Minister denies drug bribe
Secretary of Public Safety Genaro Garcia Luna has denied taking bribes from an alleged top drug trafficker who said in a letter to a major newspaper that he had paid off the official since 2002. The letter from indicted drug lord Edgar Valdez Villarreal was published by the Reforma newspaper on its front page. The move “aims to inhibit the actions of authorities against criminal organizations,” Ministry of Public Security spokesman Jose Ramon Salinas said. Villarreal “has sought to blackmail authorities in order to obtain privileges” at the federal maximum security prison where he awaits a verdict on homicide charges.
High-profile graft case ends
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced the last three of 25 defendants convicted on charges involving a congressional cash-for-votes scheme, bringing to an end a high-profile corruption trial that has riveted the country for nearly four months. The court sentenced a former congressman, a former leader of the governing Workers’ Party and a former treasurer of the Brazilian Labor Party on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and passive corruption. The alleged corruption dates back to the government of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was not charged.
Obama to dine with Romney
President Barack Obama was to host his former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House yesterday, their first meeting since the election. Obama promised in his victory speech earlier this month to engage with Romney following their bitter campaign and consider the Republican’s ideas. Obama aides said they reached out to Romney’s team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was looking forward to a “useful discussion,” but said there was no agenda for the lunch.
Jackpot sparks lottery fever
Early yesterday morning, officials confirmed that two Powerball winning tickets had been sold: one in Arizona and one in Missouri. A lottery official late on Wednesday said that the jackpot increased to US$579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option US$379.8 million. The prize is the second-largest potential lottery payout in the country’s history. Tickets were selling at an average of 130,000 a minute across the nation in the hours before the drawing, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. That equates to players spending US$15.6 million an hour on 7.8 million tickets.
Anti-Shiite bombs kill 28
Bombs in two majority Shiite Muslim cities in the south of the country killed 28 people yesterday near a restaurant in the city of Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad, police and hospital sources said. Scores more were wounded in the blasts, which struck during a month that is of special significance to Shiite Muslims. Blood, shoes, body parts and wristwatches were scattered around the site of the blast and grieving women pounded their faces and chests, searching for relatives who might have been hurt. “Shame on the officials who are just sitting in their offices while explosions hit the city every day,” Khalidi said. In the predominantly Shiite city of Kerbala, a car bomb near a bus terminal where pilgrims gather killed two people, a spokesman for the local health office said.