2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-05-18 18:06:00 UTC
2019-05-19 12:21:38 UTC
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The US state of Iowa has approved one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, banning most abortions once a foetal heartbeat is detected. Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers, passed the bill in back-to-back votes, sending it to the governor's desk to sign into law.
If [signed], the bill would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Critics argue the bill makes having an abortion illegal before most women even realise they are pregnant.
[...] If [Governor Kim] Reynolds signs the bill into law, it will likely be challenged in court for possibly violating Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in 1973. [...] Some Republican lawmakers welcomed the challenge. "I would love for the United States Supreme Court to look at this bill and have this as a vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade," Republican Senator Jake Chapman said.
Nineteen states adopted a total of 63 restrictions to the procedure in 2017, which is the highest number of state laws on the issue since 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. State legislatures have proposed 15 bills that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and 11 bills that would ban abortions if the sole reason is a genetic anomaly like Down syndrome.
"Seoul's Defense Ministry said Monday it will pull back dozens of its frontline loudspeakers on Tuesday.
It says Seoul expects Pyongyang to do the same.
South Korea had turned off its loudspeakers ahead of Friday's summit talks, and North Korea responded by halting its own broadcasts." foxnews.com/world/2018/04/30/latest-s-korea-to-remove-loudspeakers-at-border.html
Seoul had blasted propaganda messages and K-pop songs from border loudspeakers since the North's fourth nuclear test in early 2016. The North quickly matched the South's action with its own border broadcasts.
"South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that President Trump deserves to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and end the decades-long war between the North and South.
Joy Reid, an MSNBC host, apologized in December for "homophobic content" on a "now-defunct blog". This month, a Twitter user found similar material by using Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, although robots.txt is now in effect. This time around, Reid blamed hackers (archive) for inserting these posts into the blog, before admitting that it could not be proven (archive) that the blog had been hacked/manipulated:
Joy Reid, the MSNBC host who accused hackers of inserting homophobic posts into her now-defunct blog, said on Saturday that while she continued to deny having written the offensive language, security experts could not conclusively say her blog was breached. "I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me," she said on her morning show, "AM Joy." "But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don't believe me." She hired a cybersecurity expert to see if her former blog had been manipulated, she said, but "the reality is, they have not been able to prove it."
The posts containing the offensive language, which Mediaite wrote about on Monday, said that "most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing" and that "a lot of heterosexuals, especially men, find the idea of homosexual sex to be ... well ... gross." They also allegedly showed Ms. Reid arguing against legalized gay marriage and criticizing commentators who supported it, including Rachel Maddow, who is now one of Ms. Reid's colleagues at MSNBC.
The Internet Archive responded to claims that its database might have been manipulated:
This past December, Reid's lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that "fraudulent" posts were "inserted into legitimate content" in our archives of the blog. Her attorneys stated that they didn't know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).
When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions. At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities.
We let Reid's lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation. Consequently, and due to Reid's being a journalist (a very high-profile one, at that) and the journalistic nature of the blog archives, we declined to take down the archives. We were clear that we would welcome and consider any further information that they could provide us to support their claims.
Also at CNN.
The Center for American Progress reports
As residents of Arizona's eighth congressional district cast ballots in a special election to replace former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) in Congress, roughly 140,000 of them may be unaware they are eligible to vote because they did not receive the ID card the county is required to send them after they register.
According to the Arizona Republic, Maricopa County officials have not sent all voters the cards they can use to cast a ballot under Arizona's voter ID law because of an issue with the company used to print the materials. The paper reports that just 60,000 ID cards have been mailed to people who recently registered or changed their registration, while about 140,000 have not been sent.
[...] Arizona was one of the first states in the country to enact a non-photo voter ID law when a ballot measure was approved by voters in November 2004. Under the law, the state must take steps to ensure that all eligible voters have an acceptable form of ID. According to the secretary of state's office[PDF], "a county recorder must issue a voter ID card to any new registrant or an existing registrant who updates his or her name, address, or political party preference".
But because of an error by the company used to print the ID cards, they have not been mailed out since December.
Although these citizens could provide other forms of ID at the polls, some voters told the Arizona Republic they're concerned that less informed voters may not realize they are registered without the card.
[...] During the presidential primary in March 2016, some Maricopa County voters waited in line for up to five hours to cast a ballot. The chaos led to an investigation by the Department of Justice and numerous lawsuits, including one filed by the Democratic National Committee.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Arizona was required to pre-clear any changes to its voting law with the DOJ.
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Kim Jong-un has become the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea by crossing the military line that has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In a moment rich with symbolism and pomp, South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Mr Kim shook hands at the border. Mr Kim said he hoped for "frank" discussion in a warm opening exchange.
Just months ago North Korean rhetoric was warlike, but now they may discuss a peace treaty and nuclear weapons. Much of what the summit will focus on has been agreed in advance, but many analysts remain deeply sceptical about the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
During their private meeting, Kim told Moon he came to the summit to end the history of conflict and joked he was sorry for keeping Moon up with his late night missile tests, a South Korean official said.
North Korea's nuclear test site has collapsed after the region sustained damage from five nuclear blast trials, Chinese scientists said Wednesday — leading many to believe it may be the reason why Kim Jong Un suddenly announced the rogue regime would freeze its nuclear and missile tests.
President Rouhani warns that White House failure to uphold Iran nuclear deal would prompt firm reaction from Tehran.
In a televised speech, Rouhani said the "Iranian government will react firmly" if the White House fails to "live up to their commitments" under the agreement.
The warning comes weeks in advance of a May 12 deadline for Trump to renew the deal.
The US president has previously said he would scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which he has called the "worst deal in history", unless "a better option" is presented to him.
