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Trump’s racism may be blatant but the culture he defends encompasses far more than racial division

President Trump is making plain the degree to which the country remains divided by the American Civil War. His threat to veto the $718bn Defence Bill if it renames military bases called after Confederate generals harks back to 1861. His stand highlights the bizarre way that the US military has named its biggest bases, like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas, after Confederate generals like Braxton Bragg and John Hood who fought a war to destroy the US.

Critics suggest derisively that this tradition of naming military installations after defeated enemies should mean that future bases will include at least one named after Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, and another after AbuBakr al-Baghdadi,the leader of Isis, both killed by US soldiers.

The fury generated by the dispute over the renaming of the bases and the removal of the statues of Confederate commanders underlines the contemporary relevance of the outcome of the civil war. A tweet by Trump gives a clue as to why this should be the case a century and a half after the Confederate surrender. “It was sad,” Trump wrote, “to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-civil-war-racism-black-rights-guns-abortion-evangelical-a9599936.html

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in North America

 

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Let’s Stop Putting the Worst Americans on a Pedestal

So many monuments to racism, slavery, and colonialism have been toppled, removed, or slated for removal in the wake of the George Floyd protests that Wikipedia’s army of volunteer editors is keeping a running tally: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and a slew of other Confederate generals and notable white supremacists and segregationists; Frank Rizzo, the notoriously racist mayor (“Vote white”) of Philadelphia; even symbolic figures like the Pioneer and Pioneer Mother, formerly of the University of Oregon in Eugene. As I write, word comes that the embarrassing statue of Theodore Roosevelt mounted on a horse and trailed by a Native American man and a black man on foot will be removed from the main entrance of New York’s Museum of Natural History.

Yesterday’s heroes are history’s villains. That nice Pope Francis thought so well of Father Junípero Serra that he canonized him in 2015, despite Native Americans’ objections to Serra’s harsh and coercive missionary work. He’s now the patron saint of California. But protesters in San Francisco and Los Angeles recently tore down his statue. As for Christopher Columbus—​19 statues and counting—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended his presence in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. (It “has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” he said at a press conference.) But I wouldn’t bet on Chris keeping his pedestal much longer. Maybe Italian Americans could choose another compatriot, someone who brought joy to the world and didn’t massacre and enslave vast numbers of people. Like Verdi or Puccini.

https://www.thenation.com/article/society/statues-slavery-confederate/

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in North America

 

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The US military’s plans to cement its network of African bases – The Mail & Guardian

Internal documents from the US military’s Africa Command (Africom) reveal ambitious plans to extend and reinforce a network of low-profile military bases and outposts across the continent. The files detail more than $330-million of spending, including a list of “prioritised” military construction projects planned to be carried out from 2021 to 2025. This is designated for infrastructure investments on US bases stretching across Africa. The files also suggest that Africom’s long-term planning extends for up to 20 years.  

The formerly secret documents, issued  in October 2018, detail 12 construction projects planned for four US outposts in three countries — Djibouti, Kenya and Niger — that have long been integral to US counterterrorism and counter-violent extremist missions in Africa, suggesting these efforts will continue in the years ahead. 

Africom spokesperson John Manley told the Mail & Guardian through email that the projects detailed in the plans “continue on course and are in various stages of planning and/or execution”.

“The plans, whether they materialise or not, seem to indicate that the Pentagon is interested in expanding its infrastructure in Africa, for drone ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and drone warfare, as well as training camps and lily-pad bases for increasing the US capacity to project force in key regions, the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Sahel,” said Salih Booker, the president and chief executive of the Center for International Policy in Washington DC. 

https://mg.co.za/article/2020-05-01-exclusive-the-us-militarys-plans-to-cement-its-network-of-african-bases/

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in Africa, North America, Reportages

 

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France is still in denial about racism and police brutality

“George Floyd and my little brother died in exactly the same way.” These are the words of Assa Traore, whose brother, Adama, died in the custody of French police in a Paris suburb in July 2016.

