24 Oct

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>>

France 24>>


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How an Apparent Saudi Hit Job Has Shaken the World

A gruesome crime has quickly turned into a crisis in international relations: Saudi agents acting on behalf of the crown prince are thought to have dismembered a prominent opposition journalist. The West is disgusted and U.S. President Donald Trump finds himself in a tight spot.


Photo Gallery: A Saudi Prince and a Gruesome Murder

The alleged murder is thought to have taken place in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. When he went to the consulate to pick up some papers on Oct. 2, a hit team was allegedly waiting for him.

The following is our cover story from this week print edition of DER SPIEGEL on events in Istanbul. This story went to print on Thursday night prior to the official statement by the Saudi Arabian government released on Saturday that the country’s agents strangled exiled writer Jamal Khashoggi during a fistfight inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi officials say that 18 men have since been arrested in connection with the case, including 15 men who had been sent to the consulate, along with one driver and two consular staff members. The statement was met with immediate sketicism from the international community. The Saudi government also dismissed Major General Ahmed al Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, who it claimed had organized the operation, and other intelligence officials.

Doctor Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy is an expert with extraordinary skills. His specialty is the rapid autopsy. In an interview with an Arab newspaper, he once boasted that he could dismantle a corpse into manageable parts in record time.

Tubaigy has had a storybook career within the Saudi state apparatus. After completing his medical studies, he opened one of the first research institutes for forensics in the Middle East. He now holds the rank of lieutenant colonel and heads up the forensic medicine department at the Interior Ministry. His task had been to bring research in Saudi Arabia up to Western standards. Now, he and 14 men have instead plunged the royal house into one of the most serious crises to face the country since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

According to the investigation conducted by Turkish police, Tubaigy landed on Oct. 2 at 3:13 a.m. together with eight Saudi Arabian secret service and military personnel in a Gulfstream IV jet belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Istanbul’s airport. Six other men arrived in the Turkish city a few hours later in a second plane.

Security cameras filmed Tubaigy in a leather jacket and striped sweater as he passed through passport control. He checked in for three nights at a hotel located near the Saudi Arabian Consulate, but he actually left the city at 10:46 p.m. that same day.

A Tale as Gruesome As It Is Grotesque

There are two versions of what happened in the 19-and-a-half hours between his arrival and departure. And whichever one is true, it is a crime thriller with details so gruesome and grotesque that a James Bond movie would pale by comparison. It is also one that has shaken the international community since that day.

Saudi Arabian television has claimed that Tubaigy and his colleagues traveled to Istanbul as tourists. But that hardly seems credible given that the group flew back home only a few hours after arrival. The Turkish police, for their part, are convinced that the 15 men played a decisive role in the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent opponent of the Saudi regime. He disappeared during a visit to the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul and has been missing since Oct. 2.

Turkish investigators and intelligence officials believe they know what happened in those hours: According to their version of events, the commando squad from Riyadh waited for Khashoggi in the offices of the consulate. The men drugged and beat him. Then, while he was still conscious, they cut his fingers off. In the end, they claim, the men decapitated him.

They say that forensics expert Tubaigy then unpacked the bone saw he had brought along with him. According to the Turkish investigation, he put on headphones to listen to music and recommended that people in the room next door do the same because it would make the work easier.

He then dismembered Khashoggi’s body. “It was like a Tarantino film,” says one Turkish investigator. According to a report published in Yeni Safak, a newspaper loyal to the government in Ankara, Turkish authorities have audio recordings documenting the murder.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asserted in an interview with Bloomberg that Khashoggi had left the consulate after just a short time. But the prince has yet to provide any evidence to support that claim. Unfortunately, all surveillance cameras failed that day, though the manufacturer of the system swears that such a thing is not technically possible.

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The carving of three civil war leaders who fought to defend slavery is a huge tourist attraction featuring a laser light show. Some Georgia residents say it’s time to remove it, others insist it be protected

  • It is the biggest Confederate monument in the US – civil war leaders hewn into Atlanta’s Stone Mountain. It is also a huge tourist draw, hosting a laser light show and 100ft flame cannons.

