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24 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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French ‘hero’ gendarme who swapped himself for hostage dies

The mother said her son would have told her, “‘I’m doing my job Mom, that’s all.’”

A French police officer who offered himself up to an extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage during a deadly supermarket siege in southwestern France has died of his injuries, the interior minister said Saturday.

France24 screengrab | Col. Arnaud Beltrame succumbed to his injuries Saturday, March 24, 2018.

Col. Arnaud Beltrame was among the first officers to respond to the attack on the supermarket in the south of France on Friday. His death, announced by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, raises the toll to four. The gunman was also killed, and 15 people were injured in the attack.

The gendarme, or policeman, had been left fighting for his life after being hit by gunfire inside the Super U supermarket in the town of Trèbes before elite police raided the premises and killed the attacker, who had burst into the store yelling “Allahu Akbar”.

“Dead for his country. France will never forget his heroism, bravery and sacrifice,” Collomb said in a Twitter message posted early Saturday.

Responding to the news of Beltrame’s demise, French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to “a fallen hero” who has earned “the admiration of the nation”.

Surreptitiously leaving cellphone on

The four-hour drama began at 10.30am local time on Friday morning, when the gunman first hijacked a car, killing one person in the southwestern citadel town of Carcassonne. He then opened fire on policemen on a morning jog, injuring one officer. He then drove to Trèbes and took hostages inside a supermarket.

Beltrame offered to trade places with a female hostage the attacker was holding as a human shield, after which he took her place and left his cellphone on, enabling security officials around the site to hear exactly what was going on inside the supermarket.

Officials said the decision was made to storm the building when they heard shots fired.

The 44-year-old gendarme, who once served in Iraq, was part of a team of security officials who were among the first to arrive at the supermarket scene. Most of the shoppers escaped after hiding in a cold storage room and then fleeing through an emergency exit.

In an interview with French radio station RTL Friday night, before the announcement of his death, Beltrame’s mother, who was not named, said she was not surprised that her son had volunteered to be a hostage. “I knew it had to be him. He has always been like that. He’s someone, since he was born, who gives everything for his homeland,” she said.

Asked if she was proud of him, she said he would have told her, “‘I’m doing my job Mom, that’s all.'”

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World Politics

United States

Following up on Donald Trump’s controversial pledge, official memo disqualifies trans individuals ‘except under limited circumstances’

A series of tweets by Donald Trump in 2017 called for a ban on transgender people in the military, sparking widespread protests.

A series of tweets by Donald Trump in 2017 called for a ban on transgender people in the military, sparking widespread protests. Photograph: Michael N/Pacific/BarcroftImages

The White House has announced orders to formally ban transgender people from serving in the military, following up on Donald Trump’s controversial policy pledge that sparked widespread backlash last year from civil rights groups and US defense chiefs.

Despite opposition from top military officials and previous rulings against the ban, which LGBT rights groups have challenged in court, a memo from the secretary of defense released late Friday night said trans people are “disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances”.

The memo did not elaborate on possible exceptions, but said the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security “may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals”.

The announcement claimed that the policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders” and said that based on the advice of “experts”, the administration has concluded that the “accession or retention” of trans people “presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality”.

When Trump originally announced the ban on Twitter, he claimed that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” of trans service members, despite the fact that studies have found that the ban would have negative impacts on the military.

Critics have argued that the discriminatory policy will cause significant disruptions in the military, force trans members to hide their identities, deprive the military of talented people and reinforce harmful and inaccurate stereotypes about trans people. The president’s orders have reversed Barack Obama’s policy in 2016, which ended a longstanding rule barring trans people from serving openly in the military.

“What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy. This policy is not based on an evaluation of new evidence,” Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, said in a statement Friday night. “It is reverse-engineered for the sole purpose of carrying out President Trump’s reckless and unconstitutional ban, undermining the ability of transgender service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole.”

Thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition of the proposed policy change in July 2017.

Thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition of the proposed policy change in July 2017. Photograph: Michael N/Pacific/BarcroftImages

Trump’s directive was already blocked by federal courts in four separate cases, including an ACLU lawsuit, the group noted.

“The policy effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country,” Block said. “Transgender people in our military deserve more from their government than a myth-driven proclamation about their unfitness for full civic inclusion.”

Sarah McBride, the national press secretary with the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ rights group in the US, also condemned the policy in a statement, saying: “Releasing this news under cover of darkness late on a Friday night means thousands of transgender troops will wake up tomorrow with their lives turned upside down. This couldn’t be more cowardly or wrong.”

Numerous Republican senators, including John McCain, Susan Collins and Orrin Hatch, have criticized the policy, and more than 50 retired generals and admirals signed a letter saying the ban would degrade military readiness.

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Demonstrators in Washington, London, Tokyo and elsewhere will demand US Congress pass sweeping change on gun control

American students make signs calling for stricter gun control before a solidarity rally with March For Our Lives in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel Friday.

