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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 1285312 times)
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Darja
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« Reply #3585 on: Jul 14, 2018, 06:08 AM »

America First, America Hated, America Alone

Trump intends to bring about the collapse of the liberal international order,  in its  commitment to open societies and its institutions.

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist
NY Times
July 14, 2018

Some near-forgotten anniversaries are worth commemorating. One hundred years ago —  Bastille Day, 1918 — Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, Quentin, was killed in aerial combat at the Second Battle of the Marne. Twenty-six years later, Quentin’s oldest brother, Ted, also died in France, after landing at Utah Beach on D-Day.

Quentin and Ted are buried side-by-side at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer. It’s a moving sight for everyone who still believes in the cause for which they and their brothers in arms fought and died — above all, the idea, possibility and preservation of a free world, anchored and inspired by America but not subservient to it.

In other words, the things that Donald Trump has spent his presidency trashing under the historically sordid banner of “America First.”

That trashing reached some sort of climax this week with the president’s excruciating tantrum against Germany at the NATO summit in Brussels, followed by his gratuitous humiliation of British Prime Minister Theresa May via an interview in a Murdoch tabloid. Maybe next he’ll propose that Vladimir Putin rejoin the Group of 7 — except he already did that in Canada more than a month ago, right around the time he launched a trade war with Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

What does all this achieve?

No doubt just what Trump intends: the collapse of the liberal international order, both in its animating commitment to open societies as well as its defining international institutions —  the G-7, NATO, the European Union, the World Trade Organization. Seen in this light, the president’s wretched behavior isn’t — or isn’t merely — the product of a defective personality. It’s the result of a willful ideology.

So much should be clear by the president’s negotiating style, guaranteed as it is to elicit “no” for an answer.

It’s fair to expect that other NATO members should spend more of their gross domestic product on defense; and fair to expect, too, that they should reach the 2 percent benchmark sometime sooner than 2024. It isn’t fair to demand, as Trump does, that they reach the 2 percent mark by January, and then increase it to 4 percent.

It’s fair to say that the U.S. could use its leverage to negotiate more advantageous trade deals. It isn’t fair to insist on politically untenable trade concessions he knows other countries won’t make — a sunset clause for Nafta, for example — in order to destroy these agreements permanently while blaming the other side.

It’s fair to say that it will be difficult for Britain to negotiate an independent trade agreement with the U.S. if it maintains E.U. rules on trade in goods. But Trump’s goal isn’t to help steer May through Brexit. It’s to bring her government down and replace her with Boris Johnson, because the former foreign secretary “obviously likes me and says very good things about me.”

Above all, it’s fair to prod and cajole and quarrel with our core allies — in private. But Trump is out to embarrass them in public, putting them to the choice of becoming enemies or toadies, breaking up or sucking up. That’s no doubt fine with him: America First is America Feared. But it is also America hated, and hated with justification. Where’s the upside in that?

For Trump, the upside is the substitution of a liberal order with an illiberal one, based on conceits about sovereignty, nationality, religion and ethnicity. These are the same conceits that Vladimir Putin has long made his own, which helps explain Trump’s affinity for his Russian counterpart and his distress that Robert Mueller’s investigation “really hurts our relationship with Russia,” as he remarked Friday.

It also explains his undisguised contempt for contemporary European democracy and his efforts to replace it with something more Trumpian: xenophobic, protectionist and truculent. This is the Europe of Germany’s Alexander Gauland, France’s Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. Note that the last three are already in power.

All this must be gratifying to Trump’s sense of his historical importance. For America, it’s a historical disaster. The United States can only lead a world that’s prepared to follow.

But follow what? Not the rules of trade that America once set but now claims are rigged against it. Not the democratic ideals that America once embodied but now treats with disdain. Not the example of fighting bullies, after it has now become one.

This will suit Americans for whom the idea of a free world always seemed like a distant abstraction. It will suit Europeans whose anti-Americanism predates Trump’s arrival by decades. And it will especially suit Putin, who knows that an America that stands for its own interests first also stands, and falls, alone. Surely the dead at Colleville-sur-Mer fought for something greater than that.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Bret L. Stephens joined The Times as an Op-Ed columnist in 2017 after a long career with The Wall Street Journal, where he was deputy editorial page editor and a foreign affairs columnist. Before that he was the editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.


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« Reply #3586 on: Jul 14, 2018, 06:11 AM »

Germans fear they can’t ‘survive 8 years’ of ‘evil’ Trump: report

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 16:45 ET                   

In the wake of World War II, the United States was much kinder to German citizens than they dared hope.

That left a lasting impression on the Germans, writes New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg in a new piece about how betrayed the Germans feel.

“America was seen as the guarantor of the liberal democratic order, an order in which Germany, abandoning its aggressive history, would come to thrive,” she writes. “And so for many Germans, it’s a profound shock that the president of the United States now attacks that order, while appearing to fawn over Russia.”

Even more than other Europeans, Germans tend to see Trump’s efforts to undermine NATO as a “funeral” of sorts, she writes.

“Germans have grown accustomed to the fact that the United States would always be their friends,” said Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s ambassador to the United States during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. “And it’s like when a very good friend leaves you. It hurts. I would say of all European countries, the Germans psychologically are the ones who are wounded most.”

He has not alone.

“That was the dream of everybody in the world, that one day we would all live in democracies,” said Cem Özdemir of the center-left Green Party. “One day, we would all live in a world that is fair and just. If the guy in the center of this world is evil, evil has won.”

“The trans-Atlantic relationship is not going to survive eight years of Trump,” said Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel. “What comes next is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Rubin writes that the disillusionment is felt most acutely by the Germans who “do believe in the best of American values” but where the U.S. now “can’t be trusted.”

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« Reply #3587 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:02 AM »


'A goldmine': mummies' secrets uncovered in Egypt

Archaeologists find mummification workshop in the Saqqara necropolis

Ruth Michaelson
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 16.00 BST

Deep below the sands of the Saqqara necropolis, archaeologists have uncovered a unique discovery they say reveals the secrets of the ancient Egyptian mummies.

A mummification workshop and adjoining burial shaft as well as five mummies, their bejewelled sarcophagi, figurines, and a gilded silver and onyx mummy mask were all unearthed at the site, which archeologists say provides a wealth of new knowledge about the mummification process.

