[News] News From Other Places!

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

Honduras ditching Taiwan raises larger geopolitical concerns

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Honduras’ decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China is yet another sign of growing Chinese influence in Latin America.

For decades the Asian superpower funneled billions of dollars into investment and infrastructure projects across the region. Now, as geopolitical tensions simmer between China and the Biden administration, that spending has paid off.

Honduras’ decision was the second foreign policy coup in a week for China, which brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reestablish diplomatic relations last week.

Now, Taiwan will be recognized by only 13 countries. But some of the few remaining in Latin America, like Paraguay and Guatemala, promised Wednesday to keep their support for Taiwan.

Honduras’ minister of foreign relations, Enrique Reina, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Hondurans “are grateful” for their past relationship with Taiwan, but that their economic links to China ultimately pushed their government to cut diplomatic ties.

“These are political decisions. The world has been moving in this direction,” Reina said. “It is a complex decision, we understand, but Honduras’ foreign policy should seek to benefit the people. We believe that this step will benefit the country.”

South Korea has the world's lowest fertility rate, a struggle with lessons for us all

Yun-Jeong Kim grew up imagining what her future family would look like — married with several kids, a nice home and a dog. But when the lease on her apartment in Seoul, South Korea, became too much to afford, she found herself somewhere she'd never imagined: 31 years old and living back at home with her younger brother and their parents.

Kim, a product designer and art instructor, calls her hopes of one day having children "just a fantasy" — especially now, when housing costs are soaring, the job market is oversaturated and marriage rates are plummeting.

"I can't believe that [not having children] is the current situation in Korea," she said. "But this is the reality."

It's a reality that has left the country with the lowest fertility rate in the world since 2013. Across South Korea, women are choosing to have fewer children — or none at all — as they contend with a rise in the cost of living that has hit young people disproportionately hard. At the same time, marriage rates are down more than 35%, according to the last 10 years of available data, as more South Koreans are increasingly prioritizing work over starting a family.

In South Korea, the fertility rate — the average number of children born to a woman in her reproductive years — is now 0.78, according to figures released by the Korean government in February. It could be years before the country can reach the 2.1 rate that experts say is needed for a country to maintain a stable population without migration.

South Korea is far from alone. In 2020, the United States saw 43 states register their lowest fertility rates in at least three decades. And the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2034, people 65 and older will outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. In January, China also recorded its first population decline in decades.

South Africa's EFF marches to demand Ramaphosa's resignation

JOHANNESBURG, March 20 (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters marched through South Africa's cities on Monday, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign over the lack of jobs and electricity, as security forces guarded malls and streets to prevent any violence and looting.

As of 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) more than 550 protesters had been arrested since Sunday night on such charges as public violence, intimidation, damage to critical infrastructure and theft, the national intelligence body NatJOINTS said in a statement.

South Africans are angry at the failure of the governing African National Congress (ANC) to deliver services and create jobs. With a third of South Africans out of work, analysts expect the ANC to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades in national elections next year.

And it's been not two weeks since the government tried to pass a law upping the current maximum overtime per week from 60 hours a week to 69 hours a week. There might be a correlation between these things.

Suvanto wrote:

And it's been not two weeks since the government tried to pass a law upping the current maximum overtime per week from 60 hours a week to 69 hours a week. There might be a correlation between these things.

The elite need their revenue - if they can't work them to death they will make more slaves, err employees to fill jobs.

Suvanto wrote:

And it's been not two weeks since the government tried to pass a law upping the current maximum overtime per week from 60 hours a week to 69 hours a week. There might be a correlation between these things.

Nice.

Somehow, hilariously, impossibly, related:

Bayonetta Creator Says Prequel Will Solve Japan's Low Birthrate

I'm fairly sure he's joking.

Fairly sure.

Fairly.

There's a couple of critical forces at play in SK, Japan and China: increasingly high levels of female education and work opportunities, male dominance in socio-political spheres of influence and rising costs of living.

With childbirth and childrearing tantamount to several things, including loss of independence, outdated expectations of subservicence to one's partner and career suicide - it's manifesting itself in the form of late life motherhood, if at all. East Asia is not alone in this phenomena - Singapore, Taiwan, heck even in Australia, the US and EU - same thing. Women are deciding not to partner up if it's against their individual interests. Who could blame them?

Realistically if any country wants to maintain a large population that is accustomed to certain standards of living, then something's got to give. It might be free or highly subsidised healthcare and early childhood education together with a shift in mindset as to women's roles in society. In any event, it might be a good thing for humanity to have a shrinking population given the unsustainable levels of consumption required for maintaining standards of living and a high population base.

