Washington Post - Lori Teresa Yearwood, Journalist of Life on the Edge, Dies at 57

Biden’s efforts to court India challenged by assassination claim

Washington Post

23-09-19 23:58

US President Joe Biden is attempting to balance relations with Canada and India after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. The Canadian investigation alleges that Indian officials may have been involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who advocated for a separate Sikh state. The White House has voiced support for the investigation but has avoided any repudiation of India or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The US is seeking strong relations with both countries as it tries to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Justin Trudeau’s ‘credible allegations’ against India part of another sordid Canadian chapter in a decades-old conflict

The Toronto Star

23-09-19 23:12

The history of tensions between India and Sikhs advocating for a separate homeland is marked by political, religious and geographical divisions. Sikhs advocating for a separate homeland have found support in Canada, Britain, Australia and the United States. Indian authorities have tried to suppress this sentiment, but have been frustrated by a lack of cooperation from other countries, particularly Canada. The recent suggestion by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Indian state may have been behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil has been met with anger and surprise in India. Nijjar was considered a wanted fugitive from justice in India and the head of a listed terror group. Indian authorities have denied involvement in Nijjar's death. Trudeau's accusations place India in a group of countries that have carried out extraterritorial killings, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Israel and the United States. Canada has not provided any evidence to support these allegations, but it is reported that they shared evidence with close allies before going public. The Indian official ordered to leave Canada was the Canadian station chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's foreign intelligence agency. India's Ministry of External Affairs has denied any involvement in Nijjar's death.

Trudeau’s ‘credible allegations’ against India part of another sordid Canadian chapter in a decades-old conflict

The Toronto Star

23-09-19 23:12

The death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh activist from Canada, has sparked tensions between India and Canada. Indian authorities considered Nijjar to be the head of a listed terrorist group and wanted him for involvement in various crimes, including the 2021 murder of a Hindu priest in India. However, in Canada, Nijjar was a free man until his untimely death on June 18. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested that the Indian state may be behind Nijjar’s killing, leading to anger and surprise in India. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has denied any involvement in Nijjar’s death. However, the Indian government’s alleged involvement in an extraterritorial killing would place India alongside countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The Indian intelligence officer expelled from Canada in response to the incident was identified as the Canadian station chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency. The RAW was created in the late 1960s and has focused on Pakistan, as well as Sikh militants, over the years.

Australia raises concerns with India over allegations it sent assassins to kill Sikh leader in Canada


23-09-20 01:51

Australia has expressed concern to India over allegations that Indian-backed agents were involved in a fatal shooting in Canada. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong stated that the suggestion of Indian involvement in a killing on Canadian soil was "concerning". The allegations, made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were rejected by India as "absurd". The diplomatic tension has put Australia in a difficult position as it counts both India and Canada as allies. Experts have suggested that Australia and the US, as members of the Five Eyes alliance, will need to tread carefully in their response.

Democrats think Trump is the opponent they want. They’re wrong, again


23-09-21 15:14

Joe Biden may be benefiting from promoting Donald Trump as the standard-bearer for the Republican Party. By highlighting Trump's positions on issues like abortion, Biden is able to rally support from his own base and strengthen his own candidacy. This strategy has been successful for Democrats in the past, as they have used negative partisanship to boost vulnerable Republican candidates and ultimately defeat them in general elections. However, the article warns that this is a high-stakes gamble, as Trump's surprise win in 2016 caused near-existential despair among Democrats.

MBS says murder of Jamal Khashoggi was a ‘mistake’

The Independent

23-09-21 14:26

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has described the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a "mistake" in an interview with Fox News. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, was killed and dismembered by Saudi government personnel at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. US intelligence officials have blamed bin Salman for ordering the killing, while investigations by US media outlets found that the murder was carried out by Saudi security officials close to the crown prince. President Joe Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a "pariah" over the murder but has instead sought to improve relations with the kingdom.

Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman revisits the death of Salvador Allende

Washington Post

23-09-21 20:30

Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean human rights activist, essayist, novelist and playwright, has written a novel titled The Suicide Museum in which he revisits the events of 1973, including the death of President Salvador Allende. Allende died during a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, who went on to be responsible for the deaths and disappearances of thousands of political opponents. The book is set in the 1990s and tells the story of a fictional novelist who is investigating Allende's death as part of a secret plot to create a museum about suicide and climate change.

