Japan’s gaffe-prone deputy prime minister has said Tokyo could learn from Nazi Germany when it comes to constitutional reform, prompting a rebuke from a Jewish human rights group.
In a statement on its website late Tuesday, the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Taro Aso to clarify his comments that Tokyo, which is mulling a change to its pacifist constitution, should look to the way the Nazis quietly adopted reforms.
“First, mass media started to make noises (about Japan’s proposed reforms), and then China and South Korea followed suit,” Aso was quoted by Japanese media as saying in a speech Monday to a conservative think tank.
“The German Weimar constitution changed, without being noticed, to the Nazi German constitution. Why don’t we learn from their tactics?”
In response, the Jewish rights group said: “The only lessons on governance that the world should draw from the Nazi Third Reich is how those in positions of power should not behave”.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government’s top spokesman, on Wednesday declined to answer media questions about the comments, saying “deputy prime minister Aso should answer that question”.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has said it wants to revise the US-imposed pacifist constitution to define Japan’s defence forces as a full-fledged military force, amid territorial tensions with neighbours China and South Korea.
That has stirred strong emotions in Beijing and Seoul which have long maintained that Japan has never come to terms with its militaristic past.
Aso, who is also Japan’s finance minister, is known for his sometimes uncomfortable remarks, including saying earlier this year that elderly people should “hurry up and die” to avoid taxing the country’s medical system.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post
579 – Benedict I ends his reign as Catholic Pope
1756 – Bartolomeo Rastrelli presents the newly-built Catherine Palace to Empress Elizabeth and her courtiers.
1908 – Around the World Automobile Race ends in Paris
1989 – Chile amends its constitution
1995 – Dominic Cork takes hat-trick in England Test Cricket win v WI
2009 – A bomb explodes in Palma Nova, Mallorca, killing 2 police officers. Basque separatist group ETA is believed to be responsible.
1641 – Regnier de Graaf, Dutch physician and anatomist (d. 1673)
1936 – Buddy Guy, rocker
1958 – Daley Thompson, London, Decathalete (Olympic-gold-1980, 1984)
1968 – Robert Korzeniowski, Polish athlete
1974 – Hilary Swank, Bellingham WA, actress (Karate Kid 4)
1978 – James Branaman, American model and reality show contestant
1540 – Robert Barnes, English churchman (martyred) (b. 1495)
1655 – Sigmund Theophil Staden, composer, dies at 47
1982 – Frank Nicholson, South African cricket wicket-keeper (1935-36), dies
1990 – Ian Gow, British Conservative parliament leader, murdered
1996 – Magda Schneider, actress (Going Gay, Be Mine Tonight), dies at 87
2007 – Ingmar Bergman, Swedish stage and film director (b. 1918)
A judge is considering what to do with challenges to Detroit’s bankruptcy from retirees who claim their pensions are protected by the Michigan Constitution. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes settled into his chair shortly after 10 a.m. EDT. The city wants him to put a stop to lawsuits in other courts, especially after an Ingham County judge said state officials ignored the constitution and acted illegally in approving the bankruptcy last week.
Filed under: Market News
By KATE ROGERS
Detroit made history Thursday as the largest American city in history to ever file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The once vibrant city rooted in auto manufacturing and music finally fell victim to its dire financial situation, with between $18 billion and $20 billion in debt.
While city emergency manager Kevyn Orr says it will be “business as usual” in Detroit, experts say residents may be impacted in three major areas–pensions, city services and tax rates.
The Pension Problem
The city has yet to confirm how pensions will be impacted, although there have been suggestions that pensions will be reduced, says Bob Tomarelli, IHS Global Insights economist. The wildcard in the situation is the fact that the Michigan state constitution has a provision which some union leaders say bars pension cuts.
The provision says “the accrued financial benefits of each pension plan and retirement system in the state and its political subdivisions shall be a contractual obligation which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.”
