June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

NEED TO KNOW

The Duterte Show Goes Live

Rodrigo Duterte was inaugurated Thursday as president of the Philippines following a landslide May 9 election victory and a campaign that featured misogyny, tough talk about criminals and other controversies.

The former mayor of Davao City for 22 years, Duterte was known as “The Punisher” for his draconian anti-crime policies.

Now that he’s entering the highest office in the land, critics are wondering whether there's any substance beneath his macho man persona, Al Jazeera reported.

During Duterte's anti-elitist, controversial campaign – some have argued he’s the Asian version of Donald Trump – he vowed to eliminate all of the Philippines' criminals within six months of taking office.

He also promised to amend the Filipino constitution – something lawmakers have shied away from since rewriting it in 1987 following the overthrow of then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos – and devolve power to newly created states.

It would be a radical shift to federalism in a country where power is still concentrated in the capital. But Duterte says the end of the reign of “Imperial Manila” is necessary if the country is going to fight poverty.

Devolution could also address the grievances of the dangerous Abu Sayyaf Muslim separatist movement by giving the country's impoverished Muslims more autonomy, Duterte believes. The group is responsible for a wave of kidnappings and killings, including the beheadings of two Western tourists earlier this month.

Duterte had promised to crush the group, possibly by imposing martial law in some areas where they operate. That drew criticism for the strict curfews and curtailed civil rights that would result. Then, earlier this week, the president-elect offered to personally meet with members of the terrorist group and talk, a first for a Filipino president.

Satisfying and talking to criminals so they go away is arguably one way to eliminate them, right?

Internationally, Duterte has also sowed confusion.

In a meeting with top Filipino business leaders last week, he avoided any mention of an economic agenda for the archipelago, saying “I'm a lawyer and I never pretended to be an economist,” according to Reuters. Instead, the conversation turned to “his libido and killing criminals,” leaving investors to question Duterte's ability to steer one of Asia's fastest growing economies.

Journalists are already expressing concerns that Duterte plans to crack down on freedoms of the press and information as well as crime.

Duterte himself banned all media from attending the inauguration, and the general public has not been invited to witness a presidential oath-taking for the first time since 1986 either, leaving only state broadcaster PTV4 to cover the event.

That decision comes after a series of disastrous press conferences where Duterte stunned observers with his crude comments on rape, insults of Pope Francis in a largely Catholic country, and by cat-calling a female journalist.

Waiving those concerns aside, Duterte has played strongman, calling for emergency powers that he vows to use to fix traffic jams on Manila's congested roads.

Interesting times ahead.

WANT TO KNOW

To Court We Go

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will rule July 12 on China’s claims to a large part one of the world’s busiest and most disputed waterways, the South China Sea.

The Philippines brought the case to the tribunal, challenging China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea as a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China says its claim to the territory is historic and indisputable, and plans to build artificial islands there.

States in the region such as Vietnam dispute the claim, and the US began to challenge China’s presence in the sea in October, sending ships and conducting flights and infuriating Beijing – China retaliated by sending fighter jets and warships.

Regardless of the ruling, say analysts, the tensions in the region will linger.

The Escalating War

Nine people with suspected links to the Islamic State group were arrested Thursday in the coastal city of Izmir after 42 people were killed in a terror attack by three suicide bombers at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport late Tuesday.

Police said they found three hunting rifles and documents relating to the extremist group during the search of their homes.

Authorities believe the Islamic State is behind the attack, which wounded more than 230 people. There has been no official claim of responsibility but intelligence officials told local Turkish media they had told the government of an impending attack on the airport almost three weeks ago.

Turkey has increasingly come under fire from Islamic State following the country's escalating fight against the group last year due to international pressure: Militants have for years used Turkey's porous borders to transit into Syria and Iraq from across the world.

The Three Amigos

Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico warned against the dangers of isolationism and fiercely defended free trade at a summit in Canada Wednesday dubbed “the Three Amigos,” vowing to deepen economic ties despite an increasingly bitter debate across the Western world about the value of globalization.

“The integration of national economies into a global economy: that's here, that's done,” President Barack Obama said at the end of a summit.

Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his repeated calls to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying free trade has been disastrous to US workers.

It was an echo of the debate in the UK ahead of a referendum vote last week to leave the European Union.

Obama also defended the US' immigration policies: Trump has repeatedly said immigration is out of control.

“America is a nation of immigrants…that is our strength,” he said. “The notion that we would somehow stop now on what has been a tradition of attracting talent and strivers and dreamers from all around the world – that would rob us of the thing that is most special about America.”

DISCOVERIES

Super Pol

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is riding high these days.

On Wednesday, he hosted President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a trade meeting in Ottawa. The Washington press corps fawned over him when he visited in March. He’s even managed to confront and charm Russian President Vladimir Putin. A few months ago, the Toronto Sun speculated that Putin had a “man crush” on the 44-year-old prime minister elected last year.

But now Trudeau has been honored in a way that few politicians can boast of experiencing: He’s going to grace the cover a comic book, reported the Toronto Star.

Wearing a red-and-white, maple leaf-themed boxing outfit, Trudeau’s caricature will appear on the cover of issue five of Marvel’s “Civil War II: Choosing Sides.”

The comic book depicts a struggle between the world’s heroes over whether or not to lock up people who are almost certainly going to commit crimes, as predicted by a new superhuman who can foretell the future. The struggle is between heroes who feel they can make the world safer and those who feel they should only lock criminals up after they have committed a crime.

The members of Alpha Flight, a Canadian superhero team, turn to Trudeau for advice.

The irony is that Trudeau won’t be the first prime minister in his family to appear in a comic book. His late father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, appeared in an X-Men comic book featuring Alpha Flight in 1979.

jbhatti
Thu, 06/30/2016 – 06:03