Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation during a press conference in Rome, after the results of Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reforms.

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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation during a press conference in Rome, after the results of Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reforms.

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Italian voters have dealt a serious defeat to the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In a referendum Sunday, they rejected Renzi’s proposed constitutional reforms, which would have changed the balance of power between the executive and Parliament.

The “no” vote is expected to win by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points, in what is seen as a resounding message of discontent with Renzi’s government. The lopsided result also signals the strength of anti-establishment sentiment in the country.

Renzi conceded the referendum in an address to the country, saying that he “takes full responsibility” for its defeat. In accordance with a promise he made before the vote, Renzi also announced that he intends to resign.

The 41-year-old politician had pinned his political future on the results, describing a “yes” vote as a step toward ending legislative gridlock. He campaigned aggressively before Italians went to the polls.

“If the ‘no’ vote wins, Italy will still have the biggest, most costly and slowest parliament in Europe,” Renzi had said.

NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli explained his proposals like this:

“The changes involve sharply reducing the size of one of the chambers of Parliament — the Senate — shifting its powers to the executive, and eliminating the Senate’s power to bring down government coalitions.

“The amendments also shift some powers now held by the regions to the central government, thereby reducing frequent and lengthy court battles between Rome and the regional governments.”

Many of those opposed to the changes argued they would place too much power in the hands of Italy’s chief executive — a prospect opponents say the crafters of the 1947 constitution deliberately wished to avoid. In the wake of World War II, and the fall of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the constitution tipped the balance of power more toward the country’s Parliament.

While the “no” camp drew voices from across the political spectrum — from former Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi to members of Renzi’s own Democratic Party — perhaps the most staunch resistance came from the Five-Star Movement. The anti-establishment group founded by comedian Beppe Grillo “terrifies Italy’s European partners,” Sylvia says.

She details the group’s platform:

“It calls for a government-guaranteed, universal income, abolishing Italy’s fiscal commitments to the European Union and a referendum on Italy’s membership in the Euro — a prospect that could unravel the entire single currency Eurozone.”

The result is likely to boost the profile and influence of the anti-immigrant group, which has been gaining in popularity in Italy. Virginia Raggi, Rome’s mayor and a member of the Five Star Movement, lauded the referendum result in a tweet, saying, “Italians have won. Now we can rebuild the country. Our revolution does not end, in Rome and in Italy.”

Far-right leaders across Europe have celebrated the decision, as well, interpreting it as a broad rejection of the European Union. As the BBC notes, “the referendum comes in the wake of the Brexit vote in the U.K. in June, and coincides with the rise of the anti-immigrant Front National in France and populist parties elsewhere.”

Marine Le Pen, leader of the the Front Nationale, a national conservative party in France, tweeted, “The Italians have disavowed the EU and Renzi. We must listen to this thirst for freedom of nations.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/04/504356413/italian-voters-reject-referendum-prompting-prime-ministers-resignation?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Nov. 19.

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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Nov. 19.

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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key surprised his country, announcing that he would be resigning in a week’s time. Key, who is also leader of the National Party, made his decision public at a press conference on Monday afternoon local time.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make hard decisions to make right decisions,” Key told reporters. “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, and I don’t know what I’ll do next.”

Key has served eight years as New Zealand’s prime minister — and, according to The Guardian, he was “one of the most popular prime ministers in New Zealand’s history.” He won his third term in office in September 2014.

At his press conference, Key said that it was the “right time” to step down, noting that he made his decision after a “pretty long discussion” with his wife. “On a family basis,” said the father of two, “I don’t think I could commit much longer than the next election.”

Now, attention turns to who will replace Key at the top of his party and his country’s government. Key threw his support behind Bill English, his deputy prime minister and minister of finance.

English, for his part, has not made a final decision yet whether he will seek to take up the mantle of prime minister.

“I’ll be talking to caucus and family today and tonight,” English told reporters. “I wouldn’t stand if there wasn’t strong caucus support for me standing.”

The matter will be decided at a National Party caucus on Dec. 12, the same date Key has said he will formally step down.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/04/504364536/new-zealands-prime-minister-announces-his-resignation?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Copies of local Chinese magazines at a news stand in Shanghai on Nov. 14, almost a week after Donald Trump was elected president.

