Sunday, May 31, 2015

#EU: US/European Trade Deal Passes Key Committee Hurdle In EU Parliament

[world politics news]

The European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade has given its go-ahead to the European Commission on the EU-US trade agreement, leaving in a controversial arbitration clause after fierce horse-trading between political parties. The non-binding resolution passed 28-13.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

#JAPAN: Gov't Approves Funding Plan To Deal With Rapidly Aging Population

[world politics news]

Lawmakers have approved health care reforms to address the rising costs of elderly care, with increased cost-sharing by high-income workers and prefectures taking over the running of loss-making public insurance bodies from municipalities. Japan funds medical costs with a mix of disbursements from public health care plans, tax revenues and payments by patients.

Friday, May 29, 2015

#THENETHERLANDS: Three Dutch Parliamentarians Banned From Russia; Retaliation For Sanctions

[world politics news]

In apparent retaliation for sanctions from EU nations over Russia's intervention in Ukraine, Russia has banned three Dutch legislators from entering Russia. One of the legislators, Louis Bontes, said of Russia, "the evil empire is back," and called Pres. Vladimir Putin "a KGB crook."

#THAILAND: Ex-PM Loses Passport, Warned By Military Junta Over Political Comments In S. Korea

[world politics news]

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has warned Ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra to stop making political comments and revoked Thaksin's two passports after implying, during an interview, that privy councillors were behind his sister's removal as prime minister last year. Thaksin was removed as PM in 2008 on corruption charges.

Pictured: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, left center, walks with aides.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#UK: Conservatives Delay Controversial Repeal Of EU-Linked Human Rights Act

[world politics news]

Controversial plans to axe the Human Rights Act have been put on hold following opposition from senior Conservative Party MPs. The Act protects fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to life, privacy and free speech. Scrapping the act would break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#FRANCE: Parliament Unanimously Passes Bill Forbidding Supermarket Waste

[world politics news]

France's parliament has voted unanimously to ban food waste in big supermarkets, by outlawing the destruction of unsold food products. The law forces all supermarkets to donate their unused products to local organizations, converting the food into animal feed, or using it in composting.

#AUSTRALIA: PM Tony Abbott Supports Cross-Party Parliamentary Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

[world politics news]

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that any vote on approving same-sex marriage should be non-partisan, and "owned" by all of parliament in a bill sponsored by multiple parties. This as a new poll of members of parliament indicates a bill would fall just one short of passage.

#MADAGASCAR: Parliament Votes To Remove President; Challenging In Courts

[world politics news]

Madagascar’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to dismiss the president, Hery Rajaonarimanpianina, for alleged constitutional violations and general incompetence. The motion was backed by 121 of the 125 lawmakers who voted, easily clearing the two-thirds majority required. The constitutional court will decide whether the decision to dismiss Rajaonarimanpianina can be enacted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#VENEZUELA: Jailed Oppo. Ldr Leonardo López Leaks Video, Calls For Mass Street Protests

[world politics news]

Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López leaked a self-made video from a high-security military prison last night to announce a hunger strike and call on all Venezuelans to hold a “massive and peaceful” protest against the government next Saturday. He was jailed by the Leftist regime 15 months ago.

#SOUTHAFRICA: Legislators Seek To Raise Drinking Age From 18 to 21

[world politics news]

The South African government wants to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. The new alcohol control measure is intended to curb alcohol abuse in the country. Other new proposals include restricting the time at which alcohol can be sold in zoned areas, the setting of parameters for advertising and marketing of alcohol.

Monday, May 25, 2015

#POLAND: Pres. Komorowski Defeated By Euro-Skeptic Opponent

[world politics news]

Pres. Bronisław Komorowski has conceded defeat to Andrzej Duda of the conservative Euro-skeptic Law and Justice Party. The result sends a message to the government of PM Ewa Kopacz, an ally of Komorowski, who faces a tight re-election battle later this year, and a defeat for Civic Platform, a pro-EU party that's been in power six years.

Pictured: Polish President-elect Andrzej Duda.

#RUSSIA: Gov't Threatens Google, Facebook, Twitter With Shutdown Over Inability To Censor, Ban Users

[world politics news]

Russia's media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian Internet laws, saying they risk being blocked entirely if they do not give the government the ability to block users and take down websites  containing calls for "unsanctioned protests and unrest."

#CANADA: Alberta Legislator Suspended From New Democratic Party For Social Media Photos

[world politics news]

Deborah Drever, an NDP member of Alberta's Legislative Assembly, has been suspended from the party and will sit as an independent after a series of controversial posts to her social media sites. One showed a friend giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag, another featured homophobic statements below politicians' photos.

