06 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Live coverage as Sir John Chilcot unveils his report into the Iraq war. Plus all the day’s other political news as Tory leadership runners go down to three

Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report

Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Sir John Chilcot has delivered a devastating critique of Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, with his long-awaited report concluding that Britain chose to join the US invasion before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted.

The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK’s decision to attack and occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war was a decision of “utmost gravity”. He described Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, as “undoubtedly a brutal dictator” who had repressed his own people and attacked his neighbours.

But Chilcot – whom Gordon Brown asked seven years ago to head an inquiry into the conflict – was withering about Blair’s choice to join the US invasion. Chilcot said: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

The report suggests that Blair’s self-belief was a major factor in the decision to go to war. In a section headed Lessons, Chilcot writes: “When the potential for military action arises, the government should not commit to a firm political objective before it is clear it can be achieved. Regular reassessment is essential.”…………….

Read the rest here:

Two officers on administrative leave after man was shot ‘four to six times’ in chest and back after altercation with police outside convenience store

Protests broke out after video posted on Twitter appeared to show Alton Sterling lying on the ground with two officers holding him down while he was shot.

Protests broke out after video posted on Twitter appeared to show Alton Sterling lying on the ground with two officers holding him down while he was shot. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Louisiana police officer shot and killed a black man following a confrontation outside a Baton Rouge convenience store, authorities said.

An autopsy showed Alton Sterling, 37, of Baton Rouge, died on Tuesday of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, said East Baton Rouge parish coroner Dr William Clark.

Officers had responded to the store at about 12.35am on Tuesday after an anonymous caller indicated a man selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt had threatened him with a gun, said corporal L’Jean McKneely.

Two officers responded and there was an altercation with the man, then one officer fatally shot the suspect, McKneely said. Both officers were placed on administrative leave under standard department policy, he said.

The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told WAFB-TV that the first officer used a Taser on Sterling and the second officer tackled the man. Muflahi said that as Sterling fought to get the officer off him the first officer shot him “four to six times”.

Video of the shooting that circulated on Twitter sparked outrage.

Muflani said Sterling did not have a gun in his hand at the time but he saw officers remove a gun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting.

McKneely said late on Tuesday that he could not confirm Muflahi’s description of the alleged event or any other details of the investigation.

On Tuesday night about 150 protesters took to the streets of Baton Rouge chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace”……………….

young black men

Police in California city say three attacks, including two murders, within a 24-hour period could be connected to series of separate assaults in past two weeks

San Diego police

A San Diego harbor police officer looks on as travelers make their way into the airport on Friday. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

San Diego police are investigating a series of violent attacks against homeless people, including one man who was “badly burned” and killed, raising concerns that someone may be targeting vulnerable individuals living on the streets.

Police in the southern California city , which has long grappled with a large homeless population, said on Tuesday that they believe the same suspect is behind three gruesome attacks against homeless people over the weekend, including the two murders.

Officials said the department is also investigating whether the three attacks, which occurred within a 24-hour period, could be connected to a series of separate assaults against homeless people in the city in recent weeks. At least seven other homeless people have faced attacks in the last two weeks, police said.

On Sunday at around 8am, police responded to a call for a fire and discovered a “deceased and badly burned body of a male adult” between a local freeway and train tracks. Police later identified the victim as Angelo De Nardo, who was 53 and had family in Pennsylvania.

Officials said De Nardo suffered extensive trauma to his upper torso and was dead before his body was lit on fire…………….


fatal hike

In 1936, a school group from south London went on a hike in the Black Forest. Despite the heroic rescue attempts of German villagers, five boys died. Eighty years on, locals are still asking how it happened


The lilac was in full bloom when a group of boys from the Strand school in Brixton and Kenneth Keast, their 27-year-old master, left Freiburg for the opening hike of their 10-day Easter trekking tour in the southern Black Forest. It was the morning of 17 April 1936, as they set off for the village of Todtnauberg, over 15 miles away, across the summit of the Schauinsland mountain. By the time they emerged from a wood about three hours later, snow was falling steadily but they were full of spring-time optimism. The boys broke ranks to throw snowballs…………


US politics

Election 2016

Latest ElectionMinute

Respondents to a Guardian US call out reveal that after climate change, people said they felt an array of issues had not been properly discussed in this election

New Hampshire voter

A voter checks her ballot in the ‘Ballot Room’ of the Balsams Hotel in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, in January. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Frustrated voters have accused politicians in the 2016 presidential field of neglecting vital issues they feel are crucial to their own prospects and to the future of the US and the world, Guardian US has found.

While climate change dominated voters’ concerns, economic inequality, political corruption and foreign policy anxieties also ranked highly among the issues that respondents told us they felt had not been properly discussed so far in the 2016 election cycle.

