Trump And The World

A World On Edge As U.S. Campaign Hits Home Stretch

Hillary Trump/Donald Clinton stickers in Washington, D.C.
Hillary Trump/Donald Clinton stickers in Washington, D.C.
Benjamin Witte

PARIS â€" Is it over yet? With the U.S. presidential election just days away, people across the globe are as excited to be done with the whole sordid spectacle, it seems, as they are to finally find out who wins.

Suspense is building. But so too is a general sentiment of "we just can’t take it any more." There’s also a sense among many observers that regardless of who wins â€" Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton â€" the U.S. people and their proud democratic tradition have already lost. As France’s Le Figaro argued in a recent editorial: "It doesn’t take a poll to determine the big loser in the election: America’s democratic dignity."

As election day nears, Worldcrunch continues to follow the global coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign.

The dirty and drawn-out election seems to be taking a toll on people’s basic mental health as well. "This is the most divided campaign the United States has experienced in decades, a fight between the two most unpopular candidates in history in a country that is intensely polarized," the Spanish newspaper El Periódico pointed out this week. "To the relief of just about everyone, it’s almost over."

And yet as much as people may want to move on from the whole stinking mess and never look back, there are lessons to be learned and questions still worth asking â€" starting with the most obvious one: how the heck did this happen? "We’re 320 million people," one exasperated shopkeeper in Raleigh, North Carolina told the Argentine daily La Nación. "320 million! And these are the two best candidates we could find?"

"Hillary: Woman of problems and powerâ€" PANORAMA (Italy)

A more specific question is how Trump, despite his obvious "sexism, xenophobia, lies and ignorance," could garner such a significant following, the French business paper Les Echos recently asked. Part of the answer is his rejection of the mainstream political system, a system, the Paris daily argues, "that his adversary, Hillary Clinton, embodies in an almost caricatural way."

Something else that can’t be ignored, argues journalist Patrícia Campos Mello of the Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo, is Trump’s recent characterization of the election process as "rigged." His strategy is like that of ISIS fighters, who only abandon a battlefield after they’ve planted "numerous bombs and landmines," she wrote. "Sensing his defeat, Trump is leaving behind him a minefield that will cause the destruction of American democracy after Nov. 8."

And if he wins? Der Spiegel’s columnist Jakob Augstein believes that a Trump victory would, in at least one regard, be preferable. "Trump is farce," he wrote, but would be less likely than Clinton to risk military confrontation with Russia over Syria. "For every non-American, it’s true that when it comes to war and peace, Trump would probably be the better choice over Clinton," according to Augstein, whose father founded the left-leaning magazine.

"Trump, a scientific anomaly" â€" Québec Science

Instead, for those asking how someone like Trump could be days away from winning the presidency, there was a different perspective from Italy, which lived through nearly two decades of domination by its own unlikely political figure, Silvio Berlusconi.

For Il Manifesto, Italian author Andrea Bajani writes, in an article entitled "BerlusTrump, Italy is the worm at the center of the Big Apple": "Between the sex scandals of the two men, the arrogance proudly displayed on television, between the shared racism, economic recipes founded on wealth accumulated in the hands of the few, what they share in common before it all is the support of millions of people. It’s the myopia of those who look at the clown’s finger instead of the crowd of hands applauding with such enthusiasm. In Italy, we ignored those hands for 20 years, thinking, presumptuously, that the monstrosity of the man who behaves that way was so evident. And more than that, we amplified his message, laughing at it, transforming it into a joke to export to the rest of the planet."


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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

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We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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