- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

JAPAN

Mandatory anthem ruled unconstitutional

TOKYO — A court ruled yesterday that an order forcing Tokyo teachers to stand before Japan’s flag and sing an anthem to the emperor violated the constitution, a rare victory for the country’s waning pacifist movement, plaintiffs’ attorneys said.

The decision bolstered opponents of Japan’s growing emphasis on patriotism.

The “Hinomaru” flag — a red disc on a white field — and the “Kimigayo” hymn to the emperor were made Japan’s official symbols in 1999.

TURKEY

Author acquitted of insulting nation

ISTANBUL — One of Turkey’s leading authors was acquitted yesterday of “insulting Turkishness” in a novel that touched on the mass killings of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

The panel of judges said there was no evidence to support the charge against Elif Shafak, a University of Arizona assistant professor who gave birth to a daughter yesterday and did not attend her trial.

Mrs. Shafak was charged over the words uttered by fictional Armenian characters in her novel “The Bastard of Istanbul.” In the book, an Armenian character refers to “Turkish butchers.”

HUNGARY

Opposition party delays political rally

BUDAPEST — Hungary’s main opposition party yesterday postponed a weekend political rally because of fears of further street violence, saying state security officials had warned that the gathering could be hit by bomb attacks.

Laszlo Koever, an official of the opposition Fidesz party, said the rally planned for tomorrow would not be held because of the security concerns sparked by the political crisis over public demands for Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to resign.

Mr. Koever said his party had received “concrete information about planned bomb attacks” and other “provocations” from government and state security officials.

GERMANY

Warships deployed to help Lebanon

WILHELMSHAVEN — Germany began its biggest naval operation since World War II yesterday as eight warships set sail for the eastern Mediterranean to help the United Nations keep the peace in Lebanon.

The first of the ships, the frigate Karlsruhe, pulled away from the dock at the North Sea port at Wilhelmshaven and moved smoothly across the calm harbor after a farewell ceremony.

The German force of two frigates, two support vessels and four fast patrol boats, along with three ships from Denmark, are to arrive off the Lebanese coast in 10 to 14 days.

ISRAEL

Olmert poll ratings keep plunging

JERUSALEM — The ratings of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his allies tumbled further yesterday over the war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon while the popularity of hard-line opposition parties rose in a fresh blow for Israel’s embattled leadership over the offensive.

Asked whether they were satisfied with Mr. Olmert’s performance as prime minister, about 68 percent of respondents said no, according to a poll published in Haaretz daily. That was an increase of 28 percentage points since an Aug. 11 survey.

About 22 percent of Israelis said they were satisfied with Mr. Olmert.

CHINA

Rights record slips as Olympics near

BEIJING — China’s human rights record has deteriorated in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, with thousands of people being executed after unfair trials, Amnesty International said yesterday.

The human rights watchdog sent its latest findings to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and said Chinese authorities would have to act quickly — with less than 700 days to go before the games — if they are to fulfill their pledges to improve matters.

China called Amnesty’s charges biased and groundless and said the organization had ulterior motives.

NETHERLANDS

Officials quit over fire that killed illegals

THE HAGUE — Two Cabinet ministers resigned yesterday after accepting blame for safety lapses in a fire that killed 11 illegal aliens awaiting deportation in an airport jail last year.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Housing Minister Sybilla Dekker told parliament they had submitted their resignations to Queen Beatrix, two months before national elections.

The report also criticized hard-line Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk for the treatment of the prisoners who survived the Oct. 27 fire, some of whom were deported before they could testify to the commission.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide