Quito, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Ecuadorian authorities dispatched military vehicles to ferry civilian passengers Friday and arrested several transport union leaders following a strike that shut down taxi, bus and other services in response to a rise in fuel prices.
The country's transport federations later announced the suspension of protest action, indicating an agreement may have been reached with the government. Details of the deal were not immediately announced, though there was speculation that it could involve passenger fare hikes and discounts for transport operators buying vehicles and spare parts.
President Lenín Moreno, who earlier declared a state of emergency over the strike, vowed Friday that he wouldn't back down on the decision to end costly fuel subsidies, which doubled the price of diesel overnight and sharply raised gasoline prices.
He said the subsidy has been harmful to the national economy, costing the state heavily for years.
"There will be a mechanism to alleviate the effects that (the end of the subsidy) could have on some sectors, of course," he said, "and we are ready to do that, but under no circumstances will we change the measure."
Earlier Friday, the streets of Quito were filled with people trekking to work on foot or seeking rides from friends and strangers as the strike entered a second day. Stone-throwing youths clashed with police using tear gas in parts of major cities, but there was far less violence than on Thursday.
The government said about 350 people had been detained for blocking traffic, interrupting public services or attacking police.
Government Minister María Paula Romo said national taxi drivers' leader Jorge Calderón had been detained for paralyzing a public service, while officials said two regional transport officials also were detained.
Moreno declared a state of emergency on Thursday to confront the strike and street clashes between protesters and police.
Moreno this week eliminated fuel subsidies in order to cope with budget problems. He also announced labor reforms and other measures meant to help stimulate the economy.
LONDON, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would seek an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if no withdrawal deal with the European Union is reached by mid-October, according to a document read aloud in a Scottish court Friday.
The government document quoted in Scotland's Court of Session indicated Johnson intends to comply with a law Parliament passed this month that requires the prime minister to ask the EU for a postponement if no deal is in place by Oct. 19.
The court statement is at odds with Johnson's continued insistence that he will not seek a Brexit extension under any circumstances. It is not clear how the government plans to resolve the difference between Johnson's public stance and the position taken in court.
Lawyer Andrew Webster, representing the British government, said the court documents are a "clear statement" of what the prime minister would do.
He was arguing in a court case brought by activists seeking a court order that would force Johnson to seek an extension. Webster said there is no need for a court intervention since the government has made its intentions known.
"What we have is a clear statement on behalf of the Prime Minister and government as to what it will do in respect to the requirements of the 2019 Act," he said, referring to the law passed last month instructing the government to seek a delay if no deal is reached.
He said the government still wants to leave the union on Oct. 31 and plans to do so.
Jo Maugham, a lawyer representing anti-Brexit activists in the case, tweeted that Johnson agreed in the document not to "frustrate" the law.
The British government submission also included the statement, "he (Johnson) will send a letter in the form set out," the tweet stated.
"What we learned today is that the prime minister has promised the court, in his own name, that he will ask for an extension under the Benn Act if the conditions are satisfied," Maugham told Sky News.
The segments read in court contradict Johnson's repeated assertions on the crucial question of whether Britain, if unable to finalize a divorce deal with other EU countries by the end of the month, would leave the EU without an agreement.
Johnson has insisted he wouldn't ask the EU for an extension under any circumstances, saying colorfully he would rather be dead in a ditch, and vowed he will take the U.K. out of the EU as scheduled on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement.
His office did not offer an immediate response to the government submission read in court. Johnson has not said anything indicating a change in his position.
Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker, leader of a prominent pro-Brexit group in Parliament, said the court statement "does not mean we will extend. It does not mean we will stay in the EU beyond Oct. 31. We will leave."
Johnson's willingness to embrace a "no-deal" Brexit has alarmed many lawmakers since the government's own assessment of such a scenario warns of an economic slowdown, severe delays at British ports, and possible food and medicine shortages if "no deal" becomes a reality.
Talks between British and EU officials are continuing but key European leaders have already said they think the measures Johnson proposed this week fall far short of the concessions needed to forge a deal.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose country would be among the most directly impacted by Brexit, said Friday he thinks EU members would contemplate delaying Brexit if the British government gives a good reason for seeking another extension.
"I think we would consider that," he said.
Each of the 27 other EU nations would have to approve Britain's request before an extension could be granted.
Kyiv, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — A chartered plane crashed near the western city of Lviv Friday, killing five people and injuring three, after apparently running out of fuel, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy announced the death toll on his Facebook page, and said an investigation is underway.
He said the An-12 plane was carrying seven crew members and one passenger Friday morning when it sought to make an emergency landing for lack of fuel.
The regional emergency service said in a statement that emergency workers rescued three people from the wreckage who were hospitalized with injuries.
The Infrastructure Ministry said the plane was traveling from Vigo in northwestern Spain to Istanbul and planned a refuelling stop in Lviv. Ukrainian news reports said it crashed 1.5 kilometers (less than a mile) from the runway.
Spanish airport operator AENA confirmed that the cargo flight UKL4050 operated by Ukraine Air Alliance had departed from Vigo airport just after midnight on Friday. The cargo plane had arrived in Vigo a day earlier from Toulouse, France.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there was no initial indication that any of the victims or survivors was Spanish.
Vatican City, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a New Zealand bishop Friday over what church officials said was “completely unacceptable” sexual behavior with a young woman.
Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan, 59, had offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to a statement from Cardinal John Dew, head of the church in New Zealand.
The Vatican said Friday that the pope had accepted the resignation.
The removal is significant since the Catholic Church has long considered sexual relationships between clerics and adult women to be sinful and inappropriate, but not criminal or necessarily worthy of permanent sanction.
However, the #MeToo movement and the scandal over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, an American defrocked by Francis for sexual misconduct, have forced a reckoning about the imbalance of power in relationships between clerics and lay adults, nuns and seminarians, and whether such relationships can ever be consensual.
At 59, Drennan is well under the normal retirement age of 75 for bishops. Ordained a priest in 1996, he worked for seven years in the Vatican’s secretariat of state before being made a bishop in 2011. He took over as the head of the Palmerston North diocese a year later.
More recently, he was elected secretary of the New Zealand bishops’ conference and was a delegate at a 2015 meeting of the world’s bishops on the family.
Dew said the woman made a complaint, and the New Zealand church’s investigative body contracted an outside investigator to evaluate her claim. Both Drennan and the woman participated in the investigation.
Details of their relationship were not released. The woman asked for information from the complaint to remain private, Dew said. He added, however, that “In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Bishop Drennan’s behavior was completely unacceptable.”
Dew praised the woman for coming forward, said she had been told of Drennan’s resignation and is continuing to receive support from the church as well as her family. He urged others to bring reports of clergy misconduct to the church, police or other organizations.
“The Catholic Church has no tolerance for any inappropriate behavior by any of its members,” Dew said.
Moscow, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is helping China build a system warning about ballistic missile launches.
Since Cold War times, only the United States and Russia have had such systems, which involve an array of ground-based radars and space satellites.
The system is essential for early spotting of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Speaking at an international affairs conference Thursday, Putin said that Russia has been helping China develop such a system.
He added that “this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defense capability.”
His statement signaled a new level of defense cooperation between the two former Communist rivals, which have developed increasingly close political and military ties.