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Washington-Moscow relations at lowest point in years, says Russian president
‘If he is not held accountable, if we don’t prosecute him, then what we are doing is we are encouraging tomorrow’s version of Donald Trump,’ Glenn Kirschner says
“Of he wears it then he’s the vice-president,” his classmate said about the pin.
‘Nixon didn’t have that kind of Department of Justice,’ former White House Counsel says
Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org.
‘If you are here to pick it up then the light must be at the end of the tunnel,’ a pilot wrote in March 2020 as he parked a plane in the California desert
Man told Asian family to “go back to where they came from” while vacationing in Florida among rise in hate crime towards AAPI communities
Barring something spectacular happening before the vote, the curtain appears to be coming down on the Israeli leader’s premiership, reports Natalie Lisbona in Tel Aviv
Shooter’s lawyer says without gun, ‘I don’t think what happened that night would have happened that night’
‘We wanted this process to be respectful, to be something that healed divisions,’ Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner says
‘I realised – oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me’
‘Sympathizing with an overseer who is no longer allowed to enslave people is disgusting,’ one critic says on social media
Representatives for Kristi Noem has said there was “written confirmation” despite McEntire’s insistence she refuses to get involved in politics
The new policy comes amid reports that the Trump-era Justice Department seized data on two Democratic congressmen
Northern Ireland border row hits summit in Cornwall as prime minister tells other leaders UK is ‘a single country’
Boris Johnson was embroiled in an extraordinary public spat with EU leaders over Northern Ireland on Saturday as tensions over Brexit boiled over at the G7 summit in Cornwall.
After a series of tense bilateral meetings at which the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel and the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, told their summit host the UK must implement the Brexit deal in full, an unrepentant Johnson said he had urged his EU colleagues to “get it into their heads” that the UK is “a single country”.Continue reading...
Joe Biden will give a solo news conference after his meeting next week with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the White House has said.
Putin and Biden will meet in Geneva on Wednesday. The White House has said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, the jailing of dissidents and other issues that have irritated the relationship.Continue reading...
Finland took the points at the end of a match delayed following the first-half collapse and subsequent resuscitation of Denmark’s Christian EriksenJonathan Wilson on a stadium falling silent in horrorFinland’s win overshadowed by Eriksen collapse
Euro 2020 Group A: Joel Pohjanpalo scored the only goal of the game in a match that was completely overshadowed by the collapse and subsequent resuscitation of Christian Eriksen just before half-time.
Thank you. It’s been a strange evening, dear Reader. Thanks for all your kind messages and Tweets, enquiring after my welfare and providing welcome translations. I am absolutely fine but as much as I’d love to make this all about me, I don’t think it would be approriate. There’ll be a match report along at some point but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this ...Continue reading...
Midfielder, 29, required urgent CPR on the pitch during match against Finland but is now stable
Danish international footballer Christian Eriksen was given chest compressions by medics during the Euro 2020 clash against Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Eriksen, 29, collapsed face first into the pitch while running to collect a throw-in with no other player near him. His teammates and Finnish players nearby quickly signalled to English referee Anthony Taylor that Eriksen, a former Tottenham Hotspur favourite, needed urgent medical attention.Continue reading...
Bids in 10-minute auction started at $4.8m for 20 July trip on Blue Origin spacecraft with Bezos and his brother.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has sold the spare seat of the company’s 20 July New Shepard space rocket blast-off for $28m, the company announced on Saturday.Continue reading...
The opposition-led administration will be sworn in on Sunday if it can prevail in a confidence vote in the Knesset
Benjamin Netanyahu is due to be ousted from office on Sunday by a new Israeli government formed with the primary aim of dethroning the country’s longest-serving leader.
A motley grouping of politicians, including former Netanyahu allies turned foes, have set aside bitter differences to put an end to the prime minister’s historic run in power. If successful, it will also break a political stalemate that has seen four snap elections in the country since 2019.Continue reading...
Five patients of a California fertility center have been awarded a total of $15m after a freezing tank failed, rendering some of more than 3,500 frozen human embryos and eggs unviable.
While the extent of the damage from the accidental thaw is unclear, jurors awarded the sum to clients of the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco after finding that the storage tank maker, Chart Industries, knew about a defect that prevented accurate temperature monitoring and had not warned the center about the problem.Continue reading...
G7 summit hears move would slash the cost of jabs and accelerate rollout of programmes across the developing world
Britain and Germany were under intense pressure on Saturday to drop their resistance to proposals that would slash the cost of Covid-19 vaccines, following accusations that an agreement at the G7 summit to fund a billon doses will give the world’s poorest countries “crumbs from the table”.
Aid agencies said rules that protect drug patents from being illegally copied must be waived during the pandemic to accelerate the rollout of vaccines and save lives across the developing world.Continue reading...
With a general election due next year, Hungary’s government has put the divisive project in the capital’s heart on hold
Protests against the construction of a Chinese university in Budapest have energised the Hungarian opposition ahead of elections next year, and forced the government into a rare U-turn.
Outrage at plans to build a campus of Shanghai’s Fudan University became a rallying cry for the opposition, drawing thousands to protest in defiance of government regulationsContinue reading...
Rightwing parties condemn prime minister’s call to work for ‘co-existence’ with separatists
On Sunday thousands of people, among them the leaders of the three parties on Spain’s right, will once again gather in the Madrid square that boasts the world’s largest Spanish flag to protest against the Socialist-led government’s handling of the Catalan independence crisis.
In February 2019, in a deeply controversial moment immortalised in photographs of the occasion, the conservative People’s party (PP), the centre-right Citizens party and the far-right Vox party joined forces in the Plaza de Colón to accuse the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, of betraying Spain, and to call for an early election.Continue reading...
Michael Packard, 56, was spat out after half a minute but expert says experience would have been ‘totally freaky’ for the whale
A New England lobsterman has described the moment he realised he was trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod.
“Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me. I thought to myself, ‘hey, this is it. I’m finally going to die. There’s no getting out of here,’’’ Michael Packard told a local news station in Provincetown, Massachusetts.Continue reading...
Honours for key UK figures in vaccine drive; MPs say Covid passports are discriminatory and should be scrappedDelay lifting Covid restrictions in England, experts urgeSaudi Arabia bans foreigners from hajj over Covid concernsMost people in UK initially opposed to vaccine have had jab - study Lifting restrictions in England on 21 June: what are the alternatives?See all our coronavirus coverage
G7 leaders discussed the origins of Covid-19, including the theory it originated in a Chinese lab, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“We believe that all hypotheses should be open, and we need to proceed to the second phase to really know the origins,” he told reporters.
Above all, at the root of the #COVID19 pandemic is a deficit of solidarity and sharing – of the data, information, resources, technology and tools that every nation needs to keep its people safe. @WHO believes the best way to close that deficit is with a #PandemicTreaty. #G7UK
A poll for the Observer shows more than half the British public support delaying the lifting of restrictions on social contact because of the rising number of Covid-19 cases, report Michael Savage and Ben Tapper.
With Boris Johnson poised to announce a delay to his plan to remove the remaining restrictions on 21 June, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 54% think the move should be postponed, up from 43% from a fortnight ago.
It suggests that the public is taking a cautious view following the emergence of the Delta variant, first detected in India and thought to be 60% more transmissible than the variant previously dominant in the UK. The proportion of people who thought Johnson should push ahead with the unlocking has fallen from 44% a fortnight ago to 37% this week.Continue reading...
Country confounds post-Covid predictions as transatlantic holidaymakers flood in ready to spendCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage
A fresh wind blows down Adrianou. Seated in front of his rug store on the street that cuts through the heart of ancient Athens, Theo Iliadis takes in the scene. At 47, he’s seen “a lot of bad stuff” in recent years. The global pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Greece, already gutted by prolonged economic crisis.
But barely a month after the tourist-dependent country opened its doors, the entrepreneur is in ebullient mood. There’s a glint in his eye and a lightness in the air of the carpet-stacked cavern behind him. “Americans are in town,” he smiles. “Business is good, the loom is good and I’ve got drinks on ice.”Continue reading...
Annual pilgrimage will be restricted to 60,000 vaccinated adults from within the kingdomCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage
Saudi Arabia has announced that this year’s hajj pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 vaccinated people from within the kingdom because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The kingdom ran a reduced pilgrimage last year, but still allowed a small number of people to take part in the annual event.Continue reading...
Although a few states have seen large increases in vaccination rates among Black and Latino Americans, most are still trailing behind
When vaccines became increasingly available throughout America, US health officials moved quickly to try to convince large numbers of Americans to get vaccinated. But amid the mass vaccination rollout, Black and Latino communities, who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, have been left behind in vaccination efforts, creating racial disparities about who was more likely to get a Covid-19 shot.
Amid federal and local efforts to address vaccine disparity, vaccination rates for Black Americans and Latinos lag behind the general population, leaving many communities of color still unprotected against the Covid-19 pandemic.Continue reading...
Were you the child whose indignant letter yielded a free bar of chocolate? Séamas O’Reilly puts pen to paper to reveal why we are a nation of complainers
The biscuit was only barely covered. If I’d had to guess, I’d have said 30% of its surface had chocolate applied, and that’s being charitable. Certainly more charitable than the manufacturer of the Jaffa Cake in question, who I pictured as God’s perfect miser; a Scrooge-like figure toiling in a candle-lit factory, peering over their bifocals to smear homeopathic levels of chocolate on one sorry corner of my favourite tea snack. I was 10 years old, and had never had a particularly strong sense of myself as a consumer champion, but this biscuit, this disgrace, roused something inside me.
“Dear McVitie’s,” I wrote, addressing the entire company in my missive. “I was shocked and appalled to discover this Jaffa Cake (enclosed) in such a state.” In hindsight, I was savvy enough to moderate my speech to sound adult, but not perhaps worldly enough to consider enclosing the foodstuff itself in plastic before popping it in with my letter. By the time I posted it the following day, I remember already noticing some of its soft greasiness had permeated the envelope, but I reckoned this was probably just the way things were done. Evidently it was, as two weeks later I received a letter apologising for my suboptimal experience, along with an invitation to tour a factory, and two whole boxes of Jaffa Cakes. These, I am happy to report, were perfectly chocolated.Continue reading...
The luxury label is the latest to adopt pioneering technology as designers shift to plant-based fabric. Is this the end of leather?
It’s fair to say that Hermès knows handbags. The luxury fashion house’s Birkin and Kelly bags are among the most expensive ever sold; demand outstrips supply by so much that you can’t even join a waiting list. Acquiring one is a matter of luck and contacts. So when Hermès announced this season’s handbag would be made from plant leather, it marked a new era in designer accessories.
The autumn/winter 2021 Hermès Victoria (prices start from about £3,500 for its previous leather version) will be made from Sylvania, a leather grown from fungus, before being crafted in France into a perfect Hermès handbag.Continue reading...
The Booker-shortlisted novelist on teaching himself to read, critics who say he’s not nice enough to white people, and why the Bible still haunts him
Brandon Taylor, 32, grew up in Alabama and studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was shortlisted for last year’s Booker prize with his debut, Real Life, a campus novel about a gay black biochemist. His new book, Filthy Animals, is a series of linked stories loosely centred on the sexual tension between Lionel, a black maths postgraduate, and two white dance students, Charles and Sophie. The writer Paul Mendez has called Taylor “a phenomenon… the laureate of young, expensively educated people... pleasuring and harming themselves and each other”. He spoke to me over Zoom from his home in Iowa City.Did you consciously set out to broaden your range in these stories?I wrote the bulk of them in 2016, before writing Real Life, but I was revising the collection just as Real Life was being shortlisted for the Booker. After the challenge of writing that novel from one character’s perspective over one weekend, I found that when I came back to the stories I had more confidence to play around: the central thread of the collection is that Lionel meets these two dancers at a party, so I got to have different point-of-view characters circling one another, which was nice after the hermetic severity of Real Life.
In one story, a black protagonist recounts his boyhood trauma because white people have “a vast hunger for the calamities of others”…A black student on my creative writing programme criticised that line heavily, but it seemed so true to me. I was trying to work out my feelings about black subjectivity as it would be consumed on the page by progressive white liberals – as a black person, am I complicit in the consumption of my own calamity? Like, I profit from it in some ways and not in others; I was trying to put down some of what that feels like, when there are white people ready to consume your story and give you a scholarship for having a tragic past or whatever. Real Life was all about what happens when you take white people up on their very kind offer to pay for your education because they feel sorry for you.Continue reading...
The neuroscientist, broadcaster and author on the evolution of the brain, the mystery of consciousnesss, and why the next generation will be much smarter than us
David Eagleman, 50, is an American neuroscientist, bestselling author and presenter of the BBC series The Brain, as well as co-founder and chief executive officer of Neosensory, which develops devices for sensory substitution. His area of speciality is brain plasticity, and that is the subject of his new book, Livewired, which examines how experience refashions the brain, and shows that it is a much more adaptable organ than previously thought.
For the past half-century or more the brain has been spoken of in terms of a computer. What are the biggest flaws with that particular model?It’s a very seductive comparison. But in fact, what we’re looking at is three pounds of material in our skulls that is essentially a very alien kind of material to us. It doesn’t write down memories, the way we think of a computer doing it. And it is capable of figuring out its own culture and identity and making leaps into the unknown. I’m here in Silicon Valley. Everything we talk about is hardware and software. But what’s happening in the brain is what I call livewire, where you have 86bn neurons, each with 10,000 connections, and they are constantly reconfiguring every second of your life. Even by the time you get to the end of this paragraph, you’ll be a slightly different person than you were at the beginning.Continue reading...
Data leak published by ProPublica fuels calls to tighten up system which sees ultra-wealthy pay little or no tax
The revelation last week that the 25 richest US billionaires have paid very little tax even as their fortunes have soared has reignited demands for wealth taxes on both sides of the Atlantic.
An unprecedented leak of “a vast trove” of 15 years of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data to the investigative news site ProPublica has provided a staggering insight into the legal strategies the very rich deploy to avoid tax.Continue reading...
Observer poll reveals most people believe prime minister should wait past proposed 21 June dateCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage
The majority of the public back delaying the end of legal restrictions on social contact in the wake of rising cases of a more transmissible Covid variant, according to a new poll.
With Boris Johnson poised to announce a delay to his plan to remove the remaining restrictions on 21 June, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 54% think the move should be postponed, up from 43% from a fortnight ago.Continue reading...
Police in Austin, Texas, are searching for a suspect in a shooting early on Saturday that injured 13 people in the city’s downtown entertainment district.
Authorities said they had responded to reports of multiple shots fired about 1.30am and had initially located several victims who had sustained gunshot wounds and were injured. A total of 13 victims sustained gunshot wounds or were injured, Austin PD said in a statement. Eleven victims were in stable condition, and two victims were in critical condition. No fatalities have been reported.Continue reading...
Thousands of people have marched in Canada in support of a Muslim family run over and killed by a man driving a pickup truck. Police have described the incident last Sunday as a premeditated attack motivated by Islamophobia. Crowds in London, Ontario, marched five miles on Friday from the spot where the family was killed to a nearby mosque, the site close to where police arrested the attacker. Candlelight vigils were also held to honour the victims and protest against hatredFear and anger in Canada after Muslim family is killed: ‘How many more people have to die?’ Continue reading...
An increased appetite for political donations strengthens the political influence of the wealthiest New Zealanders
The spokesperson for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Green party was genuinely surprised. She had called after I informed them that a major donor to their 2020 election campaign had subsequently pleaded guilty to animal neglect. The spokesperson said the Greens had not known about the neglect when they took her money.
They nevertheless refused to donate it onwards. They argued the Incorporated Societies Act required them to hold on to it. As I later found out, that’s not quite true: returning the donation, or donating it to an organisation like the SPCA, seems to be possible according to their party’s charter.Continue reading...
Students have been able to go to pubs and clubs this year, but not lectures. Now universities are saying next semester will be radically different
Australian universities say campuses will look “radically” different next semester as students return to more in-person learning, although most large lectures will still be delivered online.
As many students yearn for a return to the classroom, universities say they are planning to offer in-person learning for up to 90% of courses next semester.Continue reading...
The Football Association has pleaded with fans not to boo when England’s players take a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on Sunday. Gareth Southgate‘s side open their tournament on home turf at Wembley but there are fears the anti-discrimination gesture prior to kick-off could once again be jeered. It follows the […]
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FANS of all Premier League clubs were terrified when Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener with Finland this afternoon. But few fans will have felt as emotional a connection than those of Tottenham Hotspur. 11 Christian Eriksen played his way into iconic status at SpursCredit: Reuters 11 The Great Dane […]
Three people were hurt amid a night of mayhem in beleaguered Washington Square Park, where anti-cop graffiti was also found near the famed Arch, police sources told The Post. The victims, two men and a woman, told investigators they’d been dancing in a large gathering of about 50 people around 2:15 a.m. Saturday when an […]
The post Slashings, anti-cop graffiti mark overnight mayhem in Washington Square Park appeared first on 247 News Around The World.