Traore, a 24-year-old Black Frenchman, was apprehended by three gendarmes following a dispute over an identity check. He lost consciousness in their vehicle and died at a nearby police station. He was still handcuffed when paramedics arrived. One of the three arresting officers told investigators that Adama had been pinned down with their combined body weight after his arrest. 

Ever since his untimely death, Traore’s grieving family has been fighting for justice. They launched petitions, organised protests, and commissioned private autopsies to discover what caused a perfectly healthy young man to suddenly stop breathing a few hours after being arrested over a trivial matter. Despite their efforts, however, they did not get any satisfactory answers from the authorities. Last month, French medical experts exonerated the three police officers once again, dismissing a medical report commissioned by the young man’s family that said he had died of asphyxiation. None of the arresting officers ever faced any charges over his death. They are still employed by the same police force. Some members of their brigade even received commendations for the role they played in suppressing the protests that followed Traore’s death.  

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/france-denial-racism-police-brutality-200609133104476.html

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in European Union, North America

 

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Young Asians and Latinos push their parents to acknowledge racism amid protests

“Chinese culture is very much about working within the system,” Glenn, 54, said, and during decades in law enforcement, he’d come to believe the system worked.

His son, Charlie, 24, took a different view. “My father deeply believes that everyone has a fair chance, which is just basically untrue,” said Charlie, an artist who fled New York for his family’s home in Northern Virginia because of the pandemic. “It’s very Asian to me, that view that if everyone just works hard, then everything will turn out right for them. I’m definitely a little reactive to that because I think that’s delusional.”

That June morning, amid the yelling and tears, Glenn threatened to walk out when it became clear that Charlie and Henry, 22, planned to defy the city’s 7 p.m. curfew. In the end, however, he drove downtown to bring his sons safely home, and the argument over the protests, police brutality and systemic racism has since softened into an extended conversation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/young-asians-and-latinos-push-their-parents-to-acknowledge-racism-amid-protests/2020/06/21/97daa5f2-b193-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html?itid=ap_sydneytrent

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in North America

 

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The Irish Times view on Trump’s troubles: stumbling into election season

A day never passes when the worst president in US history does not again pile egregiousness upon egregiousness. And there is little relief at hand, except the all-too-distant prospect of an election at year-end. We have gone long past the idea that Donald Trump can get no worse. And did we mention the US death toll at 120,000 and the daily infections at one-fifth of new cases worldwide?

What does President Trump do? Repeatedly insisting his pandemic management is exemplary, he opens his re-election campaign with what doctors warn is likely to be a super-spreader rally in Tulsa.

Despite his claim that a million want to show up, most supporters showed sufficient sense to stay away – to the president’s fury, a bare-looking 6,200 gather in the 19,000-seater stadium. To date eight Tulsa staffers have tested positive for coronavirus.

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/the-irish-times-view-on-trump-s-troubles-stumbling-into-election-season-1.4286726

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in North America

 

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Why are American kids treated as a different species from adults?

At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, kids clamber over one another in an enormous anthill maze. Carpeted, encaged in wire mesh, consisting of layers of looping and overlapping low tunnels, the Limb Bender, as it is called, spans a storey and a half, and usually contains anywhere from two to four wailing toddlers stuck in its dead centre. Eventually, while a crowd of parents politely holds back snickers, the mom or dad of one of the stuck babes valiantly begins belly-crawling his or her way upward, hissing with as much mustered sweetness as possible: ‘Come down, Callie.’

In his book The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings (2008), the anthropologist David Lancy introduced the idea of the neontocracy: a type of society, unique to WEIRD countries (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic), in which children are the most valued members. In a neontocracy, the bathtub fills up with toy ducks, the living room is slowly smothered in gadgets, and there is no upper limit on the amount of time and energy adults must pour into the project of childhood.

Further inside the Children’s Museum, kids climb into huge, clear-plastic wind tunnels, shrieking as their hair stands on end. They scramble up rope nets; roll magnets along magnetised slopes; spin a deep-backed wheel filled with copper sand; creep into a completely black room roiled by simulated thunder, chucking handfuls of glass beads onto tables to evoke the sound of rain. If they get bored with that, upstairs there’s a jacuzzi-sized tub of blue pebbles to scoop into windmills and, on the third floor, a waterplay area where they can float boats down channels or carve ice with blunt plastic knives.

When my husband Jorge and I first moved to Pittsburgh, I loved the Children’s Museum. There was nothing like it in Oaxaca, the city in southwestern Mexico where we lived when our daughter, Elena, was between the ages of one and two. I was amazed that I could take Elena there for a whole afternoon and relax as she fiddled with light sticks or sorted rocks into holes. It was like taking my hands off the steering wheel, being able to sit back and zone out as she explored, with the added bonus that all the sensory play and stimulation and exposure to other kids had to be good for her development, right? It felt like a healthy granola bar, sweet and indulgent and still promising flaxseed and fibre.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-are-american-kids-treated-as-a-different-species-from-adults

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in North America, Reportages

 

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How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage

Under the shade of a mulberry tree, near grave sites dotted with Taliban flags, a top insurgent military leader in eastern Afghanistan acknowledged that the group had suffered devastating losses from American strikes and government operations over the past decade.

But those losses have changed little on the ground: The Taliban keep replacing their dead and wounded and delivering brutal violence.

“We see this fight as worship,” said Mawlawi Mohammed Qais, the head of the Taliban’s military commission in Laghman Province, as dozens of his fighters waited nearby on a hillside. “So if a brother is killed, the second brother won’t disappoint God’s wish — he’ll step into the brother’s shoes.”

It was March, and the Taliban had just signed a peace deal with the United States that now puts the movement on the brink of realizing its most fervent desire — the complete exit of American troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban have outlasted a superpower through nearly 19 years of grinding war. And dozens of interviews with Taliban officials and fighters in three countries, as well as with Afghan and Western officials, illuminated the melding of old and new approaches and generations that helped them do it.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in Asia, Reportages

 

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What black America means to Europe

In September 1963, in Llansteffan, Wales, a stained-glass artist named John Petts was listening to the radio when he heard the news that four black girls had been murdered in a bombing while at Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

The news moved Petts, who was white and British, deeply. “Naturally, as a father, I was horrified by the death of the children,” said Petts, in a recording archived by London’s Imperial War Museum. “As a craftsman in a meticulous craft, I was horrified by the smashing of all those [stained-glass] windows. And I thought to myself, my word, what can we do about this?”

Petts decided to employ his skills as an artist in an act of solidarity. “An idea doesn’t exist unless you do something about it,” he said. “Thought has no real living meaning unless it’s followed by action of some kind.”

With the help of the editor of Wales’s leading newspaper, the Western Mail, he launched an appeal for funds to replace the Alabama church’s stained-glass window. “I’m going to ask no one to give more than half a crown,” he told Petts. “We don’t want some rich man as a gesture paying for the whole window. We want it to be given by the people of Wales.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/11/what-black-america-means-to-europe-protests-racism-george-floyd

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2020 in Reportages

 

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The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It.

If we’re going to speak of rioting protesters, then we need to speak of rioting police as well. No, they aren’t destroying property. But it is clear from news coverage, as well as countless videos taken by protesters and bystanders, that many officers are using often indiscriminate violence against people — against anyone, including the peaceful majority of demonstrators, who happens to be in the streets.

Rioting police have driven vehicles into crowds, reproducing the assault that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. They have surrounded a car, smashed the windows, tazed the occupants and dragged them out onto the ground. Clad in paramilitary gear, they have attacked elderly bystanders, pepper-sprayed cooperative protesters and shot “nonlethal” rounds directly at reporters, causing serious injuries. In Austin, Texas, a 20-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot in the head with a “less-lethal” round. Across the country, rioting police are using tear gas in quantities that threaten the health and safety of demonstrators, especially in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in North America

 

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