US top official hails ‘historic’ South Korea announcement on Japan

US top official hails ‘historic’ South Korea announcement on Japan
Protesters rally against the South Korean government’s announcement of a plan over the issue of compensation for forced labors in Seoul on Mar. 6, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 06 March 2023
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US top official hails ‘historic’ South Korea announcement on Japan

US top official hails ‘historic’ South Korea announcement on Japan
  • Decision by Seoul comes as South Korea and Japan have ramped up security cooperation in the face of growing threats from nuclear-armed North Korea

WASHINGTON: US top diplomat Antony Blinken on Sunday applauded plans announced by South Korea to compensate victims of Japan’s forced wartime labor, as Seoul looks to forge closer ties with Tokyo.
South Korea and Japan are “two of the United States’ most important allies, and we are inspired by the work they have done to advance their bilateral relations,” the Secretary of State said in a statement.
The trilateral relationship is “central to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
“We applaud (Seoul and Tokyo) for their courage and vision, and call on the international community to join our commendation of this momentous achievement.”
The decision by Seoul comes as South Korea and Japan have ramped up security cooperation in the face of growing threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.
But bilateral ties have long been strained over Tokyo’s brutal 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.
Around 780,000 Koreans were conscripted into forced labor by Japan during the 35-year occupation, according to data from Seoul, not including women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.
Seoul’s plan is to take money from major South Korean companies that benefited from a 1965 reparations deal with Tokyo and use it to compensate victims, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said.
Victims have criticized the proposal because it falls far short of their demand for a full apology from Tokyo and direct compensation from the Japanese companies involved.


Marcos says Philippines on ‘frontline’ of maritime disputes, will not cede ‘one square inch’

Marcos says Philippines on ‘frontline’ of maritime disputes, will not cede ‘one square inch’
Updated 10 sec ago
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Marcos says Philippines on ‘frontline’ of maritime disputes, will not cede ‘one square inch’

Marcos says Philippines on ‘frontline’ of maritime disputes, will not cede ‘one square inch’
  • Australia and the Philippines began their first joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea in November, aimed at countering an increasingly assertive China, which claims the entire sea as its own

CANBERRA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos told Australia’s parliament his country was on the “frontline” of a battle for regional peace Thursday — pledging resolve as he sought support in maritime disputes with China.

With Beijing’s warships detected in waters off his country’s coast, Marcos told Australian lawmakers that “the Philippines now finds itself on the frontline against actions that undermine regional peace, erode regional stability, and threaten regional success.”

He vowed to remain firm in defending his country’s sovereignty. 

“I will not allow any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch of our sovereign territory,” Marcos said to loud applause. “The challenges that we face may be formidable, but equally formidable is our resolve. We will not yield.”

China has claimed the shoal and swathes of the South China Sea as its own, ignoring regional objections and an international tribunal ruling that the claims have no legal basis.

It has long deployed coast guard and other vessels around the Scarborough Shoal to prevent Philippine access.

Marcos has called the deployment of warships a new and “worrisome” development.

Australia and the Philippines began their first joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea in November, aimed at countering an increasingly assertive China, which claims the entire sea as its own.

Manila accuses Beijing of committing aggressive acts inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ); an international arbitration tribunal in the Hague said in 2016 that China’s claims inside the Philippines’ EEZ had no legal basis — a decision Beijing has rejected. China has chided the Philippines for encroaching on what it says is its territory.

Protecting the area is important to global stability, Marcos said on Thursday.

“The protection of the South China Sea as a vital, critical global artery is crucial to the preservation of regional peace and, I dare say, of global peace,” he said. “We have an abiding interest in keeping our seas free and open, and in ensuring unimpeded passage and freedom of navigation.”

The South China Sea is a conduit for more than $3 trillion worth of ship-borne commerce each year, and is a major source of tension between the Philippines and neighbor China.

Marcos is in Australia on an official visit, before he attends a special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Melbourne next week.


Trump is disqualified from Illinois ballot, judge rules

Trump is disqualified from Illinois ballot, judge rules
Updated 31 min 8 sec ago
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Trump is disqualified from Illinois ballot, judge rules

Trump is disqualified from Illinois ballot, judge rules
  • Judge said the former president should be disqualified from the ballot for violating the anti-insurrection clause of the US constitution
  • Colorado and Maine earlier removed Trump from their state ballots, but both decisions are on hold while Trump appeals

An Illinois state judge on Wednesday barred Donald Trump from appearing on the Illinois’ Republican presidential primary ballot because of his role in the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but she delayed her ruling from taking effect in light of an expected appeal by the former US president.

Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter sided with Illinois voters who argued that the former president should be disqualified from the state’s March 19 primary ballot and its Nov. 5 general election ballot for violating the anti-insurrection clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
The final outcome of the Illinois case and similar challenges will likely be decided by the US Supreme Court, which heard arguments related to Trump’s ballot eligibility on Feb. 8.
Porter said she was staying her decision because she expected his appeal to Illinois’ appellate courts, and a potential ruling from the US Supreme Court.
The advocacy group Free Speech For People, which spearheaded the Illinois disqualification effort, praised the ruling as a “historic victory” in a statement.
A campaign spokesperson for Trump, the national frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, said in a statement this “is an unconstitutional ruling that we will quickly appeal.”
Colorado and Maine earlier removed Trump from their state ballots after determining he is disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Both decisions are on hold while Trump appeals.
Section 3 bars from public office anyone who took an oath to support the US Constitution and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, attacked police and swarmed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Trump gave an incendiary speech to supporters beforehand, telling them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” He then for hours did not act on requests that he urge the mob to stop.
The Supreme Court is currently weighing Trump’s challenge to his Colorado disqualification. The justices in Washington appeared skeptical of the decision during oral arguments in the case, expressing concerns about states taking sweeping actions that could affect the national election.


