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South Korea’s Moon proposes weakening president’s powers

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday proposed weakening the powers of his office and lowering the voting age in a package of constitutional reforms, while allowing the head of state to be re-elected.

South Korea is a vibrant democracy but its executive presidency is extremely powerful, giving rise to a winner-takes-all politics which critics say enables corruption while reducing representation for opposition voices.

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In last year’s election Moon campaigned on a promise to reform the constitution for the first time in three decades.

The vote was a by-election to choose a successor to his ousted predecessor Park Geun-hye, toppled over a wide-ranging corruption scandal that exposed shady links between big business and politics.

Prosecutors are now seeking a 30 year jail sentence for her, and her own predecessor Lee Myung-bak was arrested last week in a separate inquiry.

Moon’s plan has to be approved by parliament before being put to a referendum in June, and its centrepiece measure would see the country’s single five-year presidency be reduced to a four year term, with one opportunity to stand for re-election.

South Korea brought in term limits after the assassination of the late dictator Park Chung-hee, Park Geun-hye’s father, who ruled from 1961 to 1979 and revised the constitution to allow him to rule indefinitely.

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He also made several constitutional changes to strengthen presidential authority — many of which remained in place decades later.

Supporters say two four-year terms would encourage longer-range thinking in the presidential Blue House, while driving incumbents to the centre ground to preserve their chances of re-election.

The bill also includes lowering the voting age from 19 to 18 and giving parliament oversight of several decisions previously made by presidential decree.

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The changes will only come into effect at the next election, and so will not apply to Moon personally.

Moon, a former human rights lawyer, has vowed to end what he described as an “imperial presidency” and said in a statement Monday: “I gain nothing from the constitutional change, which gives some of the presidential power to the people, the regional governments and the parliament.”

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Under the changes, the president will no longer be able to name the chief justice of the constitutional court, with the judges instead choosing among themselves.

Presidential pardons will have to be reviewed by a special committee, and the powerful Board of Audit and Inspection — an internal state inspection agency currently overseen by the president’s office — will be given its independence.


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2020 Election

How Lindsey Graham keeps lowering his standards for Trump

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As the coronavirus pandemic spread and death tolls increased across the United States over the last three months, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repeatedly raised the number of deaths he would find acceptable in defense of President Donald Trump's botched response.
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White woman pulls gun on Black woman after allegedly almost hitting her with her car

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On Wednesday, a viral video showed a white woman in Auburn Hills, Michigan, pulling a handgun on a Black woman in an altercation in a parking lot.

According to the woman taking the video, the white woman nearly hit the Black woman while backing up her van, and the argument escalated quickly.

"Get the license plate!" the Black woman can be heard shouting.

"Don't you f**king jump behind my car," replied the woman with the gun. "Get the f**k back! Get the f**k back! Back the f**k up!"

According to the poster, the woman who brandished the gun has been arrested.

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July 4 re-opening still on after employee at private sports club owned by billionaire governor tests positive for coronavirus

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After at least three complaints alleging lax reopening practices at West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s luxury resort hotel, a kitchen employee has tested positive for the coronavirus at a residential and sports club affiliated with The Greenbrier.

Local Health Department officials directed a 14-day quarantine for potentially exposed employees at The Lodge, a restaurant at the Greenbrier Sporting Club, and the venue will remain closed until July 10. Festivities planned at the club for July 4 will go on, but with food from other facilities.

"While the events of the past few days certainly have thrown us a curve ball, we have reached out to our friends and colleagues in the area to pull together a festival that will have something for everyone," the director of operations at the sporting club, Allen Wills, told its 400 members in a Tuesday night email, obtained by ProPublica.

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