Pictured: A middle finger in front of a Canadian flag, one of the photos on Deborah Drever's facebook page that drew criticism. Drever said "that's not my finger on the flag. I have a lot of friends, whose pictures are on my site, and they don’t necessarily all share the same values that I do.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#IRELAND: Referendum To Allow Same-Sex Marriage Carries Overwhelmingly

[world politics news]

Sixty-two percent of Irish voters supported a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage friday, the first nation to do so by populer vote. Only one of the nation's 43 voting districts barely voted against it. The Catholic nation's archbishop said the Church, which opposed legalization, needed a "reality check."

Friday, May 22, 2015

#JAPAN: PM Abe Promises: Defense Force Will Never Be "Drawn Into US War;" Logistical Support Only

[world politics news]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the nation's Self-Defense Forces will only provide logistic support in areas where safety is secured, and that Japan will never become embroiled in a war involving the United States. Issues were raised during a Diet debate as Abe's party seeks to change the military's role.

#CANADA: Conservatives Organize 3 Independent Debates; Green Party Outraged

[world politics news]

Having rejected a plan by a media consortium for one national debate before the October Federal election, the Conservative Party has arranged three debates and invited other parties to attend. All seem willing except  the Greens, who say it will be a "free for all" and "divisive."

Pictured: Conservative Party spokesman Kory Teneycke.

#UKRAINE: Parliament Gives Gov't Right To Suspend Debt Payments As Crisis Deepens

[world politics news]

Ukraine's parliament Tuesday adopted a law giving the government authority to halt debt payments. The controversial legislation ups the ante in the cash-strapped government's deepening standoff with foreign creditors on restructuring $23bn before a planned June deadline.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#SWITZERLAND: Voters To Decide On Allowing Genetic Screening Of Human Embryos

[world politics news]

Swiss voters will vote June 14 on a constitutional amendment to allow screening and modification of unfertilized human embryos. It's backed by doctors who say restrictive laws push couples to have unnecessary abortions. Most parties support the amendment except the conservative Swiss People’s Party and the left-leaning Social Democrats.

#AUSTRALIA: #Uber Is "Taxi Travel" - Drivers Must Sign Up To Pay Taxes By Aug. 1, Says Tax Authority

[world politics news]

Thousands of Uber drivers across the nation will have to register for Goods and Services Tax by August 1, which could mean the cost of rides taken by consumers on the popular ride-sharing service rises by 10%. The Australian Taxation Office says people who provide ride-sharing services such as Uber are providing "taxi travel" under GST law.

#JAPAN: Opposition Japan Innovation Party Elects Yorihisa Matsuno New Leader

[world politics news]

Japan's second-largest party, the Japan Innovation Party, elected Yorihisa Matsuno as its new leader Tuesday after the resignation of his predecessor over a failed bid by a local party group to reorganize the Osaka city administration.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#ITALY: New Election Law Seeks To Ensure Gov't Majorities In Parliament, Increase Stability

[world politics news]

Italy's parliament has approved a radical new electoral law designed to ensure the country's elections always produce governments with working majorities. The reform seeks to end decades of political instability caused by many short-lived governments. The bill will give the top vote-getting party 340 of the 630 seats in the National Assembly.

#EGYPT: Justice Min. Resigns After Saying Sons Of Trash Collectors "Unfit" To Be Judges

[world politics news]

Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber has resigned after saying the sons of garbage collectors could not be judges because they would be unfit for the post. The remark, said on live TV, caused an uproar, after which Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb accepted Saber’s resignation.

#AUSTRALIA: Labor Pty Ldr #BillShorten Pressured To Support "Ambitious" Climate Targets

[world politics news]

An environmental group is pressuring Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to take ambitious climate targets into the next federal election. The Labor Environment Action Network has growing support within the Labor Party for its "50/50" campaign, calling for 50 per cent of electricity production from renewable sources by 2030.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#TURKEY: Pres. Erdogan's Party Hits 38% In Poll Ahead Of June 6 Election

[world politics news]

Only 38% support the ruling Justice and Development Party in the June 6 election - a significant decline in the past eight months. Reasons include economics, overwhelming opposition to a transition from a parliamentary to a presidential system, a flood of refugees from Syria, and an expensive new presidential palace.

#ISRAEL: Knesset Approves Expansion of Cabinet Size From 18 to 20 Members

[world politics news]

The Knesset has approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to increase the number of ministers in the cabinet over the  previous 18. The law allows Netanyahu, who holds power with a 5-party coalition, to hand out more cabinet positions.