“The next question here is what does the judge do? The provision seems pretty clear cut, but a judge can rule that they can cut pensions,” Tomarelli says.
There are an estimated 30,000 retirees who are currently receiving pensions, he says, and an estimated $9.2 billion in pension debts.
Pensions potentially have some major changes ahead, says Alison Fraser, Heritage Foundation senior fellow and director of government finance programs.
“They are already in lawsuits with the pension programs themselves,” Fraser says of the city. “It’s unclear what the legal questions are when you go into bankruptcy. There is some possibility pensions will be redone in some way, and it will be very difficult for those who area already retired on those pensions.”
Overall, Fraser believes bankruptcy was the right way to go, as the city was irresponsible with its finances and the process will allow Detroit to restructure its debt.
City Service Cuts
Orr says the filing is the “first step toward restoring the city” and that it will be business as usual in Detroit.
“He says the lights will stay on, but it depends on what haircut the creditors will take on secured bonds, and knowing if and how much pension payments will be cut,” Tomarelli says. “They then decide how much money will be cut and saved on public services.”
Detroit has lost a massive number of residents over the past half century, and now is home to around 700,000 citizens, post-auto bailout and Great Recession. Tomarelli says if the city cuts public services, it would likely be less appealing to potential residents.
“People are still leaving Detroit at a faster rate than they are Michigan,” he says. “If there is a great reduction in services, it may be a less attractive city to live in.”
Tax Hikes on the Way?
Detroit’s current tax …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance
The right to an abortion is based upon inalienable rights to liberty and “the pursuit of happiness” found in the N.D. Constitution, Judge Wickham Corwin wrote in a ruling striking down a 2011 law banning a certain type of abortion procedure. Corwin failed to mention, though, the inalienable right to life found in the same constitution. …read more
Source: The Christian Post
Guinea-Bissau outlawed domestic violence on Friday, winning praise from women’s groups in a country where an estimated 60 percent of females are physically or sexually abused.
The west African nation’s constitution has prohibited violence against women since 2009 but police have been powerless to act in cases where victims abused at home were unwilling to come forward.
“This law will significantly contribute to a change in behaviour within Guinean families,” said Aba Serra, president of the National Assembly’s women’s affairs committee.
Women face significant discrimination in Guinea-Bissau and are denied equal pay, education and opportunities, with the majority unable to read or write.
Charities say domestic violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation, outlawed in 2011, remain widespread.
“Thirty women die each year at the hands of their husbands and the trend is growing very fast. We have to put a stop to this,” said Fatoumata Djau Balde of the government-run National Committee for the Abandonment of Harmful Practices. While the vast majority of cases of domestic violence involve men abusing women, Balde said the law would apply equally to both sexes.
“It’s about violence in the home, perpetrated against men as well as women. These acts are (now) considered a public crime,” she said.
“That is to say, in cases of violence in the home, if the man or woman does not file a complaint, the neighbours can do it for them, and the law will be applied.”
There are no definitive statistics on domestic violence in Guinea-Bissau but the government-run Institute for Women and Children estimates that almost 60 percent of women experience physical or sexual abuse at least once. “This type of violence is practised everywhere in the countryside and more and more in urban areas. Women living in poverty are more defenceless against this kind of abuse and exploitation,” a report by the institute concluded.
Penalties for those who fall foul of the new Law Against Domestic Violence range from two to 12 years in prison.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
With the economy perking up under his “Abenomics” policies, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling bloc are seen rolling to a convincing victory in Sunday’s upper house election and regaining control of both houses of parliament for the first time in six years.
A win would be sweet redemption for Abe, who lost the upper house in 2007 during an earlier stint as prime minister, and make it easier for him to govern. He says his top priorities are regaining political stability and reviving the long-stagnant economy, the chief concern for voters. But a decisive victory could also embolden him on another front: the nationalistic agenda he had to abandon his first time in office.
“He may hear that internal voice saying, `This is the time for you to pursue your own goals,’ ” said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo.
