Japan’s coast guard film an undersea volcano as it erupts to form a new island. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
World Wrap: November 11, 2013
Super typhoon survivors seek aid, Khamenei’s economic power comes from property seizures, and Fukushima residents face the prospect of never going home. Today is Monday, November 11, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Typhoon leaves an estimated 10,000 dead, and survivors begging for help
Residents walk past a cargo ship washed ashore four days after super typhoon Haiyan hit Anibong town, Tacloban city, central Philippines, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Three days after the typhoon made landfall, residents of Tacloban told terrifying accounts of being swept away by a wall of water, revealing a city that had been hopelessly unprepared for a storm of Haiyan’s almost unprecedented power. Most of the damage and deaths were caused by waves that inundated towns, washed ships ashore and swept away villages in scenes reminiscent of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
According to the U.N., more than 600,000 people have been displaced by the storm. Roughly 2,000 people are missing in Basey, a seaside town destroyed by Haiyan. Tacloban, which was hit hard by the storm on Friday, reported a mass grave containing 300-500 bodies, the U.N. said. Three military transport planes are providing supplies to and evacuating survivors from Tacloban. Several countries are sending funds, personnel, and supplies to the Philippines for as aid. Officials expect the death toll to rise once access to remote areas is reestablished. Click here for live coverage of the storm’s aftermath, here for aerial shots of the destruction and here for information on how to help.
A man takes a break from salvaging reusable woods from his damaged house after super Typhoon Haiyan hit Tabogon town in Cebu Province, central Philippines, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Charlie Saceda.
Khamenei’s capital. Setad, an Iranian company that manages and sells property on order from the Imam, is one of the most powerful firms in Iran – and a key means for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to maintain power.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits next to a portrait of late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini while taking part in a television live programme in Tehran on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Leader.ir/Handout
The company seized thousands of properties from Iranian citizens, including members of the historically persecuted Baha’ai minority. According to the investigation, Setad’s assets are worth $95 billion – 40 percent more than Iran’s total 2012 oil exports. Click through to read the first of a three-part report on the assets of the Ayatollah.
Long way home. Fukushima evacuees are anxious to go back home, but would settle for acknowledgement from the government that some may never return. Japanese lawmakers on Monday said the government should scale back cleanup goals.
Norio Horiuchi, an evacuee from the town of Tomioka speaks during an interview with Reuters in his unit in a temporary housing estate, where 200 former Tomioka town residents also have been evacuated to, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Sophie Knight
The government may offer compensation to residents whose homes were in the most contaminated regions and will not be able to return. So far, 1,539 displaced Fukushima residents have died due to illness associated with prolonged evacuation. Japan is dealing with fallout from the faulty nuclear plant, which was wrecked by earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and is currently leaking nuclear radiation.
Nota Bene: The chief financier of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network was killed in Islamabad.
Gold no-go - Romania thwarts a massive Canadian gold mining plan. (Associated Press)
Dreamscapes - A photographer captures images of Europe’s forgotten nuclear bunkers and hippodromes. (The Atlantic Cities)
Painful protest - A naked artist is detained after nailing his scrotum to Red Square. (BBC)
Shopping police - Venezuelan soldiers occupy stores accused of price gouging. (New York Times)
Fishy solution - An EU ban on discarding edible fish may not be all that helpful. (The Guardian)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: October 16, 2013
Rescuers in the Philippines continue search for survivors of Tuesday’s earthquake, China sends riot police to stop flood victims from protesting, and Russian opposition leader Navalny’s sentence is suspended. Today is Wednesday, October 16, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Search continues for Philippines earthquake victims
Vendors and shoppers run to safety after an earthquake hit Mandaue town in Cebu City, central Philippines, October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Philippines death toll rises. Rescue workers search through the remains of buildings destroyed by the 7.2 earthquake that killed at least 144 people and injured 300 when it hit the Philippines yesterday. Roughly 3 million people were affected by the disaster, which damaged roads, bridges, and ancient churches in the Bohol and Cebu islands, and has caused more than 840 aftershocks. Officials fear more bad news:
“I think this is a growing number,” Loon mayor Lloyd Lopez told Philippine radio. “Yesterday, we had a partial communications block-out.” “We have not reached all barangays, many are cut off, the roads are blocked by big boulders,” Lopez said, referring to villages. Mobile phone links from the country’s main provider had been restored but a rival provider still had to fix some of its damaged equipment, a state telecommunications official said. Many of the millions hit by the quake spent the night outdoors, including patients at some hospitals, because of aftershocks.
