Written by: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate & Amneet Mann. News Editor

 

Pope introduces plans for reform in the Vatican

Pope Francis informed Reuters during an interview of his plans to reform the Catholic Church. These plans include having a cardinal take charge of the Office of Papal Charities. This change will raise awareness for the organization which takes care of the poor, as the Pope believed that a big part of his job was in charitable works. The Pope is also looking at reforming the ranks of cardinal advisors and the Catholic Church’s accounting and human resource department in Italy, taking measures to make the departments more transparent. He hopes that these reforms will draw new ideas into the Church. – NT

With files from Reuters.

 

Chinese government places an upper limit on the pay of film and TV stars

In an official announcement, the Chinese government introduced a new pay cap for Chinese actors and actresses. According to the new regulation, no more than 40% of production costs can be allocated towards cast salaries and lead actors cannot obtain over 70% of that subset. The purpose of the pay cap is reportedly to reduce tax evasion, which occurs due to a convention known as “yin yang contracts”: actors and actresses sign two contracts, and then only submit the lower-paying contract for tax purposes. In addition to combating tax evasion, reducing “money worship” and “youth blindly chasing celebrities” were other justifications put forth for this new regulation. – AM

With files from BBC News.

 

South Sudan government in talks with rebel leader

The leader of South Sudan met with his counterpart of the rebel faction, according to the Ethiopian government. Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed brought President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Rieck Machar together for a dinner, allowing the leaders to meet for the first time since 2016. Ethiopia plays a vital regional role in the South Sudan peace talks. A 2015 peace deal and a ceasefire in December — both past attempts from the two entities at reaching a mutual understanding — had previously fallen apart. According to their government, Ethiopia has taken it upon itself to be the mediator of these talks in the face of the South Sudanese civil war, which has continued for five years and has seen tens of thousands dead and more than 3 million refugees. – NT

With files from Reuters.

 

Violence in Nicaragua sees more dead

Two months of protests have seen nearly 200 casualties, the most recent of which occurred a few days ago as the government fought protestors to regain control of Masaya. Following failed talks between the government and the opposition, forces loyal to president Daniel Ortega then fought for control of the city. Throughout the protests, the city of Masaya has been characterized by protestors as a symbol of resistance against the government. The protests originally began after the government reduced pensions and social security, and the opposition is now also calling for the end of Ortega’s government. – NT

With files from BBC News.