North and South Korean leaders meet as US indicates summit may yet happen

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in meet in perimeter village, days after Donald Trump told schemed summit in Singapore was cancelled

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, gratified his South Korean equivalent on Saturday, two days after Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with Kim.

Moon Jae-in traversed into the north at the border village of Panmunjom, where the two gratified for the first time in April, the South Korean president’s office told. The two leaders discussed the US-North Korea summit, as well as implementing the joint statement released at the end of their earlier meeting.

The surprise meeting highlighted Moon’s efforts to get the historic US-North Korea talks back on track, and depicted inter-Korea relations are in a far better nation than those between Washington and Pyongyang.

On Friday, Trump made a partial climbdown, saying the summit could still be held in Singapore on 12 June if conditions are right. On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told White House staffers and state department officials would still travel to Singapore for a logistics session,” in order to prepare should the summit take place “.

In a pair of angry tweets, Trump said there was ” ZERO discrepancy” within his administration about North Korea but” if there was it wouldn’t matter “. He also disputed a report in the New York Times about the issue, claiming the” senior White House official” citied in the narrative “doesn’t exist”.

Reporters from outlets including the Times pushed back , noting that the quote to which Trump appeared to be objecting was from a background briefing on North Korea that was fully sanctioned by the White House.

Trump has faced fierce criticism over his inconsistency as a partner in the high-stakes talks. Adam Mount, director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said on Saturday Moon’s” bold but risky” meeting with Kim was a” clear demo of how dangerous Trump’s temper tantrum was “.

” When Kim Jong-un was allowed to split the negotiations into separate ways with Trump and Moon, he gained leverage over both ,” Mount wrote on Twitter.” Moon was sitting too alone at the table today, without the full weight of the United States.

” Trump says’ everybody plays games ‘,” Mount added, referring to Trump’s response when asked about North Korea’s posture on Friday.” Moon Jae-in is not playing a game: he must keep his people safe from war. Each of Trump’s whims shakes the walls of the Blue House .”

Photos released by the South Korean presidential office indicated the two leaders espousing, shaking hands and holding intimate talks, accompanied by a single aide each. Moon was expected to announce further details on Sunday.

In their first summit in April, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and peace, which Seoul tried to sell as a breakthrough to set up the summit with Trump. But relations chilled as North Korea canceled a high-level meeting over South Korea’s military exercises with the US.

The South was caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the Singapore summit, quoting aggression in recent Northern korean comments. Moon said Trump’s decision left him “perplexed” and was ” very regrettable” and urged Washington and Pyongyang to establish” more direct and closer dialogue between their leaders “.

Trump’s behaviour has fanned anxieties in South Korea regarding a rival intent on driving a wedge between Washington and Seoul and a US president who believes less of a traditional confederation than his predecessors. The decision to pull out of the summit came just days after Trump hosted Moon in a White House meeting where he cast doubts on the Singapore summit and offered no support for inter-Korean progress.

In his letter to Kim cancelling the summit, Trump objected to a statement from senior envoy Choe Son Hui, who referred to vice-president Mike Pence as a” political dummy” and said it was up to the Americans whether they would” gratify us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown “.

North Korea issued an unusually restraint response, saying it was still willing to sit for talks with the US” at any time,( in) any format “.

” The first session would not solve all, but solving even one at a time in a phased style would induce the relations get better rather than attaining them get worse ,” vice-foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

A Tv screen proves Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/ AP

Notably, the statement did not appear in Saturday’s edition of Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling party. The newspaper focused on Kim’s visit to Wonsan to inspect a beachfront tourist complex.

Analysts say Kim’s outreach after nuclear and missile exams in 2017 indicates he is eager for sanctions relief and international legitimacy. Earlier this month, Kim released three US citizens. This week, Pyongyang invited international journalists to find what it claim was the dismantling of its only known nuclear test site. The regime has also declared that it no longer needs to conduct tests.

There is also skepticism whether Kim will ever agree to relinquish his nuclear weapon, which analysts believe he sees as his only guaranty of survival. Remarks in nation media indicate Kim ensure any meeting with Trump as a negotiation between nuclear countries. The North has said it will not participate if it is pressured to give up its arsenal.

In Washington, a cadre of Trump’s most fervent Republican supporters in Congress have nominated the president for a Nobel peace prize. The Trump administration also issued an official but widely taunted summit commemorative coin, featuring profiles of Trump and Kim against the backdrop of their countries’ flags.

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Support for Ireland’s abortion ban appears to have melted away

No campaign counted on rural votes but early exit poll suggest they didnt swaying their way

Ruth Shaw was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Irish voters who flew home or bided home, cancelled vacations or came back early, so they could cast a vote to end Ireland’s decades-old prohibition on abortion.

They supposed their votes might be needed to tip the balance. In the end, though, they joined what seems to be an unforeseen landslide of support for change.

The first exit poll, from the Irish Times/ Ipsos MRBI, showed that Dublin, as expected, had voted overwhelmingly for yes. But so too did rural areas, which the no vote had counted on to kind a bulwark of conservative is supportive of Ireland’s restrictive status quo.

” It’s great for this country, we need to step into the next century ,” said teacher Caroline Ryan, one of the first to referendum but confident even at 7am that the repeal would pass.” Every other country in Europe has access to abortion .”

The vote was a reminder, she said, of the church’s loosening grip on a country where a series of scandals, involving child abuse and mistreatment of pregnant, unmarried women and their children, have enormously undermined the clergy’s authority.” Women have been treated so badly in this country by the Catholic church ,” she added.

Voters had to help Ireland decide whether to keep a clause in its constitution, known as the 8th amendment.

