Confidence vote hinted at
Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panos Skourletis yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that the government will call a confidence vote following a rebellion among lawmakers from the ruling SYRIZA party over the country’s new bailout deal. The government has said its priority is to secure a start to funding from international creditors so that Athens can make a debt repayment to the European Central Bank on Thursday. However, asked on Skai television about the possibility of a parliamentary confidence vote after this, Skourletis said: “I consider it self-evident after the deep wound in SYRIZA’s parliamentary group for there to be such a move.” He also alluded to the possibility of early elections should Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lose such a vote. “There is also an issue of democratic accountability,” he said.
Plane crash kills five
Five people were killed on Sunday when a small medical plane crashed in a nature reserve east of Cape Town, the emergency services said. “A Namibian medical plane which was carrying five South Africans crashed this morning. The pilot, his copilot, a paramedic, the patient and his daughter were all tragically killed.” Radio contact with the plane was lost at 6:14am as the plane was about to land at Cape Town international airport, the statement said. The Tygerberg Nature Reserve is 25km east of Cape Town.
Arrest made in mosque fire
Police on Sunday said that they had arrested a man on suspicion of torching a mosque in Copenhagen earlier in the day. The fire, which caused only superficial damage to the outside of the building, was quickly contained, police said. The suspect, who was born in 1980, was scheduled to appear in court yesterday. The religious association whose members worship at the mosque denounced the fire as “an act of terrorism.” This act “was likely the result of political and religious motives... As tragic at it is, it unfortunately does not surprise us,” the center said on its Web site.
Beijing warned over agents
The government has warned Beijing about Chinese agents it says are operating secretly to pressure fugitives to return to China, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the effort, part of Beijing’s global manhunt dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, sought to repatriate fugitives wanted for corruption and other misdeeds and recover illicit funds. The Department of State has issued a warning in recent weeks to Chinese officials to halt these activities. The paper said the agents, working undercover for China’s Ministry of Public Security, were most likely entering the country on tourism or trade visas. Their strong-arm tactics include threats to family members, and have increased in recent months.
Military to boost drone use
The military will drastically increase drone flights over the next four years, in a bid to boost intelligence and strike capabilities across a growing number of conflict zones, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. The Pentagon is planning to expand the number of daily flights from 61 to as many as 90 by 2019, a senior official told the newspaper. As well as providing extra surveillance in regions such as Ukraine, Iraq and the South China Sea, the new plan would expand the capacity for lethal drone air strikes.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500