Saturday 24 March 2018

In brief: Iceland split over charging politicians that brought their nation to ruin

A committee of Icelandic lawmakers split yesterday over whether to recommend prosecution of former leaders for failing to prevent the country's financial meltdown.

The deadlock means it will be harder for parliament to try the former prime minister and other Cabinet ministers for their role in the 2008 economic crash.

Iceland was one of the first victims of global economic downturn in 2007. Having grown frenetically over the previous years, Iceland's debt-fueled financial system imploded under the weight of debt.

The North Atlantic nation's currency has crumbled as inflation and joblessness soared.

A parliament-commissioned report published earlier this year put much of the blame for the catastrophe on the government, saying officials "lacked the power and the courage to set reasonable limits to the financial system".

But the decision on whether to charge them under Iceland's law on ministerial responsibility has been left to parliament. The ministers would be tried by a specially convened constitutional court, and punishments could include fines or up to two years in prison.

Vlad and Berlo 'could rule until 120'

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly joked during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that they could hang on to their jobs until they were 120-years-old.

Mr Berlusconi visited Mr Putin at his residence west of the Russian capital Moscow after attending a world policy forum in the Volga River city of Yaroslavl.

Referring to an offer by Mr Berlusconi to help sponsor research on extending an average lifetime to 120 years, Mr Putin jokingly suggested in remarks carried by Russian newswires that they both could stay in their jobs until that age. Mr Berlusconi reportedly said that would be difficult because of his heavy workload.

Man held after explosion in Denmark

Police detained a man and sealed off central parts of the Danish capital after a minor explosion in a Copenhagen hotel, a police spokesman said.

The man, of foreign origin, had injuries to his face and arms. He was arrested in a park near the site of the blast. A spokesman said the cause of the blast was unclear.

"Whether it's terror or a mad man's work, we don't know," the spokesman said. "We hope and believe that the person is the one who ran away from the hotel."

Kentucky man goes on killing spree

A gunman in rural Kentucky killed five people with a shotgun yesterday, before turning the weapon on himself.

The shooting happened in a trailer park outside the city of Jackson, Kentucky State Police and Breathitt County authorities said. The shooting appeared to be a domestic situation but police are keeping an open mind.

Sale of Hollywood icon's memorabilia

The son of actress Debbie Reynolds said her vast collection of Hollywood memorabilia, including the ruby-red slippers from The Wizard of Oz and thousands of costumes, is set to be auctioned off.

Todd Fisher, the son of the actress best known for her 1952 role in Singin' in the Rain, said Christie's auction house is expected to sell the collection by June.

The auction will take place in New York and be conducted simultaneously online and by phone, he added.

Iraq to compensate US Gulf War vets

Iraq has signed a deal with the US to settle claims from Americans who said they were mistreated by Saddam Hussein's regime during the 1990-91 Gulf War, officials said yesterday.

The pay-out of €315m was intended to safeguard Iraqi funds abroad and help lift UN sanctions imposed during Saddam's rule, toppled by the US-led invasion in 2003.

Scores of Americans were captured by Iraq in 1990 and used as human shields to deter allied air strikes. Some have alleged that they were tortured by Saddam's regime.

Broadcaster quits after on-air rant

A Norwegian radio journalist quit her job live on air after saying she wouldn't read the day's news because "nothing important had happened" anyway.

Pia Beathe Pedersen accused employers at the regional station of public broadcaster NRK of putting too much pressure on staff. In her broadcast, Ms Pedersen said she was "quitting and walking away" because she "wanted to be able to eat properly again and be able to breathe".

A station spokesman said that the presenter's actions came as "a surprise".

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