Since 1983, it had set the” right to life of the unborn” on an equal status with the life of a pregnant girl, underpinning a near-total ban on abortion in Ireland, even in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. It is one of the strictest defined of rules in the western world.

For Shaw who, along with 20 family and friends had flights lined up to go to a wedding in New York when the date was defined, there was no question about what to do.

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Irish people living abroad return home to become involved in abortion referendum- video

” We changed our flights ,” she said.” It’s really important; I’ve got two daughters .” So at 6.55 am she was waiting with nine-year-old Simi outside Our Lady’s Clonskeagh Parish secondary school, second in line to cast her vote before heading to the airport.

On a day of glorious sunshine and heightened feelings, polling stations across Ireland reported high turnouts for a ballot that politicians and campaigners concurred would determine a hugely emotional issue for at least a generation.

Polls constricted in the run-up to voting, with the outcome widely expected to depend on the one in six voters who were still undecided on the eve of the poll. Many in the no camp were convinced they had a groundswell of quiet support.

” So many no voters are shy ,” said Fidelma, 45, a Dubliner who said she was wearing a no badge for the first time and was astonished to determine more than half her office of 10 people offering her support.

She had kept her positions private until the working day of the referendum because there was so much social pressure in the capital to support a repeal.” People attain us feel like we are backwards and don’t count ,” she said.

No advocates campaign from a bridge in Dublin. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images

At the ballot box, ultimately, there were not enough no voters to count. Two thirds of men, and an even higher propotion of women, opted for change, in agreement with the Irish Times.

Among the young in particular, the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of ending the ban. Nearly nine out of 10 voters between 18 and 24 voted yes, the Irish Times exit poll found.

Riodhna Mackin, 18, voting for the first time, was one of them.” I am a young woman in Ireland and I would like to have a tell over my own body, and for my friends to have the same ,” she said after casting her ballot.

The Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, poses with colleagues from his Fine Gael party in Dublin before the referendum. Photo: Niall Carson/ PA

The official vote count begins on Saturday morning, with the first indications of whether the exit poll is right expected by mid-morning.

The scale of the projected victory was so immense though that resulting no campaigners conceded defeat within minutes.

The split over abortion, which reflects deep divisions about what kind of country Ireland wants to be as it reassesses its Catholic heritage and becomes more ethnically and religiously diverse, has reached profoundly into communities and families.

Elizabeth McDonald, 58, told:” I voted no because I believe I regard it as murder. We don’t need abortion in this country .”

Her son Stephen, 33, thinks the near-ban on abortion is cruel and puts women’s health in jeopardy. It is not illegal to go abroad for an abortion, so about nine females a day travel to England trying therapy. Others order abortion pills online and take them at home, risking up to 14 years in prison.

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My budget flight to get an abortion: the story no one in Ireland wants to tell- video

” I’m her son and I voted yes ,” he said, as they left the polling station together.” Abortion do happen in Ireland and I’d rather they were in a situation where it was safer for women .”

The journeys for abortions were the reason Ian Sewell, 26, travelled back from England to vote yes.” I don’t think we are voting on whether people can have abortions; we are voting on whether poor women can have abortions, because rich people already travel to England ,” he said as he left a polling station.

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Who knew diplomacy with North Korea was so hard? | Michael H Fuchs

Trumps cancelation of the summit meeting with North Korea reaffirms that the president and his squad dont have a strategy

Just as soon as North Korea began playing hardball, Donald Trump took his toys and went home. Who knew dealing with North Korea was so hard? Well, just about everybody. Everybody except Trump, that is.

Trump’s cancellation of the 12 June summit meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirms that Trump and his squad don’t have a North Korea strategy. And when you’re dealing with a nuclear-armed rascal regime like North Korea, that’s dangerous.

The lack of strategy has been apparent for a while. After threatening war for months, Trump reversed course in March. Following a diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea around the Olympics, Trump announced an unprecedented summit meeting with Kim Jong-un. In the months since, Trump began setting expectations of historical things to come. He spoke of Kim as an” honorable” human. He fanned talk of get the Nobel peace prize. The White House even published commemorative coins for the summit.

The euphoria wore off speedily. In response to US menaces of regime change if diplomacy failed, North Korea returned to its usual heated rhetoric, singling out Vice-President Mike Pence and “the member states national” security adviser, John Bolton, for criticism. But these statements were likely part of the negotiations- in addition to the boilerplate criticism, North Korea also explicitly reaffirmed Pyongyang’s commitment to dialogue. This was North Korea’s opening position.

And yet, Trump and his advisers responded by cancelling the summit. Why? The Northern korean, South Koreans and many Trump consultants are likely scratching their heads along with the rest of us. When the running gets tough, apparently Trump runs away.

The Trump team is trying to spin this as North Korea’s fault. But it’s clear that all along US officials have been- rightly- skeptical that North Korea is actually willing to give up its nuclear weapons and many doubted the wisdom of the summit. No one- not North Korea, South Korea , nor Trump’s own team- expected him to announce a summit with Kim Jong-un when the South Koreans came to brief Trump on their talks with Kim in March. But Trump rushed ahead. For some in the administration, cancelling the summit avoids Trump from accepting what they believe is a bad deal.

It’s possible that the Trump team views cancellation as a negotiating tactic- Trump and Pompeo have both said talks are still possible. But a more likely rationale is that Trump is thin-skinned, and the repeated insults from North Korea offended Trump and were used by US officials who were skeptical of the diplomacy to torpedo it. Reports indicating that this decision happened very quickly- with no prior notification of allies- suggest that, once again, Trump was winging it.

So, what happens next?

If Trump wants to return to the” maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions and” fire and frenzy” menaces, he’ll speedily realize that it’s dead for now. China has already been easing up on the pressure and will now use Trump’s cancelation of talks to justify further loosening the bolt. If Trump actually wants to start this process over again, he’ll have to begin making China with significant secondary sanctions while he’s trying to negotiate massive trade issues.

