MILAN (Reuters) -- Italy is studying mechanisms to monitor commercial accords signed under the "Belt and Road” memorandum agreement with China, as well as other measures to protect "strategic activities and national interests,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Wednesday.
In separate comments to Corriere, a spokesman for the White House’s group of national security advisers, Garrett Marquis, warned the accord was "a political hazard.”
Corriere reported that the White House had warned Italy it would no longer be able to share sensitive information, such as intelligence reports, if the Rome government were to buy equipment from China’s Huawei.
The United States has urged allies not to use products made by Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment, saying they could enable Chinese state espionage.
No evidence has been produced publicly and Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations. But several Western countries have restricted, or are considering restricting, the company’s access to their markets, fuelling speculation of U.S. pressure.
LONDON (Reuters) -- China needs to learn lessons from Japan’s lost decade and control future levels of debt, the country’s former central bank governor said on Tuesday.
Debt levels in China are too high, but the Chinese government is taking steps to try to deleverage the economy, Zhou Xiaochuan said in a speech at Chatham House in London.
"Japan had very fast development and later then a so-called lost decade,” he said. "The Chinese economy may have a similar overleveraged problem and we need to absorb the knowledge and lessons from what happened.”
The lost decade refers to a period of economic stagnation in Japan that began in the 1990s.
MELBOURNE (AFP) -- Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in prison for the "brazen" sexual abuse of two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a "grave" abuse of power.
The former Vatican number three -- who managed church finances and helped elect two popes -- was sentenced in a Melbourne court on five counts, including oral rape and molestation of boys in 1996-1997.
Judge Peter Kidd, his remarks broadcast live on television, said the 77-year-old was guilty of "appalling offending" and "breathtakingly arrogant" attacks that took advantage of his position of authority over the boys, then aged 13.
Kidd said the cardinal, with his "significant history of cardiac problems", would be eligible for parole in late 2022, but acknowledged he "may not live to be released from prison".
Wearing a black shirt without his usual white clerical collar, Pell sat largely impassively, hands interlaced on his lap, as Kidd graphically described his "brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims".
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- A quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage, the United Nations said Wednesday in a landmark report on the planet's parlous state.
Deadly smog-inducing emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water, and the accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to the livelihoods of billions of people are driving a worldwide epidemic that hampers the global economy, it warned.
The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) -- a report six years in the making compiled by 250 scientists from 70 nations -- depicts a growing chasm between rich and poor countries as rampant overconsumption, pollution and food waste in the developed world leads to hunger, poverty and disease elsewhere.
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise amid a preponderance of droughts, floods and superstorms made worse by climbing sea levels, there is a growing political consensus that climate change poses a future risk to billions.
But the health impacts of pollution, deforestation and the mechanized food-chain are less well understood.
Nor is there any international agreement for the environment close to covering what the 2015 Paris accord does for climate.
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Malaysia has shut 34 schools after a suspected chemical leak last week left more than 200 children, teachers and others being treated for poisoning, the education ministry said on Wednesday.
Authorities believe the poisoning was caused by toxic waste dumped into a river near the schools in the southern state of Johor.
"Unfortunately, I was told today that the situation is getting more critical,” Education Minister Maszlee Malik said in a statement on his official Facebook page.
The number of people treated climbed to 207 compared to 35 reported last week. As of Monday, 44 were in hospital where six were in intensive care. Thirty-three of them are pupils.
"I’ve ordered for all schools within a three-kilometer radius be shut immediately,” Maszlee said.
SAO PAULO (AP) — Authorities say hooded teenagers opened fire at a school in southern Brazil, killing six people before taking their own lives.
Wednesday’s shooting happened in a public school in Suzano, a suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.
The state government of Sao Paulo says two youths armed with guns and wearing hoods entered the school and began shooting at students and then killed themselves.
Authorities say five students and an administrator at the school were killed.
Latin America’s largest nation has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare.
Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro recently announced that gun ownership controls would be loosened.