The World Today for August 29, 2017



Tomorrow’s Test

When Rodrigo Duterte won office as president of the Philippines last year, many in and outside the country worried that his mix of hotheadedness, disregard for the rule of law and tough stance toward drugs would lead to trouble.

Now those fears are being realized.

The Philippines has been in an uproar since the Aug. 16 death of Kian Loyd delos Santos, a 17-year-old who has come to symbolize the excesses of Duterte’s rule. He was one of 90 who died in operation “One Time, Big Time,” a crackdown on crime that Duterte had sanctioned.

“Plain-clothes policemen dragged the 17-year-old to a dark, trash-filled alley in northern Manila, shot him in the head and left his body next to a pigsty,” Reuters wrote.

The Guardian reported that the boy pleaded for his life. “Please stop. Please stop. I have a test tomorrow,” he allegedly said.

The shooting in Manila appeared to be part of the alleged extra-judicial killings that Duterte has publicly sanctioned in his war on drugs. Thousands of people, including 30 children, have died in the crackdown since Duterte became president after pursuing similar policies as mayor of Davao City, the country’s second-largest city.

The police insist the high school student was a drug runner who pulled a gun on them.

His family and public prosecutors dispute that assertion, however. Delo Santos was kneeling down when he was shot, they contend. A video of the incident shows police dragging the kid from a basketball court into the alley, too.

The prosecutor has filed murder charges against the three policemen. “It was cold-blooded murder,” said Persida Acosta, the head of the Public Attorney’s Office, in Al Jazeera. “We are here for truth and justice, so we have to file this immediately.”

Duterte has pledged to see justice fulfilled.

“You are not allowed to kill a person who is kneeling down, begging for his life. That is murder,” he told CNN. “Let us be clear on this.”

Protests have become commonplace. Duterte’s critics are emboldened.

“Kian’s plight is a wake-up call of why we need to safeguard human rights,” Filipino human rights activist Arpee Santiago told the New York Times. “It is a much-needed jolt.”

But Duterte’s zero tolerance policies toward drug dealers are still popular among a majority of Filipinos who are happy with draconian measures to clean their streets of drugs, especially methamphetamine, according to Asia Times.

It might take hundreds if not thousands more of their sons and daughters to perish before they change their minds.

[siteshare]Tomorrow’s Test[/siteshare]



Closer Than Ever

North Korea lobbed a missile over Japan in what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the “most serious and grave” threat to the country yet.

Fired before 6 a.m. local time in Japan on Tuesday, the missile set off warnings in the northern part of the country urging people to seek shelter, CNN reported.

It flew over Erimo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, and broke into three pieces before falling into the Pacific Ocean, about 1,180 kilometers off the Japanese coast. No damage to ships or other property has been reported so far, the news channel said.

Coming amid a concerted bid by US President Donald Trump to increase pressure on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to suspend the country’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs, the warning shot marks the first time since 1998 that the North has fired a missile over Japan. The only other attempt failed in 2009.

CNN quoted security expert David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, as saying this latest test will “make it more difficult for the US to get Japanese support for diplomacy, unfortunately, at exactly the time when the situation is heating up.”

[siteshare]Closer Than Ever[/siteshare]


Ungodly Behavior

As India and China ratcheted down a tense border standoff in Bhutan, a more local story had TV news viewers riveted.

Controversial religious leader and singer Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, sometimes called the “Guru of Bling,” was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of 10 years each after being convicted of raping two female followers in 2002, CBS News reported.

The country was on tenterhooks because his conviction last week (together with shoddy planning by authorities in the state of Haryana) resulted in wide-scale riots that killed dozens of people.

To avoid a repeat of that fiasco, security forces were deployed by the thousands on Monday and the authorities imposed a curfew on the states of Haryana and Punjab.

In contrast to the reaction of some of Singh’s estimated 60 million followers, newsrooms across Delhi erupted in applause at the announcements of the guilty verdict and stiff sentence, reflecting widespread anger over daily reports of rapes and other violence against women. But few expect this case to end the longstanding collusion of politicians and such “godmen” who enjoy political cover in exchange for delivering millions of votes.

[siteshare]Ungodly Behavior[/siteshare]


Challenges and Consequences

Opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga challenged the results of the recent election in Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday.

Odinga’s lawyers said there were discrepancies in some of the election forms, others lacked bar codes and other security features meant to prevent documents from being copied, and many of the election officers lacked the proper credentials, the local Standard newspaper reported.

Kenyan election authorities say President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected by a margin of around 1.4 million votes, and independent monitors said those numbers matched estimates they made based on a sample of around 2,000 polling stations.

But Odinga’s supporters say the problems they’ve identified mean that the results from around a third of the polling stations are flawed.

At least 28 people were killed in election-related violence following the August 8 polls, many of them shot by police during protests after the results were announced, Reuters reported.

The court must rule on the challenge by Sept. 1. If it rules in favor of Raila, a new presidential election must be held within 60 days.

[siteshare]Challenges and Consequences[/siteshare]


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…

The battle between retail giants Wal-Mart and Amazon might take to the skies.

Wal-Mart has applied for a patent for a floating warehouse blimp, Bloomberg reported. Flying as high as 1,000 feet, the blimp warehouse would act as a carrier for drones delivering products to customers below.

Amazon received a patent for a similar “airborne fulfillment center” last year.

The blimps are the latest twist in an ongoing struggle between the two companies as more of the economy shifts online.

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the US, recently purchased the supermarket chain Whole Foods in a bid to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint around the country. Meanwhile, Walmart, already the biggest brick-and-mortar retailer in the world, is expanding its online sales.

The clash between the two titans might be described as an irresistible force hitting an unmovable object. What happens? Who knows? But let’s hope neither is a Hindenburg.

[siteshare]It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…[/siteshare]

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