  • But with its links to the Ku Klux Klan, and as Confederate memorials are being torn down, is Stone Mountain’s time up?

The KKK’s Mount Rushmore: the problem with Stone Mountain

The Lasershow Spectacular (™) is a celebration of brand America. Its huge 3D video projection (“taller than the Statue of Liberty!”) pulls out all the stops – depicting patriotic icons from bald eagles to Mickey Mouse to towering letters spelling U-S-A, with lots of fiery explosions and a rousing musical score with at least eight separate key changes. The official website boasts that “the Lasershow is now so spectacular, the FAA must be consulted to ensure airplanes don’t become blinded by lasers.”

Families visiting the park, which is Georgia’s most popular tourist attraction, come here to picnic on the grand lawn and gaze up at the show, which is projected directly on to Stone Mountain’s Confederate monument. The show ends with the three sculptures of the Confederate leaders – Generals Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Confederate president Jefferson Davis – coming to life and ”riding off” into the evening sky.

Confederate figures carved in Stone Mountain. Photograph: Pegaz/Alamy

The scale of the monument, which was only finished in 1972, probably can’t be fully appreciated until it is seen firsthand. It’s by far the biggest memorial to the Confederacy, and at 158ft tall is the largest stone carving of its kind in the world.

It was also started by the Ku Klux Klan. The owner of the land was a Klansman, as was the original sculptor (who also created Mount Rushmore). And it sits inside Stone Mountain state park, just east of downtown Atlanta, only a few miles from the birthplace of Martin Luther King.

King himself included Stone Mountain in his most famous speech, I Have a Dream. It was 1963, at the height of the KKK’s re-emergence, and just as the final design for Stone Mountain’s scultpure was being approved.

“And if America is to be a great nation,” said King, “So let freedom ring … Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”

Desmond Hardy

The Stone Mountain carving is a monument to men who fought to defend slavery and white supremacy. Some Georgia residents argue the statue must be removed, others that it is a part of history that needs to be protected.

Richard Rose, the Atlanta chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is firmly in the first camp.

The three men depicted by the carving contributed to a war that killed thousands in the name of defending slavery, he says. And it didn’t end there. “They continued the practices of white supremacy after the war,” Rose said.

Stone Mountain, he argues, “speaks not to Atlanta, per se, but to the state of Georgia, which every year tries to proclaim a Confederate History Month”.

Desmond Hardy, who grew up in Stone Mountain, agrees. He said the cheering at the Confederate figures in the laser show had upset him, the memorial needs to be removed and that “this land is bloodstained with the blood and bones of our ancestors”.

Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history

Stacey Abrams, in 2017

As a movement grows to remove Confederate symbols across the US – including tearing down statues and lowering Confederate flags from state facilities – fresh attention is being paid to the biggest Confederate monument of all.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate in Georgia, who is running in a hotly contested race to try to shift the long-time red state blue – and become the nation’s first black female governor in the process – has previously criticised the monument.

After the Charlottesville violence at the Unite the Right rally last August, Abrams condemned the carving in a series of tweets.

“Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state,” she wrote. “[T]he visible image of Stone Mountain’s edifice remains a blight on our state and should be removed.”

But the politics of the issue are difficult – not least because you can’t easily take down a sculpture carved into side of a mountain – and more recently Abrams has said that although she stands by her position, dealing with the monument is not top of her list of priorities.

Indeed, not all prominent black politicians and activists agree about the monument.

Michael Thurmond is the first and only African American on the board of Stone Mountain Parks, as well as the CEO of DeKalb County, where the carving stands.

He wants to leave it where it is.

Looking out from the park’s Memorial Hall towards the carving, past a crew of workers building a 400ft ski slope replete with fake snow, the 65-year-old veteran politician argued that the monument is a “memorial to the myth of the lost cause”. The south, he says, was a “failed experiment in white supremacy”.

“[The civil war] … was a pivotal moment in the United States of America,” he says. “[The carving] presents an opportunity to teach this generation and the next generation how movements based on racism, based on bias and prejudice are ultimately defeated.”

Visitors at Stone Mountain. Photograph: Michael Rabideau/Getty

Most days, visitors to the park are diverse, he points out. Picnic baskets abound when the sun is out, and hikers crawl up past the carving.

Some of the white tourists on a recent visit agreed with Thurmond, including Margie Legg, 67, visiting her daughter from Maryland.

“My great-grandfather fought in the civil war. He was a prisoner of war,” she said, interrupting herself to add that she considers herself to be a liberal Democrat. “What’s the point? Someone spent a lot of time. It’s an artistic piece. So I don’t see the point in making a big deal out of it.”

Legg said she was not aware that the carving had been made so recently, in the last half of the 20th century; she thought it had been there much longer. But that didn’t change her opinion. “People need to let things go, people need to forget about that part of it.”

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World Politics

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East Island has vanished after coming into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that hit Hawaii earlier this month

Before Hurricane Walaka: How Hawaii’s East Island looked before it was destroyed – video

A piece of the United States has been dramatically wiped off the map after an island in Hawaii was washed away by a powerful hurricane.

East Island, a remote spit of gravel and sand that sat atop a coral reef, has vanished after having this misfortune to come into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that surged past Hawaii earlier this month.

Scientists have confirmed the disappearance of the 11-acre island after comparing satellite images of the surrounding French Frigate Shoals, part of an enormous protected marine area in the north-western Hawaiian Islands.

“I uttered a swear word. I had a ‘holy cow!’ moment, somewhat in disbelief that it had disappeared,” said Chip Fletcher, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Hawaii. Fletcher and his colleagues were in the process of researching East Island through drone videos and taking samples of sand and corals to ascertain the age of the island and gauge its future prospects in the face of climate change.

“The island was probably one to two thousand years old and we were only there in July, so for it to be lost right now is pretty bad luck,” Fletcher said.

“We wanted to monitor the island so we are disappointed it has gone, but on the other hand we have learned these islands are far more at risk than we thought. I thought the island would be around for a decade or two longer, but it’s far more fragile than I appreciated. The top, middle and bottom of it has gone.”

East Island was, at about half a mile long and 400ft wide, the second largest island in the the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the far western reaches of the Hawaiian archipelago. Until 1952, it hosted a US Coast Guard radar station.

Despite its size, the island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals, with many of the seals raising their young on East Island. Green sea turtles, which are also threatened, and seabirds such as albatrosses, which often had their young preyed upon by circling tiger sharks, also depended on the island.

The island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals.

The island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals. Photograph: Fish & Wildlife Service

“The loss is a huge blow,” Fletcher said. “Little did we know it could disappear so quickly.”

If conditions align, an atoll would always be at a small risk of being erased by a powerful hurricane. But climate change is causing the ocean and atmosphere to warm, making storms fiercer, while there’s evidence that hurricanes are moving further north into the latitudes where East Island once lay.

Rising sea levels are also eroding away low-lying islands, with several fragments of land in the Pacific vanishing in recent years.

“The take-home message is climate change is real and it’s happening now,” Randy Kosaki, a senior official for the Hawaii monument at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Honolulu Civil Beat, which first reported the disappearance of East Island. “It’s not a hoax propagated in China as some folks have said.”

The French Frigate Shoals sits in the Papah?naumoku?kea marine national monument, which became the largest marine reserve in the world when expanded by the Obama administration in 2016. The 1,350-mile string of coral islands, seamounts and shoals feature a riot of life, including coral, fish, birds and mammals, many unique to Hawaii.

A statement by the federal managers of the monument said that East Island “appears to be under water”, while the neighboring Tern island had its shape altered by the hurricane.

“Monument co-managers are working to better understand the implications for cultural resources and wildlife, protected species and their habitat within the Monument,” the statement added.

“We will continue to monitor the species and islands to better assess the impacts from the hurricane. Based on the data, managers will determine next steps and management actions.”

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