28 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.


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Myanmar leader uses first appearance since damning verdict to discuss literature

Aung San Suu Kyi at Yangon university in Myanmar on Tuesday.

Aung San Suu Kyi at Yangon university in Myanmar on Tuesday. Photograph: Ann Wang/Reuters

The world was waiting for her to speak. But the day after a damning United Nations report concluded that genocide had occurred in Myanmar under her watch, Aung San Suu Kyi used a public appearance to discuss only poetry and literature.

Arriving at the University of Yangon 24 hours after the publication of the UN fact-finding mission’s report, which concluded that the Myanmar military had carried out a genocide of the Rohingya in Rakhine and were responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, the Myanmar leader chose to stay silent on all issues of politics and made no mention of the UN.

The former Nobel peace prize winner, who was once heralded as the face of a new democratic Myanmar, but whose government is now facing mounting calls to be investigated by the international criminal court (ICC) for war crimes, spent the afternoon talking to students about the merits of Gone With the Wind, and the differences between fiction and non-fiction.

The crimes uncovered in the UN report were carried out by the Myanmar military, over whom Aung San Suu Kyi, as de facto leader of the civilian government, has no control. However, the panel criticised her for her refusal to condemn the genocide of the Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine since August 2017, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths and forced 700,000 to flee over the border to Bangladesh.

‘They slaughtered our people’: Rohingya refugees on Myanmar’s brutal crackdown – video

The report said Aung San Suu Kyi had failed to use her “position as head of government, or her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine state”.

Overall, the Myanmar government and military’s response to the UN report was defined by a resounding silence, with no mention of the mission’s findings in the government-controlled newspaper the Global New Light of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military – which was found to have carried out “the gravest crimes under international law” including genocide, imprisonments, enforced disappearances, torture, rapes and sexual slavery – was outraged, however, that 18 Facebook accounts and 52 Facebook pages with which it was associated, including that of the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, were removed by the social media company minutes after the report was published.

Facebook said in a statement it had removed the accounts “to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions”. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP) spokesperson Thein Tun Oo denied that the pages had been used to spread hate speech.

“The Facebook page of the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is publicising true and confirmed information for the public, the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] is essential for our country,” he told the Guardian.

Thein Tun Oo had told local media on Monday that to “say the whole Tatmadaw is making hate speech is a one-sided accusation”.

Facebook, which has come under fire for its failure to respond quickly to the spread of anti-Rohingya hate speech in Myanmar, said an investigation into the Tatmadaw accounts had found evidence they were using supposedly independent accounts to “to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military”.

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How to be human: the man who was raised by wolves

Photograph: El Pais/Óscar Corral

Abandoned as a child, Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja survived alone in the wild for 15 years. But living with people proved to be even more difficult.


The first time Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja ever heard voices on the radio, he panicked. “Fuck,” he remembers thinking, “those people have been inside there a long time!” It was 1966, and Rodríguez woke from a nap to the sound of voices. There was nobody else in the room, but the sounds of a conversation were coming from a small wooden box. Rodríguez got out of bed and crept towards the device. When he got closer, he couldn’t see a door, a hatch, or even a small crack in the box’s surface. Nothing. The people were trapped.

Rodríguez had a plan. “Don’t worry, if you all move to one side, I’ll get you out of there,” he yelled at the radio. He ran towards the wall at the other end of the room, the device in his hand. There, breathless and red in the face, he held it high above his head and brought it down hard against the brick wall, in one violent swing. The wood splintered, the speaker popped out of its casing, and the voices fell silent. Rodríguez dropped the radio on to the floor.

When he knelt down to search through the debris, the people weren’t there. He called for them, but they didn’t respond. He searched more frantically, but they still didn’t appear. “I’ve killed them!” Rodríguez bellowed, and ran to his bed, where he hid for the rest of the day.

Rodríguez was in his early 20s. He did not have any learning disabilities. Indeed, there was nothing to suggest his intelligence was below average. But he was ignorant of the most basic technology because, between the ages of seven and 19, according to his own testimony, Rodríguez lived alone, far from civilisation, in the Sierra Morena, a deserted mountain range of jagged peaks that stretches across southern Spain.

His story is that he was abandoned as a child of seven, in 1953, and left to fend for himself. Alone in the wild, as he tells it, he was raised by wolves, who protected and sheltered him. With no one to talk to, he lost the use of language, and began to bark, chirp, screech and howl.

Twelve years later, police found him hiding in the mountains, wrapped in a deerskin and with long, matted hair. He tried to flee, but the officers caught him, tied his hands and brought him to the nearest village. Eventually a young priest brought him to the hospital ward of a convent in Madrid, where he stayed for a year and received a remedial education from the nuns.

