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chinadaily.com.cn 2019-07-04 16:48

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. [Photo/IC]

>Whistleblower claims probed

Democrats on a key House congressional committee are investigating allegations from a whistleblower within the State Department about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his family's use of taxpayer-funded Diplomatic Security, CNN reported.

Congressional investigators told CNN that the whistleblower has raised multiple issues over a period of months, about special agents being asked to carry out some questionable tasks for the Pompeo family.

In April, for example, an agent was asked to pick up Chinese food - without Pompeo in the car.

The whistleblower said this led agents to complain that they are now serving as "UberEats with guns," which has created a buzz within the department.

On another occasion, the whistleblower said, a Diplomatic Security special agent was given the job of picking up the Pompeo family dog from a groomer.


Historic cable car with skyline and harbour in the background approaching its terminus on July 30, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand.[Photo/IC]

>New Zealand charges visitors

New Zealand has started charging an "admission fee" of NZ$35 to overseas visitors.

The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy came into effect on July 1, 2019.

The tax applies to most foreign visitors. Citizens of Australia and some small Pacific nations are exempt, as are transit passengers.

Crews on ships and aircraft will also dodge the levy. Tourism contributes one-10th of New Zealand's GDP and employs over 230,000 people.

The levy is expected to generate NZ$80m in the first full year.


The Olympic torch of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is displayed at a Torch Relay event to mark the 300-day milestone to the starting date of the torch relay in Tokyo, Japan, June 1, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

>Podiums made of discarded plastic

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizers earlier announced their gold, silver, and bronze medals would be made of discarded electronic devices.

Now they are going a step further.

The podiums that athletes will mount to receive their medals next year in Tokyo will be made primarily of recycled household plastics.

Organizers expected to build about 100 sets of podiums with recycled plastics, probably reinforced with aluminum.

Metal could come from temporary housing built after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Fukushima region of northeastern Japan, according to Tokyo Olympics chief executive Toshiro Muto. The discarded plastics would be collected at 2,000 retail stores across Japan.

The podiums might be given afterward to schools or athletic organizations, Muto said.

Tokyo organizers say using recycled materials for the medals and the podiums is a first for an Olympics.


Tom Holland, who stars in the new movie "Spider-Man: Far From Home," attends a news conference at a hotel in Seoul on July 1, 2019.[Photo/IC]

>Academy welcomes new members

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday invited 842 members from 59 countries to the Oscars organization and, for the first time, reached gender parity in its new class of inductees.

In 10 of the 17 branches - including the directing, writing and producing branches - more women than men were invited. This year's class of new members also includes 29% people of color.

New invitees include Lady Gaga, Sterling K. Brown, Claire Foy, Letitia Wright, Tom Holland and Adele.

Newly invited directors include "Crazy Rich Asians" filmmaker Jon Chu and "The Babadook" director Jennifer Kent.

If most accept their invites, the film academy will number more than 9,000 members.


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