“We are standing before a goldmine of information,” said Dr Ramadan Badry Hussein, director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project which oversees the excavation. Hussein beamed as he stood before a crowd of journalists and diplomats who had gathered at the dig site, in the shadow of the step pyramid of Djoser, to view the new finds.

“This [discovery] is so important as it’s extensive. We have oils and measuring cups – all of them are labelled … from this we can find the chemical composition of the oils and discover what they are,” he said.

The embalming workshop and adjoining 30-metre (98ft) burial shaft, dating from the Saite-Persian period (664-404 BC), also give clues about their ancient inhabitants’ former status.

“There are clear socioeconomic differences between the mummies in the shaft,” said Hussein. “We see that mummification happened above ground, while some of those buried down there were either buried in private or shared chambers.”

The find is a boon for scholars of ancient Egypt and archeologists, who believe that the workshop and the mummies discovered in the burial shaft will provide new information about how the ancient Egyptians buried their dead. The find also comes as Egypt is preparing to open a museum to better display its rich archeological wonders, as visitor numbers slowly edge towards the highs witnessed prior to the 2011 revolution.

The site where the embalming workshop was unearthed was originally excavated in the late 19th century, but a joint project between an Egyptian and German team chose to re-excavate it in 2016.

“Egypt needs a second round of excavation, focusing on the old sites explored in the early 20th century,” Hussein told the crowd. “We can use new examination and documentation techniques, and it will be fruitful every time. We find new things that were left behind.”

Further excavation will continue at the site, intended to unseal several chambers adjoining the embalming workshop as well as opening four out of the five sarcophagi later this year.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dr Mostafa Waziry, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, who briefly paused between interviews to jump down into the dig site with a torch. “It’s a very rich area. I’m sure we’re going to find more.”

The discovery comes as Egypt is hoping that new ways of displaying its archeological wealth will draw in more visitors, in particular the new Grand Egyptian Museum set to open close to the famed Giza pyramid complex in 2019.

“Egypt never ceases to surprise the world in terms of new discoveries of its ancient history,” said Dr Tarek Tawfiq, director of the new museum, as he stood at the top of the excavation site in the summer heat. “We will also surprise the world with how we display these discoveries.”

An estimated 8.3 million tourists visited the Arab world’s most populous nation in 2017, a huge increase from the lean years following the 2011 revolution and 2013 military coup, as well as the downing of Metrojet KGL9268 in Sinai, which killed all 224 people on board.

But despite the new finds and museums intended to draw in more tourists, Egypt remains dogged by ongoing investigations into the incidents that drove tourists away.

Earlier this week, Egyptian officials lashed out at a statement from France’s civil aviation bureau BEA, who provided rare public criticism of Egyptian intransigence over the investigation into the 2016 crash of EgyptAir MS804 from Paris, which killed all 66 people on board.

French officials have said that the most likely cause of the crash was a cockpit fire. In an unusual public split, Egypt’s top prosecutor labelled claims by French investigators “baseless”. Egyptian officials continue to claim that terrorism was responsible for the crash.


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« Reply #3588 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:04 AM »


Waste incineration set to overtake recycling in England, Greens warn

Amount of rubbish burned by local authorities triples while household recycling rates stall

Adam Vaughan
Guardian
Mon 16 Jul 2018 06.01 BST

England is on the brink of burning more of its rubbish in incinerators than it recycles for the first time, according to a new analysis.

The amount of waste managed by local authorities and sent to incinerators, or energy-from-waste plants, tripled between 2010-11 and 2016-17. By contrast, household recycling rates have stalled since 2013.

If those trends continue, the millions of tonnes of waste incinerated will overtake the amount sent for recycling by the end of the current financial year, a report by the Green party found.

London, the West Midlands and north-east already burn more than they recycle.

The Greens, who argue that incineration is bad for climate change and holds back recycling rates, said it was shocking that recycling was now going to be overtaken nationally.

Baroness Jones, the Green party peer, said: “There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort option. What we have created instead is a market-driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed.”

In 2016-17, the last year for which official data is available, about 4m tonnes were landfilled, about 10m incinerated and just over 11m recycled or composted.

However, the Greens did not look at how many new incinerators are in the planning pipeline, and only extrapolated from previous trends.

Just one new incinerator started construction last year, in Bristol, suggesting the rapid growth in recent years may be slowing down.

There were 40 energy-from-waste facilities in the UK in 2017, up from 26 in 2014. Together they have a combined operational capacity of handling 12m tonnes of waste a year, a figure that experts expect will rise to nearly 16m by 2022.

Jacob Hayler, executive director at waste trade association the ESA, said: “Too often the debate is set up as recycling v incineration – that’s the wrong way to frame it. Really, it’s landfill against incineration for things you can’t recycle.”

He said cuts to local authority budgets were to blame for recycling stagnating, not incineration growth. “The trend is there isn’t enough policy support for recycling, so recycling rates have slowed down.”

The French, British and Spanish firms looking to build more incinerators will also come under scrutiny for their impact on air pollution on Tuesday in a cross-party report by MPs.


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« Reply #3589 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:07 AM »


'Like losing family': time may be running out for New Zealand's most sacred tree

Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is about 2,500 years old. But its days will be numbered if it succumbs to kauri dieback

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 02.24 BST

New Zealand’s oldest and most sacred tree stands 60 metres from death, as a fungal disease known as kauri dieback spreads unabated across the country.

Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is a giant kauri tree located in the Waipoua forest in the north of the country, and is sacred to the Māori people, who regard it as a living ancestor.

The tree is believed to be around 2,500 years old, and is 13.77m across and more than 50m tall.

Thousands of locals and tourists alike visit the tree every year to pay their respects, and take selfies beside the trunk.

Now, the survival of what is believed to be New Zealand’s oldest living tree is threatened by kauri dieback, with kauri trees a mere 60m from Tāne Mahuta confirmed to be infected.

Kauri dieback causes most infected trees to die, and is threatening to completely wipe out New Zealand’s most treasured native tree species, prized for its beauty, strength and use in boats, carvings and buildings.

Despite stringent efforts by local iwi [Māori tribes] to combat the spread – most commonly through infected soil tramped in on walkers’ boots, or the hooves of wild pigs – there is no cure, and native tree experts are calling for international help to slow the demise of kauri dieback and save Tāne Mahuta.

Amanda Black from the Bioprotection Research Centre at NZ’s Lincoln University, estimates Tāne has only three to six months before becoming infected – if he is not already – as his mammoth root system spreads in excess of 60m underground.

