World Briefs: European Commission takes action against Poland

European Commission takes action against Poland

BRUSSELS • The European Commission launched unprecedented disciplinary proceedings against Poland yesterday over its contentious judicial reforms which Brussels says threaten the rule of law.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to initiate Article 7.1. But the facts leave us with no choice," said commission vice-president Frans Timmermans. The commission, the European Union's executive arm, is activating Article Seven of the bloc's treaty, a never-before-used disciplinary procedure that could ultimately lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the EU.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Fish mating call so loud it can deafen dolphins

PARIS • A species of Mexican fish amasses in reproductive orgies so loud they can deafen other sea animals such as dolphins, scientists said yesterday, calling for the preservation of the "spectacle".

An individual spawning Gulf corvina, said the research team, utters a mating call resembling "a really loud machine gun". And when hundreds of thousands of fish get together to spawn once a year, "the collective chorus sounds like a crowd cheering at a stadium or perhaps a really loud beehive", said study co-author Timothy Rowell.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Catalans set to vote in decisive elections

BARCELONA • Catalans face a decisive regional vote today, hoping it will help settle the bitter dispute over independence from Spain that has divided their region and rattled Europe.

The election pits leaders of the wealthy north-eastern region's separatist movement against candidates who want to stay part of Spain.

Record turnout is expected but with pro-and anti-independence candidates neck and neck in opinion polls, neither side is likely to win a clear majority.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe