Coalition-forming talks held
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters met separately yesterday with Prime Minister Bill English and opposition Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern as both try to form a coalition government. Peters was tightlipped after the talks, but has said he would only make a decision on which party to back after the results of the Sept. 23 election become official on Thursday. “I can say that we’ve had an excellent, productive meeting,” Ardern told reporters after coming out of the two-hour meeting. “Negotiations will continue for Labour with the parties that we are looking to form a stable, durable, coalition government with.”
Turkish troops trade fire
Turkish forces yesterday exchanged fire with militants from al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate on the border of Idlib Province, a monitor and eyewitnesses said, a day after Ankara announced an imminent operation there. Yesterday morning Hayat Tahrir al-Sham coalition fighters opened fire on Turkish forces removing part of a wall along the border. While there were heavy exchanges of gunfire, the incident did not appear to mark the start of the operation Turkey mentioned on Saturday. Meanwhile, a final assault on Islamic State group’s last line of defense in its former capital of al-Raqqah was set to begin last night, a field commander for the US-backed forces operating there said.
Million officials punished
The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection yesterday announced that about 1.34 million lower-ranking officials have been punished since 2013 under President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) anti-corruption drive. Those punished include 648,000 village-level officials and most crimes were related to small scale corruption, the agency said. It said 155,000 country-level party bureaus have set up corruption policing mechanisms as of August, representing 94.8 percent of total bureaus.
Dozens of gay men arrested
Dozens of men, including several foreigners, were arrested in a raid of a gay sauna in Jakarta, police said yesterday. Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said Friday’s raid in would lead to seven people being charged under the nation’s pornography law, including the sauna’s owner and staffers. They face penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines. The other 51 men will be released if they are found to not be criminals or carrying drugs, he said. “We treated them well,” he said. “They came out from the scene with proper clothes and their faces were covered.” He said police were still working to identify all of the men.
Only one vote to win
There is one person running for mayor of Manhattan, Montana, and he only needs to vote for himself to win. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Glen Clements was the only person to apply to be a write-in candidate for the position on next month’s ballot. Under Montana law, any other write-in votes will not be counted because he is the only registered write-in candidate. If he had applied to be a formal candidate, all write-in votes would be counted. The navy veteran and geological engineer has lived in the town of about 1,500 people for six years. Clements said his neighbors — the city’s secretary and a police officer — told him no one was running and encouraged him to. He says he is excited to fill the position that no one else wanted.
‘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