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Rethink the News

Perspective matters.

Reducing news to hard lines and side-taking leaves a lot of the story untold. Progress comes from challenging what we hear and considering different views.

2018
July
24
Tuesday

In international soccer, when a national team player retires, it is usually a bittersweet affair. But in the case of German midfielder Mesut Özil, it has set off a firestorm over immigration and racism.

Mr. Özil has been one of Germany’s biggest stars over the past decade. Of Turkish descent, he has been held up as a symbol of German multiculturalism.

But his Turkish heritage has posed challenges, particularly when he appeared in a photo in May with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a famously tense relationship with Germany. Özil said the shot was innocent, but for many, it was politically loaded.

Then came Germany’s crash out of the World Cup last month. Though it was hardly his fault, Özil became a scapegoat, even for football association leadership. He lost sponsorships. He was lambasted in the press.

For Özil, it looked as if the football world that once feted him had turned racist. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” he tweeted in his retirement announcement Sunday.

But Özil’s decision has set off a greater discussion. Has Germany done enough to embrace its citizens of multiple national loyalties? What should be done about the xenophobic undertone that has been exposed in German society?

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Now to our five stories of the day.

1. Turkey's state of emergency is lifted, but its state of mind endures

The Özil controversy owes much to German frustration with the state of democracy in Turkey. President Erdoğan ended a two-year state of emergency, but its contribution to his grip on power may be lasting.

Arthur
Kayhan Ozer/AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses supporters at a rally in Istanbul on March 11, 2017, in advance of the national referendum the following month that created a more powerful executive presidency.

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In the two years since a failed coup in Turkey, a draconian state of emergency has been in place. Under its auspices, real or perceived dissent was quashed in the name of battling “terrorism.” Some 160,000 public employees were purged and 60,000 people arrested. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lifted the state of emergency last week, but the mind-set it engendered, along with tough proposed anti-terrorism laws, has led many to believe that Turkey’s securitized state has become permanent. At the top is Mr. Erdoğan, exercising near-unassailable powers. “This was an extremely well-organized and masterminded emergency rule, and it served the very purpose of the executive presidency without checks or balances that Mr. Erdoğan was contemplating,” says Cengiz Aktar, a Turkish political scientist at the University of Athens. “Turkey is not going back to the rule of law with an independent judiciary, with a functioning legislature,” says Professor Aktar, echoing the complaints of Turkish opposition parties. “It’s a highly centralized, totalitarian system that has been put in place.… Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population approves of this way of being ruled. This is probably the most worrisome outcome.”

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Turkey's state of emergency is lifted, but its state of mind endures

Shortly after surviving a coup attempt two years ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the failed bid to topple him “a gift from God” for exposing his enemies, and promised to shape “a new Turkey.”

Also within days, Mr. Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) implemented a draconian state of emergency that critics say has been instrumental in turning the Turkish political model into a textbook case of authoritarian rule.

The state of emergency was lifted last week, but the mindset engendered by constant purges, tens of thousands of arrests, and now especially by new, tougher proposed anti-terrorism laws, have led many to believe that Turkey’s securitized state has become permanent. At the top is Erdoğan, exercising the near-unassailable powers of a newly elevated executive presidency, which came into being when he won presidential elections on June 24.

“This was an extremely well-organized and masterminded emergency rule, and it served the very purpose of the executive presidency without checks or balances that Mr. Erdoğan was contemplating – that is crystal clear,” says Cengiz Aktar, a Turkish academic and political scientist at the University of Athens.

“Turkey is not going back to the rule of law with an independent judiciary, with a functioning legislature,” says Professor Aktar, echoing the complaints of Turkish opposition parties. “It’s a highly centralized, totalitarian system that has been put in place. [Erdoğan] doesn’t need a state of emergency; he has established a permanent state of emergency.”

Under the auspices of those emergency rules, an assault on civil society has transformed politics since the attempted coup. In key institutions – from the judiciary and media to the security forces and political opponents of the AKP – real or perceived dissent was quashed in the name of battling “terrorism.”

Purges and arrests

On the night of July 15, 2016, rebel Turkish troops moved tanks onto a bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, and Turkish pilots bombed the parliament building in Ankara. But the plot failed after Erdoğan, appearing live on a cell-phone video link held up to a CNN Türk camera, called on his supporters to take to the streets and fight the would-be putschists. Some 240 Turks died, and more than 2,000 were injured, in an event that traumatized Turkey as much as it presented an opportunity for radical political change.

Turkey blames the coup attempt on exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, a charismatic preacher who once worked hand-in-hand with the Islamist-rooted AKP to rein in secular security forces and political opponents. But it has been unable to convince the United States to extradite Mr. Gülen from his compound in Pennsylvania. Gülen denies the allegation, but former disciples suggest that their years-long infiltration of Turkish institutions was for just such a purpose, one day.

Officials coined the term Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) to describe Gülen’s multitude of followers, and those accused of any link were among the 160,000 public employees, from teachers to policemen to judges, dismissed under the state of emergency with little recourse. Some 60,000 were arrested, and 200 media outlets closed.

The emergency powers were also used in the Turkish state’s fight against Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which resumed three years ago, and its bid to control Islamic State operatives.

AKP officials deny that the state of emergency is permanent, or that Erdoğan used it to consolidate one-man rule. Yet they also make clear that they see a benefit in retaining its powers.

'State has to protect itself'

The threat from FETÖ “is still as valid as the day we fought their jet fighters and tanks in the streets to foil the takeover,” argued İlnur Çevik, a presidential aide, in the pro-government Daily Sabah last week.

“Every day, a member of the terrorist group is caught and turns into an informant, often revealing the names of dozens of ‘sleepers’ that are then arrested,” wrote Mr. Çevik.

Before the coup, “authorities were stalled by laws and could not really cleanse the state of these villains,” wrote Çevik. The state of emergency changed that, so its removal means “we find ourselves in a rather awkward situation. The fight against FETÖ is far from over, and the state needs ammunition to cope with the traitors.”

The proposed terrorism laws do not amount to a “veiled” state of emergency, he added. “The state has to protect itself.”

Other officials compare the new proposals to robust French security laws authorized last year in France, at the end of a two-year state of emergency there.

“They transferred the emergency rule powers to normal laws…. We will complete this process,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in early July, before Turkish voters reelected Erdoğan, triggering an executive system that abolished Mr. Yıldırım’s post of prime minister. Turks approved of the executive presidency in a referendum last year that was orchestrated by Erdoğan and the AKP.

Emrah Gurel/AP
Police officers look on as supporters of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party gather to protest near central Istanbul's Taksim Square on April 16, 2018. Turkey's controversial two-year-long state of emergency has been lifted, but the government is proposing new anti-terrorism laws it says are needed to deal with continued security threats.

The proposed anti-terror measures would enable new commissions to be set up in judicial bodies and among security forces and universities. That would allow purges to continue, with little requirement to show evidence of a link to FETÖ or other “terror” group. Detention times would be extended, and governors hand-picked by the president would have special powers to limit movement and demonstrations. Most measures are meant to expire after three years.

Suppressing dissent

Opposition parties have cried foul, charging that a de facto state of emergency will remain, suppressing dissent. Opposition presidential candidates each promised to lift the emergency rules on their first day, if they won. The popularity of that message appeared to have convinced Erdoğan to make the same promise on the eve of the closely fought election.

“Even if the state of emergency period is actually over, the status of the state of emergency will continue,” Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told BBC Türkçe last week.

“We do not yet have any signals that there will be a return to normalization at this time,” said Prof. Akdeniz. “Every country has a terrorism problem, but the important point to note here is that the new regulations erode fundamental rights and freedoms.”

A final group of 18,632 public employees was purged in early July, just before the lifting of the emergency rule, adding to the 160,000 already discharged.

“This state of emergency now is a permanent way of ruling the country,” says Aktar, the political scientist. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population approves of this way of being ruled. This is probably the most worrisome outcome.”

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2. Has new law tilted Israel away from democratic values?

In the decades since its creation, leaders of Israel have sought to preserve a balance between its "two nonnegotiable identities": Jewish and democratic. A new law, critics say, has upset that balance.

Arthur

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The narrow passage last week in Israel of a pseudoconstitutional amendment has brought the decades-long tension between the nation as a democracy and as a Jewish state to a full boil. The so-called Basic Law defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Its supporters on the Israeli right see it as a long overdue recognition of a Jewish right to self-determination. Its detractors, including Israeli Jews and Arabs and some mainstream US Jewish groups, see it as harmful for omitting any mention of democracy or minority rights. Mohammed Dawarshe is an Arab activist who works for coexistence with Israeli Jews. “This is a downgrading,” he says. “I considered myself as a citizen, and that Israel is my state. Today the state says to me, ‘I am not your state.’ ” Author Yossi Klein Halevi says the basic law is provocative and lacks sensitivity to Arab citizens. “Israel is based on two nonnegotiable identities,’’ he says. “The homeland of all Jews, whether or not they are citizens of Israel, and it’s the state of all its citizens, whether or not they are Jews.”

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Has new law tilted Israel away from democratic values?

The reaction to Israel’s defining new law, akin to a constitutional amendment, could not have been more starkly divided.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads a coalition government considered to be the most right-wing in Israel’s history, called the newly minted law a “landmark,” and posed for a celebratory selfie in the parliamentary chamber. Elsewhere in the building, Israeli-Arab lawmakers tore copies of the legislation to shreds.

The split-screen reaction at the Knesset last Thursday followed immediately after the parliament narrowly passed legislation that enshrined the state of Israel as an exclusively Jewish national project.

Hailed by supporters as long overdue, and derided by detractors as harmful or unnecessary at best, the legislation brings the decades-long tension between Israel as a democracy and as a Jewish state to a full boil.

Dubbed, “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” the legislation elevates the status of Hebrew over Arabic, encourages “Jewish settlement,” and omits any reference to democracy or equality for Israel’s Arab minority, who are 20 percent of the population.

 

Olivier Fitoussi/AP
A Knesset usher removes Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset representing the Balad party, who was protesting the passage of the nation-state bill, in Jerusalem July 19, 2018. Opponents and rights groups have criticized the legislation, warning that it will sideline minorities such as the country's Arabs.