The government declared a state of calamity in Bohol and Cebu, triggering a price freeze in the areas. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said anyone attempting to profit off the tragedy will be penalized. View images of the aftermath here. A separate disaster rocked Japan today in the form of Typhoon Wipha, which killed 17 people but largely avoided the capital and problematic Fukushima nuclear plant:
More than 50 people were missing after the “once in a decade” Typhoon Wipha roared up Japan’s east coast. About 20,000 people were told to leave their homes because of the danger of flooding and hundreds of flights were canceled…. Television footage showed roads clogged with wreckage and houses with gaping holes smashed into them. “I heard a crackling sound and then the trees on the hillside all fell over,” a woman on Izu Oshima told NHK television.
Typhoon Wipha was the strongest storm to hit the area since October 2004, when a cyclone killed nearly 100 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
A man paddles a raft amidst a flooded street as residents are seen atop a partially submerged building in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, October 10, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily
Protest police. Chinese authorities send riot police to Yuyao city to prevent a second day of anti-government protests which pitted thousands of flood victims against security forces:
On Tuesday, residents of Yuyao city massed in front of the local government headquarters, denouncing what they decried as inadequate relief efforts and demanding the local Communist Party secretary and mayor step down. Accounts on microblogs, supported by photographs posted on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, said they vandalized the government building, using metal tools to pry loose and remove the party slogan “Serve the people” mounted at the entrance. Photographs showed several residents bleeding from the head.
According to state media, more than 70 percent of Yuyao was flooded by the heaviest rainfalls in a century after typhoon Fitow hit eastern China. Senior party official for Zhejiang province Cai Qi used social media to praise the government reaction to the tragedy, saying “the leaders and cadres of all levels in Yuyao city have done everything possible for the typhoon relief efforts.” Citizen may fear disputing an official’s stance, especially following a September ruling that said bloggers could be prosecuted for disseminating rumors.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (2nd R), his co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov (L) and their lawyers react after the announcement of the verdict at a court building in Kirov, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Navalny walks. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is freed from court after his five-year sentence for theft was suspended, but with a significant caveat:
The conviction, however, will prevent Alexei Navalny, borne to prominence nearly two years ago by the biggest protests of Putin’s 13-year rule, from seeking elected office for several years. He said he would appeal. “It’s clear for me that the authorities are trying by all means to hound me out of politics, coming up with some restrictions and fabricated cases,” Navalny, 37, said after embracing his wife following a tense three-hour hearing. “One thing is for sure, they will not succeed in pushing me and my allies out of political life,” said Navalny, who posted a strong second-place showing against a Putin ally in a Moscow mayoral election last month.
The Kremlin denied involvement in the court’s decision, but analysts suspect that the ruling is a way for Russia’s government to nullify any political threat posed by Navalny without making him a martyr.
Nota Bene: Iran offers concessions during Geneva nuclear talks.
Frenemies - Obama’s biggest Iranian challenge may come from his allies. (Reuters)
Marsupial medicine - An injured kangaroo pays a visit to the pharmacy in an Australian airport. (The Telegraph)
Price of civility - Madrid residents may be fined for beating carpets in the street. (The Atlantic Cities)
“American arrogance” - World looks on as U.S. government heads toward possible default. (New York Times)
Media culpa - Chinese viewers mock U.S. TV show’s depiction of the one-child policy. (Foreign Policy)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
Mieko Okubo holds a portrait of her father-in-law Fumio Okuboi in the evacuated town of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture in Japan.