Abe owes his rise to prime minister in part to right-wing supporters in his party who expect him to pursue their agenda. That may include laying the groundwork for revising Japan’s pacifist constitution, promoting traditional family values and making changes to the education system to instill more patriotism in students. Abe has called the current history curriculum “self-abusive” and too apologetic to Asian neighbors over Japan’s wartime actions.
He needs to tread carefully, however, because any step-up in nationalism would likely exacerbate already tense ties with nearby China and South Korea. He has already upset both since taking office in December by saying he wants to revise Japan’s landmark 1995 apology for its wartime aggression and questioning the extent to which Korean, Chinese and other Asian women were coerced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers.
A further deterioration in relations with China and South Korea would be worrisome for the United States as it seeks to engage more deeply in the Asia-Pacific region. To the extent that nationalism translates into a stronger military, though, some would welcome that as a counter to rising Chinese power.
“Being a nationalist means devoting your political effort to making your country stronger,” former U.S. National Security Council staffer Mike Green said recently at the Japan National Press Club. “That’s exactly what Japan needs, and that’s exactly what the U.S. needs from Japan.”
Under the campaign slogan “Recover Japan,” Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party vows to make Japan a muscular, gentle and proud country. It promises a strong economy, strategic diplomacy and unshakable national security under the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The message has found a measure of public receptivity amid growing tensions over Japan’s long-running maritime territorial disputes with China and South Korea and widespread distrust of an increasingly assertive China.
But the top concern for voters is the economy, which is showing signs of life thanks to aggressive monetary easing and public works spending, the first two “arrows” of Abe’s economic platform dubbed “Abenomics.”
Surveys show that after the economy and jobs, voters are most interested in social security, the sales tax hike and reconstruction after the March 2011 tsunami. The constitution, energy and trade attract the least …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
The interim government tasked with putting Egypt back on track after president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster faces enormous challenges, from fixing the shattered economy to restoring security and democracy, experts say.
The new cabinet does have several factors working in its favour, however.
A wide section of the population that was bitterly disillusioned with Morsi’s rule, including several ministers, is supported by the country’s top religious authorities, both Muslim and Christian.
Separately, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait threw Egypt a financial lifeline last week, pledging $12 billion in aid and allaying fears of the country going bankrupt in the short term.
But major risks remain, with the threat of more violence between members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and the security forces, and a surge in deadly attacks by militants in the Sinai, home to Egypt’s luxury Red Sea resorts.
Interim president Adly Mansour has set the government a tight timetable for reforming the constitution and holding fresh elections, while structural economic problems, including unaffordable food and fuel subsidies and a bloated public sector, must be confronted.
“There are a variety of challenges and unfortunately they can be overwhelming,” said Samer Shehata, who teaches Arab studies at Georgetown University.
Islamist parties and movements are totally absent from the new 34-member cabinet, in which a number of well-known technocrats hold senior positions.
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy is a seasoned diplomat and former ambassador to Washington, accomplished economist and World Bank veteran Ahmed Galal heads the finance ministry, and Ziad Bahaa Eldin, another finance expert, was nominated minister for international cooperation.
Leftwing activist Kamal Abu Eita, a respected trade union leader, was appointed labour minister.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s appointment as deputy premier bolsters the military’s strong support for the government, while also raising suspicions about the cabinet’s independence from the generals who toppled Morsi.
Shehata says restoring security, which has sharply deteriorated since the fall of former strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011, is essential.
A key task facing the government, namely how to bring back international investment and attract tourists, “has to be predicated on some kind of stability or security”, he said.
Reforming the police, known for its brutal methods and a leadership little-changed since the Mubarak era, is another pressing issue.
“The police hated the Brotherhood and now the police are newly elevated and I’m afraid calls for reform of the interior ministry in a meaningful way are not going to be heard or are not going to be executed,” Shehata said.
