, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Around The World Toronto Back from rehab 4289

Around The World Toronto Back from rehab

Back from rehab: After two months in rehab, a noticeably slimmer Toronto Mayor Rob Ford returned to office this week with a public apology for his past booze- and crack-fueled tirades. Ford said he had confronted his “personal demons” and recognized that his drug addiction was a chronic condition he would have to manage with vigilance. He apologized specifically to a female council member for lewd and sexist remarks he had made about her, but Ford did not mention the tapes that show him making racist and homophobic slurs. He refused to answer any questions about the allegations that he broke laws in trying to gain possession of a videotape that showed him smoking crack. Ford is running for re-election in October.

Strasbourg, France
Burqa ban okay: France can keep its ban on the burqa and the niqab, the full-face veil, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this week. The law against covering the face in public sparked fierce debate in France when it went into effect in 2011. Some Muslims said the ban was discriminatory, while others argued that mandating the veil was a way for Muslim men to control Muslim women. The court ruled that while the ban was not justified on grounds of public safety or women’s rights, it was justified by France’s interest in promoting social cohesion. Wearing a veil breaches “the right of others to live in a space of socialization,” the court said. The ruling cannot be appealed.

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Family sues Border Patrol: The family of slain Mexican teen Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot him, a U.S. appeals court has ruled. Guereca, 15, was on the Mexican side of the border when a U.S. agent shot and killed him in 2010, sparking an international incident. Agents are allowed to use lethal force against those trying to cross the border if they are throwing rocks, but witnesses said the boy and his companions were not doing so. Guereca had been frequently detained for suspected people smuggling but was never charged. The ruling overturns a lower court decision that Guereca was not protected by the U.S. Constitution because he was not on U.S. soil when he was shot.

Caracas, Venezuela
Military rights: The Venezuelan military may take part in progovernment rallies and demonstrations, the country’s Supreme Court ruled last week. Venezuela’s constitution explicitly states that soldiers cannot participate in “acts of propaganda or political partisanship.” But in a ruling that baffled legal scholars, the court said not only that uniformed soldiers could attend rallies but also that doing so was “a progressive act geared toward the consolidation of civilianmilitary union.” The ruling was a defeat for a group of retired generals who had sued after the defense minister ordered military units to attend a rally in support of President Nicolás Maduro.

Sarkozy detained: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation for corruption this week after becoming France’s first ex-head of state to be detained by police. Authorities are investigating whether Sarkozy and his lawyer bribed a judge to get information about cases against him including allegations that his 2007 campaign received improper donations from Liliane Bettencourt, France’s richest woman, as well as $68 million from Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. “I have never committed an act against the republic’s principles and the rule of law,” Sarkozy said, calling the allegations politically motivated.

Buenos Aires
Veep indicted: As Argentina hurtles toward another debt crisis, its vice president was charged last week with bribery and corruption. Amado Boudou was accused of using shell companies to gain control of a firm that was contracted to print the Argentine peso. He will remain free during the trial proceedings, but if convicted, he faces jail time and a lifetime ban from elective office. The indictment comes at a difficult time for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who must decide this month whether to pay off Argentina’s U.S. creditors—opening the door to future lawsuits—or default on the country’s entire foreign debt.

Kiev, Ukraine
Pact with Europe: Ukraine has officially cast its lot with the West. President Petro Poroshenko signed a long-delayed trade pact with Europe this week, declaring that he wants the former Soviet Republic to one day join the EU. The failure of his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, to sign the pact last fall touched off months of pro-European protests that led to Yanukovych’s downfall and the subsequent Russian annexation of Crimea and current separatist fighting in the east. Ukraine also abandoned an ineffective cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists and launched a military offensive against the rebels, reclaiming several border posts. “Our armed forces are hitting the bases and outposts of terrorists,” said parliamentary chairman Oleksandr Turchynov.

Pretoria, South Africa
Pistorius fit for trial: Doctors declared that former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed bathroom door last February. The amputee athlete’s murder trial resumed this week after a monthlong recess for psychological testing, which was ordered by the judge after Pistorius repeatedly broke down on the witness stand. The report does caution that while he was sane at the time of the shooting and should bear criminal responsibility, the killing and the trial have left him in a state of depression and he is now at risk for suicide. Pistorius claims the killing was unintentional and that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

General fired for corruption: The Communist Party has expelled a top general for taking bribes. Gen. Xu Caihou, former deputy head of the Chinese military, is the highest-ranking official yet to be removed in the ongoing anticorruption drive spearheaded by President Xi Jinping. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has focused on modernizing the armed forces in an attempt to wrest military dominance in Asia from the U.S. The retired general was accused of accepting millions of dollars’ worth of cash and gifts for himself and his family. “His case is serious and leaves a vile impact,” the Communist Party said in a statement. “The party will not harbor corrupt members nor will the armed forces.”

Fighting force: Despite passionate public opposition, Japan has dropped its ban on military action overseas. The postwar pacifist constitution allows Japan to use military force only in self-defense, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week announced a reinterpretation of that clause that would allow Japan to aid its allies if they were attacked. Demonstrations broke out across Japan, with one man setting himself on fire in protest in downtown Tokyo. “This makes it possible for us to work more closely with countries in the region to maintain the balance of power and deterrence vis-àvis China,” said defense analyst Narushige Michishita.

New Delhi
Anger at NSA: Indian officials are outraged over new revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on the country’s diplomats and politicians. The Indian government summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation this week after The Washington Post reported that the agency had spied on the then-opposition party of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2010. India also complained last year when it discovered that the NSA had spied on its U.N. mission in New York and on its embassy in Washington. This week’s flap was so intense that visiting Sen. John McCain—the first U.S. official to visit India since Modi’s election in May—had to cancel his press conference.

Orangutans at risk: Despite an ostensible moratorium, Indonesia now has the world’s highest deforestation rate, putting its indigenous orangutan population at grave risk of extinction. A study out this week shows that since 2000, Indonesia has cut down trees in an area equivalent in size to Greece, despite the fact that nearly half of that territory was supposed to be officially protected. Due to widespread government and police corruption, forestland is routinely sold to illegal developers who burn away the natural rain forest to clear land for palm-oil plantations. The burning causes severe pollution in Singapore and Malaysia, and experts say the ongoing loss of habitat could drive the orangutan to extinction within 20 years.

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