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Copies of local Chinese magazines at a news stand in Shanghai on Nov. 14, almost a week after Donald Trump was elected president.

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President-elect Donald Trump’s unprecedented call to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has brought all varieties of foreign policy wonks out of the woodwork. Most are critical — some are mocking — of the president-elect’s break with four decades of diplomatic protocol.

Yet compared to some of the heated responses to Trump’s phone conversation, China’s response actually seems quite measured. After waiting nearly a full day, Beijing lodged a formal complaint — something it really had to do. It reiterated the importance of the “One China” policy, stating it hoped Trump would come to an understanding of this.

The response from Beijing was characterized by patience and understanding, and written in a statesmanlike manner — a departure from a government that is known to launch acerbic verbal attacks at those who it feels have “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.” China’s government seemed to understand the president-elect is facing a steep learning curve, and it hasn’t given up hope.

What is perhaps clear to the Chinese leadership is that a businessman is soon to be president of the United States. And Trump is very much acting like one. He was making a call to a loyal customer, as he pointed out in his second tweet about the matter, following a firestorm of criticism from Beltway pundits. Trump was, of course, ignoring decades of diplomatic protocol, but given the way his mind seems to work, should anyone really be surprised by this?

I spent time this weekend with several Western friends who have operated businesses in China for more than a decade. All of them speak Chinese and travel throughout the region, which includes Taiwan. Their consensus: Whether Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwan’s president was a diplomatic blunder or not, it broke new ground, because by doing so, Trump was — wittingly or not — putting China’s government on the defensive, throwing it off balance for a change.

For years, China’s government has been engaging in the same behavior with the United States, the European Union and with nearly every foreign business inside of China. My friends groused that China’s government always seems to get a free pass for what many see as bullying and discriminatory behavior.

Perhaps this kind of hawkish treatment of China’s government (if that’s what this was) is overdue, but when countries put one another on the defensive like this, it can have dangerous consequences.

For now, China’s leadership doesn’t seem to want to escalate this matter. But the question is: Will Trump behave this way once he’s in the White House? And how long will China – and other countries – continue to give Trump the benefit of the doubt before their patience runs out?

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/04/504342264/in-trumps-taiwan-kerfuffle-beijing-has-been-uncharacteristically-measured?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President-elect Donald Trump told supporters at a rally this week that he plans to nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as his defense secretary. General Mattis retired as chief of U.S. Central Command just two years ago, and that’s raised questions about whether the appointment so soon after his active service adheres to the spirit of civilian control over the military in this country. We will ask where that tradition comes from in just a few minutes this hour.

But first, a newsmaker conversation with the man who will be General Mattis’ British counterpart should the general win Senate approval. Sir Michael Fallon is the secretary of state for defence for the U.K. He’s visiting the U.S. – the first visit from a British cabinet minister since the U.S. elections last month. He was kind enough to join us on Friday just off the plane at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for speaking with us.

MICHAEL FALLON: Pleasure.

MARTIN: So we now know who you will likely be working with in the Trump administration – General Mattis. As I mentioned, he most recently led the Central Command which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. And I just wondered if you’d ever met him or had a chance to speak with him.

FALLON: I haven’t met him myself, personally, yet. I’m looking forward to doing that. And let me congratulate him on his nomination and wish him well during the confirmation process. He is well known to our military. He’s served, as you’ve said, in a number of commands and has also served with the NATO alliance. So our military are looking forward to working with him, and I’m looking forward to working with him because we’re at a critical point now in the battle against ISIL in the Middle East, the need to stand up to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and in many other trouble spots around the world, including Afghanistan.

MARTIN: There’s been so much change in the alliance on both sides of the Atlantic. I mean, certainly with Brexit on the U.K. side and then with the incoming Trump administration. Mr. Trump has espoused some very different views from our current president. For one thing, he’s been a critic of NATO, at least he was while he was on the campaign trail. How is that received on your end? How do you hear that?

FALLON: Well, we think he’s got a point with his criticisms of NATO. First, he wants European countries to shoulder more of the burden and so do we. He’s also, I think, made some criticisms of the NATO machinery. And, again, there were a number of reforms agreed back at the Wales and now the Warsaw summits this year to speed up the NATO decision-making, to cut through some of their bureaucracy and make sure that it can deploy its forces faster than it’s been able to do before. So we’re with president-elect on some of these criticisms.

