eyes on the U.S.

U.S. Election 2016, World Wrap: Denmark On Trump, Mexico On Rubio, Italy On Sanders

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Donald Trump travels to Las Vegas to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Trump International Casino, a day after calling The Wall Street Journal “garbage propaganda directed by an immigrant named Rupert Murdoch, who at 85 should be in a nursing home.” The man bringing together Trump and Putin is Silvio Berlusconi.

That’s how Spanish daily El Mundo imagines Trump’s first days in the White House. Writer Pablo Pardo’s whimsical envisioning of a Trump presidency begins with a trip to Mexico, where the new leader of the free world and his Vice President Ted Cruz announce that the Department of Homeland Security will create a safe zone for any companies willing to help bankroll a 3,145-kilometer-long wall stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic. When The Wall Street Journal reports that not a single company has stepped forward, and that banks have turned down a $2.1 billion loan request, “Trump tweets from the White House,” calling the bankers “idiots and lightweights.”

Cartoon: Ricardo for El Mundo

El Mundo’s cautionary fable is among a bounty of foreign-press coverage of the U.S. presidential election as Monday’s crucial Iowa caucus approaches, to be shortly followed by New Hampshire and other key state primaries. The world is most definitely watching what has become an almost surreal race for the White House, and between now and November’s general election, Worldcrunch will deliver a regular sampling of global coverage from all languages and corners of the world.

Here’s this week’s international roundup:

Marc Bassets writes in Madrid daily El País that the rise of the candidates Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders reflects not the American dream, but the “American nightmare, the permanent fear of falling into the abyss” among many older, white, working-class Americans.

Italian daily Il Foglio deconstructs the unlikely rise of Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders. Mattia Ferraresi writes that despite appearances, the rumpled Vermont senator is the “anti-narrator” candidate. “Not only does he invariably repeat a not-very-innovative message (summed up as “the rich are screwing us”), but he always says it in the same way, with the same exact words, the same clothes, the same messy hair.”

Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald writes that “Bernie Sanders may do an Obama on Hillary Clinton.” Anne Summers asserts that the most “shocking news” coming out of the presidential race in the last week has nothing do with Donald Trump but is instead the surprisingly strong Sanders poll numbers in key early primary states. “Never in a million years could Clinton have thought that she would be fighting primary-to-primary in her own party with a surging male competitor who is older, more left-wing and more likeable than she is,” Summers writes.

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter asks, “Who is the politician Donald Trump? A very rich populist from Manhattan with business acumen? Or a measured demagogue with a fascist perception of humanity?” Correspondent Björn af Kleen followed Trump during campaign stops in New Hampshire, Iowa and Florida. At one point, Kleen recounts shouting a question to Trump, who answers, “Great.” Kleen writes sarcastically that many things will be “great” if Trump wins, “like the wall he wants to build to keep Mexican migrants out.” Perhaps the piece’s most noteworthy nugget is an enlarged photo taken by photographer Lotta Härdelin showing Trump’s notes in which he has written, “ISLAM IS VIOLENCE.”

In Mexico's Milenio newspaper, Fey Berman wonders whether the Latino vote will prove decisive, with 28 million eligible voters. She cites pollster Sylvia Manzano as saying that while most Latinos live in U.S. states that are either clearly Republican or clearly Democratic, they could prove decisive â€" if they turn out. Abstention is traditionally high among Hispanics, she says. Moreover, personal interest is a greater driver of political support than migrant issues, and research shows there’s no assurance Latinos will mobilize in mass against Trump’s anti-migration rhetoric.

French humor

In fact, French online magazine Huitième Etage has taken note of comedic gem Honest Gil, parody candidate extraordinaire whose goal is to chasten candidates for the influence of money in American politics. He “promises to work hard for the donors who bought my presidency.” See his campaign video here.

From the Le Petit Journal show on French TV broadcaster Canal+ comes this short video, which requires no translation.

Reagan to Clinton

Danish Jyllands-Posten writes that it would be folly to dismiss Trump as a presidential catastrophe, noting that the U.S. has had a number of seemingly unqualified presidents. It characterizes Obama as a leader who has crumbled under pressure, making the world a more dangerous place by failing to take the lead in a time of crisis. Ronald Reagan was treated the same way as Trump during his campaign in 1980, it continues, but is regarded today as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history. “There is no reason to believe that a President Trump would transform from man to mouse. Like Ronald Reagan, he knows that only the strongest possible U.S. can ensure a more peaceful world.”

Previewing the launch of the primary season, Pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat notes that the campaign so far has featured a hefty dose of candidates “throwing mud” at each other, most notably among the Republicans. Senior columnist Jihad El-Khazen notes the innuendos behind Ted Cruz’s criticism of Marco Rubio’s stylish boots (though incorrectly reporting that both rivals have roots in Mexico, rather than Cuba), while on the Democratic side warned that Hillary Clinton could be subject to ongoing criticism of her husband’s sex life.

Quebec to Cuba

Quebec’s French-language La Presse interviews Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five, about Donald Trump. In 1989, Santana was arrested with four other juveniles for the brutal assault and rape of a Central Park jogger, leading Trump to say at the time, “They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” But the defendants were ultimately cleared of the crime in 2002, and won a $41 million settlement after suing for malicious prosecution and racial discrimination. Trump called it the “heist of the century.” Santana tells La Presse, “He calls us thieves today after calling us murderers. That proves just one thing: This man is not worthy of being president. Someone aspiring to the presidency should be able to demonstrate both compassion and contrition after making a mistake.” But Santana doesn’t believe the New York real estate magnate has a real chance to win. “What’s his plan? He has no plan. When people realize that, everything will crumble around him.”

In Mexico City daily Excelsior, José Carreño Figueras chides Marco Rubio for being “inexpert and disrespectful,” though more as a senator than as a Republican presidential candidate. He writes that the conservative Rubio has blocked approval of Roberta Jacobson as the next, “highly qualified” U.S. ambassador in Mexico “for personal reasons.” Carreño writes that Rubio’s opposition is merely to punish the Obama administration for renewing ties with Cuba, where Rubio’s father was born. In the process, the senator has shown his “disdain for political relations with Mexico and for Mexicans.”

French weekly Courrier International"s cover is quite something.

Dirk Schumer writes for German daily Die Welt that Czech President Milos Zeman, Donald Trump and other over-the-top personalities may not offer any practical solutions to society's problems, but they do have a function in an increasingly uniform political arena. “A worldwide phenomenon is taking place, where louts and eccentrics are mixing up the political arena,” he writes. “How dull would the dragging pre-election campaign in the United States be without Donald Trump? It is not only interesting for media professionals but also for the bored Internet community when a potential candidate for the highest office in the country insults the Latino minority as he pleases, kicks out an unpopular journalist and seemingly says whatever comes to mind.” Worldcrunch has the full story in English.

Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda writes for broadcaster Univisión that the world should prepare itself for the irksome possibility of a Trump victory. News of a possible third-party candidacy by Michael Bloomberg is evidence of its plausibility. He advises Mexico, the EU and Middle Eastern states to end their “ostrich policy” of “praying to someone for Trump to disappear. It’s not going to happen.”

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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.

[*Danish]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• 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.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"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.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

98

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.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

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.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

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.

🇮🇷🎓  IN OTHER NEWS

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

Thoughts on Facebook's new name? Zuckerverse? Tell us how the news look in your corner of the world: Drop us a note at info@worldcrunch.com!

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