Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Philippines’ Duterte orders prosecution of utilities over ‘onerous’ contracts
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered the filing of criminal charges against the Philippines’ two biggest water utilities and demanded new deals to replace contracts “onerous and disadvantageous” for ratepayers, his spokesman said. The firebrand Philippines leader acted after utility firms Manila Water Co Inc and Maynilad Water Services Inc have won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
Iran’s Rouhani calls for release of innocent, unarmed protesters
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Wednesday for the release of any unarmed and innocent people who were detained during protests against gasoline price hikes, after two weeks of violent clashes. The unrest, which began on Nov. 15 after the government abruptly raised fuel prices by as much as 300%, spread to more than 100 cities and towns and turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded clerical leaders step down.
Blinded by rubber bullets, Chilean student becomes rallying point for protesters
Protesters against Chile President Sebastian Pinera’s government have rallied around a student blinded by police rubber bullets and his family hopes a photo capturing his injuries will increase international pressure on the administration. Gustavo Gatica’s name is shouted at police, borne on placards and scrawled on walls around the city.
House debates Uighur bill demanding sanctions on senior Chinese officials
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday debated a bill that would require the Trump administration to toughen its response to China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority, demanding sanctions on senior Chinese officials and export bans. The Uighur Act of 2019 is a stronger version of a bill that angered Beijing when it passed the Senate in September and calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China’s powerful politburo, even as he seeks a deal with Beijing to end a damaging trade war buffeting the global economy.
French lawmakers tackle anti-Semitism as Jewish graves desecrated
Scores of Jewish graves were found desecrated in a cemetery in eastern France, police said, hours before lawmakers adopted a resolution equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Some 107 graves were defaced with anti-Semitic inscriptions in the city of Westhoffen, while graffiti against Jews was also found in nearby Schafhouse-sur-Zorn on Tuesday.
Long focused on Russia, NATO widens gaze toward China
Seventy years since its Cold War-era founding as a transatlantic alliance focused on Moscow, NATO is expanding its gaze toward the increasingly muscular challenge posed by China. But it’s unclear, even to diplomats within the 29-member military alliance, whether NATO is up to the task — especially at a time of intense internal divisions and acrimony that were on full display at this week’s summit.
Thousands of Ontario teachers to walk off job Wednesday in one-day strike
Tens of thousands of teachers and support staff in Canada’s most populous province are poised to walk off the job on Wednesday in a one-day strike, part of escalating job action as talks failed to produce a tentative agreement with the government. The strike, which is set to affect 40,000 high school teachers and 15,000 support staff, was the largest-scale for /*this group of Ontario teachers since 1997, said Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) President Harvey Bischof.
‘Cool it,’ France and Germany to tell Trump at NATO talks
NATO leaders will tell U.S President Donald Trump on Wednesday they are spending billions more dollars on their militaries in the hope that he pares back his attacks on the Western alliance. In formal talks following a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday to celebrate 70 years of NATO, European leaders led by Germany and France aim to tell Trump they will not be treated as junior partners as they confront global conflicts.
Pope accepts resignation of U.S. bishop accused of abuse cover-up
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, who has been at the center of a sex abuse crisis in his diocese, the Vatican said on Wednesday. The Vatican said Francis had appointed the bishop of Albany, Edward B. Scharfenberger, to administer the Buffalo diocese until a new bishop can be appointed.
Kremlin denies Russian government involvement in Berlin murder
The Kremlin on Wednesday denied the Russian government had been involved in the murder of a Georgian citizen in Berlin, hours before Germany expelled two Russian diplomats over what it said was Moscow’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation. The Kremlin denial came after a legal source on Tuesday said German federal prosecutors believed that Russian intelligence agencies had been linked to the killing.