“This is a stab in the back,’’ says Kamal Adwan, editor of “Hona,” a newspaper of the Druze community, which, unlike most Israeli Arab groups, sends its high school graduates to serve in the Israeli army.

“This law doesn’t give equality to citizens of the country, and classifies them according to different levels of citizenship,” he says. “The Druze community has always considered itself part of the state. Suddenly, it discovers it’s a second-class citizen.”

Mohammed Dawarshe, an Arab activist who works for co-existence with Israeli Jews, says he learned about democracy and equal rights in political science courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, adding that the nation-state bill upends those notions.

“This is a downgrading. I considered myself as a citizen, and that Israel is my state,’’ he said. “Today the state says to me, ‘I am not your state.’ I feel stateless, a political orphan who has buried his political father. It’s a sad development for me and my community.”

At first glance, the law seemingly states the obvious: It enshrines the country’s national anthem, establishes the Star of David banner with blue and white as Israel’s official flag, and reaffirms Israel’s Law of Return granting Jews outside of Israel automatic citizenship if they immigrate.

Dan Balilty/AP
Israeli soldiers stand during the 'Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum' in Nazareth, Dec. 22, 2013. Army service in Israel is mandatory for most Jews. Druze Arab leaders signed up their community for army service in the 1950s, and Druze men have been conscripted ever since, while Muslims and Christians are not required to serve.

But there are some new wrinkles that many say formalize a hierarchy between Jews and Arabs. The law declares that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” Hebrew is recognized as the language of the state while Arabic, which had been an official language alongside Hebrew since the years preceding Israel’s establishment, is designated as a language with a special status. Another clause embraces “Jewish settlement” as a “national value” – this was watered down from a previous version that endorsed segregated towns.

The omissions of the law are significant as well, say critics. The bill makes no mention of the rights of the country’s Arab minority, nor does it discuss the principle of equality, or refer to Israel’s democratic system of government. The influence of the legislation is all the more potent because of its status as one of 15 “basic laws” that establish constitutional government institutions and legal values.

Though the law has little immediate practical impact, Israeli critics say it will poison already-strained relations between Arabs and Jews, and potentially inspire undemocratic laws and exclusivist judicial rulings in the future.

'What do we need this for?'

“Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people without this law, and this is accepted by the countries of the world; so what do we need this for?” says Yedidia Stern, a law professor at Bar-Ilan University. “Supreme Court judges of the next generation will be able to say that equality isn’t secured [constitutionally] on the highest level, whereas the Jewish character is secured on the highest level.”

Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister whose political career started in Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, tweeted that passage of the law has effectively made the notion of “democracy” into a profanity.

The same concern underpinned pointed statements by some mainstream US Jewish groups that criticized the bill. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said it was “deeply disappointed” by the parliament’s passage of the law and said it was “unnecessary.” The law “puts at risk” Israeli efforts to build a democracy, the AJC said.

“There is a prevailing sense that the bill short-changed democratic values, and there is a fear it will harm Jewish-Arab relations, which American Jewry is deeply invested in,’’ wrote Scott Lasensky, a former US diplomat during the Obama administration. “On top of that, and more tactically, there is a general sense that the bill will make it more challenging to defend Israel.”

US Jewish groups also believe the law could be interpreted to formalize discrimination by Israel’s Orthodox religious establishment against liberal Jewish streams.

Jewish self-determination

From the moment of the nation’s founding, Israelis have struggled to strike a balance between two seemingly contradictory values: the country’s raison d’être as a homeland for the Jews and an aspiration to a democracy that ensures equal rights to all its citizens. Those values are enumerated in Israel’s Declaration of Independence from 1948, but they were never codified in a formal constitution.

Avraham Diskin, a professor of political science at Hebrew University and a longtime proponent of the bill, says the legislation is necessary to establish a right to self-determination for Jews. While values of democracy, equality, and human rights are enshrined in other Israeli basic laws, like “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty,” the Jewish character of the country had been ignored, he says.

“The only people in the world who are denied the right of self-determination are the Jewish people, even if the Jewish people are willing to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination,’’ Professor Diskin says. The nation-state basic law was also necessary to serve as a judicial counterweight to basic laws that emphasize democracy and human rights.

During the debate before the bill’s passage, one of its main sponsors, Avi Dichter, a member of the Likud and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, offered a more provocative defense, saying the legislation’s purpose is to snuff out the demands of Arab citizens to establish a “state of all its citizens.’’ That concept has become a bane of the Israeli right wing because it purportedly would denude Israel of a Jewish character.

“You weren’t here before us, and you won’t remain here after us. All you can do is to live as a national minority among us,’’ said Dichter in the plenum, addressing Arab colleagues. “We are passing this bill in order to avoid even a scrap of thought or effort, to turn Israel into a state of all its citizens.’’

Global trend

Observers said the law, which had passed through numerous iterations and versions over nearly a decade, reflects Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state in peace negotiations. Israeli right-wingers complain that if the international community supports a Palestinian state, then it should recognize Israel as a state of the Jewish people.

According to some critics, the new basic law is part of an international trend of ascendant nativist nationalist forces in both Europe and the US that seek to curtail some of the universalist political traditions in their respective countries. Moreover, with the solid backing of the Trump administration, Israel’s government has felt it had more latitude to enact such nationalist reforms.

“We are in a struggle like many other countries to preserve our democratic culture,’’ says Yossi Klein Halevi, author of the book “Letter to My Palestinian Neighbor” and a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Although Israel’s democracy hasn’t been dismantled, Mr. Halevi says, the basic law is provocative and lacks sensitivity to Arab citizens.

“Israel is based on two non-negotiable identities,’’ he says. “The homeland of all Jews, whether or not they are citizens of Israel, and it’s the state of all its citizens, whether or not they are Jews.

“Anything that upsets that balance, in either direction, is a threat to Israel.”

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3. ESA shakeups: Does protecting species have to be a zero-sum game?

Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act rocked the conservation world last week. At the heart of the debate lies a fundamental issue: how to balance the needs of people and nature.

Arthur
Courtesy of Chuck Graham/USFWS
Once teetering on the edge of extinction, the Santa Cruz Island fox has since rebounded enough to be removed from the endangered and threatened species list. Advocates say that protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act aided in its recovery.

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Rifts in how Americans assign value to land have dogged the Endangered Species Act for decades. Those tensions seem to have reached a boiling point this summer, with lawmakers proposing dozens of changes related to the ESA. The latest and most sweeping proposal came Thursday in the form of changes to the law’s regulatory framework. Central to the debate is the question of what to do when human habitat intersects with the habitat of endangered species. For some, the issue is personal, as in the case of farmers who suddenly discover that critical habitat designation has rendered a portion of their land unusable. Others see ESA regulations as an impediment to economic development. Opponents of the changes, however, argue that economic concerns cannot outweigh the moral obligation to protect species. The way forward may require a collaboration between these two interests. “We want to ensure that we have not only a healthy and vibrant ecology but also healthy and vibrant economies,” says Ryan Yates of the American Farm Bureau Foundation. “By working together and finding that balance, we can achieve that.”

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1. ESA shakeups: Does protecting species have to be a zero-sum game?

The American burying beetle doesn’t look like much. But the inch-long, black and orange bug is at the center of a controversy.

The beetle is considered endangered, so its habitat is protected by law. Construction projects, oil drilling, and other industrial projects can come to a screeching halt if one beetle is discovered on the property. And that can translate to job losses, a price many say is unreasonable for the sake of a bug.

But others argue that the burying beetle provides too important of an ecosystem service to risk total loss of the insects from their historic range across the Great Plains through the Midwest and into New England. They bury dead things, then eat them, kick-starting the process of turning carcasses into fertilizer.

The debate around the American burying beetle doesn’t stand alone. It’s a microcosm of tension surrounding a 45-year-old environmental law designed to halt extinctions.

Under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), plants and animals that are determined to be at risk of extinction are listed as either “threatened” or “endangered.” Species on the list are given protection and recovery plans. Their habitat is also protected from degradation that could risk their recovery.

That’s where much of the tension comes in: when an endangered species’ habitat is also human habitat. At the heart of the debate around the ESA lies a question of how we value human needs in relation to the natural world.

“America has always had this tension between, ‘Here we are going to have this wild, and here we are going to develop,’ ” says George Frisvold, professor of agriculture and resource economics at the University of Arizona. “It comes down to people’s willingness to pay, to put their money where their mouth is.… Some humans are going to value habitat and species, and others aren’t.”

Those tensions seem to be reaching a boiling point in legislative circles. Lawmakers have proposed more than two dozen amendments, policy initiatives, and pieces of legislation regarding the ESA and its implementation in recent weeks. Many of these proposed changes would reduce restrictions on economic development as a result of the law.

The latest and most sweeping proposal came from the Trump administration on Thursday in the form of changes to the regulatory framework of the law. The potential revisions address protections for threatened species, what habitat requires protection, criteria for adding and removing species from the list, and the inclusion of economics into listing decisions.

“This is the biggest proposed regulatory change in the ESA since the agency first wrote their initial rules,” says Robert Fischman, a professor of law and public and environmental affairs at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Merrily Cassidy/The Cape Cod Times/AP
Lou Perrotti lets an American burying beetle crawl on his hand on June 26, 2018. Mr. Perrotti is the director of conservation programs at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence and has been working to preserve the beetle on the East Coast.

Close quarters

At the heart of the issue is the question of what to do when human habitat intersects with the habitat of endangered species. Any land considered critical habitat for an endangered or threatened species is protected under the ESA, even if the species in question does not currently reside there. The idea is that the species might need more space as it recovers. But that can also mean an added cost for landowners.

For some, the effect is personal. If critical habitat is found on a farm, for example, “you’ve got a farmer that’s really just trying to do normal farming practices, but now those are going to be jeopardized because of all the paperwork and burdens that come with ESA interpretation,” explains Ryan Yates, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation. And after all that, they could end up being unable to use a large portion of their land.

For others, this is seen as an impediment to economic development in a region. In some cases, says Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Denver-based lobbying group Western Energy Alliance, the measures required to maintain that critical habitat and drill for oil or gas in a given area become prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, and this might drive companies away.

One of the proposed changes would redefine how the federal government designates critical habitat in several ways that would reduce the amount of land subject to ESA regulations. Under another, species listed as “threatened” would no longer receive automatic blanket protections. Instead, agencies would have to decide to devise a protection plan – a measure that opponents say will lead to fewer protections and therefore fewer regulations.

