1Sex crimes law: The Spanish government Tuesday approved a new draft bill on sex crimes that makes consent a key determinant in cases, freeing victims of having to prove that violence or intimidation was used against them. The “Only Yes is Yes” bill comes in the wake of the furor raised in Spain over a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. Initially, the five accused in the case were found guilty of sexual abuse, but not rape, as the victim wasn’t deemed to have objected to what was happening. Equality Minister Irene Montero said the Sexual Liberties Law will make clear that there has to be “explicit expression of consent“ by women if sexual acts aren’t to be considered crimes.
2News agency closes: National news agency Australian Associated Press said Tuesday it was closing after 85 years, blaming a decline in subscribers and free distribution of news content on digital platforms. AAP’s more than 170 journalists will cease operations by June 26. Its Pagemasters editorial production service will also close at the end of August, the company said. Australian media organizations are under mounting financial pressure with global digital giants Google and Facebook taking a growing chunk of advertising revenue.
3Volcano eruption: Indonesia’s most active volcano erupted Tuesday, spewing sand and pyroclastic material and sending a massive column of smoke and ash as high as 19,680 feet into the sky. The eruption of Mount Merapi on the main island of Java unleashed searing gas clouds 1.2 miles down its slopes, Indonesia’s Geology and Volcanology Research Agency said on its website. It said villagers living on Merapi’s fertile slopes are advised to stay 1.8 miles from the crater’s mouth. The 9,737-foot mountain is the most active of 500 Indonesian volcanoes. Indonesia, an archipelago of 240 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines around the ocean.
4Papua attacks: Attacks by gunmen on security forces near the world’s largest gold mine in Indonesia’s restive Papua province have killed one police officer and wounded three others, police said Tuesday. Attackers believed to be members of the West Papua Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Organization, ambushed a police patrol from a hill on Saturday, killing one officer and injuring two others, Papua police chief Paulus Waterpau said. The U.S. company Freeport-McMoRan owned 90% of the Grasberg mine when it started operating in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region in 1973. PT Inalum, an Indonesian state-owned mining company, took over a 51.2% stake of the mine from the U.S. company in 2018. The mine has been hit by arson, roadside attacks and blockades.
5Putin amendments: Russian President Vladimir Putin this week submitted a slew of new proposed amendments to the country’s Constitution that include a mention of God and describe marriage as a heterosexual union. Putin first proposed amending the constitution in January’s state-of-the-nation speech, saying it is necessary to broaden the powers of parliament and bolster democracy. Kremlin foes have described the proposed changes as part of Putin’s efforts to remain in charge after his current six-year term ends in 2024. The Kremlin-controlled parliament quickly endorsed Putin’s draft in the first of three required readings last month, and is set to give it the final approval next week, setting the stage for a nationwide vote on April 22.
Chronicle News Services