29 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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US gun maker Remington files for bankruptcy

© Ethan Miller, Getty Images North America, AFP | Bruce Nemec of Montana looks at a Bushmaster BA-50 bolt action rifle at the Remington booth at the 2018 SHOT Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center on January 23, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Remington, a company that began making flintlock rifles when there were only 19 United States, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Mounting debts at the arms manufacturer have snowballed, ironically, since the election of Donald Trump, who has called himself a “true friend” to the gun industry.

Remington, which has roots dating to 1816, has lined up $100 million with lenders to continue operations.

It remains unclear what will happen to the 3,500 or so employees at Remington as it reorganises.

Panic sales that drove revenue for gun makers ever higher evaporated with Trump’s arrival in the White House, and Remington’s production of one of the most well-known weapons in the world, the Bushmaster AR-15, have overwhelmed the Madison, North Carolina, company.

Late Sunday, according to records from the bankruptcy court of the district of Delaware, Remington Outdoor Co. agreed to a prepackaged deal that would give holders of the company’s $550 million term loan an 82.5 percent stake, according to a release.

Third-lien noteholders will take 17.5 percent of Remington and four-year warrants get a 15 percent stake.

The Bushmaster AR-15 rifle was used in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in which 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in 2012.

The same gun was used to kill 17 in a Parkland, Florida, high school, a massacre that drew hundreds of thousands of anti-gun violence protesters to the capital and to the streets in cities across the nation this past weekend.

The company was cleared of wrongdoing in the Sandy Hook shooting, but investors wanted nothing to do with it. Cerberus Capital Management, which had acquired the company in 2007 as gun sales began to boom, tried to sell it less than a week after the shooting. There were no takers.

But it was larger trends already underway that doomed Remington.

Arms manufacturers had for years ramped up production as gun ownership became a red-hot social, and political flashpoint. Some gun-rights advocates have binged on guns on the misguided belief that a Democratic administration would harshly restrict gun sales.

Those misperceptions became moot with Trump’s rise to the White House.

Trump was the first sitting president to address the National Rifle Association in three decades, telling members at their annual meeting last spring that “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

Any belief that more restrictive regulation was on the way evaporated.

In 2017, firearm background checks, a good barometer of sales, declined faster than in any year since 1998, when the FBI first began compiling that data.

But there were clear signs that gun sales, even as production increased, were already in decline. By 2015 Cold Holdings Co., another storied gun maker, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Profit growth at Sturm, Ruger & Co. is under severe pressure and the company’s shares are down 18 percent this year.

Some of Wall Street’s heaviest hitters are stepping into the national debate on guns as investment firms ask firearms makers what they are doing about gun violence.

BlackRock is a major shareholder in gun makers Sturm Ruger, American Outdoor Brands, and Vista Outdoor Brands. About a week after the shooting in Parkland, BlackRock said it wanted to speak with the three firearms makers about their responses to the tragedy.

It’s also looking into creating new investment funds for investors that exclude firearms makers and retailers.

Relatives of detainees fight with police outside station as families demand more information

Relatives outside the jail in Valencia

Relatives outside the jail in Valencia, Venezuela. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Distraught families gathered outside a police station in Venezuela demanding information after a fire in the cells killed 68 people.

Relatives of detainees fought with police outside the facility in Valencia, in Carabobo state, after local officials would confirm only that there had been deaths in Wednesday’s fire. Officers used teargas to disperse the crowd.

Venezuela’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, said late on Wednesday that 68 people died in the fire, nearly all of them prisoners.

The fire is said to have broken out after a disturbance involving detainees. Saab said four prosecutors would investigate the circumstances.

A Window to Freedom, a nonprofit group that monitors conditions at Venezuela’s jails and prisons, said preliminary but unconfirmed information indicated that a riot began when an armed detainee shot an officer in the leg.

Shortly after that a fire broke out and grew quickly as the flames spread to mattresses in the cells, it said. Rescuers apparently had to break a hole through a wall to free some of the prisoners inside.

It was one of the worst jail disasters in Venezuela, where human rights groups complain about poor conditions in jails. A fire at a prison in the western state of Zulia killed more than 100 inmates in 1994.

People waiting outside the station on Wednesday said dozens of detainees had been kept in squalid conditions and they feared the worst for their loved ones.

“I don’t know if my son is dead or alive,” said Aida Parra, who said she had last seen her son the previous day when she took food to him. “They haven’t told me anything.”

Carlos Nieto Palma, the director of A Window to Freedom, said officials should be held accountable for failing to address poor conditions in police station jails. He said overcrowding had become common throughout Venezuela, with detainees being kept long past customary brief holding periods before being let go or sent to larger jails to await trial.

“It’s grave and alarming,” Nieto Palma said. “What happened today in Carabobo is a sign of that.”

