Our 35th year
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Thailand is legitimizing the military’s role in the legislature in a proposed constitution that could not be questioned and weakens the role on voters
in districts. The purge of military, universities, government, businesses, press, and societies is driven by the Turkish president to gain absolute power in the
post-coup turmoil. State of government and presidency in Venezuela becomes fragile as the economic situation is growing worse. Extreme nationalistic and
anti-European behavior is marking the governments of Poland and Hungary.
Instability and strife are continuing in Burundi, Libya, Afghanistan, China, Syria, and Yemen.
Noticed and Noted
In the United States, both major political
parties have nominated their candidates for president and vice president at their national conventions in July:
Ms. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton and Senator from Virginia Timothy Michael "Tim" Kaine, Democratic Party; and
Donald John Trump Sr.
and Indiana Governor Michael Richard “Mike” Pence, Republican Party.
They are waging their election campaigns which will end with national voting on 8 November.
Because of growing unease among Republican voters with their choice, there is talk about their turning to a third party but this has not become visible.
China has no historic rights in the South China Sea. In a long expected finding on China’s claims, released on 12 July, the panel of five judges of the Court for Arbitration at
The Hague found the Chinese position without legal basis and contrary to United Nations convention, reported Reuters. Specifically, the tribunal rejected claims to economic rights within the ‘nine-dash line’ and found that Chinese
law enforcement patrols had risked colliding with Philippine fishing vessels in parts of the sea and caused irreparable damage to coral reefs with construction
work. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it neither accepts nor recognizes the award which is null and void and has no binding force, noted
Xinhua. Cambodia and a number of African states over which China has some economic leverage also supported China’s
position that any resolution of claims in the South China Sea should be settled bilaterally without the interference of outsiders, such as the United States of
Efforts by the Turkish president to gain total control of government and nation, prosecution of critics, and creeping religious influence by the governing party in a secular state were among reasons
for part of the Turkey’s military to launch an unsuccessful coup d’état on 15 July. Most of the action centered on capital and Istanbul but failed when the
president was able to convince a television station that he was alive and to gain public support and because only some of the military leaders supported the
(No. 553, July 2016)
European Union (EU)
United Kingdom votes to leave the Union
The United Kingdom conducted a popular referendum on the European
Union (EU) and the UK on 23 June in which 71.8 percent of eligible voters took part. BBC called it the highest
turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election between Conservative John Mayor and Neil Kinnock of the Labour party.
The referendum of “Should the
United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” resulted in support of leaving by 17.4 million or 51.9 percent of
votes cast against staying in the EU by 16.1 million or 48.1 percent. In England and Wales, support for leaving
was highest while Northern Ireland Scotland voted for staying:
England: 53.4 percent for leaving, 46.6 percent for staying;
Wales: 52.5 percent for leaving, 47.5 percent for staying;
Northern Ireland: 55.8 percent for staying, 44.2 percent for
Scotland: 62 percent for staying, 38 percent for leaving.
The referendum was vigorously pushed by Prime Minister David Cameron and approved by the
House of Commons on 28 May 2015 and the House of Lords on 14 December 2015 under the European Union Referendum
Act 2015. After referendum results were announced, the prime minister announced his resignation.
The European Union is reacting by favoring a quick separation. In
Scotland, support for independence and hope of staying in the EU is growing, and even in England a drive for petitioning Parliament to reconsider leaving
quickly gathered strength within a few days of the referendum. To be formally enacted, the UK must invoke Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty of 2009. Since
the referendum was advisory and not mandatory, it is not legally binding. If early elections should be called, a different government could take the
unlikely decision not to pursue the course approved by a majority of voters.
40 more countries needed to ratify Paris climate accord
Befitting celebration of Earth Day, leaders of 175 countries, including 60 heads of state and
government, signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations in New York on 22 April.
Main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to
drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-
industrial levels. Governments of 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the 21st
session of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change in Le Bourget, Paris, from 30 November until 12 December 2015.
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