20 Mar

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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140m people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved

Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh was flooded last year. It is one of the areas likely to be hard-hit by climate change, leading to high levels of migration.

Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh was flooded last year. It is one of the areas likely to be hard-hit by climate change, leading to high levels of migration. Photograph: Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images

Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.

More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050, the first report on the subject has found.

The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.

Such flows of people could cause enormous disruption, threatening governance and economic and social development, but the World Bank cautioned that it was still possible to stave off the worst effects.

“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.

He laid out three key actions governments should take: first, to accelerate their reductions of greenhouse gases; second, for national governments to incorporate climate change migration into their national development planning; and third, to invest in further data and analysis for use in planning development.

Within countries, the effects of climate change will create multiple “hotspots”: made up of the areas people move away from in large numbers, and the areas they move to.

“Local planners need to make sure the resources are made available, and to make sure it takes place in a comprehensive and coordinated manner,” said Roome.

Globally, many tens of millions more are expected to be similarly affected, creating huge problems for national and local governments. Nearly 3% of the population was judged likely to move owing to climate change in the areas studied – a proportion that might be repeated elsewhere.

Migration between countries has previously taken the spotlight, with its potential for cross-border conflicts, but internal migration may cause as much disruption, putting pressure on infrastructure, jobs, food and water resources.

The 140 million figure extrapolates from current trends, but could be reduced if changes are made. If economic development is made more inclusive, for instance through better education and infrastructure, internal migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 million and 105 million, according to the report. If strong action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, as few as 30 million to 70 million may migrate.

Climate change is likely to most affect the poorest and most vulnerable, making agriculture difficult or even impossible across large swaths of the globe, threatening water resources and increasing the likelihood of floods, droughts and heatwaves in some areas. Sea level rises and violent storm surges are also likely to hit low-lying coastal areas, such as in Bangladesh.

Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive of the World Bank, in her introduction to the report published on Monday, said: “There is growing recognition among researchers that more people will move within national borders to escape the effects of slow-onset climate change, such as droughts, crop failure and rising seas.

“The number of climate migrants could be reduced by tens of millions as a result of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with far-sighted development planning. There is an opportunity now to plan and act for emerging climate change threats.”

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Courts are a new front line of climate action with cases against governments and oil firms spiralling, and while victories have so far been rare the pressure for change is growing

Steam and fumes emerging from a brown coal-fired power plant

Those bringing climate litigation hope to force governments to act and companies to pay damages for their role in causing global warming. Photograph: Oliver Berg/EPA

Global moves to tackle climate change through lawsuits are poised to break new ground this week, as groups and individuals seek to hold governments and companies accountable for the damage they are causing.

On Tuesday, action by 12 UK citizens reaches the high court for the first time, while on Wednesday in San Francisco, the science of climate change will effectively be on trial at a key moment in a lawsuit.

The litigation represents a new front of climate action, with citizens aiming to force stronger moves to cut carbon emissions, and win damages to pay the costs of dealing with the impacts of warming.

They are inspired by momentous cases from the past, from the defeat of big tobacco to the racial desegregation of schools in the US. Big oil is fighting back hard, but though victories have been rare to date wins are more likely in future, as legal experts say the attitudes of judges often shift with the times.

A flurry of billion-dollar cases against fossil fuel companies brought by New York city and communities in California over the rising seas has pushed climate litigation into the limelight. But cases are being brought across the globe, with more than 1,000 suits now logged by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia law school in New York.

Homes stand amidst the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California

Richmond, California – home to a Chevron oil refinery – has filed a lawsuit against 29 fossil fuel companies to seek damages. Photograph: Getty Images

The UK government is now facing its first major climate change lawsuit, brought by 12 citizens through a legal group called Plan B and which already has the support of the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir David King.

“The UK carbon target for 2050 does not match the Paris agreement goal and the government knows that,” says Tim Crosland, a barrister at Plan B. He says the purpose of the case is to make the government live up to its responsibilities: “It is about closing the accountability deficit which is one of the biggest problems with climate change – if everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible.”