Photo gallery: What’s left of Fukushima? http://reut.rs/18xxQQN
Mieko’s father Fumio, a 102 year old farmer, hanged himself in the house where he lived all his life after authorities ordered him to leave the area following the nuclear disaster at the tsunami-crippled Daiichi power plant. She said Fumio committed suicide because he just could not stand to end his life somewhere else.
A total of 160,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around Daiichi after the government announced the evacuation following the nuclear disaster in March 2011.
Photos by Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj. Read his photographer’s blog:http://reut.rs/1fLxhJu
World Wrap: September 3, 2013
Obama tries to convince Congress to strike Syria, Japan makes conveniently-timed pledge, and Chinese land grabs turn ugly. Today is Tuesday, September 3, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Obama lobbies lawmakers for Syria strike
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington to discuss a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013. From L-R are: National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. Vice President Joseph Biden is in the foreground. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Reputation roulette. After announcing on Saturday that he will seek congressional approval to strike Syria, President Obama is trying to convince lawmakers to agree to military action. A failed vote may further damage the United States’ credibility in the Middle East:
Obama’s abrupt decision on Saturday to halt plans to punish Assad for using poison gas and instead wait for congressional approval momentarily united a fractious region in astonishment. Reflecting a widespread view voiced in interviews by Reuters across the region, Algeria’s El Watan newspaper said Assad’s foes seemed riven with doubt in their confrontation with the embattled Syrian leader, fearing intervention would be a “flop”…. Used to the uncompromising approach of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who proclaimed “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and went on to invade Iraq in 2003, many Arabs tend to see Obama’s apparent distaste for war as unusual, even exceptional.
In his appeal, Obama will target Democrats - some of whom see his draft resolution as too broad to preclude the possibility of a long military engagement in Syria - and “Tea Party” Republicans, who oppose more involvement in the Middle East. According to the New York Times, divisions in the GOP between non-interventions and military hawks could lead to clashes. Although Britain withdrew its support after the UK parliament voted against authorizing strikes, France has said it would support military action. A French intelligence report released Monday suggested the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 chemical attack, prompting Syrian President Bashar al-Assadto threaten retaliatory action against Paris. Obama will head to Russia on Thursday for the annual G20 meeting, where he will meet with human rights groups instead of Putin. Today marked another grim landmark in Syria’s conflict, as the U.N. announced two million refugees have fled Syria since the conflict began. Nearly one-third of the population has left their homes – the highest number of displaced people in the world.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka (L) is seen in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage in Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Fixing Fukushima. The Japanese government announced a $500 million commitment to contain radioactive leaks and decontaminate water coming from the Fukushima nuclear plant:
The government intervention represents only a tiny slice of the response to the Fukushima crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which caused reactor meltdowns at the plant. The clean-up, including decommissioning the ruined reactors, will take decades and rely on unproven technology. The measures do not address the full problem of water management at the plant or the bigger issue of decommissioning. The sensitive job of removing spent fuel rods is to start in the coming months. The ultimate fate of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), also remains unclear, as does the question of who will eventually foot the bill – Japanese taxpayers, or the embattled Tepco.
The announcement of funding to stem the effects of the worst nuclear meltdown in 25 years comes days before the International Olympic Committee’s decision on whether Tokyo will host the 2020 Games.
Xu Haifeng poses at a construction site area where her house stood in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, August 20, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Government grab. In Wuxi, China, complaining about government land grabs leads to beatings, kidnappings, and threats:
Family members have been kidnapped at least 18 times, typically having black bags thrust over their heads before being taken to a hotel-turned-illegal jail in the eastern city of Wuxi and locked for weeks in a tiny, windowless room. Xu’s story is shocking even in a country that has become used to tales of arbitrary and sometimes violent land expropriations. It illustrates how the stresses from the deep indebtedness of China’s local governments extend beyond banks into the lives of ordinary Chinese, as hard-up authorities resort to any means they can in a desperate scramble for funds.
Aggressive land seizures are a major source of social tension in China, where economic pressure has led to desperate measures to spur urbanization. The practice contributes to tens of thousands of protests across the country every year.
Nota Bene: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea on his own mission.