MARTIN: You also mentioned the battle against ISIL. Right now, U.S. and British forces are supporting Iraqi troops in the battle of Mosul. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said the offensive has been a disaster. He said the American leaders planning it were quote, “a group of losers for not launching a surprise attack.” So two questions here. What is your view of the offensive? And given that Mr. Trump will be the commander in chief of American forces in about a month and a half or so, do you expect strategic changes in this broader campaign?

FALLON: Well, if I can take the second one first, I think you have to aim off some of the campaign rhetoric, stuff he said during campaigns. That doesn’t always translate through. I think Mario Cuomo famously said you campaign in poetry, and you govern in prose. And I’m not going to accuse President-elect Trump of perjury, but I think you can aim off some of the campaign rhetoric. And we’ll judge the president-elect on what he says and what he does.

Now, you asked me where the campaign is. The campaign in Iraq, the campaign is going well thanks to all the training that we and the United States have done and thanks to the airstrikes that we’re putting in on top of the ground combat forces. In Syria, the campaign is not going well, but that’s because of the civil war, which has still not been brought to an end and, at the moment, is beyond our power to bring it to an end because it is Russia that is the key to the Syrian regime there.

MARTIN: You’ve been secretary of state for defence since 2014, if I have that right.

FALLON: That’s right.

MARTIN: And this has been a time of increased tensions, you know, all over the world, really. I mean, we’ve seen, you know, the increased strength of – the rise, really, of ISIS or ISIL, as you’ve said. We’ve seen increased aggression from Russia. There’s been a trend toward – how can I say – a more assertive nationalism in many countries around the world. And I think many people would argue that the Brexit vote was part of that. Many people might argue that Donald Trump’s election was a part of that. I wondered whether this sort of more assertive nationalism has changed your job.

FALLON: I don’t think it’s the rise of populism or nationalism itself. I think there are just a number of concurrent threats out there. And I draw the opposite conclusion, which is we should not withdraw individually into our shells. On the contrary, we should work harder at the partnerships and the alliances that bind us together. So the threats that are coming against us are international, and that’s why the response has to be international as well, built around the key alliances that we have.

MARTIN: That was Sir Michael Fallon. He is the secretary of state for defence for the U.K. We reached him on Friday as he passed through Los Angeles. Sir Michael, thank you so much for speaking with us.

FALLON: Thank you. Pleasure.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/03/504274570/u-k-defense-secretary-looking-forward-to-working-with-mattis?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we want to spend a few minutes talking about Cuba’s longtime leader, Fidel Castro. He died a little over a week ago at the age of 90. Earlier today, his ashes arrived in Santiago after a four-day journey across Cuba. A private funeral will be held tomorrow morning. Many of those remembering him this week have focused on his intolerance for dissent, his crackdowns on dissidents, the media and LGBT people.

But others remember him as a champion for racial equality both in Cuba and abroad. We wanted to hear more about this, so we called Mark Sawyer. He’s a professor of political science and African-American studies at UCLA and the author of “Racial Politics In Post-Revolutionary Cuba.” Professor Sawyer, thanks so much for joining us.

MARK SAWYER: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: And frankly, one of the reasons we wanted to speak with you is that we were tracking social media upon Castro’s death and saw a lot of differing opinions that frankly seemed to break along racial lines. Why would that be?

SAWYER: Well, because Castro has a long history with Afro-Cubans and African-Americans when he – the revolution first triumphed he stayed in Harlem and met with people like Malcolm X and has a history of fighting apartheid in South Africa and having elevated the Afro-Cuban population to be the healthiest longest living black population in the world.

MARTIN: Talk a little bit more about that, if you would. And even – and just about how black is Cuba? I mean, officially, as I understand it, people of African descent and – are only supposed to be about 35 percent of the population. But most people think that that’s just not true, that the majority of the country is actually of people of African descent. Why is there – first of all, why is there even some dispute about this? And tell me more about Castro’s legacy around that.

SAWYER: Well, the dispute is essential to Latin America where there they have a multiplicity of racial categories. So who falls into the category of black can often be very narrow, whereas those same people in the United States would easily be considered black people or people of African descent. First of all, the exodus of so many white middle-class Cubans opened up opportunities for Afro-Cubans. Cuba sort of didn’t need initially to initiate affirmative action because there were seats available, and Afro-Cubans moved into them. They benefited from the literacy campaigns and the advents of universal education. And their life expectancy look a lot like white Cubans, and they’re living almost 80 years, which is higher than the United States.

