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News Making International Headlines: 03 May 2022

Leak Suggests U.S. Supreme Court Set to Overturn Roe v. Wade Abortion Rights Decision

PHOTO: VARIOUS FILE OF U.S. SUPREME COURT EXTERIORS SUPREME COURT JUSTICES PLANNED PARENTHOOD MISSISSIPPI ABORTION CLINIC PROTESTERS OUTSIDE SUPREME COURT

INTERNATIONAL: A leaked initial draft majority opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court will vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Politico reported on Monday (May 2).

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the draft independently. If correct it would be an unprecedented disclosure of a draft Supreme Court opinion.

The Supreme Court and the White House declined to comment.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion which is dated Feb. 10, according to Politico.

Four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett - voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices, the report added.

"It is possible there have been some changes since then (Feb 10)," Politico reporter Josh Gerstein, who broke the story, said on MSNBC late on Monday.

After an initial vote among the justices following the oral argument, one is assigned the majority opinion and writes a draft. It is then circulated among the justices.

At times, in between the initial vote and the ruling being released, the vote alignment can change. A ruling is only final when it is published by the court.

In a post on Twitter, Neal Katyal, a lawyer who regularly argues before the court, said if the report was accurate it would be "the first major leak from the Supreme Court ever."

The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, heard oral arguments in December on Mississippi's bid to revive its ban on abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts.

According to the Politico report, it appeared based on December's oral argument that a majority was inclined to uphold Mississippi's abortion ban and that there could be five votes to overturn Roe.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognized that the right to personal privacy under the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy.

The Supreme Court in a 1992 ruling called Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an "undue burden" on abortion access.

Mississippi asked the justices to overturn the Roe and Casey rulings.

Christie’s to Auction Off Largest White Diamond Ever to Come to Sale


PHOTO: ‘THE ROCK’ DIAMOND ON DISPLAY AT CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK THE RED CROSS DIAMOND ON DISPLAY AT CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK SOUNDBITES FROM CHRISTIE’S INTERNATIONAL HEAD OF JEWELRY RAHUL KADAKIA

INTERNATIONAL: Christie’s Geneva will auction off a 228.31-carat pear-shaped diamond known as 'The Rock' on May 11.

Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewelry at Christie’s, said that in the 25 years he was here, this is the largest stone in this shade that they have for sale. So they expect a very high price.

The white gemstone was mined and polished in South Africa over two decades ago.

The May 11 auction will also feature a yellow 205.07-carat diamond known as ‘The Red Cross Diamond’.

Kadakia said, “So, quite unusual to have two 200-carat diamonds in one auction. The Red Cross Diamond weighs 205 carats, was mined in 1901, at the DeBeers mine also in South Africa and sold in 1918 at Christie's London at the Red Cross auction during the war.”

The stone was offered for sale by the Diamond Syndicate. It achieved £10,000 ($12,500) when the entire auction achieved £50,000 ($62,500). It then came back for sale at Christie's in Geneva, this time in 1973, where it achieved 1.8 million Swiss Francs ($1.8 million). And now, for the third time in 104 years, the Red Cross diamond will come up for sale again in Geneva on May the 11th.

The fancy brilliant-cut diamond gets its yellow color from nitrogen atoms.

Its estimated selling price is between $7 to $10 million. Part of the proceeds from the sale will go to the International Red Cross.

Kadakia says he is optimistic about the upcoming auction with investors who would grab the opportunity to buy art and important diamonds as a hedge against what’s going on in the world.

Spotlight Law and Order as Former Security Chief Set to Become Hong Kong's New Leader


PHOTO: SOUNDBITES FROM ANALYSTS AND LOCAL RESIDENTS HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE CANDIDATE, JOHN LEE, FILING CANDICACY AND AT EVENT CHINA PARLIAMENT IN SESSION EXTERIOR OF HONG KONG CENTRAL GOVERNMENT OFFICES HONG KONG SKYLINE AN

INTERNATIONAL: When Hong Kong selects its new leader on May 8 there will be only one candidate - the city’s former deputy leader and former security official John Lee.

Since 1997, there have been four chief executives, all of whom have struggled to balance the democratic aspirations of some residents with the vision of China's Communist Party leaders. The current election will be the first time since the city’s return to Chinese rule with only one candidate in the running. The new chief executive takes office on July 1.

John Lee, who announced his intention to run for the city’s top job on April 6th this year, only revealed his policy platform three weeks later, revealing on Friday (April 29) that he intended to "start a new chapter for Hong Kong". His policy proposals include enhancing the city's governance, increasing the housing supply, and maintaining its international status.

Lee, who started his career as a policeman and has been closely involved with the implementation of a new security law introduced in 2020, was also Hong Kong’s top security official during the mass pro-democracy protests of 2019.

According to political scientist and former legislator Kenneth Chan, an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, Beijing's de facto choice of Lee as the city’s new leader reflects a desire to further tighten the city’s security regime.

Hong Kong selects a leader every five years under a process that Beijing oversees behind the scenes. The city's 7.4 million people have no say in who leads them. City leaders are chosen in a vote by an election committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists, ensuring that Beijing approves the decision.

The election was initially scheduled for March but was postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak in which more than one million people have been infected.

In a major overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system last year to meet Beijing's demands that only "patriots" run the city, the committee was enlarged to 1,500 from 1,200 members. The nomination process was also tightened, with all candidates requiring committee nominations and undergoing a subsequent screening process.

Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, provides for the eventual implementation of universal suffrage for the territory is an eventual goal, but discontent over the electoral system has contributed to the city's massive protest movements in both 2014 and 2019.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly said that rights and protections, including freedom of speech, are protected by a new national security law that went into effect in 2020, and refers to the current electoral arrangements as an improvement over previous arrangements.

Jerome Cohen, an emeritus professor at the New York University School of Law and an internationally renowned expert on Chinese politics, said he expected Hong Kong’s integration with the security system in mainland China to be strengthened further under Lee’s administration.

Hong Kong residents speaking to Reuters said many young people now feel disconnected from the political process, and that public interest in the new change of leadership was muted due to the inability or the option to choose their own leaders.


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