Ugandan MPs pass bill imposing death penalty for homosexuality

MPs in Uganda have passed a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which would make homosexual acts punishable by death, attracting strong condemnation from rights campaigners.

All but two of the 389 legislators voted late on Tuesday for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”.

“A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” reads the bill presented by Robina Rwakoojo, the chairperson for legal and parliamentary affairs.

Just two MPs from the ruling party, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, opposed the new legislation.

........

President Museveni last month said Uganda will not embrace homosexuality, claiming that the west was seeking to compel other countries to “normalise” what he called “deviations”.

“The western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people,” said Museveni in a televised address to parliament on 16 March.

“Homosexuals are deviations from the normal. Why? Is it by nature or by nurture? We need to answer those questions. We need a medical opinion on that,” he said.

Included that last part because, interestingly, I think that's actually part of why Russia's been making inroads in Africa recently. Not the ONLY reason, mind, but definitely a reason.

Russia wouldn't be able to make those inroads if it wasn't for 40+ years of evangelical Christian missionaries from America spreading their hate in Uganda.

Which is also why Russia has made such inroads in American conservatism...

Evangelists discovering ROCOR: "Y'all, we've been doin' sh*tty Christianity wrong all these years!"

Me: Oh, well, honestly, I can imagine that a cosseted K-Pop star could be genuinely ignorant about that somehow...

Me: .......huh.

Korean children and teens learn at least as much about the European and Asian fronts of WW2 as Americans do, and are well aware of Nazis and their symbols. There is no ignorance excuse possible. This is just "plausible deniability" in action. In reality, she didn't care.

It is Kpop. She might not actually have much of a say in what she wears.

From memory she is one of the rappers in Twice; her stylists probably tried to make her look edgy but failed. Not exactly looking for excuses for her but like Grenn said it's more likely than not she was given an outfit and she put it on without questioning it.

The last time I can recall Twice getting into political heat was when Tzuyu made a single comment (?) re Taiwan's national day and it drove their Chinese fans ballistic.

First line crossed... In this, and the repeal of parts of the law of secession, the Netanyahu coalition begins the short walk into authoritarianism and theocracy, and away from democracy.

India expels Rahul Gandhi, Modi critic, from Parliament

India’s top opposition leader and fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expelled from Parliament Friday, a day after a court convicted him of defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison for mocking the surname Modi in an election speech.

The actions against Rahul Gandhi, the great-grandson of India’s first prime minister, were widely condemned by opponents of Modi as the latest assaults against democracy and free speech by a ruling government seeking to crush dissent. Removing Gandhi from politics delivered a major blow to the opposition party he led ahead of next year’s national elections.

A local court from Modi’s home state of Gujarat convicted Gandhi on Thursday for a 2019 speech in which he asked, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” Gandhi then referred to three well-known and unrelated Modis in the speech: a fugitive Indian diamond tycoon, a cricket executive banned from the Indian Premier League tournament and the prime minister.

Under Indian law, a criminal conviction and prison sentence of two years or more are grounds for expulsion from Parliament, but Gandhi is out on bail for 30 days and plans to appeal.

Opposition lawmakers rallied to his defense on Friday, calling his expulsion a new low for India’s constitutional democracy.

Have none of them played Civ or watched UHF? You don't piss off a Gandhi.

His father and grandmother were both assassinated in connection with their political careers, so... Reason to worry.

So yeah, things are happening super fast in Israel at the moment.

Looks like Netanyahu fired his Defense minister, who had publicly urged him to slow his role on the judicial changes. Followed by massive rallies against Netanyahu.

Still reading Bamford's latest book, but it's easy to see that the corruption that has marked Israel's manipulations of America and other countries and special interests has finally targeted its own country, openly. It's horrific.

Video of deadly fire at Mexico migrant centre causes outrage

Outrage is growing in Mexico following a fire at a migrant centre in Ciudad Juárez that killed 38 migrants.

Unverified footage has emerged, which appears to show the moment the fire started at the centre run by Mexico's National Migration Institute (INE).

Uniformed officials seem to walk away as the blaze erupts in a corner, leaving a group of men behind in what appears to be a locked cell.

The men unsuccessfully try to open the barred door as smoke quickly spreads.

The 32-second clip appears to come from a security camera inside the facility, which is located just south of the border crossing at the Stanton-Lerdo bridge, which links Ciudad Juárez with the city of El Paso in Texas.

The BBC has reverse searched the thumbnail and seven frames from the video and found no copy of it previous to Tuesday evening, indicating that the footage is recent.

Mexico's interior minister did not deny the video's provenance when asked about the footage by a Mexican journalist.

The minister, Adán Augusto López, said the government had had access to the video shortly after the fire but he did not comment about it any further.

The footage has been widely shared on Twitter and published by a number of Mexican newspapers with many people expressing their shock at what they said was a failure by the uniformed staff to act.

