HK poll a ‘farce’: paper
A state-run newspaper yesterday slammed Hong Kong’s unofficial referendum on democratic reform — which has drawn more than 700,000 votes — as an “illegal farce” that could prompt tighter control from Beijing. The Global Times daily accused the referendum organizers of being politically influenced by the West, adding that “overseas supporters have overestimated the effect of an illegal farce... Neither China’s central government nor the Hong Kong government will admit the results of the poll.”
Carbon tax repeal reintroduced
Prime Minister Tony Abbott reintroduced legislation to the federal parliament yesterday that would repeal a carbon tax that the nation’s worst greenhouse gas polluters have to pay. The opposition center-left Labor Party and minor Greens party used their Senate majority in March to block the bills that would remove the A$24.15 (US$22.79) tax per tonne of carbon dioxide that was introduced by a Labor government in July 2012. However, with new senators to take their seats on July 7, the bills are expected to be passed by a narrow margin.
Singer fired for anti-gay post
Leading soprano Tamar Iveri yesterday had her contract torn up by Opera Australia for “unconscionable” anti-gay comments posted on her Facebook page that sparked a storm of protest. The Georgian referred to homosexuals as “fecal masses” in reacting to a gay pride march in Tblisi. “I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade ... please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West’s ‘fecal masses’ in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda,” said the post, which was later taken down. The comments, made 18 months ago, sparked a backlash in Australia, culminating as Iveri was due to perform the role of Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello from July 5 at the Sydney Opera House. Many people threatened to boycott the company or cancel their subscriptions if they continued to employ her.
Abdel Aziz re-elected
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has been re-elected with an overwhelming 81.89 percent of the vote, preliminary results showed, after his main rivals boycotted a process they rejected as a sham. The former general, who seized power in the northwest African nation in an August 2008 coup, campaigned strongly on his success in fighting armed groups linked to al-Qaeda at home and in neighboring Sahel nations. Preliminary results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday indicated that Abdel Aziz was firmly ahead of anti-slavery candidate Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who obtained just 8.67 percent of Saturday’s ballot.
Japanese envoy summoned
The government summoned Japan’s envoy yesterday to protest against Tokyo’s review of a landmark 1993 apology to women, many Korean, forced to work as wartime sex slaves in Japanese military brothels, urging it to stop trying to whitewash history. First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong told Japanese Ambassador Bessho Koro that Tokyo was trying to undermine its own apology when the history behind the issue of “comfort women” was recognized internationally. “Japan must understand that the more the [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe government tires to undermine the Kono statement, the more its credibility and international reputation will suffer,” Cho said.