David Hinkel/US Fish and Wildlife Service
The West Indian manatee, seen here swimming in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, was reclassified from endangered to threatened in 2017. Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, announced Thursday, could alter the level of protection afforded species that are newly listed as threatened.

“It makes sense from time to time to look at the red tape and say, ‘Are all of these rules and procedures actually effective? Or are they just hindering economic activity without providing a benefit to the species?’ ” says Ms. Sgamma, who supports the proposed changes. “It’s important to look and see if these balances are achieved.”

A common criticism of the ESA is that it has had too little of an impact on endangered species for the burdens it has caused on humans. Mr. Yates calls it a “slap in the face” to farmers who are diligently complying with regulations and willing to help recover endangered species.

Whether or not the ESA has been successful depends on how you define success. Is the law supposed to prevent extinction, or bring species back from the brink all the way to the point of not needing protections anymore?

By the former measure, the law is a success. Ninety-nine percent of listed species have not gone extinct. But by the latter, it looks a little different. Three percent of listed species have been delisted due to recovery.

Giving biodiversity weight

Balance is also a rallying call for those opposed to the proposed changes. But they focus more on the other side of the balance: the value of protecting biodiversity.

That has been the focus since the beginning. The Endangered Species Act was actually signed into law because economic concerns were seen as dominating the conversation at the time, says Jason Shogren, chair of natural resource conservation and management at the University of Wyoming.

“Before the ESA, there were no weights put on the nonmarket side,” he says. “With the ESA, it’s like they put a boulder on that side.”

That boulder was intended to give weight to the less tangible values of biodiversity and habitat. For example, natural landscapes and species can hold the keys to future scientific discoveries, yet-undiscovered medical cures, cultural significance, recreational importance, or aesthetic value. “Those don’t get registered in the market system,” Professor Shogren says.

In the section detailing criteria for ESA listing, the law explicitly states that that decision must be made “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination.” One of the proposed changes would remove that phrase.

The absence of explicit economic considerations in the listing stage is what has given the ESA its power, says Shogren. “The ESA does not ask us to account for benefits and costs of saving a species,” he says. “It says the species is at risk, and that’s all we have to know.”

And that, he says, implies that people are assigning a significant, infinite, intrinsic value to nature.

As such, the ESA codifies into law that we value other species as priceless, says Bob Dreher, senior vice president of conservation programs at the Defenders of Wildlife. “There is no law that better captures the other-spiritedness of human beings than the Endangered Species Act. It is a commitment to the rest of life on the planet as part of the life of the planet.”

A path forward?

That commitment to prevent extinction is a sentiment shared across the board. Despite so many legislative petitions to change the implementation of the law, public support for the ESA remains high – across the political spectrum. In a survey conducted in 2015, nearly 90 percent of liberals and 74 percent of conservatives supported the ESA.

“Nobody wants to see wildlife go extinct, unless you’re crazy,” Yates says. And from that common ground, compromise can be struck.

A few individual cases have already seen such dialogues. For example, when it became clear that the greater sage grouse might soon need ESA protections that might lead to land-use restrictions, the oil and gas industry, conservationists, politicians, and local landowners sat down together and found a solution that satisfied everyone. Years later the bird’s population has remained stable, and all parties – including industry – point to the sage grouse compromise as a plan that worked.

But the key in that story, says Vicky Meretsky, professor of environmental affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington, was that threat of regulation motivated dialogues. “You have to give people a reason to come to the table,” she argues. And without those land-use restrictions, “The act no longer has sufficient strength to require that level of cooperation.”

Yates disagrees that the proverbial stick is the only way to get everyone to the table. He hopes to see changes to the regulations that instead encourage more voluntary conservation, with channels for dialogues between farmers and other landowners, scientists, and regulators about the best practices to maintain a species’ habitat in conjunction with their livelihoods.

“We want to ensure that we have not only a healthy and vibrant ecology but also healthy and vibrant economies,” Yates says. “And by working together and finding that balance, we can achieve that.”

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4. As Pakistan votes, military tightens leash on the media

Voting rights, peaceful polls, transparency: All are key to fair elections. Another building block is an independent media, which many Pakistanis say is under threat ahead of tomorrow's vote.

Arthur

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Pakistan’s elections represent the second civilian transfer of power in its seven decades of independence, nearly half of which have been under military rule. But rights groups and media-watchers have warned that the military’s influence is still strong, if indirect – particularly as the election approaches. “There are now ample grounds to doubt [the polls’] legitimacy – with alarming implications for Pakistan’s transition to an effective democracy,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement this month. That bid for control is especially evident in the media, journalists say. In the past year, several say they have been abducted or intimidated, and say publications have been pressured not to give favorable coverage to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was sentenced on corruption charges earlier this month. But the growth of online media, and social media in particular, has made the press more difficult to police. “It’s a war of narratives, and they are losing it,” says journalist Gul Bukhari, who was briefly abducted and released last month.

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As Pakistan votes, military tightens leash on the media

Journalist Gul Bukhari was on her way to a television talk show one night in early June when the channel’s van was suddenly stopped in a military zone in Lahore. Several men forced her into a vehicle and sped her away.

