EarthLink – News
SKorean leader denounces Japanese comments over sanctions
By KIM TONG-HYUNG | Wed, July 10, 2019 12:03 EDT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday criticized comments by Japanese officials who questioned the credibility of Seoul’s sanctions against North Korea while justifying Tokyo’s stricter controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.
The issue has become a full-blown diplomatic dispute between the neighboring U.S. allies.
In a meeting with South Korean business leaders at Seoul’s presidential palace, Moon said his government was committed to resolving the matter diplomatically and urged Japan to refrain from pushing the situation to a “dead-end street.”
Tokyo last week tightened the approval process for Japanese shipments of photoresists and other sensitive materials to South Korean companies, which need the chemicals to produce semiconductors and display screens used in TVs and smartphones.
Japanese officials say such materials can be exported only to trustworthy trading partners, hinting at security risks without citing specific cases. Tokyo hasn’t elaborated but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative aides have hinted there may have been illegal transfers of sensitive materials from South Korea to North Korea.
Moon spoke hours after South Korean officials told a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva that the Japanese measures would have repercussions for electronics products worldwide and called for their withdrawal. Japanese officials countered that the measures didn’t amount to a trade embargo, but rather a review of export controls based on security concerns.
“(Our) government is doing its best to resolve the issue diplomatically … (I call for) the Japanese government to respond. It should no longer walk straight toward a dead-end street,” Moon said in a meeting with senior executives from 30 of South Korea’s biggest companies, including Samsung, Hyundai and SK conglomerates.
“The Japanese government’s move to inflict damage on our economy to serve political purposes and link (the issue) with sanctions against North Korea without any evidence is surely not ideal for the friendship and security cooperation between the two countries,” Moon said.
He called for the government and private companies to form an “emergency response system” to deal with the impact of the Japanese trade curbs and prepare for the possibility that the dispute drags over an extended period.
Analysts say the Japanese measure won’t have a meaningful impact immediately on South Korean chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which both have sufficient supplies of the materials for now, given the slowdown in demand for semiconductors.
But there’s concern that Japan might expand the restrictions to include other sectors. Shin Hak-cheol, the CEO of LG Chem, a major producer of electric-car batteries, told reporters on Tuesday the company was planning for possible restrictions on battery materials.
South Korea, which has an export-reliant economy, sees the Japanese trade curbs as retaliation for South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate aging South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II and plans to file a complaint with the WTO.
Japanese officials have rejected any link to historical disputes.
South Korea has summoned a Japanese Embassy official to protest Abe’s suggestion that it could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea. South Korea’s trade minister on Tuesday said an inspection of companies that process and export the chemicals imported from Japan found no sign of illegal transactions allowing them to reach North Korea or any other country affected by U.N. sanctions.
At a meeting of the WTO Goods Council in Geneva on Tuesday, South Korean Ambassador Paik Ji-ah said South Korea was the only country affected by Japan’s trade curbs, and expressed concerns that Japan was also reviewing whether to further tighten trade measures, according to a Geneva-based trade official who relayed the ambassador’s comments in the closed-door meeting. Paik declined to speak to reporters after the meeting.
Japan’s envoy in Geneva, Junichi Ihara, countered that the Japanese measures were just a “change of application of procedures.”
“We applied the simplified procedures before to Korea, but now we changed, and just normal procedures will be applied — are applied — to (South) Korea. … So this is perfectly in conformity with our obligations to the WTO,” he said.
Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to the report.
EarthLink – News
9 deer at famed park in Japan die after eating plastic bags
Wed, July 10, 2019 03:57 EDT
TOKYO (AP) — Nine deer at a famed park in western Japan have died recently after swallowing plastic bags.
Nara Park has more than 1,000 deer, and tourists can feed them special sugar-free crackers sold in shops nearby. The crackers don’t come in plastic bags, but people still carry them. A veterinarian says the deer may associate the plastic with food.
The Nara Deer Preservation Foundation says nine of the 14 deer that have died since March had plastic in their stomachs. Masses of tangled plastic litter and packets of snacks were retrieved from their stomachs, with the heaviest amount weighing 4.3 kilograms (9 ½ pounds).
Rie Maruko, a veterinarian who belongs to the animal conservation group, was Quote: d by Kyodo News as saying the dead deer were so skinny he could feel their bones.
Deer have four-chambered stomachs and eating objects that can’t be digested can leave them malnourished and weakened.
Deer are traditionally a messenger of gods in Japan’s native Shinto religion and roam freely in the park in the capital city of Nara prefecture.
Volunteers participated in a cleanup campaign in the park on Wednesday.
EarthLink – News
Outrage over killing of black teen over rap music complaint
By ANITA SNOW 10:31 EDT
PHOENIX (AP) — Hundreds of people including a presidential candidate spoke out on Twitter this week after a 17-year-old black youth was killed at suburban convenience store, allegedly by a white man charged Tuesday with first-degree murder who has said he felt threatened by the boy’s rap music.
Family members have told local media that Elijah Al-Amin would have turned 18 in two weeks and was looking forward to his last year in high school.
Friends and family hugged Monday at the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, where prayers for the teen were held before burial in Maricopa County.
A modest makeshift memorial outside the convenience store where Al-Amin was stabbed was still erected on Tuesday, with a pair of white porcelain angels, fresh flowers and burning calendars — including one dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it filed a direct complaint Tuesday charging Michael Adams, 27, in the Thursday morning killing. First-degree murder carries a sentence of life behind bars or death.
Adams is next scheduled to appear in court July 15.
The Twitter hashtag #JusticeForElijah began trending over the Independence Day weekend after police in the suburban Phoenix city of Peoria arrested Adams. He had been released from state prison two days before.
