TPM World News

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by a Syrian missile over the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 15 people on board, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday. It blamed Israel for the crash, saying the plane was caught in the crossfire as four Israeli fighters attacked targets in northwestern Syria.

Read More →

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in began his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday with possibly his hardest mission to date — brokering some kind of compromise to keep North Korea’s talks with Washington from imploding and pushing ahead with his own plans to expand economic cooperation and bring a stable peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Read More →

BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday promised retaliation if U.S. President Donald Trump escalates their tariff battle, raising the risk Beijing might target operations of American companies as it runs out of imports for penalties.

Read More →

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden woke Monday to the prospect of weeks of political uncertainty after the country’s two rival blocs failed to secure a clear governing majority in elections that saw a boost for a far-right party amid growing discontent with large-scale immigration.

With most of the ballots counted, the governing center-left bloc had a razor-thin edge over the center-right opposition Alliance, with roughly 40 percent each.

Sunday’s election saw the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigrant party with roots in a neo-Nazi movement, win about 18 percent, up from the 13 percent it gained four years earlier.

The party, which has worked to moderate its image in past years, gained on a backlash against the challenges of integrating hundreds of thousands of immigrants that arrived in the Scandinavian nation over the past years.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who brought the Social Democrats to power in 2014, said he intended to remain in the job. The center-left party emerged with the greatest share of the vote — 28.4 percent as the count neared completion — yet looking at holding fewer parliament seats than four years ago.

“I will not exclude any alternative to the (present) government. What I can exclude is any direct or indirect cooperation with the Sweden Democrats,” Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, a Social Democrat said.

“I believe that it must be the largest party in Sweden that forms a government. Historically it has been always been this way in Sweden,” he said.

Political horse-trading began to try to form a government which could “takes week, months,” Ygeman said, according to Swedish news agency TT.

The leader of the Moderates party that came in second, Ulf Kristersson, has already called on Lofven to resign and claimed the right to form Sweden’s next government.

The center-right, four-party Alliance has said it would meet Monday to discuss how to move forward and demand that Lofven, head of the minority, two-party governing coalition, resign.

Final election returns were expected later in the week. The preliminary results made it unlikely any party would secure a majority of 175 seats in the 349-seat Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament.

With the prospect of weeks or months of coalition talks before the next government is formed, Swedish tabloid Expressen headlined its front page Monday: “Chaos.”

Both the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the center-right bloc in which the Moderates is the largest of four parties have said they would refuse to consider the Sweden Democrats as a coalition partner.

Lofven told his supporters the election presented “a situation that all responsible parties must deal with,” adding that “a party with roots in Nazism” would “never ever offer anything responsible, but hatred.”

“We have a moral responsibility. We must gather all forces for good. We won’t mourn, we will organize ourselves,” he said.

Sweden — home to the Nobel prizes and militarily neutral for the better part of two centuries — has been known for its comparatively open doors to migrants and refugees. Sunday’s general election was the first since Sweden, which a population of 10 million, took in a record 163,000 refugees in 2015 — the highest per capita of any European country.

Turnout in the election was reported at 84.4 percent, up from 83 percent in 2014.
___

Jan M. Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark; Frank Jordans reported from Berlin; Vanessa Gera from Warsaw.

Read More →

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s supreme court on Thursday struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a landmark victory for gay rights that one judge said would “pave the way for a better future.”

The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was a weapon used to discriminate against India’s gay community, the judges ruled in a unanimous decision.

“Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading out the verdict. “Social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual.”

As the news spread, the streets outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as opponents of the law danced and waved flags.

“We feel as equal citizens now,” said activist Shashi Bhushan. “What happens in our bedroom is left to us.”

In its ruling, the court said sexual orientation was a “biological phenomenon” and that any discrimination on that basis violated fundamental rights.

“We cannot change history but can pave a way for a better future,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

The law known as Section 377 held that intercourse between members of the same sex was against the order of nature. The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and led to gays living in fear of harassment and persecution.

Arvind Datar, the attorney for the petitioners, argued in the court that the provision was unconstitutional because it provides for the prosecution and sentencing of consenting adults.

Homosexuality has a tangled history in India, with some of Hinduism’s most ancient texts accepting of gay sex. Transgender people known as “hijras” have been a common sight in India for centuries. They are shunned by the wider community and often forced to work as beggars and prostitutes, but are also sometimes embraced because they are believed to bring powerful blessings.

On Thursday, a leader of a prominent hard-line Hindu group noted that while it doesn’t see homosexuality as a crime, it believes gay marriage is not “compatible with nature.”

Arun Kumar, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said Indian society “traditionally does not recognize” gay relationships, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

A New Delhi High Court in 2009 declared Section 377 unconstitutional, but that decision was overturned in a ruling by three Supreme Court justices in 2013 on the grounds that amending or repealing the law should be left to Parliament. But lawmakers failed to take action and in July the government told the Supreme Court to give a ruling in the case.

Over the past decade, gays have gained a degree of acceptance in parts of deeply conservative India, especially in big cities. Some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues. Still, being gay is seen as shameful in much of the country.

Sukhdeep Singh, a gay rights activist and editor of Gaylaxy Magazine, said the community still had a lot of distance to go “to be legally with your partner.”

“This will obviously open the doors for a lot of more things, more civil rights. And we’ll fight for our rights, definitely. This is the first battle that has been won and there are many more battles that we are going to fight and we’ll win that as well. For sure,” he said.

Karan Johar, a Bollywood producer and director, said Thursday’s verdict was history in the making.

“So proud today! Decriminalizing homosexuality and abolishing section 377 is a huge thumb up for humanity and equal rights! The country gets its oxygen back!” he wrote on Twitter.

Read More →

LONDON (AP) — British officials announced Wednesday that they have charged two alleged Russian military intelligence agents with the nerve agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury — though they held out little hope of being able to bring them to justice.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the men, who entered the U.K. under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are being charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok.

Read More →

LiveWire