News of Ms. Bukhari’s abduction first emerged on social media, drawing widespread outrage. Within hours, Bukhari – known for her criticism of the military’s influence on Pakistan’s politics – had been released. She refused to name her abductors, fearing for her safety, and the military denied involvement. But several political analysts, fellow journalists, and activists accused the Army of her abduction: one case, they allege, in months of press intimidation and restrictions ahead of July 25 elections.

The polls represent the second civilian transition of power in a country that has spent about half its seven decades of independence under military rule. It has been 19 years since the last military coup – a fact some celebrate as a sign of progress. But critics say that the military’s influence remains intact, albeit through more indirect tactics, such as muzzling voices against its policies ahead of elections. In particular, they allege, the news media have become a casualty in a current campaign to retain and extend the Army’s control over areas like defense and foreign policy – especially as the growth of internet use, and social media, makes information more difficult to police.

Last week, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) warned of “blatant, aggressive, and unabashed attempts to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming elections.”

“There are now ample grounds to doubt their legitimacy – with alarming implications for Pakistan's transition to an effective democracy,” the independent watchdog group said in a statement. Politicians from two major parties – former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – have also cast doubt on the legitimacy of the polls. Mr. Sharif and senior politicians in the PPP have accused intelligence officials of threatening their candidates to leave their parties or quit the race, in an effort to boost Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), chaired by former cricket star and anti-corruption candidate Imran Khan. 

“A coup has been creeping up under the noses of national and international media and observers,” says Afrasiab Khattak, a former senator and political analyst.

Media clampdown

Since Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947, its Army has played a central role in government, including three coups and many years of direct rule. Today, critics allege, it is more eager to maintain a cover of democracy – and journalists have increasingly borne the brunt of that campaign.

The country has often ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous for journalists, and is 139th out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index. Several journalists who have left in recent years have cited threats to their lives. The latest, Taha Siddiqui – formerly a correspondent for the Monitor – escaped an abduction attempt in Islamabad last January, and now resides in Paris with his family.

Many of the media restrictions involve coverage of Mr. Sharif. He was ousted from his third term as prime minister last year, when the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office over unreported income. His government had long been dogged by corruption accusations, but he and his supporters have argued that he was targeted after pushing for civilians to have more control of Pakistan’s foreign affairs. He alleged that the military was behind his ouster – as it had been in 1999, when he was deposed in a coup.

Early this month, Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail on corruption charges, and his daughter – who is considered his political heir – received a seven-year sentence. Both were in London at the time of the verdict, where Sharif's wife is undergoing cancer treatment. When they returned to Pakistan in mid-July, his fans came to the streets, but the pair was arrested at the airport.

“We were extremely scared over how to cover Sharif’s return,” says a senior TV producer at the Jang Group, Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We were asked not to show thousands of his supporters.”

Earlier this year, cable operators forced Geo News, run by Jang, off-air in most of Pakistan. Conditions of the deal to return it to TV, according to a Reuters report in April, included not criticizing the “establishment,” a common euphemism for the military, or the judiciary, and not giving favorable coverage to Sharif. The Jang producer and a reporter at the group confirmed the terms of the deal.

The military “often contact the management, threatening them over a news story or even a tweet by a staff member,” says the reporter.

Dawn, the most popular English-language newspaper in Pakistan, also had its circulation disrupted after it published an interview with Sharif in which he indirectly criticized the military.

In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, Dawn’s CEO Hameed Haroon decried “an unprecedented assault by the Pakistani military on the freedom of the press.”

“Certain forces aim to prevent the media from providing independent coverage of the country’s central political issue – specifically, a deepening power struggle between the military and the civil authorities,” he wrote.

Several writers have said their coverage of the so-called Pashtun Protection Movement in northwest Pakistan, which has accused the military of supporting Taliban in the area, has been censored.

'A war of narratives'

But the movement’s continued reliance on social media, to circumvent media censorship, may underscore a source of the military’s anxiety. Social media, Bukhari says, has played a major role in strengthening an alternative narrative to the one sanctioned in mainstream media. And the Army’s increasingly overt censorship, she says, is a result of facing new challenges to its control of public opinion.

“It’s a war of narratives, and they are losing it,” she says. “They expected Nawaz Sharif would quietly accept his disqualification and remain silent, but he rallied thousands of his supporters, both online and offline, to challenge the military’s narrative.”

Fewer than 1 in 5 Pakistanis use the internet, but that number is growing rapidly – increasing by 20 percent in 2016 alone. And more than 6 in 7 of those web users are active on social media, according to an analysis last year by the digital marketing groups Hootsuite and We Are Social.

Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the author of “Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy,” says the military is now aiming for more absolute control, though still under the guise of democracy. But it has hit a roadblock, she says.

“In PTI’s popularity, they see an opportunity to create a uniform, unchallenged nationalist narrative, but social media is turning their planning sour.”

Military intelligence agencies have not mastered the art of controlling online media, Mr. Khattak says. But while the Army has tried to intimidate individual journalists and bloggers, he says, there are simply too many online readers.

“It’s been a surprising factor to them.”

Umer Ali is a Pakistani journalist reporting on human rights, conflict, and censorship. He can be reached on Twitter at @Iamumer1

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5. With paint and patchwork, artists offer their perspective on immigration

As the immigration debate charges forward, artists are offering a different vantage point. Art provides a powerful and insightful – and safe – space to explore a topic as charged as immigration. 

Arthur

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Images of immigration are powerful, and artists across the United States are harnessing that power to help audiences understand the issue from a new perspective. At the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, Calif., a performance artist lies in a bed of mud. His prone figure evokes a death in the desert, perhaps along the US-Mexican border, perhaps in North Africa. Among the quilts exhibited across the country as part of the Migrant Quilt Project is one that includes an embroidered line reading, “Did you see a bird the day you died? Were you hot, thirsty, and frightened?” And John Moore’s 2018 book, “Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the United States-Mexico border,” shows the military-style training US border agents receive, the warlike conditions Guatemalans fleeing drug gangs leave behind when they head north, mothers carrying children across the border, and US law enforcement agents carrying the bodies of migrants who perished, often from heat exhaustion. While the mediums vary, the works exhibit a common thread, a desire for awareness. As Denver artist Sarah Fukami says, “That’s American – seeing the situation for what it is and wanting to make it better.”

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With paint and patchwork, artists offer their perspective on immigration

For a show Argentine-American curator Marisa Caichiolo mounted at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, Calif., Cuban performance artist Carlos Martiel lay in a bed of mud. His prone figure evoked a death in the desert, perhaps along the US-Mexican border, perhaps in North Africa.

Ms. Caichiolo, who co-founded Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica, Calif., to foster cross-cultural understanding, was applying for US citizenship as she was organizing the show.

“I was becoming an American based on fear,” she says of her concern that her previous status as a green card holder might not protect her from deportation. Caichiolo became a US citizen in November. 

Images of immigration can evoke many emotional subjects: global crisis and personal anxiety, history and identity, and life and death. They can even bring a touch of whimsy to a topic whose contentiousness is evident in debates, for example, over President Trump’s travel ban executive order that recently won Supreme Court approval in a 5-to-4 decision.

Loney Abrams, a curator and artist based in the New York borough of Brooklyn and editor in chief of Artspace magazine, says some artists respond to immigration “from a more political perspective. Some people are looking at the economic aspects. There’s other people who are looking at the social aspects.”

Ms. Abrams pointed to the collective known as Postcommodity and its “Repellent Fence,” an installation of 26 huge, brightly colored balloons that hovered over a two-mile stretch of the US-Mexican border in 2015.

Jody Ipsen founded the Migrant Quilt Project both to memorialize the hundreds of people who have died crossing the border in the desert near Tucson, Ariz., where she lives, and to spark conversation about immigration policy – and action. Peggy Hazard, an art historian and quilter who joined Ms. Ipsen’s volunteer team as curator, noted the long history of textile art being used to prick consciences in a 2016 paper titled “What the Eye Doesn’t See, Doesn’t Move the Heart.”

Among the quilts that have been exhibited around the United States is one created by Cornelia Bayley that includes an embroidered line reading, “Did you see a bird the day you died? Were you hot, thirsty, and frightened?” “It always makes me cry,” Ipsen says.

John Moore’s 2018 book, “Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the United States-Mexico Border,” shows the military-style training US border agents receive; the warlike conditions Guatemalans fleeing drug gangs leave behind when they head north; mothers carrying children across the border; and US law enforcement agents carrying the bodies of migrants who perished, often from heat exhaustion. Mr. Moore also captured images from a Texas immigration detention center for children. A concrete-gray 2014 image in “Undocumented” shows a Honduran boy of 7 or 8 in a warehouse-like space sectioned into pens by chain-link fencing. A guard at the facility that then housed children who had arrived unaccompanied at the US border watched the boy watching a “Casper” video.

“A photograph is most powerful when it makes people feel,” the Getty photographer says.

Seven decades before Moore stepped into the detention center, Ansel Adams visited the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California to photograph Japanese immigrants and their American-born children. Adams published his photographs in his 1944 book, “Born Free and Equal,” saying they showed “loyal American citizens,” a challenge to arguments that Japanese-Americans were inherently dangerous because of their ethnicity.

Denver artist Sarah Fukami layers prints of Adams’s photos with images such as patterns reminiscent of Japanese woodblock print. Her work refers to the stories she grew up hearing from relatives about having been taken from their homes in Washington State, stripped of their property, and interned. Years after, Ms. Fukami’s grandfather fought in the Korean War for the US, a country that had once treated him as an enemy.

“The Japanese way is to continue with pride and to persevere and believe and honor that justice will win out,” Fukami said. “That’s American – seeing the situation for what it is and wanting to make it better.”

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The Monitor's View

Prepping US workers for new skills

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Amid the controversies swirling around the White House, you might have missed President Trump’s launch of an initiative on workforce development. The United States and most other countries are poorly prepared to handle the waves of new technology, which some call Industry 4.0. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that as many as 375 million workers worldwide may need to change jobs or learn new skills by 2030. At the same time, there are not enough unemployed workers to match demand. Some 6.6 million jobs are currently unfilled. Mr. Trump’s move is a welcome response to these issues. He signed an executive order creating a National Council for the American Worker charged with developing better training and retraining of workers for high-demand industries. The president and others should also push Congress to reform the system to permit more immigrants who can bring special skills and talents needed in the economy. The US can also learn from best practices in other countries. This year, the Group of 20 and the Group of Seven both focused on preparing for jobs of the future. And a Wilson Center report called for coordination across North America. Canada and Mexico are the two largest partners of the US for building things together. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps through world markets, learning from others and sharing best practices is essential. America should lead the way by ensuring its workers are up to the tasks of the 21st century.

