26 Sep

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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Nauru: A man-made refugee crisis

This is a joint report published by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Nauru: A Man-made Refugee Crisis

Six years after the Australian government began sending people seeking asylum to Nauru, there are still around 900 people left on the island, including an estimated 109 children (as of 29 August 2018). All of them will have been there for over four years. Almost 200 people lived in a processing centre, including 14 children, until they were cleared out along with tents and temporary accommodation they were living in for the Pacific Islands Forum.

In 2013, Amnesty International reported that Australia’s policy of offshore processing was breaking people. Six years on, people are broken. Children as young as 7 and 12 are experiencing repeated incidents of suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol, and becoming catatonic. At least two people have killed themselves, and three others have died. Many more are trying to kill or harm themselves. People are losing their hope and their lives on this island. This is Australia’s man-made refugee crisis in the country it still treats as a colony, Nauru.

Experts are saying that the people transferred to Nauru by Australia are among the most traumatised they have seen, even more traumatised than those in war zones or in refugee camps around the world. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations, medical bodies, hundreds of charities and community groups, both major political parties in Australia continue to believe that it is politically necessary to punish a small number of highly vulnerable people at extraordinary cost. Those costs are borne not only by those people, but also by Australian taxpayers and to Australia’s democracy and sense of itself as a humane, decent country.

Despite unprecedented efforts at secrecy by both governments, Australians and the world cannot claim they do not know what is happening on Nauru. There have been many reports by the Australian Parliament, by civil society organisations and the UN documenting sexual and other forms of abuse, of seriously deficient medical treatment and appalling conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Many of those living there have spoken out and shared their suffering at great risk to themselves, as have brave whistleblowers who have worked there.

What is happening now on Nauru has gone well beyond our worst fears when this policy was resumed in 2012. Australia’s policy has traumatised children so much that they are giving up eating and trying to kill themselves. Australian courts are increasingly forced to step in so that people can get the medical treatment they urgently need, as the Australian Government repeatedly ignores doctors’ advice and does everything it can to avoid people being transferred to Australia, including sending them to Taiwan and Papua New Guinea. It has even tried to coerce a 63-year-old man to die in Taiwan, and to send a woman to Papua New Guinea to terminate her pregnancy, despite it being illegal there.

It has also separated around 35 people from their families, between Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Australia. There are fathers who have never held their babies, mothers who have had to leave behind their children on Nauru. By insisting that family members stay behind when others need medical treatment, the Australian Government puts people’s lives at risk. In one case, by the time the Australian Government agreed to let a young boy with traumatic withdrawal syndrome be transferred with his family, he was 36 kilograms and could not even stand. Every family member of every child (except for parents staying in hospital) has been detained once they got to Australia.

For many there is no end in sight. While the Government of the United States of America has offered to resettle up to 1,250 refugees, only around 371 people have so far left, almost two years since the agreement. At least 121 refugees have already been refused resettlement, and many people are from countries subject to ‘extreme vetting’. Of the seven people who took up Cambodia’s offer of resettlement, only one is reported to still be there.

Australia still adamantly refuses to even accept the offer of the New Zealand government to resettle 150 people, even though it has conceded that there will be no other third countries coming forward to resettle those left. It continues to double down on its position that they will never come to Australia, even for the handful of people who have family in Australia or for those raped in Nauru.

There are many real and very complex refugee crises in the world. There are more refugees in the world than people in Australia at the moment. Yet there is a very simple solution to the man-made refugee crisis on Nauru – and six years on, it is clearer than ever that it is the only possible solution: the suffering must end, and Australia must bring them all here now.

World Politics


In conference speech Labour leader to lay out plans to change direction of economy

Jeremy Corbyn works on his speech at a hotel in Liverpool ahead of addressing delegates.

Jeremy Corbyn works on his speech at a hotel in Liverpool ahead of addressing delegates. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Jeremy Corbyn will on Wednesday attack the “greed-is-good” capitalism that he claims has resulted in large swaths of the UK being left behind, promising a raft of new policies including a “green jobs revolution” that will create 400,000 new positions.

The Labour leader will attempt to reset the theme of the Labour conference which has so far been dominated by deep divisions over its Brexit stance and return to his core argument about the failure of the broken economic system.

Corbyn will use his main conference speech to set out his plans to change the direction of the economy, following a week in which his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, laid out a series of redistributive policies.

The Labour leader will say: “Ten years ago this month, the whole edifice of greed-is-good, deregulated financial capitalism, lauded for a generation as the only way to run a modern economy, came crashing to earth, with devastating consequences.”

”But instead of making essential changes to a broken economic system, the political and corporate establishment strained every sinew to bail out and prop up the system that led to the crash in the first place.

“People in this country know – they showed that in June last year – that the old way of running things isn’t working any more. That’s why Labour is offering a radical plan to rebuild and transform Britain.”

Corbyn will announce plans for a rollout of green technologies including 13,500 onshore and offshore wind turbines, solar panels on thousands of roofs and wide-scale home insulation.

A green energy report published by the party on Wednesday will hint at an expansion of other renewable technologies to come, including tidal power, hydrogen and controversially, nuclear, which would help meet tough climate change targets.

He is expected to say: “There is no bigger threat facing humanity than climate change. We must lead by example. Our energy plans would make Britain the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations.

“Our programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030 will create over 400,000 skilled jobs, based here and on union rates, bringing skills and security to communities held back for too long.”

The move is designed to be a big offer from the party to help regenerate so-called left behind towns. Many of them are traditionally Labour but leave-backing seats where the party went backwards in support at the last general election.

Corbyn is expected to tell party activists that the programme would bring “skills and security to communities held back for too long”. Labour wants 60% of heat and electricity to come from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.

Following a fraught summer dominated by rows over antisemitism, a Labour spokesman played down expectations that Corbyn would apologise directly to the Jewish community in his speech, suggesting that he had already done so.

Corbyn will instead concentrate on his plans to reform capitalism, which have so far been fronted by McDonnell, and include policies to tackle high pay and excessive corporate bonuses.

However, Labour aides did not expand on how Corbyn would have dealt with the financial crisis differently, insisting that he believed the last Labour government had done all that it could, and that it was the system that had been at fault.

The promised investment in green technologies would be paid for from Labour’s £250bn national transformation fund, announced at the last general election, with the home insulation programme alone costing £12.8bn through a variety of subsidies.

The plans would involve a dramatic sevenfold increase in offshore windfarms by 2030, with 7,500 turbines powering 12m homes and creating 120,000 jobs, including in the north-east and Humber.

There would be 6,000 more turbines onshore, powering 5m homes and creating 60,000 jobs, an ambitious target given the scale of opposition to many existing windfarms.

Labour would also invest in solar panels, reversing Tory cuts to power 2.5m homes and create 70,000 jobs. It would insulate homes to high energy efficient standards, creating a 160,000 army of energy assessors, engineers, technicians.

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United States

Michael Avenatti tweeted a declaration made in the name of Julie Swetnick accusing supreme court pick of sexual misconduct

Michael Avenatti.

Michael Avenatti. Photograph: Andrew Cullen/Reuters

A third woman has come forward to accuse Donald Trump’s supreme court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct, according to a statement published on Wednesday by her lawyer Michael Avenatti.

Avenatti tweeted a declaration made in the name of Julie Swetnick, a resident of Washington DC, which said she had met Kavanaugh and his school friend Mark Judge in the early 1980s and attended the same parties.

The declaration said she had “observed Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively at these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behaviour towards girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls clothing to expose private body parts”.

Swetnick said she was at parties where Kavanaugh and his friend Judge were involved in situations that resulted in women being gang raped.

She wrote: “I witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys…”

“In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present.

Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by two other women. He denies the allegations. He is due at a public hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to answer allegations from the first of the three women who have now accused him of sexual assault or misconduct in the past, California professor Christine Blasey Ford.

Swetnick declares that she is a graduate of Gaithersburg high school in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and that she currently holds government security clearances “associated with working within the federal government”, involving the US Department of Treasury, the US Mint and the Internal Revenue Service. She says she previously held clearances with the departments of state, justice, homeland security and customs and border protection.

Swetnick says she met Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, whom Kavanaugh’s original accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, says was the third person in the room when supreme court nominee sexually assaulted her when they were in high school – which both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied.

But she said in her statement that: “There is no question in my mind that Mark Judge has significant information concerning the conduct of Brett Kavanaugh during the 1980s, especially as it relates to his actions towards women.

