26 May

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

japan today

Okinawa calls for U.S. Marines’ withdrawal after arrest of base worker


The Okinawa prefectural assembly adopted a resolution on Thursday protesting over a civilian U.S. base worker’s alleged involvement in the death of a local woman and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. Marines from the southwestern island prefecture.

The adoption of the resolution, addressed to the U.S. government and military, and a separate statement addressed to the Japanese government came a week after the former Marine who works at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa was arrested and the body of a 20-year-old woman was found based on his statements.

It is rare for the assembly to call for the Marines’ withdrawal from the prefecture, a sign of growing calls within the prefecture for the Japanese and U.S. governments to take action to prevent similar incidents.

The resolution and statement, submitted by the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party that control the assembly, had the rare backing of the Okinawa chapter of the Komeito party, which tends not to take sides in the assembly.

The resolution and statement both called for the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which defines the handling of U.S. service members and nonmilitary personnel in Japan, including in cases where they are alleged to have committed crimes.

They also called for the pending relocation of the Marines’ Air Station Futenma within the prefecture to be cancelled and for the air base to be closed.

“We strongly protest against the U.S. military and will deal with the case sternly, while taking any progress in the investigations into account,” Okinawa Gov Takeshi Onaga said after the assembly adopted the resolution and statement by a majority.

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party was absent when the resolution and statement were put to vote……………



Eighteen former military officers accused of participating in a plan in the 70s and 80s to operate international death squads to eliminate leftwing exiles face verdict

Mariana Zaffaroni Islas, front left, stands next to her grandmother María Esther Gatti de Islas at a 2009 demonstration in Montevideo, Uruguay. Her parents were killed as part of Operation Condor in Buenos Aires in 1976.

Mariana Zaffaroni, front left, stands next to her grandmother at a demonstration in Montevideo. Her parents were killed as part of Operation Condor in Buenos Aires in 1976. Photograph: Matilde Campodonico/AP

It was an organised programme of state-sponsored murder in which US-backed regimes conspired to hunt down, kidnap and kill political opponents across South America and beyond.

Operation Condor – named after the world’s largest carrion bird – was devised to eliminate thousands of exiled leftwing activists who had dared confront the military dictators who ruled the continent in the 1970s and 80s.

The exact number of its victims may never be known, but this week judges in Buenos Aires will deliver their verdict on the first court case to specifically focus on the conspiracy.

Eighteen former military officers – including Argentina’s last dictator Reynaldo Bignone, 88 – will be sentenced on charges including kidnapping, torture and forced disappearance. Seven other defendants, including Jorge Videla – the general who headed Argentina’s junta during its bloodiest first three years – have died since the trial began in 2013.

The court has heard evidence on the deaths of more than 100 leftwing activists allegedly killed in Argentina, including 45 Uruguayans, 22 Chileans, 15 Paraguayans and 13 Bolivians.

If the judges accept the thesis presented by the plaintiffs, many of them represented by the human rights group Cels (Centre for Legal and Social Studies) in Argentina, it will be first time the existence of the murderous, multi-nation plan is proven in court.

The verdict is also likely to cast a fresh light on allegations that the operation was backed by the CIA – and at least tacitly approved by the then secretary of state Henry Kissinger……………..

Declassified State Department records show that the month before Letelier’s murder, Kissinger had ordered US ambassadors posted to the six Condor countries to express Washington’s “deep concern” at the possible assassination of “politicians and prominent figures” in South America and beyond.

The ambassadors, fearful to raise the topic with their hosts, demurred, suggesting that it would be safer to approach the South American ambassadors posted in Washington instead.

But Kissinger rescinded the order on 16 September, just five days before Letelier’s murder, instructing that “no further action should be taken on this matter”………….

Efforts by the former secretary of state to move on from her email controversy hit a major setback as investigation finds disregard for department guidelines

Hillary Clinton’s use of mobile devices to conduct official business on her personal email account and private server ran counter to department security guidelines.

Hillary Clinton’s use of mobile devices to conduct official business on her personal email account and private server ran counter to department security guidelines. Photograph: John Locher/AP

Hillary Clinton’s efforts to move on from a damaging email controversy suffered their biggest setback yet on Wednesday with the release of an internal report finding she broke multiple government rules by using a private server rather than more secure official communication systems.

The 78-page investigation by the inspector general of the state department singled out several previously unknown breaches by Clinton while she was secretary of state, including the use of mobile devices to conduct official business without checking whether they posed a security risk.

Although the report is potentially less damaging than a separate investigation by the FBI into whether she broke federal laws, it poses a significant challenge to the Clinton campaign, which has recently slipped behind Donald Trump in opinion polling.

Trump has stepped up attacks on Clinton’s trustworthiness in recent days and is likely to seize on the report as Democrats wait nervously for the FBI decision on whether to bring charges against Clinton or any of her advisers.

House speaker Paul Ryan said: “No public official is above the law. Secretary Clinton’s actions were at best negligent and at worst harmful to our national security. The state department should work to ensure that all employees strictly comply with the law, and follow the IG’s recommendations to strengthen its record-keeping system.”

The Clinton campaign put a brave face on the inspector general’s report on Wednesday, pointing to sections that dealt with similar lapses in email security by previous office holders.

A spokesman for Clinton said the report showed that her email practices were “consistent” with those of past secretaries and senior officials.

A Clinton spokesman, Brian Fallon, said that the report showed problems with the state department’s electronic record-keeping systems “were longstanding” and emphasized that her use of a private email server “was known to officials within the department during her tenure”……..

The report also found that state department staff who raised the issue of Clinton’s email practices were effectively silenced. Two information resources managers went to their head of department in late 2010, it found. “In one meeting, one staff member raised concerns that information sent and received on Secretary Clinton’s account could contain federal records that needed to be preserved in order to satisfy federal record keeping requirements,” the report said.

But the staff member later recalled that the director said Clinton’s personal system had already been reviewed and approved by legal staff “and that the matter was not to be discussed any further”, the reported continued. Yet “as previously noted, OIG found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system.”

The other staff member who raised the issue said the director stated that the department’s mission is to “support the secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again”.

Despite guidelines to the contrary, Clinton used mobile devices to conduct official business on her personal email account and private server. She never sought approval from senior information officers, who would have refused the request because of security risks, the audit said…………….

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal: the best of the apologies and non-apologies – video

The wind has turned in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal as she recently apologized for her use of a private email server during her time as US secretary of state. Clinton had refused to admit fault in recent months, insisting use of personal email ‘was allowed’

Pictures of women serving illicitly as priests will be plastered across city as part of campaign against Vatican decree

Michelle Birtch-Conery and Alta, featured in the female priests poster campaign

Two of the female priests featured in the campaign. Composite: Giulia Bianchi

It has been 22 years since Pope John Paul II declared that the exclusion of women from the priesthood was a settled matter and no longer up for discussion. The decree was so absolute that at least one bishop was fired after he suggested, years later, that elevating women to the priesthood could be one way to solve the Roman Catholic church’s chronic shortage of clergy.

But on Friday, thousands of priests and other Catholics who live and work in the Vatican will come face to face with a feminist movement that aims to break one of the church’s most salient taboos. Dozens of posters of women serving illicitly as priests – essentially under excommunication – are due to be plastered across the Rome neighbourhood of Trastevere and around St Peter’s Square, as part of a provocative campaign against the ban.

In one, the former nun Michelle Birtch-Conery, who is now serving as a bishop against church law, wears a purple shirt and a crucifix around her neck and drinks out of a chalice. Above her image are the Italian words Alcune donne disobbediscono (some women disobey).

Kate McElwee, co-executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), who is organising the event as part of a larger “jubilee for women priests” – a conference that is not recognised by the Vatican but coincides with an official jubilee for priests – said the posters were meant to celebrate female priests around the world………….

Praise for sailors’ swift action as dramatic photographs show overloaded boat turning over as naval vessel approaches

Migration correspondent

A fishing boat packed with migrants capsizes during a rescue operation off the Libyan coast on Wednesday, according to the Italian navy. The Italian navy patrol ship Bettica identified the boat floating in precarious conditions in the Sicily channel. The Navy approached the migrants’ boat and started distributing life jackets but it capsized due to the sudden movement of the high number of people on board. More than 500 migrants were rescued, and and number of bodies were taken aboard Bettica as well

More than 500 people narrowly escaped drowning on Wednesday after their smugglers’ boat capsized in the southern Mediterranean, a series of dramatic photographs have revealed.

As Italian naval ships approached to rescue the stricken asylum-seekers, their boat – a repurposed trawler – tipped over, throwing those on deck into the water.

At least five people drowned when the boat capsized “due to overcrowding and instability caused by the high number of people on board”, the Italian navy said in a statement.

But the sailors managed to save about 550 lives, in a mission that migration experts described as miraculous.

Boats of this size are usually crammed with around 600 people, which suggests that the majority of those stuck below decks were largely saved.

“It is a miracle,” said Flavio di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). “You would expect them to save the people on the deck. But if they’ve saved 500 people, that means they’ve saved even the people who were inside. And that is very impressive.”………

Victims’ groups accuse US president of ignoring their plight and fear his Hiroshima visit helps Japan gloss over its own history

Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the G7 summit in Japan.

Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the G7 summit in Japan. Photograph: Reuters

The bitter legacy of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the US military presence on Okinawa are threatening to cast a shadow over Barack Obama’s last G7 summit as US president.

As Obama and other world leaders sat down to a working lunch in Ise-Shima to discuss the state of the global economy on Thursday, Korean survivors of the Hiroshima bombing in August 1945 accused him of neglecting their suffering ahead of his visit to the city on Friday – the first by a sitting US president.

While many Japanese have welcomed the gesture, Korean survivors fear his trip will aid attempts in Japan to gloss over its own wartime acts of aggression.

“The world thinks Japan is the atomic bomb victim. That is wrong,” said Shim Jin-tae, one of a small number of South Koreans at a protest outside the US embassy in Seoul.

“Japan is the country that began the war, and Koreans are the victims of the atomic bomb,” added the 73-year-old, who lived in in Hiroshima and was two when the bomb was dropped.

South Korean survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and supporters stage a rally demanding a public apology from Obama.

South Korean survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and supporters stage a rally demanding a public apology from Obama. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP

“The United States has never apologised for the atomic bomb and Japan, as a country that started the war, has never apologised.”

Tens of thousands of Koreans, including Shim’s parents, were sent to Japan as forced labourers during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.

The Association of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims estimates that 40,000-70,000 Koreans died in the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki………..

US politics

Election 2016

Elizabeth Warren: Donald Trump is a ‘small, insecure money-grubber’ – video

The campaign minute Warren deals Trump a drubbing

Can Elizabeth Warren unite a divided Democratic party to stop Trump?


English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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