This theory also rests on the Trump team’s assumption that the” maximum pressure” forced Kim to the table. Kim’s interest in diplomacy was at most only partially fueled by the pressure: he had already achieved the ability to launch nuclear-tipped missiles to the United States and could negotiate from a position of strength. Kim also knew that Seoul was interested in diplomacy and assured an opportunity to divide the United States and South Korea.

If Trump wants to return to menaces of war- as he did in announcing his decision to cancel the summit- then he still faces the fact that war would be “catastrophic”, as Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, set it.

If Trump is still interested in diplomacy- as he should be- then Trump just made his task a lot harder. South Korea was not notified about the decision- they will be angry, and rightly so. And the world will see Trump as the one who stopped the talks , not Kim. Regrettably for the United States, Kim now holds more cards than he did when the diplomacy began and he knows it- sure enough, North Korea’s first response was to take the high ground and say they’re ready to talk “any time”.

There very well may still be a path forward, but only if the Trump administration recognizes that a quick denuclearization process is a fantasy- and if they are willing to give diplomacy time to work. A continuation of the already ongoing high-level talks would test whether progress in limiting or reducing- if not removing- North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs was possible.

Like a boyfriend expressing hope of getting back together with his girlfriend while breaking up with her, Trump objective a letter addressed to Kim by stating forlornly:” If you change your mind “ve had to” do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write .” If diplomacy does get back on track, let’s all hope both sides of this relationship go into eyes wide open next time.

Michael H Fuchs is a contributing opinion writer for the Guardian US. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy deputy secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs

MH17: Australia and Netherlands accuse Russia of complicity

Foreign minister tells Australia will seek financial compensation from Moscow

Russia is facing international calls to accept responsibility for the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, which caused the deaths of all 298 people onboard.

Australia and the Netherlands on Friday accused Moscow of complicity in the incident, while Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the Kremlin” must now answer for its actions “.

” The Kremlin believes it can act with impunity. The Russian government must now answer for its actions in relation to the downing of MH17 ,” told Johnson in a statement.

A Downing Street spokesman used to say during a phone call with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, Theresa May said the alleged actions” fit into a well-established pattern of Russian aggression “.

Despite longstanding mistrust and a mounting body of proof pointing to Russia’s involvement, this is the first time governments have officially accused Moscow over the incident.

” Australia and the Netherlands have now informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under international law for its role in the bringing down of MH17 ,” said Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, on Friday.

She called on Russia to” enter into negotiations to open up a dialogue about its conduct and to try reparations “.

The call is likely to bring about a diplomatic standoff, with Russia continuing to deny complicity and refusing to cooperate with investigators.

On Thursday, a team of international researchers said they had hard proof that the missile system to participate in shooting down the Malaysia Airline airplane came from a Russian military brigade.

The plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine in July 2014. More than half of the victims were Dutch, and there were also 44 Malaysians and 28 Australians onboard.

Bishop said her country seeking ways financial compensation from Russia for the families of Australian victims.” They want to see closure but they also deserve justice and we will be seeking reparations for the cruelties caused by this conduct ,” she said.

Johnson said the MH1 7 incident was ” an egregious instance of the Kremlin’s disregard for innocent life” and he offered his support for the Dutch and Australian demands.

” The UK fully supports Australia and the Netherlands in their request to the Russian Federation to accept state responsibility and to cooperate with them in their efforts to deliver justice for the victims of this tragedy ,” he said.

The EU and Nato also issued statements calling on Russia to accept responsibility.

Witnesses told shortly after the incident that they had ensure a Buk missile system travel through separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine on the day of the downing, while a variety of photo and video proof has pointed to a Buk system that intersected from Russia.

On Thursday, the Joint Investigation Team( JIT) said it had” legal and persuading evidence which will stand up in a courtroom” that the missile system came from Russia’s 53 rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, based in the western city of Kursk.

Russia has vetoed a UN tribunal to decide guilt for the incident, so the JIT intends to issue indictments for a trial to be held in a Dutch court. On Thursday, the Dutch chief prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, said the investigation was in its “last phase” but he declined to say when a court case might start.

He said the JIT was investigating” several dozen” suspects for complicity in the incident, though he did not say how high up the chain of command they went.

Russia has issued a series of blanket denials over the active involvement, and officials and state-linked media have floated a series of implausible alternative theories suggesting Ukrainian armed forces were to blame.

On Friday, the Russian defence ministry issued a fresh statement indicating all Buk rockets with the serial numbers indicated by the JIT had been destroyed in Russia in 2011, indicating the missile must have come from the Ukrainian armed forces. The foreign ministry complained that” these gratuitous accusations are an attempt to discredit our nation in the eyes of the international community “.

However, the evidence against Russia continues to mount. On Friday, the online investigations group Bellingcat held a press conference to reveal that it had identified a Russian military commandant operating in eastern Ukraine at the time of the crash.

Bellingcat said the military commander, known by his call sign Orion, about whom the JIT had called for information, was in fact Oleg Ivannikov, an officer in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service. Bellingcat said Ivannikov, operating under an alias, was responsible for the transfer of Russian weaponry into eastern Ukraine during 2014. The group, which utilizes principally open source research, identified the 53 rd brigade as the potential source of the Buk system virtually two years ago.

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Why the extraordinary story of the last slave in America has finally come to light

Zora Neale Hurstons Barracoon was written in the 1930 s, but were just been published. Why has it taken so long for the remarkable story of Oluale Kossola to be made public?

