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22 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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Raw emotion and tough questions took center stage at an event that saw Marco Rubio and an NRA spokeswoman grilled over gun control

Emma González, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting on 21 February.

Emma González, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting on 21 February. Photograph: POOL/Reuters

Faced with a furious crowd of Florida students demanding a renewed ban on assault weapons, Republican senator Marco Rubio offered one concession after another.

He said he supported legislation to raise the legal age to purchase a rifle to 21 from 18. He said he supported a law to create gun violence restraining orders, which would give family members and law enforcement a way to petition a court to take away a dangerous person’s guns. He said he opposed Donald Trump’s proposal to prevent school shootings by arming teachers or putting more armed security in classrooms.

Finally, Rubio said he was “reconsidering” supporting a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, what experts call the most substantive part of the assault weapon ban. Rubio said that yet-to-be-announced details from the investigation on the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school would show that limits on ammunition magazines might have saved several lives in the shooting.

None of this was enough for the passionate crowd of more than 7,000 people at CNN’s town hall discussion in Florida on Wednesday night. They applauded, cheered and gave standing ovations in support of a full ban on the kind of military-style rifle and ammunition used in the Parkland shooting. A loophole-ridden federal assault weapon ban had passed in 1994, in the wake of a school shooting in California, and expired a decade later, in 2004.

Rubio, the only national Republican politician who agreed to answer questions from the Florida shooting survivors, seemed to watch the political ground of the gun debate shift under his feet. At one point, he argued that it did not make sense to ban only a subset of semiautomatic rifles based on certain cosmetic military features.

“You would literally have to ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America …” he began, before being cut off by huge whoops and cheers from the crowd.

“Fair enough, fair enough,” Rubio said. “That is a valid position to hold.”

When Rubio pressed the Democratic representative Ted Deutch, who was also on stage, on whether or not he would support a full ban on semi-automatic rifles, he dodged. The congressman said that he supported banning weapons that fire “150 rounds” in “seven or eight minutes”, but did not specifically say he supported banning all semi-automatic weapons, which automatically reload and do not continuously fire.

Deutch’s cloudy response highlights what may be a dramatic gap between the type of sweeping gun bans that students and parents want, and what Democrats in Washington are willing to fight for.

Cameron Kasky, one of the Stoneman Douglas organizers of the planned student march on Washington, asked Rubio the most pointed question.

“Can you tell me right now you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”

Rubio, who was backed by The National Rifle Association in his last race to the tune of more than $1m, refused to make that promise, arguing that his belief in the second amendment was shaped by long principle, and that “people buy into my agenda, I don’t buy into theirs”.

In their questions to Rubio and other lawmakers, the students and parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas were disciplined and unrelenting, and the crowd around them was deeply involved. It was the rare televised political event where it seemed that the ordinary citizen questioners were the ones in charge.

Teenagers who have become nationally recognized political activists in the past week stood toe-to-toe with politicians and an NRA spokeswoman who had honed their talking points over years.

The NRA’s Dana Loesch tried to praise Emma González, the Stoneman Douglas student whose passionate speech decrying the political influence of the NRA, had gone viral, saying that no one should attack her for her activism.

Gonzalez told Loesch that even if she was not willing to take action to protect her own children, the Stoneman Douglas students were.

The crowd repeatedly booed and hissed Loesch, who focused on states’ failures and tried to blame law enforcement errors for the Parkland shooting, a striking choice for a five-million member conservative organization that includes large numbers of law enforcement officials.

And they returned again and again to the need to ban assault weapons.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, described Stoneman Douglas kids being “hunted” in their own school.

“Look at me and tell me guns were the factor,” he told Rubio. “Look at me and tell me you accept it, and you will work with us to do something about guns.”

Rubio said that he did not support an assault weapon ban, telling Guttenberg: “If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not.”

Over boos from the crowd, Rubio made the typical Republican argument about a renewed assault weapon ban: that it targets a small set of 220 semi-automatic rifles with certain cosmetic military-style features, but left thousands of other guns that function in the exact same way un-banned.

“Are you saying you will start with the 200 and work your way up?” Guttenberg persisted.

“Senator Rubio, my daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back. With an assault weapon, the weapon of choice. It is too easy to get. It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can’t stand with everybody in this building and say that – I’m sorry.”

From the beginning, Rubio recognized that what politicians in the room were facing was something new: not just grieving survivors, but a whole generation shaped by the experience of active shooter drills and coverage of previous shootings on the news.

