A new law which comes into effect from next week will punish homosexual sex and adultery with death in the small southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei. Beginning on April 3, any individuals found guilty of the offenses will be stoned to death, according to a new penal code. The punishment will be “witnessed by a group of Muslims.” The country’s strict new laws were announced in 2014, and have been rolled out gradually. The latest phase of implementation, including the brutal new provisions, was quietly announced on the Brunei attorney general’s website on December 29, 2018.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó will be barred from holding further public office for 15 years, the maximum allowed by law, the state financial controller has announced. Comptroller Elvis Amoroso said Mr Guaidó’s personal financial statements contained inconsistencies. Mr Guaidó rejected Mr Amoroso’s announcement, saying that he was “not auditor general”. With the backing of the Trump administration, Mr Guaidó has been leading calls for Mr Maduro to stand down as president as discontent with his socialist regime grows.
Saudi Arabian authorities have released three female activists who were jailed last year after campaigning to lift the driving ban and dismantle restrictive guardianship laws, several human rights organizations and news outlets report. Conditions of the women’s release remain unknown and initial reports indicate it is temporary as their trials continue to move through the criminal court. Human rights group ALQST announced the women’s release over Twitter, adding that authorities had issued “promises that the others will be released on Sunday 31 March.”
Pope Francis has addressed the mystery of why he withdrew his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday. Conservative critics rounded on the pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition. Video showing Pope Francis pulling away his hand from people attempting to kiss him went viral.
Maria Ressa, the co-founder of an online news start-up critical of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, has been arrested a second time as the Duterte administration steps up its campaign against a news outlet that has been sharply critical of his government. The latest charges against Ms. Ressa accuse her and members of her news outlet, Rappler, of violating laws regarding foreign ownership of the company. She was released around noon after posting bail, about five hours after she was arrested.
Iceland’s low cost carrier Wow Air has canceled all flights and told passengers to book with other airlines. Its website has a travel alert that begins: “Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been canceled.” The alert said people who wanted to travel should now look for “so-called rescue fares” which may now be offered by rival airlines. A fall in tourist visits to Iceland and rising fuel costs had been cited as headwinds to profitability. The airline had also suffered poor customer reviews and was particularly criticized over recurring delays.
A huge fire tore through a 19-storey commercial building in Dhaka on Thursday, with many office workers feared trapped in the latest major inferno to hit the Bangladesh capital. People were seen shouting for help from windows, video footage from the scene showed, while at least six people jumped out of the burning tower, the Daily Star newspaper reported. A massive blaze in Dhaka’s old quarter last month killed at least 70 people and injured 50 others.
Theresa May has promised Tory MPs she will quit if they back her Brexit deal. She told backbench Tories: “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.” The PM said she knew that Tory MPs did not want her to lead the next phase of Brexit negotiations “and I won’t stand in the way of that”. But the DUP said it had not changed its position and would still vote against the deal.
Facebook announced Wednesday that it would ban all “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on Facebook and Instagram. The move came less than two weeks after the suspect in the terror attack at two New Zealand mosques streamed the massacre live on the platform. A manifesto allegedly written by the suspect reveals white nationalist views. Facebook said it will start directing people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to organizations that help people leave hate groups.
India expects space debris from its anti-satellite weapons launch to burn out in less than 45 days, its top defense scientist said on Thursday, seeking to allay global concern about fragments hitting objects. The comments came a day after India said it used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defenses in space. Critics say such technology, known to be possessed only by the United States, Russia and China, raises the prospect of an arms race in outer space, besides posing a hazard by creating a cloud of fragments that could persist for years.