Gov’t, ruling bloc likely to forgo holding extra Diet session in fall


The government and ruling coalition are considering not convening an extraordinary Diet session this fall mainly due to the prime minister’s packed diplomatic schedule, coalition lawmakers say.

But the final decision is still subject to change given opposition camp demands to hold an extra parliament session in order to debate critical issues, particularly the recently concluded Pacific trade deal.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s tight diplomatic schedule, given his multiple overseas trips starting from mid-November, and the apparent lack of urgency in holding a session are the reasons given for not scheduling the extra sitting, lawmakers said.

“Convening an extraordinary session of the parliament is quite difficult,” one of the senior coalition lawmakers said. Another lawmaker said, “There are no bills to be passed urgently.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that the government will make a decision in consultation with ruling parties, taking into account Abe’s diplomatic schedule and the process of compiling the fiscal 2016 budget by the end of this year.

The government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the Komeito party, feel the fall session may be unnecessary because Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal bills are unlikely to be submitted to parliament by year-end, the lawmakers said.

The opposition camp has stated it wants to deliberate on the trade pact, which was broadly agreed upon last week after years of negotiations between the United States, Japan and the 10 other participant countries.

The Abe administration possibly plans to open the House of Representatives Budget Committee in early November, even while in recess, to seek the support of the opposition parties on the TPP deal.

The government, however, is expected to face strong protests from the opposition bloc, which demands the session be convened, citing Article 53 of the Constitution.

Article 53 states that the cabinet “must determine” when a quarter or more of the total members of either the lower or upper house demand to convene an extraordinary parliament session.


Today’s American Cult: Word of Life in Chadwicks upstate New York

American church cults in action!

Lucas Leonard never had a prayer.

Though bewildered neighbors often wondered what happened inside the cult-like Word of Life Church, its bizarre “religious” rituals continued until last week — when Leonard was fatally beaten.

“We all had known for years and we just left it alone,” said Scott Martin, a retired local cop. “It’s a cult, I don’t care what they say, it’s a cult.”

Other residents of tiny, rural, upstate Chadwicks recount tales of strange behavior at the large red schoolhouse building where its roughly 50 congregants would meet.

“They used to build fires on the roofs, and there was chanting and weird rituals,” said Fred Aiken, whose backyard has a view of the building on the quiet village street.

Dogs howled all night inside the shuttered church, but were never seen outside.

“Everyone wants to know what was going on in there,” Aiken told the Daily News.

Aiken never saw members come or go, adding that the church attached surveillance cameras to keep unwanted visitors away.

Lucas Leonard, 19, was savagely beaten along with kid brother Christopher, 17, during a church “counseling session,” authorities said.

The siblings were ordered to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness during an hours-long assault, authorities said.

Lucas Leonard, mortally wounded as his parents and other church members pummeled his genitals, abdomen, back and thighs, died after he was brought to a local hospital.

Dad and mom Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, were charged along with four fellow parishioners.

Aiken said the investigation into the mysterious beating of the brothers should finally shed some light on the creepy group.

The quiet, middle-class town of less than 2,000 people is one in a cluster of small villages in the scenic Mohawk Valley in central New York.

Most residents are friendly and religious, but locals say the Word of Life members kept to themselves. And two Chadwicks religious leaders eyed the church with suspicion.

The Rev. Abe Esper, 64, pastor of the neighboring St. Patrick’s-St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, questioned whether they were actually a religion.

“Their God is vengeful and wrathful,” said Esper, who also witnessed some strange sights at the schoolhouse. “Just look at what they did

One day, Esper dialed the cops when his unfriendly neighbors started playing the drums loudly.

“When the music was playing so loud, I went over and pounded on the door. No one came to the door, so I called the cops,” Esper said. “It’s a little strange, never the same room has the lights on, there’s no doorbell.”

Renée Henck, 19, an Elmira College sophomore from a neighboring town, worked as a lifeguard at the Paris Town Park pool with Leonard and knew his family.

“They really were such a nice family, and it’s so painful to see them in a bad situation,” Henck said.

We didn’t really know if it was a church,” she continued. “It has been a running joke. We’d say, ‘Is it really a cult?’”

Henck recalled the doomed Leonard as a friendly and artistic young man with aspirations of medical school.

“I hear people say he must have been mean or cruel to be in a group like that,” she said. “He was never like that.”

Man sues Brown University, accuser in sex-assault allegation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Brown University students met last October at a party where they flirted and kissed. Their intimacy escalated later in his dormitory room. But what he viewed as consensual groping and fondling, the woman claimed were unwanted sexual advances that spiraled into an assault.

She filed a sexual-misconduct complaint with the Ivy League school, and that led to his suspension for 2-1/2 years. Now, as a plaintiff named John Doe, he is suing the school in U.S. District Court. He accuses Brown of violating his due process rights and discriminating against him based on his gender, in violation of Title IX.