What price would India pay if involved in killing a Canadian citizen? Precious little

The Globe and Mail

23-09-21 18:00

It may be difficult for Ottawa to carry out a thorough investigation into the murder of Canadian Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, as it is believed that India may have played a role. The relationship between the two countries is strained, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dismissed the allegations as "absurd." There is unlikely to be a severe response from the Canadian government, as middle powers such as Canada depend on countries like India for trade and economic prosperity. The case of the Two Michaels, Canadians imprisoned by China, shows that there are often no consequences for heinous actions committed by other countries.

Saudi Crown Prince admits that he is ‘ashamed’ of Gulf state’s draconian laws


23-09-21 17:39

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has expressed his shame at the country's draconian laws and claimed he is unable to help a teacher sentenced to death for criticising the leadership on social media. The teacher, Mohammed al-Ghamdi, received the death sentence for posts on Twitter. Bin Salman acknowledged the need to change the ultra-conservative laws but said he cannot interfere with the judicial process. Saudi Arabia has intensified its crackdown on social media critics in recent years, with lengthy jail sentences being handed down for online criticism.

Trump dominates GOP field while campaigning less than foes

Washington Post

23-09-22 09:00

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been holding fewer events than his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. While Trump has led national and state polls for the 2024 Republican nomination, he has skipped several major events in Iowa, including the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition dinner. Trump’s absence has been noted by some voters in the state, although he is still leading in polls there and in South Carolina. Trump’s team attributes his lead to the large crowds he draws and says his schedule will likely accelerate in the coming months. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has held over 120 grassroots events since May, according to a representative, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made over 100 campaign stops.

Michael Bloomberg outlines succession plan for media empire - NYT


23-09-22 12:54

Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Bloomberg LP, has outlined a succession plan for the company, stating that his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, will inherit it and then eventually sell it. Bloomberg made the announcement at a Climate Summit, hosted by the New York Times. He has previously expressed a desire to own a big-name newspaper, but his company has denied interest in acquiring Dow Jones or the Washington Post. Bloomberg LP was founded in 1981 and Bloomberg has since donated millions of dollars towards his campaign to shut down coal plants in the US.

Deion Sanders’ ‘audacious Blackness’ makes him the hero African Americans want right now


23-09-22 12:29

Deion Sanders, the head coach of the University of Colorado football team, is being hailed as an “unapologetic Black man” whose unflinching embrace of his racial identity has struck a chord with Black Americans. Sanders’ team, the Buffaloes, is being celebrated as “Black America’s team” and has attracted a wave of support from Black celebrities and commentators. Sanders’ refusal to “code-switch” or change his demeanor to make White people comfortable, his willingness to confront racism head-on, and his success in a sport dominated by White coaches and owners have made him a hero for many Black Americans. Sanders’ accomplishments challenge stereotypes about Black people, both in the sports world and beyond. His close relationship with his sons, who are star players on his team, has also had a powerful impact, offering a counter-narrative to stereotypes about Black fathers. Sanders’ success as a Black coach may pave the way for more Black coaches at top schools and challenge the dominance of White coaches in college football.

How the Biden White House became a trap for US Democrats


23-09-22 10:00

President Joe Biden's recent speeches have raised concerns about his age and mental acuity. Critics say his whispering and mumbling at the United Nations speech and his rambling during a press conference in Hanoi suggest he is unfit for office. A Wall Street Journal poll found that 73 percent of voters thought Biden was too old to seek a second term. Even the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and the author of an admiring biography of Biden have suggested that he not run again. Steve Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, said that a recent poll indicated that 77 percent of people did not want Biden to run again. Democrats are worried that the 80-year-old president's low approval rating and concerns about his health could lead to former President Donald Trump being re-elected. Biden's approval rating is 39 percent, and Vice President Kamala Harris is even less popular. Biden's campaign promise to only consider black women as his vice president means that if he drops out, another Democratic candidate would have to be nominated. Democrats are now debating scenarios in which Biden dies or becomes incapacitated before the 2024 election. In 1912, Vice President James Sherman died six days before the election and was replaced by Nicholas Butler, but William Taft had already lost the election. If Biden were to drop out before the August convention, Harris would likely be nominated as president.

