Rebels start leaving eastern Ghouta
HARASTA (Syria) • Syrian rebels and their families began leaving Syria's eastern Ghouta yesterday under the first evacuation deal in the shrinking opposition enclave outside Damascus.
The agreement, announced on Wednesday and brokered by regime ally Russia, could empty one of three rebel-held pockets in the region and mark a major advance in government efforts to secure the nearby capital. The regime's offensive on Ghouta has killed more than 1,500 civilians since Feb 18, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Stuck on Dreamworld rollercoaster
MELBOURNE • Rollercoaster riders at Australia's Dreamworld were left hanging backwards yesterday after the ride abruptly stopped, media reported, less than 18 months after four people died in a ride accident at the same theme park.
Six people were left stranded on the BuzzSaw rollercoaster for 15 minutes after it came to a sudden halt, news.com.au reported, at the park on the Gold Coast in the north-eastern Australian state of Queensland.
Dutch vote 'no' on wiretap law
AMSTERDAM • Dutch voters have narrowly rejected a law that would give spy agencies the power to carry out mass tapping of Internet traffic, delivering a setback to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government.
Dubbed the "trawling law" by opponents, the legislation would allow spy agencies to install wiretaps targeting an entire geographic region or avenue of communication, store information for up to three years, and share it with allied spy agencies.
With 89 per cent of the vote from a referendum counted yesterday morning, the "no" vote was 48.8 per cent, against 47.3 per cent for "yes". The tapping law has already been approved by both Houses of Parliament.