International News Briefs

Ahmadinejad the astronaut

IRAN: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is considering a career change. According to a BBC report, Ahmadinejad told state media in the country last week he was “ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed” by scientists and launched into space. His comments came shortly after the Middle Eastern country announced it had successfully sent a monkey to an altitude of 120 kilometres. The monkey survived. Ahmadinejad made his remarks during an address to scientists as part of Iran’s national day of space technology, where he unveiled two new small satellites. Iran’s growing space program has previously sent a rat, turtle and worms into space. In 2011, Ahmadinejad said the country was planning to send a man into space by 2019.

Assassinations and amusement

PAKISTAN: As if playing unbeknownst host to Osama Bin Laden’s killing wasn’t enough, the Pakistani town of Abbottabad says it is planning an amusement park in an effort to boost tourism, the BBC reports. The $30-million park, being eyed along the city’s edge, will include a zoo, water sports, mini-golf, rock climbing and a paragliding club. Officials say the park has no link to Bin Laden, who was discovered and killed in a compound by U.S. forces in the country in 2011. The compound has since been destroyed and government housing is planned for its place. The park, expected to extend across some 500 acres over numerous phases, is part of a push to improve tourist facilities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to the report.

Singapore cartel centre of football match-fixing probe

NETHERLANDS: A five-country probe by European police over alleged football match-fixing has led to a Singapore betting cartel, Al Jazeera reports. Last week, Europol said some 425 referees, players and other officials are suspected of fixing 380 “suspicious” matches that allowed the cartel to rake in $11 million through fixed matches across a number of World Cup qualifiers, Champion League matches, and other Turkish, German and Swiss championships. Europol is calling it the largest investigation into match fixing. “Match fixing is a significant threat to football ... involving a broad community of actors,” Europol chief Rob Wainwright told Al Jazeera. “Illegal profits are being made that threatens the very fabric of the game.”

Union decries minimum wage hikes

SOUTH AFRICA: Minimum wage hikes to farm workers in South Africa “will harm the country,” a local union says. According to a Mail & Guardian report, commercial farmers’ union Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU SA) says the hike in basic daily wages - from $8 per day to $12, approved following a violent two-week strike - will pave the way for a “climate for inflation” that would impact the country’s consumers, from higher electricity prices to higher fuel prices. TAU SA also expressed concern emerging farmers would not be able to afford the wages, and that the hike sets a precedent that will tie the government’s hands in labour relations with other sectors across the country. The wages are set to take effect March 1.

Published in Volume 67, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 7, 2013)

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