THE annual Westminster dog show is back – but not at Madison Square Garden. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many changes to the treasured canine event, which is taking place in Tarrytown, New York, in 2021. The 145th Westminster dog show launched on Friday, June 11, and will conclude Sunday, June 13. In a […]
ROXANNE Pallett has revealed that she is pregnant with first child aged 38 and said she “feels like the luckiest woman in the world”. The former Emmerdale star, who is expecting her first child with husband Jason Carrion, is due in the autumn. 1 Roxanne Pallett revealed she is expecting her first baby aged 38Credit: […]
Simon Kjaer was a true captain when Christian Eriksen collapsed against Finland on Saturday. He was the first to get to the 29-year-old and ensure he didn’t swallow his tongue to create more damage – there by protecting him when he was down. He watched on as he was treated, walks the medical staff out from […]
<!– –> The police have arrested nine accused in the case so far (Representational) Bengaluru: Karnataka police on Saturday arrested two Chinese nationals and seven others when bust a scam of over Rs 290 crore that involved duping people through a mobile app after promising attractive interest on investment. The scam, aided by shell companies, […]
The post Karnataka Cops Bust Scam With Alleged Links To Chinese “Hawala” Operators appeared first on 247 News Around The World.
Nina Dobrev and Shaun White recently celebrated their first anniversary after they struck up a romance during the pandemic. The 34-year-old professional snowboarder is opening up about the special thing he planned for the occasion. Click inside to find out what he said… “I wanted to recreate our first date, but everything was closed,” he […]
The post Shaun White Talks About the Special Thing He Planned for 1st Anniversary with Nina Dobrev appeared first on 247 News Around The World.
Roxanne Pallett has revealed she’s expecting her first child with husband Jason Carrion. In a new interview, the former Emmerdale star, 38, said she feels like ‘the luckiest woman in the world’ as she excitedly awaits the arrival of her baby this autumn. Roxanne’s baby joy comes three years after her Celebrity Big Brother ‘punchgate’ […]
As for jewellery, Brigitte kept her look simple wearing a sleek gold watch and her dazzling engagement and wedding rings. Carrie Johnson also went for a two piece as she wore a cobalt blue suit. Jill Biden sported a navy blue summer dress with floral motives. Lat night, Brigitte Macron stunned with a flattering white top and skirt during the royal […]
The post Chic Brigitte Macron in suit and espadrilles as she attends theatre performance appeared first on 247 News Around The World.
DILI, Jun 11 (IPS) - Seven highly respected leaders in conflict resolution have issued a call for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to take immediate action to bring a halt to the atrocities being committed in the Tigray region of his nation. The letter urges the Prime Minister to implement seven steps to resolve the crisis.
The citizens of the Central African Republic (CAR) have endured decades of war and conflict. Merveille Yayoro, a young reporter at Guira-FM, the radio station run by the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA), says that she wants her work to provide an antidote to hate speech and misinformation, and help bring about a lasting peace.
Lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines should be considered “global public goods”, the UN chief told journalists on Friday, covering the G7 Summit of leading industrialized nations taking place in the United Kingdom.
Civilians continue to flee armed conflict and insecurity in northern Mozambique, more than two months after militants attacked the coastal city of Palma, located in Cabo Delgado province, UN agencies reported on Friday.
Vulnerable Venezuelan migrants and refugees who have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 health and socio-economic crisis, urgently need greater support from the international community, UN humanitarians said on Friday, ahead of a donor conference hosted by Canada next week.
HOVE, United Kingdom, Jun 11 (IPS) - As world leaders come together in the UK for the G7, the global response to COVID-19 and how we can build a better defence system against infection is at the forefront of discussions. Whilst we applaud the incredible global efforts in tackling COVID-19 and support calls for vaccines to be shared equitably across the world, we also urge G7 leaders not to abandon efforts to tackle existing epidemics such as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), HIV/AIDs, malaria, TB and polio.
Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were elected by the 75th session of the General Assembly on Friday to serve as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for the 2022-2023 term.
NEW YORK, Jun 11 (IPS) - How are preparations for the Glasgow Climate Summit in November proceeding? Currently, we are more than halfway through three weeks of virtual preparatory negotiations taking place in June. These online talks are challenging in their own right, just as many had feared (see: ‘Should the 2021 Climate Summit in Glasgow Still Take Place?’).
Although spending on science has risen worldwide, greater investment is needed in the face of growing crises, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended in a new report published on Friday.
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 11 (IPS) - Earth is in the throes of multiple environmental crises, with climate change and the loss of biodiversity the most pressing.
The urgency to confront the two challenges has been marked by policies that tackle the issues separately.
Now, a report by a team of scientists has warned that success on either front is hinged on a combined approach to the dual crises.
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Japan has a sophisticated system to alert its residents, and Mexico City has ubiquitous sirens. Is California's early warning system ready?
Group of 7 leaders discuss countering Chinese influence in developing countries. Biden pushes for condemnation of China's use of forced labor.
Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against voting restrictions passed by Republican legislatures.
Biden and allied leaders open the three-day Group of 7 summit in England focusing on how to end the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle climate change.
Contrasting inaugural vice presidential trips — Biden's to Europe in 2009 and Harris' to Latin America — show their different roles in the No. 2 job.
The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy aims to ensure that human rights violations don't go unnoticed.
A former police chief and yoga instructor is indicted along with five other Southern California men for their alleged roles in the Capitol riot.
Naftali Bennett, a right-wing Israeli politician, now stands somewhat surprisingly on the cusp of supplanting Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.
Recent high-profile ransomware assaults have added urgency to U.S. government efforts to combat Russia-linked hackers. The challenge is reaching them.
In parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this annular 'ring of fire' eclipse will appear as a thin outer ring of the sun's disk.
Biden meets with Johnson ahead of the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England. They've differed on Brexit, Northern Ireland and Donald Trump.
Former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of Santa Clarita is pushing to make revenge porn a federal crime.
Border Patrol has seen an increase in migrant crossings and deaths this year
Newly released data show that migrants were stopped 180,034 times across the southern border in May, nearly eight times the total a year ago.
Understanding the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a linchpin for future pandemic prevention.
Vice President Harris' trip to Guatemala and Mexico underscored challenges and contradictions in Biden bid to address root causes of migration to U.S.
Biden to announce at the start of the G-7 summit that the U.S. will donate enough Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate 250 million in poor countries.
Kamala Harris received an onslaught of backlash after she told would-be migrants 'do not come' to the U.S. But the message is no different from past Democratic administrations.
Biden vowed 'no blank checks' for Sisi, but Egypt's recognition of Israel — and help on Gaza — has long fed a U.S. alliance despite human rights abuses.
Many countries move from "do not travel" to "reconsider."
Senate approves sweeping bill to boost U.S. competitiveness with China and address critical semiconductor shortage.
The Israel-Hamas war has helped catalyze a newfound sense of Palestinian solidarity that could mark a new moment in the Middle East, activists say.
The L.A. Times is appealing a ruling by a federal judge blocking access to a search warrant for Sen. Richard Burr's phone.
Harris meets with Mexican President López Obrador after visiting Guatemala and drawing criticism for telling Guatemalans to 'not come' to U.S.
Until now, the U.S., along with international partners, has backed Haitian President Jovenel Moise's claim to his extra year of rule.
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“The peace process has opened up a space for other concerns and for other political debates.”
In Cali, a city in southwestern Colombia, protesters put up barricades across the city. A front line — la primera línea — sometimes guards these barricades with masks and helmets and shields.
Cali is the epicenter of the unrest that has convulsed Colombia for more than a month. A tax reform bill proposed by right-wing President Ivan Duque sparked protests in late April, with thousands responding to a call from national labor unions to push against the measure.
The government defended the proposed tax increase as a much-needed measure to repair the economy after fallout from the coronavirus. Those who opposed the legislation saw it as putting another burden on middle-class and poorer families who are already in a precarious position, also because of the coronavirus.
Anger over the tax bill also became an outlet for pent-up grievances against Colombia’s economic structures and its political elite. “It only takes a spark where there’s a lot of discontent,” Muni Jensen, senior adviser with the Albright Stonebridge Group and a former Colombian diplomat, said.
Demonstrators, many of them young or from marginalized communities, are speaking out about structural inequality, poverty, land reform, health care, and lack of education and opportunity. Many of these pressures have existed in Colombia for years, but they deepened dramatically during the pandemic.
The people flooding the streets across Colombia have faced brutal crackdowns from police, fueling demonstrators’ rage and adding police brutality to their list of grievances. Human rights groups have alleged abuses such as indiscriminate beatings, killings, and sexual violence. Temblores, an organization that tracks police brutality in the country, has documented more than 3,700 cases of police violence as of May 31, 2021, as well as 45 deaths it said were caused by police. Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said at least 58 people have died during the protests so far.
“That just enraged people who are already enraged because of the situation, because of the government,” Laura Gamboa, assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah, said of the police crackdown. “What you see here is like this ball that is just going to grow and grow.”
Experts say there’s another, deeper dynamic also fueling the protests.
Columbia recently emerged from decades of internal armed conflict, the culmination of an imperfect and still not fully realized peace process. But this helped excise the civil war as the dominant political issue.
Instead, it created “the possibility new issues that had been long left aside, become central again,” Juan Albarracín Dierolf, assistant professor of political studies at the Universidad Icesi in Cali, Colombia, told me. Demonstrations also carried a stigma during the conflict, as political protests were often grouped together with armed resistance. That has dissipated in the aftermath of the peace deal, though it has not eliminated the heavy-handed response from police, a force shaped to counter guerrillas, not peaceful protesters.
Colombia’s protests, then, are as much about its past as they are about its present. As Albarracín said, it is all “happening really, really quickly.” Together, that is making Colombia’s future very uncertain.Colombia’s peace process gave the space for these protests to happen
In 2012, then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos began negotiations with the leftist guerrillas known as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), or FARC, in an attempt to end a civil war that had gone on for more than 50 years. After four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a peace deal under which the FARC demobilized and became a legitimate political party.
The peace process was far from perfect. The agreement faced public opposition, though it was finally approved in November 2016. The country’s current president, Ivan Duque, ran (and won) on a platform of trying to weaken the deal, which he saw as going too easy on the guerrillas. Duque’s been trying to jam up the implementation of the deal ever since.
The peace deal did not solve all of Colombia’s problems, nor did it fully end the violence. But the civil war between the government and the FARC was Colombia’s central crisis. With the peace deal, that main cleavage consuming Colombia started to fade away, said Gamboa.
But all the other major problems stuck on the sidelines, especially socioeconomic issues, started to bubble up. Inequality, education, employment, social justice, racial inequities — all of it became much more salient.
“The peace process has opened up a space for other concerns and for other political debates,” said Sandra Botero, assistant professor of international studies and political science at Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá.
Colombia is the second most unequal country in an already unequal Latin America region. Even as its economy has grown in recent decades, the poorest slice of the population is not seeing those benefits, and many lower- and middle-income earners struggle to pay for basic services.
The Covid-19 pandemic and associated shutdowns exacerbated this divide, shrinking Colombia’s economy by almost 7 percent and increasing the poverty rate to more than 42 percent. The country adopted very strict lockdown measures to try to curb the coronavirus, which tested its social safety net. It also really squeezed the country’s most vulnerable: As of 2019, more than 60 percent of Colombia’s workers were part of the informal economy. With everyone locked down, those people, such as street vendors, couldn’t make money.
All of this was brewing underneath the surface of Colombian society — and when Duque introduced the tax bill, he unleashed these dormant frustrations.
Colombia also saw street protests in 2018 and 2019, and in some ways, this latest round of unrest is a continuation of those. But these kinds of mass protests are a relatively recent political expression in Colombia.
In the past, mass mobilization or resistance in the streets was framed by the same paradigm of war. “Before the peace agreement, any kind of dissatisfaction of the people was framed as mobilization made by the guerrillas,” Carlos Enrique Moreno León, professor of political science at the Universidad Icesi, said.
The peace deal, then, not only made room for people to push on other issues but also destigmatized demonstrations and, in doing so, reanimated one of the most potent tools regular people had to advocate for political change.
“In Colombia, civil protests were always repressed brutally because it was filed with the guerrillas and with this insurgency,” said Elvira Restrepo Saenz, associate professor of international studies at The George Washington University. “This is a post-conflict protest, and it’s unprecedented in its magnitude, in its intensity, and in its territorial comprehensiveness.”The heavy-handed police response is a legacy of the civil war
The same peace process allowing the protests to flourish is also showing its limitations when it comes to the response from police and the government.
The Colombian National Police is very much linked to the military; though a distinctive branch, it falls under the oversight of the Ministry of Defense. The force itself was shaped by the conflict in Colombia, with officers often fighting “on the front lines, wielding tanks and helicopters as they battled guerrilla fighters and destroyed drug labs,” according to the New York Times.
Critics have said the country’s national police needs to reform, moving from a focus on training for battle to one of public safety. “On balance, there’s been a real struggle to democratize policing, in part because the institutions themselves — the police and the military — benefit politically and economically from this kind of ‘us-versus-them, we’re still at war’ mentality,” Eduardo Moncada, assistant professor of political science at Barnard College, said.
That has been on display during the most recent demonstrations. Even if the act of protest itself has become normalized in society more broadly, the police themselves still largely see the demonstrators as “internal enemies.”
“They are treating the protesters as they used to treat the guerrillas, as subversives, because that’s the type of public force that is the police,” Restrepo said. “The military and security forces that we have, that was never reformed.”
Another (almost obvious) difference is that the police can’t operate in the shadows in the same way they might have at the height of the conflict in Colombia. Now there are people with cell phones everywhere, taking videos and documenting the brutality.
Initially, Duque took a line that may sound familiar, saying he had “respect for peaceful protest” and that while incidents of police abuse are intolerable, they were isolated rather than evidence of a systemic problem. (He has since promised some reforms.)
The government has also alleged that some of the violence and chaos is the work of guerrillas, including the vestiges of the FARC, as well as drug traffickers who have infiltrated the protests. At the end of May, when protests had stretched on for a full month, Duque deployed the military to Cali, saying the increased capacity would help in the areas that have seen “acts of vandalism, violence and low-intensity urban terrorism.” Officials have also said hundreds of police officers have been injured, including by armed civilians.
Restrepo said the government is trying to bring the FARC guerrillas and Colombia’s conflict back to the center of the agenda “to justify the militarization of the police and the techniques that they’re using, the violence [and] brutality that they’re using.” In other words, when it works politically, go back to the us-versus-them paradigm.
This has further enraged protesters who see their legitimate grievances being ignored and their anger recast.
But at the same time, there are credible reports of street gangs and other criminal elements blending into the protests, trying to sow and take advantage of the chaos for their own gain.
Colombia, despite the peace deal, is still dealing with a very precarious security situation. Instead of an armed conflict, a slew of non-state actors and paramilitaries are engaging in violence of a particular form, including selective and extrajudicial killings, particularly against human rights advocates, community organizers, and civil society leaders.
Experts told me it would be a mistake to say all protesters, or even all blockades in cities like Cali, are associated with criminal elements. “That being said, you’re having this context of social protests embedded in a city, in a country where, of course, there are some powerful criminal organizations and guerrilla groups,” the Universidad Icesi’s Albarracín said. At least some of those groups will take advantage of the disorder — and the front lines are already so chaotic and disorganized, it’s hard to know who’s who.
None of this, of course, negates the very real and well-documented allegations of misconduct against Colombia’s police force. But it is a reminder of just how complex the situation on the ground in Colombia really is.The protests are diverse in geography and demands, and that makes for a messy and volatile combination
Beyond the question of whether “terrorists” are mixing with peaceful protesters, figuring out who the peaceful protesters are and what they want is its own challenge.
Protests are happening across Colombia, in cities including Cali, Bogotá, and Medellin. But this is not a fully unified movement. Up close, the protests all look very different, with diverse and often localized grievances — and not all of the demands are aligned.
Just looking at Cali, which has become the symbol of the protests in Colombia, reveals just how complicated the movement is.
Many of the people on the front lines are young, including students who feel disillusioned with their education and employment opportunities. At different times, Indigenous groups, farmers, Afro-Colombian groups, labor unions, and other workers have all joined the protests.
“They are not organized by a mastermind or even by a collective,” Botero said. “Many of them are organic, and to a certain extent, spontaneous.”
