Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
George Washington was ruthless.
As commander in chief of the Continental Army, Washington was prepared to crush those who attacked American liberty. He set up military commissions to swiftly hang enemies. He sparked an international incident when he ordered the execution of a random teenage prisoner. He even justified torture. But he reserved his ferocity for foreign enemy combatants.
Following the firestorm of last week’s Boston bombing and the ensuing violent manhunt, we are trying to find our bearings. We need to aggressively extract information, identify additional threats and hunt down any accomplices, whether foreign or homegrown. Yet we must remain careful not to slide toward an Orwellian state – where Big Brother runs roughshod over local authorities, monitors Americans without probable cause, restrains the movements of innocent civilians or rains drone missiles on U.S. soil.
Consider his response to Benedict Arnold. Most everyone knows about Arnold and his treacherous attempt to sell West Point to the British in 1780. However, many people forget that he had two accomplices – a young British soldier, John Andre, and an American co-conspirator, Loyalist Joshua Hett Smith. Washington’s differing treatment of these men reveals an important distinction between the rights of foreign nationals versus citizens.
from Africa News blog:
By Cosmas Butunyi
The dust is finally settling on the storm that was kicked off in South Africa by a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.
The country that boasts one of the most liberal constitutions in the world and the only one on the African continent with a constitutional provision that protects and defends the rights of gays and lesbians , had its values put up to the test after an artist ruffled feathers by a painting that questioned the moral values of the ruling African National Congress .
from Africa News blog:
By Isaac Esipisu
Kenya is set to hold in December of this year its first elections since the 2007 vote that was marred by deadly violence. The east African country's election will come under intense scrutiny because it will be the first under a new constitution and the first since the 2007 poll in which more than 1,220 people were killed, mostly in post-election violence.
The bloodshed and property destruction were unprecedented. Many Kenyans were rendered homeless as well; many as I write are still leaving as internally displaced persons (IDPs)
Police in Bangladesh Sunday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse Islamist activists trying to enforce a nationwide strike over the removal of a Muslim phrase in the constitution, and witnesses said around 50 people were injured. The clashes erupted when thousands of bludgeon-carrying Islamists cut off a stretch of highway leading to the capital's eastern suburbs with barricades. The protesters also damaged several cargo trucks before the police crackdown, and some 100 people were detained.
Many Egyptian Christians say they voted to reject proposed constitutional amendments in a referendum on Saturday because they fear hasty elections to follow may open the door for Islamist groups to rise to power. It turned out they were in the minority -- 77% of those voting supported the proposed changes.
Egypt needs to start functioning again and prevent army rule from dragging on too long, the Muslim Brotherhood said, calling for the swift implementation of constitutional amendments to restart political life.
A month after a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak from office, politicians from across the spectrum have begun to debate whether a new constitution is needed to breathe life into political institutions.
from Afghan Journal:
Afghanistan's National Security Adviser Rangeen Dadfar Spanta has said that the Taliban would have to lay down arms, accept the constitution in its current form and run for elections if they wanted a share of power. If the Taliban thought they could get cabinet berths for the asking in return for a peace deal, they have another thing coming, he told the McClatchy newspapers in an interview.
If that's the Afghan government's stand, a deal with the insurgents seems to be a non-starter. Imagine the Taliban agreeing to take part in a Western-style election campaign under a constitution they have long denounced as forced on the country following their ouster in 2001. The idea of the Taliban - more known for their brutal methods - knocking on doors seeking votes seems a bit far fetched at the moment. Last week's reports of the Taliban stoning a young couple to death in rather barbaric fashion in northern Afghanistan on charges of adultery have only reinforced the image of a group unyielding in its interpretation of sharia law.
France's ban on same-sex marriages was upheld by the country's constitutional authority on Friday, in a ruling that relieves the government of any obligation to grant gays the wedding rights enjoyed by heterosexuals.
A handful of countries in Europe allow couples of the same sex to wed, and rights campaigners had hoped for a breakthrough in France, where two women living together had demanded the view of the Constitutional Council.
from Africa News blog:
As delighted southern Sudanese voted in a long-awaited referendum on independence, visitors to the north and south could be forgiven for thinking they were already two separate countries.
from Tales from the Trail:
Constitutional or unconstitutional? That is the question the U.S. Supreme Court eventually may get to decide on President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law.
(By one definition, constitution can also refer to one's health -- just throwing that in.)