“I did not grow up in a school or an era in which children were shot in classrooms,” he said.

Many of the questions asked highlighted the starkness of the violence American students felt they now faced.

Several students asked how politicians could ensure that it was actually safe for them to return to school.

Ryan Deitsch said last week’s shooting had been the second time he had to hide with classmates from an active shooter. The first time had been in fifth grade.

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Related:

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Six things we learned from the Florida town hall on gun control>>

Florida survivors confront NRA spokeswoman in heated town hall meeting – as it happened>>

Trump’s solution to school shootings: arm teachers with guns>>

Students take fight for gun control to Florida legislators’ doorstep>>

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A call for continued efforts to protect our water and our Earth

Portrait of Chief Arvol Looking Horse, using the wet plate collodion photographic process. The original plate is curated at the Heard Museum in Arizona.

Portrait of Chief Arvol Looking Horse, using the wet plate collodion photographic process. The original plate is curated at the Heard Museum in Arizona. Photograph: Shane Balkowitsch

One year after the closing of the camp at the Standing Rock Reservation, Standing Rock is everywhere. Our collective water has been assaulted for many generations to the possible point of no return.

Our Elders foretold of a Black Snake and how the Water of Life — “Mni Woc’oni,” which is our first medicine — would be affected if we did not stop this oncoming disaster. Mni Woc’oni is part of our creation story, and the same story that exists in many creation stories around Mother Earth.

When we say “Mni Woc’oni” — Water of Life — people all over the world are now beginning to understand that it is a living spirit: it can heal when you pray with it and die if you do not respect it. We wanted the world to know there have been warnings in our prophecies and, as we see it, those warnings are now taking place. It was said water would be like gold. It was said that our spirit of water would begin to leave us.

We are at the crossroads.

First sunrise begins to creep onto Oceti Sakowin Camp, October 19th, 2016.

First sunrise begins to creep onto Oceti Sakowin Camp, October 19th, 2016. Photograph: Ryan Vizzions

In April 2016, after receiving concerns about the construction of an oil pipeline, I was invited to Sacred Stone Camp at the northeastern border of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to assist with a water ceremony. At that time, not many were there, but it was enough to create a prayer to wake up the people. I told the young people that Standing Rock is everywhere.

Later that month, our indigenous youth set out on foot to run from the Standing Rock Reservation to Washington D.C. in an attempt to bring attention to the poisonous bitumen oil pipeline coming through our treaty territory. For our young people, it was important to explain to U.S. government leaders that this was unacceptable.

As I look back at my experiences at Standing Rock, I think about the circle we created through prayer on December 4, 2016. Our traditional Elders asked all nations to join us and stand in prayer. Thousands, including many religious representatives, joined in prayer on that very cold day. An invitation video was made and sent all over the world.

After the prayers were offered to the fire, I asked the people to surround the camp and ride horseback around the whole perimeter. On this day, President Obama and his administration halted the Dakota Access Pipeline by denying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an easement that would have allowed the pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe.

Chief Arvol and Paula Looking Horse and other water protectors walking away from a meeting with law enforcement on the Backwater Bridge at Standing Rock, with a prayer song.

Chief Arvol and Paula Looking Horse and other water protectors walking away from a meeting with law enforcement on the Backwater Bridge at Standing Rock, with a prayer song. Photograph: Ryan Vizzions

The closing of the camp at Standing Rock a year ago and the continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been a great disappointment. So, too, was the November 2017 spill of 210,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone Pipeline, west of the Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation, despite the tribe’s fight against it since 2003. So, too, was the April 2011 spill of 1.2 million gallons of oil onto Lubicon Cree territory, northeast of Peace River.

At Standing Rock, water protectors chose to ceremonially burn the camp and its sacred structures, rather than have it bulldozed by outside forces.

At Standing Rock, water protectors chose to ceremonially burn the camp and its sacred structures, rather than have it bulldozed by outside forces. Photograph: Rob Wilson

What happened at Standing Rock has awakened many of my own people, and people across the world.

It was at Standing Rock that so many came together to share their stories and knowledge of what was happening in their territory, sharing ideas on how to move toward sustainable living in our relationship to land, water, and food……………Water is a source of life, not a resource.

An elder in peaceful prayer and protest, bearing the message of Mni Woc’oni: Water is life.

An elder in peaceful prayer and protest, bearing the message of Mni Woc’oni: Water is life. Photograph: Chema Domenech

My life’s work has been to bring attention to water and to unite all nations, all faiths in one prayer. As Keeper to the White Buffalo Calf Woman Bundle, I have also brought attention to the white animals being born, signaling us of changes globally.

As an indigenous leader, I have supported the establishment of a World Peace and Prayer Day, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and, most recently, the Nayzul Declaration.

In our tradition, we pray for everything we eat and drink so our minds can be good. When the environment that we live in is sick and suffering, so too are the minds and decisions of our leaders.

We must continue to work together for the health and well-being of our water and our Earth.

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no ending and no beginning.

Hec’ed Onipikte (that we shall live).

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World Politics

France

Emmanuel Macron unveils plans to crack down on immigration>>

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United States

Trump says arming teachers with concealed weapons could prevent school massacres – video

Source: Reuters

US president Donald Trump says he’s considering backing proposals to promote concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees to respond to shootings. Meeting students and parents affected by school shootings, Trump responded to a call to arm teachers and other school employees so they can react before law enforcement arrives. Trump said he believes the proposal could ‘solve the problem’ by making potential attackers think twice

‘It is the gun, it’s the person behind the gun and it’s about helping people before they ever reach that point,’ said a mother whose son died at Sandy Hook elementary

Donald Trump has said he will consider a proposal to arm school teachers in an attempt to prevent mass shootings, a move certain to prove fiercely divisive.

The US president, holding a listening session at the White House with survivors of last week’s Florida school shooting and others affected by gun violence, claimed that allowing airline pilots to carry and conceal guns had demonstrated the measure could be a success.

“It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many,” Trump said during an emotionally searing session that, extraordinarily, was broadcast live on national television. “It would be teachers and coaches.”

Referring to Aaron Feis, a football coach who used his body as a shield to protect a student during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, the president continued: “If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy – that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect.

Julia Cordover, the student body president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wipes away tears during a listening session hosted by Donald Trump at the White House

Julia Cordover, the student body president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wipes away tears during a listening session hosted by Donald Trump at the White House. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

“But if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot him, and that would have been the end of it. This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. Gun-free zone to a maniac, because they’re all cowards, a gun-free zone is: ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us’.”

Trump added: “An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in, so the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”

Knowledge of this would act as a deterrent to a would-be attacker, Trump claimed. “You know, a lot of people don’t understand that airline pilots now, a lot of them carry guns, and I have to say that things have changed a lot. People aren’t attacking the way they would routinely attack and maybe you would have the same situation in schools.”

The president asked for a show of hands in the room over the proposal: some were in favour, others were against. “We can understand both sides and certainly it’s controversial,” he acknowledged, promising to discuss it seriously.

It emerged after the shooting at Parkland that there was an armed security guard on site but he did not get the chance to engage the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, on the sprawling campus. In May 2016, during the presidential election, Trump tweeted: “Crooked Hillary [Clinton] said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!”

Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan died at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, spoke out against the idea of arming teachers. “It’s not personally something that I support. Rather than arming them with a firearm, I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place,” she told Trump.

Safety assessments programmes and interventions for troubled children are vital, she added. “Let’s talk about prevention. There is so much that we can do to help people before it reaches that point, and I urge you please stay focused on that as well. It is the gun, it’s the person behind the gun and it’s about helping people before they ever reach that point.”

Earlier during the session in the state dining room, where some speakers were tearful but composed as they recalled their experiences, Hockley also issued a challenge to the president. “This is not difficult,” she told him. “These deaths are preventable. And I implore you: consider your own children. You don’t want to be me. No parent does.”

During the meeting Trump also asserted that he would be “very strong” on background checks for gun buyers as well as mental health issues. He sat in the middle of a semi-circle listening intently as six survivors of last week’s shooting and bereaved parents from Parkland, Columbine, and Sandy Hook took turns to address him.

Sam Zeif, 18, a Parkland student whose text messages with his brother during last week’s shooting went viral, fought back tears as he told Trump: “I turned 18 the day after. Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR. I was reading today that a person 20 years old walked into a store and bought an AR-15 in five minutes with an expired ID. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How are we not stopping this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook, sitting with a mother that lost her son? It’s still happening.”

Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed at Stoneman Douglas, reflected the candid anger of many when he took the microphone. “We’re here because my daughter has no voice – she was murdered last week, shot nine times,” he said. “How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here, with this administration and me.”

Pollack, his voice rising with raw emotion, added: “It should have been one school shooting, and we should have fixed it, and I’m pissed because my daughter, I’m not going to see again.”

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