An advisory panel was launched by the government in June in a bid to tackle the spread of the disease, but Black says the panel was the equivalent of “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.” She wants Tāne soil tested immediately to confirm whether or not the tree is infected, but this option is proving controversial.

On Thursday, Black was invited to attend a hikoi for Tāne in Waipoua forest, held by the local tribe, Te Roroa, who prayed for the tree’s safety and wellbeing as the disease inches ever close.

“We don’t have any time to do the usual scientific trials anymore, we just have to start responding immediately in any way possible; it is not ideal but we have kind of run out of time,” Black says, adding that although there is no cure for kauri dieback there is a range of measures which could slow its progress.

“Tāne is the nearest thing to a sentient being that we can measure time by. For Māori in particular, it is their ancestor. For them to lose trees like that is equivalent to losing family members,” she says.

Taoho Patuawa, a spokesperson for Te Roroa, says solutions being discussed include closing the entire forest and felling nearby infected trees.

Presently, raised boardwalks and boot-cleaning stations are the frontline defence, as well as conservation department rangers, Māori guardians and volunteers who patrol vulnerable forests.

Last year Auckland tribe Te Kawerau a Maki issued a rāhui (temporary ban) over the Waitākere and Hunua ranges to the west of Auckland, prohibiting anyone from entering the forest.

Auckland council added its support and surveillance to the ban this June, but biosecurity experts say locals feel “entitled” to enter the bush, and are largely to blame for ignoring warnings and bans.

“Closure is the best thing we’ve got, especially if the authorities got behind it and enforced it. The forest needs to rest,” says Black.

Conservation minister Eugenie Sage said Kauri dieback was “devastating” for New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna, but said the department of conservation [DOC] was confident the risk of the disease spreading by human traffic was “very low”, and wild pigs were now in the crosshairs.

    Dept of Conservation (@docgovtnz)

    We're seeking public input on a new proposal to close various tracks in the kauri region to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease: https://t.co/hMQ1ZXzXQw

    📷: Alan Cressler pic.twitter.com/zXAvtS87sT
    July 11, 2018

Dead Kauri trees take on a ghostly white appearance in the landscape, and according to Northland residents, dead Kauri trees are now visible from all the roads surrounding the Waipoua Forest.

“Sometimes people are overwhelmed and end up crying,” Vanessa Rapira of the Te Roroa tribe told the Guardian last year.

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« Reply #3590 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:09 AM »


Weatherwatch: Antarctica proves to be even colder than previously thought

Data from Nasa satellites has been matched with weather station information to reveal a chilly new low

Kate Ravilious
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 21.30 BST

Where is the coldest place on Earth? Antarctica; yes, but where exactly?

On 23 July 1983, the thermometer at the Vostok station, high on the East Antarctic plateau on recorded the lowest measured air temperature on Earth: a frigid -89.2C. But, in recent years, satellite data has revealed it can get even colder.

Measurements beamed back from the Modis instrument on board Nasa’s Terra and Aqua satellites have shown that a broad region of the plateau, more than 3500m above sea level, regularly experiences temperatures below -90°C during winter. By matching these measurements with automatic weather station data from Antarctica, scientists have shown that temperatures can plummet to -98°C, and that the coldest locations are found in small hollows in the ice – about two to three metres deep – on the southern side of the high ridges on the plateau.

The findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reveal that clear skies and several days of bone-dry air make for the coldest conditions. That’s because super-cold and dry air is denser than the slightly warmer air around it, so it falls into the hollow and becomes trapped, allowing the air above to cool further.


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« Reply #3591 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:11 AM »

Sedum roofs doing well in heatwave

Sedum roofs can be afflicted by weeds in wet weather, but only buddleia can survive heatwave

Paul Brown
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 21.30 BST

In theory green roofs that are planted with sedums require no maintenance. The growing medium, described as substrate rather than soil, looks like lumpy brick dust that seems too impoverished to sustain anything. Sedums are succulents, however, and thrive in such conditions, especially without competition from other plants.

So far, so good; but dandelions, thistles and – worst of all – buddleia bushes, with seeds that float on the wind, have other ideas. These weeds can appear in large numbers in spring. Seven years’ experience shows it is the weather that plays a crucial role in subsequent maintenance. Although the invaders are often in miniature because of poor nutrition, the thistles and dandelions do flower and produce seed if there is regular rain, but with a long enough dry spell, they shrivel and die.
Six tips to help wildlife in the heat
Read more

The exception is the buddleia, which withstands the harshest conditions. These seedlings have to be pulled out each spring to protect the lining of the roof – thankfully, not a difficult task in loose brick dust. This weekend a trip up the ladder revealed a glorious forest of sedum flowers and not a single weed in sight. The heatwave has at least done wonders for this part of the garden.

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« Reply #3592 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:16 AM »

Trump UK protests: Why environmental groups are protesting ‘climate vandal’ US president

'Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief'

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent
Independent
6/16/2018
   
As tens of thousands gathered in London to protest the visit of Donald Trump, among them were protesters calling out the US president’s less than exemplary record on the environment.

Branding Mr Trump a “climate wrecker” and a “climate vandal”, green groups object particularly to his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – a move scientists say has put global security at risk.

“It does often get lost in the more immediate human rights abuses, but if Trump succeeds in derailing international climate action the consequences of that are going to be unthinkable,” Claire James from the Campaign against Climate Change told The Independent.   

“The planet is really at a tipping point at the moment. Scientists are warning ever more urgently that we need to act, and we don’t have time to hang around while Trump tries a last ditch effort to rescue fossil fuels.”

Since taking power, the current US administration has spurned efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slashed funding for climate science.

While much of the world moves towards renewable energy sources to meet its emissions targets, Mr Trump has stressed his desire to revitalise the fossil fuel industry and push “beautiful, clean coal” in the US.

Under its recently departed head Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency was sent in “exactly the wrong” direction, according to Democrat senator Bernie Sanders. Many accused Mr Pruitt of acting in the interests of the nation’s polluters and fossil fuel industry.

Mr Trump himself is a known climate sceptic – suggesting global warming is a “hoax” perpetrated by China and demonstrating a misunderstanding of climate trends in an interview with Piers Morgan in January.

While expressing his fondness for “clean air and clean water”, the president opined that ice caps are currently “at a record level”, despite Nasa data revealing sea ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic is currently at its lowest point in living memory.