MARTIN: But one of the things that you argue in your book is that despite this, it doesn’t mean that Cuba has actually eliminated racial disparities. Can you tell us more about that? Why not?

SAWYER: Well, first of all, there tended to be still a glass ceiling at the highest ministries even under Castro having eliminated racism. Second, as the Soviet Union collapsed, and there’s been less Soviet subsidies in a more market-based economy, Afro-Cubans have fallen behind both because they’re discriminated against in the market-based economy and because a big part of the economy depends upon remittances.

And most of those who went to the United States were white, and they send money back to their white relatives. And there wasn’t a continued discussion about prejudice in the country. So you see a lot of things that were done by declaring racism eliminated and not having constant pressure groups in the way that we do in the United States to keep improving things and to hold Fidel’s feet to the fire.

MARTIN: And before we let you go, what do you want people to think about when you think about Castro’s legacy, particularly in this area?

SAWYER: I think we need to look at Castro’s mistakes of not allowing black pressure groups, not pursuing more rigid anti-discrimination policies as failures, but that he came as close as anybody has ever come to eliminating racial inequality in a place that had had plantation slavery.

MARTIN: That was Mark Sawyer. He’s a professor of political science and African-American studies at UCLA, and he was kind enough to join us from NPR West. Professor Sawyer, thanks so much for speaking with us.

SAWYER: Thank you for having me.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/03/504274605/fidel-castros-legacy-on-race-relations-in-cuba-and-abroad?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ying-Wen, breaking nearly four decades of diplomatic protocol and threatening to upset U.S. relations with China.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/02/504279612/trump-talks-with-taiwan-in-a-move-that-may-spell-friction-with-china?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Syrians who fled from Aleppo’s rebel-held areas queue to receive food on Dec. 1 at a shelter in the neighborhood of Jibreen, east of Aleppo.

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Syrians who fled from Aleppo’s rebel-held areas queue to receive food on Dec. 1 at a shelter in the neighborhood of Jibreen, east of Aleppo.

Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images

In the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, tens of thousands of people have fled a brutal, Russian-backed regime offensive against rebel-held parts of the city. Many have fled deeper into the tightening siege, which started over the summer. Others have sought safety on the government-held side.

My conversation with a woman who recently fled the siege begins with her asking how I am. She’s safe now, but is still afraid to give her name. She fears for her son — still fighting with the rebels — and for other male relatives who’ve been detained by the regime for questioning.

She’d grown used to living under harsh siege conditions, and never thought she’d flee.

“It was all so sudden,” she tells me. “We weren’t mentally prepared. I used to tell myself I’d rather die in my home than cross to regime areas.”

But conditions deteriorated quickly with the resumption of airstrikes. She describes two weeks of constant bombardment. Earlier this week, her house was hit and destroyed.

Amid the total chaos that ensued in her neighborhood, people running with their children, she and several neighbors made a split-second decision to flee to the regime side of the city.

Their group of families braved the front line, dodging the crossfire. Some were shot down along the way. Many cast aside their suitcases and clothing bundles — their last belongings — to run faster.

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says it’s no surprise the families joined that mad rush.

“The days for the rebels in Aleppo are numbered,” he says. “The regime has amassed over 50,000 soldiers from all different militias in the army and so forth. They have overwhelming forces. Estimates are there are 8,000 to 9,000 rebel fighters and probably there’s a lot less today. So the situation is untenable for the rebels. They can’t get resupplied. It’s a matter of time.”

At the same time, Landis says civilians are afraid of what’s in store for them on the regime side.

“There is nobody who is your friend in this situation,” he says. “The rebels are not your friend — they’re using you as a shield. And the regime is not your friend because they’ve been pounding you. They’ve seen you as a pawn, or as collateral nuisance.”

When civilians reach the relative safety of the government side, the Syrian authorities have lists of names. For any civilian fleeing the rebel side, Landis says, “They know this is the beginning of a long scrutiny.”

And that was true for the woman reached by NPR.

As they fled, she told me, she and her husband, along with her sister, brother-in-law and their young children reached a no-man’s land where they saw their first government soldiers. They directed the family to a school stadium, and told them to shelter in place.

“Every time someone stood up, we’d tell him to sit down because of the snipers,” she says.

When the sun set, the soldiers directed them onward. Everyone from children to the elderly scaled the school’s high walls, trekking over broken glass and rubble. The woman tells me it was the most difficult day of their lives. After hours of walking, they reached an area firmly under army control.

Their experience with the soldiers was mixed.

“There were good men and bad men,” the woman says. “A part of the army were helping people and made them feel welcome. Some soldiers even helped us carry heavy bundles and suitcases. And others literally dug their hands into people’s pockets and robbed them.”

At a shelter in the Jibreen area of Aleppo, they were given blankets and food by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The care they received, she says, “was exemplary.”

It was there, surrounded by hundreds of families, that she realized just how many people had fled — from complete strangers to those she’d known her whole life.

The Red Crescent, which works under the banner of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Monday said it registered 4,000 people displaced to Jibreen alone. No one had more than a suitcase. “They fled with their souls and nothing else,” the woman tells me.

She and her relatives were held in the shelter for two days, while the army scrutinized their IDs. Then they were free to go.

But outside, they encountered a maze of checkpoints. She describes officers sorting through piles of IDs, names getting mixed up. And, as many had feared, males got little benefit of the doubt. Her 20-year-old cousin was taken into mandatory army service. He was the only son to care for his disabled father, but with the family documents scattered, they had no immediate way to prove it.

Her sister’s 43-year-old husband was taken away for questioning.

“They told us his name is on a wanted list,” she says. “First, they told us he’d be out in a few days. Then they said it could take three or four months.”

She thinks the army officials simply want bribes. But even if the family can scrape enough money together to pay a bribe, she’s not sure when or if her sister’s husband will be released.

The families had planned to stay in the city, but after their experience, they decided they wouldn’t stay a day longer. The group fled Aleppo entirely, to the northern, rebel-held countryside.

On the way, they were allowed to pass through army checkpoints and then they reached Kurdish-held territory, where they faced more scrutiny. She says they were almost turned back, but their driver pleaded and paid their way through.

Finally they reached where they felt safest — rebel-held territory.

Now there, she prays for those left behind — her rebel son and the women and children stuck in the tightening siege.

She says, “I just want everyone to make it out of there alive.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/12/02/504159499/for-aleppo-residents-under-siege-a-risky-journey-to-relative-safety?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

In the weeks since a former professional soccer player told a British newspaper that as a child, he had been sexually abused for years by a youth coach, several other former players have gone public with similar allegations of abuse by coaches and scouts. And news reports say hundreds of people have reported abuse at U.K. youth soccer clubs to police.

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In the weeks since a former professional soccer player told a British newspaper that as a child, he had been sexually abused for years by a youth coach, several other former players have gone public with similar allegations of abuse by coaches and scouts. And news reports say hundreds of people have reported abuse at U.K. youth soccer clubs to police.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In mid-November, a former professional soccer player told a British newspaper that as a child, he had been sexually abused for years by a well-respected youth coach. The player said he knew other players had experienced the same thing — and that a culture of silence kept the abusers out of the spotlight.

But he wasn’t keeping the secret anymore.

“I want to get it out and give other people an opportunity to do the same,” Andy Woodward told The Guardian. “I want to give people strength. … I’m convinced there is an awful lot more to come out.”

His interview unleashed a flood.

In the weeks since, a half-dozen other former players have come forward in the media, alleging years of abuse by multiple coaches and scouts in the U.K. More than 20 former pros have alleged abuse to the Professional Footballers’ Association. Some 350 people have reported abuse at youth soccer clubs to police, according to The Associated Press.

The BBC has a detailed timeline of who has stepped forward as a survivor.

Now some 17 different police forces are investigating the scandal. At least 10 suspected pedophiles have been identified, the AP says — and allegations are emerging that authorities within the U.K. soccer world paid off victims in exchange for their silence.

“It was the worst-kept secret in football”

The narratives of those who say they were abused trace a similar arc: Vulnerable young athletes meet powerful coaches and scouts; their families are captivated by the dream of a career in pro soccer. Staying at a coach’s house or taking trips without supervision are par for the course. When the abuse begins, it’s paired with blackmail and threats to keep the young player silent.