The UK has had climate laws in place for a decade and is seen by some as a leading nation, but Crosland argues the great dangers of global warming make this irrelevant. “Either we don’t want to fall off the climate cliff edge or we do. Who is doing better than others is the wrong question.”

On Wednesday meanwhile, a landmark case in California, in which the cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing major oil companies for damages, reaches an unprecedented moment with a day-long hearing on the science of climate change itself.

Further cases are under way from India to Uganda, and across Europe including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway, where campaigners are seeking to block oil drilling in the Arctic. In Colombia, 25 young plaintiffs are taking to the courts to halt deforestation.

Lawyers won a rare victory – now under appeal – in the 2015 Urgenda case in the Netherlands, with the court ruling the Dutch state must increase its cuts to emissions. A Pakistani farmer has also won a ruling that the “lethargy of the state in implementing [climate policies] offends the fundamental rights of the citizens”. And a Peruvian farmer is suing German energy company RWE over its alleged contribution to the melting glaciers near his Andean hometown.

But it is in the US, the world’s most litigious nation, that the greatest number of cases have been brought. The most high-profile suit against the government is the Juliana case, filed by 21 teenagers in Oregon, which saw off a Trump administration attempt to halt it earlier in March.

The basis of the case, says Julia Olson, lead counsel for Our Children’s Trust which is fighting the case, is failure of US administrations to protect its citizens by tackling global warming. “The US government has put these plaintiffs and other young people in a dangerous situation. First and foremost it is about personal security and the danger that exists presently. Beyond that, it is about protecting other fundamental rights under the US constitution – basic liberties such as to be able to decide where to live and to raise a family safely.

“I can’t convey how egregious and incredible this story is across every presidential administration of our government going back 60 years,” Olsen says. “This is not a Republican versus Democrat issue. Every president made those choices.”

While lawsuits against governments seek stronger action, those against the fossil fuel industry seek a simpler remedy – money. The argument is that these companies knowingly sold products that caused damage and a financial settlement is required, drawing parallels with the titanic legal battle fought and won against the tobacco industry.


90 firms are responsible for two-thirds of all emissions of fossil fuels. Photograph: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

Crowdfunding drive launched after Pennsylvania school gave 225 students detention

Supporters greet pupils on their way to Saturday morning detention at Pennridge High School

Supporters greet pupils on their way to Saturday morning detention at Pennridge high school. Photograph: Twitter/@NeverAgainPenn

Wellwishers have been crowdfunding to send pizza to 225 students at a Pennsylvania school who were given detention for taking part in protests against school shootings.

Students at Pennridge high school took part in a national school walkout on 14 March against the wishes of the school board. The board warned pupils in advance that anybody taking part in the protest would receive the standard punishment for skipping class – a Saturday morning in detention.

Anna Sophie Tinneny, one of the students who helped to organise the protests and get the message out on social media, told the Guardian: “Two hundred and twenty-five students walked out of the front doors for 17 minutes of silence and a few speeches afterwards. As we walked into the school, we were put in single-file lines and had to sign up for detention before returning to class.”

The students then turned the detention into another opportunity to protest. They attended the session on Saturday wearing signs bearing the names of those killed at the Parkland school shooting in Florida, and turned the detention into a sit-in.

The students’ fate caught the eye of social media users and the local community rallied round. Some went to the school before the detention started, bringing doughnuts, coffee, snacks and signs in support of the protest.

California-based Minette Nelson, who helps run the youth politics outreach campaign EighteenX18, arranged to have 20 pizzas brought to the school when the two-hour detention finished at 10am. People have also been using the #Pizza4Protesters hashtag to support a crowdfunding appeal to have pizza delivered to the school for the next round of detentions.

The students had tried to secure permission for the protest before walking out. Tinneny said: “We were crushed when we learned that our school board felt like the walkout was inappropriate for us to take part in. Several students went to a school board meeting and tried to negotiate for a way to do the walkout, but they were very inflexible.”