Instead, there are many, many individuals or groups with many, many demands, and not all of them are in agreement with each other. At the Puerto Resistencia — the biggest barricade in Cali — about 21 separate groups occupy just one point, Moreno said. And those groups have no affiliation with the handful of others posted up at another blockade across the city. And, of course, the specific demands in a place like Cali will be different than those in, say, Bogotá.
Without obvious leaders, or a confederation of them, negotiations are extraordinarily difficult. The Duque government had been negotiating with the organizers from the Comité Nacional de Paro, or National Strike Committee, who originally called for the national strike in response to the proposed tax bill. But the National Strike Committee walked away from talks this week. The protests have become much bigger, though, and the committee is largely disconnected from the action on the ground. “Certainly, those are part of the groups that are being mobilized,” Botero said. “But the strike committee does not control the blockages that are happening in Cali.”
On the local level, city or municipal governments are also trying to quell the unrest and negotiate with protesters. Local officials, for example, have to deliver services behind the blockades. But they, too, are struggling to make inroads amid the demonstrations.
Experts said that even if protesters do sit down with local officials and come to an agreement, it tends to fall apart quickly. For one, who comes to the table to represent the protesters? Plus, the local government has limited resources and power; it can’t necessarily follow through on whatever promises it makes, and right now, it doesn’t have the backing of the national government.
And even if a bunch of groups and the local government agree somehow, others affiliated with the protests may be left out or feel like their demands weren’t fully heard, so why would they agree to any bargain and get off the streets?
It is, as Albarracín put it, “tiers of confusion.”Where do the protests go from here?
Colombia’s protests, in some ways, fit into the larger global movement against police brutality and injustice that has arisen over the last year in countries from the United States to Nigeria. In other ways, they are specific to Colombia’s current status as a country still trying to overcome a decades-long conflict, with a population trying to push a more democratic and equal vision.
“The protests have put on the table a requestioning of power in Colombia,” the University of Utah’s Gamboa said.
Right now, that requestioning comes without clear resolution. Duque rescinded the tax reform bill on May 2, days after the protests started, but it didn’t stop the demonstrations, nor did the finance minister’s resignation.
Duque just made some concessions on police reform in the wake of public and international pressure. The reforms include establishing, with international guidance, a committee on human rights, in addition to new officer trainings. Also, representatives from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are currently visiting Colombia to investigate police abuses.
Still, critics say these reforms are superficial and won’t go far in addressing the systemic problems in the force. They are calling for such actions as moving the national police force out from the auspices of the Ministry of Defense and disbanding the riot police.
There’s another challenge blocking any sort of real breakthrough: the electoral calendar. Scheduled for May 2022, Colombia’s presidential election is less than a year away. Duque is a lame duck and cannot run again (Colombia’s presidents are limited to one four-year term).
Whoever wins, Botero said, will inherit a “powder keg” — but right now, politicians on both the left and the right are carefully positioning themselves as they try to use the fallout from the protests to advance their own agendas.
This kind of volatile politics tends to benefit the more extreme candidates on either side, which may make it harder to find a leader who will address the very real need for change and reform in Colombia. That is a threat to Colombia’s democracy, and to the peace it is still trying to build.
The largest petroleum pipeline in the country was reportedly breached by a single leaked password.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has managed to recover part of the ransom paid to the criminal hacking group believed to be responsible for the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which disrupted a major supply of fuel to the East Coast for roughly a week in May.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco announced on June 7 that the DOJ, through its new Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, was able to recover about 64 of the 75 bitcoins paid to the attackers by “following the money” — even though the money was in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency. Once it knew the address of the hackers’ wallet, it was able to get a court order to seize the funds in it. The FBI apparently had the digital key needed to open the wallet. How it got that access has not been made public. The seizure is a rare example of ransomware payments being recovered.
The attack has been attributed to DarkSide, a criminal hacker group based in Eastern Europe. The pipeline, which supplies about half of the East Coast’s gasoline, went down for several days, causing gas panic-buying, shortages, and price spikes in some states. It appears to be the largest ever cyberattack on an American energy system and yet another example of cybersecurity vulnerabilities that President Joe Biden has promised to address.
The Colonial Pipeline Company reported on May 7 that it was the victim of a “cybersecurity attack” that “involves ransomware,” forcing the company to take some systems offline and disabling the pipeline. The Georgia-based company says it operates the largest petroleum pipeline in the United States, carrying 2.5 million barrels a day of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel on its 5,500-mile route from Texas to New Jersey.
The pipeline provides nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply, and a prolonged shutdown would have caused price increases and shortages to ripple across the industry. This was largely averted when the pipeline came back online within the week, but price increases and shortages happened anyway, largely due to panic rather than supply. Five days after the hack was announced, the national average price for a gallon of regular gas had pushed past $3 for the first time since 2014 (though gas prices were already on an upswing before the pipeline shutdown), with bigger jumps in some states the pipeline serves, including Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp temporarily suspended the state’s gas tax to compensate for the increased prices. Other states put price gouging laws into effect.
“It’s more likely that fuel shortages will be a result of panic buying from consumers watching the headlines unfold, as opposed to shortages directly caused by the attack,” Marty Edwards, former director of industrial control systems for CISA, and vice president of operational technology security for Tenable, told Recode. “This is something we saw with Covid and grocery stores selling out of household items. Regardless, it shows the impact cybersecurity has on our everyday lives.”
“It’s much easier to understand the impact of a cyberattack if it directly impacts your day-to-day life,” he added.
The FBI confirmed DarkSide is responsible for the attacks. DarkSide does not appear to be linked to any nation-states, saying in a statement that “our goal is to make money [not to create] problems for society” and that it is apolitical. DarkSide claimed it was shutting down in the wake of the pipeline attack.
According to cybersecurity company Check Point, however, DarkSide supplies its ransomware services to its partners. “This means we know very little on the real threat actor behind the attack on Colonial, who can be any one of the partners of DarkSide,” Lotem Finkelstein, Check Point’s head of threat intelligence, told Recode. “What we do know is that to take down extensive operations like the Colonial Pipeline reveals a sophisticated and well-designed cyberattack.”
Colonial acknowledged on May 19 that it did indeed pay $4.4 million worth of bitcoin (which is now worth considerably less — even though the DOJ was able to recover 64 bitcoins, they’re only worth $2.3 million now). CEO Joseph Blount told the Wall Street Journal that paying the ransom was a difficult decision, but one that he felt was “the right thing to do for our country.”
Blount added that it will cost Colonial far more — tens of millions of dollars — to completely restore its systems over the next several months.
Ransomware attacks generally use malware to lock companies out of their own systems until a ransom is paid. They’ve surged in the past few years and cost billions of dollars in ransoms paid alone — not counting those that aren’t reported or any associated costs with having systems offline until the ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks have targeted everything from private businesses to the government to hospitals and health care systems. The latter are especially attractive targets, given how urgent it is to get their systems back up as soon as possible.
Energy systems and suppliers have also been a target of ransomware and cyberattacks. The cybersecurity of America’s energy infrastructure has been a particular concern in recent years, with the Trump administration declaring a national emergency in May 2020 meant to secure America’s bulk power system with an executive order that would forbid the acquisition of equipment from countries that pose an “unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of American citizens.”
Bloomberg reported about a month after the attack that the company was likely breached through a leaked password to an old account that had access to the virtual private network (VPN) used to remotely access the company’s servers. The account reportedly didn’t have multifactor authentication, so the hackers only needed to know the username and the password to gain access to the largest petroleum pipeline in the country.
The attack underscores two of the Biden administration’s stated priorities: improving American infrastructure and cybersecurity. The large-scale Russian SolarWinds hack, disclosed in December 2020, was shown to have affected several federal government systems. Biden said then that, as president, “my administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at every level of government — and we will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office. ... I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation.”
Biden has also unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that includes $100 billion to modernize the electrical grid, which cybersecurity experts hoped would include improved cybersecurity measures. Biden also suspended the Trump bulk power system executive order to roll out his own plan.
And Biden has signed an executive order meant to strengthen the federal government’s cybersecurity standards for software and technology services it uses, which a senior administration official described as a fundamental shift in the federal government’s approach to cybersecurity incidents — away from spot responses and toward trying to prevent them from happening in the first place. The order has been in the works since shortly after Biden took office, the official said.
But these measures are more focused on preventing another SolarWinds-like attack. Federal officials told the New York Times they don’t think the order does enough to prevent a sophisticated attack, nor would it apply to a privately held company like Colonial. The oil pipeline attack might strengthen demands for cybersecurity standards for companies that play an important role in Americans’ lives. As it stands, it’s often left up to them which security measures they use to protect critical systems.
“Ransomware is about extortion, and extortion is about pressure,” James Shank, chief architect of community services at cybersecurity company Team Cymru, told Recode. “Impacting fuel distribution gets peoples’ attention right away. ... This emphasizes the need for a coordinated effort that bridges public- and private-sector capabilities to protect our national interests.”
The pipeline was able to get back up and running before a major or prolonged disruption to the fuel supply chain, and customers’ wallets weren’t hit too hard. But the next one — and many cybersecurity experts fear there will be a next one, or several next ones — could be a lot worse if measures aren’t taken at the highest levels to prevent it.
“The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline by cyber-criminals highlights a massive problem — many of the companies running our critical infrastructure have left their systems vulnerable to hackers through dangerously negligent cybersecurity,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. “Congress must take action to hold critical infrastructure companies accountable and force them to secure their computer systems.”
Biden’s position toward Israel hasn’t changed, but the Democratic Party has.
The split in the Democratic Party on US policy toward Israel and Palestine isn’t just among politicians — it’s among their voters as well.
In a new poll with Vox and Data for Progress, Democratic voters are divided on whether President Joe Biden’s administration should be harsher toward the Israeli government. The poll, which had a 3 percent margin of error, was conducted from May 19 to 21 among 1,319 likely voters. In it, after being given a short summary of how Biden responded to the crisis last month, 32 percent of Democrats say they believe “the administration should condemn Israel’s actions.” Meanwhile, 39 percent agreed “the administration has the right approach to Israel.” Only 11 percent of Democrats believe that the administration should be more supportive of Israel.
By the time the poll was being fielded, the New York Times reported that more than 200 people had died in the latest round of fighting, “the vast majority of them Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.” The conflict heightened after Israel worked to evict Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. The Biden administration quietly advocated for a ceasefire, but not forcefully enough, some critics said; the White House condemned violence by Hamas but said it did not find Israel’s attacks disproportionate.
Republican responses to some of the questions are more uniform. For instance, more than 60 percent believe that “Biden is not supportive enough of Israel,” and 60 percent agree that the administration should condemn Hamas further.
As Vox’s Alex Ward has explained, there is a growing divide on US policy toward Israel within the Democratic Party that became more visible in the last month. That’s partly because former President Donald Trump’s posture toward Israel was remarkably conciliatory, which can help explain why a once bipartisan approach has become more complicated among Democrats:
As president, Trump gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly everything he wanted, including recognition of Israeli sovereignty over disputed territory like the Golan Heights, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and a “peace plan” that fulfilled nearly all of the premier’s wish list. Meanwhile, Trump closed a Palestinian political office in Washington, DC, stopped aid to the West Bank and Gaza, and effectively cut ties with top Palestinian officials.
Some of the party’s younger, more diverse, and more progressive lawmakers have also elevated questions about support for Israel and pointed to the plight of the Palestinian people.
Biden, however, seems not to have moved along with his party. Just last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We have a long and abiding relationship — strategic relationship — with Israel, and that will continue to be the case no matter who is leading the country,” reported the Washington Post.
A plurality of Democratic voters, though, want that relationship to shift: The poll found 45 percent want the US to decrease the $3.8 billion in military aid it sends to Israel.
Turnout for the vigil was down, though some protesters defied orders.
In the face of a new national security law and the arrests of political activists, people in Hong Kong still took to the streets on June 4 to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
Victoria Park, in northern Hong Kong, usually draws thousands of people waving candles to memorialize the still-unknown number of people who died during the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But this year, Hongkongers who dared to show up in person were met with signs from police warning of their possible prosecution, and Victoria Park was barricaded shut.
Officially, 2021’s Tiananmen Square remembrance was canceled by the local government because of the coronavirus pandemic, as it was last year. But activists told the BBC that they see this year’s intervention as a step to silence dissent on the island, one of the few places in China where the 1989 Tiananmen Square activists have been allowed to be commemorated.
Last year, when police closed Victoria Park to the Tiananmen Square commemoration, demonstrators knocked down the barricades and continued their candlelight vigil. It was the first time the Hong Kong government had tried to stop the demonstration in 30 years. But since then, the Chinese government passed a new security law, which makes it easier to punish protesters and gives the mainland more control over Hong Kong.A new law, to which Hong Kong officials weren’t privy
The morning of June 4, the vice chair for the pro-democracy group Hong Kong Alliance, Chow Hang Tung, was arrested for posting about the remembrance online. Among other posts promoting the memory of Tiananmen Square, Chow called for people to “turn on lights everywhere, mobile phone lights, candles, electronic candles…” on her Facebook page the day before her arrest. Chow, who is also a lawyer, predicted that she would be arrested in an interview before June 4. She was arrested for promoting an unauthorized assembly and was released from custody on Saturday.Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images Political activist Chow Hang Tung speaks to the media after being arrested in Hong Kong on June 5.
When the Chinese government passed the national security law for Hong Kong in June of 2020, the full text of the legislation was kept secret — even from Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the top public official in Hong Kong. The law’s 66 articles criminalize acts that fall into four categories: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion. Critics of the bill, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have called the text a threat to free speech and overly broad.
As Vox’s Jen Kirby wrote in 2020 after the passage of the law:
Under each of these activities are some specific offenses. For example, damaging government buildings could qualify as “subversion,” a serious offense that could result in life imprisonment. On July 1, 2019, Hongkongers stormed and defaced the Hong Kong Legislative Council to protest the extradition bill, making this provision look very much like a response to previous protest tactics.
Another example: Under the “colluding with foreign forces” provision, the law says Hongkongers could be arrested and prosecuted if they lobby or work with foreign entities against the Chinese government, including “enacting laws and policies that cause serious obstruction or serious consequences to Hong Kong or China,” according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
This could implicate human rights groups, or even individuals who have called for sanctions or increased pressure on China to stop its intervention in Hong Kong. The Chinese government has blamed outsiders, specifically those in the West, for fomenting opposition against its rule in Hong Kong, and this looks to be a way to silence its critics.
Of course, these expansive definitions are kind of the point.
Activists in Hong Kong have asked foreign governments to intervene in disputes with China, including during the recent extradition bill protests, where it was not uncommon to see American and British flags among protesters. This direct lobbying done by activists like Joshua Wong, a recently imprisoned former secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosisto, could now be considered illegal collusion.
The law also extends Chinese authorities’ presence in Hong Kong. Beijing now has its own security office on the island, the mainland capital will have the authority to interpret the law, and people suspected of breaking the law can be wiretapped or surveilled by these security forces (including non-permanent residents).
“Effectively, they are imposing the People’s Republic of China’s criminal system onto the Hong Kong common law system, leaving them with complete discretion to decide who should fall into which system,” Johannes Chan, a legal scholar at the University of Hong Kong, told the BBC.More than 100 organizers have been arrested in the last year
Even before June 4, activists in Hong Kong were suffering the effects of the national security law. Chow became the face of the Hong Kong Alliance, in part, because so many of her fellow organizers have been arrested. More than 100 arrests have been made under the national security law since last June. Naturally, an increase in the number of people arrested for protesting, political dissent, or other anti-government efforts could be seen as a deterrent to others who may want to demonstrate.
Of those arrested, as of March of this year, 56 have been charged. This includes those arrested in a 1,000-officer raid in January that apprehended more than 50 pro-democracy activists for their involvement in an unofficial primary election, which government officials said was an attempt to “overthrow the government.” Forty-seven people were eventually charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion.”
Under the national security law, legal scholar and former Hong Kong university professor Benny Tai, as well as former lawmakers James To, Helena Wong, Lam Cheuk-ting, and Claudia Mo, were all arrested in January.
They join pro-democracy activist Wong, who was previously sentenced to 13 months in prison, along with dozens of other pro-democracy protesters and organizers on the list of those victimized by Beijing’s law.
The national security law also allows the government to retroactively charge people. Media mogul Jimmy Lai was arrested and sentenced in April under the new security law for his participation in pro-democracy protests in 2019. Lai, 72, was one of the few charged and sentenced for his role in the protests who was not also an elected legislator.Remembering Tiananmen Square
In contrast to mainland China, where censorship and freedom of expression controls are strictly maintained, Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, press, and publication were written into its governing constitution and bill of rights when the “one country, two systems” policy was established. Hong Kong’s multi-party political system also inherently adds to the possibilities for political expression in comparison to the mainland’s one-party rule.