Chad says opposition group attacked security agency in capital, a day after election date was set

Chad says opposition group attacked security agency in capital, a day after election date was set
Updated 29 February 2024
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Chad says opposition group attacked security agency in capital, a day after election date was set

Chad says opposition group attacked security agency in capital, a day after election date was set
  • Govt blames attack on opposition group led by Yaya Dillo, cousin of interim President Mahamat Deby Itno and a strong contender in the upcoming election
  • The government announced earlier that the presidential election would be held on May 6

N’DJAMENA, Chad: Several people were killed in an attack on the national security agency in Chad’s capital, officials said on Wednesday.

Opposition group The Socialist Party Without Borders attacked The agency, known as ANSE, D’jamena, government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah in a statement. The group is led by Yaya Dillo, the current president’s cousin and a strong contender in the upcoming election.
Koulamallah said, “the situation is now totally under control” but did not reveal the exact number of people killed. He said some were arrested and others were being pursued.
In the same statement, the government said that earlier the party’s finance secretary tried to assassinate the president of the supreme court, which led to his arrest.
Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Deby Itno, seized power after his father who ran the country for more than three decades was killed fighting rebels in 2021. Last year, the government announced it was extending the 18-month transition for two more years, which led to protests across the country.
On Tuesday, the government announced that presidential election would be held on May 6.
On Wednesday afternoon the Internet was cut in the capital and tensions remained high.


US Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump presidential immunity claim

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump presidential immunity claim
Updated 29 February 2024
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US Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump presidential immunity claim

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump presidential immunity claim
  • Trump’s claim to be immune from criminal liability for actions he took while in the White House is “unsupported by precedent, history

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear Donald Trump’s claim that as a former president he enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution, as the 2024 White House candidate faces dozens of state and federal charges.
The court scheduled arguments in the high-stakes case for the week of April 22 and said Trump’s trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election would remain on hold for now.
Trump had been scheduled to go on trial for election interference on March 4 but the proceedings have been frozen as his presidential immunity claim wound its way through the courts.
The Supreme Court said it would address the question of “whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”
It will be among the most consequential election law cases to reach the court since it halted the Florida vote recount in 2000 with Republican George W. Bush narrowly leading Democrat Al Gore.
A three-judge appeals court panel ruled earlier this month that the 77-year-old Trump has no immunity from prosecution as a former president.
Trump’s claim to be immune from criminal liability for actions he took while in the White House is “unsupported by precedent, history or the text and structure of the Constitution,” the judges said in a unanimous opinion.
“We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,” they said.
The ruling was a major legal setback for Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and the first ex-president to be criminally indicted.
The appeals court put the immunity ruling on hold to give Trump the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Special Counsel Jack Smith filed the election conspiracy case against Trump in August and had been pushing hard for the March start date for his trial.
Lawyers for the former president have sought repeatedly to delay the trial until after the November election, when Trump could potentially have all of the federal cases against him dropped if he wins the White House again.
Trump also faces 2020 election interference charges in Georgia, and has been indicted in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified information.
He was impeached twice by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives while in office — once for inciting an insurrection — but acquitted both times by the Senate.
The immunity case is one of two election-related cases before the Supreme Court.
The Colorado Supreme Court barred Trump in December from appearing on the Republican presidential primary ballot in the state because of his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
Trump appealed the Colorado ruling and the conservative-majority Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in early February.
Both conservative and liberal justices expressed concern during arguments about having individual states decide which candidates can be on the presidential ballot this November.


UK police ‘assessing’ alleged Islamophobic hate speech by MP Lee Anderson

UK police ‘assessing’ alleged Islamophobic hate speech by MP Lee Anderson
Updated 29 February 2024
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UK police ‘assessing’ alleged Islamophobic hate speech by MP Lee Anderson

UK police ‘assessing’ alleged Islamophobic hate speech by MP Lee Anderson
  • He was suspended by the Conservative Party after refusing to apologize for suggesting ‘Islamists’ have taken control of London and the city’s mayor
  • Several government ministers, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have described Anderson’s remarks as “wrong” but stopped short of labeling them Islamophobic

LONDON: Police in the UK are “assessing” hate speech allegations made against MP Lee Anderson, after he suggested that “Islamists” had taken control of London and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, Sky News reported on Wednesday.

Anderson was suspended by the ruling Conservative Party on Saturday after he refused to apologize for the remarks, which were branded racist by Khan and others.

Anderson defended himself again on Wednesday in an article for the Daily Express, in which he accused Khan of “playing the race card” and said the mayor had accused him of racism to gain “political advantage.” However, he admitted the words he used were “clumsy.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that they have received a complaint about alleged hate speech by an MP. “A report was made to police on Saturday, Feb. 24. Officers are assessing this report,” a spokesperson told Sky News.

While several government ministers, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have described Anderson’s remarks as “wrong,” they have stopped short of labeling them Islamophobic.

On Tuesday, Downing Street said that Sunak does not believe Anderson is racist but that “the language he used was wrong and it’s obviously unacceptable to conflate all Muslims with Islamist extremism or the extreme ideology of Islamism.”

The spokesperson told Sky News that ministers had not been instructed to avoid using the term “Islamophobia,” which “conflates race with religion, does not address sectarianism within Islam and may inadvertently undermine freedom of speech. Anti-Muslim hatred is the more precise term, which better reflects UK hate-crime legislation.”

Anderson did not rule out the possibility that he might join rival political party Reform, which was founded by Nigel Farage.