British Archbishop Resigns — Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned from his role as Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh Monday following allegations he made inappropriate advances towards four priests during the 1980s, reports the BBC. O’Brien, 74, who has long been an opponent of gay rights, gay adoption and same-sex marriages, has denied the allegations, which are being investigated by the Vatican. The resignation comes as a heavy blow to the Church ahead of the conclave which will elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who is to retire at the end of this month, writes the BBC. O’Brien had been due to travel to Rome to take part in the conclave, but will now not be doing so.
Congo Peace ‘Framework‘ – Several African leaders and U.N. officials announced on Sunday a new “framework” to tackle instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has become synonymous with suffering and has eluded attempts to build a lasting peace over the years, reports the New York Times. The new effort calls for greater cooperation among Congo’s neighbors and political changes by the country’s government. The U.N. and African officials are also proposing a strong “peace enforcement” brigade of about 2,000 solders to go after rebel groups in Congo, according to the daily. However, Congo analysts doubt that the agreement by itself will make much of an impact, notes the newspaper.
South Korea’s President – Park Geun-hye took the oath of office as South Korea’s newest elected leader on Monday, and promised a tough stance on national security and an era of economic revival, the BBC reports. During her inauguration speech, the country’s first-female president urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and to stop wasting its scarce resources on arms development, according to Reuters. Park also said the government needed to work at creating a “fair market,” notes the Wall Street Journal.
China‘s ‘Cancer Villages‘ – China’s environmental ministry acknowledged the existence of “cancer villages” after years of speculation about the impact of pollution in certain areas, reports the BBC. The use of the term in an official report from the environmental ministry, thought to be unprecedented, comes as authorities face growing discontent over industrial waste, hazardous smog and other environmental and health consequences, the AFP wrote. The ministry acknowledged that the widespread production and consumption of harmful chemicals forbidden in many developed nations are still found in China at a time when it is called upon to be more transparent on pollution, notes the BBC.
Russia Smoking Ban — Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning smoking in public places, reports Reuters. The two-stage law will initially ban smoking in places such as train stations and schools. A year later the ban will be extended to restaurants, hotels and ships, among other places, writes Reuters. The law will also ban tobacco sales at street kiosks, set minimum prices for cigarettes, and restrict tobacco advertising. Putin, who started a new six-year term in 2012, has promoted healthy lifestyles and hopes the law will help to reverse Russia’s ingrained smoking culture, explains Reuters.
Cyprus’s New President – Cyprus’s new leader has vowed to pursue a multi billion Euro aid deal to save the country from default, reports the Wall Street Journal. Nicos Anastasiades, head of the center-right Democratic Rally party, won a landslide victory on Sunday in the country’s second-round presidential elections, gaining 57.48% of the vote — the highest tally in some 30 years. Cyprus is facing financial meltdown, having been hit hard by the financial crisis in neighboring Greece. It needs around €17 billion ($22.43 billion) to rescue itself and its banks. Loans of that size would push the country’s debt to an unsustainable 140% to 145% of GDP, writes the WSJ.