Do men really think about the Roman Empire all the time? Bizarre TikTok trend explained

The Toronto Star

23-09-22 15:28

A viral TikTok trend has revealed that many men, including politicians, think about the Roman Empire on a regular basis. The trend began with Roman re-enactor Artur Hulu, who asked men to reveal how often they think about the ancient civilization. TikTok videos on the subject have received over 1.3 billion views, with men providing a range of reasons for their fascination, such as the empire's engineering achievements and its influence on modern society. Women have responded with their own videos, suggesting alternative topics that they obsess over, such as historical events and cultural touchstones.

Biden’s Hostage Diplomacy, Explained


23-09-22 14:36

This commentary was originally published in Good Authority on September 20, 2023. Five hostages are coming home. In recent weeks, the Biden administration finalized a complicated deal to recover five U.S. citizens the U.S. government deemed wrongfully detained in Iran. On Monday, after years of imprisonment and high-stakes negotiations, they were finally released. Prisoners Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz were held in Iran’s Evin Prison for more than five years, accused of what the United States considers completely false espionage charges. (As of Monday, the other two prisoners have not been named publicly.) Namazi’s mother and Tahbaz’s wife, whom the Iranian government had previously prohibited from leaving the country, were also on the flight. In exchange for their release, the Biden administration issued a waiver to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues held in restricted accounts in South Korea. These funds have now been transferred to a bank in Qatar, to be disbursed for strictly humanitarian purposes. As part of the deal, the Biden administration has also agreed to grant clemency to five unnamed Iranians imprisoned in the United States and charged with crimes ranging from sanctions violations to theft. (Only two of the released Iranians opted to return to Iran, reportedly.) In the weeks leading up to the swap, Republicans slammed the Biden administration for paying too high a price to bring the prisoners home. The criticism is reminiscent of the partisan backlash to the deal that exchanged Viktor Bout—a convicted Russian arms dealer known as the “merchant of death”—for WNBA star Brittney Griner last year. This deal is the latest example of hostage diplomacy: when countries use their criminal justice systems to hold foreigners hostage. My research on the dynamics of hostage taking can shed light on the context and criticism of this latest prisoner deal. Iranian Hostage Diplomacy Is Nothing New Iran is arguably the progenitor of hostage diplomacy. In 1979, a group of Iranian students laid siege to the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 52 American diplomats and other citizens hostage for 444 days. Failed rescue attempts, intense international negotiations, and partisan scheming in the United States all played a role in the hostages’ eventual return. Since then, successive Iranian regimes have used hostage taking to coerce payments and prisoner swaps from the United States and from U.S. allies. For example, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal also included the release of four prisoners from Iran, including Jason Rezaian, the former Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post. In 2022, Iran released two British-Iranian dual citizens after the U.K. government agreed to settle a £400 million ($522 million) debt dispute going back to the 1970s. The prisoners released this week were detained by Iran long before President Biden entered office. Siamak Namazi—who had held the distinction of being the longest-held American hostage in Iran—had been detained since 2015. Morad Tahbaz was initially part of the 2022 British negotiations, but at the last minute was returned to custody. In other words, prior U.S. administrations had failed to bring these wrongfully detained prisoners home. Hostage Takers Vary in Their Targeting and Demands Hostage diplomacy is a rare but growing problem. While (thankfully) there aren’t enough cases to identify causal patterns, some trends seem to be emerging. In particular, Iranian hostage diplomacy looks quite different from the Russian cases—Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich—that have gained attention over the last two years. For example, Iran—unlike Russia—tends to detain dual