In brief: Toronto mayor denies new claim
Toronto – Toronto’s mayor denied Thursday that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, in an obscenity-laced statement on live television in which he also threatened to take legal action against former staffers who spoke to police about his drinking and drug use.
Rob Ford, who admitted last week to smoking crack, later announced he was getting professional help. But he once again refused to step down and used a typical mix of contrition and defiance in several public appearances Thursday. He wore a football jersey to a City Council session, where outraged councilors turned their backs each time he spoke and again called on him to step aside.
Later, Councilor Karen Stintz said the city has suspended all school trips to City Hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.
Kennedy assumes ambassadorship
Tokyo – Caroline Kennedy was to arrive in Japan today as a new U.S. ambassador with one important strength: She has the ear of the American president.
Japan hopes the 55-year-old daughter of late President John F. Kennedy will work closely with President Barack Obama to tackle some urgent U.S.-Japan matters, analysts said.
“What’s important here is her strong pipeline with Obama and an ability to be able to pick up the phone and speak with Obama directly in the middle of the night for consultation on urgent matters,” said Ryuichi Teshima, professor of diplomacy at Keio University in Tokyo.
Kennedy’s close ties to Obama come from playing a pivotal role during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008 by endorsing him when Hillary Clinton was the lead candidate.
Hezbollah will stay in Syria
Beirut – Hezbollah forces will remain in Syria fighting alongside the troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad for the foreseeable future, the leader of the Lebanese group said Thursday.
“As long as the reasons are present, we are staying” in Syria, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s general secretary, said in a speech to supporters here marking the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura.
Hezbollah rejects any suggestion that it pull out of Syria as a “precondition” for forming a government in Lebanon, where a caretaker administration rules amid deep political divisions aggravated by the conflict next door in Syria.