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03 Jun

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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On the day the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers opened fire on unarmed Palestinian protesters who gathered at the border fence on the Gaza Strip.

Sorry. That requires a rewrite to reflect “the truth” as promulgated by the Israeli government.

On the day the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers opened fire to prevent an invasion of their country by Arabs living in the Gaza Strip.

This is a typical instance of the divergence in reporting that has become a hallmark of recording the conflict in Israel/Palestine.

Indeed, the use of term Israel/Palestine is also a matter of dispute. No matter how hard journalists may try, they find it virtually impossible to make a neutral, factual statement when writing and broadcasting about the Middle East.

Both sides perceive bias in every report. It’s as if facts – those statements of reality underpinned by evidence that can be verified and which are supposed to be a reporter’s stock-in-trade – do not exist. But there is one reporting medium that continues to have value: the camera, moving or still. It enables people elsewhere to get some perspective on events. Although contextual explanation, inevitably loaded with propaganda, quickly follows, it is impossible to erase the images from viewers’ minds.

Now Israel’s parliament is being asked to consider a law that would prevent us from having even that momentary, partial view of what members of the Israel Defence Forces are doing. A bill has been proposed that seeks to prohibit “the photographing and documenting” of IDF troops “with the intention of undermining the spirit” of the army. It recommends a five-year prison term for offenders and 10 years for those judged to have harmed state security.

According to its proposer, Robert Ilatov, chairman of a minority rightwing group supportive of the ruling Likud party, the “worrying phenomenon” of the monitoring of Israel’s soldiers by pro-Palestinian organisations through video, photographs and audio recordings is a “biased and tendentious” act with “a clear anti-Israeli agenda”.

Reports suggest the idea has the support of Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the founder of Ilatov’s party. That prompted Israel’s liberal newspaper, Haaretz, to treat the matter seriously in an editorial that called the proposal “dangerous”. Its aim, said the paper, was “to silence criticism of the army and in particular to prevent human rights organisations from documenting the Israeli army’s actions in the [occupied] territories”. The International Federation of Journalists also condemned the proposal, arguing that it “constitutes a serious breach of the freedom of the press” because it “criminalises the work of journalists”.

Haaretz agrees, believing such a law would harm press freedom: “The public has a right to know what the reality is and especially what the ‘people’s army’ is doing in its name and on its behalf.”

I couldn’t put it better myself. Any restriction on the freedom to report inhibits the possibility of holding power to account.

One trigger for the Ilatov initiative is obvious. In March 2016, a Palestinian attacker who was lying wounded and immobilised on the ground was shot dead at point-blank range by an IDF soldier, Elor Azaria. The shooting was caught on video and posted on social media by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem. As a result, Azaria was arrested, convicted of manslaughter and served nine months of an 18-month sentence before being released last month.

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World Politics

Australia

Wage rise of 3.5% for Australia’s lowest paid workers – video

Source: Fair Work Commission

The president of the Fair Work Commission, Justice Iain Ross, has announced the new national minimum wage will increase by 3.5% to $719.20 a week, or $18.93 per hour. It amounts to an increase of $24.30 a week. The increase is still well below the 7.2% that unions called for, but above the inflation rate of 1.9%

United States

Trump lawyers to Mueller: Trump cannot be forced to testify – report

Private letter published by the New York Times also asserts the president’s absolute authority over all federal investigations

The special counsel Robert Mueller in Washington.

The special counsel Robert Mueller in Washington. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Donald Trump’s lawyers sent a private 20-page letter to the special counsel Robert Mueller to assert that he cannot be forced to testify in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to a report.

They also argue that Trump could not have committed obstruction because he has absolute authority over all federal investigations.

The existence of the letter sent in January was reported on Saturday by the New York Times, which posted a copy of the memo online.

The memo is an assertion of presidential power and another front on which Trump’s lawyers have argued that he cannot be subpoenaed.

In the letter, the legal team argues that a charge of illegal obstruction is moot because the US constitution empowers the president to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon”.

In the letter, according to the New York Times, the president’s legal team write: “It is our understanding that the reason behind the request for the interview is to allow the special counsel’s office to complete its report.

“After reviewing the list of topics you presented, it is abundantly clear … that all of the answers to your inquiries are contained in the exhibits and testimony that have already been voluntarily provided to you …. all of which clearly show that there was no collusion with Russia, and that no FBI investigation was or even could have been obstructed.

“It remains our position that the president’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

The memo goes on to say that the investigation has had the cooperation and backing of the president and White House despite it remaining a “burden” on him and the administration.

Trump has called the investigation a “witch-hunt” and on twitter on Saturday continued his attacks on the special counsel investigation.

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