Canada Prepares for a New Wave of Refugees as Haitians Flee Trump’s America

Near the town of Lacolle, Quebec, just across the border in upstate New York, a cluster of blue-trimmed beige trailers has just arrived to provide temporary shelter for the unending wave of refugees, many of them from Haiti, who walk up on foot from Trump’s America. Inside the new heated trailers are beds and showers, ready to warm up frozen hands and feet, while processing and security checks take place.

Last winter, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, there was a sharp increase in “irregular border crossings” all across the Canada-U.S. border: people sidestepping official ports of entry and trying to reach safety by walking through the woods, across clearings, or over ditches. Since January 2017, Canadian authorities intercepted nearly 17,000 migrants from the U.S. (and others crossed without detection). The applications for asylum begin once migrants are safely in Canada, rather than at border crossings, where they would likely be turned back under a controversial cross-border agreement between the two countries.

The risks of the irregular crossings are especially great in winter, and this one looks to be a cold one. Last year, during the coldest months, there were wrenching reports of frostbitten toes and fingers having to be amputated on arrival in Canada. Two men from Ghana lost all their fingers after they walked across to Manitoba — one told reporters he felt lucky that he had managed to keep one of his thumbs.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in North America


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The End of the End of History

Sometimes we in the West forget that our view of the world is just one among many that are possible. And that neither our understanding of human rights nor our adherence to liberal democracy are attractive across the globe. Is the Western way of life morally superior? And even if it were, is it the most constructive or effective way of organizing human societies?

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in European Union


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Così l’eroe Robert Mugabe è diventato un tiranno

All’inizio del 1980, a Kutama, una modesta periferia di quella che si chiamava ancora Rhodesia e sarebbe divenuta tre mesi più tardi lo Zimbabwe indipendente, un missionario gesuita europeo mi disse con un ampio sorriso: “Abbiamo fatto un buon lavoro, no?”. Parlava di uno dei suoi ex allievi della scuola della sua missione, nella fertile campagna dell’Africa australe: Robert Mugabe.

Per tutti gli osservatori della fine della guerra d’indipendenza della ex Rhodesia – un conflitto brutale, costellato di massacri e di odio a lungo covato – Robert Mugabe, il più radicale dei capi della guerriglia, appariva paradossalmente come la persona più adeguata per far uscire il paese dalla spirale della violenza.

Invece è diventato l’implacabile dittatore di questo stesso paese per 37 anni, l’uomo che ha affossato tutte le speranza riposte in lui, attaccato al potere fino a quasi cento anni, nonostante sia stato disconosciuto dal suo esercito, dal suo partito e dal suo popolo. Questa trasformazione da eroe in diavolo rimane uno dei grandi misteri dei rapporti tra gli esseri umani e il potere.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Africa



Too right it’s Black Friday: our relentless consumption is trashing the planet

Everyone wants everything – how is that going to work? The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us. Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption. The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Economy


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Il fantasma di Ratko Mladić nell’Europa di oggi

Aprile 1992. Colline intorno a Sarajevo, Bosnia Erzegovina. Registrazione radio-telefono:

“Qui generale Mladić”.
“Non avere paura. Come ti chiami?”.
“Vukasinović, ascoltami. Bombarda la presidenza e il parlamento. Spara a intervalli lenti fino a che non ti dirò di smettere”.
“Colpisci i quartieri musulmani, lì non vivono molti serbi”.
“Va bene”.
“Non devono dormire. Bombardali fino a farli impazzire”.

Sono i primi giorni della guerra in Bosnia e Ratko Mladić, comandante militare dei serbo-bosniaci, ordina al colonnello Vukasinović di sparare a tappeto su una capitale europea, Sarajevo. È l’inizio dell’assedio più lungo nella storia contemporanea: finirà solo nel febbraio del 1996, dopo 44 mesi. Almeno undicimila persone moriranno, più della metà civili. I feriti saranno più di cinquantamila.

Il 22 novembre 2017 il Tribunale penale internazionale per la ex Jugoslavia ha condannato il generale Ratko Mladić, all’ergastolo. Dopo un processo durato cinque anni, lo ha riconosciuto colpevole di dieci capi di imputazione su undici, tra cui di crimini di guerra, crimini contro l’umanità e genocidio. Per capire l’importanza di questa sentenza bisogna ricostruire il progetto nazionalista ideato dal presidente serbo Slobodan Milošević e trasformato in una guerra di sterminio nel cuore dell’Europa dal serbo-bosniaco Mladić.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe


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Ratko Mladić will die in jail. But go to Bosnia: you’ll see that he won

General Ratko Mladić, the most bloodthirsty warlord to strut European soil since the Third Reich, will die in jail. Any other outcome after today’s verdict in The Hague would have been preposterous.

The mothers of the more than 8,000 men and boys mass-murdered in Srebrenica, over five days in the summer of 1995, have every reason to welcome the sentence of life imprisonment, and Mladić’s conviction for genocide: the only judicial standard by which that crime can be rightly measured.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe, European Union


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How Zimbabwe Freed Itself From Robert Mugabe

Thirty-seven years after he brought independence to the last outpost of the British Empire in Africa, Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is no more. Mugabe’s resignation, announced in Harare on Tuesday, ushers in a new era for his country, and his continent. At ninety-three, Mugabe was the last of Africa’s generation of modern founding Presidents. His resignation came after a tumultuous eight days in which the Zimbabwean Army intervened in the political process for the first time in the country’s history, thousands of Zimbabweans marched and danced in delirium in the streets, and Mugabe addressed the nation to resign, only to pull back in a final act of spectacular brinkmanship, before resigning when Parliament threatened him with the ignominy of impeachment.

For the many Zimbabweans under the age of thirty-seven, the end of the brutal Mugabe era is a vista-shifting, imagination-opening opportunity. More cautious voices from civil society and opposition parties caution against both euphoria and complacency: Mugabe, they warn, may be gone, but his ZANU-P.F. party, so closely associated with both his failures and cruel excesses, remains in power.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Africa



US foreign policy in the Middle East doesn’t exist anymore

Time was when a mere statement from a secretary of state – let alone a US president – would have the phones jangling across the Middle East. The Reagans, Clintons, Bushes or Obamas of this world actually did have an effect on the region, albeit often malign, US leaders being poorly briefed and always in awe of Israel (not to mention its power to destroy political lives in Washington). But today, who is calling the shots across the old Ottoman Empire?

Well, just take a look at Putin and Assad and Erdogan and Sissi and Macron and Rouhani. These are the men who are currently holding the headlines, either declaring Isis dead or beaten or Syria “saved” or the Kurds “terrorists” or rescuing Prime Minister Saad Hariri from his hostage home in Saudi Arabia – although now we’ve all got to believe that he wasn’t detained and didn’t really intend to resign or did resign but doesn’t want to resign any more. And rather oddly, Mohamed bin Salman looks less and less influential, a Gulf Crown Prince whose attempts to destroy Yemen, Assad’s Syria, Qatar and Al Jazeera and even poor Lebanon look more and more like a child in a tantrum, throwing his toys around in an attempt to frighten the neighbours – including the one neighbour he will not fight, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Europe, Middle East, North America


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How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads

Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani will hold a summit this Wednesday in Sochi to discuss Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the three power players at the Astana negotiations — where multiple cease-fires, as hard to implement as they are, at least evolve, slowly but surely, towards the ultimate target — a political settlement.

A stable Syria is crucial to all parties involved in Eurasia integration. As Asia Times reported, China has made it clear that a pacified Syria will eventually become a hub of the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — building on the previous business bonanza of legions of small traders commuting between Yiwu and the Levant.

Away from intractable war and peace issues, it’s even more enlightening to observe how Turkey, Iran and Russia are playing their overlapping versions of Eurasia economic integration and/or BRI-related business.

Much has to do with the energy/transportation connectivity between railway networks — and, further on the down the road, high-speed rail — and what I have described, since the early 2000s, as Pipelineistan.

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Asia, Economy, Europe, Middle East


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Le verità su Gaza che Israele non vuole vedere

L’intervista allo psicologo israeliano Mohammed Mansour è uno dei documenti più sconvolgenti, spaventosi e deprimenti che siano stati recentemente pubblicati da Haaretz.

Se Israele fosse una società con un’etica, e non nazionalista e vittima di un lavaggio del cervello, starebbe tremando fino alle sue fondamenta. Le parole di Mansour avrebbero dovuto essere l’argomento del giorno, la bufera del giorno. Una catastrofe umanitaria si sta svolgendo ad appena un’ora da noi. Un disastro umanitario: un orrore le cui responsabilità ricadono in buona parte su Israele, un paese che invece è tutto occupato dalle accuse di violenza sessuale nei confronti del capo di un gruppo editoriale televisivo, Alex Gilady.

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East