” We stand as living monuments ,” wrote the historian Len Garrison, of the black British descendants of slavery and empire.” For those who are afraid of who they must be, are but slaves in a trance .” For Garrison, the idea of the African diaspora as” living monuments” was to some extent figurative. But a new book attains it literal. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave presents the remarkable fact that there were people alive in America who had experienced abduction from Africa- being examined, displayed, traded and enslaved- well into the 20 th century.

The book is the story of Cudjo Lewis; a man born Oluale Kossolain the Yoruba kingdom of Takkoi. Kossola was the last survivor of the last known slave ship to sail from the African continent to America with a human shipment. Written in the 1930 s, but hidden away from a public audience until now, it is also perhaps the last great, unpublished work by the Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston.

The word “barracoon” refers to the enclosings in which captives were held on the coast before being loaded on to ships. In Kossola’s case it was the Alabama vessel the Clotilda, which played its own gruesome its participation in the slave trade in 1860, half a century after its official abolition, transporting 130 men and women from the west African kingdom of Dahomey- modern day Benin.

By 1931, when Hurston interviewed Kossola- sweetening him with peaches, Virginia hams and late summertime melons -, he was around 90 years old, and yet able, over a period of three months, to recall his life in Takkoi in great detail; his grandpa, an officer of the king; his mother and siblings; law and justice; love and adolescence. He spoke in heartbreaking detail of watching his community annihilated during a raid by Dahomey’s female warriors, leading to his capture and enslavement, the torture of the” middle passageway”, and life in 19 th and 20 th century Alabama. Through all these years- many more lives in America than he had spent in his African birth nation- he never let go of the unspeakable loss of his homeland. When Hurston takes his photograph, Kossola dresses in his best suit, but removes his shoes, telling her:” I want to look lak I in Affica,’ cause dat where I want to be .”

The Point of No Return monument in Ouidah, Benin. Photo: Gallo/ Getty Images

The uniqueness of the tale and that of the writer who tells it are layered and intertwined. The old, poetic Kossola, generous with his parables and storytelling, is one of virtually four million Africans enslaved late in the history of the transatlantic trade. And while the full history is documented in countless accounts of slave traders, merchants, plantation owners and masters, ledgers and auction records and court documents, the number of first-hand accounts of Africans forced to become Americans can be counted on two hands. It is Hurston, and perhaps Hurston alone, who could have described this heavy narrative out of the often melancholy old man, and have the vision and skill to make it sing, in the way that Barracoon does, for reasons rooted deep in her own life story.

Hurston was born in 1891 in Eatonville, Florida, a small town with an entirely black population, which she would afterward describe as” the city of five lakes, three croquet courts, 300 brown skins, 300 good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools and no jailhouse “. She would keep close links to her hometown, despite leaving when she was just 13, and then drifting- operate as a manicurist and achieving a degree portion day at Howard University- until she arrived in New York in 1925. By then she was in her mid 30 s( but persuaded those whom she fulfilled that she was a full decade younger) and had- as she wrote later in her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road – “$ 1.50 , no chore , no friends, and a lot of hope “.

Hurston began examining anthropology at Barnard College and, having received a fellowship to gather material in her home state, set about documenting African American folk traditions in towns like Eatonville, and later in the southern nations, the Bahamas and Haiti. It was during this period, right at the beginning of her career, that she first satisfied Kossola, interviewing him several times in the late 1920 s. It was her first major project, but also her first major failure. An article she published about Kossola in the Journal of Negro History would be accused of plagiarism, accusations which scholars now contest, and which in any event drove Hurston to return to Alabama, to conduct the series of interviews that would form the core of Barracoon , and, this time, to do so in a manner that would cast the run beyond any doubt.

Radical approach … Zora Neale Hurston. Photo:( c) Barbara Hurston Lewis, Faye Hurston, and Lois Hurston Gaston

Around this time, black art began asserting itself brazenly in an America still emerging from four centuries of bondage and legalised white dominance, and the faith that the African had no civilisation to offer. By the time of her demise in 1960, Hurston would have published more volumes than any other black girl in America. But it wasn’t until she caught the attention of sociologist Charles S Johnson, champ of the Harlem Renaissance and the editor of Opportunity, the official journal of the National Urban League( which published her work as well as that of Claude McKay, Langston Hughesand Countee Cullen ), that she got her break.

Even within the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston’s approach was radical. Inspired by her Eatonville roots, she was instinctively compelled by the lore, the idioms, customs, worksongs, spirituals, sermons, children’s games, folktales and practises of African American communities of the south. While other members of the black intelligentsia were celebrating racial uplift, and while hundreds of thousands fled the rural south in the” great migration “, in search of what they imagined to be progress in northern cities, Hurston was interested in” the Negro farthest down “. Her goal as an author, anthropologist and essayist, was- the scholar Karla Holloway has said-” to render the oral culture literate “.

” The unlettered Negro ,” Hurston wrote, was ” the Negro’s best contribution to American culture .” It was this belief which inspired Barracoon – a book in which there is little of Hurston herself, but plenty of her ideology, in capturing Kossola, a human whose culture slavery both created and destroyed. Like the language of some of Hurston’s subsequently runs- Mule Bone , the play she would write with Hughes in 1931; Mules and Men , a compilation of oral folklore in 1935; and her most well known run, the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937- Kossola’s narrative plays the music of history itself within its tonalities, rhythms and inflections. But the narrative, like Kossola, stands apart from Hurston’s others; his speech is more a recognisably African Creole than the African American vernacular, and despite all his decades living in America, Kossola is immersed in the thought of Africa, the world- as he calls it-” in de Affica clay “. Hurston’s faithfulnes to the manner and content of Kossola’s storytelling is the book’s strength. Yet within it were also contained the seeds of Barracoon ‘ s downfall. When Hurston took the manuscript to publishers, they wanted her to anglicise his English, which she resolutely refused to do.