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Prepping US workers for new skills

Amid the controversies swirling around  the White House, you might have missed President Trump’s launch of an initiative on workforce development. His actions flag the need to address serious problems the US economy and America’s workers face: growing skills shortages, an increasing gap between unfilled jobs and workers to fill them, and solutions for the expected effects of rapid technological changes on future jobs and workplaces.

The United States and most other countries are poorly prepared to handle the waves of new technology, which some call Industry 4.0. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that as many as 375 million workers worldwide may need to change jobs or learn new skills by 2030 because of technological changes.

The anticipated challenges, in addition to a globalized economy and the rise of China, has left many American workers sidelined and left behind. Political leaders have fallen far short of providing solutions while the marketplace has failed to offer good alternatives for millions of workers and many communities hit by plant closures and industry moves.

At the same time, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, there are not enough unemployed workers in the current labor pool to match demand. Some 6.6 million jobs are currently unfilled. Even before this, 45 percent of employers told a Manpower survey that they struggled to fill job vacancies. There is a big mismatch between work and workers in the economy.

Mr. Trump’s move is a welcome response to these issues. He signed an executive order creating a National Council for the American Worker made up of senior officials charged with developing better training and retraining of workers for high-demand industries. The council will be aided by an advisory board to help craft ideas for improving such opportunities for workers.

The president also launched an initiative in which companies, business associations, and others pledge to generate and implement job-training programs that produce results. And the council and its advisory board will also focus on ways to better connect business, workers, and educational institutions.

These efforts should link up with other steps needed to bolster the economy, such as investment in education, research, and critical infrastructure. The president and others should also push Congress to reform the system to permit more immigrants who can bring special skills and talents needed in the economy.

The success of Trump’s proposals will depend on funding and implementing them, and how well they are linked to initiatives already under way in various US states and cities.

The US can also learn from best practices in other countries. This year, the Group of 20 – representing the world’s 20 largest economies – and the smaller Group of Seven both focused on preparing for jobs of the future. And a Wilson Center report called for coordination across North America. Canada and Mexico are the two largest partners of the US for building things together.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps through world markets, learning from others and sharing best practices is essential. America should lead the way by ensuring its workers are up to the tasks of the 21st century.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Inspiration in the night

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When worry and regret kept today’s contributor up one night, a more spiritual perspective brought her peace and welcome ideas for how to go forward.

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Inspiration in the night

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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One night I awoke with myriad troubled thoughts. Some were related to things I wished I had done differently. Others were worries about the future.

I soon realized that it wasn’t going to work to take each individual concern and analyze it in the middle of the night. I knew a complete reorientation of thought was necessary and would be beneficial.

There’s a passage about God in the Bible that really resonates with me. It says: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Reasoning from this perspective, I saw that despite how complex or insoluble the challenges we sometimes face may seem, they are simply not the making of God, who is divine Love.

This reminded me of a phrase I knew by heart from a book I study closely together with the Bible – “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (p. 468). The spiritual “all” of the divine Mind, or God, includes harmony, peace, joy, purpose, and order. Therefore these qualities are naturally manifested, or expressed, in each of us as God’s creation.

As I thought deeply about the meaning of all this, a shift occurred in my thinking. First, the agitation disappeared. Then a complete sense of calm came over me. In a short time, I fell asleep and slept soundly. I awoke refreshed and ready for work.

When I awoke, I was grateful for that. But there was more. New ideas came to me that morning about improving my home. I also had the inspiration to form a new business partnership I hadn’t considered. And forgiveness dawned in my heart toward someone for whom I’d been bearing some resentment. My life felt filled with light.

Turning to the spiritual sense of things, even at small moments like that one, can transform trials into triumphs. It makes each day, and each night, an opportunity for good.

Adapted from the July 11, 2018, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast.

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Viewfinder

Wildfires outside Athens

Yorgos Karahalis/AP
A man stands among charred trees and a burned-out car near the village of Neos Voutzas near Athens on July 24, 2018. More than 600 firefighters were battling the fast-moving blazes, and the country's fleet of water-dropping aircraft has been deployed. Greece has sought international help from its European Union partners as fires on either side of Athens left lines of cars torched, charred farms and forests, and sent hundreds of people racing to beaches to be evacuated by Navy vessels, yachts, and fishing boats. So far, at least 74 people have been killed, and the Greek prime minister has called for three days of mourning.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris and Jacob Turcotte. )
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In Our Next Issue

( July 25th, 2018 )

Thank you for accompanying our exploration of the world today. Please do come back tomorrow, when we will examine how same-sex married couples in France, despite having the legal right to adopt, are finding a deep resistance in the French establishment.

Monitor Daily Podcast

July 24, 2018
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