BBC News with Iain Purdon
The highest court in Venezuela has backed a decision by the country’s National Assembly to allow an indefinite delay in the inauguration of President Hugo Chavez. He’s in hospital in Cuba after undergoing cancer surgery. Sarah Grainger reports from Caracas.
Luisa Estella Morales, the president of the Supreme Court, said that judges of the court had agreed that the inauguration could take place at a later date. She said the court did not consider Mr Chavez to be absent from his duties and as an incumbent president, a new swearing-in ceremony was not necessary. That leaves the political opposition with few options. They had argued that the constitution sets the date of the 10th of January as the beginning of the new presidential term and in Mr Chavez’s absence an interim president should be appointed.
A group of 49 Iranians freed by Syrian rebels after months in captivity have arrived at a hotel in Damascus accompanied by the Iranian ambassador to Syria. The Iranians were freed in exchange for prisoners being held by the Syrian authorities. The deal hasn’t officially been confirmed by the Syrian government. The Turkish humanitarian aid agency IHH which said it helped secure the agreement said the Syrian authorities for their part were freeing more than 2,100 prisoners that they’ve been holding.
The Obama administration has signalled it may take unilateral action on gun control if Congress won’t cooperate on the issue. Vice President Joe Biden said Mr Obama was determined to curb gun violence and added that this could be done by legislation which requires working with Congress or executive action which doesn’t. Paul Adams reports from Washington.
This was the first time the vice president has hinted at the range of measures being considered by the White House. He said he and the president were determined to act. The tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut had, he said, awakened the conscience of the country and it was important not to be put off by the complexity of the task. Mr Biden didn’t say what those measures were, but they almost certainly include the reintroduction of a ban on so-called assault weapons as well as a more comprehensive system of background checks on those purchasing guns.
The American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made her first public comments after a month away from her desk because of sickness. Mrs Clinton told reporters in Washington she was thrilled to be back at work. She said she was focusing on unresolved issues before handing over to her successor in President Obama’s new administration, Senator John Kerry.
“You know obviously somewhat bittersweet because I’ve had the most extraordinary experience, and I work with an amazing team of people, but I’m very much looking forward to doing everything we can these last few weeks to resolve and finish up wherever possible and then to have a very smooth, seamless transition to Senator Kerry to continue the work.”
World News from the BBC
A British businessman extradited to the United States on charges of attempting to sell missile components to Iran has been jailed for 33 months. Christopher Tappin was also ordered to pay an $11,000 fine. In a plea bargain, he’d admitted to submitting false shipping documents to export batteries used for Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Iran via the Netherlands.
The International Labour Organisation says the vast majority of domestic workers are excluded from employment protection and vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. In the first report of its kind, the UN agency said only 10 per cent of them benefited from the same kind of protection as other workers. Mark Gregory has more.
Nobody really knows how many domestic servants are employed around the world. The ILO puts the figure at a minimum of 52 million, but says the actual number could be tens of millions higher. More than 80 per cent of them are women. Indeed domestic service accounts for more than seven per cent of all women’s waged employment. Many domestic workers migrate to other countries to find work. The ILO says their terms of employment turn to be worse than other workers.
The Sri Lankan government has said it deplores the beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker by authorities in Saudi Arabia. In a statement, the government said it had appealed for a pardon for Rizana Nafeek, who was convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005, a charge she denied.
Police in South Africa have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing farm workers taking strike action in the wine-producing Western Cape province. More than 40 people were arrested. The strikers, most of them black seasonal workers employed in white-owned fruit farms, are demanding a doubling of their daily pay of about $8. At least two protesters were killed in similar violence in November.
1.incumbent adj. 现任的；依靠的；负有职责的 n. 在职者；现任者；领圣俸者
He defeated the incumbent governor by a large plurality.
2.interim adj. 临时的，暂时的；n. 过渡时期，中间时期；暂定
Please give me an interim receipt.
3.unilateral adj. 单边的；
The Chinese Government never regards aid to other countries as a kind of unilateral alms but as sth. mutual.
4.reintroduction n. 再介绍；再引入
The reintroduction of conscription sparked off a major rebellion.
5.bittersweet adj. 苦乐参半的；又苦又甜的 n. 又苦又甜的东西；蜀羊泉
Indeed, in a survey of over 500 lovers, almost all of them assumed that passionate love is a bittersweet experience.
6.seamless adj. 无缝的；无缝合线的；无伤痕的
He has moved seamlessly from theory to practice.
7.beheading n. 斩首；断头作用
This idiom comes from the merry old days of the public beheading.
8.deplore vt. 谴责；悲悼；哀叹；对…深感遗憾
We deplore the use of nuclear weapons.
1.The tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut had, he said, awakened the conscience of the country and it was important not to be put off by the complexity of the task.
put off 推迟；扔掉；阻止
So he put off dealing with it, week after week.
We've invited friends to supper and it's too late to put them off now.
2.In a statement, the government said it had appealed for a pardon for Rizana Nafeek, who was convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005, a charge she denied.
appeal for 恳求，请求；要求
His appeal for forgiveness went unanswered.
The principal made another vain appeal for better equipment in the school laboratory.