American slaves on a plantation in South Carolina, 1862. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

” Hurston was not interested in, as Toni Morrison might put it, the white gaze, and how’ they’ would perceive us ,” explains Deborah Plant, a Hurston scholar who edited Barracoon .” She was interested in what was specific in African American culture, those aspects which were rooted in African tradition, African history, African civilisation, because in that authenticity lay the genius- the spirit, as Hurston describes it- that which the spirit lives by .”

For Cheryl Wall, Zora Neale Hurston professor of English at Rutgers University,” this impatience with Hurston’s determination to transcribe Kossola’s speech faithfully is staggeringly frustrating “. It was ” part of the pattern of Hurston’s life that she had to fight so hard to have her voice heard, and the voices of those whose tales she wanted to tell. We are told the dialect is too difficult. Is it truly any more difficult than the dialect of Mark Twain or James Joyce? Yes it requires some extra endeavor, but it’s the kind of effort we usually put into a literary text without grievance .”

The irony is astounding. Kossola, a man denied his home and his voice by American racism, would have the telling of his tale silenced too. Barracoon , having been met with intransigence by publishers, remained unpublished, objective up in a private collection that was passed to the archive at Howard University in 1956, where it remained inaccessible to all but a handful of intellectuals who read it and quoth it in their work.

Hurston discovered her own life mirroring this cycle of narration and dispossession. After the success of her work in the 1930 s and 40 s, her enormously productive career spiralled downwards. She lived hand to mouth, writing articles for publications while working at odd chores, including one stint in Miami for an employer who ensure her byline in the Saturday Evening Post and tipped off a reporter that the author was her maid. Hurston was humbled, and expended the next decade in a series of little town in Florida, beset by health and money problems, until she ended up in a welfare home where she died, penniless, of heart disease in 1960.

A slave’s cabin at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Edisto Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Politenes of NMAAHC

At the time of her death , none of her seven previously published books was in print. Neighbours collected fund for her funeral and it made front page news in the local black weekly, the Fort Pierce Chronicle. But she was buried in a segregated cemetery, in an unmarked grave.

For the novelist and feminist Alice Walker, who in 1973 set out to discover what had become of Hurston, receiving this grave in a” field full of weeds” was a devastating experience.” There are periods ,” wrote Walker,” and detecting Zora Hurston’s tomb was one of them, when normal responses to grief, horror and so on do not make sense since they are bear no real relation to the depth of emotion one feels .” Walker was determined to restore Hurston’s legacy and reputation. She obtained a gravestone, and had it inscribed with the words:” Zora Neale Hurston- A genius of the south. Novelist. Folklorist. Anthropologist .”

Their Eyes Were Watching God , still considered Hurston’s greatest work, was soon back in circulation. That edition, by the University of Illinois Press, sold more than 300,000 copies, attaining it, as Wall tells,” one of the most dramatic chapters in African American literary history “.


The publication of Barracoon thus represents a recovery within a recovery; the works of Hurston having been so dramatically resurrected, but this one languishing in oblivion until now. And their official publication arrives at an emotive moment in the African American experience- its own experience loaded not only with historical trauma, but very contemporary ache. Alice Walker writes, for example, in the foreword to the book, that in reading Kossola’s story, African Americans” are struck with the realisation that he is naming something we ourselves work hard to avoid, how lonely we are too in this still foreign land “.

Karla Holloway, professor of English at Duke University, tells:” The irony is that the loneliness that echoes through Kossola’s account, and that Walker so poignantly notices, is our collective legacy.

” We work hard to escape and slip past that loneliness, but inevitably we are captured, again, by the wake of slavery, a tidal rinse as dependable as moonrise .”

The era of Black Lives Matter, of harassment in coffee shop, of a chairman who has been both overtly racist and also dismissive of racism, and of the letdown at the first black chairman having been able to induce little real change to poverty, criminalisation and exclusion, has made a few moments in which the struggle has never been more apparent, yet the cultural expression of that suffering has never been more visible.

Illustration by Swain, from 1835, of slaves being put into the hold. Photo: Rischgitz/ Getty Images

” I do suppose one of the reasons that the book is so attractive right now is that there is this longing for African Americans to have access to a pre-US life- a connection to Africa ,” tells Autumn Womack, an assistant professor of English and African American analyses at Princeton University.” If nothing else, Barracoon announces the desire for this kind of connect, even if it’s never really fulfilled. People are searching for a vocabulary to make sense of that .”

That fought is procuring expres in movie, Tv and theatre that focuses on the experience of slavery; from the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave , the remaking of the memorable series Roots and the multi-award-winning musical Hamilton . It is present in pop culture, with the recent phenomenon of Childish Gambino’s” This Is America “, whose video references the violent brutalisation of African Americans. There are new museums- America’s first of African American history, which opened in 2016; the Whitney Plantation, the first plantation museum on American clay; and the nation’s first memorial to the horrors of lynching, in Alabama.

It is abundant in literature too; Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and other influential volumes such ass Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns , which tells the story of the Great Depression in new and profound detail; Stamped from the Beginning , by Ibram X Kendi, which chronicles the lifespan of American racism; Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give , radicalising readers of young adult fiction to the injustice of police killings; and Jesmyn Ward’s devastating Sing, Unburied, Sing .

Watch the video for Childish Gambino: This Is America

The pathos of the African American experience, told with such tenderness in Barracoon , is matched by its intricacy. Hurston herself remarked that in writing Kossola’s harrowing account of how the monarch of Dahomey profited from raiding and selling members of neighbouring kingdoms, she was deeply affected by the question of African complicity in the slave trade.” The inescapable fact that stuck in my craw ,” Hurston wrote,” was my people had sold me and the white people had bought me. That did away with the lore I had been brought up on- that white people had gone to Africa, waved a red hankie at the Africans and seduced them aboard ship and sailed away .”

