Tsipras shuffles Cabinet
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday shuffled his Cabinet, dismissing ministers who had objected to economic changes and austerity measures demanded by the country’s creditors. Eager to push through bailout measures so his negotiators can begin talks with their European counterparts on relief for Greece’s huge debt, Tsipras retained his core economic team. Euclid Tsakalotos, an economist who has been described as low-key and has made headway with his eurozone peers in bailout talks, kept the critical job of Minister of Finance.
Disney to launch drones
Government aviation authorities have given Disney permission to fly drones at the company’s theme parks in Florida and California. The Federal Aviation Administration earlier this week issued a waiver to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, allowing the drones to be flown. The waiver is good for four years, but it can be canceled at any time. The waiver requires that drone operators at Disney must have remote pilot certificates and allows the aircraft to be flown at night. Disney asked permission to fly the drones for entertainment purposes.
Man dies after Zika infection
Secretary for Health Ana Rius says a man in his 60s who died after developing severe neurological problems had been infected with the Zika virus. Rius says it is unclear whether the man had a paralysis condition linked to Zika known as Guillain-Barre. Her announcement on Friday provided no further details, including the man’s name. Four other people infected with Zika have died in recent months in Puerto Rico, including two who developed complications from Guillain-Barre. The US territory has recorded 32,740 Zika cases, including 2,516 pregnant women.
State of emergency declared
The federal government has declared a state of emergency for three cities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas that have been hit by heavy flooding. The Department of the Interior on Friday said that the declaration frees up disaster relief funds for the cities of Altamira, Ciudad Madero and Tampico. Photographs of the flooding show military personnel on foot, in vehicles and in boats rescuing people from waist-high flood waters. Governor Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca said that in five hours between Thursday and Friday the southern part of Tamaulipas received rainfall equivalent to 20 percent of its entire annual average.
Pitt files for custody
Brad Pitt is asking a judge to grant him joint custody of his six children in his split from Angelina Jolie Pitt, according to a divorce filing on Friday. The actor’s request was included in his response to Jolie Pitt’s Sept. 20 petition to end their two-year marriage. The actress sought sole physical custody of their six children, who range in age from 8 to 15. Custody has been the major issue in the breakup so far, with authorities investigating Pitt over what happened during a dispute on a private flight with his family in the middle of September. The couple reached a temporary custody agreement that allowed the actor to visit his children while the investigation by a child welfare agency in Los Angeles is ongoing. The outcome of the investigation could impact how a judge determines custody arrangements.
Fighting continues in Mosul
Special forces troops yesterday cleared buildings in neighborhoods they entered in eastern Mosul a day earlier, after pushing out Islamic State (IS) militants in their drive to take back the city. Fighting continued yesterday morning, with both sides firing mortars and automatic weapons on each other’s positions, while troops also responded with artillery. Clashes were most intense in the al-Bakr neighborhood. Sniper duels played out from rooftops in the mostly residential areas, where the majority of buildings are two stories high. The special forces launched a two-pronged assault deeper into Mosul’s urban center on Friday, unleashing the most intense street battles against IS militants since the offensive to retake the city began nearly three weeks ago. At least seven special forces troops have been killed in the fighting.
Climate plan targets 18% cut
The Cabinet has issued a new climate plan targeting an 18 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020 compared to last year’s levels. Under the new State Council plan announced on Friday, coal consumption must be capped at about 4.2 billion tonnes in 2020, while non-fossil fuel energy generation capacity, such as hydropower and nuclear power, is expanded to a 15 percent share of total capacity. The country has taken a leading role in climate change talks and its collaboration with the US has been touted by Washington and Beijing as a bright spot in an otherwise strained relationship. Beijing will guarantee that emissions peak no later than 2030 under the Paris pact. There are also plans to officially launch a national carbon trading market next year.
Proposed visa ban criticized
A UN official said Australia would probably be in breach of the UN refugee convention if it enacted a proposal for a permanent visa ban for asylum seekers who attempted to reach the country by boat, Fairfax media reported yesterday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday last week proposed that asylum seekers sent to the county’s offshore processing centers would be prevented for applying for any visa to Australia, even if they had been classified as refugees or resettled in another country. The UN High Commission for Refugees regional representative, Thomas Albrecht, said such a move would likely breach the convention’s article prohibiting the punishment of those seeking asylum.
Referendum result validated
The country’s top court on Friday validated the results of a referendum backing a new constitution that President Alassane Ouattara says will help the country turn the page after a decade of political turmoil. “The constitutional project is adopted,” said Mamadou Kone, president of the constitutional court. He rejected a request to annul the referendum from several political parties who boycotted the vote, including that of former president Laurent Gbagbo. An overwhelming majority of voters in last Sunday’s vote supported the constitution, which institutes a new post of vice president among other changes. Turnout was about 42 percent. The issue of the constitution, drafted under military rule after a 1999 coup, was at the heart of the country’s upheaval. Its most controversial clause said that both parents of presidential candidates must be natural-born Ivorians, a swipe at northerners, many of whom have family ties that straddle the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali.
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against