American students make signs calling for stricter gun control before a solidarity rally with March For Our Lives in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel Friday. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

Hundreds of thousands of marchers are expected to descend on Washington DC on Saturday for a landmark gun control rally as calls for reform reach a fever pitch following the Parkland school shooting last month.

March for Our Lives events led by young people in over 800 locations around the world – including London, Sydney, Tokyo, Mumbai, plus hundreds of places in the US – will also take place as demonstrators demand that the US Congress, for decades dormant on gun control, pass sweeping legislative change.

The rally, organized by teenaged survivors of the 14 February school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead, marks a shift in America’s gun control debate. All of the featured speakers at the rally will be teenagers, a spokeswoman for the march said, reflecting the frustration of the young gun control activists, who say the death of their classmates has forced them to tackle a crisis that adults have failed for decades to prevent.

Donald Trump, who has flip-flopped on his support for gun control measures and vowed to support the NRA, which spent more than $30m to back his campaign for the White House, left town on Friday evening and flew to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort.

Donald Trump departs the White House for Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump departs the White House for Mar-a-Lago. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The rally organizers say that they support Americans’ basic right to own guns, but they are demanding that Congress ban the military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines often used in high-profile mass shootings, as well as close loopholes in the nation’s background check requirements for gun sales.

A new survey of American teenagers and young adults found that gun violence was at the top of the list of issues they found most worrying. Americans under 18 were especially concerned, with 53% of them describing gun violence as a major worry.

The USA Today/Ipsos poll found that more than one in three young people were planning to join the March for Our Lives protests, either in person or via social media.

Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, said she knew immediately she would travel to Washington to join the march. “It’s going to be very revolutionary,” she said. “We are going to change laws there, and I want to be part of that change.”

Jon White, 47, whose daughter Katrina fled the school during the shooting, said: “I don’t have a lot of confidence in my generation. I believe in millennials. They’re going to make a difference.”

Among the performers at the Saturday rally are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande.

As hundreds of students from Stoneman Douglas make the 1,000-mile journey to the nation’s capital, the Guardian announced an editorial collaboration with the school’s award-winning newspaper, the Eagle Eye.

On Friday, student editors took control of the Guardian’s website and published an array of articles, including an interview with independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who told them he believed the NRA’s grip on Congress “may be breaking a bit” because of their campaigning.

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Women’s movement demand an end to unrestricted oil drilling and mining on indigenous lands and action on violence against land defenders in first meeting with president Lenin Moreno

Dozens of women from the Ecuadorian Amazon gather at the Carondelet Palace, seat of the Executive, in Quito, Ecuador

Dozens of women from the Ecuadorian Amazon gather at the Carondelet Palace, seat of the Executive, in Quito, Ecuador. Photograph: José Jácome/EPA

Amazon indigenous women leaders have told Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno to limit oil drilling and mining in their territories and combat the sexual violence and death threats they claim accompany the industries.

The delegation of women dressed in traditional tunics and with intricately painted faces were granted a meeting with Moreno after nearly 100 of them camped in Quito’s central plaza in front of the Carondelet government palace for five days, earlier this month.

“We gave him our demands, which was what we intended to do. We will return to our communities and wait for a response from the government. If we do not receive a response in two weeks, we will be back,” said Zoila Castillo, vice president of Ecuador’s principal Amazon indigenous federation CONFENIAE.

In the first presidential meeting granted to the women’s movement, Moreno assured them he would heed their demands and try to find consensus but added “it’s almost impossible for a world to exist without oil and mining.”

In December, Moreno agreed to a moratorium on new auctions of oil and mining concessions without the prior and informed consent of local communities, following a two-week march by hundreds of indigenous people from the Amazon to Quito.

But in February his government announced a new oil auction and handed out several new mining concessions. Moreno was praised by environmentalists last year after promising the United Nations he would do more to protect the Amazon.

An oil pipeline on the edge of the Yasuni national park near Coca, Ecuador

An oil pipeline on the edge of the Yasuni national park near Coca, Ecuador. Photograph: Georg Ismar/dpa/Alamy

Your government cannot permit that our rights continue to be violated,” Patricia Gualinga, an indigenous Kichwa from Sarayaku, told the president during the meeting. “Ecuador has to change its energy policy. It could be an example for the world,” she said.

Gualinga, who received death threats in January, said environmental defenders, particularly women, were increasingly at risk in Ecuador.

“The threats against women are a consequence of extractivism,” Nina Gualinga, a 24-year-old activist from the same community, told the Guardian. “Women don’t want more oil and mining exploitation. It is women who care for the children, who care for the land so it should be women making these decisions.”

Ecuadoreans voted overwhelmingly in favour of rolling back mining in urban and protected areas and curbing oil drilling in the biodiverse Yasuni national park in a February referendum.

“After two months of planning and two weeks of mobilisations, the voices and demands of Amazonian women defenders of the Amazon against extraction were finally heard,” said Leila Salazar-López executive director of the NGO Amazon Watch.

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