“The most powerful man on the planet is a climate-wrecker,” said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (FoE) chief executive.

“Since taking the Oval Office Trump has trampled over climate change progress, reneged on the Paris agreement and clearly scoffs at any link between the environment and issues of race and social justice.
 
“Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief.”

FoE and the Campaign against Climate Change led the protest’s climate change bloc, and were joined by many who had never taken part in rallies before.

The night before the march, anti-Trump protesters unfurled a banner across from the Houses of Parliament reading “Trump: Climate Genocide”.


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« Reply #3593 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:20 AM »

World’s poorest people bearing costs of rainforest conservation that benefits entire world, scientists warn

'Instead of you and me having to fly less, and drive less, and people in cities around the world having to live their western lifestyles less – it’s poor people in far away places having to change their livelihoods'

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent
Independent
6/16/2018    

Richer nations are “freeloading” off some of the poorest communities in the world by forcing them to foot the bill for rainforest conservation, according to a new study.

In Madagascar, an island known for its stunning biodiversity and lush tropical forests, farming communities are abandoning their way of life to satisfy the demands of international climate change prevention programmes.

Crucially, despite clear commitments by the likes of the World Bank to compensate those harmed by these programmes, such compensation is not taking place.

To investigate this phenomenon, a team of Malagasy and British scientists examined the impact of one of the UN’s Redd+ projects in the eastern part of the island.

Redd+ has the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by preventing deforestation, but the researchers found that if not properly implemented the scheme can have devastating consequences.

“The whole world needs to slow carbon emissions in the interest of mitigating climate change, and there has been a lot of interest in doing that through slowing deforestation in the tropics,” Professor Julia Jones, one of the team leaders based at Bangor University, told The Independent.

It is in Madagascar’s interests to protect its forests, not only due to its abundance of wildlife but also economic benefits such as tourism.

However, the popularity of anti-deforestation measures is partly due to the relative ease with which international politicians can push such measures through.

“That’s because of course instead of you and me having to fly less, and drive less, and people in cities around the world having to live their western lifestyles less – it’s poor people in far away places having to change their livelihoods.”

Madagascar ranks among the poorest countries in the world, with high levels of malnutrition and poor infrastructure, and many people there rely on clearing areas of forest to farm.

“Those who clear land for agriculture are often those that are most food insecure,” said Dr Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, a Malagasy researcher based at the University of Stirling who co-authored the paper.

In their study, published in the journal PeerJ, the scientists focused specifically on the Ankeniheny Zahamena Corridor conservation project, which covers an area of high biodiversity including the indri – the world’s largest lemur.

In total throughout their study area, the researchers estimated that 27,000 people have been harmed by the initiative, with traditional forms of agriculture halted and insufficient compensation given to the local people. Many farmers received no compensation at all.

Professor Jones said this is a pattern that is repeated in many marginalised communities around the world.

“Beyond the economic costs of not being able to grow food to feed their family, local people suffer from conservation enforcement,” said Dr Rakotonarivo.

“I have heard firsthand reports of people being arrested and held in deplorable conditions for cultivating on forest fallow which they consider ancestral land. In a country where jail conditions are inhumane, this shows how desperate people are.”

However, Professor Jones said while it is easy to lay the blame on the Malagasy government, the real problem is that the rich world is “essentially freeloading on extremely poor forest residents”.

“Britain has made quite a large commitment through the green climate fund to fund these kind of Redd+ activities,” she said.

“But as a global community we are nowhere near paying enough for these issues so ultimately it’s about having a carbon tax or something that would raise the price of carbon and means there was more money on the table.”


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« Reply #3594 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:25 AM »

Belize Barrier Reef: Unesco removes largest coral reef system in Northern Hemisphere from endangered list

Experts caution 'long-term danger to world’s reefs from climate change remains real'

Independent
6/16/2018 

It was a drop of good news about the world’s oceans: The Belize Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, has been removed from the United Nations list of endangered world heritage sites.

Unesco, the world body’s educational, scientific and cultural agency, says its heritage committee voted Tuesday to remove the reef from its list of threatened sites because it no longer faced immediate danger from development.

“In the last two years, especially in the last year, the government of Belize really has made a transformational shift,” says Fanny Douvere, the coordinator of the marine program at Unesco’s World Heritage Centre.   

UN officials initially cited “mangrove cutting and excessive development” as the main concern when the reef was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009. They have also expressed concern about oil exploration. Since then, the Belize government has imposed a moratorium on oil exploration around the reef and implemented protections for coastal mangrove forests.

Experts cautioned, though, that the long-term danger to the world’s reefs from climate change remains real.

“The primary threats are all still there,” says John Bruno, a marine ecologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The big one, of course, is ocean warming.”

The world’s largest coral ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef, has been hit hard by rising temperatures in recent years. An underwater heatwave in Australian waters two years ago spurred a die-off of coral so severe that scientists say that reef will never look the same again.

Scientists say they have observed signs of coral bleaching on the Belize reef. Bleaching occurs when unusually warm water causes the corals to lose plant-like organisms that help keep them alive. In 2015 and 2016, almost a quarter of the corals off the Belizean coast were affected by bleaching, according to a report by the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, an organisation that monitors reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef at its best - and worst

If most of the world’s coral reefs die, as scientists fear is increasingly likely, some of the richest and most colourful life in the ocean could be lost, along with income from reef tourism. In poorer countries, lives are at stake: hundreds of millions of people get their protein primarily from reef fish, and a reduction of that food supply could become a humanitarian crisis.

Australia successfully demanded that a chapter detailing damage to the Great Barrier Reef be cut from a 2016 Unesco report on threatened heritage sites so that it would not affect tourism.

The Belize Barrier Reef system, which extends roughly 200 miles along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996. The system is made up of a series of coral reefs, cays and islands, many of which are covered with mangroves.

Despite covering less than a thousandth of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than a quarter of marine fish species. The state of reefs is considered an important indicator of the overall health of the seas.


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« Reply #3595 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:45 AM »


Hold by Michael Donkor review – a Ghanaian housemaid’s tale

A bold literary debut gives voice to a female section of Ghanaian society that is often seen but not heard

Arifa Akbar
Guardian
Mon 16 Jul 2018 08.00 BST

Michael Donkor has said that the inspiration for this debut novel came from the housemaids who cooked, cleaned and waited on him on childhood trips to his extended family in Ghana. These women were ubiquitous but always silent.

