Chapel gets investment
The Sistine Chapel has a brighter, cooler new look. The Vatican on Wednesday unveiled a state-of-the art illumination and air conditioning system designed to better show off the chapel’s precious frescoes and protect them from the dirt, dust and sweat of the nearly 6 million people who marvel at them every year. The three-year, $3.8 million project was undertaken because the existing air conditioning system, installed 20 years ago when only 1.5 million people visited annually, was unable to maintain the humidity and temperature levels needed to keep the frescoes safe. Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci said it was fitting that the Vatican was marking the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo’s death “with something durable, not ephemeral.”
Zambia president dies
Michael Sata, the president of Zambia, who once swept British railroad station platforms for a living and whose reputation for a sharp tongue and abrasive manner earned him the nickname King Cobra, died late Tuesday at a London hospital. He was 77. The Zambian government announced his death. The cause, after months of largely unchronicled illness, was not made public. The government, and Sata himself, persistently denied suggestions that he had a terminal illness, even when he missed an appearance at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this year after reports that he had taken ill in his hotel room. Sata flew to London 10 days ago for what the authorities called a “medical checkup abroad,” without revealing his destination.
Tax evasion fight
Fifty-one countries have signed an agreement to share financial data and boost efforts to crack down on tax evasion. The standard agreed upon was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development among the world’s top 20 economies. Countries include most European Union nations, as well as traditional tax havens like Liechtenstein, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. They will begin automatically exchanging data collected by financial institutions as early as 2017. Other countries have indicated they will join the accord later. The United States hasn’t signed but says it will share information as part of bilateral deals. Britain’s treasury chief, George Osborne, says the new treaty “strikes a blow on behalf of hard-working taxpayers.”
Compiled from wire reports