Hong Kong’s capacity and tolerance for dissent and freedom of speech were also cited as reasons why NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden chose the territory to share his trove of documents with journalists in 2013. “[The people of Hong Kong] have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent,” Snowden told journalists.
However, the erosion of Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous governance has sparked questions about the future of free speech there, and how people will keep alive the memory of the movement at Tiananmen Square.
In mainland China, Tiananmen Square and other words and phrases related to the pro-democracy movement, as well as articles and Wikipedia pages associated with the events of 1989, have been censored.CNN/Getty Images The famous image of a lone protester standing in front of tanks, in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989.
This year, Microsoft came under fire when its Bing search engine failed to return results for the popular image search “Tank Man,” which is the nickname of the iconic photo by Stuart Franklin of one protester blocking the path of three tanks in the middle of Tiananmen Square. Tank Man has long been a symbol of resilience for the pro-democracy movement. In the US, UK, and Singapore, the image vanished from Bing; Microsoft blamed “human error.”
Part of the significance of the Tiananmen Square commemoration in Victoria Park each year is its defiance against censorship and control by the mainland. “Hongkongers are still on our side and want to fight for democracy,” Chow said to the BBC. “Hong Kong allows political expression,” she added. “Are we letting them [the Chinese government] use their ‘red lines’ to change our basic principle?”
In neighboring Taiwan, the Tiananmen Square anniversary is also used as an opportunity to show defiance against China. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen posted on Facebook, “We will also not forget about the young people who sacrificed themselves on Tiananmen Square on this day 32 years ago, and that year after year, friends in Hong Kong who always mourn June 4 with candlelight.” In previous years, people have also commemorated the anniversary with demonstrations in Taiwan in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong.
Critics of China’s national security law in Hong Kong and of the arrests in the last year fear that censorship norms from mainland China will transform the culture and freedoms on the island. However, activists have shown themselves to be unrelenting and undaunted by the new authorities, and pro-democracy organizers, in Hong Kong and in exile, continue to post online and share their dissenting views.
“Many ask if the vigil will disappear. But I think we have been persisting for more than 30 years,” Chow said. “It is more or less in Hong Kong people’s DNA now.”
Brazil saw big protests last week, and an inquiry is showing just how deeply Bolsonaro botched the pandemic response.
The panelaços — the banging of pots and pans — became a socially distanced way for Brazilians to protest President Jair Bolsonaro during the pandemic. But last weekend, a year into a prolonged coronavirus crisis, hundreds of thousands marched in more than 200 cities across Brazil to demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment.
Signs bore slogans, such as “fora Bolsonaro” (“Bolsonaro out”) and “genocida,” a reference to Bolsonaro’s mismanagement of the pandemic, which has left more than 460,000 Brazilians dead, one of the worst death rates in the world.
Protesters blame Bolsonaro for it. Their case is now being backed up by a formal Senate inquiry into Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. The hearings have become a public accounting of Bolsonaro’s negligence — including testimony from a Pfizer executive who said the pharmaceutical company reached out to Brazil about procuring doses last year, and Bolsonaro’s government didn’t respond for two months.
These hearings are taking place as Brazil still averages around 2,000 coronavirus deaths daily, with many bracing for third wave, and the public-health system is battered to the point of near-collapse. Brazil’s vaccination campaign is chaos, and what is working is largely happening in spite of Bolsonaro. A little more than 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Opinion polls suggest support for impeachment is growing: 57 percent are now in favor, up 11 percentage points from three months ago.
All of this would suggest Bolsonaro’s year-long pandemic blunder is finally catching up to him along with plenty of other scandals, from those involving his family to his environmental minister who was allegedly smuggling illegal timber.
Whether this is a real reckoning for Bolsonaro — one that could truly push him from power — is the larger question. The anger and frustration are real, at the handling of the pandemic, at the economic situation, and plenty of other issues.
But experts said many of the groups mobilizing against him — including women, students, and labor groups — already largely opposed the president. Bolsonaro himself has remained defiant, drawing on the unwavering support of his base. And impeachment is a tricky question, in part because Bolsonaro is up for reelection in just over a year.
“I think this is a kind of catharsis movement, you know — ‘I cannot stay at home seeing this anymore. So I prefer to take some risk and go to the streets,’” said Arthur Ituassu, a professor of political communication at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro.
“But if this will have political consequences,” he added, “I don’t know.”The growing push to impeach Bolsonaro, explained
Brazil’s coronavirus situation is dire, but it’s not surprising given that Bolsonaro downplayed the pandemic from the beginning.
He called it the “little flu.” He shrugged at the country’s mounting death toll by saying “we’ll all die one day.” He undermined governors’ attempts to enforce social distancing and other measures, insisting economies reopen. He used a homophobic slur to refer to those who wore masks. He has continued to tout the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and other unproven drugs as coronavirus cures.
When it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations, Bolsonaro has sowed misinformation and doubt. In December, he said of possible side effects on the Pfizer vaccine, “If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem.” He strongly criticized Chinese-made vaccines, including bashing his own government’s deal to acquire the CoronaVac vaccine. “The Brazilian people WON’T BE ANYONE’S GUINEA PIG,” he wrote on social media last year. Ultimately, Bolsonaro had to backtrack early this year and thank China for fast-tracking the vaccine, as Brazil faced a deadly wave of the pandemic, with few vaccines available.
João Nunes, senior lecturer of international relations at the University of York, said Bolsonaro’s “denialist approach” to the pandemic contributed to its severity, which led to disarray and lack of coordination. “Denialism, botching the vaccination program, continuing to support this myth of precocious treatment based on hydroxychloroquine, denying and going against regulations of the public health authorities promoting social gatherings without masks,” Nunes said, enumerating Bolsonaro’s misdeeds.
Just how serious these misdeeds are is being examined by a parliamentary inquiry in Brazil’s Senate. The investigation is broadly looking into the government’s failures during the pandemic. It is also examining the government’s blunders in its vaccination strategy, including procurement.
The committee has existed for about a month. The testimony has been damning, essentially showing that Bolsonaro planned to pursue a policy of herd immunity, a strategy that not only prolonged the crisis in Brazil but likely gave rise to new variants.
Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Brazil’s former health minister who had backed social distancing and so found himself quickly fired by Bolsonaro last year, told the committee that the government had no communication plan. “There was no way to do a campaign, they didn’t want to do it,” he said. Mandetta provided a letter, dated March 28, 2020, urging Bolsonaro to follow the scientific recommendations of the health ministry, which the president largely ignored.
Bolsonaro’s former communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, testified that letters from Pfizer offering to make deals with Brazil on vaccine doses went unanswered for months in the fall of 2020. The president of Pfizer for Latin America, Carlos Murillo, also testified that the company had begun outreach to the Brazilian government in May 2020, with two formal offers made in August — both of which went unanswered.
The company sent another request directly to Bolsonaro and the health minister, which languished until at least December. Murillo said that if Bolsonaro had struck a deal in August 2020, Pfizer could have delivered 18.5 million doses to the country by June 2021. Instead, Brazil and Pfizer didn’t strike a deal until March of this year; as it stands now, Brazil has received fewer than 6 million doses from Pfizer.
The hearings are a political spectacle, with senators accusing Bolsonaro’s allies of lying and trying to shield him. Bolsonaro’s defenders, meanwhile, are accusing the hearing of being politically motivated; though on this, they’re not totally wrong. With Brazil’s elections approaching, this public record of Bolsonaro’s dereliction is a potent tool for the opposition.
But it is also a legitimate, and some argue necessary, fact-finding mission. If the outcome is incriminating for Bolsonaro, it is largely because the evidence is bearing that out.
Many of these revelations are not exactly earth-shattering or even all that new, having already leaked out in news reports. And Bolsonaro’s public record alone makes apparent how he trivialized the pandemic.
But the difference, experts say, is that it is all happening in one place. Witnesses are also under oath. Even those who are trying to defend Bolsonaro are mostly just succeeding in contradicting themselves or highlighting the ineptitude of the government.
“I think it’s really laid naked what a lot of people suspected, what a lot of reports have said; they are now seeing the actors who were involved, who were in the room,” said Colin Snider, assistant professor of Latin American history at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Bolsonaro’s mishandling of the pandemic has created ripple effects in other areas, including the economy and public health care system, all of it increasing the public’s frustration and dissatisfaction. And as some of his critics have pointed out, his mismanagement of the vaccination campaign has made it all but impossible for Brazil to emerge swiftly from this Covid-19 crisis, an irony for a guy who claimed he didn’t want to shut down the economy.
“The record that is being put together of incompetence, negligence, bad faith, [and] political opportunism in the Bolsonaro administration dealing with the pandemic is overwhelming,” Paulo Barrozo, an associate law professor at Boston College, said.
“But I don’t think that is going to lead to an impeachment Congres,” Barrozo added. “I think there is a record that is being built for historical purposes and also to be used in the next presidential election.”Bolsonaro’s coronavirus record is damning. But maybe don’t expect impeachment just yet.
“I do think we are now maybe in the worst moment of Bolsonaro’s government,” Pontifícia Universidade Católica’s Ituassu said.
But it might not be enough for impeachment — at least not yet. The big thing right now is timing: Impeachment could be a long, drawn-out affair, and Brazil’s elections are just over a year away. If Bolsonaro continues to do nothing about the coronavirus and the crisis continues, voters may kick him out of the job anyway.
Bolsonaro is doing what he always does in the face of criticism: doubling down. Just this week, Bolsonaro offered to host the Copa America tournament, after the original hosts, Argentina and Colombia, pulled out, because of a coronavirus surge and unrest, respectively. “Since the beginning of the pandemic I have been saying, I regret the deaths, but we have to live,” Bolsonaro said at the announcement. Brazil is still seeing about 60,000 Covid-19 cases a day and around 2,000 deaths.
The attraction for Bolsonaro supporters is partly the doubling down. Bolsonaro is often compared to Donald Trump, and like Trump, Bolsonaro has a steady and unflaggingly loyal base that is, give or take, somewhere around a third of the voting population. The more Bolsonaro feels under attack by the political establishment or the media or his critics, the more he goes after those institutions and the more that fires up his supporters.
“He’s lost support. But what has remained is very loyal,” Barrozo said. “So in a way, he is solidifying, crystallizing, [and] firming his bases by doubling down.”
And the thing about impeachment is that it can be easily sold to his base as, to borrow a phrase from a Bolsonaro pal, “the greatest witch-hunt in the history of our country” — which is exactly what Bolsonaro and his backers feed off.
Another big factor, experts say, is that Bolsonaro still retains support in Brazil’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies (kind of like the House of Representatives). They are the bodies that are ultimately going to have to take up impeachment. This isn’t ideological or even about party loyalty; in fact, Bolsonaro doesn’t even have a party affiliation right now. Instead, it’s about perks.
The thing standing in the way is the Centrão (Big Center), a bloc of centrist voting parties in Brazil’s Congress. Bolsonaro has basically had to build alliances with these members of Congress, who agree to work with Bolsonaro in exchange for the president basically giving them what they want.
“Bolsonaro has actually gotten pretty good at handing out goodies — like pork-barrel projects — for the members of Congress to bring home the bacon and show their voters that they’re doing their job,” said David Samuels, distinguished McKnight University professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. “And so they’re also happy to see Bolsonaro twist in the wind as long as he keeps the spigots of money going.”
Experts said it’s going to take a lot for them to basically turn their back on those goodies — whether they’re cushy jobs or beneficial projects. An investigation by the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo found that Bolsonaro’s government set aside about 20 billion reais ($3.9 billion) for what are basically pork projects.
“The question for impeachment becomes this: Does popular will and senatorial and deputy outrage turn to the point where enough are willing to abandon that sort of legislative sway over the national political agenda for the sake of impeachment?” Snider of the University of Texas said.
Right now, the answer looks like a big “no.”
As experts said, because these alliances aren’t born from any real loyalty, they can shift pretty quickly. But politicians also want to know exactly which way the wind is blowing before they abandon Bolsonaro.
So while Bolsonaro is unpopular, he may need to get even more unpopular. The street protests matter, but they must grow even more massive and consistent. The anti-Bolsonaro coalition on the streets may need to widen to include more centrist and center-right people — folks who may have backed Bolsonaro before but now unequivocally reject him.
Otherwise, lawmakers are content to just let Bolsonaro self-destruct. “I do think they prefer a weak Bolsonaro more than anything else,” Ituassu said.
That includes a weak Bolsonaro in the October 2022 election, who could very likely be facing off against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who just got the clear from courts to be able to run again after corruption charges had barred him from running. Early polls suggest if Lula and Bolsonaro were to face off in a runoff — both polarizing populists in their own way — Lula would win handily. (If Bolsonaro, sigh, accepts the results — but that’s a crisis for another day.)
So there is a sense of just riding this out until the election. That comes with its own risks for the country, as it continues to battle the pandemic, and those who want to see Bolsonaro defeated. Bolsonaro is not going to change — no one expects him to suddenly become a deft manager of the pandemic — but circumstances around him might. The economy could bounce back, and the vaccination campaign could gain momentum. If that happens, Bolsonaro’s coronavirus record might not be as potent a force in October 2022.
Pressure against Bolsonaro is building. But so far, nothing Bolsonaro has done has really threatened his position or destroyed his loyal base of support. The question may not be whether a reckoning is coming for Bolsonaro but whether it will actually be enough.
“This is one more element in place that could lead to Bolsonaro’s downfall,” Jessica Rich, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said. “I don’t think they are yet all in place. But this is a real escalation of the threat against him.”
The right-wing solution to environmental problems: more borders and exclusion.
As the impacts of human-induced climate change become harder and harder to ignore, some on the right have moved away from denying it exists and toward a new strategy: blaming immigrants for contributing to the problem.
An April 12 lawsuit brought by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich against the Department of Homeland Security alleges that the Biden administration’s policies on immigration have impacted the state’s environment by increasing demand for “housing, infrastructure, hospitals, and schools.”
The lawsuit alleges that immigrants “drive cars, purchase goods, and use public parks and other facilities. Their actions also directly result in the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which directly affects air quality.”
Some advocates are worried that the Arizona case, which uses climate change as a weapon against immigrants, communities of color, and poor people, could become a more common means of attack for the right.
This idea has deep roots in right-wing environmentalism. But it also has disturbing echoes of a far-right ideology known as “ecofascism.”
Ecofascism refers to “groups and ideologies that offer authoritarian, hierarchical, and racist analyses and solutions to environmental problems,” Blair Taylor, program director at the Institute for Social Ecology, told me.
The solution to those problems, ecofascists believe, is “the same as the right’s answers to many other issues: more walls, more borders, more exclusion, and more justification of hierarchy and elite rule,” said Taylor, author of “Alt-Right Ecology: Ecofascism and far-right environmentalism in the United States.”
Two mass shootings brought ecofascism into the mainstream. In March 2019, an assailant targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving more than 50 Muslim worshippers dead and at least another 50 injured. The shooter left behind a nearly 80-page manifesto detailing a white nationalist ideology and blaming immigrants and overpopulation for environmental problems.
Then in August of that year, a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, left 23 dead. The shooter told reporters that he intentionally targeted Hispanics in the attack and made a statement blaming them for plastic and water pollution.Mario Tama/Getty Images On August 2, 2020, people embrace at a one-year commemoration of the victims of the 2019 Walmart shooting that left 23 people dead in a racist attack targeting Latinos in El Paso, Texas.
But although these far-right environmentalists blame immigrants for environmental problems, the science indicates otherwise. It’s the world’s richest who are driving the climate emergency.
A September 2020 report by Oxfam found that from 1990 to 2015 — a critical 25-year period during which humans doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — the wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population accounted for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity.
To find out more about the roots of right-wing environmentalism and ecofascism, I called Blair Taylor. He explained why the motivation behind the Arizona case fits more closely with right-wing environmentalism than it does with ecofascist ideology.
Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below.Jariel Arvin
How can readers identify ecofascism?Blair Taylor
A basic definition is the groups and ideologies that offer authoritarian, hierarchical, and racist analyses and solutions to environmental problems. Ecofascists think modern life is too complicated and declining culturally, environmentally, intellectually. So they argue for a big reset. “We need to reject modernity,” as one of their slogans goes.Jariel Arvin
What do ecofascists hope to achieve through the return to nature?Blair Taylor
Many ecofascists are preparing for a violent collapse and arguing for a kind of racialized tribalism in what they view as an effort to restore the natural balance. This imminent collapse is nature “getting revenge” for human hubris, essentially weeding out the weak. Ecofascists want this all to happen in line with the current rules of the game, meaning the poor and people of color will suffer while the wealthy are far better positioned to survive.
