[News] News From Other Places!

It's news you can use from places with different views! (Don't misuse or abuse you yahoos.)

Gotta love sh*tty dictatorships and people who take sportsball wayy too seriously. An Iranian man was murdered for celebrating the US win yesterday.

He wasn't shot for taking it "too seriously," though, he was allegedly shot because people were celebrating the loss as a blow against the regime, and security forces took offense.

Iran Human Rights reported that security personnel shot and killed Mehran Samak, 27, when he honked his car's horn in the Caspian Sea city of Bandar Anzali on Tuesday night to celebrate the Iranian football team's defeat.

It's just part of their ongoing, heavy-handed attempts to stop the anti-governmental protests.

Cyril Ramaphosa: Damning report raises tough questions for South Africa's leader

A damning report from a panel of legal experts into accusations that President Cyril Ramaphosa covered up the theft of $4m (£3.3m) in cash from his farm in 2020 has raised uncomfortable questions for South Africa's leader.

The panel - headed by a former chief justice - described some of his explanations as "improbable".

Mr Ramaphosa has a case to answer, not just to parliament but to all South Africans, critics say.

Judging by the fervent reaction from opposition parties, some of whom are calling for him to step down immediately, this scandal has the potential to cost him his job.

In a 138-page submission made to the panel, President Ramaphosa denied that there was anything untoward about the money stolen on his private farm, saying it was from the proceeds of buffalo sold for $580,000 in cash to a Sudanese national, Mustafa Mohamed Ibrahim Hazim, in late 2019.

However, Mr Hazim has not appeared in public and little is known about him.

The panel questioned why the invoice presented to them didn't contain any details that would make him identifiable. There was only his name, no business address or ID number.

"I respectfully submit that all of the 'charges' I have been called to answer are without any merit," Mr Ramaphosa wrote, adding that many of the allegations were based on "hearsay". He requested that the matter not be taken any further.

We really haven't posted much about the Iran protests, huh? My bad.

Iran to disband morality police amid ongoing protests, says attorney general

Iran's morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country's Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country's attorney general says.

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri's comments, yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made at an event on Sunday.

Iran has seen months of protests over the death of a young woman in custody.

Mahsa Amini had been detained by the morality police for allegedly breaking strict rules on head coverings.

Mr Montazeri was at a religious conference when he was asked if the morality police was being disbanded.

"The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up," he said.

Control of the force lies with the interior ministry and not with the judiciary.

On Saturday, Mr Montazeri also told the Iranian parliament the law that requires women to wear hijabs would be looked at.

"looked at"

They might still bulldoze your house.

Janusz Walus: Killer of South African anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani freed

The far-right gunman who killed South African anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani has been released on parole a week after he was stabbed in prison.

Janusz Walus, 69, has been discharged under strict conditions for two years, the authorities say.

He shot Hani in 1993 in a failed attempt to derail South Africa's transition from a white-minority government to democratic rule.

The killing still evokes deep emotions in South Africa.

Hani was regarded as the most popular politician after Nelson Mandela, who went on to become the country's first black president in 1994.

South Africa's government and Mr Hani's widow Limpho have vigorously opposed Walus' attempts to gain his freedom.

Members of the governing African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), which Hani led, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions have also expressed anger over his release.

In a ruling on 21 November, South Africa's highest court ordered Walus' release within 10 days, saying the justice minister's refusal to grant him parole was "irrational".

The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said in a statement on Wednesday that Walus had been released but that he had "been furnished with his parole conditions... If he violates the conditions, he will be returned to a correctional centre".

Walsu has spent nearly 30 years in prison.

He killed Hani as the politician picked up the newspapers outside his home in April 1993 by shooting him at point-blank range.

As well as leading the SACP, the 50-year-old anti-apartheid fighter was also a senior member of the ANC's military wing.

Walus was arrested and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life after South Africa abolished the death penalty.

Janusz Walus: Why far-right Polish football fans idolise a murderer in South Africa

Huge banners bearing the portrait of Janusz Walus can often be seen draped around football stadiums in Poland calling for the freedom of a man serving a life sentence in South Africa for the 1993 murder of prominent anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani.

Many feared that Hani's killing could provoke a racial war, coming at a crucial point in talks for the white minority to hand over power, which eventually happened when Nelson Mandela became president the following year after the country's first all-race elections.

It is unclear how Walus became a symbol for young Polish nationalists and fascists but about 10 years ago, he started receiving letters from supporters in Poland, journalist Cezary Lazarewicz, who interviewed Walus for his book, told the BBC.

