The World Today for June 05, 2017



Control Orders

Police killed the three Islamic State-affiliated terrorists who staged an attack on London Bridge over the weekend within eight minutes of receiving their first emergency call, said British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday, the Guardian reported.

Yet seven victims died and 48 were injured in the attack Saturday.

“It is time to say enough is enough,” said May, a statement that appeared to have multiple meanings.

In one sense, the Conservative leader was acknowledging that Brits were fed up with terror.

The attack, after all, was the third in the United Kingdom since March, when a man crashed a car into pedestrians near the Houses of Parliament. Two weeks ago, terrorists set bombs off during an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

But, in another sense, the prime minister was also acknowledging that first responders could only do so much in a free society where men armed with knives can sow chaos with the briefest windows of opportunity.

So now, she was saying, it was time to take the gloves off.

“When it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change,” said May.

She specifically proposed preventing terrorists from using the internet to recruit members and plan attacks, the Independent said.

But she also appeared to call for reinstituting Britain’s so-called “control orders,” or rules enacted in 2005 that included letting the government move suspected militants from their homes, place them under curfew and bar them from using their mobile phones or the internet, the Press Association explained.

May, who served as Home Secretary under the previous coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, scrapped them in 2011 amid criticism that they violated Britons’ civil rights.

Saying May’s speech illustrated her “true authoritarian colors,” CNN analyst Jane Merrick suggested that renewing the control orders might be the prime minister’s way of hitting two birds with one stone. The attack came as her party was dipping in the polls ahead of parliamentary elections on Thursday.

Indeed, on Monday her rival, Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn, tied the bridge attack to May’s police budget cuts.

Still, it’s not clear if the control orders would prevent future attacks.

Time and again after terrorist violence, it’s discovered that officials had been keeping tabs on the perpetrators.

British authorities thwarted five plots since the Westminster attack, wrote Merrick. They received warnings about the Manchester suicide bomber. The Telegraph revealed that they recorded terrorists in the suburban town of Barking last month discussing a London Bridge attack. On Sunday, they arrested 12 people in Barking in connection with the bloodletting.

Yet May is undoubtedly correct that something must change, starting with how European authorities deal with radicals in their midst.

Problem is, observers say, it’s hard to parse out whether her reaction is appropriate to the challenge at hand – a well-meaning, but ineffective response to terror, or a political gimmick to keep her job.

[siteshare]Control Orders[/siteshare]



No Ceasefire Here

An expected ceasefire failed to materialize in Syria’s six-year civil war Sunday even as fighting escalated in Daraa, one of the areas set to see a cessation of hostilities.

Syrian government forces pounded the southern city with air strikes and artillery fire, a day after rebels attacked government positions there, the New York Times reported.

Last month, Russia, Turkey and Iran brokered a deal to guarantee ceasefires across four zones in Syria.

At the time of the agreement, some rebels rejected its feasibility, saying they would not accept Iran as a guarantor and reiterated their demands for the ouster of Iran-backed militias like Hezbollah – the Lebanese group has deployed thousands of its fighters to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Daraa saw some of the earliest demonstrations against the Assad family’s four-decade rule in 2011. A violent government crackdown and the rise of an armed insurgency eventually tipped the country into civil war.

The fighting has displaced half of Syria’s population and claimed some 400,000 lives.

[siteshare]No Ceasefire Here[/siteshare]


Deja Vu

Police shut down a rare demonstration by hundreds of women in Morocco’s northern Rif region Sunday, as they demanded improved access to jobs, health services and infrastructure, Reuters reported.

The incident is the latest in a series of protests in the town of Al-Hoceima, triggered in October when a fishmonger was crushed inside a garbage truck there while trying to salvage fish confiscated by the police.

The protests have now become daily since protest leader Nasser Zefzafi was arrested last week on charges of threatening national security, among other offenses. Organizers say police have been preventing people from joining the protests, which involve both men and women.

Political protests are rare in Morocco, especially those involving hundreds of women.

But the fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, has become a symbol of frustrations centering on official abuses. He’s revived the spirit of the Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011 – the Arab Spring began in Tunisia after a produce vendor, frustrated with officialdom’s abuse of power, set himself on fire in December 2010.

As a result of those 2011 protests, Morocco’s king devolved some of his authority to an elected government as part of a constitutional reform program.

Last month, the Moroccan government released a statement urging Rif officials to move quickly to implement a development strategy aimed at providing jobs.

[siteshare]Deja Vu[/siteshare]


Win by a Nose

Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) appeared to squeeze out a victory in a key governor’s race seen as a harbinger of next year’s presidential election, the Associated Press reported.

The PRI’s Alfredo del Mazo is expected to win between 32.75 percent and 33.59 percent of votes in the State of Mexico, compared with 30.73 percent to 31.53 percent for rival Delfina Gomez of the leftist Morena party, according to a representative sampling of voting stations early Monday.

The standard-bearer of the Morena party, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will challenge the incumbent, President Enrique Pena Nieto, for what would be his third bid for the presidency next year.

Political analyst Raymundo Riva Palacio told the news outlet that a narrow PRI victory in Mexico State is still a clear sign of political vulnerability for Pena Nieto.

Considering the power of the PRI’s political machine in the state – it has held the state for almost a century – and the fact that Gomez was practically unknown eight months ago, the result portends a “very bad scenario” for the party and the president, he argued.

Mexico State is the country’s biggest electoral prize, with 11 million voters and substantial industry and influence in the area around the nation’s capital.

[siteshare]Win by a Nose[/siteshare]


Bathhouse Rock

Tokyo was once home to thousands of “sento” – traditional, communal bathhouses – until the arrival of modern plumbing made the practice obsolete, leading many to close.

But necessity is the mother of invention.

Today some of Tokyo’s remaining sento are getting creative to try and lure in new customers, wrote Reuters.

At the Naked School in the Hinodeyu bathhouse in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, for example, classes are held on subjects like gaming to introduce younger Japanese to sento.

“I wanted to give them a reason to visit us by offering an odd event like this naked school,” said Yuichi Tamura, the manager of the Hinodeyu, which his family has operated since 1939.

For the bargain price of $4, anyone can attend a monthly class at the Naked School. Recent sessions have brought in experts to explain the ancient board game Go, or to lead discussions about the public bath industry or traditional comedy with students.

Tamura hopes exposing younger Japanese to the sento with these classes can reverse the tradition’s decline.

But for now, he’s set his sights on preparing for June’s class when bathers will tackle the somewhat more local problem of dealing with stray cats.

[siteshare]Bathhouse Rock[/siteshare]

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