nationals. And Iran tends to accuse its hostages of espionage, while Russia has wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizens on a wider range of drug, assault, and espionage charges. Moreover, the deals to resolve Iranian and Russian hostage diplomacy cases differ dramatically: the U.S. has resolved Russian cases with one-for-one prisoner exchanges, while Iran seems to require much broader deals, trading prisoners but also demanding money and other concessions. In this case, the Biden administration claims the prisoner deal isn’t connected to nuclear diplomacy, and nuclear talks with Iran remain stalled. At the same time, the administration has also communicated that nuclear talks cannot advance as long as Iran is wrongfully detaining Americans, so it’s possible this week’s prisoner release may help the two sides move back to the negotiating table. Ultimately, hostage taking is about creating leverage. As my new research and work by others has shown, perpetrators might seek that leverage for many different reasons—and the motives of hostage takers shape whom they target, and what they demand. No Concessions? The controversy around this deal stems not only from the high price tag, but from the perceived violation of a U.S. prohibition on making concessions to hostage takers. Though the United States does not actually have a “no concession” policy, a majority of Americans believe that we do. Policy reports from the New America Foundation and the RAND Corporation, as well as an Obama-era executive order, all presume (incorrectly) that the narrow prohibition on paying ransoms to designated terrorist organizations applies to all international hostage scenarios. This misconception has an impact on public support for hostage recovery. In my ongoing work with Lauren Prather, we find that—perhaps owing to the pervasiveness of the “no concessions” myth—Americans are less supportive of ransom payments than other methods of bringing hostages home. What’s the Price for an American Life? The fact that there’s so much partisanship in the ostensibly bipartisan arena of hostage recovery highlights several concerns about hostage recovery policy. As hostage diplomacy appears to be on the rise, governments must grapple with how to bring their citizens home while curbing future attacks—two imperatives seemingly at odds. What’s important for understanding this policy debate? First, concessions work. Hostage taking is conditional violence; when the hostage takers’ demands are satisfied, the hostage is almost always released. Around the world and across various forms of hostage-taking violence, the vast majority of hostages are released once their captors’ demands have been met. Second, concessions give our adversaries things they want. It’s perhaps obvious that policymakers oppose giving our adversaries anything that will make them stronger. It is less obvious how to think about returning to our adversaries people and money that were originally theirs. Across the Biden administration’s 35 hostage recoveries to date, concessions have aligned within this latter category. In the Iran case, the U.S. government also used its sanctions leverage over Iranian funds to secure the Americans’ release. In contrast, traditional ransom payments require targets to provide their own money to the hostage taker. Third, we simply don’t know whether concessions incentivize future hostage taking. While existing research suggests that concessions may correlate with increased kidnapping by transnational terrorist groups, we don’t yet know whether government hostage takers behave the same way. On the flip side, we know that refusing to consider concessions has never stopped hostage taking. So while it’s definitely unsavory—and possibly risky—to give our adversaries what they want, denying them concessions has not kept Americans safe. The Biden administration has made clear that they’re willing to weather criticism if it means bringing American captives home. At the same time, they have imposed additional sanctions on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence for their role in wrongfully detaining Americans. From increasing costs on hostage takers to decreasing risky travel by Americans, the administration is supplementing hostage recovery with efforts to stop future attacks. Danielle Gilbert is an assistant professor at Northwestern University and a fellow with the Bridging the Gap Project. She is a commissioner for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Hostage Taking and Wrongful Detention.