Common ground - The Kennan Institute’s William E. Pomeranz says Obama and Putin can agree on something. (Reuters)
“Uhh, dad, I’m gay” - Unilever pulls a homophobic ad in South Africa. (BBC)
Toxic tanneries - Bangladesh’s booming leather industry hurts workers and the environment. (Time)
Hooking up Africa - Entrepreneurs tackle Africa’s connectivity problem. (Al Jazeera)
Class experiment - Chinese educators veer away from the memorization model. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: August 21, 2013
Possible chemical attack kills hundreds in Syria, Japan’s nuclear crisis escalates to worst in years, and Egyptian court orders Mubarak’s release from jail. Today is Wednesday, August 21, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Syrian opposition reports hundreds killed in chemical weapons attack
A man sits in a hospital near two children who activists say were affected by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus, August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Chemical massacre? Syrian opposition activists accused President Bashar al-Assad’s government of killing up to 1,300 people in an early-morning bombardment of rockets and chemical agents. If confirmed, the attack would constitute the worst use of chemical weapons in Syria’s conflict so far:
(Bayan Baker, a nurse at Douma Emergency Collection said,) ”Many of the casualties are women and children. They arrived with their pupils dilated, cold limbs and foam in their mouths. The doctors say these are typical symptoms of nerve gas victims”… The U.N. team is in Syria investigating allegations that both rebels and army forces used chemical weapons in the past, one of the main disputes in international diplomacy over Syria.
Images, including some taken by Reuters photographers, reveal apparently uninjured bodies on the floor of a medical clinic. Amateur videos posted to social media sites show rooms filled with corpses and doctors treating people in makeshift clinics. The Syrian government denied the allegations, while the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition called the attack a “massacre.” The reported attack took place just a few miles from the hotel where U.N. chemical experts are staying during their investigation into Syria’s alleged past use of chemical agents.France, Turkey, the UK, the Arab League, and others have called on the U.N. to investigate the attack immediately, but Syria’s ambassador to Russia said the accusations against Assad were “fabricated.” Reports suggest Assad may have used small amounts of sarin gas against rebels earlier this year, crossing Obama’s “red line.”
An aerial view shows workers wearing protective suits and masks working atop contaminated water storage tanks at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, in this photo taken by Kyodo on August 20, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo
Radioactive rupture. Japan’s nuclear crisis has reached its highest level since an earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as water with dangerous levels of radiation leaks from a storage tank:
The NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) said it was worried about leakage from other similar tanks that were built hastily to store water washed over melted reactors at the station to keep them cool. Water in the latest leak is so contaminated that a person standing close to it for an hour would receive five times the annual recommended limit for nuclear workers. A spokesman for the NRA said the agency plans to upgrade the severity of the crisis from a Level 1 “anomaly” to a Level 3 “serious incident” on an international scale for radiological releases.
Tepco denied the plant was leaking radioactive water for several months before coming clean in July. The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday that the latest development is serious, and that it is ready to help if needed. China’s foreign ministry expressed shock over the leak.
Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak sits inside a dock at the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, April 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Free to go. An Egyptian court ordered the release of deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. According to his attorney, Mubarak could be a free man as soon as tomorrow:
Mubarak, 85, was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial.… Mubarak is still being retried on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during the revolt against him, but he has already served the maximum pre-trial detention in that case.
The prosecution has said it won’t appeal the order. Although Mubarak is not expected to return to politics, commentators on Twitter quipped that without a conviction and following the ouster of President Mursi, Mubarak could run for president of Egypt.
Nota Bene: U.S. WikiLeaks soldier Manning receives 35-year sentence.
