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Mexico’s top court decriminalises abortion in ‘watershed moment’



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By Gistflash News

Sept 8, 2021

Mexico’s Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that penalising abortion is unconstitutional.

The court ruling indicates a major victory for advocates of women’s health and human rights, just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice.

The decision in the world’s second-biggest Roman Catholic country means that courts can no longer prosecute abortion cases, and follows the historic legalization of the right in Argentina, which took effect earlier this year.

Arturo Zaldivar, president of the Mexican Supreme Court, hailed the decision as “a watershed moment” for all women, especially the most vulnerable.

The vote by the 10 judges present stemmed from a 2018 case challenging a criminal law on abortion in Coahuila, a northern Mexican state which borders Texas, which has just tightened its laws.

It also comes as a growing feminist movement has taken to the streets in Mexico to press for change, including calls to end anti-abortion laws on the books in much of the country.

At a demonstration in Coahuila state capital Saltillo, women wearing green bandanas to symbolize the pro-choice movement embraced and shouted “abortion is no longer a crime!”

“We’re very happy that abortion has been decriminalized, and now we want it to be legal,” said 26-year-old Karla Cihuatl, one of the demonstrators, who belongs to the feminist organization Frente Feminista in Saltillo.

“This step has broken the stigma a little. But I believe that we still have to change the social aspect.”

With some 100 million Catholics, Mexico is the largest predominantly Catholic country after Brazil.

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures.

Hundreds of mostly poor Mexican women have been prosecuted for abortion, while at least several dozen remain jailed.

Tuesday’s vote establishes mandatory criteria for all judges in the country, making it no longer possible to prosecute any woman who has an abortion without violating the criteria of the court and the constitution, Zaldivar said.

Coahuila’s state government issued a statement saying the ruling would have retroactive effects and that any woman imprisoned for abortion should be released “immediately.”

A number of U.S. states have moved to restrict access to abortion, particularly Texas, which last week enacted a sweeping ban on the procedure after the first six weeks of pregnancy when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

The Mexican ruling may lead to U.S. women in states such as Texas deciding to travel south of the border to terminate their pregnancies.

In July, the state of Veracruz became just the fourth of Mexico’s 32 regions to decriminalise abortion.

Mexico’s leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has carefully avoided taking a stand on the matter, as he did again on Tuesday morning in the run-up to the ruling.

When asked at a news conference for his opinion on abortion, he sidestepped the question, saying it was up to the court.

“Due to my presidential office, I can’t expose myself to wear and tear, so I have to look after myself, and this is quite a controversial issue,” he said.

During his winning 2018 election campaign, he forged an alliance with a small political party founded by Christian conservatives known for their strong opposition to abortion.

By contrast, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was mayor of Mexico City when the capital legalized abortion in 2007, breaking new ground for the country, celebrated the court ruling on Twitter as a “great day for the rights of women.”

“What advances there have been in progressive causes in our country!!!” wrote Ebrard, one of the leading contenders to succeed Lopez Obrador when his six-year term ends in 2024, adding: “I’m really delighted!!”



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UNGA: DRC president seeks actualisation of promises on global warming to Africa



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

The President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has urged UN  Member States to “materialise all the promises made to Africa in compensation for the sacrifices agreed to protect humanity against global warming.”

Tshilombo made the appeal at the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Debate of the 76th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.

“There are less than six weeks left before COP26 and nine years before 2030.

“For Africa, the year 2030 will be marked by a drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to 15 per cent reduction in agricultural yields and a sharp increase in the risk of coastal flooding and in island countries,” the president said.

He noted that in order to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, the African continent will need $30 billion dollars a year to adapt.

This amount should increase to around $50 billion dollars by 2040.

“Africa does not need charity,” but constructive win-win partnerships to make better use of its collective national wealth and improve the living conditions of its people, he stressed.

Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said Africa had not folded its arms and does not intend to capitulate to the virus, but stressed all the difficulties the countries are facing.