They point to the moment at which one of the men in uniform seems to ignore a man behind the barred door, who appears to try to open it and fails as the flames spread.

As the video has no sound it is not possible to ascertain what, if anything, was said as the fire erupted. It is also unclear what the uniformed staff are doing when not on camera.

The smoke then fills the room making it hard to make out anything beyond the glare of the flames.

Horrific. I'm not going to watch that.

It's a BBC link, they don't show the actual video.

Unsurprisingly, politics are weird.

Japan watched Shinzo Abe get assassinated, and the public response appears to be "Well... the assassin had a point."

But his party?

Japan ruling party triumphs in local elections despite criticism over links to Moonies

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) has won key local elections in the first big electoral test for the prime minister, Fumio Kishida, since damaging revelations emerged about his party’s ties to the Unification church.

LDP candidates triumphed in governor elections in prefectures from Hokkaido in the country’s north to Oita in the south-west on Sunday, raising speculation that Kishida could call a snap general election.

An election for Japan’s powerful local house is not due until October 2025, but some pundits believe Kishida could gamble on an early poll to capitalise on his party’s strong showing at the weekend.

The elections also saw Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation party) extend its influence outside its home turf of Osaka, as the rightwing populists try to establish themselves as a national political force.

The LDP has endured months of criticism over its connections to the Unification church – often referred to as the Moonies – that emerged in the wake of Shinzo Abe’s assassination last summer.

Tetsuya Yamagami, who is accused of shooting Abe while he was making a campaign speech on 8 July, has told investigators that he had targeted Japan’s longest-serving prime minister over his connections to the church, which he blamed for bankrupting his family.

Public support for Kishida’s LDP plummeted as Japanese media uncovered widespread links between the church and party MPs and councillors, fuelling speculation that the conservative religious group, founded in South Korea in the 1950s, had influenced the LDP’s political agenda.

Kishida had begun to claw back support in the run-up to Sunday’s elections for nine governors, six mayors and dozens of prefectural and municipal assemblies after a surprise trip to Ukraine and a fence-mending summit in Tokyo with the South Korean president, Yoon Suk Yeol, last month.

The LDP took six of the governor races and will be particularly pleased to have won in Hokkaido – where the left-of-centre Constitutional Democratic party of Japan has traditionally been strong – as well as taking more than half of the 2,260 prefectural assembly seats being contested.

Looks like 155,000 federal public service workers in Canada have just voted in favour of a strike mandate.

Former J-pop idol alleges sexual abuse by late music mogul Johnny Kitagawa

Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most powerful figures in Japanese entertainment, sexually abused multiple boys but evaded justice because his victims knew speaking out would end their pop careers, according to a former protege who has decided to go public with his allegations.

Kauan Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer-songwriter, said Kitagawa had sexually abused him at least 15 times over a four-year period from 2012, when the pop hopeful was aged 15.

Okamoto was part of Johnny’s Jr, a group of trainees who also worked as a talent pool for Johnny & Associates, an agency managing male idol actors and singers.

He said the abuse began at Kitagawa’s penthouse apartment in Tokyo, where large numbers of boys were invited to spend the night.

“I believe that almost all of the boys who went to stay at Johnny’s place were victims,” Okamoto told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Wednesday. “If you stayed there, you were unlikely to evade him. I would say 100 to 200 boys stayed there on a rotation basis during my four years at the agency.”

I'd never heard of the guy (obviously), but apparently The Beeb did a doc about him recently that is... jarring, to say the least.

That Johnny's thing is a thoroughly messed up situation. The agency involved is so powerful that AFAIK not a single TV news show has even mentioned that press conference yet, either on nightly shows last night or on morning shows today.

Wow. So (and I know this is a crappy comp, but work with me) it's Harvey Weinstein on steroids, then? This is getting ZERO traction in Japan because the company he ran still has that much clout?

I think so, yeah, except that here the guy probably wasn't even that rich, it's more about power and the weird intertwined nature of the entertainment industry.

I don't know a ton about it, but basically the industry here revolves around talent agencies - except they work inversely to how that term is used in the west. The talent effectively works for the agency - the agency holds auditions, decides which people to accept, which ones to promote, how much to pay them, etc. And scumbagface was the head of an agency that is by far the largest for its niche (boy bands). In the 90s a newsmagazine did a big series on allegations against him and his agency stopped working with any media property owned by the same parent corporation, so that's basically what all the media sources are afraid of.

As for traction, it seems to be verboten so far on broadcast TV and some print media, but I'd say most people will have heard about it from other sources. But it hasn't really filtered into the national consciousness - like if you stopped someone on the street, it wouldn't be the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the name of the agency.