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World in Brief: 8/11/2014

GERMANY: Rail union GDL announced yesterday it would end its train drivers’ strike early at 6pm today.

Leader Claus Weselsky said that the current action — aimed at securing a 5 per cent pay rise and the right to negotiate for workers currently represented by another union — would end more than a day earlier than planned after a Frankfurt court ruled it was legal.

It is believed that the decision aims to prevent disruption of tomorrow’s events marking the fall of the Berlin Wall.


POLAND: Parliamentary Speaker Radek Sikorski survived a confidence vote yesterday by 240 votes to 146, with 48 abstentions.

Known for his anti-Russian stance, Mr Sikorsi faced the attempt to bring him down because of his claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered to carve up Ukraine between Russia and Poland.

The accusation caused a storm of derision and the former foreign minister was forced to backtrack, saying he had misremembered the conversation.


TURKEY: The bodies of two miners trapped in a flooded coalmine have been retrieved, the Anadolou news agency reported yesterday.

The search continues for 16 other miners who were underground when the Has Sekerler mine in Karaman province flooded 10 days ago.

Authorities are trying to pump 12,000 tons of water out of the mine. Poor safety standards in Turkish mines have been under the spot-
light since May, when a coalmine fire killed 301.


YEMEN: Thousands of demonstrators thronged the capital Sana’a yesterday in protest at US interference in the country.

The demo was organised by supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Shi’ite Houthi rebels who have swept the country recently.

The US conducts a brutal campaign of drone killings in southern Yemen, supposedly to crush al-Qaida.


SOUTH KOREA: The National Assembly voted to disband the country’s coastguard yesterday and split its duties between the police and a new safety agency.

MPs voted 146-71 in favour of the move, which stems from criticism of the coastguard for failing to rescue hundreds of passengers who died when their ferry sank in April.

The disaster shocked South Korean opinion and prosecutors are demanding the death penalty for the ferry’s captain.


NEW ZEALAND: Relatives of miners killed in the notorious Pike River mine disaster said they were “heartbroken” yesterday at the owners’ decision not to enter the mine to retrieve their bodies.

Twenty-nine workers’ bodies are still entombed in the mine, which was wrecked by a methane-fuelled explosion four years ago.

Solid Energy chairwoman Pip Dunphy said the mine remained too dangerous for an attempt to retrieve the miners.


SYRIA: The Al-Nusra Front seized control of three villages from US-backed “moderate” rebels in the north-west yesterday.

Safuhan, Fatira and Hazari in Idlib province all fell into the hands of the front, which is a wing of the international al-Qaida terror network.

The gains for the jihadist outfit come a day after US air strikes hit two of its compounds in Idlib.


LATVIA: Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics became the first openly gay cabinet member on Thursday night.

He tweeted in support of legal recognition of gay partnerships and added #Proudtobegay.

He later sent a second tweet in English saying: “I proudly announce I’m gay.” 

His tweets were retweeted and favourited thousands of times, though usually no more than 20 people retweet him.


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