US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female judge, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87, reports AP.
Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said.
Her death just over six weeks before Election Day is likely to set off a heated battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm her replacement, or if the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Friday that the Senate will vote on Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg, even though it’s an election year.
Trump called Ginsburg an “amazing woman” and did not mention filling her vacant Supreme Court seat when he spoke to reporters following a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Biden said the winner of the November election should choose Ginsburg’s replacement.
“There is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden told reporters after returning to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, from campaign stops in Minnesota.
Chief Justice John Roberts mourned Ginsburg’s passing.
“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” Roberts said in a statement.
Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her several battles with cancer.
Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.
Those health issues included five bouts with cancer beginning in 1999, falls that resulted in broken ribs, insertion of a stent to clear a blocked artery and assorted other hospitalizations after she turned 75.
Ginsburg was a mother of two, an opera lover and an intellectual who watched arguments behind oversized glasses for many years, though she ditched them for more fashionable frames in her later years. At argument sessions in the ornate courtroom, she was known for digging deep into case records and for being a stickler for following the rules.
She argued six key cases before the court in the 1970s when she was an architect of the women’s rights movement. She won five.
In a rare admission of wrongdoing, the Indian military on Friday said its soldiers in Kashmir exceeded their legal powers in the killings of three local men it had described as Pakistani terrorists, reports AP.
Col Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman, said police are investigating whether the men were actually involved in militancy.
He said the victims have now been identified as residents of Rajouri district whose families had filed a complaint accusing soldiers of killing them in a staged gunbattle.
On July 18, the Indian army said its soldiers killed three “unidentified Pakistani terrorists” in the southern Shopian area.
About a month later, three Kashmiri families in Rajouri identified the victims as their missing relatives using photographs of the bodies that circulated on social media, and filed a complaint with police.
Police ordered an investigation, and the results have not yet been released.
“Their DNA report is awaited. Their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police,” Kalia said in a statement, without explaining how the military had identified the three men.
Kalia said an army investigation showed the soldiers had exceeded the powers granted to them under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
The act gives the Indian military in Kashmir sweeping powers to search, seize and even shoot suspects on sight without fear of prosecution. Under the act, local authorities need federal approval to prosecute erring army or paramilitary soldiers in civilian courts. The special powers were given to the military in 1990, a year after an armed rebellion erupted in Kashmir seeking the Himalayan region’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan, which also controls part of Kashmir.
“Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima facie answerable,” Kalia said. “Indian Army is committed to ethical conduct of operations.”
Police, which usually participate in counterinsurgency operations, said the July 18 encounter was a solo operation by the army. The police later buried the bodies in a remote cemetery.
The families of the young men — cousins aged 18, 21 and 25 — said they went to Shopian to work as laborers and were last heard from on July 17.
India has long relied on military force to retain control over the portion of Kashmir it administers and has fought two wars over the territory with Pakistan, which also claims the mountain region as its own.
The rebel uprising against Indian control and subsequent Indian crackdown have killed tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are stationed in the region and maintain checkpoints throughout Indian-controlled territory.
The results of the police probe are likely to spark an outcry among Kashmiri activists who for years have accused Indian troops of abusing their powers and repeatedly targeting civilians.
In 2000, the Indian army killed five men it alleged were militants responsible for the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Kashmir. An investigation later found the five were local villagers killed in a faked firefight.
In 2010, a massive uprising erupted in Kashmir after a police investigation found Indian soldiers had killed three civilians in a staged gunbattle and then said the victims were militants in order to claim a reward for killing them. The army responded by suspending two officers.
India has rejected every request since 1989 to prosecute Indian soldiers in civilian courts in Kashmir for alleged rights abuses including murder and rape, according to official documents.
In an open letter - A Time for Renewal: Calling for a Strengthened Multilateral System - released Friday, 48 former UN and government officials from around the world expect the 75th anniversary of the 193-nation body to lead to "a stronger, more accountable, inclusive multilateral system."
According to the letter obtained by Xinhua, the leaders said "the institutional framework of global governance, with the United Nations at its core, must do more to provide the guidance, leadership and decisions required to ensure human safety, security and sustainable development in our interdependent world."
"From climate change to human rights, gender and racial equality, and from sustainable development to international peace and security - the international community should honor its commitments to the UN's founding Charter, Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement," they said.
"There is an urgent need for an explicit recognition by global leaders that we are at a turning point and must act decisively to defend and rejuvenate multilateralism," they added, stressing that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic needs national leadership and effective global cooperation.
