Dog days? Count them as family sick days
A dog owner who wanted paid time off to care for one of her dogs offered her bosses a simple explanation: "They are my family." It worked. Originally marking the days as a holiday, Rome's Sapienza University changed its mind and gave her leave to care for her sick 12-year-old English setter, Cucciola. The employee, who was identified only as Anna, lives alone and had to take off work to bring Cucciola to the veterinarian for surgery and care for the dog afterward. Animal advocacy group LAV helped Anna make her case to her employer, and the university eventually granted two days of paid leave. The group had argued owners who fail to take proper care of a pet could find themselves vulnerable to legal action, because it would amount to the crime of mistreatment or abandonment of the animal. Because the university's decision to grant the time-off request kept the case out of court, it was not clear how much of a precedent Anna's victory establishes. Paid leave for new pet owners or those who need to care for ailing pets or mourn their death has become part of some companies' benefits programs across the world, including the U.S.
Duterte threatens to expel EU diplomats
President Rodrigo Duterte threatened on Thursday to expel ambassadors representing the European Union, suggesting he would give them 24 hours to leave his country. "You think that we are a bunch of morons here," Duterte said in a expletive-laden speech. "Because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours. All. All of you." His remarks appeared to be a reaction to criticism of the his war on drugs, in which police have killed thousands of people. A director of Human Rights Watch suggested the Philippines should be removed from the United Nations' top human rights body. Duterte is known for off-the-cuff speechmaking, and it was not immediately clear Thursday if his threats were serious or simply bluster.
Paris eyes banning gas cars by 2030
In the future, the noise of car engines revving around the streets of Paris might become just a memory. In its latest initiative to reduce air pollution, Paris City Hall wants gasoline-powered cars off the roads by 2030. The move announced Thursday follows Mayor Anne Hidalgo's plan to ban all diesel cars from the city by 2024, when Paris will host the Summer Olympics. Many Parisians don't own a car, but Hidalgo still has angered many of them with her efforts to make Paris a greener city. Her detractors have accused her of waging a war against cars. Wary of those critics, Paris City Hall issued a statement Thursday saying the 2030 deadline isn't a proper ban but "a feasible and realistic" goal. The statement added officials would keep talking residents and carmakers in the coming months. Paris has faced rising air pollution in the last few years. Some pollution spikes have been so bad, they forced City Hall to bar half of all cars from traveling and to make public transportation free for several days. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has said he wants to banish from France all fossil fuel cars by 2040.
Fish jumps down catcher's throat, nearly killing him
Paramedics say a man almost died when a fish he caught jumped down his throat. South Western Ambulance Service says medics were called to the pier in Boscombe in southern England on Oct. 5 and found a 28-year-old man in cardiac arrest. They were told he had put the 6-inch Dover sole over his mouth as a joke, but it wriggled free and jumped down his throat, blocking his airway. Paramedic Matt Harrison said he tried to remove the fish with forceps "although the fish's barbs and gills were getting stuck on the way back up." On the sixth attempt, he managed to extract it whole. The ambulance service said Thursday the man, who has not been identified, suffered "no lasting effects" from the mishap.
Once jailed in U.S., Kim Davis fights gay marriage abroad
The Kentucky official who was jailed in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has been advocating against gay marriage this week thousands of miles from home — in Romania, where a movement to outlaw such unions has gained momentum. Few Romanians appear to know about the case of Kim Davis, the clerk for Kentucky's Rowan County. But her visit was denounced by local gay-rights activists, who scoffed at the notion that their country should be taking constitutional advice from an American who had been jailed for defying a court order. Same-sex marriage is not permitted in Romania, but conservatives there have waged a battle to explicitly prohibit it with a constitutional amendment. The Coalition for Family, which is leading the campaign, said Wednesday it invited Davis to share her story. In both Kentucky and Romania, Davis described same-sex marriage as an attack on religious freedom.
Leader urges unity, creates new aid committee amid Rohingya crisis
Embattled leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for national unity Thursday and said she has created a committee that will oversee all international and local assistance in violence-struck Rakhine state. More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from the state to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when security forces broadly cracked down on the long-persecuted minority. Many houses were destroyed. The U.N. has called the violence "textbook ethnic cleansing." Suu Kyi acknowledged in a speech the widespread criticism over the refugee crisis and called for unity in tackling the problem. She said her government is holding talks with Bangladesh on the return of "those who are now in Bangladesh." She gave no details, but officials have suggested they would need to provide residency documents, which few have. Myanmar's Buddhist majority regards Rohingya Muslims as a group that illegally immigrated, although many families have lived in Myanmar for generations. Suu Kyi did not say "Rohingya" but referred to other ethnic minorities by name. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former political prisoner has been criticized for not speaking out on behalf of the Rohingya. She said in her speech that those who return would need to be resettled and that development must be brought to Rakhine, one of the country's poorest areas, to achieve peace. — tbt* wires