[...] The landmark deal reached in Lausanne, Switzerland in April 2015 with China, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany and the US offered Iran more than $110bn a year in sanctions relief and a return to the global economy in exchange for halting its drive for a nuclear weapon.
After a number of high-profile crimes that sparked outrage and protests, India will allow the death penalty for those convicted of raping girls under the age of 12:
The executive order was cleared at a special cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It allows capital punishment for anyone convicted of raping children under the age of 12. Minimum prison sentences for rape against girls under the age of 16 and women have also been raised.
According to Reuters, which has seen a copy of the order, there was no mention of boys or men.
Two recent rape cases have shocked the nation. Protests erupted earlier this month after police released horrific details of the rape of an eight-year-old Muslim girl by Hindu men in Kathua, in Indian-administered Kashmir in January. Anger has also been mounting after a member of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused last week over the rape of a 16-year-old girl in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
India's poor record of dealing with sexual violence came to the fore after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus. This led to huge protests and changes to the country's rape laws. But sexual attacks against women and children have since continued to be reported across the country.
Some activists have criticized the application of the death penalty, saying it will deter reporting, especially given that almost all perpetrators are family members or acquaintances.
Oklahoma Representative James Bridenstine, a Navy Reserve pilot, was confirmed as NASA's 13th administrator on Thursday.
In a 50-49 vote Thursday, Oklahoma Representative James Bridenstine, a Navy Reserve pilot, was confirmed as NASA's 13th administrator, an agency that usually is kept away from partisanship. His three predecessors — two nominated by Republicans — were all approved unanimously. Before that, one NASA chief served under three presidents, two Republicans and a Democrat.
The two days of voting were as tense as a launch countdown.
A procedural vote Wednesday initially ended in a 49-49 tie — Vice President Mike Pence, who normally breaks a tie, was at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — before Arizona Republican Jeff Flake switched from opposition to support, using his vote as leverage to address an unrelated issue.
Thursday's vote included the drama of another delayed but approving vote by Flake, a last-minute no vote by Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth — who wheeled onto the floor with her 10-day-old baby in tow — and the possibility of a tie-breaker by Pence, who was back in town.
Common Dreams reports
Election reform advocates on [April 18] praised a decision by Maine's Supreme Court, upholding the use of ranked-choice voting for the state's upcoming primary elections, saying the ruling demonstrated that the court heeded the demands of Maine voters.
[...]Unlike in traditional voting, in which the candidate with the largest share of votes wins--even if he or she is far from capturing a majority of the support--in ranked choice voting, voters rank each candidate in order of preference. If no candidate has a majority after the first count, the least-popular contender is eliminated, voters' ballots are added to the totals of their second-ranked candidates, and the ballots are recounted. The eliminations and recounts continue until one candidate has a majority.
Supporters of the system say it increases voter turnout and proportional representation.
Maine's June 12 multi-party primary elections, in which voters will choose candidates for governor and congressional districts, will now make history as the first state election to use ranked-choice voting.
Fifty-two percent of Maine voters supported the system in a November 2016 ballot initiative, but lawmakers passed a bill last year delaying its implementation until December 2021 and argued that the state could not use a new voting system without direction from the legislature. The state Senate also threatened to repeal ranked-choice voting altogether if it could not pass a constitutional amendment by then.
More than 77,000 Maine residents signed a petition saying any repeal of the system by the legislature should be voided.
"The Maine legislature has changed or repealed all four of the initiatives passed by Maine voters in 2016", said Kyle Bailey of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting in a statement on Tuesday. "Today's decision by the Maine Supreme Court confirms that the Maine people are sovereign and have the final say."
The Portland Press Herald, Maine's largest circulation daily newspaper, has extensive background details in their April 17th story: Ranked-choice voting will be used for June primaries, Maine supreme court rules.
Emmanuel Macron has outlined his vision for the future of the European Union in Strasbourg. The 40-year-old, who secured the French Presidency in May on a pro-EU platform amid a populist surge in the bloc, delivered his highly anticipated speech to over 700 MEPs in the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Macron challenged "inward-looking nationalist selfishness" amid populist sentiment in the bloc and pushed for a more united and reinvigorated Europe. "Nationalism will lead Europe into the abyss. We see authoritarianism rising all around us," he said. "The response should not be authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy."
Macron also sought to tackle the "poisoned debate" on migration, proposing the creation of a European programme that could subsidise local authorities which host and integrate refugees.
In a speech which touched on a range of issues, Macron recommended that copyright law be tightened to protect artists' "genius" and reiterated his support for tougher environmental legislation.
Meanwhile, Macron wants to "reform" Islam:
Speaking alongside the flag-draped coffin of a police officer killed in a terrorist attack in southern France, President Emmanuel Macron last month lay blame on "underground Islamism" and those who "indoctrinate on our soil and corrupt daily." The attack added further urgency to a project already in the works: Macron has embarked on a controversial quest to change Islam in France — with the goal of integration but also preventing radicalization.
He has said that in the coming months he will announce "a blueprint for the whole organization" of Islam. And those trying to anticipate what that will look like are turning their attention to Hakim El Karoui, a leading voice on how Islamic traditions fit within French culture.
It's hard to miss that the man who appears to have Macron's ear on this most sensitive of subjects cuts a similar figure. Like the president, El Karoui is an ex-Rothschild investment banker with an elite social pedigree who favors well-tailored suits, crisp white shirts and the lofty province of big ideas. The latest of those ideas is this: that the best way to integrate Islam within French society is to promote a version of the religion "practiced in peace by believers who will not have the need to loudly proclaim their faith."
Also at BBC.