In another lawsuit brought by the same lawyer in the same court, a John Doe, of Texas is suing a Jane Doe, of California, accusing her of defaming and slandering him by filing a false sexual-misconduct report that led to his 2-1/2-year suspension from an “elite” liberal-arts university in Rhode Island and his being labeled as responsible for a sexual offense. That lawsuit does not name Brown but details the same chronology.

The man is being represented in both actions by Manhattan lawyer Andrew T. Miltenberg, who has launched lawsuits challenging schools’ handling of sexual-assault allegations on similar grounds throughout the nation. The action against Brown is among 90 cases challenging the manner in which colleges and universities adjudicate alleged sexual assaults, according to the All of the cases involve complaints by men.

Miltenberg would not confirm that the same man is the plaintiff in both the suit against Brown and the suit against the female student. He declined to comment other than to say, “We feel that the complaint relates a very compelling set of facts against Brown.” Brown officials declined comment beyond what was contained in court filings.

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. It has typically been used to safeguard female students’ rights, as in the landmark 1992 sex-discrimination case at Brown in which several female athletes sued after funding for their gymnastics team was cut. As a result, the university was forced to restore financing to the women’s gymnastics and volleyball teams and promote other women’s sports to varsity.

In John Doe’s case, Miltenberg is flipping that use of Title IX, arguing that the schools’ investigative and disciplinary processes reveal “gender bias against males in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct.”

Such arguments have met with varied success in courts elsewhere. A federal judge in New York dismissed a case brought against Columbia University, finding that that male student had offered only “conclusory statements” and failed to provide any clear evidence that he was suspended due to an anti-male bias. A judge in Massachusetts dismissed a a case challenging the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s policies on the grounds that the Title IX allegations were not sufficiently detailed and specific. In Oregon, however, a court ordered Reed College to turn over nearly seven years’ worth of disciplinary records to lawyers as cases there proceed. The Massachusetts and New York cases are being appealed.

According to the lawsuit against Brown, John Doe was enrolled in the Class of 2017 and earned straight A’s his freshman year. He hoped to pursue a career in neuroscience.

On Oct., 11, 2014, Doe, then a sophomore, met Jane Doe at a party at Barbour Hall, a dormitory. They began kissing as the party came to an end. Jane Doe texted a friend shortly after that she might be about to “hook up,” the suit says.

They continued kissing and touching in his room at Marcy House, it says. Jane Doe told him that she didn’t want to go any further, but they continued touching and lay down together after a pause. She guided his hand over her body before stating again that she didn’t want to go any further. She left, kissing him and telling him she would see him at her birthday party the next night, the suit says.

A week later, the director of student life, Yolanda Castillo, informed John Doe that a no-contact order had been issued relating to Oct. 11; he was not to leave his room. The next day he learned Jane Doe had made a “serious allegation of sexual misconduct” against him. Then-Vice President of Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn ordered his immediate removal from campus. He faced conduct charges of sexual misconduct and illegal possession of alcohol, the suit says.

Campus police did not issue a report on the incident, the suit says. John Doe was not criminally charged.

He asserts that the woman’s inconsistent accounts contained “stunning” departures from his recollection, including that he pushed and bruised her, didn’t allow her to leave and continued touching her genitals after she told him to stop. She claimed to university officials that she was lying when she led him to believe that she was enjoying the intimacy, the suit says.

He alleges that the Student Conduct Board, comprised of university staff and a student, found him responsible for misconduct and suspended him for 2-1/2 years after an unfair hearing in which board members failed to challenge or question her account and refused to let him present certain evidence and testimony. Brown erroneously put the burden on him to prove his innocence, it says. “The hearing was a mere formality to conclude John Doe’s predetermined guilt.” The provost upheld the suspension on appeal.

In addition to asserting that Brown showed gender bias, John Doe accuses the school of negligence and of breaching his rights as an accused student.

Brown is asking the court to dismiss the suit, citing the dismissal of the Columbia case. “Plaintiff wrongly believes that sensationalistic and unsubstantiated pleading is somehow an acceptable substitute for well-pled and substantiated allegations,” the school said. It faults John Doe for failing to make a legitimate Title IX claim.

In the other suit, John Doe accuses Jane Doe of knowingly making false statements to campus police that severely damaged his educational and career prospects. He alleges that Jane became furious at him when he didn’t speak to her at a party on Oct. 12, 2014, the day after they were intimate, and that she repeatedly made defamatory statements to fellow students that they then repeated during the flawed investigation and adjudication process before the Student Conduct Board. As a result, his reputation at the university was damaged, precluding him from being admitted at a school of equal caliber, thus derailing his education and future career in medicine. Despite his exceptional academic record, he said he has been rejected at seven schools. He is seeking unspecified damages and legal fees.