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06 Apr

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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Father of rape victim decries system which leads to ‘silence and shame for survivors’

Sharing his own experiences, and writing anonymously, the father of a raped teenager decries an environment that reduces rape to a court verdict and so induces silence, hiding and shame amongst survivors.

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MY daughter didn’t tell me when she was raped. I found out only when she could no longer hide the signs of her pregnancy. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me earlier, she replied that she hadn’t wanted ‘to let me down.’

I wept, her mother wept. I held her – I just held her – my incredible, astonishing daughter. She was seventeen years old.

I wept too at the social services office when I went to report it; I wept when I went to speak with her school headteacher. When my boss rang to check on how I was coping I couldn’t speak. No words would come.

In the days after my daughter’s disclosure sleep vanished and time changed shape. Awake or dreaming I experienced an odd and strangely recurring motif – sea crashing on rocks and receding… endlessly. I think I was in shock.

Maybe three days on my entire body began uncontrollably shaking in the kitchen of my home; I clutched a chair to steady me; I thought, I could go down here and never get up again. I choose not to go down.

It was a week before I told any of my brothers or sisters. Like my daughter, I didn’t want to pass on this pain, this terrible burden. I felt so strongly the horror of telling them; I felt so sorry for them having to receive it.

For a little time nothing changed – we attempted to carry on as normal.

So my daughter could sit her exams – so her rapist couldn’t steal those from her too – for a short time she returned to school. However, increasingly self-conscious and still hiding her pregnancy, this did not last long.

On what was to be her final day of school I collected her at lunch to take her to be examined at the regional rape and sexual abuse clinic.

I thought then, and still often think now, of how horrific that is – how other young people finish their high school with parties and selfies – and how my daughter finished hers in the silence of a rape and sexual abuse clinic. It strikes me still as the stuff of nightmares.

Other things, teenage rites of passage, were lost too. My daughter had booked to attend the school leavers’ formal only a couple of weeks later – despite my wife’s best effort to find a dress that would conceal her bump – it couldn’t be managed. She sat at home with us instead.

In fact, this period was literally a time of confinement and concealment. Dressed always in loose fitting clothing, my daughter evinced a terror of leaving the house – of having to meet anyone, of having to explain herself.

No one, beyond immediate family and professionals, was allowed to know. My daughter wanted it that way. How could she explain the pregnancy, the rape; how could she process the decision she would have to make in a few weeks’ time to either keep and love and cherish the child, or give it up for adoption. How could any of us?

So, for her eighteenth we had a family birthday party – all my family came, but none of my daughter’s friends – she wanted it that way. We made as much fun as we could, but, in truth, like so much else at this time, it was a parody of jollity; a show of unity and resilience in the face of the trauma behind and the terror of the decision ahead.

The rest of the story you might think is easy – was the child born healthy, did my daughter keep it? Yes, on both counts. And today she has a wonderful young child, and she is a wonderful young mother. But there has been nothing easy to this. Nothing easy for her.

The police investigation, desultory at first, began properly after the birth. The rapist was a stranger – statements were taken, and the few witnesses available interviewed. Nothing came of it. The rapist remains unknown, though with his DNA in the system it is likely only a matter of time until he is discovered.

Then what? A trial? A rapist becoming aware he is a father? And when? Tomorrow, next year, ten years time? What are the implications? There are no answers to these questions.

I went to see a solicitor. We spent an hour talking, he noted down whatever material facts I could give him, and then spoke honestly and devastatingly. Without CCTV evidence or a confession there is zero chance of a conviction. What am I to make of that?

Campaigners at a recent march in support of rape victims

Last week my daughter and I discussed the verdict of the Belfast rape trial. She said she wondered should she withdraw her charges. I told her that my understanding is that as rape is a statutory crime, she cannot. Then we both gloomily imagined what the outcome of any legal proceedings would be; and we both hoped there would never be any.

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World Politics

United States

The establishment has one view of parent power – parents have another

 

The president threw out his script at West Virginia event, speaking of voter ‘conspiracy theory’ and referencing his infamous 2015 remarks

‘Women are raped at levels that have never been seen before’ says Trump – video

Donald Trump veered wildly off-script at an event intended to tout the Republican tax bill on Thursday, making false claims about voter fraud and darkly warning of the menace of predominantly Hispanic gangs.

