Ahmadinejad aide quits
A top adviser and aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has resigned, less than two months ahead of the presidential election, the state news agency IRNA reported yesterday. Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi submitted his resignation, which is yet to be accepted by Ahmadinejad, on Tuesday, IRNA said. “Allow me to submit my resignation in order to have an opportunity to serve in other areas,” Samareh Hashemi said in his letter carried by IRNA. He has been a top adviser to Ahmadinejad since he swept to power in 2005.
Officer guilty of trafficking
A border patrol agent who tried to import rare tortoises in a box labeled “scorpions” pleaded guilty on Tuesday to animal-trafficking charges, the Justice Department said. It turns out that scorpions also draw an extra look from federal agents. Rene Soliz faces a maximum one-year sentence and will resign from the border patrol after entering his guilty plea in Texas on charges that he illegally attempted to receive 15 Tanzanian leopard tortoises, the department said. Under an international treaty on trade in endangered species, the tortoises are considered potentially threatened and cannot be traded without an export permit. But they are often sold as pets and carry a market value of about US$50 each, Justice Department spokesman Andrew Ames said.
Police seize cigarettes
Law enforcers at the Chop border crossing inspecting vehicles traveling to the Czech Republic late on Tuesday night discovered more than 220,000 packages of L&M cigarettes concealed in a rail car, Korrespondent magazine reported yesterday. The freight car built to haul flammable or toxic liquid gas contained four hidden compartments between the gas tanks’ steel exterior and glass interior walls, in which smugglers had stored the cigarettes, a police official said. The record load of illicit shipment had a street value of approximately US$1.5 million in the EU. “We believe we have destroyed the operations of a major cigarette smuggling ring,” a customs service statement said.
Fighter pilot dies in crash
Balikesir Governor Selahattin Hatipoglu said that a military fighter pilot died in a crash in western Turkey. Hatipoglu said the F-16 pilot did not survive Tuesday’s crash during a training flight. The jet had taken off from a base in the province. The governor said the plane went down near the town of Mustafakemalpasa in neighboring province of Bursa. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Balikesir is a hub for Turkish jets, which often engage with Greek warplanes in the disputed air space of Aegean Sea.
Man bites python
A man bit a python who wrapped him in its coils and hauled him up a tree in a struggle that lasted hours, the Daily Nation newspaper reported yesterday. Ben Nyaumbe, a farm manager in Malindi, was working at the weekend when the serpent struck. When the snake coiled itself round his upper body, Nyaumbe resorted to desperate measures: “I had to bite it.” The python dragged him up a tree, but when it eased its grip, Nyaumbe said he was able to take his cellphone from his pocket and call for help. When his supervisor came with a policeman, Nyaumbe smothered the snake’s head with his shirt, while the rescuers tied it with a rope and pulled. The snake later escaped from the three sacks it was bundled into.