While U Slept
UKRAINE OFFERS AMNESTY TO PRO-RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS
Ukraine’s Interim President Olexandr Turchynov offered amnesty to the pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings in eastern cities, provided they surrender their weapons and end their siege, AFP reports. This comes amid yesterday’s ultimatum issued by the country’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and as the standoff in Donetsk is intensifying, with military forces and tanks arriving to the city, RT.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday he hoped the four-way talks, due to be held next week, would have a “positive” outcome. “At the very least, I hope that the acting leaders will not do anything that cannot be fixed later,” he added. But Putin’s optimism was tempered by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland. “We don’t have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open,” she said. Read more from The Guardian.
CAR BOMBING AT GREEK CENTRAL BANK
A car bomb exploded just outside the Greek Central Bank in Athens this morning, as Greece was due to return to the bond market after four years. According to AP, there were no casualties, but the blast caused some minor damage to the building. The attack, believed to have been carried out by “by leftist or anarchist guerrilla groups,” also comes one day before a planned visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Last week, Unicef issued a scathing report that showed the rise of poverty in the debt-ridden country, affecting 23% of children in 2012, the proportion rising to 53% for foreign children. Read more from Greek Reporter.
As Die Welt’s Matthias Heine reports, Switzerland is the latest country to begin eliminating cursive handwriting from school curricula. “The reasons are the same ones cited in 2011 by the German state of Hamburg to take cursive off its school curriculum,” he writes. “The writing experience has become something entirely different than it was 50 years ago. Back then, people wrote letters by hand and bookkeepers made handwritten entries in their ledgers. But these days, when 6-year-olds are already adept with computers and mobile phones, block letters have started to be viewed as the measure of all things, and cursive is seen as cultural baggage. And top education officials apparently like nothing better than to unload unnecessary burden to save money, free up class and teacher time, and spare students needless effort.”
Read the full article: Switzerland Makes Case To Kill Cursive Writing For Good.
FIRST MALARIA CASES AFTER SOLOMON ISLANDS FLOODS
A Unicef hygiene expert has confirmed cases of malaria and other illnesses in evacuation centers in the Solomon Islands, just days after the archipelago was hit by massive flash floods that killed at least 23 people and left some 9,000 homeless, local newspaperThe Solomon Starreports. Specialist Donald Burgess said clean water and sanitation in the camps were crucial to avoid casualties, but according to Australia’s ABC, about half of the capital city Honiara have no access to water.
ISRAEL LAUNCHES NEW SPY SATELLITE
Israel launched a new spy satellite with “advanced surveillance capabilities” into orbit overnight, The Times Of Israel reports. The Ofek-10 spacecraft will be a significant boost to Israel’s ability to monitor Iran. The country’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that it would “enable the security establishment to better deal with threats near and far, at all hours of the day and in any weather.”
JAPAN TO BUILD UP PLUTONIUM STOCKPILE
The Japanese government is planning to push ahead with its plutonium program, which will see Tokyo increase its stockpile, despite agreeing last month to turn over its weapons-grade plutonium to the United States, The New York Timesreports. Although the extra material is not the “most desirable for bombs,” it could eventually be turned into a weapon, increasing fears of a nuclear weapon proliferation in the future.
Eight employees of a Hamburg crematorium have been accused of stealing, then selling 600,000 euros worth of gold teeth from corpses.
DOES HOLLANDE HAVE A SOFT SIDE?
Radio station Europe1 notes that French President Francois Hollande, who dispensed with girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler earlier this year after his affair with actress Julie Gayet was publicized, still has a picture of Trierweiler in his office.