Trump, who spent much of the 2016 campaign alleging massive voter fraud, returned to the topic at the event in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

“In a lot of places, like California, the same person votes many times,” said Trump. “You probably heard that. They always like to say ‘that’s a conspiracy theory’. It’s not a conspiracy theory, folks. It’s millions and millions of people and it’s very hard because the state guards their records.”

There is absolutely no evidence for such voter fraud occurring.

After winning the electoral college in 2016, Trump falsely claimed that he would have won the popular vote as well if not for fraud and created a controversial commission to investigate voter fraud in the United States.

He also harped on the danger posed by illegal immigration and by the “caravan” of refugees travelling to the US from Central America in an effort to seek asylum.

“Women are raped at levels that have never been seen before,” Trump claimed of the caravan as he referenced his infamous 2015 remarks when he launched his presidential campaign that Mexico was deliberately sending murderers and rapists into the US. “Everybody said, oh, he was so tough. I used the word rape,” said Trump, as he reflected on his comments then.

Trump touted his proposal for a border wall and for increased enforcement of immigration laws. He also claimed that the MS-13 gang had gained control of swaths of Long Island, requiring towns to be “liberated” while gang members get thrown into “paddy wagons” – a term found offensive by some Irish Americans.

The event featured Trump sitting in between two of the three main candidates for the Republican nomination for US Senate in West Virginia. On Trump’s right was congressman Evan Jenkins and on his left was the state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey. The third candidate, the convicted former coal company executive Don Blankenship, was not present. Trump spent much of the event criticizing the Democratic incumbent, Joe Manchin.

Trump also offered new details on the scope of the mission to strengthen security at the border after announcing earlier this week that he wanted to send in the military to “secure” the border from what he described as an escalating threat of undocumented immigrants, drugs and crime flowing into the US.

The administration intends to mobilize between 2,000 and 4,000 national guard troops to the US-Mexico border in an effort to boost security there, Trump told reporters on Air Force One on the trip back to Washington DC.

He said the troops would remain at the border until a “large portion” of the wall is built, an effort that could take years to complete. Asked about the cost of deploying thousands of national guard troops, Trump said the administration was still “looking” at it.

Trump meanwhile on Thursday took credit for a record-low drop in unlawful border crossings from Mexico.

“Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!” he tweeted.

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Renewed violence comes despite call by UN secretary general urging Israeli forces to use ‘extreme caution’

At least five Palestinian protesters have been killed and scores more injured by Israeli gunfire on the Gaza border, a week after 18 Palestinians were killed at similar demonstrations. The renewed violence came despite a call by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, asking Israel to exercise “extreme caution”.

Palestinian paramedics carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli forces at the Israel-Gaza border, 2 April 2018.

Palestinian paramedics carry a protester injured during clashes with Israeli forces at the Israel-Gaza border, 2 April 2018. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

 

At least six Palestinian men have been killed and scores more injured by Israeli gunfire on the Gaza border, a week after 18 Palestinians were killed at similar demonstrations.

The renewed violence came despite a call by the UN secretary general, António Guterres for Israel to exercise “extreme caution”. His appeal was echoed by the UN human rights spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell who said unjustified recourse to live fire could amount to wilful killing of civilians – a breach of the fourth Geneva convention.

Figures for the dead and injured were supplied by the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza and a website associated with the group. The most seriously injured had reportedly been shot in the head or upper body. Another Palestinian who had been injured in last week’s protests also died on Friday from his wounds.

The deaths came as thousands of protesters streamed towards a series of protest camps along the border for a demonstration calling for Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

Under the cover of smoke from burning tyres, dozens of protesters approached the fence in one area, despite warnings by the Israeli military that those who did so risked their lives.

Justifying its response, the Israeli military said: “Several attempts have been made to damage and cross the security fence under the cover of the smokescreen created by the burning tyres that the rioters ignited.”

