Australia likely to head to polls early
SYDNEY • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a Bill on electoral reform yesterday, signalling a potential dissolution of Parliament and an early election to break a political deadlock.
Independent and minor party senators elected at the last polls in 2013 have continuously stalled key aspects of the government's agenda.
The proposed reforms, which will make it harder for smaller parties to enter Parliament through vote-sharing deals, are seen as necessary for the government to dissolve both Houses of Parliament and call an election.
Saudi Arabia accuses 32 of spying
RIYADH • Saudi Arabia has accused 32 people, including 30 members of its own Shi'ite Muslim minority, of spying for Iran, and is putting them on trial, local media reported yesterday.
The accused include an Iranian and Afghan, all of whom were detained in 2013. Their arrest sparked concern among Saudi Shi'ites, who said several were well-known figures in their community and not involved in politics.
The trial is likely to stoke tensions with Iran - which strongly denied the accusations at the time - and between local Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.
Bolivian leader 'loses 4th term bid'
LA PAZ (Bolivia) • A referendum that would allow Bolivian President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term looked imperilled, as early exit polls predicted it would fail by a small margin.
The President's rivals declared victory after TV exit polls showed that a slim majority of voters, in the single digits, had turned down Mr Morales' bid to change the Constitution to allow him to run again, and possibly serve as president until 2025.
NEW YORK TIMES
Assange seeks to overturn warrant
STOCKHOLM • Lawyers for Mr Julian Assange have asked a Swedish court to overturn an arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder, following a ruling by a United Nations panel that his stay in Ecuador's London Embassy amounts to "arbitrary detention".
"We consider that there have arisen a number of new circumstances, which mean there is reason to review the earlier decision," Mr Thomas Olsson, one of Mr Assange's lawyers, said yesterday.
New British daily from month-end
LONDON • One of Britain's largest newspaper publishers yesterday announced it was launching a new national daily, the first of its kind for 30 years, that will hit the news-stands just as another goes out of print.
Trinity Mirror, which publishes the left-leaning Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror tabloids, said The New Day will go on sale on Feb 29. It will offer an "upbeat, optimistic approach and will be politically neutral".
The announcement comes just days after the owner of The Independent newspaper said it will discontinue its print edition next month, after a 30-year run. It will continue to publish online.