19 Aug

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.


Irish Examiner>>

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World Orangutan Day: palm oil awareness still key, activists say – video

Source: Melbourne Zoo, International Animal Rescue

Palm oil plantations continue to threaten this endangered species. Global standards for minimising consumption of palm oil varies wildly from country to country. Australian conservation groups have been pushing for legislation to mandate the labelling of palm oil on food ingredient lists for almost a decade. Currently, generic terms such as ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘vegetable fats’ can be used instead. The EU enforced palm oil labelling in 2014 and is now trying to pass a ban on using palm oil in EU biofuels – a move the UK is seeking to block

Kofi Annan’s three key UN speeches – video


The former UN secretary general faced tough times during his tenure at the organisation – the war in Iraq, which he opposed, lingering questions on scandals, deteriorating ties with the George W Bush administration and US rightwingers calling for his head. His worst moments, Annan said, included not being able to stop the bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region and in the Iraq war

Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, dies

A farmers’ leader shot in the back is one of 18 activists killed this year, targeted for opposing evictions, logging and mining

Land rights protesters demanding the resignation of President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City in 2017

Land rights protesters demanding the resignation of President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City in 2017. Photograph: Esteban Biba/Epa-Efe/Rex Shutterstock

At 9am on 9 May, Luis Arturo Marroquín walked out of a shop in the main square of the small town of San Luis Jilotepéque in central Guatemala. Eyewitnesses say a black Toyota Hilux pick-up then drove up and, in full view of passersby, two men wearing hoods shot Marroquín repeatedly in the back.

The vehicle sped off but was identified and, within hours, police had stopped and reportedly questioned the men and found the weapons. But since then, no arrests have been made or charges levelled and the investigation has stalled.

Marroquín was a Q’eqchi’ Mayan, and a leader of Codeca, a group of indigenous farmers now gaining political ground by defending people from evictions, land grabs and pollution resulting from mines, hydro dams, logging, and huge palm oil and sugar cane developments.

He is one of 18 human rights and indigenous “defenders” to have been murdered so far this year in a wave of rural violence. Of these, 13 were involved in land conflicts and nine were Codeca leaders. Two were journalists investigating disputes and of the seven people killed in the month following Marroquín’s death, one died in a church, another was rammed by a truck and a third was murdered while doing the shopping. Others were stabbed or hacked to death. Few people have been arrested, let alone convicted.

“Everyone knows who the killers are,” said Maria Perez, Marroquín’s widow, in the modest house near Carrizal in Jalapa state that she and Luis built on a steep hillside 30 years ago. “I was warned that he would be killed but I did not take it seriously. All the authorities knew it was going to happen but I didn’t believe it. He had talked about the danger of his work and how if he was going to die it would be for his community,” she said.

But a high-level, UN-backed mission to Guatemala, which included the Observer, will suggest in a report to be published this week that although the men may have been killed by local hitmen, the killings have probably been orchestrated by more powerful political and financial interests, with links to the drug trade and the military.

They fear that if action is not taken, Guatemala could descend into the sort of violence and political chaos seen in neighbouring Honduras and nearby Nicaragua.

The killings are just the tip of a pyramid of abuses faced by people defending their land and environment, says Mike Taylor, director of the International Land Coalition (ILC), the global alliance of UN agencies and 278 civil society and farmers’ groups that spent a week hearing evidence from four communities, as well as judicial and government bodies.

“There is a culture of impunity. Leaders are being identified, arrested, detained and criminalised. People are being evicted illegally, even if they have title to land. Hundreds have been threatened with death and many thrown into prison without evidence on charges of murder and terrorism.

“Anyone who opposes mines, evictions, palm oil plantations or who even takes part in roundtables to find solutions to the rising tide of violence against land rights defenders is likely to be targeted,” Taylor said.

“We have seen evidence of criminality, prosecution, false imprisonment and killings. These are not random acts of violence but the systematic persecution of people who have been standing up to defend their land.