Courageous, charismatic Volodymyr Zelenskyy cannot engineer Ukraine’s destiny on his own

The Toronto Star

23-09-22 22:27

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Canada last week to request ongoing support for Ukraine as it fights against Russian aggression in the east of the country. Canada has given Ukraine nearly $8bn in total to support its resistance, including $1.8bn in military assistance. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new three-year commitment of $650m to support Ukraine's military, including the construction of 50 armoured vehicles in Ontario. However, the support from Western countries for Ukraine is waning. Zelenskyy recently visited the US to seek further support, although he did not receive the same level of support from the US Congress that he had received previously. Public opinion in the US is divided on the issue, with 55% of Americans saying that Congress should not authorise additional funding for Ukraine. The US is concerned that Ukraine is becoming a divisive issue ahead of the 2024 presidential election, with many right-wing Republicans advocating for less support for Ukraine. However, there are signs that the US is still committed to supporting Ukraine, with President Joe Biden requesting an additional $24bn in military and humanitarian support.

Biden campaign is off and running against Trump — out of public view

Washington Post

23-09-23 10:00

US President Joe Biden's 2024 re-election campaign is being organised behind the scenes, with plans for campaign offices in swing states yet to be opened and no solo campaign rallies. However, Biden and his team have recently begun laying out his argument for re-election and addressing concerns about his age. Biden's campaign staff have moved into a Delaware office tower and briefed private donors on their strategies for polling, digital outreach, and the electoral college map. At a recent donor event in Chicago, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez and deputy Quentin Fulks detailed the electoral college map they believe will be favourable for Biden, with a focus on seven states including Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. However, when they mentioned Florida, one attendee said there were "deep eye-rolls" from the crowd. Biden's team also briefed donors on their plans to adapt to the new media environment, including increased use of organic social media sharing and the role of influencers to reach voters. The campaign has not officially settled on a Republican opponent, but it is widely assumed that it is being built to take on Donald Trump.

How the newspaper of record survived – and thrived


23-09-24 06:00

Adam Nagourney's book, The Times: How the Newspaper of Record Survived Scandal, Scorn, and the Transformation of Journalism, attempts to be a worthy sequel to Gay Talese's The Kingdom and the Power, which was a groundbreaking account of the New York Times. However, Nagourney's book lacks the shock of the new, as it covers a period of time that has been extensively covered by press criticism and memoirs from former editors and journalists. The book does provide some new details and anecdotes, but for avid readers of the Times, there are few completely new stories.

One aspect of the book that stands out is the portrayal of Abe Rosenthal, the top editor of the Times from 1969 to 1986. Rosenthal was known for his homophobia, which kept gay employees at the newspaper in the closet. Nagourney reveals a previously unknown journal entry in which Rosenthal expressed his true feelings about homosexuality. This prejudice affected the Times’ coverage of the AIDS epidemic, as sycophantic colleagues were discouraged from assigning stories on gay subjects. Nagourney does acknowledge the paper’s failure to cover early fundraisers for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and its lack of coverage on anal intercourse as a means of transmission of the virus. However, he misses an important article published in the Times Magazine that provided comprehensive information on the subject.

Another issue with Nagourney’s book is the treatment of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the Times during most of the period covered in the book. Nagourney repeats criticisms of Sulzberger made by others, but fails to give him the credit he deserves. Sulzberger showed conviction and made bold decisions that ultimately benefited the newspaper, such as implementing a paywall for online readers. Overall, while Nagourney’s book provides some new details, it falls short of being a groundbreaking account of the New York Times.


Trump’s true believers keep the faith


23-09-24 10:00

Donald Trump drew a huge crowd of supporters in Dubuque, Iowa, on 18 October 2022. Many fans still wore Trump regalia and were selling Trump calendars and keychains outside the event. Trump is the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024. Many of his supporters still remember his presidency fondly, citing the strong economy and low fuel prices of the time. Supporters were particularly concerned about immigration, as Trump’s rhetoric about the southern border and immigration has intensified since 2016. Trump vowed to move thousands of troops to the border and impose a “fentanyl blockade”. He also promised to carry out the “largest domestic deportation operation in American history” and expand the travel ban he introduced during his presidency. Trump is reportedly planning to expand his presidential power at the expense of the administrative state if he wins re-election. Trump also drew criticism from conservatives over his refusal to support a national restriction on abortion and his description of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s signing of a six-week ban as a “terrible mistake”.

Black Republicans are making ripples in state and national politics

Washington Post

23-09-24 10:00

Several Black Republicans have gained national attention in recent months, as the Republican Party appears to be shifting to the right and embracing culture-war issues around race, sexual identity, and abortion rights. The party has made efforts to diversify its candidate offerings by encouraging Black, Hispanic, and Asian American individuals to run for elected office at all levels of government. However, Black Republicans still make up a small share of African Americans who hold elected office. The Republican Party hopes to increase its support among Black voters, but it continues to struggle in this regard.

Black Republicans generally do not emphasize their racial identity and downplay the role of systemic racism in American institutions. They argue that liberal policies have not improved conditions in Black communities and criticize Black voters for their loyalty to the Democratic Party. However, Black Republicans face the challenge of defending the negative image that many Black people have of the Republican Party, including former President Donald Trump’s role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Recent political gains for Black Republicans have occurred in red states where the Republican Party holds supermajorities in legislatures and has pushed through policies that are unpopular with most voters. Some Black Republicans have broken with their Democratic colleagues on issues such as school choice, defunding the police, and election oversight, leading them to switch parties. However, the Republican Party’s association with contentious cultural issues and its negative image among Black people pose challenges for Black Republican candidates seeking support from Black voters.