#UK: Labour Leader Frontrunner Andy Burnham Ends Oppo. To EU Referendum

[world politics news]

Labour leadership front runner Andy Burnham says he'd drop Labour's opposition to a referendum on Britain leaving the European Union. He says PM David Cameron should hold it next year, rather than 2017, and said Cameron's plan to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU must include changes to migrant benefits.

Monday, May 18, 2015

#GERMANY: #Merkel's Christian Democrats, Greens, Unite On Plan To Legalize Marijuana

[world politics news]

A strange alliance of Green Party legislators and those of the ruling Christian Democratic Union are seeking to regulate and legalize cannabis. Economic policy spokespeople Joachim Pfeiffer of the CDU and Dieter Janecek of the Greens say that it no longer makes sense to criminalize possession of or trading in the drug.

#MACEDONIA: Thousands Demand PM Resign After Mass Wiretap Revelations

[world politics news]

Thousands gathered in Macedonia's capital, Skopje, to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Sunday, after the release of wiretapped conversations of more than 20,000 Macedonians. They hint at government corruption, including mismanagement of funds, spurious criminal prosecutions of opponents and even attempted cover-ups of killings.

#JAPAN: Rejection of Plan To Create Autonomous Districts Prompts Mayor of Osaka's Political Exit

[world politics news]

Osaka voters rejected a referendum proposal Sunday to merge the city into five semi-autonomous wards, dealing a crippling blow to Mayor Toru Hashimoto, once a rising star in Japanese politics. His Japan Innovation Party seeks greater local autonomy.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

#GAMBIA: Pres. Jammeh Threatens To "Slit Throats" Of Gays Who Want To Marry

[world politics news]

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has threatened to kill any homosexuals in his country. "If you do it here, I will slit your throat," he said. "If you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it." In December, the European Union cut off  €13 million of humanitarian aid for The Gambia due to its poor human rights record.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#ISRAEL: New Deputy Defense Min. Referred To Palestinians As "Animals, Not Human"

[world politics news]

As part of the coalition deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jewish Home Party, Knesset member Eli Ben Dahan, a rabbi who’s made controversial statements about Palestinians and non-Jews, will be Israel's deputy defense minister. In a 2013 interview, Dahan said of Palestinians, "To me, they are like animals, they aren't human."

#SCOTLAND: Scottish Labour Party Leader Survives Confidence Vote, Resigns Anyway

[world politics news]

Scottish Labour Party Leader Jim Murphy will resign next month despite narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence, a sign of the parties inner turmoil. Murphy lost his seat in last week's general election as the SNP won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats, leaving Labour with a single Scottish MP in the UK's parliament.

#PALESTINIANAUTHORITY: #Vatican Formally Recognizes "Palestinian State" In New Treaty

[world politics news]

The Vatican has officially recognized a Palestinian state in a new treaty, which makes clear that it has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to a "state of Palestine." The UN has recognized a Palestinian state, but this is the first legal document to do so.

Pictured: Pope Francis welcoming Palestinian Authority Pres. Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican last June.

Friday, May 15, 2015

#BURUNDI: Coup Attempt After Pres. Announces 3rd Term Bid; Promise Not To Seek Ended 2005 Civil War

[world politics news]

President Pierre Nkurunziza has returned to the capital after a failed coup attempt. He was in Tanzania when military leaders moved against his bid for a third term Wednesday. A promise not to seek a third term was a key reason a civil war ended in 2005.

#UK: Chuka Umunna Withdraws From Labour Ldr Contest After 3 Days; Cites "Scrutiny" And "Pressure"

[world politics news]

Chuka Umunna has withdrawn from the Labour leadership contest, citing the impact the increased level of attention on him and his family. There are now four declared candidates: Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham; shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh; and shadow health minister Liz Kendall.

#CANADA: Conservatives Rejection Of Media Consortium's Debate Plan Means More Debates

[world politics news]

Canadians may get to see federal party leaders face off in as many as five debates before they head to the polls this fall. The Conservative Party has officially rebuffed the proposal by the media consortium that traditionally organizes leaders' debates in favor of competing offers from individual networks.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#UK: Labour's Shadow Business Sec. Chuka Ummuna Seeking Leadership; Says Pty Must Be Business Friendly

[world politics news]

UPDATE: Chucka Umunna Withdraws From Labour Leadership Race, Citing "Increased Scruitiny"

The UK Labour Party's Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, will seek to become the party's new leader following the resignation of Ed Miliband after the party's devastating loss. Umunna has argued Labour needs more "pro-business" rhetoric and make an "aspirational offer" to win over more middle-class voters.