Sophie Pommier, an expert on the Arab world at Sciences-Po university in Paris, says the new government is under greater pressure to achieve results than its predecessor.
“Lacking the legitimacy of an elected government, it will have to earn it through concrete results,” she said.
Besides fixing the economy, the cabinet headed by liberal economist Hazem al-Beblawi “must meet high expectations in terms of the redistribution” of wealth, with Egyptians “waiting for quick signs that things are going in the right direction,” Pommier added.
But continuing violence “will complicate the situation”, she said.
The Brotherhood, weakened but not defeated after Morsi’s overthrow, has certainly …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
The conservative coalition’s candidate in the Chilean presidential campaign has dropped out of the race because he suffers from depression, his son said Wednesday.
The surprise resignation by Pablo Longueira was expected to further weaken the chances for the governing conservatives to beat former President Michelle Bachelet of the Socialist Party, who is the front-runner for the Nov. 17 vote.
“Our father is sick,” the son, Juan Pablo Longueira, said at a news conference. “After the primary election, and after taking some days of rest, his health deteriorated as a result of a bout of depression that was medically diagnosed.”
Longueira, 55, is a former economy minister and one of the founding members of the conservative Independent Democratic Union that supported Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
He entered the race three months ago when Laurence Golborne, a businessman who had been seen as the center-right’s best hope for holding on to power, was forced out by a financial scandal. Longueira, who supports free-market economic policies and opposes gay marriage and abortion, won a primary held last month by the center-right Alliance for Chile bloc to choose its candidate to replace conservative President Sebastian Pinera.
“We respect any decision taken by him,” Patricio Melero, head of the Independent Democratic Union, said at news conference in the port city of Valparaiso.
“Once he knew of this illness that is troubling him, and taking into consideration the opinion of doctors, he was brave to make this decision that puts the interest of the country above anything else,” Melero said.
Party leaders will meet Thursday to pick a replacement for Longueira, an industrial engineer by training and a career politician who was close to Pinochet.
“This was such a surprising event. It wasn’t considered under any political scenario because the campaign is on its final stretch. This is a crisis for the right-wing coalition,” said Guillermo Holzmann, a political science professor at the Universidad de Valparaiso.
“This political crisis gives Bachelet an important electoral advantage,” Holzmann said.
Bachelet, who ended her 2006-10 presidency with high popularity ratings, is campaigning on promises to use a second term to fight Chile’s vast income inequality, change the Pinochet-era constitution and reform taxes and education.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
The Magna Carta will be on the move in 2015.
The British Library plans to celebrate the 800th birthday of the document that laid the foundations of Britain’s common law and civil liberties by uniting all four surviving original copies under one roof for the first time.
On Monday, the library announced plans to mark the anniversary by bringing together — for three days only — all the remaining original copies of the charter endorsed by King John in June 1215 to quell an uprising by England’s nobles.
“Multiple copies were written up and sent to the bishops and possibly the sheriffs” across England, said Claire Breay, the library’s lead curator of medieval manuscripts. “It’s four of those that survive.”
Two are in the British Library’s collection, while one is at Lincoln Cathedral in central England and another resides at Salisbury Cathedral in southwest England.
Early in 2015, the four documents will be scrutinized by researchers — and visited by 1,215 members of the public selected through a competition.
Breay said that seeing the copies side-by-side may give academics new insights into the documents and the scribes who wrote them out in Latin on sheepskin parchment.
Britain plans a year of celebrations in 2015 for the anniversary of the Magna Carta, which became the first building block of its constitution — a constitution made up of a series of laws and conventions, rather than a single document.
The Magna Carta — the Great Charter — was endorsed by King John to resolve an uprising by nobles angered by the monarch’s despotic behavior and extortionate taxes.
The four original copies are written records of an oral agreement made between the king and his barons at Runnymede, west of London. The agreement outlined limits on the power of the crown, establishing that the king was subject to the law, rather than above it.
