Daily News Roundup

April 19, 2018

Cuba has chosen First Vice-President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, 57, as sole candidate to succeed Raul Castro as president of Cuba, the centrepiece of an effort to ensure the country’s single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it.

The virtually certain unanimous approval of the National Assembly will install someone from outside the Castro family in the country’s highest government office for the first time in nearly six decades.

Mr Castro, 86, will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as “the superior guiding force of society and the state”.

As a result, Mr Castro is almost certain to remain the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being.

His departure from the presidency is nonetheless a symbolically charged moment for a country accustomed to nearly 60 years of absolute rule first by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and, for the past decade, his younger brother.

Nominated as new first vice-president was Salvador Valdes Mesa, 72, an Afro-Cuban former union official who has held a long series of high posts in the Cuban Government.

The government’s official Candidacy Commission also nominated another five vice-presidents of the Council of State, Cuba’s highest government body.

Only one of the five, Ramiro Valdez, 85, was among the revolutionaries who fought with the Castros in the eastern Sierra Maestra mountains.

Raul Castro is working to ensure a smooth transition from him and his small group of former guerrillas to a new generation that can maintain the government’s grip on power in the face of economic stagnation, an aging population and waning revolutionary fervour among Cuban youth attuned more to global consumer culture than the anti-capitalist, nationalist messaging of the state-run media.

That media went into overdrive with a single message: Cuba’s system is continuing in the face of change.

The white-haired, generally unsmiling Mr Diaz-Canel had been seen at greatest length in a leaked video of a Communist Party meeting where he e pledged to shutter some independent media and labelled some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion.

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Recycling will be dumped by a growing number of councils around the country as costs blow out, according to the Local Government Association of Queensland.

ABC rural writer Rebecca Hyam said the prediction followed Ipswich City Council’s announcement yesterday that China’s import ban on recycling and the rising level of contaminated or non-recyclable rubbish in yellow bins meant it had become too costly for the city to recycle

Council said that from now on everything placed in yellow bins would go straight to landfill.

Brisbane, Logan and Gold Coast councils have so far ruled out following suit.

But LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said Ipswich had set a precedent other local governments would consider seriously.

“We believe it’ll be the first of many in Queensland and indeed across Australia,” he said.

Since China has closed its doors to our waste, the effective cost increases to councils are 400 and 500 per cent — it’s just not feasible that councils can sustain those losses.

“It’s unfortunate and we would prefer it to be otherwise, but without any sort of subsidy for our recyclable materials, councils just can’t make the maths add up,” he said.

In a statement, Ipswich City Council said recycling contractors notified the council the current rate paid to them would soar by $2 million a year if recycling was to continue, which could potentially lead to a rate rise of up to 2 per cent.

Mr Hallam said it was a cost ratepayers were unlikely to accept.

“I think our understanding and long-term polling of these issues says that’s not the case,” he said.

Brisbane-based sustainability expert John Moynihan from Ecolateral said Ipswich Council’s decision was a backward step and set a dangerous benchmark.

“The majority of the Western world now recycles and recycles quite effectively — industries are built up around the recycled material that’s been supplied via household recycling, so it’s quite a frightening development,” he said.

“There will be a domino effect council to council — before you know it, everybody will abandon it because it’ll be a case of, ‘Well if it’s good enough for them, we can save some revenue, so it’s good enough for us’.”

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Russia’s cyber warfare attacks on the United Kingdom and its links to chemical weapons have prompted four countries in the Five Eyes security alliance to demand action.

The prime ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK met in London to discuss cyber security, and Russia’s attacks in particular.

“The cooperation between our nations allowed us to trace February’s NotPetya hack to Russia,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in the meeting on Wednesday local time.

“Russia is using cyber as part of a wider effort to attack and undermine the international system.

“Its interference over the past year has included attacks on the public sector, media, telecommunications and energy sectors.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said illegal conduct from Russia cannot be tolerated.

“Whether it is a chemical attack in Syria, the use of a nerve agent on British soil, or the expanding cyber attacks across the internet … these must be resisted, they must be protected, they must be identified,” Mr Turnbull told the meeting.

Mrs May said Russia is using disinformation campaigns to distort the truth of what happened in chemical weapons attacks in Salisbury and in Syria.

“I have been clear to Russia that we know what it is doing. And we should be in no doubt that such cyber warfare is one of the great challenges of our time,” she said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the four nations, who along with the United States make up the Five Eyes security alliance, stood in solidarity with the UK.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the four countries would work together on security and making sure the system of rules-based international law was maintained.

Mr Turnbull said businesses and governments needed to step up their cyber security, especially as many hacks were the result of sloppy practices.”The level of cyber attacks is so high, at any given time, that it is always present,” he told reporters.

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