Financial Times – Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Mehul Srivastava / Machine guns and a hit squad: the killing of Iran’s nuclear mastermind
- As nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s black Nissan sedan car approached a boulevard in the Damavand region, about 60km from the capital Tehran, an automatic machine gun, installed inside a blue pick-up truck parked under an electric transmitter, began firing.
- The pick-up truck, packed with explosives, was then detonated by remote control. Assailants then opened fire, according to Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, a nuclear scientist who survived an attempt on his life in 2010, and domestic media.
- Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. The dramatic attack at the heart of the regime has escalated tensions in a fraught period as US president Donald Trump prepares to make way for president-elect Joe Biden.
- Iran has never taken direct action against Israel and President Hassan Rouhani said this revenge would happen “at the right time and appropriately” but that Iran was “intelligent and wise enough not to be trapped in the Zionists’ plot”.
- The Guardian – Julian Borger / Iran scientist’s assassination appears intended to undermine nuclear deal
The Washington Post – Annie Linskey and Jeff Stein / Biden hires all-female senior communications team, names Neera Tanden director of OMB
- President-elect Joe Biden has filled out his economics and communications teams, enlisting mostly women, including several of color, in a move that reflected his campaign pledge to create an administration that presents a diverse face to America as it tackles twin pandemic and economic crises.
- Biden is expected to nominate Neera Tanden, the chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, as director of the influential Office of Management and Budget, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the nominations freely.
- Jennifer Psaki, a veteran Democratic spokeswoman, will be Biden’s White House press secretary, one of seven women who will fill the upper ranks of his administration’s communications staff. It is the first time all of the top aides tasked with speaking on behalf of an administration and shaping its message will be female.
- Taken together, the plans show the president-elect’s determination to bring in a more diverse leadership team than what Washington has seen in the past. The decisions also reflect the reality that women powered Biden’s victory via, among other contributions, record activism and political donations.
- The New York Times – Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley / Biden expected to name top economic officials this week
Euractiv – Zeljko Trkanjec / Montenegro and Serbia expelled their ambassadors
- The acting government on Friday declared Serbia’s ambassador to Montenegro, Vladimir Božović, persona non grata, for interference in its internal affairs, after he described as a “liberation” the decision of the 1918 National Assembly to unite Montenegro with Serbia and thus join the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, losing its independence.
- Serbia retaliated, giving Montenegrin Ambassador Tarzan Milošević 72 hours to leave the country. Montenegrin lawmakers adopted a resolution in 2018 annulling the decisions of the 1918 National Assembly. Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia in 2006, but tensions over national identity remain in the Balkan country.
- Although the move was seen as an obstacle for the new government to establish closer relations with Serbia, following a meeting on Sunday between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković, Brnabić said ambassador Milošević was no persona non grata.
- (From the BBC) On Sunday, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic revoked the decision to expel Mr Milosevic and said her country wanted to extend “the hand of cooperation and friendship” to Montenegro.
- BBC / Serbia rescinds Montenegro ambassador expulsión
Bloomberg – Catherine Bosley and Hugo Miller / Switzerland to step up ethical standards despite voters’ rebuff
- Switzerland will still up the ante on multinational corporations with new ethics standards for businesses after voters rejected a popular initiative on Sunday.
- A counter-proposal will now go ahead. It also seeks to ensure companies based in Switzerland don’t abuse human rights or breach environmental standards elsewhere, but stops short of allowing them to be sued for liability.
- Multinationals play a big role in Switzerland, employing just over a quarter of the country’s workforce. The wealthy country has low tax, light-touch regulation that makes it attractive as a base for commodity traders and other companies.
- Voters “disapproved of the path the initiative proposed but not of the issue itself,” Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said at a press conference in Bern. “Swiss companies must respect people and the environment abroad too.”
- The Guardian – Sandra Laville / Rein in advertising to help tackle climate crisis, report urges
- Foreign Policy – Max Ehrenfreund / The world’s first affluence recession