#JAPAN: Gov't Withdraws Offer To Disclose Text Of Trans-Pacific Free Trade Deal To Lawmakers

[world politics news]

The Japanese government has withdrawn a plan to disclose draft clauses of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement to Japanese lawmakers. The disclosure was unveiled at a press conference, during which the the example of the United States, in which draft TPP provisions were revealed to members of Congress.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#CHINA: Chinese Pres. Xi Meets Taiwanese Pres., Warns Against Viewing Taiwan As "Separate Country"

[world politics news]

China's President Xi Jinping warned Monday against Taiwan being seen as a country as he met the head of the island’s ruling party, the first such encounter in seven years. Xi welcomed Kuomintang (KMT) party head Eric Chu, whose party takes a cooperative stance towards the Mainland.

Pictured: Eric Chu, left, Xi Jinping, right.

#CANADA: Legislation Would Speed Up The Deportation of Foreign Criminals

[world politics news]

The government will introduce legislation to speed up the process of removing foreign nationals who have committed serious crimes in Canada. The Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act would allow the mandatory transfer of foreign criminals back to their original countries without their consent – the only consent needed being from the home country.

Pictured: Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney.

#FRANCE: Suspended From The Party He Created, Jean-Marie Le Pen To Form New "Movement"

[world politics news]

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the controversial National Front founder who was recently suspended from his own party, says he'll start a new "movement." The group won't compete with the party he founded in 1972, but will be "parachute" for disaffected members. His daughter Marine leads the National Front.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#UK: #UKIP Pty Executives Reject Resignation of Leader #NigelFarage

[world politics news]

Nigel Farage's resignation as leader of the UK Independence Party has been rejected by the party’s executive committee and he remains its leader. Farage announced his intention to quit as party leader on Friday morning after he failed to win a seat in parliament.

SOUTHAFRICA: Largely White Oppo. Democratic Alliance Pty Elects Black Leader, Mmusi Maimane

[world politics news]

South Africa’s official opposition political party, the Democratic Alliance has elected it's first black leader, Mmusi Maimane. He becomes leader of a party widely viewed as a 'white' party, and at just 34-years old, becomes the youngest leader of the official opposition party in modern history.

#UK: Prominent TV Personality, Sir Alan Sugar, Resigns From Labour Pty, Citing Anti-Business Policies

[world politics news]

Lord Sugar, a supporter of New Labour who was brought into the party by Gordon Brown, wrote on Twitter that he has decided to resign in the aftermath of Labour's loss in the General Election. Sugar- who hosts the UK version of "The Apprentice," cited a long-term dissatisfaction with the party.

Monday, May 11, 2015

#THAILAND: Poll: Most Voters Confused By Proposed Constitution's Election Reforms

[world politics news]

A new poll shows a vast majority of voters are confused by the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system in the draft constitution, in which MPs would be elected from constituencies and party lists. Only 9.60% of the respondents understood it very well and 30% said they had some understanding of it. About 24% did not understand it at all.

#GERMANY: Conservative Parties Enter Parliament In Bremen, Bastion Of The Left

[world politics news]

For the first time, the Euro-Skeptic Alternative For Germany Party entered the parliament of the city-state of Bremen, which has seen an erosion of ship-building jobs in past decades. The pro-business Free Democrats also re-entered parliament, securing more than 5% of the vote.

Pictured: The statue of the "Town Musicians of Bremen" based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Photo: DPA

#POLAND: Conservative Euro Skeptic Wins First Round Of Pres. Election

[world politics news]

The conservative opposition candidate won the first round in Poland’s presidential election Sunday, opening the way for a runoff in two weeks. Despite opinion polls giving Pres. Bronisław Komorowski a 10% lead, Andrzej Duda from the Law and Justice (PiS) won the most votes in the first round of the poll.

Pictured: Andrzej Duda

Sunday, May 10, 2015

#ISRAEL: Ultra-Orthodox Return To #Netanyahu Coalition With Deals For Gov't-Funded Religious Schools

[world politics news]

Enticed with concessions including an exemption from compulsory military service and funding for religious schools, Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties returned to give Benjamin Netanyahu a slim majority in the Knesset. Preferential treatment like this has long angered Israel’s secular majority.

#ITALY: Interior Min. Says Migrants Should Be Working For Free On Public Works Projects

[world politics news]

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano says asylum-seekers should work for free on public works projects during their up to two-year wait for their claims to be processed. Many Italians feel the country has borne the brunt of recent migration. More than 9,000 arrived in the past week.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

#CANADA: Gov't Supports Repeal Of Federal Tax On Tampons Opponents Say "Targets Women"

[world politics news]

The Stephen Harper government now says it supports legislation calling for the removal of the federal tax on tampons. There have been several attempts since 2004 to repeal the tax. Opponents say it unfairly targets women. While cocktail cherries and Viagra aren't taxed, non-luxury items such as menstruation products are.