No presidential poll: court
The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no immediate need to elect a new president, settling a major point of differences among the political parties. Court spokesman Shree Kanta Poudel said the judge ruled late on Thursday that a new president should be elected only after the new constitution has been promulgated — the main task facing the Constituent Assembly that was elected in November and just assumed duty this week. Ram Baran Yadav was elected the first president in 2008 after the centuries-old monarchy was abolished and Nepal turned into a republic. It was initially thought Yadav would be in office for two years, but he has remained president for more than five years because an assembly elected in 2008 failed to draw up a new constitution amid squabbles, including how a president should be chosen and how much power he or she should have.
Ivory stock to be destroyed
Hong Kong will destroy most of its huge stockpile of confiscated illegal ivory in a process that could take up to two years, officials said on Thursday. The announcement comes after similar action by mainland China, the US and the Philippines. Conservation groups had urged the government to dispose of the ivory to send a strong sign it is serious about cracking down on the black market trade that is decimating Africa’s elephants. Officials have seized about 32.5 tonnes of ivory in the past decade, with about 30 tonnes left after donating small amounts for legitimate purposes such as conservation awareness or scientific research. Conservation officials said they expect to start disposing of the ivory in the first half of the year.
Activists spray Cook’s house
Activists have sprayed graffiti on the historic home of 18th-century British explorer Captain James Cook to protest against Australia’s national day. The stone walls of the two-story building known as Cook’s Cottage in Melbourne were painted on Thursday night with slogans such as “26th Jan Australia’s shame.” Jan. 26 is Australia Day and commemorates British settlement of Sydney in 1788 as a penal colony. Opponents call it “Invasion Day,” and regard it as a shameful reminder that Australian land was taken from Aborigines by British colonists without a treaty.
Court orders rape probe
The Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman allegedly attacked on the orders of a village council, the Press Trust of India reported. The woman told police that Monday’s attack in West Bengal came as punishment for falling in love with a man from a different ethnic group. Thirteen suspects, including the head of the village council, have been arrested.
Boehner unwilling to run
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday he had no interest in running for the White House, declaring on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno he was not about to give up red wine and cigarettes to be president. Asked by Leno whether he ever thought of running for president, Boehner replied: “No. I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I’m not giving that up to be president of the United States.” Boehner also told Leno he and Democratic President Barack Obama “get along fine” despite their political differences.