Woodward, the player whose story broke the dam, told of being abused by serial pedophile and former soccer coach and scout Barry Bennell, starting when Woodward was 11. He was a player in Crewe Alexandra’s youth program.

Andy Woodward said he was abused by serial pedophile and former soccer coach and scout Barry Bennell, starting when Woodward was 11. He was a player in Crewe Alexandra’s youth program.

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“I just wanted to play football. My mum and dad will say that I always had a football in my hands, wherever I went. I saw Crewe as the start of that dream,” Woodward told The Guardian. “But I was soft-natured, too, and it was the softer, weaker boys Bennell targeted.”

He said Bennell arranged for him to stay at his house. “It was my dream, remember, to be a footballer and it was like he was dropping little sweets towards me: ‘You can stay with me and this is what I can do for you,’ ” Woodward said. “Plus he had a reputation as the best youth coach in the country. So I’d stay at weekends and summer holidays and even take time out of school sometimes.”

After the alleged sexual abuse began, he said, Bennell would use threats of violence — and reminders that he could drop Woodward from the team at any time, ending his dreams of a pro career — to control him. Bennell went on to date and later marry Woodward’s older sister. Woodward described the wedding as “torture.”

Steve Walters, who was inspired by Woodward to tell his story, also told the Guardian that he had been sexually abused by Bennell over a period of years.

“I just had to pretend it never happened and block it out. I knew it could never come out and I was absolutely petrified because I thought that if it did ever come out that would be it for my career — finished,” he said. “In my mind, I wouldn’t even be able to go out, never mind play football. And football was my dream. It was my life.”

But despite the silence about the alleged abuse, it was never wholly secret.

“There were always rumors” about what was happening, Walters said. “It was the worst-kept secret in football that Barry had boys staying at his house.”

“Throughout those years at Crewe, so many people used to talk about it,” Woodward said. “Other players would say directly to my face: ‘I bet he does this to you, we know he does that.’ There was all that dressing-room bravado. Then, outside the club, it was never discussed.”

Multiple convictions, prison terms for pedophilia

Woodward’s interview wasn’t the first allegation of sexual abuse in the British youth soccer system. It wasn’t even the first allegation against Bennell.

In 2005, a government-backed commission investigated “child protection in football.” The 59-page report, which said the structure of youth football puts children at risk, mentioned sexual assault or sexual offense only twice, both times in footnotes.

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In 2005, a government-backed commission investigated “child protection in football.” The 59-page report, which said the structure of youth football puts children at risk, mentioned sexual assault or sexual offense only twice, both times in footnotes.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In fact, Bennell served multiple prison sentences for pedophilia — but he was a free man when Woodward spoke to The Guardian.

In 1994, Bennell was traveling to the U.S. with a youth soccer team when he was arrested by Florida authorities. He pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young player.

He was given four years in prison — although he could have received 30 years for each of his six counts of custodial sexual battery — as part of a deal that meant the victim didn’t have to travel to the U.S. to testify at trial.

He served three of the four years before being deported to the U.K. There he was arrested and charged with 45 offenses related to sexual assault of young players. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to 23 offenses.

“You preyed on adolescent and pre-adolescent boys,” a judge told him at sentencing, according to news outlets at the time. “You could point young boys in the right direction and help them with their careers and wishes to become successful footballers. They were prepared to do almost anything you asked them.”

He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

After he was released, he was convicted again, in 2015, after confessing to an assault on a 12-year-old in 1980.

He served two years for that sentence. He was out again when Woodward’s interview went live. He was taken to the hospital on Nov. 25 after he was found unconscious and now faces fresh charges of child sex abuse.

Awareness of “potentially dangerous situations”

Bennell’s first conviction was noticed in the press. A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation that aired in early 1997 suggested the entire system of youth soccer programs made children vulnerable to serial pedophiles like Bennell and put children in “potentially dangerous situations.” Here’s how The Independent described the documentary:

“An investigation by Dispatches says that the hold coaches have over their school-age proteges — the chance of a career in professional football — can give them the opportunity to abuse boys for years with little fear of discovery.

“One former coach, Barry Bennell, who worked at Manchester City, Stoke City and Crewe Alexandra is currently serving four years in a United States prison after admitting buggery and assault on a boy.

