just discussed the pro-NHS marches on the morning show. Asked why people were protesting, Farage claimed pressure on the NHS was caused by a Trump bugbear: immigration.

“Well the big problem we’ve got is a population crisis caused by government policy on immigration,” Farage said.

“We have a population of 65 million but it’s increasing by half a million people a year. We just haven’t got enough hospitals, we haven’t got enough doctors, we haven’t got enough facilities.”

Farage also claimed “the National Health Service has turned into the International Health Service” and said “we’re providing a lot of healthcare for people coming into Britain from all over the world”.

The future of the NHS was a key part of the 2016 campaign by Farage and others that led to a vote for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A pro-Brexit claim that Britain paid the EU £350m a week, money which would be better used to fund the NHS, remains a source of fierce political controversy.

Discussing the possibility of universal healthcare in the US, Farage perhaps inadvertently pointed to growing American support for it when he said: “If you were to introduce universal healthcare, paid for centrally under taxes, you would never ever be able to remove it.”

Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era legislation which expanded access to health insurance, failed in Congress last year.

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  • Art Jones the sole GOP candidate for third congressional district

  • Anti-Defamation League calls Jones ‘a long-time neo-Nazi’

Lois Beckett

Art Jones, a prominent neo-Nazi who has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a Holocaust denier, speaks at a National Socialist Movement rally in eastern Kentucky on Friday night and accuses Donald Trump of having ‘betrayed’ him. Jones specifically points to Trump’s failure to secure funding for a border wall and implement a ban on Muslims, saying he regrets voting for him in the presidential election

A neo-Nazi Holocaust denier is set to become the Republican nominee for a congressional seat in Illinois, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Sunday.

The prospective candidate, Art Jones, is not a steadfast supporter of the Republican president. Ten months ago, in remarks filmed at a neo-Nazi retreat in Kentucky, he ranted about how Donald Trump had “surrounded himself with hordes of Jews including a Jew in his own family, that punk named Jared Kushner”.

“I’m sorry I voted for the son of a bitch, pardon my English,” Jones said, to applause. “I really am. I’m sorry I paid $180 out of my own pocket for three big banners that said ‘President Trump, build the wall’.”

He added: “The man has betrayed us!”

Nonetheless, Jones is now the sole Republican candidate for the third congressional district of Illinois, which includes part of Chicago and is so heavily Democratic that no other GOP candidates decided to run.

In 2016 Jones was taken off the ballot in the same district, after none of the voter signatures he needed to qualify were found to be valid, the Chicago Tribune reported.

This year, the Sun-Times reported, a lawyer for the Republican party examined Jones’ collected signatures. They appeared to be valid.

For more than 40 years, Jones has attempted to win elected office in Wisconsin and Illinois. In 1976, he received 4,765 votes in the Milwaukee mayoral election, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Jones’s Nazi costume and celebrations of Hitler’s birthday, his protest against a local Holocaust museum and his presence at neo-Nazi and white supremacist events have long been documented. The Anti-Defamation League calls him “a long-time neo-Nazi”.

Jones also attempted to run for Congress in the third Illinois district in 1998. Party leaders told the Chicago Tribune then they were concerned he might win the nomination.

“If he were nominated, it would be a national embarrassment for Republicans in Cook County,” county GOP chairman Herb Schumann said at the time.

On Sunday, a spokesman for the Illinois Republican party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The chairman of the state party, Timothy Schneider, issued a statement to the Sun-Times in which he said: “We strongly oppose [Jones’] racist views and his candidacy for any public office.”

Schneider added: “The Illinois Republican party and our country have no place for Nazis.”

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Nazmul Islam watched as the army prepared to attack his home in Tula Toli, where its Rohingya residents were raped and murdered

Nazmul Islam

 

After they finished burning the bodies, the soldiers ordered chicken curry.

Nazmul Islam watched as local Buddhists set about preparing food for the men he says raped and massacred scores of Rohingya Muslims from the village of Tula Toli in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

By late afternoon it was quiet. The smell of burning hung over the village. An officer barked, “We need 100 plates of rice and chicken curry. Bring it to us.”

The soldiers’ savagery appalled but did not shock Islam, the 60-year-old assistant village chairman. He used to be one of them.

A former soldier and Buddhist who became a Muslim after falling in love with a Rohingya woman, Islam is an unusual sight in the sprawling Bangladeshi refugee camps now home to close to one million people.