And yet Barracoon also helps deepen the understanding of the context in which slavery took place.” This idea of’ African complicity’ is more myth than a reality ,” Plant tells.” Because at that point in history, there was no such thing as an’ African ‘. People on the African continent did not self identify as Africans; instead there was a self identity in its relationship with specific ethnic groups and specific kingdoms, religions or language. So many of us don’t know, because we don’t have these subtleties about our history .”

The absence of stories like Kossola’s has hardly helped bring these nuances to the fore. There are other difficult questions arising from the book about the extent to which the African American victims of slavery internalised the attitudes of their oppressors. Kossola recollects how his children in particular endured bullying from neighbouring African Americans, for having two African-born parents.

” All de day de chillun growin’ de American folks dey picks at dem and tell de Afficky people dey kill folks and eatee de meat ,” Kossola recounts in Barracoon .” Dey callee my chillun ig’nant savage and make out dey kin to monkey … It hurtee dey feelings .”

” Those acculturated African Americans could have been more open, more receptive, compassionate, and they weren’t ,” Plant tells.” They were information sources of resentment to Kossola and his community. We can explain or rationalise it, but it doesn’t justify it .” The book’s uniqueness is in its recounting of a story in which we are all equally bound up by this cycle of oppression- the former slave plagued by the trauma of losing his homeland and family, the writer whose run survived the desire of intellectuals for white approval, the reader forced to challenge their own ideas about race and the internalisation of repression. But more than anything it brings an African past up close to an African American present, at a time of great searching.” Throughout her life, Hurston fought against this idea that there was no connection to Africa once people arrived on these coasts, and everything was forgotten ,” Wall tells.” We know that’s not true. But a book like this really brings that to life .”

* Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave by Zora Neale Hurston is published by HarperCollins.

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A century on, why are we forgetting the deaths of 100 million? | Martin Kettle

The 1918 Spanish flu outbreak killed more people than both world wars. Dont imagine such a thing could never happen again, says the Guardian columnist Martin Kettle

This year marks a century since some women got the vote; a century since the end of the first world war; 50 years since the 1968 rebellions; 70 since the founding of Israel and the NHS. All have been well marked. So it is striking that the centenary of one of the most devastating events in human history has been allowed to pass thus far with virtually no public reflection of any kind.

This year is the 100 th anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Calculates about the potential impact vary. But when you read that a third of the entire global population probably caught the Spanish influenza and that it killed between 50 and 100 million people in all corners of the globe- up to 5% of all human being on countries around the world at the time – you get an inkling of its scale.

By the time the pandemic ultimately ended, it had killed around 25 times more people than any other flu outbreak in history. It killed perhaps more people than the 1st and 2nd world wars put together. As Laura Spinney puts it in her new book, Pale Rider– the best modern account of the Spanish flu crisis-” the influenza resculpted human populations more radically than anything since the Black Death “. Think about that. Not the western front , not Hitler’s invasion of Russia , not Hiroshima. But the flu.

In the face of such figures, it seems unbelievable that we forget or look away. Yet we do. Perhaps that is because, unlike equality for women, a disease has no ultimate award to win and celebrate. Perhaps it is because, while wars have conquerors, pandemics leave only the vanquished, as Spinney sets it. Perhaps too, as the critic Walter Benjamin once argued, stillness about public horrors can permit human societies to cope with collective recovery and to advance. Or perhaps, as Spinney also reflects, the Spanish flu has been consigned to the footnotes because its onslaught did not occur in public but in private, behind closed- door in millions of homes.

Yet the Spanish flu epidemic was a public event too. It changed the course of the first world war( the Germans thought it robbed them of victory ). It brought Switzerland- yes, Switzerland- to the brink of civil war over the inadequacy of the official response. The route it was mishandled in colonial India devoted a major boost to the independence motion. It resulted directly to the founding of Real Madrid football club as part of a Spanish public health drive. In Britain, in a sense, it triggered a concern about public health that would result, 30 year later, to the NHS.

The flu struck the rich and the poor, the young and the old, women and men, black and white. Among the individuals who caught it but recovered were the British prime minister David Lloyd George, the US president Woodrow Wilson, the German kaiser, and King Alfonso XIII of Spain- whose country dedicated its name to the disease for no better reason than that the French, unable to learn about the scale of the infection in their own country because of wartime censorship, thought wrongly that it had started on the far side of the Pyrenees. The naming has caused offence in Spain from that day to this- and has belatedly led to greater care in the naming of subsequent strains and outbreaks that traverse borders.

For this was a disease that scorned all human frontiers. It killed from Alaska to Zanzibar. Groucho Marx caught the flu in New York and Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad. The future Mustafa Kemal Ataturk went down with it in Vienna. Haile Selassie fell ill in Addis Ababa. TS Eliot got the flu in London- he wrote The Waste Land as he recovered. Other victims who recovered included Franklin Roosevelt, Lillian Gish, Franz Kafka, DH Lawrence, Bela Bartok, Walt Disney, Ezra Pound and the aviator Amelia Earhart. In Colorado, Katherine Anne Porter’s black hair fell out as a result of flu. When it grew back her hair was white and Porter went on to write a memoir, Pale Horse, Pale Rider about the pandemic.

The list of those who died of the influenza is less storied than those who recovered from it. It is headed by the painter Egon Schiele and his wife. The Parisian poet Guillaume Apollinaire succumbed too, as did one of Lenin’s right-hand men, Yakov Sverdlov. So did Lawrence of Arabia’s father, Arthur Conan Doyle’s son and Donald Trump’s grandfather. A celebrated British casualty was the diplomat Mark Sykes– now famous( or infamous) for the secret Sykes-Picot agreement he struck over spheres of western influence in the Middle East.