"They wrote to him that they admired him because he tried to stop communism in South Africa, that he is the great hope of the white race," he said.

In pictures and videos posted online some of the football fans in the stands are carrying scarves with the hashtag #StayStrongBrother printed on them.

It's inspired by a song dedicated to him which includes the lyrics: "A few men could ever take the step you did, to enter the path of glory and victory".

"The fans are not calling on Walus' release on humanitarian grounds, but they are glorifying what he did and the ideology," Dr Rafal Pankowski, from Never Again association, an anti-racist group, told the BBC.

The song, which is sung in English, is "a good example of the internationalisation of contemporary white nationalism," he adds.

Peru's president impeached and arrested after he attempts to dissolve Congress.

Dina Boluarte became Peru’s first female President on Wednesday, capping off a dramatic day which saw her predecessor arrested for the alleged crime of rebellion and impeached by lawmakers.

Boluarte, the country’s former vice president, was sworn into the top job at Congress to become Peru’s sixth President in under five years.

The ceremony took place hours after a majority of 101 members in the 130-person legislative body voted to impeach former leader Pedro Castillo.

The tumultuous day began when then-President Castillo announced plans to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government, ahead of a looming impeachment vote by lawmakers, which Peru’s Ombudsman described as an “attempted coup d’état.”

He also called for parliamentary elections to work on a new constitution.

The move prompted a string of cabinet resignations, fiery reactions from top officials and condemnation from regional neighbors – and ultimately failed to prevent his impeachment in Congress.

Peruvian armed forces rejected Castillo’s attempt to sideline lawmakers, calling it an “infringement of the constitution.”

And Boluarte herself criticized Castillo’s dissolution plan, describing it on Twitter as “a coup that aggravates the political and institutional crisis that Peruvian society will have to overcome with strict adherence to the law.”

Dang; they didn't even need Henry Kissinger and the CIA to help out.

I don't know whether it is or isn't unfair to point out that the bomber's release comes as Indonesia's government has been making some interesting legislative choices.

As Mexico’s epidemic of violence rages on, authorities seem powerless to stop it

Despite campaigning on a promise to take the military off the streets, López Obrador, or Amlo as he’s commonly known, has increasingly relied on the armed forces to tackle the violence, deploying the army and the national guard across the country.

On Monday the Mexican president addressed the weekend’s wave of attacks in Zacatecas state, where, a day after a judge was shot dead, cars were set on fire and roads blocked off as inmates at a prison tried to escape.

“This weekend, there were these very unfortunate events: the loss of life, the murder of a judge,” the president said during his morning news conference, before blaming the violence on the inaction of previous governments. “We are improving, we are advancing, we will not stop protecting the people.”

But the very next day, the carnage continued.

On Tuesday a shooting near a kindergarten in Sinaloa state left two dead; a video shared on social media showed children cowering under their desks as their teacher tried to comfort them with the music of Taylor Swift.

On Wednesday morning another shootout between the military and members of an organized crime gang in the border city of Nuevo Laredo left seven people dead, just over a week after shootouts forced schools in the city to cancel classes.

Preliminary figures from the Mexican government show that there have been an average of 78 murders a day this month in Mexico – about three killings an hour.

Amlo has pointed to a slight drop in murders since he took office as sign his strategy is working. Overall homicides dropped by about 7% in the first 10 months of 2022, compared with the same period last year, official figures show.

But given that more than 26,000 Mexicans have been murdered this year, such a dip is hardly a victory, analysts say.

Taliban minister defends closing universities to women as global backlash grows

Acting higher education minister Neda Mohammad Nadeem, in his first comments on the matter, told Afghan state broadcaster RTA that several issues had prompted the decision.

“We told girls to have proper hijab but they didn’t and they wore dresses like they are going to a wedding ceremony,” he said.

“Girls were studying agriculture and engineering, but this didn’t match Afghan culture. Girls should learn, but not in areas that go against Islam and Afghan honour.”

The higher education minister said that the Taliban “asked the world not to interfere in our affairs” as he said discussions over female education were ongoing.

Blinken called on the Taliban to reverse the ban.

“We are engaged with other countries on this right now. There are going to be costs if this is not reversed,” the US secretary of state told a news conference, declining to provide specifics. “We will pursue them with allies and partners.”

US-led forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021 after 20 years of war as the western-backed former government collapsed and the militants, who enforce a strict interpretation of Islam, seized Kabul.

