Key Dutch minister quits ahead of polls
AMSTERDAM • A leading member of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Cabinet has resigned, weakening the government ahead of a national election in March in which it is trailing in the polls.
Justice Minister Ard van der Steur unexpectedly told Parliament on Thursday that he would step down, amid a debate on the handling of information related to a settlement prosecutors struck with a drug dealer in 2000.
Drug baron Cees Helman received a tax-free payment of around €2 million (S$3 million) as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Talks in Geneva on Syrian crisis postponed
MOSCOW • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that talks in Geneva on the Syrian crisis had been postponed from Feb 8 to the end of the month. The announcement came after Syria's main opposition leaders turned down an invitation from Mr Lavrov for talks in Moscow.
In talks in Kazakhstan earlier this week, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to establish a joint "mechanism" to shore up a shaky three-week truce in Syria, but offered few concrete details on how it would work.
Teen gets $1.8m over denial of toilet break
LOS ANGELES • A former high school student in California has been awarded US$1.25 million (S$1.8 million) in a lawsuit for having been forced to urinate in a bucket after being denied a bathroom break.
A jury ruled in favour of the former Patrick Henry High School student who had filed the suit over the 2012 incident, initially seeking US$25,000.
The unidentified teen testified during the three-week trial that the humiliating incident had prompted gossip, lewd texts from fellow students and suicide attempts.