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30 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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The Myanmar Times

Detained journalist Kyaw Soe Oo carries his daughter as he is escorted by police to a court in Yangon on Wednesday. Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times

Detained journalist Kyaw Soe Oo carries his daughter as he is escorted by police to a court in Yangon on Wednesday. Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times

Colleagues and Lawyers for the two journalists from Reuters news agency expressed hope that President-elect U Win Myint will take notice of their case and release them soon.

“The new president is also a lawyers and lawmaker as he was a speaker of the parliament. We are looking for good news about Myanmar’s laws and regulations during his time in office” said U Khin Mg Shwe, one of the lawyers of Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27.

U Kyaw Nyein of the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network expressed hope that the two journalists would be among the prisoners who would  be freed as part of a tradition of granting amnesty to some prisoners when a new leader is elected.

“I think some prisoners will be released as part of a tradition of honouring newly elected presidents,” he told The Myanmar Times on Thursday.

Lynn Satt Aung, the video journalist of Democratic Voice of Burma, was more optimistic about the prospect of freedom for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

“I think Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo will be released before the Thingyan festival holidays, as a new president has been elected,” he said.

“The new president, U Win Myint, is very close with the media and he understands the important role of Myanmar media,” he added.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo expressed hope President U Win Myint would give media more freedom in doing their job.

“I hope the new president will improve media freedom in Myanmar and we sincerely ask him to do it as it is essential in Myanmar,” Wa Lone told reporters after their court hearing on Wednesday.

The two, who are facing a possible 14 years’ imprisonment for possession of classified documents, formally asked the court during Wednesday’s hearing to withdraw the charges against them

Lawyer U Than Zaw Aung, another defence lawyer, said the court was set to decide on their petition on April 4.

He said all 17 witnesses who have testified in court could not present evidence or facts that would prove the two accused are guilty of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

“All the witnesses have testified, and there is still no evidence to support the charges under the Official Secrets Act against them, so we asked for withdrawal of the charges,” he said.

Prior to the application for withdrawal by the defence, the court listened to the testimony of three more witnesses who are employees of the East Hotel, where the accused Kyaw Soe Oo stayed before he was arrested in December.

There are two ways to apply motion for withdrawal of charges: after all witnesses have testified but before the accused is indicted or before the witnesses testify in court.

The witnesses said that the police searched the hotel room of Kyaw Soe Oo without showing them a search warrant, and the police called the witnesses by phone to testify in court without providing them official court summons, he added.

“Some of the actions of the police violated the privacy rights of Myanmar citizens,” U Than Zaw Aung said.

The duo was arrested on December 12 on the outskirts of Yangon after meeting with two police sources who handed them the allegedly classified documents.

Among the documents allegedly recovered in their possession were details of police strength and weapons and the disposition of security forces in northern Rakhine State.

At the time of their arrest, the two were on assignment for Reuters to investigate Inn Din, a village in Rakhine that was allegedly torched and pillaged by government security forces.

The most important thing I have’: Rohingya refugees on what they most value – in pictures

When you have to flee your home, what do you take? Since the last exodus from Myanmar in August, more than 688,000 Rohingya people have escaped to Bangladesh. Here, refugees talk about the things that mean most to them

All photographs by Brian Sokol/UNHCR

The most important thing Nuras brought with her from Myanmar is a baby she found while fleeing an attack on her village. As 25-year-old Nuras and her four children fled, she heard the baby’s cries and found him near two bodies of Rohingya people. She searched for the baby’s family but when no one claimed him, she and her husband decided to name him Mohammed Hasan

Kalima* says nothing is important to her after the losses she suffered in Myanmar. ‘I don’t know why Allah did not let me die,’ the 20-year-old said.
She had been married for three months when attackers came to her village, burning houses and opening fire on the people. Kalima’s husband and little sister were shot. She was then brutally beaten and raped by several men, before being knocked unconscious. When she woke up, she fled to Bangladesh with her uncle and cousin. Kalima was once a tailor and would like to sew again

The chain around 15-year-old Yacoub’s* neck is the only thing he has left to remind him of his father. The last time they spoke, his father was heading out to gather firewood. Then their village was attacked.
Yacoub bought the necklace at a market in Myanmar five months ago with money his father had given him as a gift. He now lives alone in a tent, with his puppy Sitara. His aunt, uncle and sisters live next door. No one knows what happened to his father

* Names have been changed

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Ex-French president allegedly tried to bribe judge investigating claims 2007 election campaign was illegally funded

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy has strenuously denied all accusations made against him in all the cases. Photograph: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sent to trial for corruption and influence peddling.

The case centres over phone calls Sarkozy allegedly made to a senior judge who was investigating claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was illegally funded.

Sarkozy is alleged to have promised the judge a comfortable promotion in return for information about the fraud inquiry.

The judge and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, have also been ordered to stand trial on the same charges. All three have denied any wrongdoing; the former leader’s lawyers announced he would appeal against the decision to send the case to court.