Al Qaeda high - The U.S. sanctions an Islamic school in Pakistan for allegedly training militants. (The Associated Press)
Cheers - Australian scientists are working on developing a hangover-proof beer. (The Atlantic Cities)
Hold the ketchup - Brazilian health officials find traces of rodent fur in a batch of Mexican-made Heinz Ketchup. (BBC)
“Performing for the chairs” - American singer Brandy sulks off stage after performing to a near-empty stadium in South Africa. (The Guardian)
Friendlier French - Paris’ tourism board encourages the French to mind their manners. (The New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: August 7, 2013
Japan’s Abe calls Fukushima leak an “urgent issue,” fire cripples Kenya’s main airport, and Tunisia’s anti-government protests gather force. Today is Wednesday, August 7, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Fukushima’s radioactive water leak raises government concerns
Members of a Fukushima prefecture panel, which monitors the safe decommissioning of the nuclear plant, inspect the construction site of the shore barrier, which is meant to stop radioactive water from leaking into the sea, near the No.1 and No.2 reactor building of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima in this photo released by Kyodo, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo
Worse than we thought. Japanese officials said highly radioactive water is seeping from the Fukushima nuclear plant at a rate of 300 metric tons a day, reaching the ocean and prompting the government to finally step in:
The leak from the plant 220 km northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses. As early as January this year, (Tokyo Electric Power Co) found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims. Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation said he had only heard of the latest estimates of the magnitude of the seepage from media reports. Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had “anxiously hid the leaks” and urged Japan to seek international expertise.
The Japanese government authorized Tepco to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency response soon after the plant was compromised. According to a director in Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s Nuclear Accident Response Office, the government believes water has been leaking from the plant for two years at unknown rates and levels of contamination. Tepco has worked alongside the industry ministry since May on a proposal to prevent leakage by freezing soil, but experts say such an operation could be expensive. Abe said that the “government will take measures,” to deal with the issue, but did not offer specifics. Since shuttering nuclear plants, Japan has relied on expensive imported fuel for energy. On Tuesday, a government affiliated institute said some plants could be reopened as soon as July 2014.
Firefighters inspect damages from a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis. Click here for more images.
Kenyatta airport burned. Kenya’s main airport was engulfed in flame, halting international passenger flights indefinitely, stranding thousands of would-be passengers, and causing transport delays throughout the region. Firefighters fought the blaze for five hours before conquering the fire, the worst on record at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport:
The country’s anti-terror police boss said he did not believe that there was a terror link to the fire even though it coincided with the 15th anniversary of a twin attack by Islamist militants on the United States embassy in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of neighboring Tanzania…There were no immediate reports of casualties from the fire, which started in the arrivals and immigration area.
Authorities plan to prepare the airport’s domestic terminal for international flights on Thursday. Domestic flights had resumed by Wednesday evening and outward bound cargo flights were expected to resume hours later.
Anti-government protesters wave flags and shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili
Momentum in Tunis. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in downtown Tunis in the largest opposition rally since protests began two weeks ago:
Tunisia is facing the worst political turmoil since autocratic ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled. The crisis has been compounded by growing instability as Islamist militants step up their attacks. “The people want the fall of the regime,” shouted crowds crammed into Bardo Square, using the same slogan they popularized when Tunisians ousted Ben Ali in 2011 and sparked a wave of uprisings across the Arab world. Tuesday’s opposition protests mark the six-month anniversary of the assassination of leftist politician Chokri Belaid, one of the two opposition figures shot dead in recent months.
On Monday the head of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly suspended the body until Tunisia’s Islamist government and secular opposition start a dialogue, possibly signalling rifts within Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party. Anti-government sentiment has not extended to many of Tunisia’s poor, who say the protests are propelled by the country’s upper and middle class.
Nota Bene: Obama cancels meeting with Putin over Snowden asylum.
Toy gun control - Pakistan hopes to stem a culture of violence by cracking down on toy guns. (The Atlantic)
Poo package - Spanish dog owners who neglect their duties can expect a special delivery. (The New York Times)
‘Bongo Bongo Land’ - The UK Independent Party bans representatives from using an “outdated” phrase. (BBC)
Runway for sale - Spain’s airport at Ciudad Real in La Mancha is on the market. (The Guardian)
Fighting words - An EU Parliamentarian is under fire for encouraging Palestinians to start a third intifada. (Al Jazeera)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
Highly radioactive water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tons a day, officials said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.