Later on Friday, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, visited the Khuza’a camp, receiving a hero’s welcome. Sinwar told the crowd that the world should “wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at al-Aqsa”, referring to the mosque in Jerusalem which is the third holiest site in Islam.

His address appeared to be the first time a Hamas leader specifically threatened to break through the border, something Israel has said it would not allow at any price.

Among those wounded was Mohammed Ashour, 20, who was shot in the right arm. “We came here because we want dignity,” he told reporters from his stretcher before paramedics carried him to an ambulance.

Fresh violence had been widely anticipated after the protests on 30 March, when thousands of Gaza residents participated in the demonstrations, many gathering in five tented encampments that had been set up from north to south along the narrow coastal strip’s border with Israel.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the Israel Defence Forces had been anticipating that as many as 50,000 demonstrators could participate on Friday, with the rules of engagement allowing live fire to be used against anyone who approached the border fence.

A Guardian reporter at the demonstrations, however, suggested a far lower turnout than last week, when about 30,000 people demonstrated.

Among those who turned up was Ali Bakroun, 19. “I came here with my friends to fly the kite we made this week,” he said. “I wrote our names on it. We got close to the fence to throw stones but we stayed in a low place so we would be under cover. I’m not afraid to be shot or killed because our land deserves our lives.”

In a statement, the Israeli military underlined its determination to prevent any protesters approaching close to the fence. “The IDF will not allow any breach of the security infrastructure and fence, which protects Israeli civilians, and will act against those who are involved in these attacks,” it said.

Guterres issued a statement from the UN saying: “I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties. Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully. I call upon all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint.”

The Gaza Strip’s border with Israel is highly sensitive for both sides. Overseen in places by observation balloons, in other places the border consists of a double fence and an Israeli security road.

As tensions mounted on Friday, Israeli forces fired teargas that landed inside the encampment near the large agricultural village of Khuza’a, briefly sending people fleeing.

Yehia Abu Daqqa, a 20-year-old student, said he had come to demonstrate and honour those killed in the past. “Yes, there is fear,” he said of the risks of advancing toward the fence. “We are here to tell the occupation that we are not weak.”

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Demonstrators condemn killing of Saheed Vassell, who was wielding a metal pipe when he was shot nine times by police

Crowd

Hundreds gather in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to condemn the police shooting of unarmed black man Saheed Vassell. Photograph: Craig Ruttle/AP

Hundreds of people have marched through the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Crown Heights to protest against police for shooting an unarmed black man.

Saheed Vassell, 34, was shot and killed by police on Wednesday afternoon. The New York police department said it had received calls that a man was wielding a gun, but it turned out to be a metal pipe.

People blocked the corner of Utica Avenue and Montgomery Street, where Vassell was shot, chanting: “no justice, no peace”. Vassell’s mother, Lorna Vassell, was among those to address the crowd.

“Saheed came from a good family, and they had no right to shoot him down the way they did, because Saheed is no gunman,” Vassell said on Thursday night. “They murdered my son and I want justice for him.”

Vassell would regularly hang out at the corner where he was shot, residents said, and was known to suffer from mental illness.

“I gave him a dollar the day before he was shot,” said Mavis Mayfield. “Everybody in the neighborhood knew him.”

Lorna Vassell

Saheed Vassell’s mother Lorna Vassell addresses the rally. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Mayfield, 70, said she had lived on the block for more than 40 years. She said she was concerned for the male members of her family.

“I got my grandkids, I got my son, my nephew, I got to look out,” she said. “All the time I worry about them. I tell my grandson all the time: ‘If the police stop, then stop and put your hands in the air.’”

The NYPD released video footage on Thursday that showed Vassell pointing the metal pipe at people on the street, along with transcripts of 911 calls from people saying a man was carrying something that looked like a gun.

When police arrived on the scene Vassell “took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers”, the NYPD chief of department, Terence Monahan, said. Four police officers, two of whom Monahan said were not in uniform, opened fire.

The New York City medical examiner’s office said on Thursday that Vassell was shot nine times, including one shot to the head and two to the chest. A number of Crown Heights residents at the rally said officers did not need to shoot Vassell fatally.

