Must-Reads from Around the World

Ireland’s Prime Minister has issued an apology to thousands of women who were forced to endure virtual slave labor in Catholic-run workhouses, a fast and inexpensive test to find leprosy before the damage becomes lasting is being developed, and Hong Kong Disneyland reports its first profit

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ETER MUHLY / AFP / Getty Images

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks to supporters of the European fiscal-treaty referendum in Dublin on May 29, 2012

Magdalene Apology – Ireland’s Prime Minister has issued an apology to thousands of women who were forced to endure virtual slave labor in Catholic-run workhouses, reports the Guardian. Following the release of a report two weeks ago detailing the abuse of women at the Magdalene Laundries, Enda Kenny had initially declined to explicitly apologize for the state’s role in sending women and girls to the notorious workhouses. But in a powerful speech, in which he appeared to briefly break down in tears, Kenny said he “deeply regretted and apologized” for the trauma inflicted upon those sent to the laundries, often for simply coming from a broken home or being unmarried mothers. Kenny also announced a fresh compensation package for around 800 women still alive who were held in the laundries, reports the Guardian.

New Leprosy Test – A new test for detecting leprosy offers hope that victims can be found and cured before the disease’s aftereffects take hold, reports the New York Times. American researchers developed the test, and a Brazilian diagnostics company will manufacture it on the assumption that the price will be $1 or less. “A new test was necessary because trained microscope diagnosticians are rare in the rural areas where the disease persists,” the New York Times said. About 250,000 people worldwide get leprosy, with Brazil, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo among the hardest-hit countries.

Hong Kong Disneyland – Hong Kong Disneyland is finally making money, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.  The theme park owned by Walt Disney and the Hong Kong government made a profit of $14 million during the fiscal year ending last September.  This is the first profit for Hong Kong Disneyland since it opened in 2005. The government made additions to the world’s smallest Disney theme park, which offered only Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland when it first opened, according to Businessweek.

Elderly Japanese Alone – As traditional Confucian values among Japanese disintegrate, seniors are living alone in ill-equipped homes or being abused by resentful relatives due to a lack of long-term care facilities in the country, reports Bloomberg. With the world’s highest proportion of retirees, Japan is struggling to build nursing homes fast enough, notes Bloomberg. However, according to the news organization, authorities in Tokyo are responding by keeping tabs on people older than 70 living alone and shared households whose residents are all over 75. The government also introduced a law in 2006 to protect seniors from abuse and provide support to caregivers.

Royal Split – A rift within the Bahrain royal family is playing into the hands of hard-line Islamists and eroding American influence – raising U.S. concern over its primary naval base in the Persian Gulf, reports the WSJ. Bahrain’s king and his predecessors nurtured Western links for decades, notes the WSJ. But a previously-marginalized hereditary line within the royal family, the Khawalids, whose power base includes the hard-line Islamist movement, has grown in prominence, gaining control of some of Bahrain’s key institutions. Although there is concern among palace insiders and western observers that the Khawalids could eventually take over the line of royal succession, officials don’t believe that will happen soon, writes the paper. Officials admit that some conservative elements within the royal family are suspicious of U.S. motives in Bahrain. A former Director of National Intelligence and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command this month urged the Pentagon to move the Fifth Fleet’s headquarters out of the island country, notes the WSJ.

Mobile Broadband Auction – An auction for 4G mobile licenses in the U.K. has raised £1 billion ($1.53 billion) less than expected, reports the BBC. 4G mobile broadband should be able to provide superfast download speeds for smartphones and tablet computers. The auction — which was the biggest sale of British airwaves in a decade, as the Guardian notes — was viewed as a victory for the five successful bidders but a blow to the U.K. treasury, which was relying on an expected £3.5 billion ($5.36 billion) from the sale to keep its borrowing in check. Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications regulator, has said that nearly the whole of the U.K. will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017, writes the BBC.