He welcomed initiatives related to financing of the economies, in particular those of the G20 on the suspension of debt service and the common framework for debt restructuring, pointing at the allocation of $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

For him, the $33 billion dollars allocated to Africa “are insufficient in view of the immensity of its economic stimulus needs.” The African Union supports the objective of the Paris Summit, $100 billion dollars in SDR for the continent.

Regarding the withdrawal of the UN Mission (MONUSCO) in his country, he agreed to the timeline approved by the UN Security Council, with a transition period that expires in 2024.

He asked for the process to be “gradual, responsible and orderly”, saying that he expects “the United Nations and the Security Council to give all the necessary means to MONUSCO and its Rapid Intervention Brigade so that they fulfil their mandates.”

“This is to ensure that the troops deployed have the required capabilities and means, including the necessary training to meet the requirements of the reality on the ground and the asymmetric warfare currently waged by armed groups and Islamist terrorists,” Tshilombo said.

On the elections scheduled for 2023, he said, he hoped to contribute to “the organisation of a free, transparent, inclusive and credible” vote.

Speaking on peace and security, the President said: “the scourge of insecurity caused by the cohorts of terrorists, armed groups, mercenaries and criminals of all stripes is undermining the institutional stability of young democracies and destroying the efforts of many African leaders to develop their countries.”

He argued that the fight against DAESH was won in the Middle East, but in Africa “AQIM and other groups affiliated with DAESH are gaining more ground every day”, in places like Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Burkina Faso.

He said that “Islamist” fundamentalism had reached the east of his country, which is “paying a heavy price in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.”

“Africa refuses to serve as a base for international terrorism”, he added.

Recently, political crises had erupted in a few Member States, but Tshilombo argued that “these crises cannot obscure the enormous progress made by the majority of African countries in terms of democracy and good governance.

“This is how the Congolese people continue their noble and exhilarating struggle against dictatorship, autocracy and the values ​​that still structure our actions,” he said.

In June, the DRC entered into a programme with the IMF and is currently benefitting from the assistance of the World Bank to carry out major social projects and basic infrastructure.

Tshilombo spoke of “courageous reforms” that should accelerate economic growth to over five per cent a year.

He concluded his speech by addressing the “endless problematic reform of the UN and of the representation of Africa on its Security Council.

“It is a question of the effectiveness of the United Nations and of justice to a continent, an entire section of humanity whose role continues to increase every day,” he said.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Tshilombo as saying that his country supported the proposal that adds two additional non-permanent members for Africa and two seats as permanent members, with the same rights, including veto.



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India’s Zee Entertainment announces merger with Sony Picture Networks



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Indian Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, on Wednesday announced its merger with Sony Picture Networks India, making it one of the largest entertainment networks in the country.

The board made the announcement in a statement attached to a notice on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Sony and Zee together run about 75 television channels and digital media platforms in India, some of which are beamed globally.

Sony Picture Networks India is a subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corporation.

Zee said Sony will invest 1.57 billion dollars in the merged entity and will be the majority stakeholder with a 52.93 per cent stake.

Zee Managing Director, Punit Goenka would retain the position in the merged entity, and it would hold 47.07 per cent stake.

The statement said the two companies will combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries.

It added that Zee’s expertise developed over three decades and Sony’s success in the entertainment, gaming and sports genres would give significant value to the merged entity.

The two firms plan to conduct due diligence and obtain the required regulatory approvals for the merger over the next three months.

The new entity is expected to be publicly listed in India.



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UN Chief to appoint special envoy for future generations, create UN Youth Office



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By Gistflash News

Sept 21, 2021

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that he would appoint a special envoy for future generations and set up UN Youth Office.

Guterres said that the young people across the world needed more than support.

“We expect 10.9 billion people to be born by century’s end. We need their talents, ideas and energies, young people need more than support.

“They need a seat at the table. I will appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations and create the United Nations Youth Office,’’ Guterres said.

He disclosed this during his address at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in the united States on Tuesday.



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