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NZ Justice Minister resigns after failing alcohol breath test

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New Zealand’s justice minister has resigned with immediate effect, after failing an alcohol breath test in the wake of a car crash.

Kiri Allan, 39, was charged with careless driving and resisting arrest.

She is the fourth minister from Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ cabinet to leave since March, ahead of elections due in October.

No casualties were reported from the crash, which took place in the capital Wellington on Sunday night.

Following her arrest, the former minister was detained at a police station for four hours before being released. She is due to appear in court at a later date.

Ms Allan, whom Mr Hipkins said had been suffering from “extreme emotional distress”, will remain as a member of parliament for now.

“She understood that retaining her ministerial warrant was untenable, especially for a justice minister to be charged with criminal offending,” said the prime minister in a press conference.

Ms Allan, who was also minister for regional development, conservation, and emergency management, had recently taken time off due to “personal difficulties”, only returning to work last Monday.

She confirmed her separation from her partner last month and is also facing accusations of poor working relationships with staffers.

In a statement on Monday, Ms Allan said that she had returned to parliament believing she could juggle personal challenges with her job.

“My actions yesterday show I wasn’t okay,” she said, adding that she will consider her future in politics.

Ms Allan was once seen as the darling of the Labour party. She was even tipped to succeed former prime minister Jacinda Arden, who stepped down from her role earlier this year before Mr Hipkins took over.

Her resignation is the latest development in what Mr Hipkins admitted has been a “messy” time in his own party.

Transport and immigration minister Michael Wood resigned in June over his failure to disclose a possible conflict of interest in stock ownership. A month earlier, customs minister Meka Whaitiri switched sides to join another party.

Four months ago, police minister Stuart Nash in March was also fired after it was revealed he had given confidential information to donors.

An April opinion poll predicted a close contest in the upcoming election between the centre-left Labour party and its main opposition the National party.

(BBC News)

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Brawl in Italian Parliament ahead of G7 Summit 

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Lawmakers at the Italian Parliament clashed over a bill on Wednesday (12 June), as Italy began to host world leaders for the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Puglia.

A video of the clash was widely shared on the internet. 

The row began when Five Star Movement (MS5) MP Leonardo Dono tried to tie an Italian flag around the neck of Regional Affairs Minister Roberto Calderoli of the pro-autonomy Northern League. 

MPs from Calderoli’s League party cornered Dono in response, turning the debate into a free-for-all fight involving about 20 men. Donno, injured in the clashes, had to be evacuated in a wheelchair and taken to hospital.

Media reports state the bill sought to grant certain regions further autonomy. Opponents of the bill state it would further deepen the north-south divide in the country and bring more hardship to the impoverished south. 

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Kuwait residential building fire kills 50

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At least 40 Indians are among 50 people killed in a fire at a residential building in the Kuwaiti city of Mangaf.

A fire broke out on Wednesday (12 June) in a building where many foreign workers resided.

Most of the casualties are from the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Around 50 Indians have also been injured.

Three Filipinos have also been killed, media reports quoted Philippines officials as saying. Filipino and Nepali workers are also among the injured.

Local media reports said the building housed 196 workers and there are suggestions that it may have been overcrowded.

Two-thirds of the Kuwaiti population is made up of foreign workers, especially in the construction and domestic sectors, and the country is highly dependent on migrant labour.

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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