Ten years ago, in 2008, Sykes’s coffin, lead-lined because of the virulence of the disease, was disinterred from his grave in Yorkshire. The intent was to enable researchers to take samples, from his remains, of the H1N1 virus strain that caused the Spanish influenza. Such samples , now under high-security lock and key in Atlanta, have been examined for clues as to why this stres was so potent and how a future pandemic might be contained.

For there will be another Spanish flu pandemic one day. The 1918 outbreak resulted because the viral stres acquired the ability to infect humans and then to become transmissible among humen. Other strains have that potential too. Global warming may empower the strongest ones still further. The world of 2018 is infinitely more interconnected than that of 1918. The possibilities for blaming particular social groups for pandemics is vast.

Last week the Ebola virus spread from a remote rural part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the busy river port town of Mbandaka. A few hundred kilometres downstream from Mbandaka lies DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, a mega-city of some 11 million people. Unlike flu, which is airborne, Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. That is threat enough in war-torn cities without proper sewerage.

So far, the DRC outbreak seems controllable. Yet more than 11,000 people died in west Africa from an Ebola outbreak in 2014. And imagine if Ebola manages one day to become airborne, as flu did. If something like that happened in the modern world, we would rapidly find we were living in a fools’ paradise. And our present habit of forget and seeming in the other direction would seem a catastrophic act of global folly.

* Martin Kettle is a Guardian columnist

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MH17 downed by Russian military missile system, say investigators

International team says proof indicates missile came from a Russia-based unit

A Russian military missile was responsible for shooting down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, an international team of researchers said on Thursday, for the first time pointing the thumb immediately at Moscow.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people onboard were killed.

In 2016, examiners announced they had evidence that the BUK system involved in the incident had intersected the border into eastern Ukraine from Russia and returned after the plane had been shot down.

At a press conference in The Hague on Thursday, the investigators presented photo and video evidence that they said proven they had identified the specific BUK missile system responsible.

They said they had” legal and persuading proof which will stand up in a courtroom” that the BUK system involved came from the 53 rd anti-aircraft weapon brigade based in Kursk, in western Russia.

Previously, the investigative website Bellingcat has pointed to involvement of the same brigade using open-source info.

The joint investigation squad( JIT) looking into the incident is made up of Dutch attorneys and police and others from Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine. They proved photos and video of the convoy that carried the missile system over the border from Russia to Ukraine, and a series of distinctive commemorates and serial numbers which they said had were allowed trace the exact system being implemented in the two attacks, and tracing it to the 53 rd brigade.

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Investigators identify Russian military rocket that might have downed MH17 – video

Russian officials have denied all involvement in the incident, and on Thursday the defence ministry repeated these refusals, claiming that no Russian missile had ever crossed into Ukraine. Kremlin-linked media outlets have floated a range of implausible theories indicating Ukraine was responsible for shooting down the plane. Russia has use its veto in the UN to prevent an international court from being set up to determine remorse, meaning any eventual trial would be held in the Netherlands under Dutch law.

Fred Westerbeke, the chief prosecutor, said the investigation was in its last phase but could not say when he would be ready to file indictments. Two years ago, prosecutors said there were about 100 people under suspicion of direct or indirect involvement. On Thursday, Westerbeke said that number had come down to several dozen, but he declined to name them.

He said there was other evidence that would be kept secret until a court hearing began.” We don’t want to tell everything we know because then we are opening our cards to the other side and we do not want to do that .”

The big question will be how a future court will operate, dedicated Russia is likely to continue its policy of stonewalling and denial. Examiners had asked Russian authorities for information about the 53 rd brigade but had been dismissed, said Westerbeke. If specific Russian military personnel or commandants are indicted, Russia is almost certain to refuse their extradition.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said the countries that make up the JIT were now” considering alternatives” about how to proceed.” That a sophisticated weapon are members of the Russian army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave international concern ,” she said.

The JIT stopped short of saying it believed the BUK system was deployed as part of a Russian military mission, saying only that they had identified the base from which it came. In a sign that some evidence is still missing, the JIT repeated a call for those with information about the incident to come forward, including information about the 53 rd brigade, promising anonymity.

” The next crucially important step is to identify some members of the military in the 53 rd brigade … who can immediately tell who was involved in the transfer or operation of the BUK ,” told Ukrainian army general Vasyl Hrytsak, a member of the investigation team, in comments to Reuters.

Bellingcat said it would hold a press conference on Friday to present new findings on MH17.

In the weeks before MH17 was shot down, the separatists had shot down a number of Ukrainian military aircrafts over east Ukraine, and intercepted communications between separatist fighters made it clear that they initially believed they had made another military airplane , not a civilian liner.

Russia has repeatedly denied it was militarily active in eastern Ukraine, despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary. In 2014, Russian troops and hardware were introduced at key moments to back pro-Russia separatists fighting against Ukrainian government troops.

After a series of Russian media claims of Ukrainian responsibility were all presented to be false, Moscow appears to have settled on the idea that it was ” impossible to tell” which side was responsible.

This week a group of families of the MH17 victims wrote an open letter to the Russian people before the World Cup begins next month.

” We are painfully aware of the dark irony that the Russian leaders who will profess to welcome the world with open arms are those who are principally held accountable for shattering our world ,” the letter tells.” And that it is these same leaders who have persistently sought to hide the truth, and who have evaded responsibility ever since that dreadful day in July 2014.”

