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Nation & World Briefs


Thursday, March 08, 2018
Florida’s school safety bill now in hands of Gov. Rick Scott

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After the Florida House narrowly passed a school safety bill with new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers, all eyes now turn to Gov. Rick Scott, who has declined to say if he will sign it.

“I’m going to take the time and I’m going to read the bill and I’m going to talk to families,” Scott told reporters Wednesday.

Scott has repeatedly said he doesn’t support arming teachers and had pushed lawmakers adopt his own proposal, which called for at least one law enforcement officer in every school and one for every thousand students who attend a school.

The Florida Senate narrowly passed the bill Monday.

The 67-50 House vote reflected a mix of Republicans and Democrats in support and opposition. The measure, a response to the shootings at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead, is supported by the victims’ families.

Philippine protest, S. Korea’s #MeToo mark Women’s Day

MANILA, Philippines — In Manila, they decried the president as a violator of women’s rights. In Seoul, the surging #MeToo movement took to the streets. In India, where endemic violence against women has only recently become part of the public conversation, they marched toward Parliament loudly demanding their rights.

It was International Women’s Day on Thursday, and as the day began in Asia thousands of women ensured it could not go unnoticed.

Hundreds of activists in pink and purple shirts protested in downtown Manila against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, calling him among the worst violators of women’s rights in Asia. Protest leaders sang and danced in a boisterous rally in Plaza Miranda, handing red and white roses to mothers, sisters and widows of drug suspects slain under Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

Myanmar’s embattled leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged women to build peaceful democracies using their strength in politics, economics and social issues. In Europe, protesters in Spain got an early start, launching a 24-hour strike and calling on women to stop working, whether at offices or at home.

In Afghanistan, hundreds of women, who would have been afraid to leave their homes during Taliban rule, gathered in the capital on to commemorate the day— and to remind their leaders that plenty of work remains to be done to give Afghan woman a voice, ensure their education and protect them from increasing violence.

Red Cross postpones aid to Damascus rebel-held suburb

BEIRUT — A second convoy with desperately needed aid for the besieged rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus was postponed on Thursday because of the violence and a rapidly evolving situation on the ground, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The postponement came as Syrian government forces intensified their offensive on the area, known as eastern Ghouta, under the cover of airstrikes.

The government forces seized more than half of the area, including a stretch of farmland on Wednesday, effectively dividing the besieged enclave in two and further squeezing the rebels and tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside, state media and a war monitor reported.

The government forces advanced from the east and were now nearly a mile away from forces on the western side of eastern Ghouta, cutting links between the rebels in northern and southern parts of the suburb. The military gains have caused wide-scale internal displacement as civilians flee government advances toward areas in the territory still held by the rebels.

The most densely populated areas in eastern Ghouta are still under rebel control, including the towns of Douma, Harasta, Kfar Batna, Saqba and Hammouriyeh.

Mississippi may test how soon state can restrict abortion

JACKSON, Miss. — For decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has been telling states that they can’t ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb on its own.

But states continue to try to restrict abortion before viability. One of the most recent is Mississippi, where lawmakers are on the brink of approving a measure that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks.

House Bill 1510 passed the Mississippi Senate on Tuesday and is one House vote away from the desk of a governor who is eager to sign it.

The owner of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic has said she’ll sue if the bill goes into law — a move lawmakers not only know to expect, but seem to be encouraging, in hopes of eventually getting the nation’s highest court to revisit its rulings and allow states to begin restricting abortion earlier in pregnancy.

“It seems like a pretty simple bill designed to test the viability line that the Supreme Court has drawn,” said David Forte, a law professor at Ohio’s Cleveland State University.

S. Korea leader sees more obstacles to disarm N. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president said Thursday that many “critical moments” still lie ahead to end the nuclear crisis despite North Korea’s recent outreach to Seoul and Washington.

Moon Jae-in spoke before two senior Seoul officials left for the United States to brief officials about the outcome of their recent visit to North Korea.

The Seoul officials said North Korea offered talks with the United States over normalizing ties and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Seoul said the North also agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests during such future talks.

Some experts question how sincere North Korea is about its reported offers, citing what they call its track record of using past disarmament talks to wrest aid and concessions while covertly continuing its bomb program.

According to the South Korean officials, North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons as long as military threats against the country are removed and its security is guaranteed. That’s the same position North Korea has long maintained to justify its nuclear program or call for the withdrawal of 28,500 U.S. troops and a halt to annual U.S.-South Korean military drills as a condition for scrapping its nuclear program. The North sees the allies’ drills as an invasion rehearsal.

From Associated Press