Poor quality crude oil blamed for Sri Lanka’s power outage

A senior Sri Lankan official has blamed poor quality crude oil imports for the shutdown of a power plant, leading to extended blackouts. Utilities regulator chief Janaka Ratnayake said the oil burnt in the furnaces had too much sulphur in it. But the country’s energy minister has disputed the allegation. Last week, Sri Lanka increased its daily power outage from 80 minutes to 140 minutes because of a drop in power generating capacity. “Sulphur content is too high in the furnace oil [fuel oil] which is not suitable for the current power plants and it’s also not conforming with environmental … Continue reading Poor quality crude oil blamed for Sri Lanka’s power outage

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies aged 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who brought the Cold War to a peaceful end, has died aged 91. Mr Gorbachev, who took power in 1985, opened up the then-USSR to the world and introduced a set of reforms at home. But he was unable to prevent the slow collapse of the Soviet Union, from which modern Russia emerged. Tributes have been paid worldwide, with UN chief Antonio Guterres saying he “changed the course of history”. “Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a kind statesman,” UN Secretary General Mr Guterres wrote in a Twitter tribute. “The world has lost a towering global … Continue reading Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies aged 91

Indian court panel blames Punjab police officer for breach of PM security

A panel set up by India’s Supreme Court has blamed a top police official from Punjab state for a breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security in January. The court said the official didn’t “strengthen the route” even after learning about a change in Mr Modi’s travel plans. His convoy was stuck for 20 minutes after protesters blocked a flyover. They were demanding a cabinet minister’s resignation. The federal home ministry had described the incident as a “major lapse in the security of the PM”. The Supreme Court had set up a committee to investigate the incident. On Thursday, a bench … Continue reading Indian court panel blames Punjab police officer for breach of PM security

Gangnam Style: Finland PM partying video draws flaks from opposition politicians

The Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, is facing a backlash after being seen partying in a leaked video. In the footage, thought to be taken from social media, she and friends including Finnish celebrities are seen dancing and singing. She has faced criticism from opposition parties, with one leader demanding she take a drug test. Ms Marin, 36, denied taking drugs, saying she only drank alcohol and just partied “in a boisterous way”. Formerly the world’s youngest head of government – a title now held by Chilean President Gabriel Boric- Ms Marin makes no secret of partying, and has often been photographed … Continue reading Gangnam Style: Finland PM partying video draws flaks from opposition politicians

Australia’s ex-PM ‘secretly held ministry portfolios’

Australian PM Anthony Albanese says he will investigate reports that his predecessor, Scott Morrison, secretly assumed three roles in the ministry. Mr Morrison became joint minister for the health, finance and resources portfolios in the two years before he lost power in May, local media report. Mr Albanese said he would seek legal advice about the decisions, calling them “unacceptable” and “just weird”. On Monday, Governor-General David Hurley – the Queen’s representative in Australia – confirmed he had signed an “administrative instrument” that had allowed Mr Morrison to secretly assume the portfolios. It was “consistent with section 64 of the … Continue reading Australia’s ex-PM ‘secretly held ministry portfolios’

Nancy Pelosi begins Asia tour, with no mention of Taiwan

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is beginning a tour of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, her office says – with no mention of a possible visit to Taiwan. There has been intense speculation that she may visit the self-ruled island. Taiwan is claimed by China, which has warned of “serious consequences” if she goes there. No high-ranking US elected official has visited Taiwan in 25 years. Ms Pelosi, a California Democrat, tweeted that the six-person Congressional delegation tour would seek to “reaffirm America’s unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region”. Her office said … Continue reading Nancy Pelosi begins Asia tour, with no mention of Taiwan

Aboriginal flag to permanently fly on Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Aboriginal flag will now permanently fly on one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, after a five-year campaign by advocates. Earlier this year, the New South Wales (NSW) state government announced it would add the flag and a new pole, to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But this would take up to two years and cost A$25m (£14m; $17m), it said. After a backlash, officials said they would immediately display the flag on an existing pole instead. The bridge usually shows the Australian and NSW flags. The Aboriginal flag has been flown in place of the state flag on a handful … Continue reading Aboriginal flag to permanently fly on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Senior UK cabinet ministers Sunak and Javid resign

Two of Britain’s most senior Cabinet ministers have quit, a move that could spell the end of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership after months of scandals. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other. Javid said “I can no longer continue in good conscience.” Johnson has been hit by allegations he failed to come clean about a lawmaker who was appointed to a senior position despite claims of sexual misconduct. Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. ” “I recognize this may be my last ministerial … Continue reading Senior UK cabinet ministers Sunak and Javid resign

US sanctions 93 Nicaraguan officials for crackdown

The U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions Monday on 93 more Nicaraguan officials for their role in supporting the regime of President Daniel Ortega. Ortega jailed dozens of opposition figures in order to win a fourth consecutive term in Nov. 7 elections that were broadly criticized as a farce. He has also outlawed dozens of nongovernmental organizations. Since then, dozens of opponents have been tried or convicted in brief trials on vague charges equivalent to treason. The State Department announced it had pulled the visas of judges who convicted the opposition leaders, as well as legislators who had cooperated in banning NGOs and … Continue reading US sanctions 93 Nicaraguan officials for crackdown

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new PM sworn in ahead of Quad meeting

Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s new leader and will fly immediately to an international summit. Mr Albanese’s Labor Party defeated Scott Morrison’s conservative government in an election on Saturday. It remains unclear whether he will form a majority or govern with the support of crossbenchers. Mr Albanese will fly to Tokyo on Monday to meet the leaders of the so-called Quad nations – the US, India and Japan. He was sworn in with four key cabinet members, including new Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who will travel with him to Japan. It is Australia’s first Labor government in … Continue reading Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new PM sworn in ahead of Quad meeting

India’s Supreme Court puts sedition law on hold

India’s Supreme Court has put a controversial colonial-era sedition law on hold that critics say is used to stifle dissent. The judges asked the government to refrain from registering any new cases which invoke sedition until it finishes hearing petitions challenging it. The court also asked the authorities to pause all existing sedition trials. The government has been accused of using the law against critics, such as politicians, journalists and activists. On Tuesday, the government said that they would review the law after earlier defending it. While pausing the court hearing on Wednesday, the judges said that those already charged … Continue reading India’s Supreme Court puts sedition law on hold

Update: Sri Lanka suffers second night of property burnings

Sri Lanka witnessed a second night of arson attacks on Tuesday, with properties damaged in the town of Negombo, near the capital, Colombo. A mob torched a luxury holiday resort owned by the son of the former Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa. On Monday, frustration at the country’s economic crisis spilled over, after government supporters attacked protesters who want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit. Eight people have since died, more than 200 are believed to have been injured in the clashes. Sri Lanka had already seen weeks of protests over its dire financial situation, which has caused the Sri Lankan rupee … Continue reading Update: Sri Lanka suffers second night of property burnings