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Japan’s Self-Defence Forces are beginning to focus on China

Prompted by President Trump to do more for their own defense, but the pace of change is slow and the legal obstacles daunting

The Izumu in port - Now being converted into an Aircraft CarrierThe Izumu in port - Now being converted into an Aircraft Carrier Yokosuka, Apr.17.– On a cold spring day, rowds of Japanese gather to peer at the hulking grey ship moored in the port of Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo. The Izumo, the country’s largest warship, has attracted attention at home and abroad since December, when Japan’s government announced that it would upgrade her. Her deck, and that of her sister ship, the Kaga, will be reinforced to accommodate up to a dozen of the 147 F-35 fighter jets Japan recently ordered from America.

The refitting of the Izumo is one sign of Japan’s shifting defence posture. The changes are small, by necessity. Japan is constrained by its constitution, written by occupying American forces after the second world war. It bars Japan from maintaining armed forces or settling disputes by war. Despite these strictures, Japan has long had an army in all but name: the “Self-Defence Forces”. The SDF has focused, aptly enough, on defence—hunting submarines and warding off warplanes, for example—while relying on American troops based in Japan to go on the offensive, should that be required. Little by little, however, that formula is changing.

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7 Global Trends Impacting The Sustainability Movement

April 16 (Forbes).– April is Earth Month, and Forum for the Future, a global nonprofit organization that advocates for systems change to promote sustainability, has recently published a report entitled Driving Systems Change in Turbulent Times. In it, the Forum advances seven trends that have major implications for how (or if) we will be able to address current global environmental challenges:

The plastics kickback. Although eight million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year and only 14 percent of plastic is actually recycled, we continue to produce and throw away vast amounts of plastic every day with no real change in sight. Some consumers, governments and businesses are waking up to the consequences of this throw-away culture, and many have taken bold steps to reduce the amount of plastic that is generated and disposed, but fundamental change will require structural shifts and changing mindsets in ways yet to be seen or even contemplated-even for those of us who are sympathetic to the cause.

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New military council leader promises civilian government for Sudan

It's estimated that there are about 1.9 million Christians in Sudan of a population of 41.5 million. With limited rights under the regime of al-Bashir, Open Doors' World Watch List reported this year that they have faced "constant pressure and discrimination" in the past few years with numerous worship buildings demolished and the arrest and intimidation of many Christian leaders. Christians who have converted from Islam are particularly targeted for persecution. The World Council of Churches has called for restraint and for military authorities to refrain from violence in the aftemath of the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir."

Khartoum, Apr. 15.– The new head of Sudan's military council said on Saturday a civilian government would be formed after consultations with the opposition and promised the transition period would last for a Sudanese military officers joins demonstrators as they celebrate after the Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the country's transitional ruling military councilSudanese military officers joins demonstrators as they celebrate after the Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the country's transitional ruling military councilmaximum of two years.

Protesters, however, kept up the pressure for rapid change following the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday.

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How can money strengthen local democracy and empowerment?

Funding is...a matter of collective experimentation – and even of historical creation or invention.

This quote – from Brazilian academic and activist Marcelo Lopez de Souza – sums up one of the key lessons we’ve learnt from working with a diverse range of community development practitioners and academics from across the globe who are grappling with the pitfalls and possibilities of using different funding models: there are no easy answers to the dilemmas associated with resourcing egalitarian social and economic change. Instead we have to name and deal with the complex ways in which Members of a community bank in Cambodia.Members of a community bank in Cambodia.power operates through different funding arrangements, and experiment with new ways of generating resources while holding firm to the principles of participatory democracy.

Throughout history, community-based organisations and social movements have served as a seedbed for popular democracy, egalitarian change, and social transformation. From the workers co-operative movements of the 19th century to the Zapatistas of today, community-based struggles have been crucial to building democratic institutions and creating new forms of democratic life. A healthy participatory democracy relies on forms of community development that support effective mobilisation at the local level and encourage advanced capacities for democratic decision making and critical thinking.

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Greece and North Macedonia make peace on Greece PM landmark visit to Skopje

Greek and North Macedonian Prime Ministers Pose For Historic Selfie After End To 30-Year-Long Name Dispute

Skopje, Apr. 3.– For the first time since Greece’s northern neighbor became independent in 1991, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited the newly renamed North Macedonia on Tuesday, April 2. He stood smiling next to the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev for a selfie outside government buildings, sealing a moment that appears to mark their improved relations.

“I met my friend and colleague Alexis Tsipras. First Prime Minister of Greece to visit the North Macedonia. A truly historic day,” wrote Zaev on Twitter beneath a photo of the two leaders embracing outside a government building.

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