The school had organised its own event to commemorate the victims of the shooting to coincide with the national protests. In a statement the school’s superintendent, Dr Jacqueline A Rattigan, said: “We are proud of the way our students conducted themselves during today’s silent remembrance assembly. Approximately 800 students attended and sat in silence for 17 minutes while viewing a slideshow in honour of the victims.

“It was a moving experience for those who participated. About 225 students, including a few who were accompanied by their parents, chose to walk out of school to hold their own activity. Those who did so unaccompanied by a parent will face consequences.”

Because so many pupils are being punished, the detentions are scheduled to continue over the next two weekends. Another student, Sean Jenkins, interviewed by Dazed, said: “By this point, they’re a badge of honour for us; they represent how passionate we are about the issue. We’ll stand up for what is right, regardless of consequences. Seeing fellow students around the country be killed by gun violence is heartbreaking.”

Their actions have not met with universal approval, however. Tinneny said: “There’s been a lot of online backlash from classmates who chose not to walk out and other community members. Some think we walked because we want to repeal the second amendment, which isn’t true.

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World Politics

United States

More than a million viewers watch online as Sanders joins likes of Michael Moore and Elizabeth Warren to talk poverty

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders complained about the media’s poor coverage of inequality and working people’s struggles. Photograph: Tom Williams=/CQ-Roll Call/Sipa USA/Rex/Shutterstock

Enough about Russia and Stormy Daniels, the leaders of the progressive movement want to talk about growing income inequality in the US.

At a live-streamed town hall event on Monday night, Senator Bernie Sanders once again circumvented cable news to host a 90-minute panel discussion on poverty, the decline of the middle class and the consolidation of corporate power.

He was joined in Washington by Senator Elizabeth Warren, director Michael Moore and economist Darrick Hamilton while roughly 1.7 million viewers tuned in to watch online, according to Sanders’ office.

Speaking to the Guardian before the event, Sanders said: “We have to fight Trump every day. But we have to not lose our vision as to where we want to go as a country. We can talk about the disastrous role Russia has played in trying to undermine American democracy. That is enormously important. But we also have to talk about the fact that we have the highest rate of child poverty in any major economy of the world.”

The event was streamed online by liberal video outlets – including NowThis, The Young Turks and The Guardian was a media partner for the event, which follows a similar town hall Sanders organized in January on universal healthcare.

Sanders and Moore both complained about the media’s poor coverage of inequality and working people’s struggles. Moore said: “You turn on the TV and it’s ‘Russia, Russia, Russia!’” Sanders interjected: “And don’t forget Stormy Daniels!”

Moore continued: “These are all shiny keys to distract us … We should know about the West Virginia strike. What an inspiration that would be. But they don’t show this, Bernie, because, what would happen if they did?”

Panelists were not shy to point out who they felt were the culprits fuelling inequality in the United States. Its three wealthiest men – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – who collectively earn more than the poorest half of Americans, were singled out as contributing to the widening wealth gap. So too were lobbyists like the American Legislative Exchange Council and major political donors such as the Koch brothers. And, of course, representatives in Congress who are beholden to corporate donors.

“Whether the representatives are Democrats or Republicans, they go for the money. How do you fight that?” asked Moore. Speaking of Democratic donors, Moore tickled the audience with a story about a red carpet run-in with a Goldman Sachs executive at the Oscars. “The CEO of Goldman Sachs said ‘Why are you attacking us? We are Democrats’.” That, Moore suggested, was part of the problem.

“We need a party that’s going to be there for the people, the working people … We need to challenge people on our own side of the fence to stand up and do their job for the working people of this country,” Moore said.

Speaking about the need to inspire voters, he added: “The biggest party is the non-voters’ party.” He rejected the notion that non-voters were apathetic, saying that skipping the polls was an “an act of civil disobedience”. He added: “They aren’t going to vote, unless you give them a reason to vote.”

