Conservatives to win vote
Conservatives were poised to remain in power after winning a snap election, nearly complete results showed yesterday, but will have to begin coalition talks to form a government after falling short of a majority. The close result does little to dispel political uncertainty in the EU’s newest member, but the new conservative leader has signaled a shift toward the center after a lurch to the right. The conservative HDZ won 61 seats, while their center-left opposition rivals, the Social Democrats, had 54, according to results from about all polling stations. The election was the second in less than a year after the previous, barely functioning, coalition government led by the HDZ collapsed in June over a conflict of interest scandal after just five months in power. However, the HDZ did not secure an absolute majority in the 151-seat parliament, and its former junior government partner, the Most Party (“Bridge” in Croatian), is likely to play kingmaker once again. The Most Party came in third with 13 seats.
Rival force seizes ports
Forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar on Sunday seized at least two key oil ports from a rival force loyal to the UN-backed government. Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), said its fighters had full control of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Zueitina after launching an early morning military operation on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The attacks on major oil ports by Haftar, who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), could derail efforts to restart production. Those efforts are seen as critical to saving the nation’s economy and helping the GNA survive. In a statement released late on Sunday, the GNA’s leadership called the attacks an “unjustified escalation” that would “prolong the period of conflict” in Libya.
Bosses ride mopeds
About 700 executives and business chiefs on Sunday zoomed down Paris’ famed Champs Elysees avenue on battered blue mopeds in a bid to combat a climate of economic gloom. Decked out in matching blue capes and pink helmets, the bosses zipped down the boulevard on their Motobecane mopeds. Organizers said the event was an “apolitical” attempt to boost confidence in the economy and show solidarity with employees. Remi Peraud, a bank manager with the Banque Populaire who took part in the two-wheeled demo, said he wanted to show that “bosses know how to have fun.” The “Meules Bleues” (Blue Moped) event is now in its third year, having started out with 150 bosses taking part in 2014.
Wedding protesters arrested
Police on Sunday arrested 55 people and seized blades at a Sikh temple, following a protest against a mixed marriage. Armed officers were deployed to the Gurdwara Temple in Leamington Spa early on Sunday after a group of men entered the building. A total of 55 people were arrested for aggravated trespass in what police chief David Gardner described as “an escalation of a local dispute.” “A significant number of bladed weapons were seized from the scene,” he said, adding that no one was injured in the incident. Sikh Council UK secretary-general Gurmel Singh said protesters walked freely into the temple and did not break into the building. He said the group then held prayers and a sit-in to oppose a wedding due to take place between a Sikh and a non-Sikh.
Debris given to investigators
A US amateur investigator yesterday handed possible debris from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to officials and said several pieces were blackened by flames, raising the prospect of a flash fire onboard. The plane disappeared on March 8, 2014, carrying 239 passengers and crew on a routine from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is coordinating the search, said Blaine Gibson had handed over unspecified debris yesterday. “We are seeking advice from the Malaysian authorities regarding how they would like to proceed,” a bureau spokesman said. Gibson told reporters the debris, which had washed up in Madagascar, included what appeared to be an internal panel. Gibson, a lawyer from Seattle, said that the pieces could be a “real game changer” if they were found to belong to MH370.
Murder suit filed over fire
Relatives of workers killed in a fire at a packaging factory have filed a murder case against the owner, police said yesterday, as the death toll from Saturday’s disaster rose to 31. Twelve people are still listed as missing after the disaster. The government has launched an investigation into what caused the fire, but police in the industrial town of Tongi, where the Tampaco Foils factory was located, said bereaved relatives had already filed a private lawsuit against eight people, including the owner and his wife. Police said they would launch a separate investigation into the murder allegation made by the family. About 70 people were injured in the blaze, some critically.
Fourth band member freed
The fourth and final member of a band arrested in May after they made an online video mocking the government has been released, the group’s lawyer said yesterday. The four young men from the group known as Street Children posted a video on the Internet poking fun at the devaluation of the local currency and the cession of two islands to Saudi Arabia. The other three members were released on Sunday. All were released on condition that they check in twice a week at their local police station until their next court session, the lawyer said. Their case has not been referred to trial.
Pedophile suspect arrested
Police said yesterday that they arrested a US national on Sunday on suspicion of sexually abusing young boys. Acting on a tip-off from an alleged victim, police arrested the 48-year-old man in a hotel room in Kathmandu, where he was holed up with three boys. A Nepalese who allegedly supplied the suspect with young boys from poor families was also arrested. “They have both been remanded in police custody for six days as we investigate further on child molestation and human trafficking charges,” a police official said, adding that the suspect had visited Nepal several times previously.
Presidential rerun delayed
A rerun of the presidential election due to take place on Oct. 2 has been postponed, Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka said yesterday. “We are going to request that parliament approves a postponement of the election,” he told a news conference. Possible new dates are Nov. 27 or Dec. 4, he said. The postponement came after some postal voters complained of faulty seals on ballot papers. The Constitutional Court ordered the rerun after a challenge from the losing candidate.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big