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Musings From Abroad

Jacinda takes charge of New Zealand after maternity leave

New Zealand Prime Minister and new mum Jacinda Ardern, only the second world leader to give birth while in office, ended her maternity leave Thursday

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New Zealand Prime Minister and new mum Jacinda Ardern, only the second world leader to give birth while in office, ended her maternity leave Thursday.

After six weeks bonding with her daughter, the 38-year-old said she was looking forward to getting back to work.

She told TVNZ as she marked her first day back with a round of media interviews.

“Of course, this is a unique circumstance and I’m really very keen to get back to work.”

Ardern has opted to work from home in Auckland until the weekend when she will relocate to the capital Wellington.

Read Also: Dozens dead as wildfires force people to flee into the sea

She said that while she and partner Clarke Gayford want to protect the baby’s privacy “at the same time we want to be a family and I do a very public job”.
Gayford, a television fishing show host, plans to be a stay-at-home dad and the main caregiver for their daughter.

The birth capped an eventful year for Ardern, who became prime minister in October just three months after taking charge of the Labour Party as it languished in the polls.

While she announced her pregnancy five months before the birth, Benazir Bhutto — the first world leader to have a child while in office — told almost no one she was pregnant until her daughter was born in January 1990.

Unlike Ardern, who was able to take maternity leave, the Pakistani prime minister underwent a caesarean section and then returned to work.

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Musings From Abroad

Swiss firm, ABB, gets $4.3 million fine over bribery case in South Africa

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Judicial authority in Switzerland has fined engineering and technology group ABB, the sum of 4 million Swiss francs ($4.3 million) in connection with a bribery case in South Africa.

According to the country’s Attorney General, the fine on ABB is for “not having taken all necessary and reasonable organisational provisions in order to prevent bribery payments to foreign officials in South Africa”.

The group was found guilty of improper payments and other compliance issues at the Kusile power station after a wide-scale investigation into state corruption concluded in June 2022.

Earlier in the week, ABB and South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) agreed that the company will pay reparations for its involvement in state corruption.

According to a statement by the NPA, the company agreed to pay 2.5 billion rands ($144.51 million) in punitive reparations to South Africa within 60 days from the first day of December.

The reparation is in addition to 1.6 billion rand ($92.48 million)the company paid back to South African state power utility Eskom in 2020.

The Central Europe country has been fingered in lots of corruption cases involving African countries.

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Musings From Abroad

United States: Appeal court rejects President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt has suffered a new setback as a federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to support it.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit in Wednesday’s brief order declined to put Pittman’s ruling on hold while the administration appealed his decision, but the court directed that the appeal be heard on an expedited basis.

The court declined to put on hold a Texas judge’s ruling that said President Biden’s move was unlawful.

President Biden had requested to pause a judge’s Nov. 10 order vacating the $400 billion student debt relief program in a lawsuit pursued by a conservative advocacy group.

President Joe Biden announced plans earlier this year to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers who qualify and extend the federal student loan payment pause until the end of the year.

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the average federal student loan debt balance in the United States was $37,787 while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,780.

The US Department of Education had already approved requests from 16 million to about 26 million Americans that applied for student loan forgiveness.

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