It is almost impossible to imagine what it would be like to emerge into adulthood without any of the socialisation that the rest of us unconsciously absorb, via a million imperceptible cues and incidents, as children and teenagers. When he left the convent hospital, adjusting to life among humans brought with it a series of shocks. When he first went to the cinema – to see a Western – he ran out of the theatre because he was terrified of the cowboys galloping toward the camera. The first time he ate in a restaurant, he was surprised he had to pay for his food. One day he went into a church, where an acquaintance had told him God lived. He approached the priest at the altar. “They tell me you’re God,” he said. “They tell me you know everything.”

In the 50 years since he was found in the wilderness, Rodríguez has struggled to get a handle on society’s expectations. He lived in convents, abandoned buildings and hostels all over Spain. He worked odd jobs on construction sites, in bars, nightclubs and hotels; he was robbed and exploited: people took advantage of his unworldliness. Some people did try to help him, but most found him awkward and uncommunicative, and he was largely shunned by society. “For most of my life,” Rodríguez told me, “I had a very bad time among humans”.

M………..arcos Rodríguez still finds it hard to be human. He lives in Rante, a sleepy hamlet of 60 or so families in Galicia, in north-west Spain. He is retired, and spends his time walking in the countryside, at the bar – “where he likes to play the clown,” a waitress told me – or hunting wild boar with a friend. The rest of the time, he stays home, watching daytime TV for hours. Rodríguez moved here in the late 1990s, when he was taken in by a retired policeman, who brought him to Galicia and gave him a job doing farm work and a place to live. For the first time since he left the mountains, his life was quiet and peaceful. “The people keep an eye out for me here,” he told me. “They’re nice, better than those I met before.”

I met Rodríguez in his cramped, cold living room. The walls were plastered with photographs, old magazine pages and calendars of naked women. “I’m too much of a human now,” he said. “Before, when I first started living among people, I didn’t even have a bed – I slept on piles of newspapers.” The small, ordinary house was given to him six years ago by one of his friends in the village. There were dirty plates in the kitchen sink, a half-made bed, wooden cupboards, a desk and a TV.

Talking with Rodríguez is somewhat uncanny. Nothing about his appearance suggests an unusual past: he looks like a typical Spanish septuagenarian, thin, with salt-and-pepper hair and ruddy cheeks. A cigarette habitually protrudes from his thin lips. But within moments of meeting him, I could sense something different in his demeanour.

He found it difficult to look me in the eye, and stared intensely at the ground whenever he spoke. He would make a joke, and laugh at himself, only to lose his confidence almost immediately and retreat behind a sheepish, diffident grin. He was friendly and talkative, but he seemed overly conscious of my reaction to everything he said: if I looked confused, he was visibly discouraged; if I was enthusiastic, he was suddenly excited and energetic. He always seemed to be anticipating his interlocutor’s scorn.

In his company, you cannot help realising that our daily interactions are eased by a stream of invisible signals – a kind of silent language we all understand, which you don’t even notice until it’s absent. “Marcos can first seem unknowable, and difficult to help,” Xosé Santos, one of his friends in the village, had told me. “But once he gets to know you, and you him, he is a very loyal person.”…………………

Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja in the 2010 film Entrelobos. Photograph: Antonio Heredia

In 2010, the Spanish director Gerardo Olivares released a film, Entrelobos (“Among Wolves”), based on Rodríguez’s life in the mountains. After reading his story in a book by Gabriel Janer Manila – a Spanish anthropologist who wrote a PhD thesis based on extensive interviews he conducted with Rodríguez in the 1970s – Olivares hired a private detective to track down Rodríguez. “I did not have much hope of finding him,” Olivares told me. “Manila told me he was dead.”

The movie, which was a modest hit in Spain, was a heavily romanticised depiction of Rodríguez’s coexistence with nature, with the story told through the eyes of the “wolf child”. “Some details were missing, but I do like it,” Rodríguez told me. “I watch it all the time, especially when I’m sad or can’t get to sleep.” (Olivares went on to make a documentary about Rodríguez, called Marcos, el Lobo Solitario.)

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World Politics


Saxony premier says rioters are using murder of Chemnitz man in ‘tasteless and upsetting’ way

Riot police confront rightwing protesters in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, after the death of a 35-year-old German national

Riot police confront rightwing protesters in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, after the death of a 35-year-old German national. Photograph: Sebastian Willnow/AFP/Getty Images

German police and politicians have been accused of inadequate planning after outbreaks of far-right violence rocked the east of the country.