Juan Miguel Matheus, an opposition politician, demanded the pro-government leader of Carabobo state inform relatives about what happened. “The desperation of relatives should not be played with,” he said.

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Elderly woman who survived the notorious Vel d’Hiv roundup was attacked in her flat in Paris

A huge crowd walks during a silent march in Paris, France, in commemoration of 85-year-old Jewish woman Mireille Knoll

A huge crowd walks during a silent march in Paris, France, in commemoration of 85-year-old Jewish woman Mireille Knoll. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

Silent marches are taking place in Paris and other large French cities in memory of an 85-year-old woman who survived the Holocaust but was stabbed to death last week, in what is being investigated as an antisemitic attack.

After killing Mireille Knoll, her attackers set her local authority flat alight in a poor area of the French capital. Two men, aged 22 and 29 – one of them a neighbour known to the victim since he was a child, have been arrested and placed under formal investigation.

Friends and family had urged French people to turn out for the silent marches, arguing the killing was not just an outrage perpetrated against a member of the Jewish community but against the community as a whole.

The killing of Knoll last Friday has raised questions about France’s failure to tackle resurgent antisemitism. Last year, Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, was beaten and thrown out of the window of her home.

French president Emmanuel Macron attended Knoll’s funeral on the outskirts of Paris on Wednesday after paying tribute to the hero gendarme, Arnaud Beltrame. In his speech at the state ceremony honouring the fallen gendarme, killed by a suspected Islamist gunman, Macron said Knoll’s killers had “murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish … and in doing so, profaned our sacred values and our history.”

The march in Paris on Wednesday evening sparked political rows after the far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon announced they would ignore requests from Jewish leaders to stay away.

Family members and friends gather at the funeral of Mireille Knoll, who was stabbed to death in her home

Family members and friends gather at the funeral of Mireille Knoll, who was stabbed to death in her home. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

Leaders of CRIF, the umbrella group for French Jewish communities, had indicated neither were welcome, but Knoll’s son Daniel contradicted the organisation saying “everyone without exception” could attend.

“CRIF is being political, I’m opening my heart to all those who have a mother. Everyone is concerned. Anyone with a mother knows what I’m talking about …”, he told RMC radio a few hours before his mother’s funeral.

A man stands in front of a picture of Mireille Knoll placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris.

A man stands in front of a picture of Mireille Knoll placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris. A message condemns the alleged antisemitic motive of her killing. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Other marches were due to be held in the French cities of Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg.

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World Politics

United States

Exclusive: US authorities made inquiries even before 2016 election campaign into Trump property dealings in former Soviet Union

Riga, the capital of Latvia.

Riga, the capital of Latvia. Photograph: Nicole Kucera/Getty Images/Flickr RF

They wanted to build the Las Vegas of the Baltics.

In 2010, a small group of businessmen including a wealthy Russian supporter of Vladimir Putin began working on plans to build a glitzy hotel and entertainment complex with Donald Trump in Riga, the capital of Latvia.

A senior Trump executive visited the city to scout for locations. Trump and his daughter Ivanka spent hours at Trump Tower with the Russian, Igor Krutoy, who also knows compatriots involved in arranging a fateful meeting at the same building during the 2016 US election campaign.

Then the Latvian government’s anti-corruption bureau began asking questions.

The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there – and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.

Those involved deny that the inquiry was to blame for the deal’s collapse.

Latvia asked the US for assistance in 2014 and received a response from the FBI the following year, according to a source familiar with the process. Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.

This means the FBI looked into Trump’s efforts to do business deals in the former Soviet Union earlier than was widely known. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is now investigating other Trump dealings with Russians as part of his wide-ranging criminal inquiry into alleged collusion between Moscow and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team.

The Riga developers saw their potential partner in New York as a ticket to lucrative western revenues.

“They were very proud to be talking with Trump,” said Andrejs Judins, a Latvian Unity party MP, who has been a vocal critic of the prosecutor general’s decision to close the corruption inquiry in 2016 without pursuing charges.

Krutoy, a well-known composer in Russia, has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer whose father hosted Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow. Krutoy attended the contest, where he was photographed with Trump.

Emin once named Krutoy as one of his closest friends in music. Public records show the Krutoys and the Agalarovs owned neighbouring houses in New Jersey in the 1990s, and now own condominiums in the same luxury complex in Florida. Krutoy said he considered the Agalarovs as acquaintances rather than friends.

Igor Krutoy, Donald Trump and Aleksander Serov in Moscow during the festivities around Miss Universe 2013.

Igor Krutoy, Donald Trump and Aleksander Serov in Moscow during the festivities around Miss Universe 2013. Photograph: web

In June 2016, the Agalarovs were involved in setting up a meeting at Trump Tower with senior campaign officials that is now a flashpoint for Mueller’s investigation. Emin’s manager emailed Donald Trump Jr beforehand to say the Agalarovs had dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Trump Jr responded enthusiastically.

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