In Hold, he gives them a voice through Belinda, a 17-year-old domestic servant who is sent from a well-heeled Ghanaian household in Kumasi to look after Amma, a troubled teenager who lives with her Ghanaian-born parents in Clapham, south London. Belinda leaves behind a younger housemaid, Mary, a mischievous and lovable character whom she has come to see as a younger sister.

The novel does not address issues around domestic servitude head-on, although we are shown the emotional fallout of Belinda’s forced displacement from a household, and a continent. She accepts her move uncomplainingly, but however kindly she is treated by the Otuo family in London – they do not want her to cook or clean, and encourage her to concentrate on her education – their self-serving decision to uproot her, purely to be a pet maid to the seemingly spoilt Amma, creates an underlying unease.

While this remains an undercurrent in the novel, it is female sexuality that is at the fore. Donkor, who came out to his family in his 20s, has said it is “kind of un-Ghanaian” to be openly gay, and here, Amma’s story illuminates the cultural taboos around homosexuality, while Belinda’s character reveals both her own secret shame and hostile judgment of Amma.

    The focus is on the love that flows between women and the need for Belinda to find a place that feels like home

Donkor, who was chosen earlier this year as one of the Observer’s best debut novelists of 2018, also puts female friendship at the book’s core. Belinda’s camaraderie with Mary is beautifully depicted, right up to its tragic end. Although Belinda is Amma’s age, the cultural difference poses a seemingly unbridgeable divide (when Amma listens to Radiohead, for example), yet they come to learn from each other and connect. Belinda also bonds with Amma’s mother, Nana, through their shared memories of Ghana, despite their generational and class differences.

Donkor works as a teacher and it takes a certain courage for a London-born, male author to write from the points of view of girls and women from Ghana. It pays off and he inhabits their heads and hearts convincingly. He is particularly good at shining a light on the loneliness in Belinda’s life and the psychological games she plays to navigate her unsettled sense of self. Belinda does not have the luxury of a fixed identity – she must adapt herself to every new household, so she makes herself as amenable as she can to the initially stony Amma, using different tactics and personas to appeal to her.

She advises Mary to do the same when the girl complains about the drudgery of her domestic chores. Belinda encourages her to create an alter ego who loves the work, to give her a name and imagine herself in this woman’s skin. “Even imagine you are the type that enjoys it all,” she says. Identity and transformation here is about forbearance and learning to adopt a role that threatens to belittle and undermine a sense of self.

At times, there are flashes of Jane Eyre in Belinda’s role as a “governess” of sorts, but there is no Mr Rochester to save her from her life, nor a sugary ending. The focus is on the love that flows between women and the need for Belinda to find a place that feels like home.

Amma, at one point, reflects on the lives around her and thinks that there are “all these black women mired in different kinds of shit”. Their lives are hard, yet a profound sense of hope resonates from within Donkor’s warm and accomplished novel.

• Hold by Michael Donkor is published by 4th Estate (£12.99). To order a copy for £9.99 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99


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« Reply #3596 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:48 AM »

Sandra Oh on ‘Killing Eve’ and Her Historic Emmy Nomination

By Aisha Harris
Guardian
July 16, 2018

The team behind the BBC America series “Killing Eve,” which debuted earlier this year to glowing reviews, has much to celebrate: The series earned two Emmy nominations Thursday, one for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for outstanding writing for a drama series, and another for its star, Sandra Oh. For her role as Eve Polastri, an M15 officer who becomes obsessed with a merciless hit woman, Ms. Oh, who was born in Canada to Korean parents, is believed to have made history as the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for best lead actress in a drama series.

On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Oh spoke about her groundbreaking nomination and her feelings about the possibilities for more diverse representation in Hollywood. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

It’s wild to imagine that, in 2018, we’re announcing you as the first Asian woman nominated in your category.

You want to know what? Let’s celebrate it, man. I’m serious, just [expletive] celebrate it. It’s like, we’ve got to start somewhere. And I’m happy to get that ball rolling, because what I hope happens is that next year and the next year and the next year, we will have presence. And the presence will grow not only to Asian-Americans, you know, from yellow to brown, but to all our other sisters and brothers. Our First Nations sisters and brothers. Our sisters and brothers of different sizes and different shapes. If I can be a part of that change, like [expletive], yeah, let’s celebrate it.

The subject of representation is everywhere now in film and TV, but do you feel that the tide is really changing? Or are you more along the lines of being cautiously optimistic?

I want to try and find another word for “cautiously optimistic” because, having been in this business for my entire life now, I know and I realize that change is slow. Let’s try to celebrate it. And to be patient. Maybe that’s it — to be patient and to be relentless about making the change happen.

I mean, women laughs — can we talk about women for a second? The change is slow, but let’s just continue pressing on with the change. I’m not going to say that the tide has changed, no. But what I do feel is that people are more open. And what I mean by people — I think people who have been in power, who have mostly been white men, and people who are white, they listen now. They not only listen and are open, they make the effort for change. I do feel that has changed. I can feel it now because of the way I can push: ‘Hey, what about this? Hey, what about that?’ Trust me, I’m relentless.

Your role on “Killing Eve” seems like an example of the tide’s changing. Do you see other things happening behind the scenes in terms of that openness you’re feeling?

It’s slow, but it’s building. What I’m waiting for us to see, in a much more significant way, is the difference between its being open and its actually growing. Let’s say, something for the Asian-American community: It’s not that there’s just suddenly jobs available, right? We’re talking from the beginning, where people are being trained — that people are able to let go of being a doctor and a lawyer and feel free to want to be an artist. It’s not only in Hollywood, it’s within our own community, to be able to see that there is a place for us, and for us to step into that place. It’s difficult if we don’t feel that there is a place for us. So the opening of opportunity has to not only be there, but be there in a much more muscular way.

And it’s also moving into the places of complex storytelling. It’s growing the depth of who we see ourselves to be, and who we see ourselves as — and that it’s not just one type of face or one gender.

You’ve been nominated five times before this for your performance on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but that was for best supporting actress. What has it been like for you to finally no longer be the best friend or the side character?

I take it extremely seriously to do absolutely the best work possible, and the truest work possible, because I feel like that is what’s going to resonate not only for myself but hopefully for an audience. And there just aren’t yet a lot of varieties of images that my community can pull from.

