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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

At Least 80 Garment Workers Killed in Building Collapse in Bangladesh

An eight-storey building collapsed in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, early on Wednesday, killing at least 80 garment workers. Mohammed Neazuddin, the country’s Health Secretary, said he believed hundreds more workers could be trapped under the rubble. An official at a nearby hospital said most of the dead appeared to be female workers. The building collapsed at 9AM, shortly after workers had entered the premises to start production for the day. Dilara Begum, a garment worker interviewed by the Guardian, said that employees were ordered to leave the same building on Tuesday because a crack had appeared on one of the walls, but supervisors had asked them to come back on Wednesday, declaring the building safe. “The whole world seemed to shake and then all was dark”, said Begum, who was pulled to safety by local bystanders. The collapse is the latest in a series of similar incidents in Bangladesh. A fire at a garments factory last November killed 111 workers, and its management was convicted of criminal negligence.

Enrico Letta Chosen as New Italian Prime Minister

Newly re-elected Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has chosen Enrico Letta, the deputy leader of the country’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), to become Italy’s new Prime Minister, the country’s second youngest in the postwar period. After accepting the task of forming a government from Napolitano at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Letta said that the politics of austerity had been hurting Italy, adding that the country needed its small and medium-sized businesses to function in order to be able to recover from the recession. “The policy of austerity is no longer sufficient”, he said. The 46-year-old prime minister also said that he knew his post carried an enormous responsibility, adding that he was aware the Italian political class had “lost all credibility”. His government would be backed primarily by his own PD and Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, which had previously failed to form a governing coalition after the elections in February. Letta said that, although a compromise was possible, he would not form a government “at all costs”.

Peace Index Highlights Marked Decline of Violent Crime in the UK

Researchers from the Institute for Economics and Peace have found that the rates of murder and violent crime have fallen more rapidly in the UK in the past decade than anywhere else in Western Europe. The UK Peace Index, created by the institute, found that UK homicides had fallen from 1.99 per 100,000 people in 2003 to one in 2012. The reasons for more peace in the UK were varied, but that one important factor was the improvement in police practices related to the adoption of advanced technologies. The most peaceful local authorities in the UK were listed as Broadland in Norfolk, Three Rivers in Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire, East Dorset and Maldon in Essex. The least peaceful were all boroughs of London, namely Lewisham, Lambeth, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Lewisham had a homicide rate of 2.5 in 2012, two-and-a-half times the national average. Despite hosting all of the less peaceful places in the country, London’s rate of homicide was far lower than those registered in cities such as New York, Amsterdam, Brussels or Prague.

Iceland Could Abandon Plans to Join the EU

Opinion polls in Iceland suggest that the island nation may decide to abandon its bid to join the European Union, launched 2009, after Saturday’s general election. The country has been making steady progress in its accession negotiations with Brussels, with Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir pledging EU membership as one of her main pillars to get the country out of its financial crisis. But the island’s two main opposition parties, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, are campaigning firmly against the government’s plans for entering the bloc. The Independence Party says it wants better trading relations with the EU without necessarily joining the union, while the Progressive Party says Iceland is much better served by remaining outside the bloc. The country already holds a free-trade agreement with the EU, is part of the European Free Trade Association and its citizens can travel visa-free within Europe’s Schengen zone.

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