According to Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Multilateralism is not an option: it is the only path that can deliver a green, sustainable and equitable recovery."
Maria Fernanda Espinosa, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and former foreign minister of Ecuador, said that "the United Nations is an irreplaceable organization. It has a critical role in leading a concerted, coordinated response to the COVID pandemic, and its recovery process which should allow us to build back better."
"This year's commemoration of the UN 75th anniversary is a golden opportunity to rejuvenate and retool the organization to build a more effective and inclusive multilateral system," Espinosa said.
The signatories also include Ban Ki-moon, former UN secretary-general; Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia; Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand; Gordon Brown, former British prime minister; and Tarja Halonen, former president of Finland. The letter will remain open for additional signatures until October 24, United Nations Day.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he has visited a shrine viewed by China and both Koreas as a symbol of wartime aggression, reports AP.
Abe's visit Saturday, which he announced in a tweet, comes days after his resignation. It is his first visit in nearly seven years.
Abe said on Twitter that he visited the Yasukuni Shrine “and reported to the souls of the war dead” that he'd resigned as prime minister.
The shrine is controversial with Japan's neighbors because it honors convicted war criminals among the millions of other Japanese who died in World War II.
The visit will likely be harshly criticized in both South Korea and China.
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for political will and bold action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Public appetite for transformative change is growing, he said in his opening remarks at the SDG Moment 2020 on Friday.
"But one critical ingredient is still missing: political will. Without it, neither public appetite nor stakeholder action will be sufficient."
The SDG Moment, a high-level event to galvanize global efforts toward the SDGs, will be convened by the UN secretary-general annually till 2030 to match the Decade of Action for the SDGs.
"The science is clear. The people are clear. This is no time to procrastinate. The decisions taken over the next few months and years will have an enormous impact on where we will be by 2030," Guterres said.
He called for action in three crucial areas: finance, COVID-19 recovery, and ambition.
Right now, developing countries face the dual challenges of funding the pandemic response and avoiding a major debt crisis, he said.
"For the SDGs to stand a chance, we must address the immediate, medium- and longer-term financing challenges that developing countries face."
He encouraged world leaders, who will meet later this month on financing for development on the sidelines of the General Assembly General Debate, to consider policy options, including boosting the resources available to international financial institutions and extending the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to at least the end of 2021.
Inclusive and green COVID-19 recovery plans, done right, can help countries to transition to a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy, he said.
He called for ambition and solidarity to provide the 35 billion extra U.S. dollars needed so that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are available to everyone, fast; ambition to cut carbon emissions by half in the next decade, paving the way to carbon neutrality by 2050; and ambition to protect biodiversity, achieve gender equality, end poverty and hunger and fulfill the promise of the SDGs.
The SDG Moment aims to show that transformation is possible and is happening right now -- in so many places, with so many innovations, and with the engagement of so many people, said Guterres.
"This annual SDG Moment is an opportunity to demonstrate that, as one united family of nations, we have what it takes to eradicate poverty and hunger, tackle climate change, deliver gender equality and achieve all 17 global goals."
The world can make tremendous progress over the coming decade, especially for the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, he said. "When the public appetite for change is matched with political will and smart policy choices, rapid progress is unstoppable."
A world ‘shaken to the core’
He noted that the task is daunting as the foundations of the world have been shaken to the core by COVID-19.
The pandemic has pushed the world toward the worst recession in decades, with terrible consequences for the most vulnerable. Societies and citizens are reeling from widespread disruption. After many years of progress, poverty and hunger are on the rise. Children are suffering from a lack of schooling. Debt is skyrocketing. Fiscal resources are plunging, he said.
Even before the virus, inequalities were growing. The benefits of globalization and growth had failed to reach millions upon millions of destitute people, deepening their already profound despair. Biodiversity was also disappearing. Greenhouse gases were at record levels, he noted. "We need a path that brings health to all, revives economies, brings people in from the margins of society and builds long-term resilience, sustainability, opportunity and peace."
That path exists, he said. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is designed to address the very fragilities and shortcomings that the pandemic has exposed. At its heart is a simple promise: to end poverty and leave no one behind.
"In the midst of the greatest international crisis of their time, the founders of the United Nations raised their eyes above the horizon and planned a better, safer future. The COVID-19 pandemic, the greatest challenge faced by us since the founding of the United Nations has brought us low," he said.
"But we will not be beaten. We, too, must look beyond the current crisis and set our sights high, as we strike out for a world of dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet," Guterres said. "Together, let us make this a decade of action, a decade of ambition, a decade of transformation, a decade of hope and peace."