Photo: tanks of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, March 1, 2013. Photo: Kyodo
World Wrap: July 22, 2013
Japanese prime minister scores weekend victory, blast targets radical Buddhist monk, and UAE drops charges against a Norwegian woman for reporting rape. Today is Monday, July 22, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Abe cements grip in weekend win
Japan’s Prime Minister and the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe, makes an appearance before the media at a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections by his ruling coalition, at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, July 22, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Abe’s win a double-edged sword. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decisive victory in Sunday’s upper house election gives him better footing to bolster his signature economic reform plan, Abenomics. However, Abe could face pushback from members of his own Liberal Democratic Party on making politically unpopular reforms. A stronger mandate also may prompt Abe to push for other elements of his conservative agenda:
Ever since Abe stormed back to power with a big win in a December lower house poll, some – including Japanese businesses with a big stake in the matter – have worried the hawkish leader will shift focus to the conservative agenda that has long been central to his ideology. That agenda includes revising the post-war pacifist constitution, strengthening Japan’s defense posture and recasting Tokyo’s wartime history with a less apologetic tone.
According to the Tokyo Shimbun metropolitan newspaper, 42.9 percent of those polled said they are against Abe’s plan to alter the constitution to make it more hawkish, and nearly 55 percent are against restarting nuclear reactors. Analysts say Abe’s mandate is not as strong as it appears, despite a landslide win. Just over half of the eligible population turned out to vote, and Abe’s victory was aided by a splintered opposition.
Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, greets other monks as he attends a meeting on the National Protection Law at a monastery outside Yangon, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
‘Burmese bin Laden’ targeted by bomb attack. The leader of a radical Buddhist movement in Myanmar was unscathed by a bomb that exploded 40 feet from him as he delivered a mass sermon. Wirathu, who has described himself as the “Burmese bin Laden,” said he believes the attacker wanted to silence him with the blast:
The home-made bomb went off inside a parked car, according to police and witnesses. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Tensions have been smoldering between radical elements of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslims. Bouts of religious violence have killed at least 237 people and displaced 150,000 in the past year, testing the resolve of a two-year-old quasi-civilian government.
Five people were slightly injured by the bomb. The 969 movement has been accused of inciting violence against Myanmar’s minority Muslim Rohingya, many of whom have fled the country in hopes of finding acceptance elsewhere. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, who reported being raped, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Norwegian Seamen’s Center in Dubai, July 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh
Backwards ruling reversed. The UAE pardoned a Norwegian woman sentenced to 16 months in prison for illicit sex after she reported she was raped to authorities in Dubai:
Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, had been awaiting an appeal hearing of her 16-month sentence handed down this month after a court in the Gulf Arab emirate found her guilty of having sex outside marriage, drinking and making false statements… News of the sentence had dominated the front pages in Norway and raised questions about the judicial system in the Gulf state, which attracts large numbers of expatriates and tourists with a Western lifestyle but has little-publicized conservative laws covering sex and alcohol.
Dalelv told police a colleague had pulled her into his hotel room and raped her when she asked him for help finding her own room after they had a few drinks. In the UAE, a rape conviction requires testimony from four adult male witnesses or a confession.
Nota Bene: At least 54 people were killed and hundreds injured in a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit China.
Trade route revamp - Hewlett-Packard revives the Silk Road. (The New York Times)
Would you like porn with that? - Internet porn will be blocked in British homes unless subscribers opt-in. (BBC)
Ancient digs - Israeli archaeologists say they have located King David’s palace. (The Associated Press)
Quack cops - Geese are the newest soldiers fighting China’s war on crime. (Quartz)
Great Barrier grief - Bombs dropped by U.S. fighter jets on the Great Barrier Reef add to a long list of threats. (National Geographic)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
A 114-year-old Japanese woman born the same year that radium was discovered was recognized as the world’s oldest woman by Guinness World Records on Wednesday.
Misao Okawa, who was born to a clothing merchant in 1898 and now lives in the western city of Osaka, received a certificate acknowledging her status and said she was pleased.
"Given everything, it’s pretty good," she told a gathering at the nursing home where she resides.