“Another amateur club, Ipswich Saracens, found that their coach Keith Ketley was a convicted sex offender. Despite this he had been able to set up another team with Football Association affiliation. He is now serving five years in jail after being found guilty on four counts of indecent assault. …

“Les Reed, Charlton’s first team coach, says that with such a large number of children involved with adults there is a ‘potentially dangerous situation’ and guidelines help protect both children and staff. ‘The FA needs to come out of the towers at Lancaster Gate and really investigate what is going on,’ he said.”

The next year, in 1998, the club manager of a youth football club connected to Celtic F.C. was convicted of sexually assaulting three teenagers in the late ’60s and early ’70s. There were rumors that Celtic itself had been involved in a cover-up to keep the assaults secret.

In 1999, the Football Association announced a plan to identify young people who had been sexually abused and put them in contact with “specialists from social services.”

But public awareness of the problem didn’t seem widespread.

In 2005, a government-backed commission investigated “child protection in football.” The 59-page report, which said the structure of youth football puts children at risk, mentioned sexual assault or sexual offense only twice, both times in footnotes.

The report said there were 250 cases of alleged child abuse under investigation by the Football Association. At the time, the Guardian noted that the report “gives no details of the child abuse investigations that it cites … but they are thought to include inappropriate behaviour and bullying.”

A soccer executive responsible for child protection told the Guardian that she preferred to use the term “bad practice” and that the incidents “can’t be defined as child abuse unless somebody has been convicted.” She said all the cases her team had resolved did not involve a criminal conviction.

“It fell on deaf ears”

In the late ’90s, one young player who had been abused by Bennell waived his right to anonymity and went public. Ian Ackley appeared in the Dispatches documentary on how children were vulnerable in youth soccer programs. He spoke to the newspapers about the ordeal of Bennell’s assault.

It didn’t trigger a wave of revelations or outcry, the London Times writes:

“Where was the media outcry then, the demands for an inquiry, the FA inviting him down for a chat, the world throwing an arm around him? None of that happened.

” ‘It fell on deaf ears as far as the rest of the media world was concerned,’ [Ackley] says. ‘It was a taboo, like a dirty secret. People didn’t want to sully their hands with it.’ Extraordinarily, he gets those words out without bitterness. …

” ‘I thought it was done and dusted, I wouldn’t hear any more about it,’ he says.”

Instead, it was Woodward’s interview with the Guardian that took the pattern of serial assaults out of old criminal records and into the headlines.

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, says it’s possible the pattern of pedophilia is not limited to the U.K. and that the world should be “very open to really listening” to anyone in world soccer who steps forward, the AP reports.

And investigators aren’t just grappling with hundreds of reports of pedophilia; they are looking into whether there were organized efforts to cover up the abuse.

On Friday, the Daily Mirror reported that a former Chelsea player said he was paid 50,000 pounds (more than $75,000) to keep quiet about years of sexual abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of a soccer scout.

The massive scale of the scandal, which is still unfolding, has drawn comparisons to the case of Jimmy Savile, a British TV personality and serial predator who abused hundreds of underage girls during the decades he spent at the BBC.

Investigation into the Savile case uncovered other cultural icons who had committed indecent assault and rape of minors, including BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall and rock star Gary Glitter, and found that a “culture of deference” at the BBC allowed the men to commit abuse with impunity.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/02/504164498/pedophilia-scandal-sends-shock-waves-through-u-k-soccer?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, pictured earlier this year, a conversation that may irritate the Chinese government.

Chiang Ying-ying/AP


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Chiang Ying-ying/AP

President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, pictured earlier this year, a conversation that may irritate the Chinese government.

Chiang Ying-ying/AP

President-elect Donald Trump has been speaking on the phone with numerous world leaders since his election, but a call Friday has the potential to cause diplomatic waves. The Trump transition office confirms Trump spoke with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen.

The call has raised eyebrows because the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, when it recognized mainland China. And it’s believed to be the first time a U.S. president or president-elect has spoken with a Taiwanese leader since then.

The Beijing government regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, not an independent nation.

Chinese reaction so far has come from the foreign minister, who spoke with Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV, according to the Associated Press:

“Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the call between Taiwan’s president and Trump was ‘just a small trick by Taiwan’ that he believed would not change U.S. policy toward China, according to Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.

