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Japan’s top court says government not responsible for Fukushima damage

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on March 17, 2022.

TokyoJapan’s government is not liable for damages demanded by people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s top court said on Friday, the first such ruling in a series of similar cases.

The ruling’s effect as a precedent will be closely watched, media said.
A massive tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11, 2011 struck the Fukushima Daiichi power plant of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Plaintiffs demanded damages from both Tepco and the country in several class-action lawsuits, and in March the Supreme Court upheld an order for Tepco to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen to about 3,700 people.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined direct comment when asked about the ruling at a news conference, though he said he was aware of it.
“Regardless of the ruling, we will stay close to those affected by the disaster and keep on doing our utmost for Fukushima’s reconstruction and revival,” he said.
About 470,000 people were forced to evacuate in the first days after the disaster, and tens of thousands remain unable to return even now.
Lower courts had split over the extent of the government’s responsibility in foreseeing the disaster and ordering Tepco to take steps to prevent it.

Pakistan’s top court rules that blocking a no-confidence vote against Imran Khan was unconstitutional

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that a decision to block a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan was unconstitutional, with legislators now set to vote on Saturday.

The Supreme Court reached the unanimous decision after special proceedings that stretched to four days while Khan and his loyalist President Arif Alvi had steamrolled a process to start early elections. The Supreme Court also red wing shoes quashed Khan’s order to dissolve parliament and call for early elections, calling it of “no legal effect.”
A vote of confidence for Khan will now be held on Saturday at 10:30am local (1:30a ET).
Khan had called the election in a dramatic attempt to cling to power after the deputy speaker of parliament blocked a vote of no-confidence against him last Sunday, which had appeared almost certain to succeed.
Supporters of Prime Minister Imran Khan chant slogans during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri said that he had acted to prevent a ‘foreign conspiracy’ to unseat Khan’s regime.
That move, and Khan’s subsequent dissolution of parliament, enraged an opposition that for months have been demanding his removal over claims of poor governance and economic mismanagement.
The opposition responded by accusing Khan of treason and asking the country’s highest court to rule on whether the prime minister had breached the constitution.
The court battle is the latest escalation in a crisis that has been smoldering for weeks, with Khan already having lost the backing of key political allies and the country’s powerful military.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan calls for early election after no-confidence vote dismissed
Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar moved to distance the country’s military from developments in a statement Sunday, insisting it was not involved in what is “purely a political situation.”
Pakistan, a nation of 220 million, has struggled with political instability since its formation in 1947 with multiple regime changes and military coups. No prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term under the present constitution of 1973.
The country’s main opposition parties have been rallying for Khan’s dismissal since he rose to power in 2018 after an election mired in coach outlet accusations of vote rigging and foul play.
More recently, he has been dogged by claims of economic mismanagement as his government battles depleting foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation, with the cost of basic necessities such as food and fuel skyrocketing.
Khan’s response has been to double down on claims that opposition to him is being fueled by the United States. He has not offered any evidence to support his claims, and the State Department has denied the allegations.

US intelligence agencies make understanding Vladimir Putin’s state of mind a top priority

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference with his Belarusian counterpart following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 18, 2022.

Florida’s top doctor refuses mask, is told to leave meeting

MIAMI (AP) — Florida’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed.

Florida Senate leader Wilton Simpson, a Republican, sent a memo to senators Saturday regarding the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, asking visitors at the building to be respectful with social interactions. Polsky, asics shoes who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet made public her breast cancer diagnosis.

Polsky told The Associated Press about the tense exchange with state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that was first reported by the news site Florida Politics. She said Ladapo and two aides were offered masks and asked to wear them when they arrived for the Wednesday meeting. She did not tell him she had breast cancer, but said she had a serious condition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at a higher risk to get severely ill from COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines.

Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.

“It was so shocking to me that he treated me in this manner,” Polsky said. “If he is a surgeon general for the next several years, I am really concerned about a future public health emergency and not being able to rely on him for necessary guidance and proper scientific leadership.”

Ladapo offered to go outside, but the senator said she did not want to sit on the metal picnic tables on a warm day when her office was nice and spacious. She said she asked whether there was a reason why he couldn’t wear a mask, but he wouldn’t answer.

Democrats have opposed the appointment of Ladapo, criticizing him for comments and actions related to the pandemic.

A day into his job, Ladapo signed new rules allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school after being exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday at a press conference with DeSantis to oppose vaccine mandates, Ladapo said people were not comfortable with the vaccines because the federal government keen shoes has not been open about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, saying there was a “concerted effort” to hide stories of people with adverse reactions.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has received the full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meeting high standards required for the vaccine to be considered safe. It has been administered to millions and proven to be effective against hospitalization and death. However, immunity against infection can wane over time.

Authorities in Sweden, Denmark and Norway earlier this month suspended or discouraged the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in young people because of an increased risk of heart inflammation, a very rare side effect associated with the shot.

Ladapo also wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal saying masks have “little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission.”

The CDC still recommends people with weakened immune systems, and those in high-transmission areas to wear masks. Studies have supported their use, with some finding that cloth masks are less effective.

In the memo sent by Simpson, nike outlet the president of the Florida senate, he said that while there’s no mask mandate in the Senate, senators can request social distancing and masking within their offices.

“It shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic,” he said. “What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate.”

The Florida Department of Health’s spokeswoman Weesam Khoury said the agency was not aware of any specific Senate protocol, but said it would ask members ahead of time and make necessary accommodations such as meeting through Zoom or outdoors.

The Department of Health “will be addressing this directly with members of the Senate, rather than letting this play out publicly,” Khoury said in an email.

