The ‘America First Caucus’ Is Backtracking, But Its Mistaken Ideas About ‘Anglo-Saxon’ History Still Have Scholars Concerned

The idea of an “America First Caucus” seems to have hit a snag. A draft of a policy platform leaked last Friday, revealing that members of Congress, led by Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, were planning to launch a group united by a “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The next day, following significant backlash from social media and from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, a spokesperson for Greene told CNN that she is “not launching anything.”

But while the proponents of the America First Caucus were likely more persuaded by their colleagues’ disapproval than by that of historians, scholars’ concerns were less easily assuaged by the launch being scrubbed. As many argued on social media, the idea of “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” is based on a false—and troubling—understanding of history.

TIME spoke to medievalist Mary Rambaran-Olm, an expert on race in early England and Provost Research Fellow at the University of Toronto, who has written about the loaded racist connotations behind the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Here, she talks about her research on the real origins of the term and where the latest controversy over its use—and misuse—fits in its history.

TIME: What does “Anglo-Saxon” mean? Where does it come from? What’s the real origin of this term?

RAMBARAN-OLM: Basically it was an Anglo-Latin term that King Alfred used to describe how he was king over the Angles, which is the English, and the Saxons, two of the main tribes that had migrated to Britain. [Use of the term] has only been recorded three times in the entire corpus of Old English—apart from a handful of charters where kings referred to themselves as such and that was used for propaganda to try and unite the kingdoms. The early English weren’t calling themselves Anglo-Saxons. Once we look at the manuscript evidence, we see that there isn’t really a basis—especially now—for people to be calling themselves Anglo-Saxons. The terms that people used during the period to describe themselves in the vernacular were most commonly “englisc” or “angelcynn.” There’s no record of it in English manuscripts from shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066 until the 1600s.

What changed at the time it started to be used more frequently?

It was tied to colonization. Back in the 17th century, Empire was starting to manifest…and a nationalist tone. They started to look back at the …read more

Source:: Time – World


What Will Office Life Be Like After the Pandemic? This Australian Fintech Company May Have the Answer

Katherine McConnell wanted to make sure that she and her employees didn’t fall back into their old habits when they returned to the office in Sydney, Australia—where the coronavirus situation has stabilized—after several months of working from home.

So McConnell, the founder and CEO of financial technology company Brighte, implemented a flexible working policy, allowing employees to continue to work from home even after the office reopened. Still, she found herself rushing between meetings and spending increasingly long hours in the office—and missing things like eating lunch with her family. So she blocked out one day a week in her calendar to work from home, hoping that would also encourage her employees to follow suit.

“As a leader if I don’t show that I can work from home and I will do this, I think that people may copy me and easily return to how they used to do things,” she says, “and I don’t want that to happen, and I know it doesn’t have to.”

Many U.S. companies have pushed office return dates to September and beyond. But workers in Australia—where there have been fewer than 30,000 cases of COVID-19 and under 1,000 deaths—are already returning to their offices. That includes employees at Brighte, which specializes in helping homeowners fund home improvement projects, including sustainable energy solutions like solar panels and battery storage.

In a video interview with TIME, McConnell shared how Brighte is managing flexible work—and what lessons it can offer to companies elsewhere as they navigate their own return to office life. That might be helpful in a world where more than 70% of people want to split their post-pandemic time between in-person and remote working, according to a PwC survey of 32,500 participants from 19 countries released in March.

Brighte, which has about 115 employees in Australia’s largest city of Sydney (as well as a smaller office in the Philippines), went into work-from-home mode in March 2020 as COVID-19 cases spiked. But the country of 26 million people kept the virus in check with strict lockdowns and stringent border controls. As of April 20, there are just three active locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases in the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located.

Brighte employees were able to start returning to the office by June of last year, although the office looked and felt …read more

Source:: Time – World


The Death Penalty Declines As Global Recorded Executions Reach Lowest Level in a Decade

Globally, at least 483 people are known to have been executed in 2020. Shocking as this figure is, it’s the lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International in at least a decade, marking a decrease of 26% compared to 2019, and 70% from the peak of 1,634 executions in 2015.

It’s clear to see the death penalty is on its way out, as the number of executions and death sentences both fell in 2020.This trend was further evidenced by Chad’s welcome decision to abolish the death penalty in 2020, along with the U.S. state of Colorado. More recently Virginia became the first U.S. Southern state to repeal the death penalty, while several bills to abolish it at U.S. federal level are pending before Congress.

With more member states than ever before – 123 in total – supporting the call of the U.N. General Assembly for a moratorium on executions, pressure is growing on outliers to follow suit.

Carrying out executions in the midst of a pandemic

The decline in executions was down to a reduction in executions in some retentionist countries and, to a lesser extent, some hiatuses in executions that occurred in response to the pandemic. Recorded executions in Saudi Arabia dropped by 85%, from 184 in 2019 to 27 in 2020, and more than halved in Iraq, from 100 in 2019 to 45 in 2020.

However, the actual number of executions is certainly far higher, given the number carried out by China, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam are not known publicly. China alone is believed to execute thousands each year, making it the world’s most prolific executioner ahead of the quartet of Iran (246+), Egypt (107+), Iraq (45+) and Saudi Arabia (27), who together accounted for 88% of all known executions in 2020.

Executions were carried out by a number of other countries. too.

As the world battled to protect lives from COVID-19 in 2020, 18 countries ruthlessly carried out state sanctioned executions, with some even increasing the numbers of people they put to death.

Egypt tripled its annual rate of executions, becoming the world’s third most frequent executioner in 2020. At least 23 of those executed were sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence after grossly unfair trials that were marred by forced “confessions” and after being subjected to other grave human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearances, in violation of international law.

The U.S. resumed …read more

Source:: Time – World


Biden Wants a Deal with Brazil’s Far-Right President to Protect the Amazon. But Can Bolsonaro Be Trusted?

President Bolsonaro Announces New Emergency Aid
Mateus Bononi – Getty ImagesPresident of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro speaks during pronouncement on the new emergency aid amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Bodies representing Brazil’s environmentalists and indigenous communities, as well as 15 U.S. senators, have also sent letters to Biden. They warn that a deal that does not include input and monitoring from representatives of civil society and state governments would give Bolsonaro leeway to use U.S. funds to tighten his grip on the rainforest and reward political allies.

We need to have a permanent dialogue with civil society and states. I’m very afraid of what will happen if they close a deal only with Bolsonaro’s government,” says Joenia Wapichana, Brazil’s only indigenous member of congress. “Many in Brazil would say that unless Bolsonaro radically changes his policies on the Amazon, they shouldn’t make a deal. “

A State Department spokesperson tells TIME that the U.S. believes it is “realistic for Brazil to achieve a real decrease in deforestation” by the end of the 2021 fire season. “We would very much hope President Bolsonaro would use this opportunity to demonstrate his seriousness in addressing climate change, including emissions from deforestation in the Amazon,” they added.

Last chance to build bridges

Despite the risks, now may be Biden’s best chance of engaging Bolsonaro’s administration on the environment. The Brazilian president has suffered severe political setbacks in recent months, including his

State governors, indigenous leaders and environmental groups in Brazil are sending a stark warning to President Joe Biden not to trust his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, as the U.S. attempts to strike a deal with the far-right leader to end deforestation in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro’s representatives have been in talks with Biden’s climate team since February, with billions of dollars in U.S. aid on the table if the two sides can reach an agreement on curbing deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest, along with other environmental goals. Just a week before a leaders’ summit on climate hosted by Biden, Bolsonaro sent the U.S. president a 7-page letter on April 14, promising to eliminate illegal deforestation––which accounts for an estimated 95% of deforestation in Brazil––by 2030.

But the governor of Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo, tells TIME his president can’t be relied upon to keep that promise. “He won’t even try,” says João Doria, a political rival of the president. “Bolsonaro has demonstrated a total disregard for the environmental agenda and he hasn’t done anything to suggest he has any intention of changing his behavior.”

Doria is one of 23 state governors (out of 27 in total) planning to send a letter to Biden during the summit. Without mentioning Bolsonaro or the federal government, the letter, which has already been made public, lays out a potential partnership between the U.S. government and Brazilian states to protect the Amazon and other ecologically important Brazilian ecosystems. It points out that the states have “funds and mechanisms… available for the safe and transparent use of international funds, guaranteeing rapid and verifiable results.”

Since taking office in 2019, Bolsonaro has gutted environmental agencies’ budgets and attempted to loosen environmental regulations to make it easier for businesses to exploit the land, while dismissing and insulting foreign leaders who attempt to intervene. Environmental campaigners say his actions have created impunity for loggers, miners and smallholder farmers who illegally cut down and burn trees to use land in the Amazon and other protected landscapes, reigniting a problem that previous governments had brought under control. From August 2019 to July 2020, more than 4,200 square miles of rainforest were lost in Brazil, an increase of 47% over the amount deforested in the year to July 2018, before Bolsonaro took office.

“The U.S. should not strike an agreement with the federal government because it won’t …read more

Source:: Time – World