Campaigners are pushing for Japan's population to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize in a nod to the country's long-held pacifism, even as Tokyo controversially expands the scope of the military in a move that has sparked protests at home. By Friday, the group had amassed a support petition with more than 150,000 names, and organisers say Japan's 128-million residents are now among the possible candidates for the prestigious award. It was not possible to nominate Japan's pacifist constitution -- put in place after the end of World War II -- so activists moved to get the peace-loving population on the prize list instead. "The idea came to me when I was watching a TV report about the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the European Union," she told AFP.
Nothing rallies US grassroots donors quite like a political affront, and Democrats facing a wave of Republican threats are cashing in on the negativity at the height of the 2014 election cycle. Democratic campaign organizers in Washington have seized on major political assaults by Republicans -- including a demand for President Barack Obama's impeachment by Tea Party heroine Sarah Palin -- to sweep millions of dollars into their coffers and sign up thousands of new likely voters. Despite Obama's approval rating being in the cellar, and the odds of Republicans taking back the Senate in an off-year election reaching 50-50, the Democratic Party has been the beneficiary of a flood of campaign funds not seen since Republicans were blamed for shutting down the government in October. "Republican overreach continues to be a huge motivating factor for our grassroots," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Josh Schwerin told AFP.
The BRICS group of emerging powers will launch its own development bank at a summit next week, using its growing influence to establish a counterweight to Western-dominated financial organizations. Fresh from the World Cup final, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hosts the leaders of Russia, India, China and South Africa in Fortaleza on Tuesday before an unprecedented meeting with South American leaders the next day in Brasilia. On the diplomatic front, the summit will mark the first face-to-face meeting between India's new Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jiping.
Ukraine has vowed to make pro-Russian rebels pay after losing 23 servicemen in clashes across the separatist east, while Russia proposed a UN resolution demanding a ceasefire to Europe's deadliest conflict in decades. The Ukrainian defence ministry said Friday the death toll included 19 troops killed in a hail of rockets fired from a truck-mounted Grad rocket launcher system -- a type of weapon both Kiev and Washington insist could only have been covertly supplied to the rebels by Russia. The official spokesman of Ukraine's intensifying eastern assault added that 93 servicemen had sustained "wounds and contusions of varying severity". "The rebels will pay for the life of every one of our servicemen with tens and hundreds of their own," Ukraine's Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko told an emergency security meeting.
The United Nations Security Council called on Shiite rebels to leave the northern Yemeni city of Amran, which they seized in a major advance toward the capital. In a unanimous declaration, the council's 15 members threatened targeted sanctions on those impeding the political transition process in Yemen and renewed their support of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
Argentine officials and holdout bondholders met separately with a US court-appointed mediator but failed to clinch a deal to resolve a dispute that could trigger a default by Buenos Aires. With the clock ticking toward a July 30 deadline, Argentina needs to reach a deal on paying more than $1.3 billion claimed by hedge funds, mainly NML Capital and Aurelius Management, which refused to join other bondholders in the 2005-2010 restructuring of the country's defaulted debt. "The parties, including representatives of the Republic of Argentina and representatives of the bondholders, together with their respective lawyers, came to see me this afternoon," said attorney Daniel Pollack, appointed by US District Judge Thomas Griesa to break the impasse. Argentina sent to the meeting a team of three senior officials from the Economy Ministry, in addition to members of its legal representatives in New York.
Kuwait requested on Friday an urgent Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss "the deteriorating situation" in the Gaza Strip, its Arab League representative said, as Israeli air strikes pound the Palestinian enclave. Israel's aerial military campaign targeting rocket-firing militants in Gaza has killed around 110 Palestinians since it began early Tuesday. The Arab foreign ministers' meeting is expected to take place on Monday, an Arab League official told AFP. Kuwait, the current rotating president of the Arab League summit, requested the meeting "to discuss the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip," its permanent representative to the Pan-Arab organisation, Aziz Rahim Al-Daihani, told AFP.
Some 2,000 people, mostly supporters of the main Islamist party, protested in Tunis Friday against Israel's military offensive in Gaza, which has claimed more than 100 lives in four days. "The people want the liberation of Palestine," and "Forward Hamas, you fight for our honour," were among the slogans shouted by demonstrators, who waved Tunisian and Palestinian flags. The green and white flag of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, was also visible. Some protesters shouted slogans against Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whom Islamists have vilified for crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and taking a back seat as Israel pounds Hamas.