“Another one of our children has been murdered in a heinous and unprovoked way_the DOJ must investigate this hate crime immediately,” Democratic candidate Cory Booker wrote on his Twitter account Monday. “RIP Elijah. #JusticeForElijah.”
Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American civil rights activist from Brooklyn, New York, called the crime “outrageous” and said it recalled the 2012 killing of 17-year-old high school student Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. “Rest in power Elijah Al-Amin,” she wrote.
Michael Dunn, who is white, was later convicted of first-degree murder in that earlier killing, a shooting that erupted during an argument about loud music coming from a car carrying Davis and other black teenagers.
In the Arizona attack, first responders discovered Al-Amin collapsed outside the Peoria Circle K store’s gas pumps and took him to a hospital, where he died. Several people inside the store had watched as Al-Amin was stabbed in the throat and the back before he ran outside.
Officers found Adams nearby with a pocket knife and blood on his body. Adams told them he had felt threatened by the rap music coming from Al-Amin’s vehicle.
Adams’ attorney, Jacie Cotterell, told the judge at his initial appearance hearing that her client was mentally ill and released without any medication, “no holdover meds, no way to care for himself.”
Cotterell said during the videotaped court hearing that “this is a failing on the part of the (Arizona) Department of Corrections.”
Adam’s bond was maintained at $1 million. He had been freed July 2 after serving a 13-month sentence for aggravated assault.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said in a statement that “the tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions.”
The statement said that when Adams was released he “was not designated seriously mentally ill” and that once the department transported him from the state prison complex in Yuma where he had served his sentence to Maricopa County it “had no further legal authority over him.”
Many of the people commenting on Twitter said that claims about Adams’ mental illness should not be used to explain away what they believe was a hate crime.
There is no hate crime statute in Arizona, but a judge’s determination that a hate crime has occurred can toughen sentencing.
Corrects previous version of when court appearances took place to last week, not Tuesday.
EarthLink – News
UN: Climate change undercutting work to end poverty, hunger
By EDITH M. LEDERER | Wed, July 10, 2019 02:07 EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Hunger is growing and the world is not on track to end extreme poverty by 2030 and meet other U.N. goals, mainly because progress is being undermined by the impact of climate change and increasing inequality, a U.N. report said Tuesday.
The report on progress toward achieving the 17 U.N. goals notes achievements in some areas, including a 49% fall in child mortality between 2000 and 2017 as well as electricity now reaching nearly 90% of the world’s population.
But Liu Zhenmin, the U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, said that despite some advances, “monumental challenges remain.”
He said at a news conference the most urgent area for action is climate change, which “may impact the progress made over the last several decades” in reducing poverty and improving life for millions of people around the world.
According to the report, biodiversity loss is happening at an accelerated rate, and “the risk of species extinction has worsened by almost 10 percent over the last 25 years.” Global temperatures have risen, ocean acidity has increased 26% since pre-industrial times and “investment in fossil fuels continues to be higher than investment in climate activities,” it said.
Liu said the report also shows “inequality is rising and too many people are left behind.” He said that “is another big challenge for the world.”
The first of the 17 goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 is to eliminate extreme poverty — people living on less than $1.90 a day — and the second goal is to end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture. According to the report, neither goal is likely to be achieved by 2030.
While the number of people living in extreme poverty declined to 8.6% of the world’s population in 2018, the report said the pace is slowing and projections suggest that 6% of people will still be living in extreme poverty by 2030 if current trends continue.
Francesca Perucci, chief statistician in the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said an estimated 736 million people still living in extreme poverty globally, including 413 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Extreme poverty today is concentrated and overwhelmingly affects rural populations,” the report said. “Increasingly, it is exacerbated by violent conflicts and climate change.”
While Liu said there has been “good progress” on 16 of the U.N. goals, he said that “there’s been no good progress” on ending hunger, which he called “a tragedy for the international community.” He said the most direct impact of climate change is on agricultural production, a key factor in increasing hunger.
According to the report, the number of people going hungry has increased since 2014. “An estimated 821 million people were undernourished in 2017,” up from 784 million in 2015 and the same number as in 2010, it said.
The worst hit region is sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of undernourished people increased from 195 million in 2014 to 237 million in 2017, the report said.
On education, it warned that proficiency in reading and mathematics is “shockingly” low. “Globally, an estimated 617 million children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age — more than 55 percent of the global total — lacked minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics in 2015.”
The report said women represent 39% of the workforce but hold only 27% of managerial positions. It said 785 million people had no access to clean drinking water in 2017 while 673 million lacked good sanitation systems, the majority of them in southern Asia.
Perucci said 80% of people worldwide are online, but only 45% of those living in developing countries and just 20% in the least developed countries have access to the internet.
“It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response in needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report’s forward.
EarthLink – News
California OKs benefits to immigrants in country illegally
Tue, July 9, 2019 10:06 EDT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has become the first state to offer taxpayer-funded health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Tuesday that makes low-income adults age 25 and younger eligible for the state’s Medicaid program regardless of their immigration status.
State officials expect the plan to cover about 90,000 people and cost taxpayers $98 million. California already covers children ages 18 and younger regardless of immigration status.
The law will not give health insurance benefits to everyone 25 and younger, but only those whose income is low enough to qualify.
Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders say they plan to further expand coverage to more adults in the years to come. Republican President Donald Trump has called the move “crazy .”
Advocates of the measure say it’s a way to improve the health of immigrants in the state by providing them with access to the medical care they need.
Many immigrants who are in the country illegally are already enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.
Democrats had pushed to expand the coverage to even more adults, but Newsom rejected the proposals, saying it would cost about $3.4 billion to provide coverage to all California adults living in the country illegally. But he has vowed to keep expanding coverage in future years.