As rightwing extremists planned a third demonstration later on Tuesday, scenes in Chemnitz – in which mobs hunted foreigners through the city streets – were described as reminiscent of civil war and Nazi pogroms.

The premier of the state of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, said it was “tasteless and upsetting” to see how the far right had capitalised on the murder of a Chemnitz man who was allegedly stabbed by two foreign men. He called on Chemnitzers to “stand by our foreign fellow citizens”.

The interior minister for Saxony, Roland Wöller, described the violence as having “a new dimension of escalation”.

Security experts said there was evidence the rioters had been mobilised from different groups around the country, and probably elsewhere in Europe.

The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party appeared to be revelling in the sense of panic and xenophobia triggered by the stabbing. In a tweet, one leading AfD MP encouraged people to defend themselves on the streets.

A 23-year-old Syrian man and a 22-year-old Iraqi man have been held in police custody in connection with the murder of a 35-year-old man named only as Daniel H.

The rioting began on Sunday evening after an apparent altercation between two groups of men at a street party to celebrate Chemnitz’s 875th anniversary. The death of Daniel H prompted a range of far-right groups to quickly mobilise their supporters to gather in the city.

In the attacks that followed, the injured included a Syrian, a Bulgarian and an Afghani. The xenophobic demonstrations escalated on Monday evening, when about 3,000 rightwing extremists clashed with leftwing counter protesters in Chemnitz city centre. There were at least 10 reports of protesters using Hitler salutes. At least 18 people were injured, some seriously, as objects including cobble stones, fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices were thrown. Police struggled to keep the rioters apart.

The ugly scenes of mostly white men hurling abuse at people they deemed to be foreigners have deeply alarmed Germany. Angela Merkel, whose open door policy towards refugees in the summer of 2015 made her a hate figure for the far right, condemned the rioters . “What we have seen is something which has no place in a constitutional democracy,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “We have video recordings of [people] hunting down others, of unruly assemblies, and hate in the streets, and that has nothing to do with our constitutional state.”

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United States

Map produced by aerial survey of 10,000-mile coastline shows rubbish ‘at industrial levels’

Litter washed up on a rocky Scottish coastline

The litter collects across large areas of shoreline and rocky coves, often blown and washed into highly inaccessible areas. Photograph: Handout

An aerial survey of Scotland’s long and rocky coastline has revealed that large amounts of industrial rubbish have washed up on the shore.

The litter, made up of plastic barrels, fishing nets, timbers, crates and industrial equipment, has collected across large areas of shoreline and rocky coves, often washed into highly inaccessible areas.

The waste was pinpointed by flights over parts of Scotland’s 10,000-mile coastline, organised by a coalition of environment and marine conservation charities working in the Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography, or SCRAPbook, project.

The project, a collaboration between the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol and the Moray Firth Partnership, has posted details of the pollution hotspots on an interactive map, which stretches from the Solway Firth in south-west Scotland to the Pentland Firth in the far north.

Archie Liggat, the chairman of the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol, said that in many cases it was only possible to see the rubbish from the air because it lies in coves or dips that are out of sight from sea level and are not easily reached by land.

Map showing Scotland’s coastal litter hotspots.

Map showing Scotland’s coastal litter hotspots. Photograph: SCRAPbook/Civil Air Patrol/PA

Liggat said the volumes of waste found far outweighed expectations. “Initially we thought it would just be scattered rubbish, but it was enormous. Particularly in the south-west of Scotland we have been dismayed by what we’ve seen.”

He said the UK “sits like a huge net on the edge of Europe, particularly the fjord-like coastline of Scotland”, and caught much of the detritus jettisoned in the Atlantic.

“We were not only dismayed by the concentrations of rubbish that we found, but the problem is much bigger than that because just under the seaweed there’s an awful lot of stuff. It’s getting broken up, washed back out, broken up and washed back in again. Eventually [the particles] will get so small it will just get out into the environment and disappear forever.”

Environmentalists have been increasingly alarmed about the prevalance of plastic waste in the sea, detecting it in minute particles in sea life, blocking the intenstines of fish and mammals, and in the Pacific conglomerating on the sea’s surface in vast floating mats.

“We know plastics are a growing problem for our environment that must be tackled,” said Dr Sam Gardner, the acting director of WWF Scotland. “They are not only suffocating our oceans, but as they get washed ashore, can have a lasting impact on our coastal environment.”

The SCRAPbook project said it was grading the waste piles in order of severity in a bid to prioritise the first sites to be cleaned up. They hope it will also allow volunteer groups to coordinate their own clean-up operations.

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