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Irish pro-choice campaigners recount #HomeToVote journeys online

Hashtag has been used by Irish voters travelling home to referendum yes in the abortion referendum

Whether it is boarding 13 -hour flights or thanking the strangers that have funded their journeys, Irish citizens are sharing their tales on social media as they travel home from all over the world to cast their vote in the country’s historic referendum on abortion. The hashtag #HomeToVote has been used across social media channels by those in favour of repealing the 8th amendment as they converge in Ireland to cast their votes.

Many were visibly displaying their supporting through clothing and badges, and noticed is supportive of the campaign on the way. One advocate, who flew home to canvass and vote, tweeted that his flight attendant wore a’ Ta’- the Irish for yes- badge on his flight.

IO for Yes // May 25 th (@ iarlaoh)

The flight attendant checking my ticket on the plane #hometovote this morning was wearing a “Ta” badge. 🙂

May 20, 2018

Not everyone found that fellow travellers understood the significance of their journey, however, and “ve felt it” reverberate the experience of the women who have to travel abroad for abortions under the present constitution.

” Boarding a 13 -hour flight from Buenos Aires to London. London to Dublin tomorrow. No one at airport knows what my repeal jumper means. No one here knows why I’m travelling. If this feels isolating for me, can’t imagine how lonely it must be 4 her, travelling 2 the UK ,” tweeted Ciaran Gaffney. He also posted an image of himself in his repeal jumper in Buenos Aires

The 13 hour flight I’m about to take hasn’t got a patch on the 1hr flight that your sister, your friend, the girl on your street, your mom, your employer, your colleague, individual employees, your girlfriend or any of the women of Ireland might have to take today, or had to take yesterday, or have had to take in the past 35 years. Let’s stop saying that cowardly act of exporting this issue to our neighbouring countries, and let’s #repealthe8th!

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Birds had to relearn flight after meteor wiped out dinosaurs

Fossil records indicate merely flightless birds survived when T rex was wiped off the Earth

Birds had to rediscover flight after the meteor strike that killed off the dinosaurs, scientists say.

The cataclysm 66 m years ago not only wiped out Tyrannosaurus rex and ground-dwelling dinosaur species, but also flying birds, a detailed survey of the fossil record suggests.

As woodlands burned around the world, the only birds to survive were flightless emu-like species that lived on the ground.

” Seeming at the fossil record, at plants and birds, there are multiple lines of proof is recommended that the forest canopies collapsed ,” said Regan Dunn, a member of the team from the Field Museum in Chicago, US.” Perching birds ran extinct because there were no more perches .”

The six to nine-mile-wide meteor struck the Earth off the coast of Mexico, releasing a million times more energy than the largest atom bomb. Hot debris raining from the sky is thought to have triggered global wildfires immediately after potential impacts.

Fossil records reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs for living on the ground. Photo: Denver Museum of Nature& Science/ University of Bath

It took hundreds or even thousands of years for the world’s forests of palms and pines to recover. Fossil records from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, all show evidence of mass deforestation. They also reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs made for living on the ground. They resembled emus and kiwis, said the researchers whose findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

” The ancestors of modern tree-dwelling birds did not move into the trees until the woods had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid ,” told Daniel Field, from the University of Bath and a co-author of the paper published in Current Biology.

” Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrate animals- there are nearly 11,000 living species ,” he added.” Merely a handful of ancestral bird ancestries succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors .”

The team are now focused on reconstructing the recovery of bird populations and how new species emerged and thrived in the ecological niche left by the extinction of dinosaurs.

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Police in south India accused of mass murder after shooting dead protesters

Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

Opposition legislators in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of perpetrating mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

Ten people were shot dead and about 80 wounded by police after crowds set fire to vehicles and pelted officers with stones on Tuesday. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23 -year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday.

The Madras high court ordered a halting to the expansion of the 400,000 -tonne facility in response to the unrest, and ordered authorities to hold public hearings before granting environmental acceptance to the construction.

The smelter, operated by an Indian subsidiary of London-based Vedanta Resources, has been repeatedly shut down over pollution objections and was penalty PS10m in 2013 for violating environmental norms and operating without the consent of the state pollution board.

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Nine pollution protesters killed in India after police open fire- video report

The same year, activists allege a gas leak from the plant left hundreds with inhaling difficulties, nausea and throat infections.

Residents and environmentalists have been protesting for the past three months against plans to doubled the capacity of the copper plant that they say is polluting the air and fisheries around the site.

Sterlite Copper, the Indian subsidiary that owns the plant, says the facility operates” within all the specified parameters” and blamed the unrest on” nefarious components “.

Outrage over the security forces killings grew on Wednesday, and was fuelled by a video indicating a plainclothes police officer boarding a bus and firing his rifle at protesters. A voice could be heard in the background telling:” At least one should die .”

MK Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party, the DMK, said police were guilty of atrocities.

” Mass assassination of innocent people ,” he tweeted on Wednesday.” Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted ?”

Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths” a brutal instance of state-sponsored terrorism “.” These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice ,” he said.

P Mahendran, superintendent of Thoothukudi district police, said 18 policemen were also wounded in the clashes.” The situation is tense but under control today ,” he told.” The postmortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today .”

The plant, about 375 miles( 600 km) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site.

The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.

Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of many thousands of with a baton charge and teargas volleys failed before authorities use live ammunition.

Tamil Nadu chief minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.

” The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence ,” he said.

The families of each victim would be offered 1 million rupees( PS11, 000) compensation, he added.

A spokeswoman for Vedanta Resources said it had witnessed the deaths at the protest” with great sorrow and regret “.” The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community ,” she said.

Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most prosperous and industrialised nations but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed.

Thoothukudi was also the site of violent protests in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Kudankulam district that left person or persons dead.

Agence France-Press contributed to this report

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