When ecofascism takes an explicitly racialized form, it overlaps with the general far-right discourse of the “Great Replacement” or white genocide. According to this thinking, white people are a persecuted minority that’s on its way out unless they defend themselves. They use the view of whites as an endangered species to justify the need for separate communities.
For ecofascists, the answer to environmental problems is the same as the right’s answers to many other issues: more walls, more borders, more exclusion, and more justification of hierarchy and elite rule.Jariel Arvin
Was the media correct in linking the 2019 Christchurch shooting to ecofascism?Blair Taylor
Absolutely. The Christchurch shooting was a mobilizing and popularizing force for ecofascist ideology. It then inspired the El Paso shooting. Although the former targeted Muslims and the latter targeted Latinos, both the Christchurch and El Paso shooters provided very similar arguments for what they did: white replacement theory.
It’s tough to identify the danger level or how much of a threat it is because right-wing environmentalism is primarily a set of ideas rather than a set of organizations. Organizations might get infiltrated and taken down, but the ideas are still out there.
When events like the Christchurch or El Paso shootings happen, they bring right-wing ideas out of the ether. This reflects the decentralized nature of social movements where now it’s a hashtag. It’s a few websites. It’s a Signal chat. It’s very decentralized, so it’s hard to cut off the head.
The right can’t deny environmental problems as quickly as they once could. And you have a younger generation who’s grown up in a world that takes environmentalism for granted, so they have to give that a right-wing slant or analysis. The other factor that they like is the environmental movement is very white and historically has been. It’s starting to change now.Jariel Arvin
How big of a threat would you say ecofascism is? Is there any way of knowing how widespread the movement is or whether it’s currently gaining momentum?Blair Taylor
It’s hard to say because, especially now, I think a lot of this far-right activism has gone underground. The glory days of the alt-right — the Charlottesville event — caused much internal strife and fractionalization and the fallout over Trump. Then now, with the pandemic especially, it’s been tough to track.
The danger is that their views of modern life as alienating or stressful have a critical orientation that in many ways can be true. But the answers ecofascists offer — a simplistic “great reset” — overlook the complexity of the problems to blame humanity or people of color instead of looking at more targeted, reasonable explanations for those problems.Jariel Arvin
That makes me think of the case where the state of Arizona is suing the Department of Homeland Security and other US government entities, blaming climate change on immigrants. A few media reports have suggested that the case has echoes of ecofascism. Is it ecofascist?Blair Taylor
I wouldn’t say this is an ecofascist case, partly because I don’t think these people care about the environment. It seems pretty clear that it’s an anti-immigrant argument justified in environmental terms. I would say this is a case of right-wing environmentalism.
They want to offer “environmental solutions” that are right-wing answers to environmental problems. The science shows that immigration is not driving environmental degradation and is not driving climate change. So these aren’t very scientifically serious arguments, but they can have a popular allure.
That’s the perennial allure of overpopulation — it obliterates all the social issues and makes everything a pure numbers game. It’s a convenient way to let wealthy, primarily white people off the hook and redirect blame.
This issue has not just been restricted to the right either. Much of the older guard of environmentalism tended not to be humanists. They were naturalists, and they were scientists. They were very concerned with preserving capital in nature but they created a strong dichotomy between nature and humanity. They tended to view humanity not as a part of nature — it was a threat to nature.
When we created some of the amazing national parks we have in the United States, we kicked out the Indigenous inhabitants seen as a threat. That’s a dynamic that we’ve seen over and over in environmental movements, pitting humanity and nature against one another.Jariel Arvin
So how did the far right become associated with environmentalism? It’s not the first association that I think comes to mind for most people.Blair Taylor
A colleague of mine, Peter Staudenmaier, co-wrote a book with Janet Biehl called Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience. It described the very strong ecological dimension to National Socialism previously unknown by many people outside of Germany.
Ernst Haeckel, a German naturalist, coined the word “ecology” itself. Haeckel was also a nationalist cited as a precursor to National Socialism. The idea of nature as a hierarchical place bound by natural laws, and which therefore must be protected, has a long history. And the right has a reasonably strong claim to this history. It wasn’t until the 1960s and ’70s that environmentalism became understood as an issue of the left.
The classic conservation movement was a very patrician movement of mostly upper-class white European and American males who wanted to defend their hunting lands and their pristine landscapes from all kinds of things. In many cases, this was very explicitly worded to protect the wild from the poor, migrants, or the “savages” who were not properly utilizing it. So it is a very recent and modern development to think of environmentalism as a left or liberal issue.
Murray Bookchin was central to helping that change come about. He wrote a piece called Ecology and Revolutionary Thought in 1964, one of the first texts arguing that left-wing politics should incorporate ecology. It just took time for the ideas to take root.Jariel Arvin
Do you think there are any traces of environmentalism in Donald Trump’s politics?Blair Taylor
No. That’s precisely one of those lines between Trump and far-right environmentalists — these far-right actors do actually believe in protecting the environment. But they have a very racist, authoritarian, hierarchical analysis of the nature of those environmental problems. In contrast, Trump strikes me as an old-school plutocrat. The goal is to get his buddies in the oil and other industries rich.Jariel Arvin
What does ecofascism look like in Europe versus in the United States?Blair Taylor
In Europe, you see examples like France’s Marine Le Pen of the National Rally, starting to have this almost blood and soil ideology, the idea of “France for the French” and that white French people are custodians of nature.
In general, European political parties have taken on more of the ecofascist discourse. It might be because, in Europe, there’s been perhaps more openness to climate change as a reality rather than climate denialism. Although that’s changing on the American right, too, partly just because of demographic factors and because it’s just increasingly impossible to ignore that climate change is happening.
So rather than deny it (which many still do), the American right seeks to blame the usual enemies: immigrants, people of color, and the poor.Jariel Arvin
So how do you think the openness to accepting climate change in Europe as opposed to denialism that we see in America creates more favorable conditions for ecofascism?Blair Taylor
On the one hand, the openness of the parliamentary political systems allows more entry to fringe groups. On the other, there’s arguably also less of an anti-science perspective. There seems to be more of a general acceptance that climate change is happening in Europe, so they’re able to channel that into a kind of right-wing worldview. This Arizona bill shows that this is happening in the US, but they’ve been doing similar things more successfully in Europe for 10 to 15 years.Jariel Arvin
So what’s the solution? How do we counter ecofascist thinking and ideology? Is the Justice Department responsible for monitoring ecofascism? Who’s responsible?Blair Taylor
There’s a joke inside the far right that if you swing a cat, you’ll hit an undercover FBI agent. So the FBI, finally, after years of ignoring it and focusing on left-wing and Muslim domestic terrorism, they’re taking far-right terrorism seriously. So, the FBI is paying attention. I’m sure the Justice Department is as well.
Then, of course, there’s a network of far-right monitoring groups from the Anti-Defamation League to the Western States’ center with Eric Ward. There’s a network of anti-fascist researchers, people like Spencer Sunshine and Shane Burley, and others closely monitoring these groups.
And, of course, the rise of antifa is another thing. People focus on antifa as a street organization that’s countering far-right movements in the streets. But much of it is behind-the-scenes research work where they infiltrate their local Proud Boys and identify which Proud Boys are police or army or teachers. This is all happening. The state is usually behind the curve and forced to intervene by events. In contrast, these monitoring groups often are equally embedded and typically have a better analysis.
To recognize [and counter] ecofascism requires understanding the tropes and the longer history of environmentalism’s racist, classist, and sexist components. The environmental movement must offer an articulation of environmental concerns that is emancipatory and social and doesn’t fall into the traps it has fallen into in the past. Avoiding those mistakes means having a bit of sensitivity and understanding that ideas can point us in better and worse directions politically.
This is why I’ve argued for a social ecology — not just looking at numbers and population growth but looking at how different groups and systems are disproportionately to blame and face disproportionate impacts. This is largely the kind of work we do at the Institute for Social Ecology, offering democratic and emancipatory answers to environmental and social problems.
The North Korean leader appointed a new “representative” to the ruling party, indicating the dictator’s willingness to delegate.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is rewiring his nation’s government to operate less like a dictator’s playground and more like an organization that can handle multiple crises at once.
According to reports this week from CNN, Reuters, and other media outlets, Kim appointed a de facto second-in-command back in January to help lead the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. As “first secretary,” a title Kim himself held from 2012 to 2016 (he assumed the grander role of “general secretary” in January 2021), this as-yet-unknown person will serve as the despot’s “representative” to the WPK.
Experts were quick to say this person won’t actually be North Korea’s second-in-command. It’s at best a kind of executive secretary role, someone who has the authority to handle day-to-day party operations but not the power to make key decisions without the boss’s say-so.
“It means no change to [Kim’s] status as the supreme leader of North Korea, but it will mean a change in his leadership style,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a Seoul-based fellow at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, DC. In fact, “Kim technically always has had a ‘second-in-command’ in every party, state, and military institution,” she added.
The new and unprecedented role, then, isn’t really about some already prominent North Korean official gaining more authority. Rather, it’s Kim’s latest reform to ensure his regime can handle all affairs of state without his consistent, direct input.
“It should suggest to us that Kim is doing things internally,” said Ken Gause, director of the adversary analytics program at the CNA, a Virginia-based think tank. “He’s changing this regime and making it a more normalized organization.”Why Kim is reforming his government
Kim has made big changes to North Korea’s leadership before, experts said, including moves to rein in influential regime bodies, namely those in the security apparatus and the shadowy Organization and Guidance Department.
Previously, when Kim’s grandfather and father ran North Korea, those in uniform and other high-level officials influenced the country’s direction. The ruling family, at times, worried that some of them were plotting coups or taking too much power for themselves, occasionally leading to their brutal executions.
So, making changes to North Korea’s leadership structure isn’t necessarily new for Kim. But few are certain as to why he authorized a new first secretary now, though analysts have some ideas.
The first is that North Korea faces many crises, from a devastating coronavirus outbreak to a crushing economic collapse. To handle just those two problems, let alone all the challenges facing the country, Kim can’t follow the old playbook of making every single policy decision. It now seems he wants to set the strategic direction for the nation by letting his aide know exactly what he wants and trusting them to carry out the tactical decisions.
This has the added bonus of signaling to the outside world that Kim is a reformer with modern-day ideas. “We should view this as North Korea’s attempt to make Kim seem more like a ‘normal’ leader who rules through and with the party and not a lone dictator,” said Stimson’s Lee, who also noted that “in recent months, top North Korean party officials other than Kim Jong Un have led some party meetings.”
The second is that Kim has long said he wants to reform North Korea’s economy. But the problem, CNA’s Gause told me, is that any changes Kim makes won’t stick for the long term if the government is incapable of running without his constant input. Having a trusted official to help oversee the moves he makes, then, can help turn Kim’s economic dream into reality. “If they continue the way they had in the past, they will fail,” Gause said of the North Korean regime. “They are maturing and they are changing.”
The third reason may be a long-term play. It’s an open secret that Kim has health problems — he’s overweight, and a smoker. Gause suggested Kim may want to ensure he has a government in place that can continue to function should he die prematurely. That doesn’t mean he’s planning for a North Korea without a Kim family member in charge, but rather that he may envision a regime capable of working even in the temporary absence of a dictator.
In my book "The Great Successor," I wrote that Kim Jong Un's biggest risk factor was his obvious poor health -- and in particular the risk of cardiac problems. Kim Jong Un is five feet, seven inches tall, and weighs about three hundred pounds = BMI of 45, or "extremely obese" pic.twitter.com/04EsZfuues— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) April 21, 2020
As of now, it’s unclear who will assume the first secretary position. Most experts think it will be a confidante of Kim’s and someone who serves on the five-member presidium, a committee made up of top members of the ruling party. Reports suggest Jo Yong Won, who is close to Kim and believed to be in his mid-60s, could get the job or may have it already.
Put together, all of this means two key things: Kim seems to have the future of his nation in mind, and he’s supremely confident in his own leadership. He’s not giving up his power — he’s shoring it up.
Human rights groups say China’s treatment of the Uyghur people disqualifies the country from hosting the Winter Olympics next year.
China is slated to host the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. But a growing chorus of human rights activists is calling for countries to boycott the games over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, which the US State Department has called a “genocide.”
A coalition of around 180 human rights advocacy groups has issued a “call to action” urging all countries and athletes to boycott what they’re now calling the “genocide Olympics.” If Beijing is allowed to host an Olympics-spectacle-as-usual, they say, it amounts to acceptance of the Chinese government’s atrocities against the Uyghurs, its anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong, and its other human rights abuses.
“For us, if a genocide is not the red line to boycott the Olympic Games, then nothing is,” said Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress, one of the groups backing the campaign.
Some Republican and Democratic politicians in the US, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have also voiced support for some version of a boycott. Pelosi called for a “diplomatic boycott” that would see heads of state refrain from attending while still allowing athletes to compete in the games; Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) proposed an economic boycott and a diplomatic one, urging American spectators not to attend in person to reduce the revenue Beijing makes from their tourism. Lawmakers in other countries have made similar calls.
So far, the Biden administration has said it is not discussing any joint boycott with allies. That may be because pulling off a real and sustained boycott, particularly as an exercise of US foreign policy, is itself an olympic feat.
Olympic boycotts have a complicated and somewhat messy history. The last time the US tried it in earnest — during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, to protest the Soviet Union’s Afghanistan invasion — Moscow registered America’s displeasure, but the effort did little to actually sway policy, while creating controversies at home and denying many athletes their one shot at a medal.
So far, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which represents American athletes, has strongly rejected the idea of a boycott and instead advocates using the games to showcase American values.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which runs the games, has said it must stay “neutral on all global political issues,” though that may be more wishful thinking than reality. After all, politics is a big reason countries vie to host the Olympics, seeing it as a way to signal power and prestige to the world. This is why Beijing is aggressively pushing back against any boycott talk.
The cases for and against a Beijing 2022 boycott will likely roil right up until the games. Few experts think that an Olympic boycott will do anything to meaningfully change China’s behavior; if anything, China tends to double down in the face of international criticism. China also learned lessons from its hosting of the 2008 Olympics, making it much more prepared for objections this time around.
This exposes the dilemma at the core of the debate for countries that want to support democracy and human rights: “If you believe in these values, which the US and many other countries do, you can’t ignore [China’s human rights record] and treat it like it’s nothing,” Jacques deLisle, an expert on Chinese law and politics at the University of Pennsylvania, said. “On the other hand, we are not in a position — absent really catastrophic costs — to do a whole lot about it.”Why the idea of boycotting Beijing is gaining traction
The 2022 Winter Olympics were the games no one wanted. Out of six initial applicants, four dropped out: Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. That left two cities standing: Beijing, and Almaty, Kazakhstan — an autocratic country that isn’t exactly a bastion of human rights, either.
Ahead of that vote, activists objected to the IOC’s consideration of Beijing. Choosing the Chinese capital, a petition at the time said, “will endorse a government that blatantly violates human rights. Awarding Beijing the Olympics is a contradiction of the Olympics’ goal of ‘promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.’”
Human rights groups also protested the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with Tibetan rights at the forefront of that opposition. In the years since, under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government’s stifling of civil liberties and human rights has worsened. Advocates said that once again elevating China would give it license to act with greater impunity.
But the IOC chose Beijing in a close vote in what was arguably the least worst option: Beijing had hosted a successful 2008 Summer Olympics; it had reliable infrastructure and transportation and money to invest in building those things up. “It really is a safe choice,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at the time. “We know China will deliver on its promises.”
That was in 2015. China’s human rights record has become even more troubling since.
The Chinese Communist Party has arbitrarily detained between 1 million and 3 million Uyghur people and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang in what it calls “reeducation centers,” which are basically internment or concentration camps. Detainees are forced to undergo psychological indoctrination and are subject to waterboarding and other forms of torture. Uyghurs have been forced into what amounts to slave labor, making everything from clothes to face masks. Uyghur women have been subject to forced sterilization.
In one of its last acts, the Trump administration determined that China’s actions against the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang constitute a “genocide.” Biden’s State Department has backed up that designation, as have others, including the UK and Canadian parliaments.
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has also continued its crackdown on dissidents and smothered Hong Kong’s freedoms with a repressive national security law.
The geopolitics has also become much more complicated. The Trump years marked rising tensions between the US and China, which got even messier in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Trump administration and some GOP politicians blaming China for its mismanagement of the virus outbreak early on.
All of this has helped bolster the idea of a boycott, including among some lawmakers in the US who are eager to push back on China in any way possible.
The idea is pretty simple: Usually, the Olympics are a showcase for the host country. Shunning the Winter Games would send a stinging message to China. And by connecting its treatment of the Uyghurs and its actions in Hong Kong to such a high-profile event, it would raise global awareness of China’s actions and exert a level of pressure that rebukes from the State Department can’t quite accomplish.
But all of that is still pretty hard to execute.There’s a long history of Olympic boycotts. Whether they work is another story.
When it comes to Olympic boycotts by the US, there are two examples that usually come to mind: the time the US didn’t boycott (in Berlin in 1936), and the time that it did (in Moscow in 1980).
The first example provides the case for participating in the games: By going to the host country, you’re using the platform to promote democratic values.
The second example offers the case against participating: By boycotting, you’re painting the host country as a pariah on the world stage and pressuring it to change course if it wants to get back into the international community’s good graces.
Both courses come with agonizing moral and political calculations that don’t necessarily have satisfying answers.
The first example involved the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. A movement to boycott the games over the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews had gained some serious momentum in the US; although some individual athletes refused to attend, the larger boycott movement failed, and the US and dozens of other countries sent their athletes to Berlin.
But these were also the Olympics where Jesse Owens, a Black man, achieved incredible victories in track and field, creating a sticking-it-to-Hitler mythology all its own (though Owens still faced discrimination back home in 1930s America). And the threat of the boycott did resonate. The Nazi regime tamped down its public anti-Semitism, hiding evidence of its policies. But that also allowed Hitler to obscure the reality of what was happening in Germany, sanitizing the regime and giving him a global audience for Nazi propaganda.
“When you look at Berlin in 1936, there is no question Jesse Owens made a mockery of Nazi racial ideology,” John Soares, a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, said. “But that didn’t convince the Nazis to rethink what they were doing.”
Fast-forward to Moscow 1980, when the US did boycott the Olympics. President Jimmy Carter pushed for the boycott in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. This wasn’t the only political pressure Carter put on the USSR, but it was seen as one option to publicly undermine Moscow.
The US Olympic Committee is an independent entity, so Carter had to get them to agree with the plan. Many athletes opposed the boycott, angry at becoming pawns in the Cold War drama. Athletes sued, saying the Carter administration had coerced compliance from the USOC by threatening to revoke their tax-exempt status.
Meanwhile, Carter had trouble convincing other countries to agree. He dispatched boxer Muhammad Ali on a goodwill tour to Africa, only to have Ali change his mind and withdraw support for the boycott entirely. Allies that had seemed eager to go along with the boycott, like Great Britain, ended up sending athletes to Moscow anyway. In total, 65 countries didn’t participate — including West Germany, Japan, and Israel — but 80 did.
In the end, it looked a bit more like the US president strong-arming his country’s athletes and allies than a democratic president standing up to a totalitarian regime.
The USSR went tit-for-tat in 1984: It refused to send its athletes to the games in Los Angeles, claiming the Reagan administration would not guarantee their safety.
There have been other boycotts — some European countries protested the 1956 games because of the USSR’s invasion of Hungary, for example. But Moscow in 1980 was an attempt to really use the Olympics as a pressure point in international politics. While it was symbolic and got attention, that’s pretty much all it accomplished. The Soviets didn’t leave Afghanistan until years later, and that was because it had become a complete quagmire.
“They don’t work,” Nicholas Sarantakes, an associate professor of strategy and policy at the US Naval War College and author of Dropping the Torch: Jimmy Carter, the Olympic Boycott, and the Cold War, said of boycotts. “Generally, because the Olympics — while they get a lot of visibility — they’re fairly minor as far as the activities of a nation-state go.”
“The things that motivate nation-states are far more significant than how many gold medals you win,” Sarantakes added. “It’s been tried several times. And it fails every time.”
And when it fails, the loser isn’t really the governments in question, but the athletes themselves.
In the 1980 boycott, 460 US athletes had to sit out the games, and the Soviets hogged all the medals. Many US athletes never got another chance at Olympic competition. Last year, on the 40th anniversary of the boycott, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee apologized to the 1980 athletes: “It’s abundantly clear in hindsight that the decision to not send a team to Moscow had no impact on the global politics of the era and instead only harmed you.”
Still, regimes with atrocious human rights records have used the Olympics as an “international seal of approval.” And that, of course, is the exact argument that human rights groups are making against the 2022 Beijing Games.
“To get the opportunity to host the Olympic Games and attend the Olympic Games, when the genocide is taking place, can be seen as an endorsement of the Beijing government,” said Teng Biao, a Pozen visiting professor at the University of Chicago who supports the boycott.Advocates say a boycott is the only way to stand up to China. Athletes want to go. The IOC wants to stay out of it.
Advocates told me they’re not against the Olympics themselves, and they do want the games to take place and for athletes to compete. They’re just against having the games in China. As Arkin put it, “we’re really against the genocide Olympics.”
Human rights groups have continued to lobby the IOC to change its decision on China. In September, dozens of groups sent a letter to the IOC asking for the games to be relocated.
Last fall, the IOC and these groups met to share their concerns. But the IOC’s position did not change, and that is why, activists say, they are calling for a full boycott — no athletes, no corporate sponsors, no media money, no foreign dignitaries.
“We would be more than happy to have a postponement for discussion to happen, or for relocation to happen,” said Pema Doma, campaigns director for Students for a Free Tibet, another organization that is promoting the boycott. “But point-blank, if the IOC fails to postpone or relocate the Olympics, then we believe it’s the responsibility of individual athletes or financial actors — corporations, state governments, to boycott this Olympics.”
But the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee is firmly against any boycott. “We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues,” Jon Mason, spokesperson for the USOPC, told Vox in an emailed statement. “We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues.”
The USOPC also sent a letter to Congress earlier this month that outlined their disapproval of any such move, pointing to 1980 as evidence for why boycotts don’t work. Instead, the USOPC argued this is a chance to showcase “America’s best.”
The letter noted that Russia had passed anti-LGBTQ legislation ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which the USOPC said became a platform to highlight the contributions of LGBTQ athletes. Indeed, then-President Barack Obama sent LGBTQ athletes to represent the US in its delegation — a nod to the “challenge them on their own turf” approach.
The USOPC suggested that sports — and this moment, after the turmoil of the pandemic — was an opportunity for the world to come together. This is also very much the stance of the IOC, which ultimately has the power to decide where and when the Olympics are held.
“The Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition,” the IOC said in a statement to Vox outlining its position. (It’s the same statement it gave to the human rights organizations it met with last year.) “They are the most powerful symbol of unity in all our diversity that the world knows. In our fragile world, the power of sport to bring the whole world together, despite all the existing differences, gives us all hope for a better future.”
The statement said the IOC must “remain neutral on all global political issues” and that just because the IOC selects a city doesn’t mean it endorses the politics of that place. It said it’s outside the IOC’s mandate to change the politics of any given place, though it added that the IOC is committed to making sure principles like nondiscrimination are respected within the context of the games.
But experts and advocates I spoke to basically said: Come on. Claiming neutrality on political issues in an international sporting event where athletes represent their countries and hear their national anthems played when they win a gold medal isn’t fooling anyone. And politics absolutely does influence the IOC’s decision, which is why no one is expecting the IOC to take up a bid from Pyongyang anytime soon.
No games are free from human rights or political concerns, even in liberal democracies. Activists argued that the Tokyo 2020 games — even before the issues with the pandemic — would violate human rights by disrupting transportation and displacing homeless people.
“One of the arguments people will make against a boycott is: if even democratic societies operating under the rule of law are going to be falling short on expectations for organizing Olympics, do you really want to pick on any other regime for its problems that invites closer scrutiny of your problems?” Soares said.
Sarantakes said the IOC sees this as a slippery slope. “Their belief is that they have to have the games, and in essence, they’re right — if they keep putting political litmus tests on things, it might be 20 or 30 years between the Olympic Games,” Sarantakes said. “So their attitude is, ‘The games must go on, and we’re trying to bring the world together.’”The 2022 Olympics matter to China — but not nearly as much as the 2008 Games did
The Chinese Communist Party sees the Olympics as a tool of its soft power and international prestige. Which is really the only reason to take on the cost and logistics of a massive sporting festival that lasts a few weeks.
But 2008 was China’s “coming-out party,” Thomas Zeiler, professor of history and international affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder, said. “This will be a sort of ‘Now we’re here, we’re docked.’”
Which means the boycott threat, or protests against human rights abuses, just won’t sting as much. “These are nowhere near as important for China as the 2008 games were,” deLisle said. “China is much more secure at this point; they’ve had a big coming-out party.”
China has also experienced pushback on human rights before, during the lead-up to 2008, and has learned its lesson.
“In 2008, they were a little bit taken aback and didn’t fully understand the political lay of the land,” said Susan Brownell, an expert on Chinese sports and the Olympics at the University of Missouri St. Louis. “But this is 13 years later — they’re probably more sophisticated now and understand things better now.”
“A major lesson that the Chinese authorities took away at the time was that there was no way to change foreign threat perceptions of China,” Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Centre, told me in an email.
That lesson has only solidified for the Chinese Communist Party since then. They anticipate the criticism, and they know how to respond: by spinning it for the domestic audience and pushing back against critics abroad.
Which is exactly what China is doing. For instance, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Pelosi’s call for a diplomatic boycott was “full of lies and disinformation” and that US politicians were playing “despicable political games” and using “so-called human rights issue as a pretext to smear and slander China.”
Chinese officials have called any boycott “doomed to failure.” The Global Times, China’s state-run media, wrote an op-ed referring to a British politician who called for a 2022 boycott as “hysterical” and “insane.” China has also continued to deny the allegations of genocide against the Uyghurs.
Still, experts said that boycott talk does needle China, in its way. “It pushes their buttons on the issue of impermissible, as they see it, foreign intervention in China’s domestic affairs,” deLisle told me.
“The special thing about an Olympic boycott is that if the discussion of it and the possibility of it gets a lot of attention abroad, it gets more attention at home,” deLisle added. “If China’s sold hosting the Olympics as a big deal and people don’t show up, it makes it a more visible issue in China.”What a Beijing boycott can — and probably can’t — accomplish
Pro-boycott activists recognize they’re up against long odds. They’re grassroots groups and NGOs, which means they can put pressure on governments and Olympic clubs but can’t sway their decisions. President Biden backing such a move would certainly alter the dynamic, but the State Department has continued to insist that its position on a boycott hasn’t changed.
And even politicians who are backing the idea are trying to thread the needle by suggesting lighter measures, like a diplomatic or economic boycott.
Carter’s experience serves as a lesson in how the optics can really go haywire. If Biden were to get involved, he would need to spend a lot of political capital domestically and internationally to make it meaningful.
Experts said the US government is better off working behind the scenes — pressuring companies on sponsorships, or doing something like sending low-level staffers or no one at all. That might still make a statement, but one that isn’t as risky or politically perilous.
“There are things that the US government can do behind closed doors to make it very clear that they do not want the Olympics to be business as usual,” Sarantakes said. “But I think a boycott is noisy and doomed to fail. And what you’re seeing right now is a lot of empty posturing.”
Relocating the games may have made the most sense, but that timeline is tight, and after the delays and drama around the Tokyo Games, the IOC seems very clear that it wants these Olympics to go forward as scheduled.
Yet advocates said that even the discussion itself is important, and that if they can influence some fans and athletes, that is still a small victory. “We hope at least some athletes can use their influence, their platforms to speak for the Uyghurs, the persecuted people, and to protest,” Teng Biao said.
US skier Mikaela Shiffrin, when asked about the Beijing boycott, said the IOC might have made a mistake in opposing it. “I doubt it’s an easy job, but it feels like there could be more consideration when you’re hosting an event that’s supposed to bring the world together and create hope and peace, in a sense,” she said.
That sentiment may influence the IOC going forward, even if there’s little to be done for 2022. Yet it all goes back to this uncomfortable question of — if not genocide, then where does the red line get drawn?
Santarakes, who recently wrote about why Olympic boycotts have failed, pointed me to a quote from Sam Balter, a member of the US Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal in Berlin in 1936, who was also Jewish. He said it perfectly captured the dilemma of any Olympic boycott.
“I spent a lot of time soul searching, looking for an answer,” Balter told a reporter decades later. “Some told me it was important to compete and show a Jew could win. Others said it was immoral to attend an Olympics in Germany.”
“Even now, after 50 years,” Balter said, “I’m not sure I made the right decision.”
The country’s leader won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then he went to war.
In 2019, after ending Ethiopia’s decades-long war with its neighbor, Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It seemed like a new beginning for Ethiopia. After decades of dictatorships and oppressive regimes, he appeared to finally be setting the country on a new path.
But less than a year later, Abiy launched a military attack — on Tigray, a regional state in his own country. When he became prime minister in 2018, he had largely supplanted Tigray’s main political party, the TPLF, as the country’s center of power. Since then, tensions between Abiy and the TPLF have escalated quickly. The political rivalry led to a dispute over an election, which led to an alleged attack on a military base — and finally to Abiy’s deployment of the military.
Abiy promised to bring peace to Ethiopia; now he’s presiding over a war that escalated from a dispute to devastation in a matter of weeks and has no obvious end in sight. Much of Tigray’s territory has been captured by local armies and militias. Thousands have died or fled their homes. Many Ethiopians are left wondering how Abiy, a leader who promised a break with the past, brought them here instead.
Many Jews in the United States are taught a very specific Israel narrative. Can that change?
For decades, American Jewish institutions have made it a priority to teach kids about Israel. Learning about the Jewish state is a key part of the curricula and programming at schools, camps, and community organizations around the country, with Israel often depicted as a miraculous entity locked in righteous battle with irrational Arab foes.
Given that the vast majority of American Jews never end up living, or even spending much time, in Israel, early and incomplete lessons can have a lasting effect on the political positions of the students who soak in them.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs was one such kid, although many of the lessons her instructors tried to instill in her didn’t quite take. She is the executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, a group of social justice-minded Jewish clergy who, among other goals, seek better treatment for Palestinians.
As a member of Generation X, she grew up at a time when many Jewish educational establishments treated Palestinians either as nonexistent or — especially during the Palestinian uprising of the late ’80s, known as the First Intifada — as vicious anti-Semites. During her college years, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization entered the so-called Oslo process, a series of agreements that seemed to bring peace and Palestinian self-determination tantalizingly close. The process was not to last, but Jacobs holds on to the dream of a Jewish state coexisting alongside a Palestinian neighbor-state.
This month’s bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians has prompted many, Jew and gentile alike, to reconsider the situation and give more credence to the Palestinian cause. Social media has been filled with American Jews denouncing some of the institutions that claim to represent them, often for the imbalanced Israel education they received as children. Vox spoke with Rabbi Jacobs to discuss the past and present of such education, as well as how she’d like to see it change in the future.
What kind of Israel education did you get when you were growing up?
I’m 45, so I graduated from high school in 1993 and from college in ’97, just to situate what was happening when I was a kid. I remember certainly that Israel was a place that could do no wrong. My first trip to Israel was when I was 6, with my family, and I remember coming back with my photo album, and I brought it into Hebrew school to show off.
I remember being a kid during the First Intifada and really not knowing what was going on, but watching it on the news with my parents and being told, “They’re throwing rocks at us because they hate us because we’re Jewish.” I remember in Sunday school during my middle school years asking about Palestinians in our Israel history class, and being told, “There’s no such thing as Palestinians; they’re Jordanians.”
I remember also, I was maybe 12 or 13, and I was just thinking to myself, There’s something wrong with that answer, but I don’t know what it is. I had enough information to know that there was something odd going on, but not enough to actually know what it was.
Some of my real Israel education happened at rabbinical school. I did my rabbinical school year in Israel in 2000, 2001 which was the first year of the Second Intifada [another Palestinian uprising, which lasted until 2005]. During that year, I was balancing both being terrified for my life and the life of my friends — which was a real terror because buses and cafes and restaurants around us were blowing up, people were being killed — and also starting to learn a little bit about what the situation was for Palestinians, hearing about West Bank closures and learning about what occupation actually meant. I don’t remember one a-ha moment when I figured out about occupation, but I knew about it at that point; I was learning.
I came back the next year with the Jewish Theological Seminary, where I studied, and the intifada was continuing. A friend who was a year behind me and I decided that we wanted to offer a day where people who are coming on this mission could see what the situation was for Palestinians.
So we did a day with [Israeli human-rights watchdog] B’Tselem in East Jerusalem. Certainly, it was not the first time I had been in East Jerusalem, but it was the first time that I had spent time in a Palestinian neighborhood. Then, in the next year or so, there was this big rally on the [National] Mall in DC to support Israel and some rabbinical students — it ended up being over 100 — decided to go as Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace, to be able to stand there and say, “Yes, of course we support Israel, and we also support an end to occupation, human rights for Palestinians.” We wrote a letter to major American Jewish institutions and had negative reactions.