But I am absolutely aware of the significance and take it very seriously because we need it. Not only just for my community — and hopefully what that means to be represented and seen — but also for culture. We’re a part of it. Let us not only see ourselves, but let others see us.

Do you have a favorite moment that resonated with you while exploring your character, something you discovered about her that really delighted and surprised you?

Yes. In Episode 5, which is my favorite episode, right before she meets Villanelle [the hit woman, played by Jodie Comer], you find Eve at a bus stop. And honestly, my favorite things to play are Eve’s private moments, because she is not so aware of herself, and that’s always so juicy to play as an actor. And she is at this bus stop and she sees the window, there’s a crack in the window, and for some reason she just wants to smush it, and she does. At one point they pulled that scene out, and I was like, ‘No, you’ve got to put that scene back in, because she’s about to come face to face with Villanelle. She needs to break through something.’ That was one of my favorite scenes to play.

Season 1 ended on such a highly intense note. Where do you see the show, and your character, going in Season 2?

I want them to find each other again. I do have the sneaking suspicion that Eve is going to continually be wrestling with her own soul as she explores darker parts of herself, and parts she really needs to explore.


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« Reply #3597 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:53 AM »

The Equestrian Coach Who Minted Olympians, and Left a Trail of Child Molestation

By Sarah Maslin Nir
NY Times
6/16/2018

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. — There’s no trace of Jimmy A. Williams, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame trainer, at the equestrian club where he was an instructor for nearly four decades, cultivating young riders, some of whom went on to Olympic fame.

The pictures and paintings of Mr. Williams, who died in 1993, and the sterling trophies he won all vanished without a word recently from the clubhouse where he had spent many afternoons tipping back Champagne with some of Los Angeles County’s biggest and richest names: the parents of his young charges. Last month, the club removed his name from the grand show jumping stadium at the heart of the sprawling property at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, once the Jimmy A. Williams Oval. Today it is just Ring 1.

But his former riders cannot forget Mr. Williams. Across the country, in her New Jersey barn adorned with her Olympic medals, Anne Kursinski, one of the country’s most decorated show jumpers, remembered her former coach.

How he tasted of alcohol whenever he pinned her in a horse stall and crammed his tongue into her mouth. And far more. “He penetrated me when I was 11,” Ms. Kursinski said, revealing publicly for the first time the details of what she said became six years of continual rape and molestation. “I was a little kid,” she said. “And he was God.”

The equestrian community has been rocked by the revelations of abuse made by Ms. Kursinski and four other students, the broad strokes of which were first reported last month by The Chronicle of the Horse, an industry publication. It has shaken an insular universe in which Mr. Williams, in life and after, was a mythic figure, revered for his knack with difficult horses and for churning out top-flight riders.

But few have been surprised.

Interviews with 38 former students, trainers, grooms, equestrian officials and members of the Flintridge Riding Club reveal a rarefied social scene in which Mr. Williams groped and kissed young girls publicly and with impunity — though few knew the true extent of the abuse.

They describe a toxic brew of prestige and ambition that led parents, bent on their child’s success in the show ring, to ignore his near daily predations — and persuaded children who were afraid of losing beloved horses to stay silent. What emerged was a world where, for adults, entree to cocktail hour in the Spanish Colonial-style clubhouse and access to a man with movie-star good looks and a legendary way with horses seemed to eclipse whatever it was rumored to have happened back at the barn.

“The unspoken rule was of not saying anything, not divulging anything,” said Karen Herold, 58, who rode there from age 16 to 20, during which time she said Mr. Williams continually molested her. Mr. Williams wielded carrot and stick to ensure silence, she and others said: better horses to ride for those who were compliant, and threats they’d fail in the sport without him as coach.

“For the riders, it was, ‘Oh my God, I want to be the best rider,’ ” said Ms. Herold, who now works in breast cancer research. But for the parents, she said, “It was, ‘Oh my God, I want to be a part of this.’ ”
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Mr. Williams, who died at age 76, zipped around horse shows in a cowboy hat and a cloud of cologne in a customized golf cart emblazoned with the phrase, “Jimmy Williams is a clean old man, amen.” He was a World War II veteran who learned classical riding when stationed in Italy, according to multiple biographies. He left military service with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with valor to return to California, where he starred in several movies as an equestrian stunt double.

Handsome and spouting aphorisms, he was known as a ladies’ man; an obituary in The Los Angeles Times said he was married six times. He began riding at 8 years old, with stints in almost every discipline, from racehorses to Western horses, according to the National Reined Cow Horse Association, where he is in the association’s hall of fame. He began working at Flintridge in 1956, and remained employed there until his death.

As Mr. Williams climbed in prestige, netting accolades and even the establishment in 1988 of a lifetime achievement trophy in his name by the sport’s top governing body — his trademark cowboy hat in silver by Tiffany — the whispers that escaped the paddocks of Flintridge were ignored.

Just before the trophy was inaugurated, Jane Forbes Clark, then the first vice president for the sport’s governing organization, was warned of Mr. Williams’s rumored misconduct, she said, by a person she declined to name. But Ms. Clark did not investigate the veracity of the story other than to call a friend, Frank Chapot, the six-time Olympian, who died in 2016, and ask for his opinion. Mr. Chapot’s wife, the Olympian Mary Mairs Chapot, had trained with Mr. Williams. Ms. Clark did not speak to Mr. Williams or any Flintridge clients, or raise the issue with her board, Ms. Clark said.

“It was such a vague rumor,” Ms. Clark said. The trophy was unanimously adopted by the organization.

Two years ago, the organization caved to back-room pressure exerted by Ms. Kursinski and other victims to remove Mr. Williams’s name from the lifetime achievement trophy. But at the time, Chrystine Tauber, then the president of the United States Equestrian Federation, did not disclose the reason. In a 2016 statement, Ms. Tauber said it was a purely bureaucratic decision.

Only last month did the federation reveal the truth, after being pressed by a reporter from The Chronicle of the Horse. When asked by The New York Times why Ms. Tauber had obfuscated in 2016, the federation issued a statement correcting the record:

“We did what we believed was responsible at the time to protect any potential victims, as we did not have a substantiated claim of sexual abuse,” Bill Moroney, the chief executive of the federation, wrote in an email. “Our public statement has changed and the Jimmy Williams trophy has been retired due to the substantiated allegations from a victim with whom Jimmy Williams engaged in sexual misconduct during his role as her trainer.”