Its most famous passage was interpreted as laying the foundations of trial by jury:
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, nor will …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
Islamist lawmakers in Egypt’s disbanded upper house of parliament demanded Saturday the army reinstate ousted President Mohammed Morsi, and called on other legislatures around the world not to recognize the country’s new military-backed leadership.
Morsi’s supporters, including his Islamist allies, remain steadfast in their rejection of the popularly supported military coup that toppled Morsi nearly two weeks ago. They have staged a series of mass protests in Cairo to push their demands, and are vowing to stay in the streets until Morsi is returned to office.
Speaking at a mass rally staged by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, the two dozen former parliamentarians, all Islamist members of the Shura Council that was dissolved by court order, accused the military of attempting to restore a “corrupt and dictatorial” regime.
Morsi was Egypt’s first freely elected president, succeeding longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak who himself was toppled in 2011. The military ousted Morsi after millions of protesters took to the streets calling for his removal.
The military has brushed aside the Brotherhood’s demands, while the new army-backed administration of interim President Adly Mansour has forged ahead with a swift timetable to amend the now suspended constitution, drafted under Morsi, and to hold parliamentary and presidential elections by early next year.
While the presidency has floated offers of reconciliation with the Brotherhood, authorities are simultaneously clamping down the group. So far, five of its top leaders have been arrested, and arrest warrants have been issued against the group’s top leader and nine other Islamists. Islamist TV networks, meanwhile, have been shuttered.
Prosecutors on Saturday said they continue to investigate allegations that Morsi and 30 other Brotherhood leaders escaped from prison in 2011 with help from the Palestinian militant group Hamas. That jailbreak occurred amid the uprising that toppled Mubarak.
Street violence has largely ceased since Monday’s deadly clashes that left more than 50 Muslim Brotherhood supporters dead and hundreds wounded after they were holding a sit-in in front of Republican Guard forces club. The Brotherhood accuses the military of opening fire on protesters, while the army says Morsi supporters instigated the violence.
The Brotherhood has remained adamant in its opposition to the new political landscape, and shows no sign of backing down in its showdown with the military-backed interim leadership.
On his Facebook page, Mohammed el-Beltagi, leading Brotherhood member said that “those who want reconciliation, our arms are open … but those who want reconciliation, do not fire bullets … they say they made a mistake and tell the killer to step aside.”
Morsi’s supporters have pledged to keep protesting until the military meets their demands — the reinstatement of Morsi, the Islamist-drafted constitution and the Islamist-dominated legislature — and leading Brotherhood member Essam el-Arian called for another mass rally on Monday.
The deposed president’s supporters have been holding a sit-in in front of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo for two weeks. The rally has taken on a more permanent air, with tents going up as well as bathrooms being constructed behind brick walls to provide some privacy. Army soldiers stand guard from …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News
Zimbabwe’s electoral body on Saturday vowed to announce the results of the July 31 presidential polls, pitting veteran President Robert Mugabe against rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, within five days.
Officials had delayed announcing elections results in 2008 for six weeks when Mugabe came second to Tsvangirai in the first round of the leadership race.
“The fifth of August is the date on which, come hail, come thunder, we must announce the results. That is what the law says,” said Rita Makarau, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Under a new constitution, the ZEC must announce the results of the presidential election within five days of voting, but results for members of parliament are issued earlier, she said..
In 2008, Tsvangirai’s first round lead fell just short of an outright majority , but Mugabe went on to be declared the winner of a presidential run-off which Tsvangirai had pulled out of in protest over violence.
The July 31 crunch vote will end the pair’s power-sharing government that was brokered with Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai as prime minister to end an economic meltdown after the 2008 polls chaos.
Tsvangirai has complained about the lack of implementation of key reforms in the electoral, media and security sectors that were agreed by the unity government partners.
On Sunday soldiers, police and essential services government staff on duty on election day cast their special vote ahead of the general public vote on July 31.
About 87,000 people are set to take part in the early vote.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News