“At the base of the violence against defenders is the decision by the state to use land, water and natural resources not for the benefit of the many but the very few.”

James Loughran of Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, a member of the mission – which also took evidence from the UN and people held in prison – said: “People feel abandoned. No one is listening to them. They have no confidence in the justice system. Their leaders are being victimised and attacked, their voices silenced.”

Last year saw 197 killings of environmental activists worldwide, according to human rights group Global Witness. Brazil, with 57 people killed, and the Philippines, with 48, were the two deadliest countries. Guatemala has now become one of the most dangerous……………….Economic integration forced on Guatemala by the US and global bodies have further opened the country to foreign-backed mining, hydro and other extractive industries, forcing more evictions of indigenous peoples and leading to more violence and inequality.

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World Politics

Steve Bell on Jeremy Corbyn’s row with Benjamin Netanyahu – cartoon

Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump  Steve Bannon  Israel

United States

Corey Stewart’s odd attack on his Democratic opponent is apparent attempt to link Kaine with protesters clashing with white supremacists

The image tweeted by Corey Stewart.

The image tweeted by Corey Stewart. Photograph: Twitter

The Republican nominee for US Senate in Virginia on Friday tweeted out a bizarre Photoshopped image of his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, shaking hands with Joseph Stalin.

Under the hashtag #AntifaTimKaine, Corey Stewart described Kaine meeting Stalin to discuss “economic policy” in 1944. Kaine, who was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2016, was born in 1958.

The tweet seemed to be an attempt to link Kaine with protesters who have repeatedly clashed with white supremacists in cities across the US. Stewart has previously dwelled on the arrest of Kaine’s son after an anti-Trump protest in 2017.

“Antifa” is an abbreviation of “anti-fascist”. In 1944, the US and Britain were allied with the Soviet Union, which was communist. Their mutual opponent, Nazi Germany, was fascist. The image of Stalin in Stewart’s tweet appeared to have been taken from an original of the Russian leader shaking hands with Harry Truman, who is also holding the hand of Winston Churchill, at Potsdam in 1945.

The tweet was the latest bizarre social media gambit by a candidate who has played up his support for Donald Trump and who was backed by the president on Twitter in June. On Thursday, Stewart’s account tweeted a Photoshopped picture which purported to show a young Kaine with leftist guerrillas in Central America. It was quickly pointed out that the fighters shown in the doctored image were in fact rightwing contra rebels from Nicaragua.

Stewart has faced repeated questions over his ties to the far right, including his use of two neo-Confederate brothers as volunteer security officials.

Responding on Friday, Kaine’s spokesman, Ian Sams, tweeted the Stalin image and three pictures of Stewart: two in which he posed with the Confederate battle flag and one in which he is seen with Jason Kessler, an organizer of the 2017 white nationalist march in Charlottesville during which a counter-protester was killed.

“Only one of these pictures is photoshopped,” Sams wrote.

Stewart has since denounced Kessler but he has been far more guarded about Charlottesville, echoing Trump’s comment that were “some very fine people on both sides”. Stewart blamed “half the violence” on counter-protesters and criticized “weak Republicans [because] they couldn’t apologize fast enough”.

Stewart has also had to disavow his ties with Paul Nehlen, a fringe congressional candidate whom Stewart once called “a personal hero”. Nehlen has repeatedly made antisemitic and white nationalist comments.

While campaigning for Roy Moore in last year’s special election for US Senate in Alabama, and defending the judge from allegations of sexual assault, Stewart claimed Barack Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery.

The Republican, who serves in local office in northern Virginia, has both repeatedly tried to tie himself to Trump and campaigned vocally on his support for the retention of Confederate monuments.

National Republicans have distanced themselves from Stewart and the National Republican Senate Committee has pointedly declined to endorse him. The most recent poll of the Virginia race had Kaine at 49% and Stewart at 26%.

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