Why it took decades for the allegations to surface is something that the victims struggle to understand. Many themselves said nothing.

“I think it must have been because he was Jimmy Williams,” said Susan Lomenzo Langer, who rode there when she was 15. “For Jimmy Williams to invite you to his house even if it was to chase after you and corner you and molest you. He was a magician with horses; we were so in awe of him.

“He was so famous, he was a movie star,” Ms. Lomenzo Langer said, her voice rising with emotion: “I was a kid!”

Some dispute the allegations against Mr. Williams. Susan M. Hutchison, a professional grand prix rider, began riding at Flintridge Riding Club when she was 5. When she was 18, she began living with Mr. Williams, who was then 55. The long-term partnership continued to his death, according to his obituary in The New York Times.

Ms. Hutchison has vehemently denied any abuse, and denounced the accusations in published reports. She declined a request to comment for this article.

Of the 22 club presidents over the course of Mr. Williams’s long tenure at Flintridge, almost all are deceased. Priscilla M. McClure, who served as president from 1977 to 1979, said that although she knew that “Jimmy kissed everyone indiscriminately,” not a single person had ever complained to her about Mr. Williams’s conduct. “It would have been my responsibility as president to look into such allegations,” she said.

“I believe every one of them, but I didn’t hear anything from any of them, and I didn’t hear anything from parents,” she said. “Perhaps that was because people knew that I regarded Jimmy as a friend. I would have been the last person anyone would have come to about that.”

Alan F. Balch, a president of the club during the 1980s and 1990s, who at the time of Mr. Williams’s death was writing his biography, according to The Los Angeles Times, did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. In an extensive statement to The Chronicle, Mr. Balch said he heard of only a single incident: A former member called him on behalf of her daughter and another girl, whom he declined to name.

He detailed confronting Mr. Williams, who denied the accusations and indicated that competitive equestrian rivalries spurred the claims.

“It seemed to me that she, her daughter and Jimmy needed to make peace about all this among themselves, and I said so,” Mr. Balch said, according to The Chronicle. “Only they knew the whole truth about the matter.”

He added, “Jimmy Williams never claimed impeccable personal virtue.”

The president of the Flintridge Riding Club, Suzanne Osimo, did not respond to messages or emails requesting comment. On April 18, club members received a letter stating that given the allegations, the club would “remove from our publicity the affiliation with him.”

Several people contacted for this article said that while they had seen Mr. Williams kissing and groping students, they attributed his behavior to social mores of a different era, rather than any nefarious intent. Many expressed anger that Mr. Williams was not alive to defend himself against the allegations and that the legacy of an important and talented horseman had been tarnished.

“It’s sad things like that are said about a man who has been passed away” for more than 25 years, said Hap Hansen, who grew up riding at Flintridge and became one of the most successful grand prix riders in the world. While he said he witnessed Mr. Williams kissing and touching women and girls, Mr. Hansen said he did not believe it was without consent.

“I think he was a great horseman; he was a legend in his time,” Mr. Hansen said. “In my mind, he still is. I just think those things are stupid to bring up whether they are true or not.”

Avoid the Barns

Even for the few children who spoke up about the misconduct as it happened, Mr. Williams’s status as an equestrian giant served as a de facto silencer.

Ringside at the Indio National Horse Show in Indio, Calif., in 1968, Mr. Williams scouted 14-year-old Melissa Cardenas, now Mihalevich, a high-jump prodigy, pitching to her mother that Melissa should train with him. After the adults struck a deal, Mr. Williams followed her to where she was grooming her horse, High Barbaree, Ms. Mihalevich said, threw his arm over her in an avuncular way and then shoved his tongue down her throat.

She ran and told her mother. “She just could not believe that,” Ms. Mihalevich said. “It was Jimmy Williams.” The plan to train with Mr. Williams went forward, and lasted three years, she said. So too did the abuse.

For Ms. Kursinski, who for decades after the abuse ended continued to champion his horsemanship in interviews, her silence stemmed in part from a sense of gratitude for his role in helping her toward equestrian superstardom, she said, a duality she has tackled through therapy and spiritual work.

“At one point I felt there were almost two of me,” she said. “There’s this little thing over here, and there is this other part of me that rides. To survive.”

She added: “I still have to say he is a genius. But he was sick.”

Mr. Williams’s modus operandi, several students said, was to corner them in horse stalls where he would push his tongue into their mouth or force their hands down his riding breeches. They quickly learned to avoid the barns, they said.

“He would say, ‘Well, I’m training you so you can satisfy men,’” said Gigi Gaston, who rode there from age 11 to 17 and started wearing a camera around her neck to stop him from pressing against her. “ ‘You want to make your boyfriends happy, don’t you?’ ”

Mr. Williams lived on the club property in a bungalow beside a riding ring, behind a high hedge that circles the house like a moat. When Ms. Gaston was 17, he summoned her inside, pulled her head down and pressed her mouth to his exposed penis, she said. She screamed and her braces scraped his genitals, she said; when he recoiled, she escaped.

Ms. Gaston told several adults, who confronted Mr. Williams that night, but she was unsure if the club was ever notified. “Everyone always turned the other cheek,” Ms. Gaston, now a filmmaker, said. “It was a system.”

In the early 1990s, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin, a grand prix rider and former student of Mr. Williams’s, and Ms. Kursinski confided in each other for the first time. They had ridden together as teenagers, and, along with a few others, unearthed old rosters of riders from Flintridge and began calling down the list, asking whoever picked up what she had experienced.

On a spring day in 1993, five former students of Mr. Williams’s gathered in a small bungalow by the beach in Santa Monica. They had ridden together as girls: Ms. Gaston; Ms. Herold; Ms. Steinwedell-Carvin; and Ms. Kursinski and her sister Lisa, who has since died. They gathered for a group-therapy session with a therapist and shared how each had been preyed upon by Mr. Williams.

For Ms. Steinwedell-Carvin, 57, who has battled addiction, it was the beginning of understanding memories — of Mr. Williams forcing her to touch his penis and inserting his tongue in her mouth as a child — that she had long pushed away. And her need to silence her sense of shame with alcohol and drugs.

“I learned what was yanked away from me because of the abuse,” she said.

Standing at Middle Ranch, eucalyptus-shrouded stables 15 miles northwest of Flintridge Riding Club, on a recent day in May, Ms. Steinwedell-Carvin stroked the muzzle of Bandolero H, her chocolate bay horse.

