PM quits over probe
Prime Minister Juri Ratas yesterday quit over a corruption probe into his party, paving the way for the opposition to build a new coalition that shuts out the current government’s far-right allies. Ratas announced his resignation at about 3am in Tallinn — hours after prosecutors said his Centre Party was suspected of influence-peddling. President Kersti Kaljulaid wasted no time in asking the business friendly Reform Party to form a government, saying the nation’s credibility must be “rebuilt in the eyes of our allies and partners;” and a new administration installed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic damage it is wreaking. “We have no time for delays,” she said. “The government crisis must be solved quickly.”
Navalny to return home
Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny yesterday said that he would return home from Germany on Sunday, despite the prison service’s latest motion to put him behind bars for allegedly breaching the terms of his suspended sentence and probation. Navalny, who has been convalescing in Germany from a poisoning with a nerve agent last year that he has blamed on the Kremlin, said that President Vladimir Putin was now trying to deter him from coming home with new legal motions. “Putin is stamping his feet demanding to do everything so that I don’t return home,” he wrote on Instagram, pointing at the Federal Penitentiary Service’s appeal to court to replace his suspended sentence with a real one. Navalny said his suspended sentence ended on Dec. 30, adding that the European Court for Human Rights had ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful.
Bangladeshi man can stay
A 40-year-old Bangladeshi man with asthma has avoided deportation after his lawyer argued that he risked a severe deterioration in his condition, and possibly premature death, due to the dangerous levels of pollution in his homeland. “To my knowledge, this is the first time a French court has applied the environment as one of its criteria in such a case,” lawyer Ludovic Riviere said. “It decided my client’s life would be endangered by the air quality in Bangladesh.” WHO 2018 figures showed that of the 572,600 Bangladeshi deaths caused by non-infectious disease, 82 percent were due to air pollution. At 12.92 per 100,000, deaths due to asthma in the South Asian country are more than 15 times higher than in France.
Norris ‘not at’ Capitol riot
Chuck Norris’ manager says the television star was not at last week’s deadly riot in Washington. A photograph of a man resembling Norris apparently with a member of the mob began trending online. “This is not Chuck Norris,” his manager, Erik Kritzer, said on Tuesday. “Chuck remains on his range in Texas where he has been with his family.” While the man photographed looked somewhat like Norris, he said: “Chuck is much more handsome.” Norris backed Trump in 2016.
Female inmate executed
A Kansas woman was executed yesterday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the federal government has put to death a female inmate. Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31am after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Cheese rebrands over racism
A cheese company called “Coon” is to rebrand to “Cheer” after an Aboriginal rights advocate spent two decades fighting for the racist name to be changed. Saputo Dairy Australia announced the new name yesterday, saying that replacement products would hit supermarket shelves in July. It follows a 20-year campaign by Stephen Hagan to rebrand the product. Although purportedly a reference to a US cheese factory worker, the former name is also an offensive slur for black people. Hagan had petitioned previous company owners over the name, but failed to sway executives until now.
Planned Facebook ban halted
The country would not go ahead with a planned ban on the use of Facebook, but would instead work with the social media firm to address concerns over inflammatory critiques of the government aired on the platform, the Solomon Business Magazine reported yesterday. Minister of Communication and Aviation Peter Shanel Agovaka, a supporter of the ban, told the magazine: “Facebook will not be suspended.” He had previously blamed “abusive language” and “character assassination” of government ministers carried on the platform for the ban. The government was criticized over the effects of its decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
TikTok influencers acquitted
An appeals court on Tuesday acquitted two young women imprisoned for “attacking society’s values” over videos they published on TikTok, a court official said. “The court of appeals accepted the appeal filed by Haneen Hossam and Mawada al-Adham against their imprisonment ... on charges of incitement to debauchery and attacking society’s values,” the official said, asking not to be named. The women had been sentenced to two years in prison in July last year. Hossam had been arrested in April after posting a video on TikTok, telling her 1.3 million subscribers that girls could work with her for money. Al-Adham, who has about 2 million Instagram followers, was arrested in May after publishing satirical videos.
Protest highlights PM’s trial
Dozens of protesters carrying lit torches, megaphones and national flags gathered at dawn yesterday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence to highlight his corruption trial, which is set to resume next month. It was organized by Crime Minister, one of several groups that have sprung up calling for Netanyahu to resign over the trial and his government’s handling of COVID-19. He was supposed to appear in court yesterday, but the hearing was postponed to Feb. 8 because of a COVID-19 lockdown that heavily restricts public gatherings.
Zarif scoffs at al-Qaeda dig
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday dismissed allegations by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Islamic republic had become the new “home base” for al-Qaeda. “No one is fooled,” Zarif wrote on Twitter after Pompeo’s comments. “All 9/11 terrorists came from @SecPompeo’s favorite [Middle East] destinations,” he added. “NONE from Iran.” In a speech on Tuesday, Pompeo said: “Al-Qaeda has a new home base. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” “I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan — as the key geographic hub for al-Qaeda — but it’s actually worse,” Pompeo added.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Thursday resigned following a protest over a hospital’s treatment of a new mother who tested positive for COVID-19. Khurelsukh, whose Mongolian People’s Party holds a strong majority in the parliament known as the State Great Khural, stepped down after accusing Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the Democratic Party of orchestrating a political crisis. A small protest broke out in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Wednesday after TV footage appeared of a woman who had just given birth being escorted in slippers and a thin robe from the maternity ward to a special wing for COVID-19 patients