Gillard shuffles Cabinet
Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday reshuffled her Cabinet to bring in “fresh blood” after a bruising year in which her government has languished in opinion polls. In a ministerial shake-up, Gillard kept key players and potential leadership challengers Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith in their current roles. However, she promoted two men credited with helping her remove Rudd in a Labor Party coup in the middle of last year, naming Bill Shorten to Cabinet as minister for employment and workplace relations and making Mark Arbib assistant treasurer. Gillard denied she was rewarding her supporters.
Acquit Ibrahim: defense
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s defense lawyers urged the High Court yesterday to acquit him on sodomy charges, saying that the man who accused him is a liar. Anwar’s defense was presenting its closing arguments in a trial that could lead to a 20-year prison sentence if Anwar is convicted of sodomizing a 26-year-old male former aide. Opposition supporters believe the government orchestrated the case to destroy its main political foe ahead of national elections widely expected next year. Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any conspiracy.
Zardari recovering in Dubai
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that President Asif Ali Zardari may need two weeks to rest in Dubai following medical treatment there before he returns home. There has been much speculation over the political future of the 56-year-old Zardari since he flew to Dubai last week for treatment related to a heart condition. Gilani said in an interview with the BBC broadcast late on Sunday that Zardari was “improving,” but that he would likely need about two weeks of rest. Zardari’s aides said last week he was expected to return home “within days.” The president has been asked to appear before the Supreme Court in its investigation into a secret memo seeking Washington’s help reining in the Pakistani military.
Suspects, guard flee jails
Authorities are searching for three Chinese drug trafficking suspects who escaped from a Manila jail together with a guard. Video from a surveillance camera showed the guard unlocking the gate and leading the suspects out of Paranaque City Jail on Saturday. Bureau of Jail Management Director Rosendo Dial said yesterday that the guard and the suspects were armed and dangerous. He said police, the immigration bureau and the coast guard were working to capture them. In a separate jail escape in southern Cagayan de Oro City, police said six detainees facing robbery and kidnapping charges brandished guns, overpowered guards and locked them up in a cell. They fled in waiting cars on Sunday. A reward has been announced for their capture.
Interview breaks record
Australian Broadcasting Corp radio host Richard Glover was yesterday taking a well-earned break after completing a world record-breaking 24-hour interview, the network said. Glover sat down with Australian author Peter FitzSimons intent on smashing the previous Guinness World Record of 12 hours and 30 seconds held by Spain’s Pedro Ruiz, set in Madrid in 2009. In the end, they doubled it, with observers from Guinness World Records on hand.
PM to visit South Pole
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will join dozens of adventurers at the South Pole this week to mark the 100th anniversary of countryman Roald Amundsen’s groundbreaking expedition to the frozen continent. The pole will be a relative hive of activity for tomorrow’s anniversary. Stoltenberg will travel by plane to the region, making him only the second head of government to visit the South Pole after former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark made the trip in 2007. Stoltenberg is scheduled to welcome Norwegian adventurers attempting to reach the pole on the anniversary, some of whom are retracing the route taken by the heroic explorer. To pay homage to the heroism of English naval officer Robert Scott, whom Amundsen beat to the pole in a dramatic race and who tragically lost his life on his return, British visitors are also expected to visit Antarctica around the same time. Just beaten to the finish line, Scott and his men died after being caught in a blizzard on their way back.