‘Top Chef’ judge Gail Simmons calls Texas’s abortion ban ‘blatantly unconstitutional’: ‘Laws off our bodies’

Top Chef star Gail Simmons is speaking her mind in a new Instagram post opposing Texas’s anti-abortion law, SB8, which she says “denies women bodily autonomy.”

“I couldn’t come to Texas and not stand with the women who need our support,” wrote Simmons, who is currently in Houston shooting the latest season of Top Chef. “The state’s Six Week Ban is blatantly unconstitutional, injects the government into personal health care, hey dude shoes denies women bodily autonomy, and declares that anyone with a uterus is subject to a different set of rules, rules that attempt to control us, putting our lives and livelihoods at risk.”

“I stand with the restaurant industry in active protest to SB8, and in support of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right,” she continued. “Join me in donating to the 1973 Project which will fund organizations helping Texans get the abortion care they need.”

The Texas law, sometimes referred to as the “heartbeat bill,” was enacted in September and prohibits abortions once doctors can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks — before some women know they’re pregnant.

The law also allows for private citizens to sue Texas abortion providers, the women getting the abortions, even Uber drivers and other individuals who help these women travel to an abortion clinic. Furthermore, those bringing the lawsuit are not required to have a connection to the women getting an abortion, as the Associated Press notes, and can be entitled to upwards of $10,000 in damages if their suit is victorious.

Simmons joins her costar Padma Lakshmi in her stance against the law.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi attend the 8th Annual Blossom Ball at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on April 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)
Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi will reportedly join a Women’s March in Houston this weekend protesting the anti-abortion law. 

“Texans are up against so much right now,” Laskshmi tweeted earlier this month. “A hateful anti-abortion bill, erasure of voting rights, and a humanitarian and constitutional crisis at the border. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. Its government and the majority hoka shoes of its people oppose @GovAbbott’s heinous bills.”

She continued, “Our show highlights the small businesses that hire the very same women, BIPOC people and low-income folks that these laws harm most.”

Laskshmi added that she’s “continuing the fight” by working with local Houston organizations like Planned Parenthood Action, Abortion Funds and the American Civil Liberties Union.

This weekend, Simmons and Laskshmi will reportedly join a Women’s March protesting the Texas law, which will start at Discovery Green in Houston on Saturday at 7 a.m. and begin marching to Houston City Hall at 9 a.m.

“I was proud to attend the first Women’s March in D.C. in 2017,” Lakshmi told the Houston Chronicle. “Four years later, we still have so much to achieve. Our reproductive rights are under attack, and I stand with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and those who demand to be heard.”

Top Dems offer Biden cover to reverse course on full Afghan troop withdrawal

Two powerful Senate chairmen are questioning plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1, providing potential cover for President Biden to change his mind as he faces a rapidly approaching deadline.

Why it matters: The war is America’s longest and most costly. Former President Trump negotiated a departure timetable with the Taliban, and his successor has indicated he’s ready to honor that commitment.

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  • The unstable environment on the ground, as well as the politics of making such a bold move, have put increasing pressure on Biden as the clock winds down.

Driving the news: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that Biden may have to reconsider the deadline. He told reporters he’s concerned about “the viability” of the peace process in Afghanistan.

  • Menendez drove home his hesitancy to Axios on Wednesday.
  • “We have to look at the realities of what’s happening in Afghanistan. It seems to me the Taliban is not meeting its obligations. After so many (American) lives and national treasure, we need to make sure that when we leave, we leave in a way that can provide stability.”
  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chair of the Armed Services Committee and an Army veteran, has gone even further: He said Biden should not withdraw all forces and is worried having no presence in the region could give way to further terrorist attacks.
  • “I would expect some extension,” Reed ultimately said of the timeframe.

But, but, but: Beyond the chairmen’s unity, congressional Democrats are all over the map.

  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a Navy veteran who served in the region for several years, told Axios, “May 1 is pretty quick.”
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), an important swing-state lawmaker, said: “Anytime we have invested that much blood and treasure in an area that has no more of an outcome or stabilization, then you have to reevaluate. But what happens if you do leave at this point in time?”
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a key figure on the progressive left, told Axios that Biden needs to get out now: There will always be a reason to delay, but President Biden is committed to meeting this deadline. I support him in that.”

The latest: The Biden administration has proposed plans for an interim, power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and Afghan leaders before May 1. It would be supported by neighboring countries and the United Nations.

China regains slot as India’s top trade partner despite tensions

China has regained its position as India’s top trading partner despite a decaying relationship between the Asian neighbours.

The two countries were involved in a bloody border conflict last year and saw India ban 220 Chinese tech apps.

But that did not stop China leapfrogging the US in 2020 to become India’s biggest trade partner.

Two-way trade between the long-standing economic and strategic Asian rivals stood at $77.7bn (£55.2bn) last year.

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Although this figure was lower than the previous year’s $85.5bn total, it was enough to make China India’s largest commercial partner, according to provisional data from Delhi’s commerce ministry.

Global trade flows have been muted during the pandemic, although there has still been strong demand for medical equipment and supplies.

Despite efforts by India to become more self-reliant and curb trade with Beijing, it still relies heavily on Chinese-made heavy machinery, telecom equipment and home appliances.

Total imports from China stood at $58.7bn, which were more than India’s combined purchases from the US and UAE – its second and third largest trade partners.

media captionRos Atkins looks at what happened on the India-China border in June 2020
The two nations were involved in a Himalayan border dispute last June that saw at least 20 Indian soldiers killed in a clash with Chinese forces.

Last week, China revealed that four of its soldiers had also died in the battle.

The incident was the first deadly clash in the border area for at least 45 years.

In response to the clashes, India’s government banned TikTok, WeChat and more than 200 other Chinese-made apps in June saying they were a danger to the country.

In a statement, it said the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

The Gaviota Leather by Hoka One One is a top-of-the-line leather walking shoe

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