Oct 15 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
ITALY: The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship has appeared in court to hear the evidence against him, while passengers who survived and families of the 32 who died went just “to look him in the eye.”
The case of Francesco Schettino, 51, generated so much interest that a theatre had to be turned into a courtroom in the Tuscan city of Grosseto to accommodate all those with a legitimate claim to be at the closed-door hearing.
EUROPE: The EU has imposed a new range of sanctions on Iran intended to hit the country’s treasury and increase pressure on its Islamic regime over its nuclear programme.
Foreign ministers from the 27 EU member countries, meeting in Luxembourg, said Iran was “acting in flagrant violation of its international obligations” and was still refusing to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency to address international concerns.
AMERICA: In a giant leap from more than 24 miles (38.6km) up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier while making the highest jump ever – a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.
Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9mph (1,342kph) yesterday, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without travelling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule which had reached an altitude of 128,100ft (39,045m) above the Earth.
PHILIPPINES: Muslim rebels and the Philippine government overcame decades of bitter hostilities and took their first tentative step towards ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies with the ceremonial signing of a preliminary peace pact that both sides said presented both a hope and a challenge.
The framework agreement, also called a roadmap to a final peace settlement that is expected by 2016, grants minority Muslims in the southern Philippines broad autonomy in exchange for ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.
LIBYA: Libya’s congress has elected a human rights lawyer as interim prime minister, a week after his predecessor was sacked for failing to present a cabinet line-up political factions could agree on.
Ali Zidan, also a former independent congressman, won 93 votes, securing a majority of those who voted in a poll to determine the country’s leader for a transitional period of around 20 months.
AMERICA: The families of people killed in the September 11 attacks have been invited to military installations in four US states to watch pre-trial hearings at Guantanamo Bay for five men charged with planning or assisting the terrorist strike.
The hearings, which begin later today, are closed to the public, but relatives who register in advance can watch on closed-circuit television at forts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York City.
GERMANY: German households are facing a 50% rise in a tax to fund the country’s switch from nuclear power to renewable energy sources.
But only 18 months into the plan, the cost of the switchover is beginning to sink in. Some politicians, fearful of losing popular support for the transition, are demanding an overhaul of the mechanism to pay for it.