One program that we started at T’ruah a few years ago is for rabbinical students and cantorial students spending their year in Israel. We have a year-long program where, once a month, we’ll take them to see something and to talk to people either inside of Israel or in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.
They will go to Hebron with Breaking the Silence [an Israeli veterans group that seeks to educate the public on the occupation], they’ll go and plant trees in a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills and talk to leaders there, they’ll meet with Bedouin Israeli citizens and asylum seekers and Palestinian human rights leaders and Israeli human rights leaders and get a really on-the-ground sense of what’s happening there. Then we do a lot of work with them on, “How are you going to use your voice as a rabbinic or cantorial leader to tell these stories?”
It’s definitely been a big shift from when I was in rabbinical school, when, certainly, we never spoke to a Palestinian as part of our Israel education. They certainly never would have taken us to the West Bank or really given us anything besides the rah-rah-Israel voice.Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images Representatives from the European Union visit the South Hebron Hills with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. T’ruah organizes similar trips with these organizations for American rabbinical and cantorial students.
What do you think the state of the union of Israel education is like in America now?
My experience mostly comes from my kids’ Jewish summer camps, that’s the most personal experience. And also, more broadly, talking to rabbis in our network and educators and seeing what people are putting out publicly in terms of the education they’re doing. There’s still a real fear about talking about occupation.
Some things have changed since I was a kid. Of course, there are some that are better than others, but I think, from what I’ve seen, there is acknowledgment of Palestinians. There’s talk about peace. There’s also a desire to bring in voices that show some kind of coexistence or partnership. Very often there’s an attempt to bring in things that are to show off: “Here’s Jewish and Palestinian doctors working together, or the children’s choir.” Those are real, but they don’t necessarily get into the deep issues. There’s particularly sometimes a fear of even just saying the word “occupation.”
Or, God forbid, mentioning the Nakba [Arabic for “catastrophe,” which refers to the 1948 war that uprooted 700,000 Palestinians from their homes].
There’s also a lot of, I would say, substance-less Israel education. One of my favorite examples is my kid coming back from camp, and they had made [the group of Israeli-controlled mountains called] Har Hermon out of marshmallow fluff. She was very excited because she likes marshmallow fluff. What kid wouldn’t be excited, really? But what’s the educational content in that? They were learning about different places in Israel, or learning Israeli music or slang words — some of which come out of Arabic, which could also be an opportunity to talk about that. Just anything but occupation.
I love my kids learning Israeli music, and I love that people are showcasing different people doing these different kinds of great work in Israel, but there is that fear to talk about the real experiences of Palestinians and to really dive into occupation. There’s a sense that I’ve heard from educators and rabbis of, “Well, we have to make sure that kids love Israel and then we can introduce the hard stuff.”
But the actual experience, I think, of kids, is that nobody tells them anything and then they’re not actually prepared when they get to college and hear the hard stuff. Or they’re prepared with, “Here’s the hasbara [Hebrew for “explanation,” but also used colloquially to describe pro-Israel talking points], here are your copies of [Mitchell Bard’s pro-Israel book] Myths and Facts, here’s your answers to questions people will ask.” But that’s not really deep education.
No, definitely not. I remember Myths and Facts being perpetually on display in the main foyer at my childhood synagogue. I flipped through it once when I was maybe 11 or 12 to see what it was about, and even at that young age, I felt like it seemed janky and propagandistic. I don’t remember a ton about the details of my Israel education, to be honest. But we were definitely only told Israel was beautiful and our ancestral homeland. It was pretty cartoonish.
I contrast that with the way that we do US education. When I was growing up, my US history education was terrible because it was, “America is always perfect, and here’s some great men.” Right? That was the story. Then I remember getting to junior year of high school and having this phenomenal AP US history teacher who was the first person to inform us that the US is not always right and every history book has a bias and we should read for it.
I see how my kids are learning US history and — from second grade, even — they know about the genocide of Native Americans and they know about racism. They talk about police violence in school. Thank God. And it doesn’t make them hate America.
I just think that we need to be more sophisticated and understand that kids can feel connected to a place and connected to people from that place and also understand that not everything about that place is perfect, that it is not always easy. My kids are 7 and 11, and, for sure, my 11-year-old could explain occupation to you and also cares a lot about Israel because she has relationships with Israelis and has been there and probably feels about Israel very much how she feels about America. There’s a lot of very bad stuff in both countries.
The other piece that’s really important to understand is that people look at the educators and the rabbis, but there’s serious pushback by the parents and by donors. That’s probably even more serious. A lot of our experiences are that rabbis and educators are maybe more progressive than their communities. This was a number of years ago, but I went to speak at a Jewish day school. I wasn’t actually speaking about Israel, I was speaking about something else, but when Israel came up, I talked really honestly.
One of the kids had just come back from their 11th- or 12th-grade trip to Israel. They gave me their talking points, and I was able to just explain what the situation was. Two things happened. One was, afterward, a girl came up to me and she said, “I’ve been at this school since kindergarten, and you’re the very first person who has ever talked to us who has said anything about Palestinians other than that they’re terrorists.”
I grew up in an ostensibly liberal Chicago suburb, so they just sort of avoided discussing the Palestinians in any way, but I know lots of other Jews who had the lessons she’s talking about.
I think she was really thinking about that. She wasn’t mad. She was definitely working it out in her conversation with me. The other thing that happened is that a couple more right-wing students organized some kind of petition — I didn’t see it until much after the fact — and some parents got mad about the fact that I had been invited in. So there’s definitely a ton, just really a ton of pushback there.
I’ve heard this from camp staff, from other kinds of educators: that they’re willing to push further, but their real fear is that they know the kids can manage, the kids can handle difficult information, but the parents and the donors cannot.
The generational divide in the community is wild.
Yeah.David Dee Delgado/Getty Images A family at New York City’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade.
How do you think this sort of circle-the-wagons mentality in Jewish education has shaped Jewish and non-Jewish American attitudes about Israel? Do you see those seeds flowering in later life?
Well, I think that the approach has been disastrous, to be honest. Essentially, what happened is, you teach kids hasbara talking points. Maybe they like falafel and the latest Eurovision song and have some Israeli counselors, but they also have the talking points. And then it’s like a house of cards.
As soon as somebody says almost anything, as soon as there’s a crack, one of two things happens: Either they also circle the wagons and they are not able to question it at all and they just kind of put up a wall, or it all comes crashing down and then they feel like they can’t have any relationship with Israel at all. There are also some people who are placing themselves in the T’ruah, J Street [a center-left American lobbying group that focuses on Israel] kind of camp of human rights for all people, for both Israelis, for both Jews and Palestinians both in Israel and in, God willing, a future state of Palestine.
If the goal is to actually create lasting and strong relationships such that people feel like they actually want to be committed to working for a better future for Israelis and also Palestinians, you end up with a situation where people feel like they have to choose one end of a dichotomy. There’s not a lot of space that’s opened up in between.
There are those who would argue that the time for in-between is over, that you have to pick a side.
There’s a lot of scorn for liberal Zionism out there, and there’s a sense that you have to choose between being an anti-Zionist or a Zionist and that being a Zionist has to mean that you 100 percent agree with Israeli government policy. First, that’s just not true, that you have to pick one or the other. But second, I actually am on the side of saying that we should not be talking about Zionism anymore, at all. Zionism was a movement that created the state of Israel, with all of the footnotes that you need. Yes, the creation of the state of Israel was also the Nakba, and Jews and Palestinians experienced that extremely differently.
But now we’re in a situation where the movement ended; now we have a country. There’s some language on the far left that says Israel isn’t a real place. But Israel is an actual country, it’s a member of the United Nations, whether you like it or not, whether you think it should have been created or not. It’s not an idea, it’s not a movement.
The US is a country that was also birthed in bloodshed, that has 400 years of the sin of slavery in its past, as well as the genocide of Native Americans. I don’t think anybody is seriously suggesting that everybody in the United States who is not Native American or descended from people who were enslaved get up and leave.
I think the question is: What kind of reparations are possible and what kind of reparations are necessary in order to achieve that path? I think that’s the same question we should be asking about Israel: How do we move forward in a way that will guarantee the human rights of everybody in the region, including Jews, including Palestinians? And human rights include citizenship in a country. How does that include reparations? How does Israel come to terms with the Nakba without telling 7 million people to get up and go back to Poland or Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever they came from?
How do we effect change here? What are the best ways to get to a world where, at least within the United States, we have better Israel education?
The major funders of Jewish education are on the center right to far right. That means that major educational institutions and organizations that are producing materials for Israel education are either producing material that is center right to far right or that is trying to avoid politics altogether just by doing culture and things like that. That’s a huge problem. Then you have groups which run these educational programs for high school and college students that inculcate a kind of laissez-faire, right-wing, conservative approach to the world — not only about Israel.
For people who actually care about more progressive politics in general, on Israel, and inside the Jewish community, we need the funders. We need to not have a situation where some major funder is going to threaten to withdraw their money from an educational institution because, God forbid, they bring in an Israeli human rights leader or a Palestinian human rights leader or somebody from T’ruah or J Street.
It’s not about blaming the educators. This is where there’s funding. It’s not like the whole Jewish community got together and voted on how the funding is going to be allocated. There are certain people who have both a laser focus on Israel and also the money to put into it. It’s not that the money isn’t on the left, but the people on the left are not as laser-focused as the people on the right.
By Steve Holland
CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a solo news conference after meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, denying the former KGB spy an elevated international platform to castigate the West and sow discord.
Putin's bravura performance at a 2018 news conference with Donald Trump led to shock when the then U.S. president cast doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and flattered the Russian leader.
Talking about the summit alone will also spare Biden, 78, from open jousting with Putin, 68, before the world's media after what is certain to be a combative encounter.
"We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward," a White House official said.
"A solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting — both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns."
Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva for a summit that will cover strategic nuclear stability and the deteriorating relationship between the Kremlin and the West.
Putin, who has served as Russia's paramount leader since Boris Yeltsin resigned on the last day of 1999, said ahead of the meeting that relations with the United States were at their lowest point in years.
Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin said he had heard dozens of such accusations.
"This is not something I worry about in the least," Putin said, according to an NBC translation of excerpts of an interview broadcast on Friday.
The White House has said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, the jailing of dissidents and other issues that have irritated the relationship.
Biden has said that the United States is not seeking a conflict with Russia, but that Washington will respond in a robust way if Moscow engages in harmful activities.
Russia says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria and that it will defend its interests in any way it see fit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting G7 leaders including Biden at a summit in southwestern England, told CNN that Biden would be giving Putin some "pretty tough messages, and that's something I'd only approve of".
(Reporting by Steve HollandWriting by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael HoldenEditing by Frances Kerry)
Top EU officials and French President Emmanuel Macron called on London to stand by its promises to Europe and respect relevant treaties during meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday.
"We negotiated a Protocol that preserves this, signed and ratified by Britain and the EU," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel said in identical tweets.
The two presidents met Johnson on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Cornwall in south-western England on Saturday.
"Both sides must implement what we agreed on," they said, adding that there was "complete EU unity" on this.
Macron echoed the assessments, reiterating that Britain had to stand by the agreements, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace.
In a slightly more positive tone, Macron said in his own meeting with the British premier that he wants to reset Franco-British relations.
The comments come at a sensitive time: just a few weeks earlier, a fishing dispute between London and Paris escalated off the Channel Island of Jersey, which is a British crown dependency but not part of the United Kingdom.
While tensions have ebbed since then, disagreements remain between Britain and the European Union over Northern Ireland, with neither side satisfied with the implementation of trade arrangements in Northern Ireland since Britain's departure from the bloc.
Brussels complains London is yet to put in place a number of checks on goods agreed by both sides as part of Britain's withdrawal from the EU, while London accuses the bloc of inflexibility as it grapples with a major transition.
An EU official hinted at heated debates. The "rhetoric [needs] to be toned down and we need to actively look for the solutions which are in the protocol," the official said on Saturday after the meetings.
According to the EU official, the EU did "understand the need for solutions," while insisting that the agreements had to be implemented.
But Johnson's official spokesman said a different approach was necessary, saying that the premier wanted to find "radical changes and pragmatic solutions."
"We keep all options on the table," he was quoted by Britain's Press Association (PA) as saying.
"Currently as implemented, the protocol is having a damaging impact on the people of Northern Ireland. We need to find urgent and innovative solutions," he said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. The EU is also joining the meetings, which are due to continue through to Sunday.
The Group of Seven (G7) economic powers are planning a massive infrastructure initiative in poorer countries, in a bid to provide a counterweight to China's multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative dubbed the "New Silk Road."
US officials announced the initiative on Saturday, on the sidelines of the three-day G7 summit held in an English seaside village.
There is an estimated 40-trillion-dollar infrastructure gap in parts of the world that this would be intended to help other countries fill, the officials said.
The initiative, called Build Back Better for the World, is expected to be included in the leaders' final communique on Sunday.
While no concrete financial commitments were made, the officials said the US, G7 partners, the private sector and other stakeholders would "soon" collectively mobilize hundreds of billions for infrastructure investments in low and middle-income countries.
The infrastructure development would be carried out in a "transparent and sustainable manner — financially, environmentally, and socially" and offer recipient countries and communities "a positive vision and a sustainable, transparent source of financing to meet their infrastructure needs," a statement said.
"This is not about making countries choose between us and China; this is about offering an affirmative, alternative vision and approach that they would want to choose," the official said.
It contrasts "sharply with the way some other countries are handling infrastructure efforts," he said.
The official accused Beijing of lacking transparency, poor environmental and labour standards and an approach that left many countries worse off in the end.
Writing for Business Insider, Rep Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) revealed that fellow Arizona House member Paul Gosar (R) is paying a political price in the House over his defense of the Capitol 6th insurrectionists that could impact him with voters back home.
As the Democrat from Arizona recalled, "Rep. Gosar had challenged the certification of Arizona's electoral votes during a joint session of Congress, receiving a standing ovation of nearly 30 seconds from his House and Senate Republican colleagues for his efforts. That morning, he led a crowd of Trump supporters in chants of 'Stop the steal' at the now-infamous rally near the Capitol, and tweeted a demand that Biden concede the race, concluding ominously, 'Don't make me come over there.'"
Gosar's words and actions have come back to haunt him when he attempted to attach his name to a bill that will help his constituents and would have been a bragging point when he runs for re-election in 2022.
Writing, "... like all extremists, he should be prepared to accept the consequences of his actions, and now that his colleagues are starting to impose those consequences, he is deflecting and making excuses rather than confronting them honestly," the Democrat said Gosar has already received a taste of how he will be dealt with in the Democratic-majority House.
"This came to a head on May 24, when a panel of the Natural Resources Committee, which I chair, held a hearing on a politically uncontroversial bill called the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. As the name suggests, the bill - sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mike Levin - creates incentives and eliminates barriers to develop clean energy projects on certain federally managed lands. It has been a popular and bipartisan piece of legislation for years," Grijalva wrote. "Rep. Gosar knows the bill would benefit his own constituents tremendously, and he had been its leading Republican cosponsor in previous sessions of Congress. Unfortunately, his name carries negative weight among his Democratic colleagues, and having him play a leadership role in this Congress would hurt the bill's chances of passage. As a result, Rep. Levin informed Rep. Gosar in mid-May that he could not serve as lead cosponsor of the bill this year and made it clear that this was a consequence of his role in the insurrection."
The Democratic lawmaker wrote that an unhappy Gosar created his own bill, issued a press release about it, and then watched it be summarily dismissed with mention by the panel.
Grijalva then used what happened to Gosar to serve as a warning to other Republicans who are trying to whitewash the Jan 6th riot, writing, "
"It's time for him - and his like-minded colleagues who are similarly avoiding responsibility - to start telling the truth, not least of all to themselves. Their actions are unpopular, and with Democrats in the majority in Congress, there will continue to be consequences<" he advised.
You can read more here.
According to a report from Insider, Donald Trump's bumbling mismanagement on the financing of his Scottish golf courses likely cost the former president $40 million due to how he took out his loans.
While there have already been reports that the Trump's golf resort properties have been money-losers for the Trump family, the new report states that he is taking an all-together different financial hit.
Insider reports that Trump properties Turnberry near Glasgow and Trump Golf Links International in Aberdeenshire are "dependent on loans from Trump and US-owned entities to stay afloat," and that some of those loans are problematic due to currency fluctuations.
"Turnberry's parent company Golf Recreation Scotland owes Trump, through various US-registered entities, a total of £113,425,000 (around $160,000,000), according to UK Companies House accounts filed in December." the report states. "Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, which owns his Aberdeenshire course, owes Trump £44,400,049, also issued in the form of interest-free loans, according to Companies House accounts."