Many people who responded to a Guardian online call-out, expressed personal fears about their own lives or those of their loved ones, ranging from the struggle to find work, acquire healthcare or pay for exorbitant college fees.

In total, we received 1,385 responses from across all 50 states, many expressing anger and skepticism that the presidential candidates were motivated by anything other than private gain.

Writing from Florida, Henderson Galbreath, 33, said: “I generally find it incredibly difficult to believe that someone is invested in meaningful change when they, too, have been purchased by the oil & gas and telecoms industries.”

The intense dissatisfaction that many voters feel about the process surfaced as the pool of presidential hopefuls was whittled down from 23 to two – the Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump. One in 10 respondents who contacted Guardian US during the 2016 primary season said that in their view American democracy itself was in peril: they replied that political corruption or the distortion of campaign finance by big money was the single more important issue that candidates had failed to address……………

Clinton email investigation: five key revelations from the FBI – video

Hillary Clinton Potential vice-presidents defend her over emails

Obama on the campaign trail: ‘I know Hillary can do the job’ – video

Jewish employee of Trump’s son-in-law writes open letter over antisemitism row

Donald Trump Three apparent vice-presidential possibilities named on Twitter


Coming Tomorrow:

Climate change hits Trump’s estate




‘Of course this is no usual investigation.’ Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, FBI director James Comey removed a dark legal cloud from over Hillary Clinton’s head and replaced it with a political one.

Roughly a year after the case of Clinton’s server was referred to the justice department, a preliminary FBI investigation found “reasonable confidence there was not intentional misconduct” on Clinton’s part, and recommended no criminal charges be brought against her.

The timing of the finding could scarcely have been more dramatic, coming just hours before Clinton’s first joint campaign appearance with Barack Obama.

“No charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey concluded in what amounts to an unusually public determination ahead of the justice department’s decision.

Of course this is no usual investigation.

A criminal indictment could derail Clinton’s path to the presidency and help secure a Donald Trump victory in November. But after Tuesday’s announcement, that outcome looks more unlikely than ever.

Federal prosecutors generally seek to avoid having their investigations affect election outcomes, and over at the Justice department where the case is now heading, US attorney general Loretta Lynch has already suggested she will accept the FBI’s findings with regard to the investigation.

Democrats would be foolish to get too complacent, however. If what Clinton received on Tuesday amounts to the beginnings of a legal vindication, she has not received a political one. And she never will.

After all “distrust” for Clinton isn’t so much a dirty word as a condition of existence. And there are a number of explanations for that other than that she’s inherently untrustworthy or, in Trump’s words: “a world-class liar”.

Some of it may be attributable to poor optics. (Bill Clinton bumbled his way into the eye of a political storm last week when a private meeting he arranged with Lynch became public – a misstep that reflected poorly not just on him, but on his wife.)

And some of it may be attributable to gender. (A study out of the NYU Stern School of Business found women in positions of power are consistently considered to be less trustworthy than men holding the same positions; the study was recently replicated and reconfirmed by Anderson Cooper. And research from the Barbara Lee Foundation pinpoints a pedestal effect, where when a woman running for office fails to meet a high bar set for her she is disproportionately dinged by the public, more than her male counterparts.)

But it’s also a function of how long she and her husband have been around in politics and, by extension, subject to partisan-fueled attacks.

In the 1990s there was Whitewater. Though the Clintons were never found guilty of any criminal misconduct, the investigator did find a political smoking gun by the name of Monica Lewinsky. Never mind that it wasn’t even Hillary’s misstep, she was accused of everything from covering up for her husband to enabling his bad behavior.

When it finally looked like the political dust storm around her had cleared (Bill had left the scene and she’d spent a decade burnishing her own political credentials), Benghazi happened. Since then Washington has dedicated eight Congressional panels and $23m dollars looking into any criminal wrongdoing. This time the smoking gun to emerge was her use of a private email server while at the state department.

Now once again, it looks like Clinton is poised to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing but Democrats breathing a sigh of relief today would do well to hold their breath.

For even as Comey helped clear the way for Clinton to be legally exonerated, he rebuked her for being “extremely careless” in using a private email server for classified information, adding that lesser government officials might have faced administrative sanction.

The case ultimately comes down to a matter of intent, something famously difficult to prove. Did Clinton intentionally send out or receive any sensitive information? The FBI’s now on the record saying no, but Clinton’s enemies will say yes. And that means the political witch hunts will begin anew.

More importantly, in underscoring her negligence today, investigators have already given Donald Trump the the Republican party at large the ammunition they need to perpetuate the cloud of distrust around her. In that way, Republican operatives have already accomplished their mission

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