Former Yugoslav spy chief marries aged 96

ZAGREB (AFP): One of former Yugoslavia’s top spies and ex-Croatian prime minister Josip Manolic has married aged 96 — tying the knot with a woman 36 years his junior, local media reported Tuesday. “Our love is not from yesterday,” Manolic told the 24 Sata daily describing the relationship with his 60-year-old wife. “We’ve been living together for several years,” he said. “It was senseless to continue to live in a common-law marriage. We are serious people of serious age.” Manolic and Mirjana Ribaric married in April, but the pair kept the wedding secret until it was revealed by media. Manolic’s first wife died in a fire in 2003. Formerly the head of Yugoslavia’s secret service (UDBA), Manolic went on to be Croatia’s prime minister from August 1990 to July 1991.

               

Government requests for Google data hits record high

WASHINGTON (AFP): Government requests to Google for user data hit a record high in the second half of 2015, the online giant said. In its transparency report released Monday, Google said governments around the world made 40,677 requests related to more than 81,000 accounts in the July-December period. That compared with just over 35,000 requests in the prior six-month period on nearly 69,000 accounts. “Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers,” Google said. Google said it turned over at least some data in 64 percent of the cases. The United States accounted for the largest share, with 12,523 requests, followed by Germany (7,491), France (4,174) and Britain (3,497). Like other big online firms, Google has emphasized that it turns over data following a legal process in the countries where it operates, while seeking to maintain the privacy of its users. “Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world,” said Google legal director Richard Salgado.

Prince William’s sister-in-law Pippa Middleton to marry

LONDON (AFP): Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of Prince William’s wife Kate, announced Tuesday that she had got engaged to her boyfriend James Matthews, a hedge fund manager. A Kensington Palace spokesman said William and Kate were “absolutely delighted with the news” of the 32-year-old’s engagement at the weekend, which will be followed by a wedding next year. Middleton rose to global prominence when she was a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding in 2011. She appeared in a figure-hugging white dress by Alexander McQueen, pictures of which filled newspapers for weeks afterwards. Middleton subsequently wrote a book on party planning that was widely mocked for offering obvious tips, followed by a regular column in a magazine for upmarket British supermarket chain Waitrose. “Miss Pippa Middleton and Mr James Matthews are delighted to announce they became engaged on Sunday July 17 and plan to marry next year,” they said in a statement. The couple have been together less than a year but they were living together. Matthews proposed during a trip to the picturesque Lake District in northwest England, the Daily Mail newspaper said. Middleton’s parents Michael and Carole said they were “absolutely thrilled”, with her father saying in a statement: “They make a wonderful couple and we wish them every happiness together.”

Tesoro to pay $425m over air quality violations

LOS ANGELES (AFP): US oil refining group Tesoro Corp. reached a $425 million settlement Monday with the Justice Department and the US Environmental Protection Agency to resolve air quality violations. Under the agreement, Texas-based Tesoro and Par Hawaii Refining will spend about $403 million to install and operate pollution control equipment at six refineries across the United States. Tesoro will also spend about $12 million to fund environmental projects in local communities that were impacted by pollution and will pay $10.4 million in civil penalties, the government said. “This settlement... will benefit the air quality in communities across the Western United States,” said John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It uses cutting-edge technology to address global environmental issues like climate change by controlling flaring and provides important reductions of harmful air pollution in communities facing environmental and health challenges.” Par Hawaii currently operates one of the refineries affected by the settlement and formerly owned by Tesoro. The company said in a statement that Tesoro is obligated to reimburse it for upgrades to reduce pollution at that facility in Kapolei, Hawaii.

The other refineries covered by the settlement are located in Alaska, California, North Dakota, Utah and the state of Washington.

The Justice Department said the pollution control measures to be put in place at those facilities will reduce emissions, improve air quality and cut the risk of respiratory illnesses for the local populations.

It said the settlement will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flaring at the refineries by over 60 percent.

“The advanced technologies Tesoro and Par are required to implement are the future for protecting people from toxic air emissions,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance.

“This settlement puts new enforcement ideas to work that will dramatically cut pollution and protect communities.”