Swetnick added that: “I attended well over 10 house parties in the Washington DC, area during the years 1981-1983 where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present.

“I have reviewed Brett Kavanaugh’s recent claim on Fox News regarding his alleged ‘innocence’ during his high school years and lack of sexual activity. This claim is absolutely false and a lie. I witnessed Brett Kavanaugh consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s,” she stated.

Avenatti revealed at the weekend that he was representing a women who was going to come forward to detail misconduct by Kavanaugh, and he sent pointed questions to the Senate that he said they should ask Kavanaugh, which included detailed references to gang rape at parties and young men lining up in a “train” to use a woman for sex.

Here is a picture of my client Julie Swetnick. She is courageous, brave and honest. We ask that her privacy and that of her family be respected.

“In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present. Shortly after the incident, I shared what had transpired with at least two other people. During this incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off boys raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking.”

Judge has disappeared from the public eye in recent weeks. However, the Washington Post tracked him down to a beach house in Bethany Beach, Maryland, where he was apparently staying with a friend.

“How’d you find me?” he told the newspaper’s reporter before declining to comment any further.

Swetnick, 55, has since 2009 been registered as the owner of the company International Building Solutions in Bethesda, Maryland, according to public records.

A 2007 report in a New Jersey newspaper, in which she was quoted as a member of the public preparing for that year’s Super Bowl, said she then worked for New York Life, the insurance company.

Swetnick registered as a nonaffiliated voter in Washington DC in 2014 and voted in the 2016 general election.Court filings in the capital say that she was chased by the IRS for about $40,000 outstanding federal taxes in October last year, but had paid the debt by March this year.

The US president is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters, so the derision of his fellow leaders came as a surprise

World leaders laugh at Donald Trump as he brags about his achievements – video

Donald Trump is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters at rallies. His press conferences are rare and tightly controlled. So the open derision of his fellow leaders at the UN general assembly clearly came as a surprise.

He insisted he was “OK” with the mirthful reaction to his claims of historic achievements, but he was clearly not OK. Trump is said never to forgive or forget those who laugh at him, so this second outing at the UN podium is unlikely to end well for his administration’s already ambivalent relations with the global body.

Trump made an entrance – nearly half an hour later than his allotted time – determined to trash everything the UN stands for. The president explicitly rejected “the ideology of globalism” in globalism’s high temple and proposed in its place the “doctrine of patriotism”.

While most leaders have used their time on the UN stage to list the agreements they have made, the protocols agreed and treaties signed, Trump clearly delighted in telling the world how many such pieces of paper he had ripped up.

The lead writer of the speech was reportedly Stephen Miller, now the primary bridge between the White House and the American far right. It showed. The address was a manifesto for nativism.

Any remaining pretense of altruism was stripped away from this vision of US foreign policy, and in its place was a strong tinge of resentment and self-pity.

Trump observed that the US was the world’s biggest aid donor, “but few give anything to us”.

“Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends,” he warned.

Trump read out a list of friends, and it was an unusual assortment, reflecting his personal relationships of the moment, rather than longstanding US alliances.

Kim Jong-un, the world’s most absolute dictator, was awarded the first shoutout, the latest instalment in his reward for the spectacular theatre he helped stage at the two leaders’ June summit in Singapore.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have also cultivated Trump and his immediate family since before he took office, were also lauded for their contributions to the aid funds for Yemen. Their role in the bombing of Yemeni cities and their human rights records at home went unremarked.

The only European ally to merit praise was Poland, whose president, Andrzej Duda, had this month visited Trump at the White House and showered him with praise, even offering to name a future US military base on Polish soil “Fort Trump”.

The central villain of Trump’s narrative was Iran and its government, which he depicted as the principal architect of the Syrian war. But even in the case of Tehran, the president left open a door to redemption, tweeting in the dawn hours before his UN appearance that he was sure that the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was in fact “an absolutely lovely man”.

The clear message was that if Rouhani was to follow the path taken by Kim, to meet and pay homage to Trump, Iran could escape the isolation the US administration is now trying to reimpose.

The approach reflected a misunderstanding of the deep differences between North Korea and Iran, a far less monolithic system with genuinely democratic elements where Rouhani is not even the most powerful figure.