The panelists were keen to highlight solutions to rising inequality, and almost all agreed on the importance of strong unions.

“Unions built America’s middle class. It will take unions to rebuild America’s middle class,” said Warren, to thunderous applause.

The need for progressive taxation was also stressed. Speaking about lobbying efforts behind the recent tax cuts, she added: “We have to call it out for what it is: corruption. This is an organized effort to take over our government, and make the government work better and better for a thinner and thinner slice of America.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Sanders also warned about the growing concentration of corporate power. “When you have companies like Amazon that have extraordinary power, when you have companies like Facebook that to a significant degree control discourse, am I concerned about monopoly power? Absolutely. We need to have the kind of discussion that Congress has not had yet.”

While Sanders doesn’t agree with President Trump’s tariffs, he said that they are a “weapon you can use” to address competitors from low-wage countries. “American workers are put in an extreme disadvantage in that kind of competition,” Sanders said, adding: “We have to go broader [than Trump’s tariffs]. I have called for the ending of permanent normal trade relations with China and Nafta. I think trade is a positive thing, but it has to be done in a way that is fair.”

Trump was barely mentioned during the event, but there was one rapturous moment when his name came up. Moore, quoting a Democratic candidate running in Michigan, said: “In this election you are not electing a member to the House of Representatives, you are electing a jury for the impeachment of Donald J Trump. Never forget that over these next few months.”

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Lonnie Swartz on trial for second-degree murder of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was unarmed and on Mexico side of the border

A portrait of 16-year-old Mexican youth Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez is displayed on the street where he was killed that runs parallel with the US border.

A portrait of 16-year-old Mexican youth José Antonio Elena Rodríguez is displayed on the street where he was killed that runs parallel with the US border. Photograph: Anita Snow/AP

A US border patrol agent accused of shooting across the border into Mexico and killing a teenager five years ago will go on trial on Tuesday on a charge of second-degree murder in a rare justice department prosecution of a fatal cross-border shooting.

The agent, Lonnie Swartz, is accused of killing 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was on the street in Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora, just across the border from Nogales, Arizona. An autopsy showed the unarmed teen was hit 10 times, mostly from behind.

The trial in US district court in Tucson comes amid Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown and his pledge to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the 2,000-mile (3,200km) US-Mexico boundary.

Swartz opened fire at about 11.30pm on 10 October 2012 through the metal poles of a 20ft (6-meter) fence that sits on a 25ft (about 7.6-meter) embankment above Mexico’s Calle Internacional, a street lined with homes and small businesses.

The killing shocked the two communities of Nogales. About 20,000 people live on the Arizona side and about 300,000 live on the Mexico side, but the two communities linked by family members, trade and culture have long been referred to locally as Ambos Nogales – Both Nogales in Spanish.

Swartz’s defense lawyers have said Elena Rodríguez threw rocks just before he was shot as an attempt to create a distraction for a drug smuggling attempt and that the officer was justified in using lethal force. They want jurors to visit the site at night to experience the area after dark.

Witnesses from the Mexico side of the border said they did not see the teen throw rocks and his relatives have denied he was helping drug smugglers, saying he was walking home after playing basketball.

The US attorney’s office has said it will not dispute that the boy was throwing rocks, but it is unknown if he had any link to drug smugglers and the point is irrelevant because an unreasonable amount of force was used.

Swartz pleaded not guilty after being indicted by a federal grand jury in 2015 and is currently on administrative leave and free on his own recognizance. The border patrol has not said if he is continuing to receive his salary.

The case is expected to last more than a month and activists who support immigrants have said they will protest outside the court.

“For so long, prosecutors have been reluctant to charge border patrol agents with violent crimes,” said John Fife, a retired Presbyterian minister who was active in the sanctuary movement that sheltered citizens of Central American countries who came to the US in the 1980s fleeing civil war. “Now we will see if they can be held accountable.”

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