This new legal setback came days after Sarkozy was formally put under investigation over claims he took €50m (£44m) from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in illegal donations for his successful 2007 presidential campaign, which he also denied. He went on prime time television to denounce the allegations as “crazy, monstrous”.

In this latest case, Sarkozy is accused of contacting Gilbert Azibert, then a senior judge in France’s highest court, the court of cassation, in 2014 – two years after he left office – in order to obtain information about an investigation being carried out about his 2007 campaign funding. In this instance, Sarkozy had been accused of taking envelopes of cash in illegal donations from the late Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L’Oréal fortune.

In the call to Azibert, in which Sarkozy used the alias Paul Bismuth, he allegedly offered to use his contacts to get the judge a prestigious job in the principality of Monaco in exchange for information on the case. The call was wiretapped by police.

In earlier hearings, Sarkozy and his lawyers had hoped this and other tapes of private conversations between the former president and Herzog, would be deemed illegal and inadmissible in court leading to the case being thrown out. However, in March 2016, the court ruled investigators had not broken any law by using phone taps.

Initially, fraud investigators had been looking into the Gaddafi campaign funding case in 2012 when they put taps on several phones belonging to Sarkozy and Herzog. The recorded conversations led to an entirely new investigation. The L’Oréal funding case, known as the Bettencourt Affair, was later dropped, but the tapes led to new charges for corruption and influence peddling.

After an official investigation was opened in July 2014, judges decided Sarkozy, Herzog and Azibert should stand trial in May 2015, but the case has been repeatedly delayed by the defence’s appeals.

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Scientists say an internal Environmental Protection Agency document encourages the use of misleading statements about scientific certainty

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, encourages an ‘open, transparent debate on climate science’, according to a top aide but has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming.

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, has approved a list of talking points that has been called ‘literally true but carefully crafted to mislead’. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Scientists have accused the US Environmental Protection Agency of distributing misleading statements about climate change, following the leaking of an internal email advising agency staff to downplay the certainty of the science.

The email, sent to EPA communications staff by Joel Scheraga, senior climate adaptation adviser to the agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, acknowledges that communities face “challenges” in dealing with the consequences of climate change.

However, the email, obtained by HuffPost, also sets out ambiguous talking points favoured by Pruitt, such as: “Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

The email adds that “while there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it”.

Scheraga adds in his note that Pruitt encourages an “open, transparent debate on climate science”.

An EPA spokeswoman said the points were “developed by the office of public affairs. The agency’s work on climate adaptation continues under the leadership of Dr Scheraga.”

Since becoming EPA head under Donald Trump, Pruitt has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a “primary contributor” to warming that has seen the Earth’s average temperature increase by about 1C (1.8F) over the past century. Pruitt has also said industrialization has warmed the planet “to a certain degree” but that “humans have most flourished during times of warming trends”.

During his tenure, the EPA has removed information on its website about climate change, scrapped a climate adaptation program and advocated the need for “regulatory certainty” by loosening emissions regulations for vehicles and the fossil fuels industry. A televised “red team, blue team” debate between climate scientists and those who reject the science has also been mulled.

Pruitt was a vocal supporter of Trump’s decision to remove the US from the Paris climate agreement and is busy dismantling the Obama administration’s clean power plan, which Pruitt fought in court when attorney general of Oklahoma.

Scientists have pointed out that while the exact ramifications of climate change are yet to play out, the science behind it is well established and points directly to human culpability. A major report released by government scientists last year reiterated that humans are the “dominant” driver of global warming, with it being “highly likely” that the release of greenhouse gas emissions has caused more than half of all warming since 1951.

Scheraga’s email is “literally true but carefully crafted to mislead”, according to Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.

“There is uncertainty in climate science, but the uncertainty spans the range of climate change being somewhat serious to extremely serious,” he said.

Dessler said any gaps on scientists’ understanding are not big enough to declare climate change a “non-problem”. He added: “And what we can do about it is quite clear: to stabilize the climate, we need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to near zero.”

Kerry Emanuel, a meteorologist and climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “If confronting serious risks depended on first converting risks to certainties, no one would get flu shots, there would be no attempt to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and businesses would fail at a high rate, having made no efforts to mitigate their risks.

“Mr Pruitt is engaged in a disingenuous effort to stall measures to mitigate climate risk under the false pretext of concern about uncertainty.”

The leak comes as it was revealed that Pruitt, already under fire over his use of first class air travel, lived last year in a Washington DC house co-owned by the wife of a leading energy lobbyist.

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World Politics

Hungary

Spain

United States

US defence secretary welcomes ‘devil incarnate’ John Bolton to the Pentagon – video

Source: Associated Press

The US defence secretary, James Mattis, greets the incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, outside the Pentagon on Thursday. After shaking hands in front of reporters, Mattis said to Bolton: ‘I’ve heard that you’re actually the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.’ Bolton, a military hawk, will replace HR McMaster next month

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