BY Wire Reports
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/12 at 2:45 AM
The Hague, Netherlands: Dutch government quits after austerity talks fail
The Dutch government, one of the most vocal critics of European countries failing to rein in their budgets, quit Monday after failing to agree on a plan to bring its own deficit in line with EU rules.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte tendered the resignation of his entire Cabinet to Queen Beatrix, effective immediately, after Rutte informed her talks on a new austerity package collapsed over the weekend.
Rutte is to debate with parliament Tuesday on whether and how his caretaker government can still improve the budget, and when to schedule new elections. No date was immediately announced, but opposition lawmakers called for a vote in late June.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland ex-PM convicted on 1 of 4 banking charges
The leader of Iceland's government when the nation's banking system collapsed was convicted Monday of one criminal charge, cleared on three others and faces no punishment, a special court announced.
Geir Haarde, who led the government from 2006 to 2009, was the first government leader anywhere to face criminal prosecution because of the global banking crisis. The 15 members of the Landsdomur, a special court founded in 1905 to deal with criminal charges against Icelandic government ministers, returned a 500-page verdict, but only a brief summary was announced in public. The court also said the state would pay defense expenses for Haarde, who pleaded innocent to all charges.
Quito, Ecuador: Angelina Jolie visits Ecuador as U.N. envoy
Actress Angelina Jolie visited Ecuador over the weekend as special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency.
Jolie has visited various countries over the past decade as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The agency said Monday that this was her first trip as special envoy since her appointment earlier this month.
The agency said that Jolie's trip to Ecuador was to assess the situation of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in neighboring Colombia.
Kiev, Ukraine: Opposition parties unite for Ukraine election
Ukraine's two biggest pro-Western opposition parties announced Monday they will be joining forces in the fall parliamentary election in order to challenge President Viktor Yanukovych's grip on power.
The parties led by jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk said they will work together to reverse the democratic rollback that took place since pro-Russia Yanukovych came to power two years ago.
Hanoi, Vietnam: Vietnam hosts naval exchange with U.S. Navy
Vietnam kicked off a weeklong naval exchange Monday with the U.S. Navy, with the former battlefield enemies cooperating amid percolating tensions in the South China Sea with Beijing.
Three ships from the U.S. 7th Fleet visited Danang during the five-day event that began Monday. No live-fire drills were planned, but the two sides were expected to practice salvage and disaster training as they have done in recent years.
"This exchange enhances collective cooperation, and promotes understanding between our navies," U.S. Rear Adm. Tom Carney said.
Washington and Hanoi normalized diplomatic relations in 1995, two decades after the U.S. withdrew its troops from the Vietnam War. The U.S. is a now a key trading partner for Vietnam and the former enemies have developed closer military ties.
Vietnam, China, the Philippines and other nations have competing claims to islands in the South China Sea, which is believed rich in oil and gas deposits. Many view the sea as a potential flash point of armed conflict.
Tyson, owned by Tyler and Chelsea Motter, of Urbandale, Iowa, sits on the throne after being crowned the winner of the 33rd annual Drake Relays Beautiful Bulldog Contest on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa. The pageant kicks off the Drake Relays festivities at Drake University where a bulldog is the mascot. CHARLIE NEIBERGALL / Associated Press