Smuggling probe extended
President Nicolas Maduro extended a crackdown on contraband to a second state as he steps up his effort to stop smuggling along the border with Colombia. Maduro on Monday declared a state of emergency across three municipalities in Zulia State and shuttered the Paraguachon border crossing with Colombia. “Our people are targeted by smugglers, criminal gangs; we will liberate them from all of that,” Maduro said in a televised address. An additional 3,000 troops were being deployed to border towns, and only indigenous Wayuu would be permitted passage to Colombia, he said.
Two candidates ousted
The governing Conservative Party of Canada on Monday dropped two of its candidates for the House of Commons because of embarrassing videos featuring them. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp replayed hidden camera footage showing one candidate, Jerry Bance, taking a coffee cup from a sink he was fixing in a customer’s kitchen and then urinating in it. The video, made by a consumer affairs program in 2012, shows Bance rinsing the mug before returning it to the sink. The Conservatives also said that a candidate named Tim Dutaud had been removed by the party because of a series of prank calls he recorded and posted on YouTube about six years ago. In one of them, Dutaud, a real-estate agent, pretends to be mentally disabled while dealing with a cellphone company.
Clinton defends e-mail use
Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said she does not need to apologize for using a private e-mail account and server while at the Department of State because, “what I did was allowed.” Clinton spoke to reporters during a campaign swing through Iowa, which holds the first vote in the state-by-state nominating race. Clinton said lingering questions about her use of e-mail while serving as secretary of state have not damaged her campaign. “It’s a distraction, certainly, but it hasn’t in any way affected the plan for our campaign,” she said.
White alligator dies
A rare white alligator has died at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. The Audubon Nature Institute announced the death of “Spots” the alligator on Monday. The alligator was 28 years old. The cause of death is being investigated. Spots had a rare genetic condition called leucism, which reduces color pigmentation in the skin. The institute said Spots was one of 17 alligator hatchlings recovered in 1986 by the Louisiana Land and Exploration Company.
Police search for US teacher
Police yesterday said that they are searching a river where the body of a 27-year-old teacher from Austin, Texas, was thrown after she was hammered to death. Authorities are searching the Seti River for the body of Dahlia Yehia, who disappeared from the resort town of Pokhara in western Nepal last month, police official Hari Bahadur Pal said. Police have arrested a local teacher, Narayan Paudel, who was hosting Yehia while she was in Pokhara to help people affected by April’s devastating earthquake. Pal said Paudel confessed to the crime and described it, including where he threw the body into the river. Pal said authorities plan to seek the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for Paudel, 30. Authorities said the motive behind the murder was money, according to Pal.
Six arrested over rape
Police yesterday said they had arrested six men after a teenager alleged she was gang-raped after being lured to a hotel on the promise of a job. The 17-year-old girl told police she had traveled from her home in New Delhi to the western city of Jaipur with neighbors who had promised her work there. “She was then confined to a hotel where 10 people, including the manager, took turns to rape her. She managed to escape last week and file a complaint in Delhi,” a police officer said in Delhi. “Based on her complaint we have arrested six men and we are studying the CCTV footage from the hotel to nab the rest of the suspects,” he said on condition of anonymity. The alleged attack on Aug. 30 adds to a grim record of sexual assaults in the nation, which have sparked domestic and international outrage.
British academic released
A British academic who accused a Thai official of plagiarism, and whose name later showed up on a national security blacklist as a potential danger to society, yesterday said he had been freed after being held for four days at a Bangkok airport. Wyn Ellis, a long-term resident of Thailand with British and Thai citizenship, was freed late on Monday after he was detained shortly after arriving from Europe on Thursday. Ellis is working on a sustainable rice program for the UN in Thailand. He discovered just a few days ago he had been blacklisted, apparently because of a 2009 letter written by the man he had accused of copying his work. “I am out and I am off the blacklist,” Ellis told reporters yesterday after spending four days in a cell with 15 other people.
Blast kills 14 police officers
A roadside bomb targeting a bus yesterday killed 14 policemen, state-run Anadolu news agency reported, the second major attack on security forces this week as clashes between the government and Kurdish gunmen intensify. The attack follows Turkish airstrikes on several Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq overnight. Commando units also clashed with PKK fighters after 16 troops were killed on Sunday, the highest toll from a single attack against Turkish soldiers since violence flared in July, shattering a three-year lull. “The PKK is increasingly shifting attacks to urban areas and targeting policemen to inflict greater damage on security forces, while targeting soldiers in rural areas,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, who studies the group at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by telephone. “If the government can’t exert control in the area, spiraling violence could increase the risk of a civil war amid growing nationalist backlash.”
An unseasonal sandstorm has hit Lebanon and Syria, reducing visibility and sending dozens to hospitals with breathing difficulties. The storm hit the coastal capital of Beirut yesterday, a day after it engulfed the eastern Bekaa Valley and neighboring Syria further to the east. Officials advised people to stay indoors. The state news agency said at least 80 people fainted or suffered breathing problems because of the fine dust. People have been warned against burning trash that has piled up on Beirut streets this summer, sparking a political crisis and protests. In Syria, the storm reached the capital, Damascus. The state al-Watan newspaper said it forced the government to halt its airstrikes against rebel fighters north of the central province of Hama.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference
PAPAL POLITICS? The controversial Australian prelate’s return to Rome comes just days after the pope fired one of his most powerful opponents over a financial scandal Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, is to soon return to the Vatican during an extraordinary economic scandal for the first time since he was cleared of child abuse allegations in Australia five months ago, a church agency said yesterday. Pell is to fly back to Rome today, CathNews, an information agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, citing “sources close to” Pell. Pell’s return follows Francis last week firing one of the cardinal’s most powerful opponents, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, over a financial scandal. Pell was regarded as the third-highest-ranking Vatican official and was attempting to wrestle the Holy See’s