” ‘The one-China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged,’ Wang was quoted as saying.”

A statement from the Trump transition office said the president-elect and Taiwan’s president noted the “close economic, political, and security ties” between Taiwan and the U.S. It says the two also congratulated each other on their respective elections. Tsai was elected earlier this year.

Trump later tweeted that the Taiwanese president called him, not the other way around.

Reuters reports that a spokesman for Taiwan’s president, asked about Trump’s tweet, said, “both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the Obama administration “remains fully committed to the one-China policy” and that “our fundamental interest in is peaceful and stable cross-strait relations.”

The U.S. sold arms to Taiwan as recently as last year. There have been reports in Taiwan that the Trump Organization has expressed interest in building luxury hotels there.

The president-elect campaigned on taking a hard line toward China’s trade practices, threatening to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. Trump has also spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping since the November election.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2016/12/02/504202547/trump-speaks-to-taiwans-president-in-move-likely-to-anger-beijing?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Deborah Birx is the U.S. global AIDS coordinator.

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Leah Puttkammer/Getty Images

Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

Birx is a physician and lifelong civil servant. She’s the former head of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and directed the CDC’s division of Global HIV/AIDS before becoming the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator in 2014.

While some other people see AIDS fatigue settling in, Birx says this is an “exciting” time in the global fight against the disease.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

So there’s a new administration coming in at the White House. You serve at the discretion of the president, right?

I do.

What are your plans? Do you want to stay?

It would be a privilege to stay. Because this is an amazing program.

A lot of people in the HIV/AIDS world wonder how a Trump administration will approach U.S. funding for efforts to fight HIV. The U.S. has poured billions of dollars into this effort and I’ve heard concerns from AIDS activists that the incoming president might slash funding for PEPFAR.

I don’t see that as a possibility at all. I can’t imagine that a new administration would be anything but positive about what we’ve been able to do and what we can do in the future.

When President Bush announced this plan, it was so amazing that a president would care so much about people around the globe — and recognize what a privilege it is to be an American and say, “We can do something.”

That level of compassion is an inspiration every day. And I think it will be an inspiration to the new administration.

If we are able to continue on and focus and do what we need to do, this will be the president that will have the ability to say: We controlled the epidemic in these 10 or 15 [African] countries that had the highest burden.

Despite huge progress against this epidemic, the world continues to report about 2 million new HIV infections every year. Is this a sign that the fight against this disease has stalled?

That’s a critical question. And we’ve been trying to figure out how to explain this to people.

The fact that we only have 1.9 million new infections when we have 100 percent more 15- to 24-year-olds is really astounding. Because the number [of new infections] should have gone to 3 million.

What has happened is that the Millennium Development Goals were enormously successful and improved under [age] 5 survival. But no one really planned that those 5-year-olds would become 15-year-olds. So that has created a youth bulge and that is the most vulnerable group to HIV. If you add 40 to 50 million additional people every 2 to 3 years to that risk group, just looking at new infections misses the progress that we continue to make.

The East African nation of Tanzania is a major recipient of PEPFAR funding. In October, Tanzania launched a crackdown on gay men and on HIV outreach programs aimed at gay men. Some of those programs are funded by PEPFAR.

I want to be incredibly clear: The United States stands for a public health approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

You cannot isolate a group and say you’re not going to serve their needs.

For one thing, there’s a lot of bisexual behavior within the MSM [Men who have Sex with Men] community in sub-Saharan Africa.

So to ignore an entire population that interacts daily with the general population doesn’t make any public health sense. The minister of health in Tanzania is a human rights lawyer. He should understand that health care is a human right. Whether you happen to be a gay man in Tanzania or someone who’s imprisoned in Tanzania, it’s your human right to have access to health care.

We have made it incredibly clear that this [PEPFAR] is a response for 100 percent of the people at risk for HIV/AIDS. And I think if there comes a time when it becomes clear that the government of Tanzania doesn’t believe that everyone in their country deserves access to health care, that would be difficult for us to continue that kind of investment in Tanzania. And I think it’s something we watch for every day. And we have to believe that the government of Tanzania understands that they have to serve all communities.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/12/01/503988997/top-u-s-aids-official-touts-progress-has-tough-words-for-tanzania?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world