News in Brief
Iran modifies Arak reactor to assure west
Iran yesterday said it has started to modify its Arak heavy water reactor and limit plutonium output, a cause of Western concerns over the country's nuclear programme. "Modification of the heart of the Arak reactor is in the process of being carried out by our experts ... to ease the worries of certain countries," said Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran's nuclear programme, quoted by ISNA news agency.
15 Aussie fighters killed in Iraq, Syria
Fifteen Australians, including two suicide bombers, are believed to have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, intelligence chief David Irvine said yesterday. Canberra has expressed alarm that Australians have joined violent jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) overseas. The news came after US officials on Tuesday said an American fighting for the IS was killed over the weekend in Syria.
France unveils new cabinet
French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday named a new cabinet under PM Manual Valls, dropping ministers who rebelled against austerity cuts. The first government of Valls fell on Monday after a row with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg. He has been replaced by Emmanuel Macron, a former banker. Key ministers in the previous cabinet, like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, retain their posts.
Top hitman 'Popeye' freed
The head of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's hitmen, a confessed murderer nicknamed "Popeye," was released from prison Tuesday after helping prosecutors convict a former justice minister. John Jairo Velasquez Vasquez has confessed to killing 300 people and organizing the killings of 3,000 others, but walked free from the Combita high-security prison in central Colombia after completing 22 years of his 30-year sentence for murder, police and judicial sources said.
Poverty down in Latin America: UN
More than 56 million people have been lifted out of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A new UNDP report says poverty levels in the period from 2000-2012 fell from 41.7% to 25.3% of the population. It calculates poverty as living with less than $4 (£2.40) a day.
US girl, nine, kills gun instructor
A nine year-old girl in the US has killed her shooting instructor by accident while being shown how to use a high-powered submachine gun. The instructor was giving the girl a lesson at a shooting range in Arizona when the recoil from the automatic fire caused her to lose control of the Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head and died after being airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas.