State-run companies to be deregulated

Cuba will begin deregulating state-run companies in 2014 as reform of the Soviet-style command economy moves from retail services and farming into its biggest enterprises, the head of the Communist Party’s reform efforts said.

Politburo member and reform director Marino Murillo said the 2014 economic plan includes dozens of changes in how the companies, accountable for most economic activity in the country, do business. He made the comments in a closed-door speech to parliament members Saturday, and some of his remarks were published by official media Monday.

“The plan for the coming year has to be different,” Murillo was quoted as saying by the Communist Party paper Granma. He said that of 136 directives for next year, “51 impact directly on the transformation of the companies.”

The reforms will affect big state enterprises such as nickel producer Cubaniquel and oil firm
Cubapetroleo and entail changes such as allowing the companies to retain half their profits for investment and wage increases and giving managers more authority. The plan also threatens unprofitable concerns with closure if they fail to turn themselves around.

— Reuters

State closes schools after fatal attacks

The governor of Nigeria’s northeastern Yobe state is ordering all schools closed to avoid attacks by Islamist militants who have killed dozens of students and teachers.

The U.N. children’s agency, meanwhile, said Monday that 48 students and seven teachers have been slain since June in northeastern Nigeria. “There can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of children and those looking after them,” said UNICEF regional director Manuel Fontaine.

Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam issued the order after visiting students with burn and gunshot wounds from an attack Saturday on a boarding school outside Potiskum, the state’s second-largest town. Extremists set a dormitory ablaze, burning some students alive. At least 29 students and one teacher were killed.

Last month Islamist fighters attacked at least two schools, killing 16 students and two teachers.

Gaidam said such attacks could be averted if the military would resume cellphone service cut to three northeastern states since the government declared a state of emergency May 14. He said residents could have alerted the military by cellphone.

— Associated Press

Suspect held in explosions at Buddhist sites in India: One man was detained and sketches of two others were prepared as officials sought clues Monday into a series of blasts at some of Buddhism’s holiest sites in eastern India. Two people were wounded in the eight explosions that went off Sunday in and around the main temple complex in Bodh Gaya, the town where the Buddha is believed to have gained enlightenment.

Pope highlights the plight of migrants: Pope Francis on Monday denounced the “globalization of indifference” that greets migrants who risk their lives trying to reach Europe, as he traveled to the farthest reaches of Italy to draw attention to their plight and to mourn those who never made it. The tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa, a treeless strip of rock, is the main port of entry into Europe for African migrants smuggled by boat from Libya or Tunisia. Francis decided last week to make Lampedusa his first pastoral trip outside Rome.

Chinese police fire on Tibetans at Dalai Lama commemoration: At least six Tibetans were injured when Chinese paramilitary police fired on a crowd that was attempting to commemorate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in a volatile part of western China, sources in the exile Tibetan community said Monday. The incident Saturday in the Sichuan province’s Daofu county marks an escalation of tensions in an area already on edge over a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans and a massive security presence.

Police clash with protesters again in Istanbul: Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon Monday at protesters who tried to defy a closure order and enter an Istanbul park at the center of protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Gezi Park was open for only a few hours after Istanbul’s governor allowed people back in — following often-violent protests last month against plans to redevelop the area — when riot police ordered it shut ahead of a rally.

— From news services