BEIJING (AP) — China says its military drills near Taiwan serve as a stern warning against foreign interference and independence moves in the self-governing island off its east coast. Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian made the remarks Wednesday in China’s first official comment on its flying of a dozen or more warplanes near Taiwan on two occasions last weekend. The U.S. responded to the first round of flights with a statement urging China “to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan.” The Chinese government regards Taiwan as a renegade province that should be united with mainland China.
BERLIN (AP) — Swiss investigators say “high-risk flying” by the pilots of a vintage propeller plane led to a 2018 crash in the Alps that killed all 20 people on board. The 79-year-old Junkers Ju-52 operated by local airline Ju-Air crashed in southeastern Switzerland on Aug. 4, 2018. The airplane, which was carrying 17 passengers and three crew members, slammed near-vertically into a mountain. It was flying back from Locarno in southern Switzerland to its base near Zurich. The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board said in its final report Thursday that “the pilots’ high-risk flying was a direct cause of the accident.”
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s defense minister says a joint Turkish-Russian observation center to monitor a cease-fire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh will become operational on Saturday. Hulusi Akar said in a statement on Friday that a Turkish general and 38 personnel, would be on duty at the center which aims to monitor possible violations of the truce. He did not provide further information. Turkey and Russia agreed to form an observation center shortly after the cease-fire agreement, reached in November, ended six weeks of intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Russia, which brokered the cease-fire, has separately deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers for at least five years to monitor the agreement.
PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic’s highest court has canceled several provisions of the country’s electoral law as discriminatory small parties. The Constitutional Court dismissed those rules that it said gave big parties disproportionately high numbers of seats in Parliament after elections. The court ruled Wednesday it’s not in line with the proportional representation electoral system used at the election for the lower house of Parliament. It has also canceled parts of the law that requires coalitions to win more votes than parties to gain seats. Both chambers of Parliament need to agree on necessary changes to amend the electoral law in line with the court’s verdict ahead of general elections scheduled for October.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York judge ruled Friday that Republican Claudia Tenney defeated U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi by 109 votes in the nation’s last undecided congressional race. The ruling by Judge Scott DelConte could clear the way for Tenney to be sworn in as the representative for central New York’s 22nd Congressional District, barring emergency intervention by a state appeals court. DelConte’s ruling came after he spent three months reviewing ballot challenges and trying to fix a myriad of problems with vote tabulation. He rejected an argument by Brindisi’s lawyers that certification of the election results be delayed until an appeals court had a chance to review the case.