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Japan

Tsipras in trouble, Japan's military powers, Elder Bush injured‏

Tsipras in trouble, Japan's military powers, Elder Bush injured‏

Photo: Natsuki Sakai/ZUMA

GREECE APPROVES BAILOUT, BUT TSIPRAS IN TROUBLE

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a bittersweet approval late yesterday of a package of tough measures — including an increase in sales tax and a pension shakeup — that will make a third bailout of the ailing country possible. But 38 members of his governing Syriza party voted against the deal, including former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Parliament Speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou, who called the measures "social genocide." A weakened Tsipras is expected to reshuffle his cabinet to remove dissident members, but Reuters reports that the prime minister has no plans to resign. Read more about it on our Extra! feature here.


JAPAN STRENGTHENS MILITARY POWERS

The lower house of the Diet, Japan's parliament, has approved controversial legislation to allow the country's armed forces to come to the aid of its allies and to engage in self-defense, the Japan Times reports. But the country's 1947 constitution expressly prohibits it from engaging in the use of force, and its military is officially called the "self-defense forces." The changes are a hallmark policy for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had originally pledged to propose them after the summer. Tens of thousands of people have protested against the legislation, and the opposition has vowed to challenge them in the courts, calling them unconstitutional. The bills now move to the upper house, where they are expected to pass despite polls consistently showing that a majority of Japanese oppose the changes.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

After decades of ambivalence and even suspicion toward "the language of the Nazis," German will now be offered as an official course in public high schools in Israel, Matthias Heine writes for German daily Die Welt. "German is taught at state-run schools or university in 144 countries around the world, even in North Korea. It was always possible to study German in Israel, but the standing of German as a language in the country — for comprehensible historic reasons — was not very high. Indeed, it was not offered as a normal public school subject. But all of this is about to change. German will be introduced as a compulsory subject choice during the coming school year that starts in late August. Students at participating schools will then be able to learn German as a foreign language."

Read the full article, Ending The Taboo Of The German Language In Israel.


YEMEN MINISTERS RETURN TO ADEN

Militias loyal to exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi have retaken the provincial headquarters of the southern city of Aden after recapturing its airport two days ago. Al Jazeera reports that several ministers of Yemen's exiled government have now returned to Aden, which has been the provisional capital of Yemen since Sana'a fell to the northern Houthi rebels in February. After months of setbacks and stalemates despite the help of Saudi airstrikes, the pro-Hadi forces are now slowly advancing.


GAZA, ISRAEL TRADE ATTACKS

Israeli warplanes carried out a raid on Gaza after militants from the Palestinian territory fired rockets that landed near the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Italian daily La Stampa reports. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, which caused no deaths or injuries despite targeting a heavily populated area. Hamas officials confirmed that the airstrikes damaged a training site for their military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



GEORGE H.W. BUSH INJURED

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush broke a bone in his neck after falling in his home in Maine, APreports. The 91-year-old is in stable condition at a local hospital, where his stay is expected to be brief.


UBER FINED IN CALIFORNIA

After a series of legal defeats in France and Italy, Uber took another hit yesterday when a regulator in its home state of California handed the ride-sharing app a $7.3 million fine. The company was accused of withholding data on accidents and the number of rides given to disabled people, the BBC reports.


TALIBAN LEADER ENDORSES PEACE TALKS

Reuters reports that Mullah Omar, the Afghan Taliban's reclusive leader, allegedly published an unprecedented statement yesterday marking the end of Ramadan by endorsing the nascent peace talks between his militant group and the Afghanistan government. In a post on a Taliban website, Omar expressed that Islam regards negotiations as a "legitimate" route to achieving the Taliban's goal of ending foreign occupation. Pakistan mediated a preliminary meeting between the two sides last week, where negotiators agreed to meet again to discuss further the possibility of peace talks.


ON THIS DAY


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Economy

Lex Tusk? How Poland’s Controversial "Russian Influence" Law Will Subvert Democracy

The new “lex Tusk” includes language about companies and their management. But is this likely to be a fair investigation into breaking sanctions on Russia, or a political witch-hunt in the business sphere?

Photo of President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda

Piotr Miaczynski, Leszek Kostrzewski

-Analysis-

WARSAW — Poland’s new Commission for investigating Russian influence, which President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Monday, will be able to summon representatives of any company for inquiry. It has sparked a major controversy in Polish politics, as political opponents of the government warn that the Commission has been given near absolute power to investigate and punish any citizen, business or organization.

And opposition politicians are expected to be high on the list of would-be suspects, starting with Donald Tusk, who is challenging the ruling PiS government to return to the presidency next fall. For that reason, it has been sardonically dubbed: Lex Tusk.

University of Warsaw law professor Michal Romanowski notes that the interests of any firm can be considered favorable to Russia. “These are instruments which the likes of Putin and Orban would not be ashamed of," Romanowski said.

The law on the Commission for examining Russian influences has "atomic" prerogatives sewn into it. Nine members of the Commission with the rank of secretary of state will be able to summon virtually anyone, with the powers of severe punishment.

Under the new law, these Commissioners will become arbiters of nearly absolute power, and will be able to use the resources of nearly any organ of the state, including the secret services, in order to demand access to every available document. They will be able to prosecute people for acts which were not prohibited at the time they were committed.

Their prerogatives are broader than that of the President or the Prime Minister, wider than those of any court. And there is virtually no oversight over their actions.

Nobody can feel safe. This includes companies, their management, lawyers, journalists, and trade unionists.

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