Since the Taliban took over, students and professors say university classes have been separated by gender and female students have adjusted their attire to meet instructions such as covering their face and wearing dark colours.

The Taliban-led administration had already drawn criticism including from foreign governments for not opening girls’ high schools at the start of the school year in March, making a U-turn on signals it would do.

Afghanistan: Taliban bans women from working for NGOs

Women's freedoms have been further curtailed in Afghanistan, after the Taliban barred them from working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Islamist rulers said female NGO employees had been breaking Sharia law by failing to wear the hijab.

It comes days after female students were banned from universities - the latest restriction on their education since the Taliban regained power.

Women prevented from going to work told the BBC of their fear and helplessness.

One said she was the main earner in her household, and asked: "If I cannot go to my job, who can support my family?"

Another breadwinner insisted that she had complied with the Taliban's strict female dress code. "This news is shocking," she said. "I am confused what will happen to my life."

A third woman questioned the Taliban's "Islamic morals", saying she would now struggle to pay her bills and feed her children.

"The world is watching us and doing nothing," said another female interviewee. The BBC is not publishing the women's names in order to protect them.

Cost of living: Japan's inflation hits a 41-year high

Japan's core consumer price inflation edged up to 3.7% in November, the highest it has been since 1981.

That was when a Middle East crisis disrupted oil production and caused energy prices to soar.

But after decades of the country trying to boost inflation, Japanese consumers are now experiencing the pain of higher prices despite stagnant wages.

Until now, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) had kept its ultra-loose monetary policy to boost its economy.

But earlier this week, it surprised the market by raising the cap on the interest rate on its 10-year government bonds from 0.25% to 0.5%.

As a result, the Japanese currency has spiked against the US dollar, hitting 151 yen to the greenback for the first time since 1990.

‘Olê, olá! Lula!’: Brazil progressives celebrate Jair Bolsonaro’s departure

Jair Bolsonaro’s ultra-conservative era of environmental destruction and international isolation is over after Brazil’s far-right president flew out of the country’s capital, Brasília, ahead of the inauguration of his leftist successor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In a tearful final broadcast to supporters, the radical populist effectively admitted that he had lacked the support to overturn the result of an election he has refused to concede and sought to justify his tumultuous four-year reign during which the coronavirus pandemic killed nearly 700,000 citizens and Amazon deforestation soared.

“I’m certain that I gave it my best,” said the misty-eyed populist, whose electoral fate was sealed by a broad Lula-led pro-democracy coalition whose members argued the dictatorship-admiring president was a real danger to Brazil’s young democracy.

Amid fears that armed rightwing extremists might target Lula or his backers during Sunday’s swearing-in celebrations, Bolsonaro cautioned followers not to go for “all or nothing” and urged them to keep faith in the future. “Battles are lost but we will not lose the war,” he insisted. “I believe in Brazil and above all I believe in God. We have a great future ahead of us.”

Recent weeks have seen gangs of enraged Bolsonaristas – among them evangelical preachers and Amazon miners and businessmen – riot in Brasília, torching vehicles and trying to storm a police headquarters. One extremist was arrested over an alleged plot to bomb the airport on the day of Lula’s inauguration.

Minutes after Bolsonaro’s 50-minute farewell transmission, it was reported that he would fly to Orlando, Florida, and planned to spend at least a month in the United States with his family.


Imagine running into him at the Star Wars hotel.

Tonight, on "Rich American Assholes Abroad"

Residents of a New Zealand town are calling for a ban on private fireworks after a display by a New York billionaire set off a blaze on New Year’s Eve.

Ten minutes into the new year, firefighters were called to fight multiple grass fires at the property of Tony Malkin – chief executive of the entity that owns the Empire State Building – after an extravagant private fireworks display went awry near Queenstown in Central Otago.

By morning the fire was extinguished, after coming within metres of one of two dwellings on the Malkin estate, known as Redemption Song, pictures including satellite images show. It burned around 0.5ha in total.

The display had gone ahead despite a petition by local people concerned about the impact on animals. People are now calling for a wider ban on private fireworks displays.

Johnny Quinn, a neighbour who started the petition to prevent the display, says the Malkins’ decision to proceed despite the community’s objections was not “the Kiwi way”.

“It’s just a joke that an out-of-towner can come in and set off a 14-minute commercial firework display and then burn the hill down,” Quinn says.

Japanese government offers families 1m yen a child to leave Tokyo

Japan’s government is offering ¥1m ($7,500) per child to families who move out of greater Tokyo, in an attempt to reverse population decline in the regions.

The incentive – a dramatic rise from the previous relocation fee of ¥300,000 – will be introduced in April, according to Japanese media reports, as part of an official push to breathe life into declining towns and villages.

Although Tokyo’s population fell for the first time last year– a trend partly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic – policymakers believe more should be done to lower the city’s population density and encourage people to start new lives in “unfashionable” parts of the country that have been hit by ageing, shrinking populations and the migration of younger people to Tokyo, Osaka and other big cities.

The payment – which comes on top of up to ¥3m already available in financial support – will be offered to families living in the 23 “core” wards of Tokyo and the neighbouring commuter-belt prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

To receive the benefits, families must move outside the greater Tokyo area, although some could receive the cash if they relocate to mountainous areas that lie within the city’s boundaries, the Kyodo news agency said, quoting officials.

About 1,300 municipalities – roughly 80% of the total – have joined the scheme, hoping to capitalise in a shift in public attitudes towards quality of life that gained momentum during the pandemic, when more workers discovered the benefits of working remotely.

Looks like Brazil's the proud owner of the their own version of January 6th.

Hordes of Bolsonaristas have forced their way into the National Congress.

Can't arrest Bolsonaro for inciting an insurrection of he wasn't there telling them to go have an insurrection.

Haiti left with no elected government officials as it spirals towards anarchy

The last 10 remaining senators in Haiti’s parliament have officially left office, leaving the country without a single democratically elected government official.

The expiration of the officials’ terms at midnight on Monday formally concluded their time in office – and with it, the last semblance of democratic order in the beleaguered Caribbean nation.

Haiti – which is currently engulfed in gang violence and the worst malnutrition crisis in decades – now officially has no functioning parliament as the senators were the last of 30 to remain in office after successive failed efforts to hold elections.

There is now no constitutional representation at any state level, the latest sign that the country has become a failed state.

“The constitution, which until now we have been referring to as the framework for political transition, is essentially just a letter, because none of the institutional architecture that it describes is currently in place,” said Renata Segura, deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Crisis Group, a peacebuilding thinktank.

Haiti is plagued by a series of acute, overlapping crises as gangs violently exploit a power vacuum to expand their control of the capital.

Every democratic institution, from Haiti’s justice system to parliament, is no longer functioning.

Biden, Kishida tout stronger military role for Japan

Weeks after Tokyo announced a doubling of military spending, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida traveled to Washington to boost security ties. The rising threats of China, North Korea and Russia topped the agenda.


Thanking Biden for Washington's work on regional security in East Asia, he said Tokyo had formulated its new defense strategy announced last month "to ensure peace and prosperity in the region."

"Japan decided upon fundamentally reinforcing our defense capabilities, including possessing counterstrike capabilities," he said.

The pair were also expected to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the US semiconductor controls on China.

Prederick wrote:
Prederick wrote:

So.... uh... the reverberations of this are... unexpected?

Like, it appears to have gone better than the shooter could've possibly expected?

It continues to go shockingly well!

(via The Economist, if you know a way around their paywall.)

“Revolution+1”, a new Japanese film, opens with actual footage of the killing of Abe Shinzo, Japan’s former prime minister, last July. The grainy frames show Abe giving a stump speech in Nara while his assassin, Yamagami Tetsuya, approaches from behind wielding a homemade gun. The feature film proceeds to portray a sympathetic protagonist named Kawakami, whose biography bears a striking resemblance to Abe’s actual killer: his father committed suicide, as Mr Yamagami’s did, and his mother fell under the spell of the Unification Church (uc), a cultlike group.

The film shows the extent to which Mr Yamagami, who said he murdered Abe because of his links to the church that ensnared his mother, has captured the Japanese imagination. The killer is seen by some as a dark hero, a crusader for the country’s underclass. Online, he is sometimes referred to as Yamagami Resshi, or Yamagami the Martyr. Female fans who fawn over him are known as “Yamagami Girls”. The prison where he is being held has reportedly run out of space to store the gifts sent to him. Even denunciations of his deed are often only throat-clearing. “Of course, it’s bad to kill people,” a female viewer of “Revolution+1” mused after a recent screening in Yokohama. “But for Yamagami murder was the only way to achieve his goal.”

That illustrates a grim truth: Mr Yamagami’s political violence has proved stunningly effective. Until last summer few in Japan gave much thought to the uc, a Korean outfit often known as the “Moonies”. Now the country has become obsessed with it. The most searched “what is” query on Google in Japan in 2022 was “what is the Unification Church?” Television talk shows have featured people whom the group allegedly manipulated into making large donations. Japanese media have pursued stories about ongoing ties between the group and members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (ldp).

The government has scrambled to respond. One official told Banyan late last year that it was spending half its time trying to clean up the issue. An inter-agency consultation centre for victims of the church was launched in September. Two months later the education ministry opened an investigation of it—the first such probe of a religious group—setting the stage for the uc to be stripped of its tax-friendly religious-corporation status. A new law aimed at defanging it and similar groups came into force last week: it bars them from soliciting donations through fear. It also gives recusant members a right to claim back their tithes. The ldp conducted an internal inquiry to suss out ties between its legislators and uc members; three ministers had to resign over such links.

The political fallout may not be over. Kishida Fumio, Japan’s prime minister, saw his ratings drop from over 50% to the low-mid 30s, in part due to his handling of the issue; his premiership has been so diminished that political insiders suggest he may struggle to make it through the year. The continued high profile of Mr Yamagami’s case will make that even harder. On January 10th court psychiatrists pronounced the killer fit to stand trial; prosecutors are due to file an indictment by January 13th. Mr Yamagami faces charges that could land him in prison for decades. (Though Japan has the death penalty, it is rarely handed down in cases with one victim.)

China’s first population fall since 1961 creates ‘bleaker’ outlook for country

China has entered an “era of negative population growth”, after figures revealed a historic drop in the number of people for the first time since 1961.

The country had 1.41175 billion people at the end of 2022, compared with 1.41260 billion a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday, a drop of 850,000. It marked the beginning of what is expected to be a long period of population decline, despite major government efforts to reverse the trend.

Speaking on the eve of the data’s release, Cai Fang, vice-chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, said China’s population had reached its peak in 2022, much earlier than expected. “Experts in the fields of population and economics have predicted that by 2022 or no later than 2023, my country will enter an era of negative population growth,” Cai said.

China’s government has for several years been scrambling to encourage people to have more children, and stave off the looming demographic crisis caused by an ageing population. New policies have sought to ease the financial and social burdens of child rearing, or to actively incentivise having children via subsidies and tax breaks. Some provinces or cities have announced cash payments to parents who have a second or third child. Last week the city of Shenzhen announced financial incentives that translate into a total of 37,500 yuan ($5,550) for a three-child family.

However after decades of a one-child policy that punitively discouraged having multiple children, and rising costs of modern living, resistance remains among couples.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Kang Yi, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said China’s overall labor supply still exceeded demand, and people should not worry about the population decline.

China is on track to be overtaken by India as the world’s most populous nation.

EDIT: Huh.

Online, some Chinese people were unsurprised by the announcement, saying the social pressures which were driving the low birthrate still remained.

“Housing prices, welfare, education, healthcare – reasons why people can’t afford to have children,” said one commenter on Weibo.

“Now who dares to have children, housing prices are so expensive, no one wants to get married and even fall in love, let alone have children,” said another.

“Not talking about raising social security, only talking about raising the fertility rate, it’s all just crap.”

Feels like I'm hearing that a lot!

Japan was the future but it's stuck in the past

We have Japan-based Goodjers here, right? I'm interested in some opinions on this article. I've always tried to remember that, despite how it gets presented in the West in weeby circles and on YouTube videos, Japan is a place full of people just like everywhere else on earth, it isn't a super-tech-awesome utopia.

That said, the article is written by a Brit who immigrated there in '93, so YMMV.

In Japan, houses are like cars.

As soon as you move in, your new home is worth less than what you paid for it and after you've finished paying off your mortgage in 40 years, it is worth almost nothing.

It bewildered me when I first moved here as a correspondent for the BBC - 10 years on, as I prepared to leave, it was still the same.

This is the world's third-largest economy. It's a peaceful, prosperous country with the longest life expectancy in the world, the lowest murder rate, little political conflict, a powerful passport, and the sublime Shinkansen, the world's best high-speed rail network.

America and Europe once feared the Japanese economic juggernaut much the same way they fear China's growing economic might today. But the Japan the world expected never arrived. In the late 1980s, Japanese people were richer than Americans. Now they earn less than Britons.

For decades Japan has been struggling with a sluggish economy, held back by a deep resistance to change and a stubborn attachment to the past. Now, its population is both ageing and shrinking.

Japan is stuck.

As soon as you move in, your new home is worth less than what you paid for it and after you've finished paying off your mortgage in 40 years, it is worth almost nothing.

Japan is the only country without a housing cost crisis?