They need to lose their jobs and they need to be put in jail

Ramel Johnson

“They need to be retrained to shoot a body part, not to shoot to kill,” said Latitia Richardson, 45. “This is Crown Heights, not a third-world country.”

Richardson described the street where Vassell was killed as a “very safe block”. She said police needed to be more aware of the communities they serve.

“This is a guy that the cops see every day,” she said. “He is not a stranger to the community, he stands in the same place every day. So if you’re policing this community you would know him.”

Speakers at the rally on Thursday repeatedly demanded that the New York police department release the names of the officers who had shot Vassell, and called for them to be prosecuted.

Demonstrators protested into the evening.

Demonstrators protest into the evening. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

“They need to lose their jobs and they need to be put in jail – the same as if someone kills a cop,” said Ramel Johnson, 38. “It’s become clear they have no respect for human life.”

After the rally, the crowd marched to the NYPD’s 71st precinct, around 1 mile (1.5km) west of where Vassell was shot, chanting and waving signs condemning the police. Many repeatedly called for Crown Heights residents not to call 911 in the event of an emergency because of the risk of black residents being shot.

When the group arrived at the precinct they found, to the bemusement of many, that police had placed metal barricades around the building, with dozens of officers guarding entry.

Undeterred, people continued to shout “Saheed”, along with a recurring chant of “We want names”.

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Well-wishers offer food, drink and cheers as more than 125 educators travel 110 miles to seek better funding

Beverly Langley, right, hands out water and encouragement as Oklahoma teachers march to Oklahoma City.

Beverly Langley, right, hands out water and encouragement as Oklahoma teachers march to Oklahoma City. Photograph: Mike Elk for the Guardian

“Wool socks, that’s what I need,” says the retired teacher Robert Niemi, 68, as he takes off his white cotton socks in an effort to keep his feet dry and prevent blisters.

Niemi is one of more than 125 teachers and their supporters marching 110 miles to demand action on badly needed classroom supplies.

They left Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday for a seven-day walk to the state capital, Oklahoma City.

“Yesterday, I only made it halfway, but today I hope to make it all the way to Bristow,” adds Niemi as a blast of wind hits us in the face.

As news helicopters constantly hover overhead broadcasting the march down historic Route 66, neighbors have begun to gather outside their homes to provide food, water, and words of encouragement to the marchers on their grueling trek.

“I must have eaten at least 11 bananas today,” says Aaron Baker, an Oklahoma City eighth-grade US history teacher. “People just keep giving them to me.”

As we pass by a grove of red bud trees, the official state trees, outside of Wild Prairie Horse, Oklahoma, a retired school librarian named Carol has set up with her drawing pad. “It’s just so inspiring,” says Carol as she stands in a coat.

As she talks, two teenage girls on a quad bike offer their support. Mykahla Parsck, 15, drives the vehicle as her friend Alex Hutchins, 14, hangs on to her friend’s hip while clutching a sign saying “We Love Our Teachers”.

“I feel like the teachers deserve more money,” says Hutchins, “and the textbooks are so old that I am using one my dad used when he was in school.”

Annie Overosee McGill, a kindergarten teacher at Burroughs Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says: “I will do anything for my kids. They deserve to have better funding for the classrooms. I will do anything for them including marching to the capitol to prove our point to the legislators.”

Kids join the teachers’ rally at the state capital on Wednesday.

Kids join the teachers’ rally at the state capital on Wednesday. Photograph: J Pat Carter/AFP/Getty Images

“Kindergarten is an awesome year of learning for kids,” she adds. “They are like your kids: you take care of them, you got to see them grow. They are always a part of you and I’d do anything for them.”

“Y’all keep on fighting,” says Beverly Langley, 75, as she hands out water outside of her family’s smokehouse, Okie Family BBQ, outside Bristow. “Don’t give up, just keep on pushing.”

Langley says nearly all the customers coming into her family’s smokehouse have been supportive of the strikers.

“I tell people right now: it’s for the kids, and I think people understand that,” says Langley. “The rich got plenty of money … they just don’t want to give any to us.”

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