However, Trump’s speech was not aimed at coherence. His message was an appeal to the gut. The “doctrine of patriotism” was a misty-eyed paean to national chauvinism. It presented the nation state as the “only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured or peace has ever prospered”. And it was nationalist passion alone that inspired “scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art”.

His fellow leaders may have chuckled, but Trump’s words were intended for another audience: his core supporters who despise the UN and all it represents. They are as determined as their hero to wipe the smiles off the faces of the “globalist” enemy.

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At the UN general assembly, world leaders laughed at the US president after he bragged about his own performance. Perhaps they needed comic relief

For the rest of the world, President Donald Trump’s America is a laughing stock, not a leader.

That was the takeaway from Trump’s speech to the 2018 United Nations general assembly. Trump opened his speech the same way he opens his campaign rallies, TV interviews, and probably conversations with every visitor he meets: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

The response from the leaders assembled in the room? Laughter. The entire world literally laughed at the US president – and they weren’t laughing with him.

Even Trump himself was taken aback: “I did not expect that reaction …”

And while reporters and foreign policy experts could not recall another leader ever before drawing derisive laughter at a UN speech, it did not end there. When Trump made another claim – “Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy …” – the cameras revealed the German delegation laughing and snickering to one another.

With Trump’s own behavior and policies as a backdrop, the substance of Trump’s speech merited laughter – it was an incomprehensible joke.

The main theme of Trump’s speech was protecting US “sovereignty” and he said that all countries should do likewise. He claimed: “The United States will not tell you how to live, work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.” But shortly thereafter Trump spent portions of his speech telling Iran and Venezuela what to do at home.

In the Middle East, Trump claims his “new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change” as he announced that the United States is working with Gulf countries, Jordan and Egypt to establish a strategic alliance. Moments later, Trump reversed course and launched a broadside against Opec (of which the Gulf states are the key members) for “ripping off the rest of the world”.

Unfortunately, the consequences of the policies embedded within Trump’s speech are no joke. They can inflict lasting damage.

On Iran, Trump outlined policies that portend only more conflict. As America’s allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom work with Russia, China and Iran to preserve the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that are now in jeopardy because of America’s withdrawal and sanctions, Trump is stoking a regional Sunni-Shia conflict and imposing more sanctions on Iran. The nuclear deal made conflict with Iran less likely; Trump’s actions are making violence and war more likely.

Trump portrayed “uncontrolled migration” as a threat in a meandering tirade that conflated migration with immigration, human trafficking and illegal immigration. Deriding the Global Compact on Migration intended to foster cooperation on migration issues – which only the United States and Hungary, a country swept up in its own anti-immigrant fervor, refuse to sign – Trump made clear his dark view of the flow of all people across borders.

It’s why Trump closes America’s doors to refugees, rips children from their parents when crossing the US border and attempts to restrict legal immigration. It’s why, even as the world grapples with the worst crisis of displaced people since the second world war, Trump repeatedly attempts to slash US funding for humanitarian assistance and withdraws America’s role as a leader in trying to address crises from Syria to Myanmar. And it’s why Trump ignored the warnings of his own state department that ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of people from countries like Honduras and El Salvador would destabilize those countries and actually exacerbate unauthorized migration towards the United States.

The list of Trump’s foreign policies and the ways they can wreak havoc can go on and on. Trump didn’t even once mention climate change – which his administration refuses to believe even exists – the greatest existential threat facing the world today.

Perhaps most telling was the list of countries that Trump highlighted at the end of his speech as those embodying the “dreams” of the kind of nations our children will inherit. Trump praised Saudi Arabia, a brutally repressive dictatorship where women have few rights, and which is fighting a war in Yemen that is creating a humanitarian catastrophe. He praised Poland, a Nato ally where democratic institutions are under assault from its own government. And he praised Israel, a US ally that runs a military occupation of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. If these countries are Trump’s idea of the future we want to leave for our children, Trump’s vision of the world he wants to build is quite dark.

Perhaps the laughter in the room during Trump’s speech was a tinged with a sense of anxiety and dread. Perhaps it was the response that comes from those who recognize they are listening to a reckless, dangerous vision from the leader of the world’s most powerful country. And all one can do is muster is a despondent chuckle.

Read Full Article>>

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