"The problem is that Trump appears to have created those loans in British pound sterling — as evidenced by the fact they are all displayed as sterling loans on Companies House," Insider's Thomas Colson reported, adding, "Unfortunately for Trump, the British pound has declined significantly in value against the dollar in the period since Trump started issuing loans to his golf courses."
Due to the decline in value of the British pound, Trump's loans, when repaid, " ...to Trump in his native dollar currency, they are going to be worth considerably less than when he issued them."
According to Stephen Clapham, an investment analyst and founder of financial website Behind the Balance Sheet, Trump has been taking a major hit dating back to last year.
"The pound was worth $1.27 made those calculations, and it has since risen to $1.42 (as of June 9), meaning some of those losses will have been mitigated — but the current figure would still represent a loss amounting to tens of millions of dollars," the report continues. "Those losses, said Clapham, appear to have been the result of Trump's failure to 'hedge' the loans he created. In simple terms, hedging is a common business practice that offsets the risk of price movements like a drop in the value of a currency by fixing the repayment rate for a loan when it is created."
According to Clapham, "The most likely explanation is that Trump has made this loan and incurred a significant loss. It's the simplest explanation and probably the most likely."
The report notes that questions about the loans were not answered by Trump Org officials.
You can read more here.
According to a report from Politico, European leaders -- and their aides -- who are meeting with President Joe Biden at the G-7 conference in England are expressing open relief and joy that Donald Trump has been replaced but are also concerned that Trump may return one day due to the volatility of U.S. politics.
As Politico's Anita Kumar wrote, "Biden's predecessor spent four years disparaging world leaders — in public and on Twitter— accusing their countries of freeloading off the United States. He pulled out of international agreements, refused to sign others and scoffed at the trans-Atlantic alliances that served as a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy in the post-WWII era," before adding, "So many leaders at the latest G-7 meeting, including those from Germany, France and Canada, seemed simply eager to move past Trump this week; so much so that they greeted Biden like an old friend even when he wasn't."
Case in point, upon her arrival on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a not-too-subtle jab at Trump, telling reporters, "Being able to meet Joe Biden is obviously important because he stands for the commitment to multilateralism, which we were missing in recent years."
With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, considered to closer to Trump than the other, calling Biden "a breath of fresh air," one U.S. diplomat explained that the sense of relief is palpable.
"There's no way of describing our friends' relief at the change of administration. And not just because it isn't Donald Trump anymore," admitted Stephen Sestanovich, a former National Security Council advisor. "It's that the alliance has a backlog of real problems to address. The Biden administration wants to talk about how to develop cooperative responses to them in a way that the Trump administration couldn't ever be serious about."
However, there is some unease among European leaders about political instability in the U.S. where attempts are being made to not only overturn the 2020 presidential election but also create doubt about future elections.
Explaining the underlying worries, Alexander Vershbow, former deputy secretary of NATO remarked, "The allies do have lingering doubts about the forces that produced Trump's election in 2016 and are wondering whether those forces are gone for good, or that possibility that the US could shift back to a more contentious, more transactional approach to NATO in 2022, or 20 2024. I think this concern is real that, you know, the Trumpian trend tendencies in the U.S. could return full bore. And in the midterms, or in the next presidential election."
You can read more here.
Turns out the comic books were wrong.
Japanese researchers found mouse sperm exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation for nearly six years produced a large brood of healthy, unremarkable "space pups."
Their study was published Friday in Science Advances -- which noted no signs so far of Mousezillas or rodent Hulks.
The sperm was stored in the International Space Station in freeze-dried form. Once brought back to Earth and rehydrated, it resulted in the birth of 168 young, free of genetic defects.
Developmental biologist and lead author Teruhiko Wakayama told AFP on Thursday that there was little difference between mice fertilized by space sperm and sperm that had remained confined to our planet.
"All pups had normal appearance," he said, and when researchers examined their genes "no abnormalities were found."
In 2013, Wakayama and colleagues at the University of Yamanashi in Japan launched three boxes, each containing 48 ampoules of freeze-dried sperm, to the ISS for the long-term study.
They wanted to determine whether long term exposure to radiation in space would damage DNA in reproductive cells or pass mutations along to offspring.
That could be a problem for our own species in future space exploration and colonization missions.
Batches were returned to Earth for fertilization after the first nine months, then after two years, and finally after six years, leading to hundreds of births.
Freeze-dried sperm was selected for the experiment because it can be preserved at room temperature, rather than needing a freezer.
The ampoules were also small and very light, about the size of a small pencil, further cutting launch costs.
When the space mice reached adulthood, they were randomly mated and the next generation appeared normal as well.Space colonies
Wakayama, now director for Advanced Biotechnology Center at the University of Yamanashi, told AFP he had been inspired by the science fiction of Heinlein and Asimov and once wanted to be an astronaut.
Though he settled on becoming a scientist, the sense of wonder and whimsy about space exploration never left him.
"In the future, when the time comes to migrate to other planets, we will need to mantain the diversity of genetic resources, not only for humans but also for pets and domestic animals," Wakayama and colleagues wrote in their paper.
"For cost and safety reasons, it is likely that stored germ cells will be transported by spaceships rather than by living animals."
Getting to other planets means leaving the safety of Earth's protective atmosphere and magnetic field -- which also extends to the ISS, 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the surface.
Deep space is filled with strong radiation from both solar particles and galactic cosmic rays from outside our system.
Solar flares from the surface of the Sun generate particles that can have particularly devastating impacts on human health and penetrate current generation spaceships.
According to Wakayama, the process of freeze drying sperm increases its tolerance compared to fresh sperm, since the former does not contain water inside its cell nuclei and cytoplasms.
According to the team's calculations, freeze-dried sperm could be stored for up to 200 years on board the orbital outpost.
Humanity might also want to spread its genetic resources off planet in case of a disaster on Earth, the paper added.
The study noted it is still necessary to investigate the effects of space radiation on frozen female eggs and fertilized embryos before humans take this next step into the space age.
By Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Pentagon announced on Friday a new package of $150 million in military assistance for Ukraine that will include counter-artillery radar, electronic warfare equipment and counter-drone technology, bolstering Kyiv amid elevated tensions with Moscow.
Although the funds were already committed by Congress, the Defense Department's announcement details how the U.S. military will allocate assistance earmarked for Ukraine before the end of the U.S. government's fiscal year in September.
The latest tranche of assistance will come in addition to the $125 million that the Pentagon announced on March 1 https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2519445/defense-department-announces-125m-for-ukraine/#:~:text=The%20Department%20of%20Defense%20announces,and%20improve%20interoperability%20with%20NATO, which included armed Mark VI patrol boats.
Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine which triggered a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people.
Tensions have flared again in recent months after the two countries traded blame for a surge in fighting in Ukraine's Donbass, and Russia, in what it called a defensive exercise, massed troops on its border with Ukraine and in Crimea.
U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday he will stand up for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.
The Pentagon said the U.S. security assistance included capabilities "to enhance the lethality, command and control and situational awareness of Ukraine's forces".
It would provide counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications gear, electronic warfare and military medical evacuation equipment.
Ukraine's defense minister, Andrii Taran, said in a statement on Saturday the decision to provide the second part of the security package was "timely and reasonable".
The country has received almost $2.5 billion in defense assistance from Washington between 2014 and 2021, Taran added, expressing gratitude "to our American friends for their enormous diplomatic, political and financial support".
The U.S. assistance followed certification by the Pentagon that Ukraine "made sufficient progress on defense reforms this year," as required by U.S. law.
During his term as U.S. president, Donald Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives after it accused him of using U.S. aid as leverage to try to force Kyiv into smearing Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The Republican-led Senate later acquitted Trump.
(Reporting by Phil StewartAdditional reporting by Natalia Zinets in KyivEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Helen Popper)
By Michel Rose and Elizabeth Piper
CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) - The European Union told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday that he must implement the Brexit deal that he signed to ensure the delicate peace in Northern Ireland and that the 27-member bloc was completely unified on that position.
The United States has expressed grave concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit divorce treaty could undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace deal that ended three decades of violence.
After the United Kingdom exited the bloc's orbit on Jan. 1, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the deal and his top negotiator has said the protocol is unsustainable.
"The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount," Ursula von der Leyen said after a meeting with Johnson and European Council President Charles Michel. "Both sides must implement what we agreed on."
"There is complete EU unity on this," she said, adding that the deal had been agreed, signed and ratified by both Johnson's government and the EU.
The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the "Troubles" - three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Though Brexit was not part of the formal agenda for the Group of Seven summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, it was raised in meetings between Johnson and EU leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered to reset relations with Britain as long as Johnson stands by the Brexit deal.. Johnson also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Brexit has strained the situation in Northern Ireland: The EU wants to protect its markets but an effective border in the Irish Sea created by the Northern Ireland Protocol cuts off the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The protocol aims to keep the province, which borders EU member Ireland, in both the United Kingdom's customs territory and the EU's single market.
London says the protocol is unsustainable in its current form because of the disruption it has caused to supplies of everyday goods to Northern Ireland.
The pro-British "unionist" community in Northern Ireland province say they are now split off from the rest of the United Kingdom and that the Brexit deal that Johnson signed therefore breaches the 1998 peace deal. But the open border between the province and Ireland was a key principle of Good Friday deal.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has made clear that any steps that imperilled the 1998 peace agreement would not be welcomed by Washington.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Frances Kerry)
French President Emmanuel Macron called on London to stand by its promises to Europe and respect treaties with the EU, in a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace.
Macron wants to reset Franco-British relations, he said in the meeting on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Cornwall in south-western England.
Macron's comments come weeks after a fishing dispute between London and Paris escalated off the Channel Island of Jersey, which is a British crown dependency but not part of the United Kingdom.
While tensions have ebbed since then, disagreements remain between Britain and the European Union over Northern Ireland, with neither side satisfied with the implementation of trade arrangements in Northern Ireland since Britain's departure from the bloc.
Brussels complains London is yet to put in place a number of checks on goods agreed by both sides as part of Britain's withdrawal from the EU, while London accuses the bloc of inflexibility as it grapples with a major transition.
In his talks with Johnson, Macron emphasized that France and Britain shared a vision and interests on important global issues, and also take a united approach to issues such as arms control.
The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. The EU is also joining the meetings, which are due to continue through to Sunday.
By Marcelo Rochabrun and Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) -Peru's presidential election front-runner Pedro Castillo was poised for victory on Friday night, despite legal wrangles over the ultra-close vote count that had ignited tensions in the Andean nation.
"We call on the Peruvian people to stay alert," Castillo told supporters in the middle of last-minute legal disputes over the tight vote count.
According to local media, electoral authorities had considered changing rules to allow right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori to challenge the validity of some 200,000 votes but ultimately declined to make the changes in the afternoon, following intense pressure from Castillo's camp.
Castillo is ahead of Fujimori by 60,000 votes with 99.6% of votes counted.
Castillo, an elementary school teacher who has fired up support from poorer, rural Peruvians, had raised concerns about plans by the opposition to nullify votes in underserved areas where he had majority support and sought clarity from the electoral body over the process.
The comments underscored rising tensions in the copper-rich nation that has been on tenterhooks since the Sunday vote. Castillo has 50.2% of the ballots, narrowly ahead of Fujimori, who has made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Peru's electoral jury has not commented during the day on the media reports that said it was considering changing the rules.
Vladimir Cerron, head of Castillo's Free Peru party, was even more strident, saying on Twitter that "the people must rise up" in defense of the vote. He had earlier claimed victory for Castillo in the knife-edge election.
The country's electoral authority has yet to confirm a winner, but most observers and some regional leftist leaders, including from Argentina and Bolivia, have congratulated Castillo as the victor, prompting protests from Peru's government.
"Several presidents in the world are congratulating the victory of Pedro Castillo, in other words, he has solid international legitimacy," Cerron wrote.
A DIVIDED PERU
Fujimori has yet to concede the election and her supporters have called for protests against the result.
The daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, she has doubled down on unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, and members of her party have said they will not concede until all votes and appeals are counted, which could still take days.
Castillo himself has also stopped short of proclaiming himself the winner.
The election has bitterly divided Peruvians among class lines, with higher-income citizens supporting Fujimori while many low-income Peruvians supported Castillo, including in key mining regions of the country, the world's no. 2 copper producer.
Castillo was not a member of the Free Peru party before his presidency run. It is still unclear whether he would adopt its far-leftist stance for the economy if in power.
In recent days, he has recruited Pedro Francke, a moderate left economist as his adviser.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Marco AquinoEditing by Alistair Bell and Aurora Ellis)
They say Brazil is polarized under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, but the divide was literal Friday, when he boarded a commercial plane to greet supporters in the front -- as opponents booed him at the top of their lungs from the back.
Visiting the southeastern state of Espirito Santo to inaugurate a public works project, Bolsonaro took a moment at the airport to briefly enter a departing plane and say hello.
It was all smiles in the roomier, more-expensive front of the plane, as seen in a video he posted on Twitter of himself snapping selfies with passengers and crew.
But videos from the back of coach posted on social media show a riotous scene as passengers waved the middle finger and hurled protest slogans at the president, including "Get out, Bolsonaro!" and "Genocidal maniac!"
That is a reference to the president's widely questioned handling of Covid-19, which has claimed more than 480,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States.
Responding to the boos, Bolsonaro removed his face mask to joke, "Those people saying 'Get out, Bolsonaro' should be traveling by donkey."
Brazilian media reports said he had also removed his mask in the airport, in violation of regulations in place to contain the pandemic.
The president's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bolsonaro has frequently criticized face masks, lockdowns and vaccines to fight the pandemic, instead touting the medication chloroquine despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.
The plane episode turned into a top trending topic on Twitter in Brazil, under the tag "ForaBolsonaro" (Get out, Bolsonaro).
The president's disapproval rating has risen sharply along with the death toll from Covid-19, and opponents are increasingly ready to take to the streets in protest despite the pandemic.
They have called for new demonstrations Sunday, on the opening day of the Copa America, the South American football championships.
Bolsonaro controversially defied warnings from epidemiologists to bring the tournament to Brazil when original hosts Argentina and Colombia fell through because of surging Covid-19 caseloads and social unrest.
Just five days in to the first cruise in the Caribbean in seven months, two passengers aboard the Celebrity Millennium ship tested positive for COVID-19. Like almost all passengers aboard, the cabin-mates were vaccinated and reportedly asymptomatic. Millennium passenger Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, said the captain’s public announcement about the cases was received calmly, without the panic of the early pandemic days. The ship left from St. Maarten on June 5 for a seven-night cruise visiting Aruba, Curacao and Barbados, carrying around 600 passengers and 700 crew members...
After meeting President Biden for the first time ahead of the G7 Summit, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.S. President is a "breath of fresh air" while speaking to reporters.
"It's new, it's interesting and we're working very hard together. We went on for about an hour and 20 or so. It was a long, long, good session. We covered a huge range of subjects," Johnson said, according to reports.
"It's wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and to Joe Biden, because there's so much they want to do together with us, from security, NATO, to climate change." he added.
Boris Johnson has described Joe Biden as a 'breath of fresh air' after meeting on Thursday. CNN's International Di… https://t.co/fC7jTpBANz— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) 1623389678.0
The comments caught some off guard, since Johnson was known to be an ally of former President Donald Trump.
@AnaCabrera This is a slap on the face of the former guy 🤣🤣— Marianablack18 (@mausefalle18564) 1623422988.0
https://t.co/7n70xP544A https://t.co/0fuXFlRLAr— Pumpkin Spice Anarchist Jurisdiction (@Viror12) 1623362414.0
Even Boris is happy that trump is gone, lol https://t.co/4StqEXIW7J— ColoradoMom (@kaitynjojomom) 1623425108.0
So nice to see America not being a laughing stock anymore. https://t.co/HcxUiPtK24— Shupette (@Shupette) 1623424571.0
Bet Boris is glad a certain puce fathead is no longer on twitter. https://t.co/6C49pA4uHC— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) 1623366440.0
@AnaCabrera I can hear the screaming all the way from Florida. https://t.co/MIkvGLLZYi— em is back in town (@emisbackintown7) 1623424988.0
Translation: I’m so happy not to deal with the stable genius anymore. https://t.co/uS0EdF2O8t— Doug Heye (@DougHeye) 1623423222.0
Europe's new top graft fighting body will probe the "powerful", "rich" and "dangerous", its head warned Friday on her first visit to an EU member since taking up her post.
The Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), headed by Laura Codruta Kovesi, a former Romanian anti-corruption chief, started work this month.
The independent outfit has the job of cracking down on fraudulent use of EU funds and fight cross-border VAT fraud, money laundering, and corruption.
"We will investigate all those who commit crimes that fall under our jurisdiction. Because we have to prove that the law is equal for everybody," Kovesi told reporters in the Bulgarian capi