World AM News Briefs For Thursday, 13 September 2018
Good Morning Australia!! - Viktor Orban has finally gone too far and Europe lays down the law - The EU chief lays out a vision of life after America - Lula acknowledges the obvious - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
The European Union Parliament voted overwhelmingly to sanction Hungary and its leader Viktor Orban for years of "breaches of EU values". A report on Hungary prepared for the Parliament detailed: Corruption that enriched Orban, his family, and his friends; using the government to wage a campaign against minorities and asylum seekers, described by Orban as "Muslim invaders"; homophobia and misogyny; an anti-Semitic campaign against a Jewish businessman which prompted him to move his pro-Democracy NGOs out of the country. More than two-thirds of MEPs passed the measure to invoke an EU ruled called Article 7 - if approved by EU heads of state, it could lead to Hungary losing its voting rights in the continental union.
For the EU, the final straw came in June when Hungary's parliament overwhelmingly passed a law imposing jail terms for anybody seen to be aiding undocumented immigrants. "The Hungarian people deserve better," said Judith Sargentini, the Dutch MEP who led the sanction process. "They deserve freedom of speech, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice and equality, all of which are enshrined in the European treaties," she added. Human Rights organizations believe the day was overdue: "The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation," said Berber Biala-Hettinga, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in the EU.
Hungary blasted the historic vote as "nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians", according to Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. "This decision condemning Hungary and the Hungarian people was made because we Hungarians have demonstrated that migration in not a necessary process and that migration can be stopped," Szijjarto told reporters in Budapest. Despite this, few see Hungary attempting to leave the EU; when the country held a referendum on joining back in 2003, more than 80 percent of the voters said, "yes". It remains to be seen if Hungarians who've enjoyed 14 years of EU consumer and cultural benefits would even want to turn back to the smaller, limited economies of the East.
At the same EU Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, European commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged MEPs to seize the moment and embrace his plans to make Europe militarily and economically independent from its traditional ally the US. In his speech titled "The Hour of European Sovereignty", Juncker touched the third rail of Europolitik - national sovereignty - and appealed to members to give the EU powers normally reserved for heads of state. Juncker sees the Euro challenging the US Dollar as the world currency of choice, and competing directly with China's attempts to grow its influence. And he called on changing the EU's relationship with Africa: "Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnerships. And Europe needs this partnership just as much."
Brazil's Workers Party (PT) has given up the dream that Lula would be its candidate in next month's presidential election. An open letter from former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva "to the Brazilian people" said he was dropping out, and it was time to pass on the baton to "comrade Fernando Haddad", the vice-presidential candidate who now steps up. Lula also denounced his imprisonment on disputed corruption charges as a "judicial farce" and "political revenge" for his first terms as president which brought public spending to the favelas and wiped out extreme poverty. Lula was ruling the polls, but the courts decided he could not run. The next candidate in popularity, far-right winger Jair Bolsonaro, requires major surgery after being stabbed in the belly at a campaign rally.
In New York City, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has dismissed 3,042 marijuana-related criminal cases and dropped the related outstanding arrests warrants. Last month, he stopped prosecuting penny-ante pot cases and the NYPD last week said officers would issue tickets for smoking reefer in public or holding small amounts. Vance - son of President Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State Cyrus Vance - acknowledges that pot arrests have been wrongly used disproportionately against black people and minorities in general. Across the East River, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez announced his office would begin dismissing the low-level marijuana convictions of more than 20,000 people.
Morocco has banned forced marriage and criminalised sexual harassment and violence. Human Rights Watch is critical because the new law does not explicitly outlaw marital rape and lacks a precise definition of domestic violence. But supporters say the law - five years in the making - isn't an end, but a beginning: "We will not stop here. This law is an asset but it has shortcomings that we have to work on," said campaigner Samira Raiss.
Sri Lanka is banning animal sacrifices at Hindu religious ceremonies. Most Hindus simply don't do that, but a few traditionalists do and they say the law infringes on their religious freedoms. The law will appease majority Buddhists and animal rights activists who see the practice as cruel, especially as sometimes the animals are mortally wounded as opposed to killed quickly and humanely.