“I kept everything in for so long,” she said. “I wanted to hide, but what I really wanted was someone to find me and put their arms around me and say, ‘It’s O.K., you’re going to be fine.’ That’s what the horses have done for me.”

On May 14, the United States Equestrian Federation barred Jimmy A. Williams from its membership — 24 years 6 months 14 days after his death.

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« Reply #3598 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:57 AM »


Israel in turmoil over bill allowing Jews and Arabs to be segregated

Law will ‘reveal ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance’, professor says

Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 12.19 BST

Israel is in the throes of political upheaval as the country’s ruling party seeks to pass legislation that could allow for Jewish-only communities, which critics have condemned as the end of a democratic state.

For the past half-decade, politicians have been wrangling over the details of the bill that holds constitution-like status and that Benjamin Netanyahu wants passed this month.

The proposed legislation would allow the state to “authorise a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community”.

In its current state, the draft would also permit Jewish religious law to be implemented in certain cases and remove Arabic as an official language.

“In the Israeli democracy, we will continue to protect the rights of both the individual and the group, this is guaranteed. But the majority have rights too, and the majority rules,” the Israeli prime minister said this week.

A vote on the bill is expected next week, although a final draft has yet to be agreed on. The legislation has been compared to South African apartheid by Israeli parliamentarians, and several thousand Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

The Middle Eastern country sees itself as both a democratic and a Jewish state, saying its legal system protects the rights of Arabs, who make up more than a fifth of the population, and other minorities. However, the “Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” bill would enshrine the country’s Jewish national and religious character into law.

“Our main concern is that it is changing the nature of the state and it changes the balance of Israel as a nation state,” said Amir Fuchs, the head of the defending democratic values programme at the Israel Democracy Institute. “You can be a nation state and still be a democracy as long as you don’t discriminate,” said Fuchs. “That the state is allowed to create villages that will separate on the basis of race or religion or nationality – this is outrageous.”

The purpose of the bill, he said, was “to change the balance, to make us more of a nation state, more of a Jewish state, and less of a democracy. There is no other way to put it. And this is the biggest problem.”

Netanyahu has lashed out at domestic and international critics, ordering the foreign ministry to reprimand the EU envoy Emanuele Giaufret after he was reported as saying the bill was discriminatory.

Both Israel’s attorney general and president, who holds a symbolic role, also opposed details of the bill. The president, Reuven Rivlin, said it would harm the Jewish people worldwide and “even be used as a weapon by our enemies”. The segregation clause, he said, could also allow towns that exclude Jews of Middle Eastern origin – who have been historically sidelined – or homosexuals.

Legislator Miki Zohar, from the prime minister’s Likud party, said: “Unfortunately, President Rivlin has lost it” and had “forgotten his DNA”.

Many Israeli neighbourhoods and towns are already effectively segregated, with residents either vastly Jewish or Arab. In many places, it is tough for an Arab to move in, although segregation is not legal.

Writing in the progressive-leaning Haaretz newspaper, Mordechai Kremnitzer, from the faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the bill would “remove the mask so as to reveal the ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance”.

The debate has also opened a rift with the Jewish diaspora, with fears among more liberal American Jewish groups that it would prioritise Orthodox communities over other denominations.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the bill was a grave threat to Israeli democracy and hurt “the delicate balance between the Jewish majority and Arab minority, and it enthrones ultra-Orthodox Judaism at the expense of the majority of a pluralistic world Jewry”.

Daniel Sokatch, the chief executive of New Israel Fund, which supports civil rights groups in Israel, decried the bill as “tribalism at its worst”.


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« Reply #3599 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:59 AM »


Donald Tusk calls on Europe, China, US​​ and Russia to 'prevent global chaos'

As Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki, European council president warns ‘the architecture of the world is changing’

Lily Kuo in Beijing
Guardian
Mon 16 Jul 2018 10.15 BST

Donald Tusk, the European council president, has called on Europe, China, the US and Russia to work together to avoid trade wars and “prevent conflict and chaos”.

“We are all aware of the fact that the architecture of the world is changing before our very eyes and it is our common responsibility to make it change for the better,” he said on Monday at the opening of a summit between China and the EU in Beijing.

Tusk, adding that trade wars can turn into “hot conflicts”, called for World Trade Organisation reform. “There is still time to prevent conflict and chaos,” he said.

As EU and Chinese leaders discuss climate change, clean energy, trade and North Korea among other issues, Donald Trump, the US president, has been preparing for talks with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki.

Talks between Tusk, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, at the annual meeting come at a time of frayed US ties with China as well as the EU.

On Sunday, Trump described the EU as one of his country’s greatest “foes”, calling the body “very difficult”. Hours earlier he advised the British prime minister, Theresa May, to sue the EU rather than negotiate over Brexit.

China meanwhile faces potential tariffs on more than $500bn in exports to the US and has called on the EU to work with China to champion global trade. The US has also imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminium.

EU and Chinese leaders on Monday issued a communique that stopped short of criticising the US but pledged support for “fostering an open world economy … resisting protectionism and unilateralism, and making globalisation more open, balanced, inclusive, and beneficial to all”.

Both sides reiterated their support for the Paris climate change pact, and mobilising $100bn in funds a year for poorer countries adapting to climate change.

China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, said in an editorial in the People’s Daily on Sunday that China and the EU are the world’s “two major forces of stability and responsibility” who are meeting amid a “din of unilateralism and protectionism”.

“I hope during the summit China and the EU will consolidate consensus and trust … and send a joint message defending multilateralism, free trade and investment facilitation,” Zhang wrote.

China said on Monday that its economic growth rate had slowed slightly to 6.7% in the second quarter of this year, from 6.8% the previous quarter, and a government spokesman warned a trade conflict threatens all the affected economies.

EU leaders have resisted overtures from China for an anti-US alliance, and have avoided taking a strong stance against the US. The EU shares several of the US’s concerns over China’s economic policies.

Last month the European Union Chamber of Commerce issued a report criticising subsidies for Chinese firms as well as forced transfers of intellectual property, a criticism the US has often made.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Juncker applauded China’s approval of a $10bn (£7.5bn) petrochemicals plant by the Germany company BASF, saying: “If China wishes to open up it can do so. It knows how to open up.”

“We need just and fair multilateral rules. The EU is open but it is not naive,” Juncker said later at a business forum.


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