While his wife and their five children fled Myanmar alongside their neighbours, Islam says he was detained for weeks in the Rakhine part of the village where officers tried to convert him back to Buddhism. Taken there before the violence, he says he witnessed the orchestration of a slaughter first reported last year by the Guardian.

“Ufffft. I saw everything,” says Islam, who is thin with sinewy, tattooed arms. “I couldn’t do anything but sit and look.”

His story, corroborated by more than half a dozen Rohingya residents of Tula Toli interviewed separately, sheds new light on one of the worst episodes of what the UN and global leaders have called an ethnic cleansing campaign.

More than 650,000 Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority long persecuted in Myanmar, have fled to Bangladesh since August. They say Myanmar soldiers, police and Buddhist militias staged mass executions, gang-raped women and children, and burned hundreds of villages to the ground during “clearance operations” targeting militants.

Doctors Without Borders believes at least 6,700 were killed. A list drawn up by Rohingya puts the estimated death toll in Tula Toli at 1,179.

Last week the Associated Press reported it had found evidence of five mass graves in the village of Gu Dar Pyin. Two Reuters journalists who were investigating another grave are being tried under the Official Secrets Act.

The Myanmar army and its commander, Min Aung Hlaing, say the accusations are “fabrications” although it has admitted summarily executing 10 Rohingya men in another village and burying them in a mass grave. The army’s True News Information unit could not be reached for comment for this story.

Meanwhile Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement to send refugees back, but few want to return, saying they will face further persecution.

Islam, who spent more than a decade as a soldier, stationed mostly in Rakhine state, can understand that fear.

“In their mind, [the army] wants to wipe out the Muslim people,” Islam says.

After leaving the force in 1983, he settled in Rakhine, marrying a Buddhist woman from Tula Toli, a village also known as Min Gyi nestled in the bend of the Purma River in the northern part of Maungdaw township.

Rohingya lived down by the water’s edge; Rakhine Buddhists mostly on higher ground. But they often worked together, farming and fishing.

Islam began talking to a Rohingya woman in her twenties, Marbiyar Khatun, who worked in his home as a maid.

She was bold and funny, but Islam noticed the grinding oppression her people were facing. They had to get permission to marry or travel. Security forces took away their documents and harassed them for bribes. Despite the age difference, they grew close. “How can I define love? Sympathy is also a kind of love,” he says.

In 2008, he divorced his first wife, married Marbiyar and converted to Islam, a move he insists wasn’t solely for her sake.

They moved to the Rohingya part of the village and had four sons and a daughter. Educated and polite, Islam was widely respected and worked filling out forms in Burmese on behalf of Rohingya. Friends and neighbours describe him and Marbiyar as a bridge between the two communities.

In the early hours of August 25th 2017, Rohingya armed with guns, sticks and knives overran scores of police posts across northern Rakhine. The insurgents, from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army [ARSA] provided the pretext for soldiers to respond with brutal force across the state.

Shortly after the attacks, according to several witnesses, a group of Rakhine villagers came to Islam and took him to their neighbourhood.

Residents say a village elder guaranteed their safety and told them to gather by the river if soldiers came. “Maybe they played games with the Rohingya villagers,” says Islam. The chairman could not be reached for comment.

Soldiers swept into Tula Toli on the morning of August 30th. Islam and other Rohingya from the village say they were from a division unit usually stationed in the northwest of the country but deployed to combat ARSA.

“When I tell this story, I feel sick,” says Marbiyar, beating her hand against her head.

She and the children managed to escape across the river to a neighbouring village, but many Rohingya were trapped at the river’s edge, surrounded by soldiers and Buddhists with knives. Some scrambled into the water. Others ran and were shot at. The soldiers separated those who remained into groups: men on one side; women on the other.

According to survivors interviewed by the Guardian, the women were forced to stand in the shallows and watch as their husbands, sons and fathers were shot.

Some pretended to be dead. Some tried to hide their male relatives. Those who asked for water were cut with knives. So were children who cried.

Later, the women were taken into houses in small groups where they were raped and beaten. Then the houses were set alight.

“We have the order to kill everyone”

On the hill, detained in a military camp, Islam says he was aware of what was going on. “At first, I couldn’t see anything but I heard the sound of bullets and crying. I saw the fire and smoke,” he says.

At one point, a helicopter landed nearby, carrying some senior officers. “They gave bullets and guns. They ordered the military not to throw bodies into the water but to bury or burn them,” he says.

The task was delegated to the local Buddhists, he says. “If anyone disagreed, they would shoot,” he says. “I heard a corporal saying,… ‘We have the order to kill everyone and will kill everyone who disagrees.’”

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